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July 14, 2006



Old George has been wrong before.

He sometimes has interesting insights, though.


I'm deeply skeptical that the Israelis will actually invade Lebanon....again; they have such fond memories of how it all ended last time! I suspect that they will carry on with their stand-off bombardments and avoid the mistake of trying to hold ground.

The realities on the ground there would be far less benign this time around too, as Hizbullah is much stronger than in the 1990's say, and has acquired some serious weaponry which they are actually hitting parts of Israel with - and, unlike in 1982, the IDF is already engaged on the Gaza front as well; and if the West Bank starts to erupt in similar fashion ( which is likely ), then Israel will be in a three-front conflict that will compromise its economy, as large swathes of the able-bodied male workforce are called up for duty. Hamas, Fatah and Hizbullah know this. The Israelis may have an impressive array of military resources but they have limited manpower.


Looks like Georghe got it right this time. From today's Times:

Artillery, rockets, tanks and Humvees are massing on Lebanon’s southern border as Israel reveals the true extent of its ambitions. It is determined not merely to punish Hezbollah, but to destroy it once and for all as a military threat.


Blimey, I bet they're wishing they hadn't blown up all those bridges earlier this week then.

Maybe they're going to debut a dalek-style levitating Merkava tank!

Robert Fox made a very astute observation last night on Sky News regarding what the Israelis have been doing: all tactics and no strategy.


"I bet they're wishing they hadn't blown up all those bridges earlier this week then."

Quick and dirty blockhousing I assume, and maybe an attempt to stop HB moving whatever heavy kit they've got around.

"all tactics and no strategy."

You'd think the IDF would have had something like this wargamed as an eventuality and ready to go, but it seems to be just piling in.


I think it unlikely to be a coincidence that as the Israeli establishment has become less recognisably socialist and has got closer and closer to the nutterist right wing of American politics, their military strategy has become both more violent and more stupid.


I think it's more that the IDF have gone from fighting other national armies into long, demoralising counter-insurgency warfare where there's never any clear winner. It brutalizes combat and seems to cause a kind of institutional stupidity.


The Israelis have really been caught out on this one. Having one service-member captured happens, but a repetition within a week suggests that there are some "problems" with the IDF. And it's not exactly an unforeseen development; Hizbullah have been publicly saying that they were going to do this for the past year as a means of getting the remainder of their prisoners returned. I could have understood a little retaliation against Hizbullah military targets in South Lebanon before a negotiated swap took place, but what the Israelis have embarked on is just nuts...that said, I don't think they're going to actually cross the border ( the odd short incursion aside ) for any protracted period .... they did that and lost a tank within 50 metres when they tried last week.

Neither Olmert nor Peretz have stellar military credentials and they are politically weak, so no negotiations there - hence the going totally postal routine; obviously it didn't help that Hizbullah then knocked out their most advanced ship.

There was a very sad interview with an expat British farmer who ran a dairy farm with a creamery attached this morning. His creamery was destroyed by six israeli bombs ( you could pass one off as an accident, six is precise targetting ) - now I know that strict Kashrut requires separation of milk and meat, but this is just ludicrous.


They're certainly showing a lot more trepidation than I thought - and I notice Stratfor's gone quiet all of a sudden - but with the way they've been king konging about over the past week, surely the minimum politically acceptable definition of victory for Israel would be to get Hezbollah out of rocket range, and they can't do that from the air alone.

Some sort of ground incursion up to the Lipari seems to be the logical minimum.


Dan: the dairy in question is the LibanLait plant which supplies nearly all Lebanon's milk. It was probably targeted because it has a power plant attached to it (which runs on cow manure!). The plant doesn't supply anywhere because it only supplys about three-quarters of the dairy's own needs, but I would guess that it's connected up to the local grid and thus could have provided emergency electricity. This is, of course, quite definitely a war crime IMO.


Jamie: there would without doubt be a serious international crisis if the Israelis tried to drive Hezbollah back to the line of the Lipari. I suspect their amphibious warfare capability would not be sufficient, but who knows?

I think you meant Litani.

Getting to the point, Hezbollah's aims seem fairly comprehensible - using their anti-tank capability, well demonstrated during the latter part of the occupation, to kill a tank and take hostages was a good thing to do in order to maintain prestige/credibility after Hamas showed that they could kill Israeli tanks and take hostages. Further, the Israeli response is clearly following the old 2000-2002 pattern of demanding that the Palestinians (back then) "crack down on terrorists" whilst bombing their anti-terrorist capability to shit - anything that destabilises Lebanon strengthens Hezbollah's position, and it seems a fair assumption that the Israelis are not going to occupy for another 18 years.

They are now taking the opportunity to declare a 40Kms deep insecurity zone in northern Israel with their rockets, not to mention imposing a cost on naval operations too near the coast. Naturally, if the rockets can be shot into Haifa they can also be shot into Baabda and East Beirut.


The really interesting question is why Hamas staged their cross-border raid when they did.



The Hamas capture had obviously been possible for quite some time - they tunneled several hundred metres to penetrate the border, which doesn't happen overnight - but the proximate cause would have been the attempts to dismantle the Palestinian government; I'm not sure if the IDF seized Hamas and other parliamentarians prior to the operation or as retaliation.

On a broader note, the US have now fatally undermined their committment to Lebanese "democracy" by refusing to condemn the utterly excessive scope of Israeli targetting; the betrayal of the Siniora government is stunning - even by ME standards.

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