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Jul 17

The ruins of Lebanon

The dilemmas faced by Filipinos in Lebanon are severe; evacuation plans seem to be stymied -but 500 Filipinos have been evacuated (Toots Ople breaks down the number of Filipinos potentially involved in what happens). The President is trying wheedle oil out of Colonel Qaddafi.

Once again the blogosphere and online news proves its importance -and mettle- in global crisis situations such as the one unfolding in the Middle East.

Pajamas Media and The Truth Laid Bear both have a flurry of roundups on the situation. A reader kindly points to an article in The Observer, on how troubling the situation in the Middle East is becoming; another extremely unsettling analysis on what’s going on is in Vital Perspective:

The problem is this: While Syria does not want to get hit and will not make overt moves, so long as the Syrians cannot guarantee supplies will not reach Hezbollah or that Hezbollah won’t be given sanctuary in Syria, Israel cannot complete its mission of shattering Hezbollah and withdrawing. They could be drawn into an Iraq-like situation that they absolutely don’t want. Israel is torn. On the one hand, it wants to crush Hezbollah, and that requires total isolation. On the other hand, it does not want the Syrian regime to fall. What comes after would be much worse from Israel’s point of view.

This is the inherent problem built into Israel’s strategy, and what gives Hezbollah some hope. If Israel does not attack Syria, Hezbollah could well survive Israel’s attack by moving across the border. No matter how many roads are destroyed, Israel won’t be able to prevent major Hezbollah formations moving across the border. If they do attack Syria and crush al Assad’s government, Hezbollah could come out of this stronger than ever.

The Arab News newspaper, in its editorial, presents its view on the Lebanese government’s dilemma. Mike Cohen points to alarming statements by Newt Gingrich and former PM Mahathir of Malaysia -it’s World War III!

The Papal Nuncio lays out the Vatican position on killings: stop them! There’s that other problem, simony.

An analysis of the political psychology of Thaksin: eerily reminiscent of someone here at home.

A thought-provoking special report in The Manila Times on whether automating vote-counting will really deter fraud.

The Smithsonian Institution is in trouble: lacking money, is it having to sell its soul to corporations?. The tact and diplomacy of Prince Philip. Did you know Art Bell is living in Makati?

In the punditocracy, my column for today is Prima donna monologues.

Bong Austero has a sobering column on how those who run educational institutions aren’t just managers, but custodians of tradition and culture (and how the latter responsibility is dangerously being ignored).

Amando Doronila says the bishops have uh, skirted issues they should have confronted. Dan Mariano focuses on bishops accused of taking bribes.

Efren Danao suggests, if executive and other officials can be subjected to investigations by the Ombudsman, then members of Congress should be investigated, too.

A trial balloon? The hitherto-moribund idea of Congress holding a constituent assembly is revived, and here are Rita Linda Jimeno’s calculations:

The House, through Speaker Jose de Venecia, contends that since the Constitution is silent on whether or not the Senate and House of Representatives should vote separately to attain a vote of three-fourths, then it means that the number of congressmen, which is 236, should be added up to the number of senators, currently 23, to come up with a sum of 259. The three-fourths of this sum, the speaker says, is 194—the number needed for the two Chambers, taken as one, to comprise a constituent assembly that will propose revisions or amendments to the Constitution in a plebiscite. He therefore believes that if the required number of 194 is obtained even in the House alone, the constituent assembly will be deemed constituted and, amendments or revisions in the Constitution may then be proposed to the people.

Alas, the the Senate sees otherwise; so Jimeno quotes a retired judge:

Justice Mendoza strongly criticized this view … First, he said, the Senate’s view has reduced the amendment process to an ordinary legislative process of passing laws, which would, in effect, be a legislated form of Charter Change. This interpretation, Justice Mendoza said, blithely ignores the fact that ours is a rigid Constitution, which means that it cannot be amended by the ordinary process of legislation.

Second, he continued, the Senate interpretation is inconsistent with the pattern of other provisions of the Constitution… which suggests that when performing nonlegislative functions, the two houses must meet in joint session and then vote separately or, sometimes, jointly.

Among the instances when the two Chambers meet in a joint session to act on nonlegislative tasks are: When Congress declares a state of war; or when it confirms the President’s nomination of a member of the Senate or the House to be vice president of the Philippines, in the event of vacancy in that office; or when it sits as a Board to canvass the votes for President and Vice President and declares the winners.

In fact, the good justice added, when Congress decides to revoke the President’s declaration of Martial Law or suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, not only must the two Chambers meet in a joint session, but they must likewise vote jointly as well.

Given all these provisions in the Constitution, Justice Mendoza said there is no reason why the same requirement and procedure should not be applied in determining the manner of sitting and voting of the two houses when Congress acts as a constituent assembly. Indeed, he added, citing the case of Javellana vs Comelec (21 SCRA 774) “Senators and members of the House of Representatives act, not as members of Congress, but as component elements of a constituent assembly.”

The Polo Club as heritage site. The Pope’s opinions on music and liturgy (as to be expected from a classical pianist).

In the blogosphere, buzz on Bolante continues. Uniffors says the Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles is hiding something; an OFW Living in Hong Kong tackles the theory that detaining Bolante in America is a good thing for the Palace; Coffee With Amee points out that Bolante’s visa cancellation is no minor matter, and while the full info isn’t out, something serious must be afoot! Ellen Tordesillas also thinks the Bolante affair is going to get more serious as time passes.

Personally: this is a hot, hot story for enterprising Filipino-Americans in the West Coast. Will they manage to hunt down the leads?

Ricky Carandang has been doing research on the internal dynamics of the Philippine episcopate. The factions seem to be as follows: doing the lobbying for the Palace, Archbishop Diosdado Talamayan of Tuguegarao; against the Palace, a group clustered around Archbishop Oscar Cruz. Mongster’s Nest blogs about a bishop’s account of what took place during the CBCP meeting.

Iloilo City Boy puts forward why wages in this country are so low.

Ethan Zuckerman has a fascinating entry on how the internet is growing, and how the idea of the “digital divide” is giving way to the concept of “digital opportunity.”

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124 comments

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  1. cvj

    Vic, you’re right about the resiliency of Hezbollah. Over at juancole’s weblog, he quotes a Lebanese political party leader saying that ‘Israel can destroy Lebanon, but won’t destroy Hezbollah’. What you are suggesting is precisely what Israel wants to happen. By its disproportionate reaction, it is trying to provoke a regional war with Syria and Iran which the USA will then have to fight. Expect to see more young American adults in your neighborhood in the not so distant future.

  2. neil

    susme! si anna de bruha is frothing at the mouth again…chill out a bit will ya? others also have the right to have a contrary view…

  3. anna de brux

    neil walang…..

    do stop uttering stupidities! you gotta be brave, gotta have courage, gotta have balls and most of all, gotta have brains, to start mouthing the things you’re spewin around. cowering under pseudos aint gonna git ya anywhere, boy! if you ain’t got nuthing to show boy, bust off?

    if you have a contrary view, out with it boy! otherwise, zip it and zap it, will you boy?

    ta ta…

  4. neil

    people…i rest my case.

  5. The Ca t

    Ana,
    A president should manage the event and not otherwise, no matter how hands-on she is.

    That’s why she got a cabinet. Hindi para lagyan ng medicine.
    Poor girl you, masyadong makitid ang pagtanaw in terms of Public Administration.

    Ah the glory of GMA,

  6. mrabello

    One can speculate that the present crisis in the middle east was orchestrated by Israel to eventually spark a much larger regional (I have also seen opinion columns along this line).

    But couldn’t the same argement be said about Iran and Syria?

    Iran in particular has been saber-rattling and muscle-flexing in recent months; has upped the rhetoric about destroying Israel while defiantly asserting it’s right to continue on with its nuke program.

    Then lo and behold, their shia pawns in Southern Lebanon suddenly do a Hamas and abduct two more IDF soldiers?

    I tend to agree with some anaylsts on CNN that Iran is itching to extend its Shia fundamentalist influence across the region.

    That’s why conservative Sunni governments led by no less than Saudi Arabia are alarmed over the implications and that’s why it has blamed Hezbollah(not Israel) for the crisis.

    It may not really be as simple anymore as a case of Arab vs. Jew

    It may now be more of Sunni vs. Shia.

    Just look at Iraq.

    Islam itself is divided.

  7. antonio walanglaban

    neil, pasensya na. napagkamalan ka pa ata. hahaha. ganyan talaga si anna. masyadong matapang magsalita, di naman kaya panindigan yung mga pinagsasabi niya pag kinukwestiyon mo na. pagpasensyahan na lang.

  8. cvj

    Mrabello, i agree with you on the Sunni vs. Shia aspect. One of the objections to the US invasion of Iraq is that it would unleash this kind of sectarian violence. In the case of Iraq, there was a common interests between Israel and Iran to take out Saddam. That’s why both the pro-Israel lobby in the USA as well as suspected Iranian agents (like Ahmed Chalabi) who had close ties with the neocons supported the invasion. Now that Saddam is out of the way, both are in a stronger position.

    Today, it is again the hawks in Israel, the USA and Iran that are conspiring to bring about another war which they believe will serve their interests. Israel wants a war where the USA can participate in order to get rid of Iran. Iran believes that it can fight the USA in such a war because, from the experience in Iraq, they already found a template to defeat the Americans via a combination of IED’s and suicide bombers. Besides, once the keyboard commandos in the US start getting drafted, support for such a war will evaporate. The US will try to get away with using tactical nukes to minimize American casualties. The Saudi royal family who are long time friends of Bush, fear the backlash. Bin Laden and Al Qaeda are in an awkward position as they are also Sunnis, but want war nonetheless for obvious reasons.

    I would take your observation further and conclude that it’s not Arab vs. Jew or Sunni vs. Shia. It’s between the War Camp vs. the Peace Camp. You have elements of each among the American, Israeli, Arab and Persian public. In the run-up to the Iraq war, the peace camp losts. Unfortunately, even today, the dynamics favor the war camp.

  9. john marzan

    Our favorite US Ambassador of all time, Kristie Kenney, has spoken on the Joc-joc Bolante case, and no surprise (to me at least)– she refuses to cooperate with Sen. Magsaysay’s committee in providing more information on Joc joc.

    Instead, and tells magsaysay to get his information from the DFA.

    Okay. fayn. Watever.

    It’s funny though because when you ask the DFA naman for more information on Joc joc, they say na all inquiries on Joc joc should be referred to his lawyer Antonio zulueta, who has made himself scarce and cannot be found or contacted.

    (Ellen Tordesillas tried to contact lawyer Zulueta but to no avail.)

    This is not the first time the DFA dicked around on the Bolante case.

    And to this day, his lawyer have yet to make a statement regarding Joc Joc Bolante that can be found in Google news.

  10. anna de brux

    Yuu’ll be surprised Antonio Walang…. You cannot replicate an iota of what I have done.

    Bugs like you and Neil Walang…. (I didn’t pinagkamalan si Neil for your understanding) and The meowing C at don’t stand a chance pound for pound with me, guaranteed!

    Anyway, this is the end of the story! Gotta focus our efforts to oust Gloria Bansot and her mangkukulam brigade and to focus on the issues at hand… FULL STOP¨!

    And to make sure you guys walang….., zs I said, end of story!

  11. antonio walanglaban

    hahahahhahhahhahha. ever heard of the walter mitty syndrome, anna? i say you’re a perfect example.

  12. anna de brux

    So? What’s your problem Antonio Walang…

    Told ya already, focus your efforts on something worthwhile! Not on this futile exercise. Makes sense, don’t you think?

  13. anna de brux

    Le Figaro reports that UNICEF has just release 7.5 million dollars to spend on the basic needs of the population in areas in Lebanon that are badly hit.

    The report also says that close to half a million people are taking the exodus route to escape the bombs.

    I do hope that many of the 30,000 OFWs in the country who are domestic helpers can avail of the most basic needs.

  14. antonio walanglaban

    please, someone tell her what the walter mitty syndrome is.

    and anna, all I was asking was do we need clout ( which means influence, by the way ) to ask for help evacuating our countrymen? Apparently not since, as of this moment, they are being evacuated. So, it didn’t matter if Cimatu doesn’t have clout, did it? Like I said, this should be viewed as a humanitarian effort not a social climbing exercise.

    And if you think airing my views is a futile exercise, then I am truly sad for you. airing your view is what you’ve been doing all this time, my dear anna – so apparently, your days and nights are consumed with futility.

  15. anna de brux

    From Le Monde:

    France, member of the UN Security Council and the G8 nations,
    submitted yesterday a resolution to the UN Security Council calling for a “cessez-le-feu global et durable” (“global and long-lasting cease-fire”)

    The French text includes the “condemnation of exremist forces out to distabilize the region” and stresses the fac that we cannot allow these extremist forces and those who support them to plnge the Middle East in chaos and to provoke a bigger conflict.”

    The report also highlights “the need to consider the immediate causes of the current crisis and insists on the liberation of the abducted Israeli soldiers, the disarming and the dismantling of all militia groups in Lebanon as well as the support for the re-establishment of the authority of the Lebanese government all over the country.”

    http://www.lefigaro.fr

  16. anna de brux

    oops, sorry, that was from LE MONDE too: http://www.lemonde.fr

    Antonio Walang….., END OF STORY!

  17. The Ca t

    ana wrote,
    “Told ya already, focus your efforts on something worthwhile! Not on this futile exercise. Makes sense, don’t you think?”

    When you wrote this, did you feel something smacked in your face?

    Your long comments do not educate us ana. It is just a way of showing off.

    People do not read. They merely scan. Such a waste of bandwidth withhout delivering what you intend to say.

    And do not shut up people just because they do not agree with you.

    What you read from the newspapers is what they want you know and not necessarily the truth.

    Ano ka pikon?

  18. anna de brux

    The Cat,

    End of story…

  19. mrabello

    good one cvj…

    America cannot afford another theatre of war in the middle east. Got it’s hands full with Iraq and Afghanistan.
    It’ll spread itself too thin if it does.

    Meantime..
    Israel does have friends on both sides of the bipartisan divide on capitol hill and it can count on US support for it’s actions –good or bad –no matter or inspite of what the world ot the UN Security Council thinks.

    Thankfully, US influence still works and Israel will listen–albeit on it’s own terms and timetable.
    The United Staes position now reflects that of Israel’s: it’s too early for the UN to step in, even though Blair, Bush’s friend wants to see a peacekeeping intervention asap.

    Israel’s Ehud Olmert has big “hawk”-ish shoes to fill following the incapacity of his mentor Sharon and his subsequent assumption as prime minister..

    CNN has it that latest polls in Israel indicate an overwhelming majority agree with their government’s action in Southern Lebanon.

    The stated goal is to create a buffer zone as it did in the past.

    Israel of course is really after eradicating any vestige of the 5000 strong Hezbollah militia.. A buffer zone is one thing, but neutralizing Hezbollah altogether…?

    well…

  20. anna de brux

    Another breaking news from Le Figaro:

    “Bloody attack on Lebanon: more than 50 dead”
    (Sanglantes attaques au Liban : plus de 50 morts)

    The report says, “For the first time, the center of Beyrut was hit by an Israeli air raid. Tel Aviv admits having launched a land-based operation on the 8th day of the offensive which has killed more than 300 people. Tens of thousands of people are trying to escape from the high-risk areas.”

    Le Figaro also reports that President Chirac has called for a cease fire to be able to create a “humanitarian corridor” and announced that humanitarian aid convoy is en route on Wednesday mid-day composed of electrogene equipment, drinking water and medicine”. Moreover, 2 French frigates with mobile hospitals on board are expected to arrive today and tomorrow respectively.

    A few Filipinos have been spotted with groups of French Lebanese queing for exit listing in a French evacuation center. I do hope their employers will fight for them to get on board!

  21. The Ca t

    Israel when invaded will always protect their small state. The Jews have long believed that no power here on Earth can destroy Israel.
    The 1968 fight between Lebanon and Israel was also triggered by an attack. Hizbollah would never stop sowing terror since it was created to destroy Israel and to avenge the death of its leader who was killed with his family by the Israeli troops. So what do you expect? Israel to wait until this Muslim group marched triumphantly in their territory?

    By the way, Ana, it is not only the Republican dominated US Congress that support Israel’s move but also Arab and European countries which were alarmed by the victory of the Hamas in the poll.

    Your thinking is not that of a leader of a nation where collateral damage is never a factor in their desire to protect the nation’s sovereignty.

  22. cvj

    Anna, the post by Ca T above answers your question to hvrds on the other thread. Like Ca T, John Bolton considers the Lebanese deaths ‘collateral damage’ which is ‘never a factor in their desire to protect the nation’s sovereighnty’.

  23. The Ca t

    The multiple choice question:

    Who masterminded the attack on the Israeli soldiers?

    1. Hizbollah
    2. countries which benefit the ongoing war in the Middle East. Should I suspect the oil magnates in Russia who are enjoying the
    escalating oil prices?
    3. countries which would like to eliminate the Hizbollah but the leaders do not have the guts and their war arsenals are not as
    modern as that of Israel.

    War is hell for majority of the people but is a good business for some. Think about it.

    Btw, the Jews “have never left” Israel. Wherever they are, whatever citizens of any country they may have become, they still consider themselves, the God’s chosen people. Blame them for whatever support they give their nation, be it influencing the hungry votes-US senators and congressmen or funding research projects that could bring new technology esp. in weaponry.

  24. cvj

    I’m glad that Malaysia did not play by Israel’s rules when the Abu Sayyaf kidnapped the tourists from Sipadan. Its airforce would have bombed Manila and we would have suffered collateral damage especially around the Pasay City and Paranaque area.

    I realize that the affinity with Bible stories from childhood causes a lot of Filipinos to sympathize with Israel, but today, we have to realize that roles are now reversed.

  25. mrabello

    unfortunately,”collateral damage” is a necessary evil in the battlefield ..a sad reality but ..a reality nonetheless.

    Minimizing such damage is and should be s.o.p.

    On the matter of American support for Israel: without US support, Israel would have long been wiped off the mideast map.

    That’s basically why Radical Arabs and Islamists hate America.

    I’m not a big fan of George Bush Jr. or in love with America but seems like Amerca is the only nation that stands by Israel.

    You have to ask yourself: does Israel have a right to exist?

    Maybe Israel is really “praning” and tends to be feisty when provoked.

    Guess I would be myself if I were surrounded by hostile entities.

  26. mrabello

    Malaysia would have had every right to invade or attack our little group of islands after the failed operation to invade Sabah by our very own “Macoy”.

    All we got out of Ferdie’s grand design was a secessionist movement sparked by the Jabidah massacre.

    Come to think of it… any invader with a modern airforce could make mincemeat out of our armed forces..

    hmm..now where are those torah-torahs..?

    sorry for the off-topic tongue-in-cheek..

    carry on.

  27. anna de brux

    Thanks, cvj for the clarification.

    People must understand that many people in the world (me included) are NOT castigating Israel for PROTECTING its sovereignity. I do not, however, believe that invading a sovereign nation and that in the course of invading that territory, killing civilians can be equated with protecting one’s territory.

    There is NO WAY anyone could say that Israel’s act of a de-facto unilateral declaration of war which is outright invasion of a sovereign territory is moral. Bolton can say that but Bolton being Bolton, he’s got a warped sense of human life.

    Technically, if Israel really wants to decimate the Hezbollahs, I believe they should go after their big time supporters and weapons’ suppliers. But pounding on a weak state like Lebanon and killing civilians does not solve their problem. All they are achieving is making nnocent people pay for an act of some in their midst.

    The Hezbollahs are Israel’s enemies and not the Lebanese civilians.

    I do understand their difficulty but will killing civilians (they’ve now attacked the center of Beyrut) help them decimate their real enemies? I don’t believe so.

  28. anna de brux

    This ignoble military doctrine of collateral damage as part and parcel of an armed conflict must be an exception rather than the rule.

  29. anna de brux

    Mrabello,

    “Come to think of it… any invader with a modern airforce could make mincemeat out of our armed forces..”

    That’s true. Fortunately, we are not at war with Malaysia.

  30. mrabello

    hello anna..

    maybe it’s like…easier said than done–I mean, going after Hezbollah’s backers like Iran and Syria.

    But the more immediate threat and agression does come from southern Lebanon.

    Granted that Lebanon’s coalition government is “powerless” to do anything to restrain Hezbollah because it may risk civil war with these radical Shias..

    If the government in Beirut is overwhelmed and cannot control radical forces within it’s own borders from acts of provocation against a neighbor on its southern border, then what is it in power for?

    I do have to agree though that Israel is going “overkill” with it’s “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth..”

  31. anna de brux

    True, Mrabello … but the Lebanese govt is just striving to pull their country together. After so many years of civil war, the government is sill not at speed with regards full authority and that’s understandable. They have a right to pool their govt together even at a slow and arduous pace and not be attacked everytime someone in the region gets mad!

    America has a leverage on Israel: it’s more than 2 billion dollars FMF subsidies which help in great part operate and maintain Israel’s TSAHAL. They could exert pressure on Israel if they want to to be more reasonable. Israel’s 3 conditions for a ceasefire is almost unattainable in the current state of conflict and America could do something to make them see reason, if only for those innocent people who are caught in the crossfire.

    Btw, here’s a breaking news:

    According to a breaking news from Le Monde, close to 6,000 Iraqi civilians were killed in two months alone – in May and June based on a UN report (”Près de 6 000 civils irakiens ont été tués en mai et juin, selon l’ONU”).

    Staggering!

    We deplore 300 deaths in the war on Lebanon (I say “on” because Lebanon has not declared a state of war with Israel), more than 300 deads in the recent Indonesia tsunami while Iraq suffers the heaviest of tolls in these catastrophes.

  32. anna de brux

    Here’s another breaking news from Le Monde:

    Hezbollah resistance provokes a debate in Israel (“La résistance du Hezbollah provoque un débat en Israël”)

    The report quotes Yossi Alpher, a former MOSSAD executive, “Nothing guarantees that the air raids will sufficiently weaken the Hezbollahs so that the Lebanese army can dislodge them from the border and with regards a plan to attack by land, I am not sure either that we will avoid making the mistakes of the past. The picture concerning the first week’s offensive has been anything but clear, says the former MOSSAD officer.

  33. mrabello

    I would go along with Blair and Kofi Annan –and get those bluehelmets in.

    Bush and Olmert though still wanna play cowboy until Hezbollah’s ranks are decimated.

    Jewish – Americans are a strong lobby group in the US not to mention they belong to influential power circles in government and business as you well know.

    They do also exert pressure on US foreign policy.

  34. anna de brux

    Re: “I would go along with Blair and Kofi Annan –and get those bluehelmets in.”

    Me too, Mrabello….

  35. The Ca t

    ana,do not wear a helmet that’s too big for you..

    attacking without provocation may be considered an agrresion but defending one’s border from enemies who have been in the war zones
    is protection of a nation’s sovereignty. You are merely relying on the reports in the newspapers. Haven’t you heard about Press Secretaries or spokespersons that draft press releases to the media.

    Go ahead and read the Old Testament or better still watch 24 hours.

  36. anna de brux

    The Cat: “Meow, meow!”

    You saying anything, The Cat? No? Then do stop meowing, will you? Back to your cage, silly beast!

  37. Amadeo

    mrabello:

    I generally agree with your several comments above, not because they happen to jibe with my own thoughts but because I believe they more or less reflect the facts.

    However, these declarations may in fact not reflect the realities.

    1. “On the matter of American support for Israel: without US support, Israel would have long been wiped off the mideast map.”

    One needs recall the 6-day war of 1967 when Israel faced the collective might of the Arab world and decisively repulsed their attacks. – on its own. And why so? Because:

    “99 percent of all U.S. aid to Israel took place after the June 1967 war, when Israel found itself more powerful than any combination of Arab armies….” (http://www.washington-report.org/us_aid_to_israel/index.htm)

    BTW, while the US continues to provide foreign aid to about 150 countries, the biggest beneficiaries are still Israel and Egypt. In 2004, Egypt got close to 2 billion in FMF aid. Yes, Egypt, Israel’s main protagonist during that 1967 confrontation.

    2. “I do have to agree though that Israel is going “overkill” with it’s “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth..”

    To put context on whether the present response is “disproportionate” or “overkill”, one needs not go all the way back to 1948, the year of Israel’s birth. Going back six years would be sufficient. That was the year Israel pulled out of Lebanon completely, under a negotiated agreement brokered by the UN (under Resolution 1559). One of the core provisions of that resolution was that the duly-constituted Lebanese government was to disarm Hezbollah, especially in the southern part of Lebanon which is contiguous with the northern border of Israel.

    6 years later, the Lebanese government not only admits it cannot contain Hezbollah, but has effectively done nothing toward this end though providing reasons why it cannot.

    BTW, many advance the reason that Israel itself during its occupation was not able to neutralize Hezbollah, because it paid too much attention to interim agreements that called for cessation of hostilities. In effect, it was hampered from doing its job of forcibly getting rid of Hezbollah.

    And worse, in the meantime Iran with the able assistance of Syria has made Hezbollah the most lethal fighting militia force bar none. Nobody doubts that it now has about 13,000 rockets in its arsenal, a good number able to reach Israel’s capital , Tel Aviv, some 50 miles away from the border. Fortunately, so far the rockets lobbed have only reached some 30 miles inland. And remember Hezbollah during the last 6 years has been lobbing rockets into the border towns of Israel, with regularity.

    Does Israel wait until Hezbollah gets the opportunity to start raining those longer range rockets into the heart of Israel?

    Many talk about collateral damage, and you yourself admit its reality during war. And it is particularly relevant and lethal for this particular type of engagement because those thousands of rockets are scattered and hidden in private residences in urban areas, and maybe even in mosques if the situation in Iraq is any indication, areas where civilians congregate. Let’s think human shields.

  38. cvj

    mrabello, Israel did not have the right to make a ‘battlefield’ out of Beirut Airport and the power stations. It’s the equivalent to Bin Laden making a ‘battlefield’ out of downtown Manhattan.

    Via Juan Cole, here’s an excerpt letter from a Beirut resident on the impact of hitting the power stations:

    ‘The university has fuel (and power) for only 12 days; after that we will have a real crisis at the hospital which is already stressed with many wounded people…’

    Given the above, when does collateral damage cross the line from being a ‘necessary evil’ to a war crime?

    Arabs (and the Muslim world in general) hate America for at least two good reasons (1) maintaining double standards when it comes to Israelis and Palestinians and more recently, (2) its unilateral invasion of Iraq and subsequent atrocities.

    Amadeo, i suppose there were rockets hidden in the St. Gregorius Church in Rachaya al-Fokhar, in the Lake Qaraoun Dam, as well as the ambulance donated by the Emirates in Dar al-Baydar, which is the reason why all of these suffered direct hits?

  39. anna de brux

    Very fine analysis by Amadeo.

    The Hezbollahs have some 50 medium range capability missiles (which is quite a number!) capable of hitting Tel Aviv so Tsahal is expected to do everything to destroy those missile sites in preemptive strikes; moreover, a few of them have been fired or destroyed and it is likely that the Hezbollahs will need to replenish their stock via Syria; with that in mind we can expect the Israelis to do everything in its power to destroy the routes leading from Syria to Leabanon (which they’ve already done and undoubtedly will continue to do) and if that isn’t enough, the war might escalate towards Syria and heaven forbid, towards Iran.

    As Amadeo rightly points out, most of the Hezbollah rocket and other short range missiles arsenals are scattered well within the vicinity of central Beyrut and the Baaka plain in the east of Lebanon. The collateral damage resulting in the air raids and land offensives by Israel to reach these Hezbollah targets and enclaves will be absolutely horrendous.

  40. anna de brux

    cvj,

    I don’t know how long this current conflict will last but if the Israelis’ promise is to be taken seriously, Tsalah is gunning for a month long of non-stop offensives.

    What do you think would be a rough estimate as to the number of civilians who need to die as a direct result of the air and land offensives? How many others need to die for want of vital needs, food, medicine, water, etc. for Isarel to achieve its objective, i.e., decimate every Hezbollah arsenal which, as Amadeo himself pointed out, could very well be found in many densely civilian-populated quarters.

    Bush should put his foot down (if the neo-cons don’t put their fist in his mouth first) and tell Israel to back down in order to give evacuees time to evacuate high-risk areas.

    Bush is depending on the Syrian president to rein in the Hezbollahs but let’s hope he himself can make the Israelis see reason too.

  41. cvj

    Anna, i don’t think that the assumptions that the USA can rein in Israel and that Syria/Iran can do the same to Hezbollah are necessarily true.

    On your question about estimated civilian casualties…in a week, there have been 200+ Lebanese civilians compared to less than 10 Hezbollah fighters killed. If the ratio holds, then eliminating 5000 Hezbollah would potentially result in 100,000 Lebanese becoming unfortunate victims of ‘collateral damage’. (In John Bolton’s terms, that would be morally equivalent to 1000 American 9/11 victims.) Of course, the ratio is unlikely to hold and the above extrapolation is simplistic so consider it a wild guess.

    The above does not also take into account that Hezbollah’s support base which number 1.35 million, so replenishing losses is hardly a problem. Unlike the faith-based American leadership, the Israelis are realists so they know this. That’s why what they’re doing does not make sense to me in terms of purely military objectives. Since you’re the chess player, maybe you would be in a better position to figure this one out and i am definitely interested in your take on this matter.

  42. Amadeo

    Without any intention to be facetious or to degrade the gravity of actual and possible civilian deaths, I do think that any assessment we make about this one needs be grounded on the harsh realities of this hell we call a shooting war, rather than on some paper-bound idealism.

    Because this war is in many respects still conducted with rather crude and primitive methods. Rockets vs long range artillery.

    Thus, I was quite specific about Hezbollah having rockets, not missiles. Main distinction is that missiles have guidance systems accurate enough to hit specific targets. Rockets do not. And as far as I know neither do long range artillery. Thus, we can rightly assume that rockets and shells know no better and cannot discriminate, which targets to hit and which ones to avoid.

    Furthermore, it is almost eerie to hear Israeli military declare that they like to engage Hezbollah fire power at night, rather than during the daytime. Because during the daytime, they are almost blind not knowing where the rockets are coming from; but at nighttime, they can trace where the rockets are launched by the sparks they create. And in response, they will simply aim toward that general direction?

    Now, North Korea aims to perfect missiles, long range ones. And that July 4th display was done toward this end. Try to bring war to the 21st century. But we all know the world is not better served by this development, right?

  43. anna de brux

    cvj,

    good gracious! how horrendous…

    but your extrapolation makes sense given the ratio 200 civilian lebanese for every 10 hezbollahs. although, I don’t know if you factored in the product of the subsequent damages which will be brought about by the initial collateral damage; if such is factored, does that mean that you stand to have a potential result of at least 50% more or 150 thousand casualties overall?

    Eeeeeeeek!

    Ok, i don’t like maths or arithmethic that’s why I asked you. I hope the estimate is just that, an extremely out of this world, wild guess, so to speak.

    Golly, cvj, my level of chess wouldnt be able to produce even a semblace of “prediction” at all and even if it did, it wouldn’t be sound because there aren’t just two players involved…there are multitudes of variables presented and constantly introduced by so many players whose moves are quite unpredictable and happening in several theatres of operations (chess boards); just are too damning for a lowly chess player like me to come up with a chess-based prediction.

    Einstein might have been able to or his friend Hillbert or both of them at the same time could have.

    I suppose world leaders, given their power to “add” or “detract” could make the difference and should be able to “impose their prediction” if they decide to make a “prediction”.

    At the end of the day, Carl von Klauswitz’s strategy of a non-protracted conflict seems to be the right course of action(just like in high-speed chess perhaps); no moral factoring here involved; it could save the day and limit collateral damage (Ugh! I hate that military doctrine of collateral damage thinggy – really I do!).

    In spite of high tech war equipment, conventional war has never been an exact science, just too many human factors involved – history has shown that.

    But thanks for asking (a chess factotum – teehee)…btw, do you play chess?

  44. The Ca t

    Oh yes ana,
    what you say in a gazillion words, i can say in a dozen.
    Are you trying to impress me with your long commentaries?
    Gowd, you might as well replace MlQ blogging here.
    Just an advice from one blogger to another, you do not have to reproduce your blog to a comment box of another blogger out of respect and consideration that this is a paid website and not a free hosted blogspot like yours. We pay for additional bandwidth you know.
    Why ana, no one visits your blog? Because honey, they are just reproductions of what have already been written. No substantial analyses.

    Yum, yum,,, and you claim to be a chess player. Chess players do not talk a lot. They use more of their brain. Do you have one?

    Mwhehehehe

  45. mrabello

    @ Amadeo:
    “Without any intention to be facetious or to degrade the gravity of actual and possible civilian deaths, I do think that any assessment we make about this one needs be grounded on the harsh realities of this hell we call a shooting war, rather than on some paper-bound idealism.”

    Agreed. We could all talk about “shouldas”(as in woulda, coulda shoulda) but that does delve into the realm of the ideal.

    Quote Amadeo:
    “Does Israel wait until Hezbollah gets the opportunity to start raining those longer range rockets into the heart of Israel?

    Many talk about collateral damage, and you yourself admit its reality during war. And it is particularly relevant and lethal for this particular type of engagement because those thousands of rockets are scattered and hidden in private residences in urban areas, and maybe even in mosques if the situation in Iraq is any indication, areas where civilians congregate. Let’s think human shields. ”

    I did hear about Hezbollah’s rockets hidden in civilian homes—this comes of course from the Israeli IDF.

    That being the case, then urban civilian areas are fair game and legitimate targets.

    I would think that preemptive strikes against the enemy and the principle of the best defense being a good offense apply here.

    Correct me if I’m wrong but Hezbollah’s arsenal is way more than just Katyushas. As I understand it they have more sophisticated laser-guided missiles as well.

    Risking another Lebanese civil war has been given by the Lebanese PM has been the reason given as to why the government in Beirut cannot rein in or control Hezbollah..

    The abductions were a provocation from the north initiated by a militia based in Southern Lebanon and Israel reacted in a manner it may have seen fit whether one agrees with the reaction or not.

    Question: what does one think Israel should have done after the Hezbollah abductions?

    Question 2: Is Israel’s only fault ..if we can call it that… its disproportionate military action/reaction?

    Talkin about shoulda’s:

    It is imperative that the UN should step in now and it should be allowed to do so by all parties involved.

    Not just some unilateral cessation on the part of Israel.

    Hezbollah would do well to sit down and agree to a UN-mediated ceasefire.. and hand back those two soldiers they captured.

    Israel should allow the UN to intervene and forget about what it alleges to be a less-than-perfect performance by UN troops in the past.

  46. cvj

    Anna, i know the rules of the game, but can’t really play it that well. When i was a kid, my cousins and brothers always beat me:-) You’re right about high tech war equipment. Even with all their Cruise Missiles and JDAMs that have those sophisticated guidance systems, the American invasion still resulted in over 300,000 Iraqi dead. Even by Bolton’s moral equivalency standards (which i’m pegging at 100:1 in terms of American:Non-American lives), this would already have been sufficient payback for 9/11, on a people that had nothing to do with that attack by the way.

    Amadeo, since when did avoiding loss of human lives become considered paper bound idealism? We cannot just excuse non-American/non-Israeli deaths with a Britneyesque ‘Oops, i did it again’. And yet, people still wonder why America and Israel are hated throughout the world. Israel has a choice on whether to hit civilian homes and infrastructure and the responsibility to avoid doing so. It’s as straightforward as that. They are at war with Hezbollah, not the Lebanese people or government.

  47. anna de brux

    Is that so, The Cat? You happy at last?

    If what you say makes you feel intelligent, pretty, rich and happy, why, go ahead and meow, meow till you become blue in the tail.

    Really now… You go on and on and on with your futilities – one wonders if you’ve got a permanent bycicle in the head. How tedious and boring life must be for you.

    OK? End of story!

  48. cvj

    Anna, on Kevin Drum’s weblog (washingtonmonthly.com), there is an email posted that offers a plausible explanation on Israel’s military objectives. Given that it cannot realistically eliminate Hezbollah, the letter writer suggests that the objective is to reduce them from being a standing army to a guerilla force:

    And then, presumably, the regular Lebanese army or (more likely, in my opinion) an EU-led force can replace Hezbollah on the border. So Hezbollah wouldn’t be gone (none of the Haaretz analysts suggest this is even a remote possibility), but they just wouldn’t be left ruling the southern boundary like they have been since the IDF left six years ago.

    Sounds likely, although it does not explain the non-military targets nor the killings of Lebanese soldiers.

  49. cvj

    Anna, from your previous comment posted, I see that you’ve already covered this angle as well with that statement by the former Mossad Yosi Alpher.

  50. anna de brux

    Hi cvj,

    I couldn’t access Manuel’s blog till this morning…

    Yes, both seem to have a similar take. The Isareli stand is stronger than ever. The president has something to prove to his people: that he’s made of stern stuff like Sharon.

    I don’t believe the Israelis will be able to decimate the Lebanese Hezbollahs even if they raze Lebanon to the ground. (They are probably trying to replicate the war on Armenia almost a century ago.) To realistically do that, they have to raze Syria and Iran to the ground too.

    From what I’ve read in today’s news, Bush’s “procrastinating” is a tactic to help the Israeli forces gain ground. Bush loves wars! Simply staggering!

    From the looks of it, the invading forces will be engaging the Hezbollahs in guerilla warfare. There will be casualties – collateral damage of unspeakable proportions among the civilian population.

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