July 27, 2006


Israeli strikes may boost Hizbullah base: Hizbullah support tops 80 percent among Lebanese factions. (Nicholas Blanford, 7/28/06, CS Monitor)

The ferocity of Israel's onslaught in southern Lebanon and Hizbullah's stubborn battles against Israeli ground forces may be working in the militant group's favor. [...]

The stakes are high for Hizbullah, but it seems it can count on an unprecedented swell of public support that cuts across sectarian lines.According to a poll released by the Beirut Center for Research and Information, 87 percent of Lebanese support Hizbullah's fight with Israel, a rise of 29 percent on a similar poll conducted in February. More striking, however, is the level of support for Hizbullah's resistance from non-Shiite communities. Eighty percent of Christians polled supported Hizbullah along with 80 percent of Druze and 89 percent of Sunnis.

Nohing Israel is going to do will change the fact that Hezbollah will be the dominant party in a free Southern Lebanon. All this episode has done is give a younger generation, that didn't experience the last foolish incursion personally, fresh reasons to hate them. Long term Israeli interests would have been better served by doing nothing at all.

Israel and Lebanon: a long and bitter entanglement: Does the latest conflict fit historical trends or is this something different? (Dan Murphy, 7/28/06, The Christian Science Monitor)

Arab militants strike across the border from southern Lebanon, provoking a massive Israeli response, with thousands of soldiers pouring into Lebanese territory and airstrikes pounding enemy positions.

The Israeli prime minister says the only objectives of the invasion are to "root out the evil weed" of terrorism. Israel will protect itself by pushing militants beyond the Litani River and establishing a buffer zone along the border. The Israeli incursion is also described as "limited." And though Israel says its strikes are carefully targeted against militants, at least 100,000 Lebanese civilians flee their homes and hundreds die.

That was 1978.

Making Enemies: Hamas and Hizbullah should not be confused with Al Qaeda. Bush's insistence on doing so shows his failure to understand his foes (Michael Hirsh, 7/26/06, Newsweek)
The president has used Al Qaeda to gin up the threat from Iraq, just as he is now conflating Hizbullah and Hamas with Al Qaeda as "terrorists" of the same ilk. Actually these groups had little connection to one another—or at least they didn't until America decided to make itself their common enemy. Al Qaeda was always, in truth, the only "terrorist group of global reach" in the world—which is how Bush accurately defined things back in that long-ago fall of 2001. Both Hizbullah and Hamas had publicly disavowed any interest in backing Osama bin Laden's goals. Al Qaeda was Sunni, Hizbullah is Shiite. Even within the Muslim world these groups had scant support, although Hamas and Hizbullah had a lot more than Al Qaeda did because they were providing social services in Lebanon and Gaza.

How does this affect current events in the Mideast? In strategic terms, the U.S. endorsement of Israel's retaliation against Hizbullah had some merit at the start, within limits: a Lebanon with an armed Hizbullah in its midst was never going to graduate to real democracy. The Israeli action is also, in a way, a proxy war against Iran and its nuclear program. Reducing Iran's influence in the region by degrading the power of its principal means of terror (and therefore of retaliation) is in America's interest, as well. This is the unspoken logic both of the fierce Israeli assault and Bush's fierce defense of it: "In the back of everyone's head is Iran looming as a threat over the region," says one Israeli official.

But with each errant bomb that kills more Lebanese children, the U.S. position becomes less defensible. By walking in lockstep with the Israelis, we Americans make it impossible for Muslims not to see us as an enemy. And every Muslim official knows, even if Bush does not, that Hizbullah is not identical with Iran but is a client of it, in a relationship not unlike that of the United States and Israel. By making Israel's war our own we ensure that the Lebanese group and the Tehran mullahs will be even closer allies in the future. We place the Muslims whom we desperately need as allies, like Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, in an impossible position. Maliki, a Shiite, can no longer stand with Bush, as he showed during his tense visit to Washington this week.

And at cafes and around kitchen tables throughout the Arab world, good-hearted Muslims can no longer defend America against their more hate-filled brethren. They have fallen silent; they have no arguments left. "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity," as the poet Yeats memorably put it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 27, 2006 7:07 PM

Wow, they're polling almost as well among the Lebanese as Saddam Hussein did among Iraqis when he ruled over them.

Posted by: Just John at July 27, 2006 7:15 PM

Well, they're also killing Hezbollah's members and destroying its rockets. The Israelis might think that that counts for something.

Posted by: David Cohen at July 27, 2006 7:30 PM

We had better not send those aircraft carriers to Midway: it might make the Japanese angry; they might even hate us.

Posted by: Lou Gots at July 27, 2006 7:45 PM

Why? What are a few young nuts and some armaments?

Posted by: oj at July 27, 2006 7:50 PM

Oh jeez. Oj you're not actually falling for the "it's creating more terrorists" version 2.billion?

The Shia will be free to govern south Lebanon when Israel is gone. They may even call their gvt Hizbullah. What they may not do however is consist entirely of an armed proxy for Iran, with tens of thousands of missiles aimed at Israel and cross border raids to kidnap Israeli soldiers.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at July 27, 2006 7:52 PM


The difference, of course, is that Japan was no threat, but we wanted to regime change them for ideological reasons. It was really a no lose situation for us. Israel, on the other hand, is truly threatened by radicalized young Muslim men but is helping create them.

Posted by: oj at July 27, 2006 7:53 PM

A few young nuts? Uh-huh. No, rather highly trained military units, sophisticated bunkers and communications/spying equipment, etc.

Belmot has quite a good post on this today. It took a decade and more for the Iranians to build HB up to what it is today. It'll take a few weeks for Israel to move them back to square one. Perhaps Israel will have to do it all over again in another 10 years, but I doubt it. By then the mullahs will be out, as will the chinless physician in Damascus.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at July 27, 2006 7:56 PM


No, not more terrorists. It does give them reason to hate Israel. When they have their state they'll have every right to re-arm openly.

Posted by: oj at July 27, 2006 7:57 PM

They already hate them and will continue to hate them with a homicidal intensity. I know, 'the legacy of imperialism' makes them nutty. One would need to think mighty highly of themselves before believing that they have the power to create monsters were none exist. Occasionally, murder and mayhem can be traced to nothing but the influence of mindless evil.

Posted by: Tom C.,Stamford,Ct. at July 27, 2006 8:06 PM

They've had their state since Israel left. The Beirut gvt left them to their own devices. They chose to remain the creature of Iran. Israel let Iran and Syria arm them. They finally called no mas at explicit acts of war.

If HB wanted to be left alone, they wanted have crossed the border to kidnap Israeli soldiers.

We wouldn't tolerate Canukistani military members crossing our border to kidnap our soldiers.

Why should Israel?

This is the same old song and dance. The West, whether Israel or the US can't do this that or the other b/c it will "create more terrorists".


There's an article in the Brit Spectator, hardly an uncritical supporter of the war on terror, that draws precisely the opposite conclusions to the CSM -- that the rest of Lebanon blames HB, not Israel.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at July 27, 2006 8:09 PM


To the contrary, Israel certainly can do what it's doing and is amply justified in doing so--it is idiotic, not wrong.

Posted by: oj at July 27, 2006 8:13 PM

By the way,oj, it hardly matters whether Japan was a threat in an existential way if they believed they were a threat and were willing to act on it. Your retroactive, deterministic wisdom is getting played, tired.

Posted by: Tom C.,Stamford,Ct. at July 27, 2006 8:14 PM

No one believed they were a threat, least of all the Japanese, especially after their one-off shot failed so spectacularly.

Posted by: oj at July 27, 2006 8:25 PM

If your assumptions are correct, then how do you explain the abscense of new generations of Nazis in Germany and extreme militarists in Japan.

The answer might be the unconditional destruction of both regimes!

Military solutions precede succesful political solutions.

Posted by: MikeB at July 27, 2006 9:16 PM


This is another one of you "we all ought to be made to wear helmets in our living rooms if it saves even one life" arguments. How do you stumble across these rhetorical curiosities?

"Don't make the Nazi savages mad"?? Am I a racist wahoo to think that sort of, I dunno, wussy? Don't you think the jew-hating imams have a little to do with foster jew-hatery? How about UN funding and protection for jew-haters?

Jew-killing is not sport. Kill the jew-killers. It's pretty simple out here in wahoo-land. Damascus can wait a few weeks.

Now return your fetal position and think this one through.

Posted by: Palmcroft at July 27, 2006 9:51 PM

'78 worked.

Posted by: David Cohen at July 27, 2006 10:18 PM

Yes, if a whole series of things that were true of Nazi Germany and aren't true of the Shi'a of Lebanon were true then you might get a post-WWII effect:

(1) If Shi'ism were a marginal scientific rationalist theory incapable of engendering long term support, rather than a great religion, you might stamp it out.

(2) If the Shi'a of Lebanon were to attack a number of great powers such that a consensus were created to put them down, rather than having a border dispute and left over issues with Israel and a reasonable desire to separate themselves from the North.

(3) If Israel were going to kill the same percentage of Lebanese that the Allies killed Germans and destroy the cities and infrastructure as thoroughly.

(4) If a friendly Sunni totalitarian power could be convinced to take half the population and subject them to totalitarian rule in perpetuity and, at the same time, serve as a seeming existential threat to both the Shi'a and the Israelis, such that they were forced to forget their own differences post haste.

Instead we have a situation where a people bound by a great religion are demanding political rights that we all recognize as legitimate. They're a nuisance but not a military threat to anyone. The Isaraelis have neither the stomach to kill them in the numbers that y'all require nor the international imprimatur. And building up a Sunni power to re-oppress the Shi'a and threaten the existence of Israel doesn't seem to be in the offing.

You only have everything about the comparison wrong.

Posted by: oj at July 27, 2006 10:43 PM


Sure that could possibly work. But this is reality, not your dreams. The Israelis aren't going to kill much of anyone. And remember, Saddam tried killing them into submission with rather poor results. Think Israel can be more brutal?

Note to that I'm making the opposite of the hysterical helmet argument. Hezbollah is low hanging fruit and there was no point to these attacks given how little threat they posed and what a de facto ally they are.

Posted by: oj at July 27, 2006 10:44 PM

Slightly OT - was listening to the usual "it's Israel's fault" from a coworker when CNN had a statement that over 150-200 rockets have been fired by Hezbollah into Israel in the past week. All of the philosophical stuff above is nice but rockets are raining down on you you need to act.

Posted by: AWW at July 27, 2006 10:47 PM

Didn't we hear the same claim during the recent intifada, that Israeli actions were creating more terrorists?

In the real world, the Palestinians eventually ran out of loonies. Presumably something similar will happen in Lebanon.

Posted by: Joseph Hertzlinger at July 28, 2006 12:39 AM

The problem, as I've pointed out before, following Fuad Ajami and others, is that the HB are not a nationalist movement for the Shia community in S. Lebanon.

I have no problem with the Shia. They probably ought to have their own state. Heck, a whole bunch of Shia states across the region.

The problem for them, however, as with the Sunni, the vast majority of whom I don't have anything against either, is that a bunch of thuggish madmen are calling a helluva of lot of the shots.

In this case, it's the Iranian mullahs, who couldn't care less about the Lebanese Shia.

Iran has to be driven from the S. Lebanon. That is why HB as it exists now must be smashed. And why they will be smashed.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at July 28, 2006 12:45 AM

Correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I've read over the years, here's what American foreign policy should be and have been, according to OJ:

--Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan: not a threat. (Was our reaction to the whole Pearl Harbor thing "disproportionate"?)

--USSR in the '50s: a huge threat, we should have started a nuclear war to stop it then. (Apparently this would not have created any new, young Communists.)

--Islamic law anywhere/everywhere: not a threat. (Suggested slogan: "Don't worry, it's Abrahamic!™")

--Middle East, now: Take out Syria and Iran. (Oddly, this creates no new terrorists, unlike what Israel is doing.) Or do we ally with Iran, since they're Shias? I could swear I've read both.

--North Korea: Another war we should start ASAP. (Again, the PR backlash is inconsequential.)

All this doesn't add up for me. Is OJ just trolling his own blog to boost ad revenue or something...?

Posted by: PapayaSF at July 28, 2006 1:48 AM


Don't be silly--the USSR was never a threat. Nor are Syria or North Korea. We should just change all regimes that oppress their own people.

Posted by: oj at July 28, 2006 8:31 AM


Rather they are the vehicle of the Shi'as national aspirations, the leadership just has other, unpopular, goals in mind too. Forcing a nation upon them would restrict their capacity to pursue the other ends.

Posted by: oj at July 28, 2006 9:29 AM


Israel's adventures in Palestine drove a secular rationalist party that the Israelis preferred dealing with from power and replaced it with an Islamist one. That was a very good thing, but the opposite of what Israel wanted.

Posted by: oj at July 28, 2006 9:35 AM


The killing and persecution witin the USSR and it's satelites had to end because it was not liberal democracy. It was just a question of when and how many casualties. So, it was never a threat. Looking back it just so obvious. Islamic theocracies will be good because it is Abrahamic, you know, like the Judeo-Christian tradition from which the classically liberal, natural law philosophy of the west became fertile ground for the development of the American take on the British tradition. There are no ideological differences between the American Purtitan settlers and the Wahhabists of Saudi Arabia, for example, and the Shia messianism will lead the reforamtion of Islamic protestantism.It's all been determined by Francis Fukuyama and the dialectic.

Posted by: Tom C.,Stamford,Ct. at July 28, 2006 10:52 AM

"Forcing a nation on them would restrict their capacity to pursue other ends."

Like it has with North Korea???? Like it has with Iran????

Posted by: Palmcroft at July 28, 2006 11:19 AM

Israel is sure not acting as if this is an existential crisis, which makes one wonder what would be.

Posted by: b at July 28, 2006 11:40 AM


North Korea is well-contained. Iran shouldn't be until all the Shi'a have states.

But the better analogy is to Palestine, which went quiet when Sharon started forcing a state on them.

Posted by: oj at July 28, 2006 11:50 AM


Existential? Hezbollah is no more than an annoyance, which is why the response was foolish.

Posted by: oj at July 28, 2006 11:51 AM

An opponent that can (and will) rain missiles down upon virtually all of your territory is "an annoyance"?

Posted by: b at July 28, 2006 11:53 AM

Hezbollah is, for all intents and purposes, an arm of the Iranian military.

Posted by: David Cohen at July 28, 2006 12:40 PM

Yes, they're also the representative of Lebanese Shi'a popular will. The two aren't mutually exclusive. Likewise, Israel is just an American client state.

Posted by: oj at July 28, 2006 12:47 PM

David: Indeed, and check this out from The Washington Times (via Hugh Hewitt):

"Intelligence reports indicate the leader of Hezbollah is hiding in a foreign mission in Beirut, possibly the Iranian Embassy, according to U.S. and Israeli officials...If confirmed, the reports could lead to an Israeli air strike on the embassy, possibly leading to a widening of the conflict, said officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Foreign embassies are sovereign territory and an attack on an embassy could be considered an act of war."

I couldn't decide if that last line made me want to laugh or cry...

Posted by: b at July 28, 2006 1:02 PM

OJ: Which is why it's nuts to say that Israel, Iran and the US have common ends.

b: Unlike, say, shooting missiles at the actual sovereign territory.

Posted by: David Cohen at July 28, 2006 1:17 PM

My mistake. Looking back in the archives, I see that you have advocated nuking the Soviets early on, but at the same time claimed they weren't a threat to us. Silly me, I tend to think of nukes as the last resort means of national defense, not handy tools for no-muss no-fuss regime change....

Posted by: PapayaSF at July 28, 2006 1:18 PM


Iran has an interest in seeing the historically oppressed Shi'a get their own states. So do we. The similarities in theology among Jews, Christians and the Shi'a make us all natural democrats, unlike the Sunni. Ultimately the Middle East just boils down to pushing Sunni Arabs to liberalize as non-Arab Sunni have. The rest is just tensions whipped up by a history of dysfunction.

Posted by: oj at July 28, 2006 1:23 PM


Yes, yours is a morally indefensible position. Nukes should be the first resort because they are dispositive and best save lives and money, and preserve the domestic culture.

Posted by: oj at July 28, 2006 1:25 PM

David: Actually, I was thinking more along the lines that it would take some serious, serious chutzpah for the current President of Iran to act particularly outraged at an attack on an embassy...

Posted by: b at July 28, 2006 2:05 PM

Papaya: think of how far ahead we'd be if only we'd nuked Hanover...

Posted by: joe shropshire at July 28, 2006 4:29 PM

The rest is just tensions whipped up by a history of dysfunction.

Even if that were true, and didn't ignore the reality of Iran, so what? The source of the tensions don't matter as much as dealing with them.

Posted by: David Cohen at July 28, 2006 5:08 PM

The incidental tensions will take care of themselves when the underlying problems are dealt with.

Posted by: oj at July 28, 2006 6:03 PM

Yes, yours is a morally indefensible position. Nukes should be the first resort because they are dispositive and best save lives and money, and preserve the domestic culture.

Now I'm sure I've gone through the looking glass....

Posted by: PapayaSF at July 28, 2006 7:13 PM