Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 109 (since 2011-04-04 12:37:23)

I am an Arab-American deeply concerned about the Middle East peace process. My ancestors came from Jdaide Lebanon early in this century and I still have relatives living there today.Like many Arab-Americans I grew up believing that Israel was the obstacle to peace in the Holy Land. This illusion was dispelled by the Oslo Peace Process,where I saw Israel making concessions, Arafat pocketing them, and making none in return. I have seen little that has changed with the behavior of his successors.

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  • Ambassadors of Apartheid: Batsheva Dance Company to tour San Francisco and New York
    • Phillip,

      I wanted to commend you on that excellent piece on Shostakovich's Babi-Yar symphony that you wrote on your website. I have Bernard Haitink's excellent recording on the Decca/London label. If you don't already have this, I highly reccomend getting it. the first and final movements are particularly distinctive. I recently got the Heifetz/Barbirolli recording of the Glazunov concerto. also has the Sibelius and Tchaikovsky concertos.

  • "Four days in Ramallah through the lens of dehumanization" - remembering Anthony Shadid
  • Norman Finkelstein slams the BDS movement calling it 'a cult'
    • A strange thing happened to me today. About a week ago I taped a documentary on the Military channel about the Doolittle raid, and sat down this afternoon to watch it. What I got instead was a documentary from Link tv on Norman Finklestein--someone had changed the channel I was taping, obviously. The documentary traced his long, lonely struggle to reveal The Truth about "the Holocaust industry." At one university somewhere, a young girl who was trembling and crying, gently, almost pleadingly, asked him if he realized how hurtful comparing Jews to Nazis was to some Jews.

      Now, he might have calmly explained to the girl, who was crying and obviously very distressed, his point of view on the Israeli-Palestinian situation and why, and reassuring her that he could understand her feelings, and then, maybe explaining to her his (in my opinion, ridiculous and insulting) view of how he sees past Jewish suffering used as a warrant for certain objectionable actions committed against Palestinians in the past and present.

      But no. Finklestein assailed his timid, trembling questioner with all the belligerence of a brawler sailing into a fistfight. He brutally mocked what he called the girl's "crocidile tears" and then exhaled a blast furnace of self-rightuous thundering about his Holocaust survivor parents and how Jews use the Holocaust to oppress Palestinians--his usual shtick to browbeat anyone who challenges his hysterical--and sometimes shockingly ad-hominum--assertions and attacks.

      The young girl continued to weep all through the lively professor's three-minute aria of brutal and remorseless self-justification. When the number expired, he briefly left the podium and smiled to the camera--proud of his handiwork, no doubt, and of having throttled a timid young girl into intimidation. Served her right, I guess.

    • "Would you accept an Israel based on 78% of the land, move the settlers out of Palestine and acknowledge RoR in the form of compensation if that gave Israel peace?"

      If I were an Israeli, I would. Since I am an American, I would urge them to do so. If the Palestinian leadership and the people, accepted a compensated resettlement inside the territories or elsewhere of their choosing, plus further compensation, and agreed to end the conflict, what would there be left to argue over? Any Israeli rejection of this Palestinian acceptance would be criminal.

  • Hasbara PennBDS wrap-up: Pro-Israel students are ignorant
    • Shingo,

      “It is true that the AHC was, ostensibly, the recognized leadership”

      Said you:

      “On the contrary. As Hostage pointed out a while back, the Arab Higher Committee (AHC) and the Mufti were not the formal or elected representatives of the people of Palestine after WWII.”

      I don’t disagree with this. I meant “recognized leadership” among Arab leaders, not the Palestinians. Not unlike Lebanon in some ways in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the problem for the Palestinians in the late 1940’s was not that they had no leadership, but that they had too much of it. Syrians, Jordanians, Iraqis, and Egyptians all had their own designs on the area, clashed often with the Mufti as well as with one another, and all attempted to emphasize and parlay their own influence there. Everyone wanted to be top dog in Palestine. The conflicting strategies, loyalties, and agendas would ultimately doom the Arab war effort.

      “The reported agreement by five Arab states to wipe out the Zionist state meets with skepticism from the refugees.”

      “This is rubbish.”

      In the first place, I was merely quoting from a statement quoted by the NY Times article concerning the refugees’ anger and disillusionment with the actions of the surrounding Arab states and their militias. The entire thrust of my post, which you obviously missed, was to emphasize my agreement with Hostage’s assertion that the Palestinians themselves were not responsible for the outbreak of the war, and that they had no part in directing it. Your statement that the surrounding Arab states were not planning to invade Palestine after the Mandate ended is incorrect, though you are correct that the Jordanians decided at the last moment to confine their attacks to Arab apportioned areas. I have addressed this more substantively here:

      http://mondoweiss.net/2011/11/48-is-beginning-to-replace-67-in-discourse-even-at-uva.html#comment-387242

      “I honestly do not know what percentage of the Palestinian people rejected the partition and/or peaceful co-existence with the Jews, but I believe the number did not exceed those who did not.”

      “You believe according to what statistic? Your hasbaraometer? You have never provided any evidence that the Palestinian people rejected the principle of partition, much less that they supported or were represented by the Arab League and the Mufti.”

      What are you talking about? Can you read? I said here that I believe that the number of Palestinians who accepted the partition and peaceful co-existence with the Jews outnumbered those who did not. You have a problem with this? I also said that you were right when you said

      “You have never provided any evidence that the Palestinian people rejected the principle of partition, much less that they supported or were represented by the Arab League and the Mufti.”

      Did you miss that too? You also missed where I quoted the Jewish Agency rep at the March 19 session at the UN Security Council where he said: “if left alone, considerable sections of Palestinian Arabs would be willing to cooperate or acquiesce (in the partition), but that armed intervention by neighboring (Arab) States completely changed that situation.”

      You just wasted four paragraphs of Hostage-sourced material for nothing.

      Said you:

      “Not only was there no war of any consequence being waged inside Palestine against the Yishuv, but the Zionist militias initiated the war and were vastly more power and better armed.”

      I have already addressed/refuted that here,

      http://mondoweiss.net/2011/07/a-despairing-conversation-with-an-arab-friend-at-the-four-seasons.html#comment-337624

      Here,

      http://mondoweiss.net/2011/07/a-despairing-conversation-with-an-arab-friend-at-the-four-seasons.html#comment-339140

      Here,

      http://mondoweiss.net/2011/07/a-despairing-conversation-with-an-arab-friend-at-the-four-seasons.html#comment-341319

      And here,

      http://mondoweiss.net/2011/12/nakba-denial-nyt-removes-the-word-expulsion-from-article-describing-palestinian-refugees.html#comment-398288

      A NY Times article of January 29, 1948 noted,

      “(N.Y, Times, Jan, 29) describes Jerusalem as virtually isolated behind a curtain of fear. The dangers of travel are cutting the city off from its normal markets: supplies are short, prices are fantastically high, and many shops, both Jewish and Arab, are closed. Within the walls of the Old City, the plight of 400 Jewish families, surrounded by Arabs, is becoming more desperate each day.”

      An AP report on the same day noted,

      “Cairo. Jan, 29 - According to an A.P. report quoted by the N.Y. Times, 'Assad Dagher, chief of the Arab League's press section, said today that Palestine may have an Arab government by the time the British leave. He said that an Arab regime might ask for the help of regular armies of the seven near-by Arab states to prevent creation of a Jewish nation. His statement modified a previous assertion that the Arab states would occupy all of Palestine with regular armies after British troops leave.”

      http://domino.un.org/pdfs/AAC21P4.pdf

      A January 17 editorial in the British New Statesman excoriates the United States for not lending a stronger hand toward implementing the partition with the taunt that the Mufti and the Arab High Committee were confident that “they have got the Americans where they want them, talking Zionism at home, and practicing in Palestine a non-intervention that works against the Jews.”

      Here is a Manchester Guardian editorial of Jan. 31, 1948 excoriating the Atlee government for failing to support the Jews under assault, and which would make its present anti-Israel editors cringe:

      “At present we are still treating Jews and Arabs on the same footing, though the Jews are fighting to defend a decision of the UN, and the Arabs are fighting to defeat it.”

      A February 2 1948 London Times editorial excoriating the Atlee Government for its Palestine policy and urging on the activity of the UN Palestine Commission to implement the partition, noted that,

      “the members of the UN responsible for the decision on partition have exposed the Jews in Palestine to difficulties and dangers and they cannot leave them in the lurch.”

      http://domino.un.org/pdfs/AAC21P21.pdf

      A March 17 NY Times article notes Arab military activity in the Nablus-Tulkharm-Jenin triangle, saying that “the army’s strength was reported to have reached close to 8000 men, with more arriving daily.”

      It also records Abd al-Qader al-Husayni, the Mufti-appointed commander of the Jerusalem front of the Jaysh al-Jihad al-Muqaddas (“Army of the Holy War”) as saying he was “not willing to consider a truce under any circumstances.”

      http://domino.un.org/pdfs/AAC21P33.pdf

      Fawzi al-Qawuqji, commander of the Arab Liberation Army (ALA), told Al-Ahram on March 9, 1948 that the ALA was fighting for “the defeat of the partition and the annihilation of the Zionists.” (Benny Morris, “1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War,” 2008, p. 491)

      The Mufti told the Jaffa daily Al Sarih on March 10, 1948 that preventing partition was not enough, and that they “would continue fighting until the Zionists were annihilated and the whole of Palestine became a purely Arab state.” (“1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War,” 2008, p. 409)

      A March 28 NY Herald Tribune report has Hussein Khalidi, Secretary of the Arab Higher Executive Committee for Palestine pouring scorn on “what he termed ‘sudden Jewish efforts’ to obtain an international force to protect the Holy Land’s Shrines,” and that this was “due to a realization by the Jews that they could not protect their 100,000 people in Jerusalem.”

      http://domino.un.org/pdfs/AAC21P37.pdf

      The sentiments expressed above by al-Qawuqji on March 9, the Mufti on March 10, by Abd al-Qader al-Husayni on March 17, and Hussein Khalidi on March 29 all gave voice to the well founded confidence among the Arabs that they were winning the war against the Yishuv at this stage. As is indicated above, this was also the consensus view in the international community at the time; the editorials of the London Times, the Guardian, and the New Statesman, all pleaded with the Atlee government (and the U.S.) to intervene more decisively in the conflict to rescue the Yishuv from their desperate plight. A British report in late March similarly commented:

      “The intensification of Arab attacks on communications and particularly the failure of the Kfar Etzion convoy (March 27-28), probably the Yishuv’s strongest transport unit, to force a return passage has brought home the precarious position of Jewish communities both great and small which depend on supply lines running through Arab controlled country. In particular, it is now realized that the position of Jewish Jerusalem, where a food scarcity already exists, is likely to be desperate after 16 May.”

      Another British report in early April read:

      “It is becoming increasingly apparent that the Yishuv and its leaders are deeply worried about the future. The 100,000 Jews of Jerusalem have been held to ransom and it is doubtful that the Arab economic blockade of the city can be broken by Jewish forces alone. If the Jewish leaders are not prepared to sacrifice the 100,000 Jews of Jerusalem, then they must concede, however unwillingly, that the Arabs have won the second round of the struggle which began with a Jewish victory in the first round on the 29th of November.”

      This then was the dire situation facing the Yishuv in early April of 1948. After the successful ambush of the latest Jewish convoy to Jerusalem on March 31, it was precarious to say the least. The sabotage of the convoys was increasing, the strangulation of the roadways and all arteries of communication between the scattered communities of the Yishuv were sharpening, the attendant shortages of basic commodities and weapons inside Jerusalem were growing, and the siege around the city was tightening.

      It would seem that either the consensus of international opinion expressed here at the time is wrong, or you are right.

    • Hostage,

      Said you:

      “The Mufti did not enjoy much popular support and all his efforts to organize a popular resistance to the Partition Resolution were unsuccessful. According to Ian Bickerton, Carla Klausner, “A Concise History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict”, 4th Edition, Prentice Hall, 2004, few Palestinians joined the Arab Liberation Army and many Palestinians favored partition and indicated a willingness to live alongside a Jewish state (page 88).”

      For once, I agree with you.

      On February 16, 1948, the United Nations Palestine Commission reported to the Security Council:

      “Powerful Arab interests, both inside and outside Palestine, are defying the resolution of the General Assembly and are engaged in a deliberate effort to alter by force the settlement envisaged therein.

      The main facts controlling the security situation in Palestine today are the following:

      a. Organized effect by strong Arab elements inside and outside Palestine to prevent the implementation of the Assembly’s plan of partition and to thwart its objectives by threats and acts of violence, including armed incursions into Palestinian territory.

      b. Certain elements of the Jewish community in Palestine continue to commit irresponsible acts of violence which worsen the security situation, although that Community is generally in support of the recommendations of the Assembly.”

      The report also recounts, in detail, on the activities and attacks of the various Arab militias and the Arab Liberation Army that had been infiltrating from neighboring countries.

      http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/FDF734EB76C39D6385256C4C004CDBA7

      Shingo, in his reply to a previous post of mine,

      http://mondoweiss.net/2012/01/new-additions-to-the-mondoweiss-comments-policy.html#comment-419926

      has pointed out that the UN Palestine Commission did not mention the Palestinians here, and that it referenced only the activities of the Mufti and the Arab High Committee and the Arab Liberation Army, and that I have “provided no evidence that the Palestinian people rejected the principle of partition, much less that they supported or were represented by the Arab League and the Mufti.”

      Shingo was right. I have not, and the reason is because I cannot. This is because I draw a distinction between the activities of the Mufti and those of the Arab League and their proxy armies on the one hand, and that of the Palestinian people on the other.

      The Mufti was widely hated and feared among the Palestinians, and, indeed, it should be pointed out that the victims of the Mufti since the 1920’s were overwhelmingly Arab, not Jewish. In the late 20’s and the early 30’s the Mufti set about murdering and intimidating opponents in order to consolidate his influence and power throughout Palestine (the same methods, essentially, that Al Capone was using to tighten his grip on Chicago’s underworld at that very time). The Mufti’s campaign of murder and intimidation focused most heavily on Arab moderates who engaged in or sought friendly co-existence with the Jews. By 1947 the Husaynis’ anti-opposition terrorism against the Nashashibis and others in the previous years had largely eliminated rivals for their power by this time. Though the Mufti left Palestine during the Revolt in the late 30’s, and he never had anything that could be called a constituency there, he always had agents and supporters all over Palestine that were directly answerable to him and his brother. For the British Mandatory government, the Mufti and his brother were the ones with whom Atlee and Cunningham dealt.

      But the truth was that in late 1947, Arab Palestine was largely leaderless. It is true that the AHC was, ostensibly, the recognized leadership, such as it was, of Arab Palestine, but the truth is that the other Arab leaders simply overrode and marginalized the Mufti when it suited them, and this was often. There were thus many strings pulling and leveraging for power in Palestine from the outside, and by all accounts many Palestinians deeply resented the activities of the outside powers and their militias for dragging them into the conflict, and this intensified as the Arab forces began to lose the war.

      This is reflected in a New York Times story dated May 2nd, 1948 titled

      “Despair is Voiced by Arab Refugees: Evacuees from Palestine say Jews Crash Through Weak Resistance by Volunteers”:

      “Talk of Arab governments rescuing Palestine sounds like another case of too little too late…The Arab Liberation Army of Yarmuk was described by the refugees as a hodgepodge collection of adventurers, ne’er-do-wells, and soap box orators who had never numbered more than 3000, and who had relied on Palestinian villagers for cannon fodder.

      The reported agreement by five Arab states to wipe out the Zionist state meets with skepticism from the refugees. With an air of disillusionment, they point out that the so-called Arab War Council of five states that met last week in Amman, the capital of Trans-Jordan, had included no Palestinian Arab.”

      http://www.thejerusalemfund.org/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/29280

      From the very beginning, they were never allowed any say in the activities of the Mufti’s militias or the ALA, which disrupted their lives and destroyed their livelihoods, and whatever objections were voiced by them would have carried little weight with either the Mufti or the members of the Arab League, both of whom simply rode roughshod over them. The states who never had the slightest intention of allowing an independent Palestine, and later annexed the West Bank, occupied Gaza, and sometimes violently suppressed any hint of independent Palestinian national aspirations, were unlikely to indulge such considerations.

      I honestly do not know what percentage of the Palestinian people rejected the partition and/or peaceful co-existence with the Jews, but I believe the number did not exceed those who did not. As I point out below, the representative of the Jewish Agency told the UN Security Council on March 19 that “if left alone, considerable sections of Palestinian Arabs would be willing to cooperate or acquiesce (in the partition), but that armed intervention by neighboring (Arab) States completely changed that situation.”

      The war effort was thus not being waged by a unified Palestinian people, but by outside interests who took not the slightest heed of their interests or desires, and who in fact openly coveted control of Palestine for themselves. This was reflected in the intense rivalry between the Mufti and the nations of the Arab League, who often sidelined and overrode the Mufti as often as they both did to the Palestinians. Each hated and distrusted the other, and both had their own designs on Palestine.

      After the passing of the partition vote, there were contentious disputes between the Mufti and the Arab League about who would lead the Arab war effort. The Husaynis fought hard but failed to prevent the Arab Liberation Army from being commanded by one of the Mufti’s most bitter rivals, Fawzi al-Qawuqji. The Mufti accused Qawuqji of “spying for Britian, drinking wine, and running after women.” The Mufti further complained, correctly, that the ALA would deprive his forces of much needed arms and supplies, though he did manage to secure appointments of two of his protégés, Abd al-Qader al-Husayni, commander of the Jerusalem Front (and cousin of the Mufti), and Hasan Salame, commander of the Lydda Front into the Jaysh al-Jihad al-Muqaddas (“Army of the Holy War”). The Husaynis regarded the ALA (and its commander, Fawzi al-Qawuqji) as a rival to their own efforts, and the feeling was mutual: the Arab league had set up the ALA precisely to counter the designs and influence of the Mufti. ‘Abdullah of Jordan set up his own force (the Arab Legion) to thwart those of both the Mufti and the ALA, and Farouk of Egypt set himself against the Mufti, ‘Abdullah, and the ALA, saying: “The Arabs ought to get rid of all three of them: the Mufti, Abdullah, and Qawuqji.”

      These conflicting egos and ambitions, which often had the Mufti and the nations of the League working at cross purposes, and did much to hamper the Arab war effort, made for a priceless gift to the Yishuv as the war went on.

      What cannot be denied, in any event, is that the war effort being waged inside Palestine against the Yishuv, whatever its source, was considerable, and, up until early April 1948, was largely successful.

    • It’s becoming perfectly clear that this effort to snuff out “Nakba denial” is coming along pretty much as I thought it would. It is both a weapon and a catchall to smear anyone who fails to toe the party line here on just about anything to do with 1948. “Nakba denier” is about as definitionally adaptable as “Communist.” A good case in point is Annie’s smear of Shaktimaan’s statement here:

      http://mondoweiss.net/2012/01/the-mondo-crew-hosts-wbais-beyond-the-pale-to-discuss-ron-paul-dennis-ross-and-the-myth-of-obamas-jewish-problem.html#comment-421803

      And Hostage’s smear of Shakt here in answer to this statement:

      “The same can be said of Israelis to Arabs. And yet massacres did still occur on both sides. To ignore the riots and pogroms committed against the indigenous Jews on the basis that most of the Palestinians didn’t participate makes as much sense as discounting the effects of Deir Yassin because the Haganah did not participate in the massacre. Nevertheless my point was that sweeping generalizations that Palestinian narratives are inherently correct while Jewish ones are false is itself an untrue generalization.”

      To which Hostage replied,

      “Who do you think you are kidding? Israel has carried out a full-blown multi-pronged pogrom against the Palestinian people ever since the day the State was established. You can be banned here at MW for comments that deny the Nakba.”

      Any reasonable person reading both statements of Shakt might see an open minded attempt to acknowledge tolerance for different interpretations of history and points of view—once a customary staple of civil discourse. But no, the heretic must now be fingered and tarred and feathered for his heresy for all to see. This unfortunate turn of conversation is beginning to take on strains of the old odium theologicum which poisoned religious disputes about the Trinity in the 6th and 7th centuries, and the Eucharist in the 16th—i.e., the brutal refusal to countenance disagreement and to equate dissent on this or that issue with a kind of heresy, or worse.

      How any fair minded person could read both of Shakt’s statements and conclude that anything is being denied, much less that the denial of anything is even being attempted, is simply beyond me. What, for example, does the statement that the Haganah did not participate in the Deir Yassin massacre, have to do with “Nakba denial?” Is Hostage kidding with this?

      For the record, the initial purpose of the operation that led to the massacre was for the Stern/Irgun to secure Deir Yassin for the Haganah to occupy. Haganah machine gunners outside the village provided covering fire for the Stern and Irgun troopers only when they met strong resistance from the village’s defenders, and a platoon of Palmahniks arrived on the scene to provide cover fire to help evacuate the wounded (of the 120 Stern/Irgun attackers, some forty were wounded and four killed in the fighting). But the Palmahniks did not participate in the subsequent massacre of villagers and prisoners—that was done by the Stern/Irgun after the Palmahniks left the village.

      The Stern/Irgun troops then moved about from house to house grenading and machine-gunning both civilians and militiamen indiscriminately, and they led a contingent of Arab prisoners out to a nearby quarry to be shot. Three days after the massacre, Yitzhak Levy, the town’s Haganah Intelligence Service (HIS) commander, commented in a report,

      “The conquest of the village was carried out with great cruelty. Whole families—women, old people, children—were killed. Some of the prisoners moved to places of detention, including women and children, were murdered viciously by their captors.”

      Shakt was thus right. The Haganah did not participate in the massacre—they participated only in the initial attack on the village, and even then only to give covering fire from outside the village when the Stern/Irgun troops were encountering heavy resistance . It was the Stern/Irgun inside Deir Yassin who conducted the massacre. With the exception of the Palmahniks inside the village evacuating wounded, the Haganah had no military presence inside Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948. As Benny Morris has said, "Ironically it was not a Haganah, but a joint IZL/LHI operation, undertaken with the reluctant, qualified consent of the Haganah commander in Jerusalem." ("The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem," 1987, p. 113).

      Nobody is thus denying that an atrocity was committed here. Who would?! The only real denial here is Hostage’s cynical and dishonest attempt, albeit by omission, to conflate the initial attack and the subsequent massacre as being one and the same thing, as if the massacre of the entire village was planned and carried out by the Haganah in cahoots with the Stern/Irgun troopers who did the killing of prisoners and civilians. They did not, and nothing in Hostage’s link says that they did.

      Thus Hostage not only made a false assertion but then went on to accuse Shakt of engaging in “Nakba denial” for making an assertion that is not even contradicted by the very source that Hostage cites to prove his point. The notion that Shakt engaged in “Nakba denial” here is baseless. Nothing is being denied here.

      This episode well illustrates how someone can supposedly be seen to engage in Nakba denial without even knowing that they are doing so. In the same way that people ignorant of witchcraft or Communism could be seen to be guilty of being either a witch or a Communist through the eyes of their accusers, Nakba denial seems almost as malleable. It is clear that Nakba denial can be whatever Hostage or Annie say it is.

      And how does a person deny the charge without further incriminating themselves of the offense in the eyes of the Nakba police? How are they to know if they make a wrong statement? Shakt further said that both sides committed massacres in the war. Is this also Nakba denial? That, for example, 129 Jewish prisoners at Kfar Etzion were murdered? This has nothing to do with whether refugees fled or were expelled. Does it count?

      This is thus not a debate on a level playing field. It enables Hostage to not only smear Shakt as a Nakba denier, but also to make a statement like “Israel has carried out a full-blown multi-pronged pogrom against the Palestinian people ever since the day the State was established” and yet forbids anyone from rebutting this assertion lest they break the rules. This is Phil’s and Adam’s blog and they get to set the rules, but it is difficult to know how substantive dialogue on the origins of the I/P conflict can take place here when Annie and Hostage can play the Nakba denial card against whoever incurs their displeasure or has the temerity to disagree with them.

      In any event, it is undeniable that the recording and writing of history is a peculiar and contentious craft in which debate, disagreement and denial are all inextricably linked . The greatest of all historians—in my view—is Thucydides, and his history of the Peloponesian War, the greatest ever written. It is one of my greatest regrets that I cannot read this history in the original Greek. Thucydides hoped his history “would be judged useful by those inquirers who desire an exact knowledge of the past as an aid to the interpretation of the future,” as opposed to Herodotus, who, in his history, sought only “to preserve the great and wonderful actions of the Greeks and the Barbarians from losing their due meed of glory”—i.e., history as p.r. and propaganda. The Roman historian Livy, similarly spins like a press agent for the Augustan Age of the Roman Empire—“the establishment of which is now, in power, next only to the immortal Gods”—a shining city on a hill. The Rome described by Tacitus, in contrast, is a filthy brothel of debauchery and degeneration, and he spares no lurid, disgusting detail in order to, as he once said, “let no unworthy action go uncommemorated, and to hold out the reprobation of posterity as a terror to evil words and deeds.”

      History is thus a battle between the spinners and the truth seekers. On the Arab-Israeli conflict of 1948, I see historians like Benny Morris in the Thucydides/Tacitus mold, and see ideologues like Ilan Pappe, Chomsky and others like them carrying on in the spirit of Herodotus and Livy; others here obviously feel differently. History, in my view, must be about history as it happened and not about how politics and ideology view it and attempt to reconfigure it retrospectively. That is a corruption of truth and facts, whether it is antisemites employing their hatred of Jews to deny the Holocaust, or anything else.

  • 'Commentary' covers its eyes and makes Palestinians disappear
    • Citizen,

      I would actually argue that the greatest asset to the Soviet war effort from August 1941 to early 1943 was not lend-lease, but Adolf Hitler. Hitler's erratic interference in the operational details, which included direction of company and platoon scale tactical engagements from hundreds of miles away in his HQ at Rastenberg, was his greatest gift to his enemies, and the princpal cause of his demise. It was Hitler, after all, who split Army Group Center in two in August 1941 instaed of taking Moscow while the weather was good and the Russians were reeling. It was Hitler who ordered the Moscow offensive when the autumn rains were turning roads into quagmires, kept it going even when the snow and subzero temps were causing more casualties than the enemy, and refused a sensible withdrawal that could have saved tens of thousands of lives when the Soviets launched a massive counteroffensive on December 6, 1941.

      It was Hitler, too, who launched the campaign of the summer, 1942 by attempting to capture both the Caucasus AND Stalingrad, withdrew the armor from von Paulus' 6th Army when Stalingrad could easily have been taken, engaged in an utterly futile urban battle of attrition in the city that totally negated the Germans' advantages of mobility and maneuver, watched the Soviets encircle the city, refused to withdraw 6th Army when it was still possible, and then presided over the worst defeat of German arms in history since Napoleon defeated Prussia at Jena and Auerstadt in 1806. In this unprecedented sweeping of an entire army off the map, only some 5000 of the original 300,000 soldiers eventually got back to Germany after the war. He was forced to withdraw from the Caucasus, too.

      (The Israelis made a similar error to Stalingrad in 2006 when they allowed themselves to get bogged down in Hezbollah strongholds like Marou al Ras and Bint J'Bail)

      I think lend-lease did two important things for the Soviet Union in WWII: it enabled them to concentrate the bulk of their industry on weaponry, and it enourmously aided their logistical apparatus in the great advances of 1943-1945. But, again, those westward advances would not have been as successful as they were had Hitler not aided Stalin by refusing to countenence timely withdrawals which consigned so many German units to be captured or cut to pieces when they might have lived to fight another day. General Manstein in Feb-March 1943 conducted a tactical retreat in the face of a Soviet advance, waited for them to over-extend themselves, then turned around and sliced through their flanks, pushing them back a few hundred miles and pushing them out of Kharkov, which they had just recaptured. This showed what the Germans could do when talented Generals like Manstein were left alone by hitler and given a free hand. Had Manstein and not Hitler directed the war effort in 1943-1944, at the very least the Soviets, I think, would have been much further to the east on June 6, 1944 when we invaded Normandy.

      But who knows?

    • Actually lycias, the US delivered some 427,000 motor trucks, 10,000 tanks, 1900 locomotives, 11,000 railway flats, 98 freight ships, 105 sub chasers, 197 torpedo boats, 2.6 million tons of high octane petroleum blending agents, and 4.5 million tons of clothing and foodstuffs. The Red army was largely fed, clothed, and transported by way of the USA. (Albert and Joan Seaton, "The Soviet Army: 1918 to the Present," 1986, p.137)

      Also, I think their weapons, most which they produced themselves, were probably superior to those of America and Britian; their PPSH-41 submachine gun and their T-34 tank put our Tommy gun and Sherman tank to shame. The Germans discovered this at the battle of Moscow in 1941 when T-34 tanks, which were immune to their anti-tank guns, put the fear of God into their infantry.

      The Soviets undoubtedly "tore the guts" out of the Wehrmacht, as Churchill put it, but they had a lot of help in doing so, and the campaigns in Italy and NW Europe, as well as the bombing campaign over Germany, all directed considerable resources away from the Eastern Front against the Russians. Had Hitler coordinated the invasion of Russia with a Japanese attack in the far east, I think the Soviet Union would probably collapsed in 1941.

    • Page: 1
  • Leading Zionist historian was first to say 'Israel Firster'-- in 1960
    • "i think robert knows phil and adam are on vacation."

      I think Robert posted his comment on Febraury 7--a day before Phil and Adam announced their vacation. Nice try.

    • Annie,

      I have asserted previously that many refugees were expelled but that most fled, depending on what stage of the 1948 war is being discussed, greater numbers being expelled as the conflict intensified. No one presented any evidence refuting my assertion that all but about 1500 of the 75-100,000 refugees who fled between November 30, 1947 to April 2, 1948 did so because of the increasing violence and chaos enveloping Palestine, and were not expelled by the Yishuv. After April 2 as the conflict widened and intensified there were more numerous acts of expulsion, but not as numerous as those who fled. I do not believe that any of this constitutes what is called Nakba denial and does not posit blame on the Palestinians for fleeing or being expelled.

      But I am most curious to know: does it make me a "fleder?"

  • Live tweeting from the Penn BDS conference
    • You know Kathleen, I think I have to agree with you on one thing: Chris Matthews almost never talks about the ME or I/P or Iran, though he has been talking about Iran more lately. I have been watching Hardball religiously ever since the Clinton-Lewisnky scandal. He's talked alot about Iraq and some about Afghanistan, but he almost never talks about I/P. Though I remember ridiculing your suggestion back on Hardblogger last year, I do now think Chris should invite pundits from both sides to debate the issues on ME, I/P, and Iran more often. I myself would love to see Michael Rubin or Michael Ledeen go head to head with Flynt Leverett, or Juan Cole. Now, THAT would be something far more worth watching than the same old schlock about Gingrich and Romney.

      I recently got Dish TV, and with it, the LINK TV channel, which I didn't have before. I actually find myself watching "Democracy Now" and the like almost as much as I watch the Military and History International channels. It sure beats MSNBC.

  • Praying while Shi'a: the NYPD's latest religious profiling scandal
  • New additions to the Mondoweiss comments policy
    • Annie,

      Said you:

      “robert, imho your 9:10 post is another perfect example of nakba denial. you have used the term ‘fled’ to describe “about 75,000-100,000 refugees fled between November 1947 and early April 1948″ and “another 3-400,000 fled between early April and May 15–”

      If you were expecting me to use the term “ethnically cleansed” to describe the exodus of ALL of the refugees, that is not going to happen. It is with deep regret that I must inform you that I cannot edit my thoughts, beliefs, and reading of history to satisfy the beliefs and opinions of others, including you. Sorry.

      To clarify my views on the matter, I can only say what I have said many, many times before on this contentious and much argued issue.

      The Arab and Palestinian militias had been attacking the UN apportioned areas of the Jewish state’s borders ever since December 1947. With the exception of Stern and Irgun terror attacks and a few isolated acts by the Haganah, the Yishuv was, in the main, on the defensive until early April 1948. This was the so-called “Civil War period” of the 1948 War, which was fought inside Palestine between the Yishuv and Arab and Palestinian militias between December 1947 until the Pan-Arab invasion on May 15, 1948. This period of the war developed in two stages: The first was between early December 1947 to April 6, 1948, when, following the rejection of the partition, numerous small unit military attacks were launched by Arab and Palestinian militias on Jewish settlements and roadways, and with the Yishuv, with the exception of Stern and Irgun terror attacks and a few isolated acts by the Haganah, were on the defensive. Some 75-100,000 refugees fled during this period, and most were not expelled. As Benny Morris has said,

      “During this period, Jewish troops expelled the inhabitants of only one village—Qisariya, in the Coastal Plain, in mid-February (for reasons connected to Jewish illegal immigration rather than the ongoing civil war)—though other villages were harassed and a few specifically intimidated by the IZL, LHI, and Haganah actions (much as during this period Jewish settlements were being harassed and intimidated by Arab irregulars).” (“1948: The First Arab-Israeli War,” pp.94-95).

      In the period between the passing of the partition Nov.29, 1947 and April 6, 1948, I am certainly aware of retaliatory attacks (actually, revenge killings) by the Haganah on Khisas in Galilee on December 19, Balad ash Sheik and Hawasa on Dec.31-Jan.1, and the Semiramis Hotel in west Jerusalem on January 5-6 (in which some 26 civilians died). There were also certainly a series of small counter-assaults on other small targets in this period, but the Haganah was, by and large, on the defensive in this period. But other than these mentioned, and, of course, terrorist attacks by the Stern and Irgun, I am not aware of any large scale Haganah attacks in this period, least of all any that could have expelled any Palestinians en masse.

      Not including the tit for tat terrorist attacks occurring between the Arabs and the Stern and Irgun, between December and April, the Arab and Palestinian militias launched no fewer than 15 full scale company and battalion sized assaults on Jewish settlements. There was not one single attack, or counter-attack by the Yishuv on any Arab position in this period even close to this scale and frequency. Only after seeing Jewish Jerusalem surrounded and besieged, the roadways between the settlements being sabotaged and strangled, and after suffering some four months of unrelenting attacks, did the Yishuv take to the counter-offensive with Operation Nachshon on April 6, and drive back and defeat the Arab militias. This period saw the collapse of the Palestinian war effort, and the flight of some 3-400,000 refugees.

      The UN correctly held the Arabs responsible for the outbreak of violence. On February 16, 1948, the Commission reported to the Security Council:

      “Powerful Arab interests, both inside and outside Palestine, are defying the resolution of the General Assembly and are engaged in a deliberate effort to alter by force the settlement envisaged therein.

      The main facts controlling the security situation in Palestine today are the following:

      a. Organized effect by strong Arab elements inside and outside Palestine to prevent the implementation of the Assembly’s plan of partition and to thwart its objectives by threats and acts of violence, including armed incursions into Palestinian territory.

      b. Certain elements of the Jewish community in Palestine continue to commit irresponsible acts of violence which worsen the security situation, although that Community is generally in support of the recommendations of the Assembly.”

      http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/FDF734EB76C39D6385256C4C004CDBA7

      The report leaves no doubt about the AHC’s utter rejection of the partition and their sworn and bitter determination to resist it’s implementation by force, which is, by the way, what they had been doing since the vote was taken. The report also recounts, in detail, on the activities and attacks of the various Arab militias and the Arab Liberation Army that had been infiltrating from neighboring countries. While the report duly notes the “irresponsible acts of violence” committed by “certain elements of the Jewish community” (i.e., the Stern-Irgun terrorists), the Commission acknowledges the Jews’ acceptance of the partition, and posits blame for the violence almost solely on the Arabs’ rejection of the partition, and their attempts to thwart it by force.

      The Arabs, indeed, made no attempts to deny starting the war. Jamal Husseini told the Security Council on April 16, 1948:

      “The representative of the Jewish Agency told us yesterday that they were not the attackers, that the Arabs had begun the fighting. We did not deny this. We told the whole world that we were going to fight.”

      The second stage of this period of the war occurred from April 6 to May 15, when the Haganah, seeing Jewish Jerusalem surrounded and besieged, the roadways between the settlements being sabotaged and strangled, and after suffering some four months of unrelenting attacks, took to the counter-offensive with Operation Nachshon, and drove back and defeated the Arab militias. This period saw the collapse of the Palestinian war effort, and the flight of some 3-400,000 refugees.

      As Benny Morris has written,

      “It was the war that propelled most of those displaced out of their houses and into refugeedom. Most fled when their villages and towns came under Jewish attack or out of fear of future attack. They wished to move out of harms way. At first, during December 1947—March 1948, it was the middle- and upper-class families who fled, abandoning the towns; later, from April on, after the Yishuv shifted to the offensive, it was the urban and rural masses who fled, in a sense emulating their betters. Most of the displaced likely expected to return to their homes within weeks or months, on the coattails of victorious Arab armies, or on the back of a UN decision or great power intervention.” (“1948: The First Arab-Israeli War,” pp.410-411).

      Morris also notes (p.p. 96-97) how the exodus in the first Civil War stage (Dec. 1947-March 1948) was propelled by the deteriorating economic conditions resulting from the fighting and growing instability, as well as the flight of the middle classes, which resulted in the closure of workshops and businesses, spiking inflation and unemployment. The conflict separated the economic intermingling of Jews and Arabs—Arabs from employment at Jewish workplaces, and Jewish marketplaces from Arab goods, notably agricultural products. By late December the agricultural produce in Beit Sahur was rotting and there was a severe shortage of animal feed. By early March flour and fuel were scarce in Jaffa, and commerce was dead. Morris notes that “all Arab banks had closed by the end of April.” The conflict also exacerbated supply problems between Arab villages, unemployment and robbery were rife, and Arab public transportation was stopped cold.

      Adding to this deterioration in early April was two things: 1) a counter-offensive launched by the Haganah to beat back the Arab militias attacking settlements, strangling the roadways, and besieging Jewish Jerusalem, and 2) the Deir Yassin massacre. Word of the Deir Yassin massacre on April 9 (3 days after the the Haganah took to the offensive) spread like a prairie fire through Arab Palestine and beyond. Added to this, the violence of the intensified fighting in the towns and villages, the flight of so many high ranking Arab functionaries, and the near total breakdown in services all played a role in the increased exodus of the refugees throughout the 1948 War. This is not to deny that there were not some expulsions at Lydda and Ramle; there were, but the numbers of those expelled here and elsewhere were rather few compared to the overall total. In most cases, there did not need to be expulsions; people fled for their lives in anticipation of being killed, or for other reasons. All Palestine was a war zone in those days, and, in general, Palestinian Arab society had always been governed by a somewhat leaderless, fragile polity at that time, and it simply collapsed under the strain of the conflict, as did countless other societies in Europe during World War Two. When war comes to your village, it is only human to want to get out of the way until it is over.

      One of the points I have repeatedly tried to emphasize here is that the first Arab-Israeli War was indeed a war, and not just an assault by one side against a helpless victim. To portray it as such ignores entirely the military dimension of the conflict, and the role that the fighting played, among other things, in the flight of the refugees, and the collapse of Palestinian society. That the Palestinian people were the ultimate victims of the war is beyond doubt, but the truth is they were never consulted about the conflict by either Arabs or Jews; the decisions to resist the partition by force, and abort the nascent Jewish state was not made by them but by the rulers in surrounding Arab states who took no heed of their wishes or aspirations. What resulted from this was a bitterly fought war between two antagonists, and not just one long, extended, well planned ethnic clearing operation that met negligible or meager resistance. The Palestinians were caught in the crossfire, as, in some ways, they still are.

      You can ban these facts from a blog, but you cannot erase them from history. Epoch making historical events like the 1948 war rarely have simple causes. Now, if you consider my views to constitute “Nakba denial” I think it is incumbent upon you to demonstrate how this is so and why my assertions and citations are false. Let’s narrow it down to something simple. For example, I have asserted that between 75,000-100,000 Palestinian refugees fled between December 1947 and early April 1948. I have also emphasized that most of these fled, and were not expelled. If I am denying an established historical fact here, say, in the same way that one would be in denying that there were gas chambers at Auschwitz, how is this so? Where did these mass expulsions take place in this period? Who conducted them? What were the circumstances? Morris notes one case of about 1,500 at Qisariya in mid February 1948. Were there others?

      Again: I am focusing here just on this period between early December 1947 and early April 1948, just before the Yishuv took to the offensive and the fighting escalated around Palestine considerably and more villages were caught up in it. If my assertion that that between 75,000-100,000 Palestinian refugees fled, and (with noted exception) were not expelled between December 1947 and early April 1948 constitutes the denial of an inarguable fact, then, at the very least someone should explain to me why this is as inarguable as the fact that there were gas chambers at Auschwitz, i.e., that this is something so entrenched in fact that renders it beyond serious dispute.

      One thing needs to be said. Regardless of how the Palestinians fled or were dislocated and dispossessed, the fact remains that they were, and that in the process they suffered horribly. All I have ever argued is that the causes of that exodus and dislocation are more varied and complicated than a simple, unilateral act of ethnic cleansing by the Yishuv, and that this war between the Arab states and the Yishuv, waged since December 1947 by proxy, and directly after May 15, was the cause of the circumstances that led to the tragedy. You cannot separate the war from the refugee crisis. And you cannot separate it from the deteriorating conditions resulting from the war.

      As Benny Morris, who has researched and written more thoroughly and indefatigably than just about anyone on this issue has written,

      “My feeling is that the transfer thinking and near consensus that emerged in the 1930’s and the early 1940’s was not tantamount to pre-planning and did not issue in the production of a policy or master plan of expulsion; the Yishuv and its military forces did not enter the 1948 war, which was initiated by the Arab side, with a master plan for expulsion.” (“The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited,” p.60).

    • Annie,

      Said you: "are you claiming no Palestinians were expelled from their homes or villages?"

      No. I am not. I have never asserted that. I am saying that not all of the refugees were expelled; many fled fighting that was taking place in the their towns and villages, which is perfectly understandable. That there were acts of expulsion in Lydda and Ramle for example is beyond dispute; most Israeli historians don't bother denying that anymore, though they once did.

      about 75,000-100,000 refugees fled between November 1947 and early April 1948 and most of them fled the violence that was enveloping Palestine. Most of these fled, along with most of the local Palestinian leadership. About another 3-400,000 fled between early April and May 15--that was when the fighting in fact intensified several-fold. The circumstances of these fleeing is bitterly contested. The rest fled after May 15, when the war again widened considerably. I'm thus not saying that there weren't isolated acts of expulsion, and atrocities committed by both sides. What cannot be denied is that there was a war waging and that most civilians tend to flee war zones generally.

      That does not mean that I deny there were expulsions and atrocities committed by the Israelis/Yishuv. All I'm saying it was a complicated and often chaotic event that occured over many months. In short, I do not believe that ALL of the refugees were expelled as a matter of policy or pre planning.

      where historians debate is whether there was a deliberate policy to expel/ ethnically cleanse the Palestinians or whether it resulted from the chaos of war. I believe the truth lies somewhere in between. But I do believe that the war resulted from the Arabs' (I don't want to say the Palestinians because they never had a say in the matter) rejection of the partition and the refugee crisis resulted from the war. I know you and others may disagree with that, but that's my view.

    • Kraus,

      Said you:

      "My thoughts on Holocaust/Nakba denial are mostly the same, both events were tragic(although I would say that the Holocaust was far worse in that it eliminated millions of innocents forever. Nakba was tragic, but it wasn’t fatal to millions- a key difference)."

      I essentially agree with this statement. I don't think that acknowledging the the enormity of the slaughter that occured in the Holocaust in any way denigrates or trivializes the sufferings of the Palestinian people both during 1948 and after. The sufferings of the Palestinian people has been and is real enough. This is not a matter of competitive suffering, nor should it be.

      That said, it is not entirely clear to me what, exactly, Nakba denial is. Holocaust denial denies many facets of the Holocaust: that 6 million died, that there were gas chambers, that there was ever a policy to exterminate all of European Jewry, or, as David Irving has argued, that Hitler even knew about it; Himmler, said Irving, did it behind his back. Irving has amended this view to include "evidence" that Hitler, in fact, helped the Jews against the efforts of his anti-Jewish underlings. Fred Leuchter and Arthur Butz have attempted pseudo-scientific forays into denial. The entire apparatus of Holocaust denial flies in the face of literally volumes of evidence and testimony corroborated by victims, bystanders, and perpetrators.

      We thus know what Holocaust denial is. But what is Nakba denial? If what is meant by Nakba denial is that it denies that 7-800,000 Palestinians became refugees and unwillingly fled their homes, that would seem to be a point as unworthy of serious discussion as the fact that gas chambers killed Jews; it happened. If one was to argue that the refugees were to blame for their plight, that too would be nonsense; they were not.

      The Israelis for many years did not always deal honestly and forthrightly with some of the events of 1948; many still do not. Many, for example still prefer the narrative that Arab broadcasts sounded the clarion call to flee, and thus the Nakba. This narrative frees the Israelis of any culpability for the event, and is thus untrue.

      But in banning this Nakba denial, whatever, exactly, it is, is to declare that there is no room for debate on the events of 1948, if it bans even discussion on the documented events of this turbulent episode--that will be a rather sweeping act of denial in its own right. Many events of 1948 remain in contentious dispute among historians, just as they do in the Holocaust. But there is a difference: Holocaust historians do not debate whether the Holocaust happened; there is, however, plenty of debate among historians of the 1948 war about what, exactly, happened, how, and why. The points of contention in the discourse and debate on each issue among the relevant scholars--and I mean the REAL scholars who attempt to search for and uncover the truth and not political partisans on both sides--are entirely different.

      I can't speak for anyone else, but for myself, I sure wish Phil or Adam or someone would clarify just what Nakba denial is. It would help.

  • A regular commenter on this site seeks a more temperate comment board
    • Donald,

      I find myself basically in agreement with most of the views you express here, though I’m still undecided about the ethics of excluding some comments over others, however repugnant they might be. On your third point for example, I have very, very mixed feelings. But before I address the issue, please bear with me while I briefly clarify my view of the issue behind the issue: I mean, of course, the Holocaust, and the Nazi persecution of the Jews in general.

      It has, in fact, been recently asserted on this blog that the Jews of Germany, and Zionists, did contribute to the persecution by the Nazis. But the Nazis did not need Zionists, Zionist writers, or the specter of Zionism to persecute their Jews; Nazi persecution of Jews predated Hitler’s accession to power, as well as the advent of the depression. Antisemitism was one of the founding articles of the Nazi party, the cement that held it together. The conviction that the Jews were the principle corrupters and race poisoners of German racial purity, not to mention the ones most responsible for stabbing Germany in the back and losing them World War One, was sacrosanct to them. It was their bread and butter.

      In the pre-war years, apart from outbursts of anti-Jewish violence in 1933, 1934, and 1938, the Nazis persecuted Jews principally by legal decree. Like the Spanish in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, individual acts of violence against Jews were occasionally promoted and encouraged, then used as pretexts to introduce legal measures against them. Jews were excluded from civil service, from practicing law and medicine, from posts in universities and schools, were denied German citizenship, and prohibited from committing “race pollution” i.e., having sexual relations with non-Jews among other indignities.

      The truth of the matter is that the Nazis first persecuted, then, in late 1941 sought to murder all of the Jews on which they could lay hands, in whatever area they were to control. No rulers of an advanced, industrial nation had ever attempted anything even remotely so sweeping in scope and scale, and so far-reaching in wickedness. There was certainly indiscriminate killing on both sides: allied fire bombing of German and Japanese cities as well as the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But all of those actions, however terrible, served a discernible strategic function: to win and end the war. The murder of the Jews served no necessary, war-winning function. Its sole purpose was exterminate a race of people from the face of the earth, from all of the elderly right down to the last infant.

      The Jews had known persecutions before, but never had they known an enemy who would brook no parley and no compromise, and who demanded no ransom from them, just their lives. Who could have foreseen such a monster? The Jews did not believe that the Devil took human form. This is, and remains, the only government directed, bureaucratically organized attempt at the extermination of an entire people. They were murdered not because of Zionism, or any Zionist action, or anything Herzl wrote, the threat of a boycott, or any war-related reason or rationale.

      They were murdered because they were Jews.

      Now, that said, should the suggestion that Jews did in some way contribute to their persecution by the Nazis be banned from this site? As repugnant and anti-Semitic as I find the suggestion to be, I would ultimately have to say: no.

      Unlike many people here, I do not have an ancestral or religious connection to the Holocaust. I do, however, believe it is the worst crime ever committed, all the more so in that a modern, sophisticated industrial power harnessed its energies and resources to targeting an entire people for annihilation, and I am often angered by those here whose advocacy of the Palestinians or dislike of Israel leads them to denigrate this event.

      I thus do not underate the seriousness and the unique magnitude of this event, but I do not believe that any topic of historical controversy should be banned, and though I don’t want to suggest that there is any legitimacy in the suggestion that Jews provoked the Nazis' persecution, I think it far better to get such views out in the open to refute them with facts and evidence, than to ban them.

      I do recognize that people of good faith can legitimately disagree on this matter, and I don’t wish to leave you with the impression that I think your suggestion intolerant or seeking to inhibit free and open discourse and debate. I am just saying that every controversial comment like this or others have to be evaluated on their individual merits, but my own view is that just about any comment that is not excessively ad hominen or does not incite violence should probably not be banned. However, it’s a judgment call, and it depends on the comment.

      Obviously wrt the origins of the Nakba, whether Israel’s wars from 1948 to Cast Lead were just wars, my views are very, very different from the majority here. But I would have to say that, all in all though with some exceptions, the moderators here do an estimable job of keeping the discussions focused on the issues, and keeping the debates flowing freely and allowing all viewpoints to be registered.

  • Breaking report: US/Israel military drill cancelled, after US tells Israel to back off
    • Shingo,

      1). Said you: “Fact: The radio frequencies of the USS Liberty were Jammed by the Israelis, as documented by the BBC Documentary.”

      There is no evidence that the frequencies were being jammed. According to the Naval Court of Inquiry, the first strafing run on the Liberty at 1:58pm, disabled the ship’s radio transmission capability to the extent that they were unable to transmit on the ship’s standard encrypted transmitters. They then began transmitting on the CINCUSNAVEUR hi-com unsecured high-frequency voice circuit, but to no result. It was then discovered that someone in the transmitting room had put the frequency dial one kilocycle off, and this was quickly corrected by Radioman Chief Wayne L. Smith, who testified to this at the Naval Court of Inquiry in June 1967, and how he then transmitted distress signals to the USS Saratoga. This could not have happened if the Israelis were jamming all frequencies.

      Also, there is simply no evidence that the Israelis positively identified the Liberty when it was targeted at 1:51 pm by MTB Commander Oren, that they knew it was an intelligence gathering vessel when it was targeted, or that they intercepted any communications the Liberty was engaged in. And even if the Israelis were listening in, what could they have heard that could have given them any concern? Absolutely nothing. They would have learned that the Liberty was NOT monitoring their communications because the Liberty had no Hebrew linguists, only Arab and Russian.

      2) “Fact: Israelis were monitoring Sixth Fleet communications.”

      They could not have monitored Sixth Fleet communications because those communications were taking place between Sixth Fleet Commander Vice Admiral William Admiral Martin on board the Sixth Fleet flagship USS Little Rock, which was some 500 miles west of the Liberty, to the carriers USS Saratoga and USS America, who were each, respectively, 700 and 600 miles to the west of the Liberty when Martin sent his communication to them at 2:50pm Sinai time.

      Not only did the Israelis have no naval presence (or capacity) to monitor these communications more than 500 miles west of Israel, but even the USS Liberty could not have monitored these Sixth Fleet communications from where they were; the Liberty could only monitor communications in a line of sight range, i.e., about 25 nautical miles distance.

      3). “Fact: The attack on the Liberty lasted for an hour and 15 minutes (as documented by the BBC Documentary).”

      There simply is no record of any such attack after 2:35 pm occurring, and this is corroborated by a) the IDF investigation drawn from IDF Navy logs, b) the declassified NSA tapes of 2003 which monitored the chatter of the Israeli rescue helicopters and naval HQ in Stella Maris between 2:29pm and 3:19pm, c) both the Deck log and the Underway log of the USS Liberty, d) no mention of any such attack after the torpedo hit in the Naval Court of Inquiry, and e) the IAF transcripts.

      It is thus corroborated by five sources, two Israeli and three American. There was no attack after Commander Oren ordered the attack ceased at 2:41 pm.

      In fact, according to McGonagle’s testimony and the Deck log of the Liberty, there was not even any exchange of fire after the torpedo hit the Liberty at 2:35 pm, and no record of any subsequent attack or exchange of fire anywhere except in the hearsay-laden world of the conspiracy, where anything is possible, and the tales become more lurid with time. This is simply one of the many fabrications embellished years after the event.

      This also means that the actual naval attack lasted about 3-4 minutes.

      The Israelis thus did NOT attack the ship “for an hour and fifteen minutes.” (Some versions, James Bamford’s, for example, have the attack lasting over two hours—it depends on the conspiracy theorist, I guess) The combined air attacks lasted all of about nine minutes (1:58—2:02pm + 2:06—2:11 pm), and the following naval attack about 3-4 minutes (2:31—2:35 pm). Again, there is no record anywhere of any attack or exchange of fire after 2:35 pm Sinai time.

      4). Said you: “Fact: The Israelis fired on lifeboats (as documented by the BBC Documentary).”

      First of all, when the Israeli MTB’s got close enough to see hull markings on the Liberty at 2:41 pm, they cut off the attack. And though they had stopped firing for six minutes, they had still not got close enough to positively ID’d them. Four minutes later they radioed in that they might have hit a Russian vessel. A few minutes after that they picked up a few life rafts, saw the Latin markings on them, and concluded it was American. At 3:03pm they then approached the Liberty and offered assistance.

      Secondly, they did not fire on the lifeboats of the Liberty with any sailors in them, and did not strafe either the ship or any lifeboats in the water after the torpedo attack. The lifeboats were strafed on the ship during the air and sea attacks, and the sailors of the Liberty, seeing them so damaged, threw them into the sea. This is attested to by former Liberty OOD Lloyd Painter, who testified at the Court of Inquiry, “We filed out to our life rafts which were no longer with us because they had been strafed and most of them burned so we knocked most of them over the ship.”

      5). “Fact: Israeli MTB’s fired first on the Liberty (as documented by the BBC Documentary).”

      That statement is false. The Israeli MTB’s attempted to signal the Liberty before attacking. The Liberty was unable to signal back to the Israeli MTB’s because a) their signaling equipment had been damaged, and b) they were unable to clearly read the signals from the MTB’s because of the smoke (McGonagle noted this in his testimony to the Court of Inquiry). A gunner on the Liberty DID open fire while the Israeli MTB’s were approaching and still attempting to signal her.

      This fact is supported by:

      a) The Deck log of the USS Liberty, which stated:

      “14:31 (2:31pm) machine gun 53 opened fire on center of three MTB’s. Commanding officer ordered Ensign Lucas to proceed to machine gun 53 and to cease firing.” (See pages 13 and 22 of the pdf below)

      http://www.thelibertyincident.com/docs/Logs1-24.pdf

      b) By the testimony of Capt. McGonagle in the Naval Court of Inquiry:
      “From the starboard wing of the bridge, I observed that the fire from machine gun 53 was very effective and blanketed the area and the center torpedo boat…As far as the torpedo boats are concerned, I am sure they felt that they were under fire from the USS Liberty. At this time they opened fire with their gun mounts, and in a matter of seconds, one torpedo was noted crossing astern of the ship at about 25 yards. ”

      (To access McGonagle’s testimony describing the attack and the aftermath, see pages 140-149 on the pdf below)

      http://www.thelibertyincident.com/docs/CourtOfInquiry.pdf

      c) By a press conference held by Capt. McGonagle on July 29, 1967 when the Liberty arrived back to the USA, where he said:

      “A short time after the air attack had been completed, the three torpedo boats approached us from our starboard quarter at high speed and in an apparent torpedo launch attitude.

      As they approached to within about one mile of the ship, I saw what appeared to me to be an Israeli flag on one of the boats, and at one time it appeared that the center boat was attempting to signal the ship, but because of the intermittent blocking of the signal light by the smoke and flame, we were unable to determine what this boat was attempting to signal.

      I had previously directed a man from the bridge to proceed to the forward starboard gun mount and take the torpedo boats under fire in an attempt to defend ourselves. When I saw what appeared to be an Israeli flag, I yelled to the forecastle because I had no phone communications with the men and I yelled to him to tell him to hold fire. But before he was able to understand what I was trying to tell him, he opened fire on the boats as I had previously directed.”

      d) The IDF History Report which states “the [Division 914 Commander] discerned flashes of gunshot fire emanating from the ship, and the commander of T-203 saw the fire and reported hits in the vicinity of T-206 (the other MTB).” (See pages 18-20 on the pdf below).

      http://www.thelibertyincident.com/docs/israeli/IDF-history-report-en.pdf

      In all of the above sources, including the Deck log of the Liberty and McGonagle’s testimony, there is no mention of the Liberty being fired upon first by the Israeli MTB’s and there is clear confirmation that the Liberty’s machine gun 53 fired first on the approaching MTB’s.

      The fact is beyond reasonable doubt or dispute: the Liberty fired first on the MTB’s, and, it should be added, under circumstances that were completely understandable and excusable.

      6). Said you: “Fact: Captain McGonagle was rendered unconscious (as documented by the BBC Documentary).”

      This is untrue. He was not unconscious at any stage, and he was most definitely conscious when the Israeli MTB’s offered assistance to the Liberty at 3:03pm. Though wounded by shrapnel in the air attacks, McGonagle was conscious and continued giving orders both during and after the attack. This heroism on his part rightly won for him the Congressional Medal of Honor. Do you think he would have been awarded our nation’s highest decoration if he had been unconscious during the attack?

      Part of this falsehood that the Israeli MTB’s did not offer assistance to the Liberty has been spread by Liberty crewmember James Ennes Jr., who said,

      “They claim that they came alongside and immediately offered help. Well, that is the purest of baloney. Instead of offering help, they circled us several times, machine gunning anything that moved. Pulled out, came in, machine gunned the life rafts in the water.”

      This is false, every word of it. In the fist place, Ennes could not have been a first-hand witness as to whether an Israeli MTB did or did not extend help to the Liberty; he was wounded in the first minutes of the air attack and was taken below deck, where he remained until he was transferred to another ship the next day. Secondly, Ennes is contradicted on this by Commander McGonagle,

      Here is his testimony:

      MCGONAGLE: Immediately after the ship was struck by the torpedo, the torpedo boats stopped dead in the water and milled around astern of the ship at a range of approximately 500 to 800 yards. One of the boats signaled by flashing light, in English, “Do you require assistance”?”

      Third, Ennes is contradicted on this by the testimony of Chief Communications Technician Harold J. Thompson:

      THOMPSON: … I was asked to report to the bridge, which I did. When I got up there, Signalman David was attempting to rig a hand light. I assisted him. We went to the starboard wing of the bridge and one torpedo boat was making a run straight at us off the starboard beam while the other two stood off. At the Captain’s direction, David sent, “US Naval Ship” “US Naval Ship.” When they were about 500 yards off, the torpedo boat turned astern and came up on the stern on the starboard side and flashed, “do you need help.” … The Captain … said “no, thank you.” We sent this back to the boat … and saw on the last part of that message … “Do you want us to standby?” I passed this word to the Captain. He said, “no, thank you.” We sent this to the patrol boat. They came up along the port side, I say roughly 100 yards off, flashed “good luck” … and disappeared. That was the last we saw of them.”

      Btw, McGonagle and Chief Thompson, along with the other 17 crewmembers who testified at the Court of Inquiry, made no mention of any exchange of gunfire with the Israeli MTB’s after being torpedoed at 2:35 pm.

      7) The tales of James Bamford

      As anyone who has studied the matter of the attack on the Liberty knows, the incident that led directly to the attack was an explosion at an Israeli ammo depot at El Arish at 11:24am. It has never been established what, exactly, caused this explosion. The Israelis, spotting a ship some 14 miles to the northwest, assumed it to be an enemy ship shelling them. Through a series of miscalculations from the motor torpedo boats sent to engage the vessel, including that of the vessel’s speed, the Israelis concluded, from about 20 miles distance, that the ship was an enemy vessel at about 1:51pm. That is when they ordered the first air strike on the Liberty, thought to be an Egyptian vessel shelling them.

      James Bamford, like so many other Liberty conspiracy theorists, posits the following misleading narrative in his book, "Body of Secrets," implying that the Israelis knew that the ship they spotted off El Arish was the Liberty, knew it was incapable of shelling them, and then set out to attack it knowing it was an American ship because the ship had heard “secrets.”

      Said Bamford, page 206:

      “As any observer would have immediately have recognized, the four small defensive 50mm machine guns (Bamford is in error here; they were .50 caliber) were incapable of reaching anywhere near the shore, thirteen miles away, let alone the buildings of El Arish…And the ship itself, a tired old World War two cargo vessel crawling with antennas, was unthreatening to anyone—unless it was their secrets and not their lives they wanted to protect.

      By then the Israeli air force and navy had conducted more than six hours of close surveillance of the Liberty off the Sinai, even taken pictures, and must have positively identified it as an American electronic spy ship. They knew the Liberty was the only military ship in the area. Nevertheless, the order was given to kill it. Thus at 12:05pm, three motor torpedo boats from Ashdod departed for the Liberty, about 50 miles away. Israeli air force fighters, loaded with 30mm cannon ammunition, rockets, and even napalm, then followed. They were all to return virtually empty.”

      I hardly know where to begin with this tangle of fact, falsehood, innuendo, and deliberate omission. In the first place, if the Israelis had been able to inspect the USS Liberty up close they would surely have seen the ship as Bamford describes it. But they first noticed it at some 14 miles off the coast of El Arish at 11:24am, again at 1:47pm from 20 miles distance from a torpedo boat, and again at 2:24pm from the same boat while the Liberty was engulfed with smoke at 6,000 yards distance. Bamford neglects to mention this.

      Also, the Israelis did not order an attack on the Liberty at 12:05pm; they were still uncertain about the identity of the ship at this time

      At 12:15 pm the three torpedo boats (Division 914, commanded by Commander Moshe Oren) were ordered into the vicinity of El Arish to identify the vessel in question—that was all. They were not given orders to attack the vessel, and they were not “followed by Israeli air force fighters, loaded with 30mm cannon ammunition, rockets, and napalm.” No such air deployment was yet ordered or launched. At 1:41 pm Division 914 spotted a vessel on its radar some 20 miles northwest of El- Arish. The officer of the CIC on the flagship, Ensign Yifrach Aharon, miscalculated the Liberty’s speed once at 30 knots at 1:47pm, and, after a request for verification from Naval HQ, miscalculated it again at 28 knots at 1:51pm. (In naval circles it is common knowledge that a vessel steaming at over 20 knots in an area of belligerent operations is a warship).

      The reasons for the miscalculation of the Liberty’s speed by Aharon are simple. The fix on the Liberty’s speed was being made in a small MTB bumping along at about 37 knots at about a 20 mile distance from the Liberty. The complex radar, radio, and navigational calculations (much of it guesswork or dead reckoning and done on primitive equipment) are rife with opportunities for errors. (The USS Maddox committed similar errors in the alleged second attack of the Gulf of Tonkin incident in August 1964. In fact, there probably was no such attack, and the “vessels” spotted were probably radar echoes resulting from atmospheric conditions). After the second fix on the vessel’s speed, the CIC felt sure that it was an enemy vessel, and then called in for an air assault, which occurred at 1:58pm.

      Bamford omits this crucial information, implying that the MTB’s and the fighter aircraft were both launched to attack the Liberty at 12:05pm when no such attack had been ordered, and the Israelis were in fact still uncertain about the vessel’s identity.

      The truth, of course, is that they were not ordered to attack the Liberty at 12:05pm. The first deployment of aircraft to attack the Liberty only occurred after Ensign Aharon miscalculated the Liberty’s speed for a second time at 1:51pm. That was the first air assault, the Kursa mission of two Mirage IIIC’s. They were armed with 30mm cannon and possibly American Sidewinder air-to-air missiles; it is not clear if these missiles were used or were even on the planes during this mission. The first air attack lasted from 1:58 to 2:02pm.

      The second air mission of two Super Mysteres, mission “Royal,” was, like the two Mirages of the Kursa mission recalled from an air patrol, also recalled from a strafing mission in the Sinai and were only armed with 30mm cannon and four canisters of napalm—hardly appropriate ordinance for attacking a ship. This indicates the haste at which both air attack missions were recalled mid air from previous missions; neither had time to land, refuel, and rearm.

      According to the IDF report on the Liberty attack, Colonel Kislev was told that the Royal mission was only “armed with napalm, not effective for attacking ships.” Kislev nonetheless “instructed the formation to join the attack with ‘whatever they have.’”

      On the IAF transcripts, after the Kursa mission was completed (about 2:02pm), another one of the Israeli ground controllers, who was incredulous that napalm was actually going to be dropped by mission Royal on the ship, cried out, “What can napalm do?”

      The answer: not much. Napalm can start a fire but fires can be extinguished. Bombs are far more effective, and if they had time to land and rearm, that is what they would have been loaded with.

      This is important. Why? Because it demonstrates that if the Israelis, who had just destroyed the superior air forces of three countries on the ground and in the air in the past three days, had really been given an hour, or even a half-hour or so to plan for the attack, they would certainly have loaded their planes with the proper ordinance to attack and destroy the Liberty in a single sortie, probably within minutes, silencing her and her crew forever, and sending both to a watery grave. And again: bombs are much more effective than napalm. Nobody throws napalm at a ship: that’s dumb!

      They first called in for an air-strike at about 1:51pm, the Kursa mission hitting the Liberty seven minutes later. The Royal mission was called in by the Kursa mission at 1:56pm, and they arrived at the scene sometime between 2:04-2:06pm, breaking off the attack at about 2:11pm when there were questions about the identity. The inadequacy of the ordinance on the first two air attack missions betrays the evident lack of planning, and clearly indicates the haste in which they were both recalled mid-air from their previous missions for the attack.

      Also, Bamford to the contrary, the Israelis did not take any pictures of the Liberty, and did not conduct “more than six hours of close surveillance.”

      Bamford here muddies the waters to confuse the reader by weaving facts and falsehoods into his narrative. First, (pge. 199) he has the Israeli naval observer on the Nord recon plane that first spotted the Liberty giving positive ID at 6:03 am instead of 9:00am. (They actually spotted the Liberty at about 5:45am but did not positively ID it until 9:00am).

      Secondly, on page 206, by omission and fabrication, he misrepresents how the explosions at El Arish at 11:24am were believed by the Israelis to be coming from the ship that they had spotted off the coast, and how and why they misidentified the Liberty as an Egyptiian ship shelling them.

      This information, which explains how the Israelis ID’d the Liberty in the morning and then misidentified it as an enemy ship bombarding them later that afternoon, is critical to understanding how the tragedy unfolded.

      Lt. Commander Pinchas Pinchasy, who had received the original report at 9:00am identifying the Liberty in the “pit” of the Kirya in Tel Aviv, had, by the time the explosion occurred at El Arish at 11:24am, assumed that the Liberty, which had been heading westward at about 15 knots when ID’d earlier, had long left the area (the green wedge marker representing the Liberty had been removed by Commander Lunz from the control board at Stella Maris at 11:00am, when he was relieved by Captain Rahav. More about that below).

      Also, as he later commented, it did not occur to him at the time that an American intelligence gathering vessel that had been traveling westward for more than several hours would likely be shelling El Arish. For these reasons, he, like the others, assumed that an enemy vessel was bombarding them.

      Why then did Lunz remove the green wedge marker representing the Liberty at 11:00am? Because he was of the opinion that the Liberty was at least 75 miles west of the point at which it had been first spotted 5-6 hours earlier, steaming at 15 knots, and at least 30 miles west from where it was when spotted again at 9:00am. When positively ID’d at 9:00am, the Liberty was at the extreme southwest end of the control board, and steaming west at 15 knots (this speed, btw, is confirmed by the Liberty’s own deck log). According to these calculations, this would have put the Liberty in the direct vicinity of Port Said—about 70 miles west of the point at which the Liberty was first attacked at 1:58pm. In retrospect, Lunz’s action was not only proper, but followed standard operating procedure for removing old information from the control board. Captain Rahav, who relieved Lunz at 11:00am, thus had no knowledge of the Liberty’s existence whatsoever. It was thus even more logical for him to assume that an enemy ship was bombarding Al Arish at 11:24am.

      Bamford thus misleadingly implies that the Israelis were tracking the Liberty from six in the morning right up until the moment she was attacked. That is not true. They positively ID’d her at 9:00am, marked her location at the extreme southwest end of the control board, marked her speed and westward course of direction, and logically concluded that the Liberty was 30 miles west of the point at which she’d been ID’d at 11:00am when they removed the green marker representing the Liberty.

      The overflights occurring from 9am onward were not reconnoitering the Liberty; they were doing submarine reconnaissance in an area that was very heavy with IAF traffic going back and forth to the Sinai, which had been intensified after the discovery of an Egyptian sub off Atlit; they were not tracking the Liberty. “Tracking” a ship’s movements is a rather elaborate recon activity that involves close coordination between ground, sea, and air. According to the IAF records, the Liberty was once spotted (5:45am) and once positively ID’d (9:00am). That’s it. After 9:00am they completely ignored the USS Liberty. It was not being “tracked.” (See footnote # 14 on page 42 on the pdf format of the IDF report)

      http://www.thelibertyincident.com/docs/israeli/IDF-history-report-en.pdf

      Bamford, of course, mentions none of this, despite the fact that the information had been available to him for four years prior to publishing his book.

      Also, Bamford has the Israelis strafing the Liberty after the torpedo attack in an attempt to ensure that there would be “no survivors.” This is nonsensical.

      As I point out below, if it was really the intention to destroy and sink the ship and kill the survivors, why did the air controller Col. Shmuel Kislev order the “Royal” air mission to cease attacking at 2:11 pm and scrub the “Nixon” air mission of two Mystere IV aircraft armed with 500 lb. iron bombs that would surely have blown the Liberty to smithereens, and with all hands? If not cancelled, the Nixon air mission would have reached the Liberty in half the time it was taking the MTB’s. Again, why cancel the mission if the intent was to destroy and sink the Liberty, and kill all the survivors?

      The truth is that they cut off the air attack at 2:11pm because a pilot spotted Latin markings on the hull, and hence were uncertain about the identity. The Israelis were still uncertain of the ship’s identity when Commander Oren attempted to signal the Liberty at 2:30 from his MTB. Consulting his intelligence manual of Arab ships (he had no “Jane’s Fighting Ships” with him), he misidentified the smoke engulfed ship from 6,000 yards, and concluded it was the El Qusier. Even as the MTB’s were approaching the ship they were still attempting to signal her, and it was only when the Liberty opened fire that they then concluded that she was indeed an enemy ship. Had Col. Kislev not cut off the air attack at 2:11pm, the Nixon air mission of Mystere IV’s would have destroyed and/or sunk the Liberty probably within the next five minutes.

      Said Marvin Nowicki:

      “According to Ennes (James Ennes, Liberty crew member), the three MTBs left the port of Ashdod at 1200 local, some 125 miles away, heading for the Liberty at 35 plus knots. They commenced a machine gun attack and launched torpedos at 1435 local.”

      Said you:

      “Which kinda debunks your suggestion that the Liberty fired on them first.”

      No it does not. Nowicki was describing Ennes’ views, not his own.

      In fact, I talked to Marvin Nowicki myself. He confirmed to me the accuracy of the criticisms of Bamford’s misuse of the material he provided him (Norwicki told me: “He turned it all around”), and confirmed to me his conviction that the attack was a mistake.

      Bamford, to be fair, does indeed mention that Nowicki believed the attack a mistake, however, he misrepresents the sequence in which the American flag is mentioned. As we now know, the NSA only began recording traffic on the attack at 2:29pm. The NSA’s 1967 summary is unequivocal: “There is no COMINT reflecting on the attack itself.”

      What they recorded at that time, however, was not the MTB’s communications, but those of rescue helicopters sent out to pick up survivors from the stricken ship, as some were reported to be in the water. To wit: there is no mention of any American flag on either the IAF or the NSA transcripts until 3:12pm Sinai time—37 minutes after the naval attack had ceased, meaning that there was no mention of the flag during the air attacks, and no recorded mention of the flag from the MTB’s during the naval attack. (In fact, by coincidence, both transcripts mention notice of the American flag at this exact time).

      Bamford knew this. He might not have had access to the NSA transcripts because they were only released two years after he published “Body of Secrets,” but he had access to the IAF transcripts, and he in fact quotes them in his narrative, albeit selectively and misleadingly. He therefore knew that there was no mention of an American flag there until 3:12 pm, and that before this there is recorded nothing but confusion from the Israeli air controllers about the identity of the ship. Naturally, Bamford deliberately omits any mention of this confusion, lest it get in the way of his false narrative.

      ***

      Most of the conspiracy theories promoting a deliberate attack usually begin by attempting to discredit the myriad of investigations that have already been conducted, particularly that of the Court of Inquiry. There have long been charges that the investigations were “cover-ups” and documents were “doctored,” and “forged”—all the indispensable watchwords of the conspiracy theorist to refute documents and memoranda that foils and confounds their lurid fantasies

      For example, if the deck log that was entered into evidence at the Navy Court of Inquiry in June 1967 was doctored, then where is the undoctored one? The deck log of the Liberty runs to some ten hand-written pages, all on Department of the Navy deck-log book stationary. Can it really be asserted that all of the entries in the entire deck log, including Captain McGonagle’s signature entries, were forged, by hand, in the four days between the attack and the inquiry? How was the original one obtained and tampered with, and the other forged within a few days? When? By who? On whose authority? Where, when, and how has this log been authenticated, and the one in evidence been discredited as forgery? And by who?

      Btw, the deck log is not the only log on the Liberty. Other than the other technical logs not concerned with the timeline of events (the Radar Bearing Log, the Engineering Log, the Gyrocompass Log, the Bearing Log, the DRT Log) there is the handwritten Underway log. The timeline of events on both logs corroborate each other. Now, was the Underway log doctored too? If so, in the four days between the attack and the convening of the Court of Inquiry, there was certainly a lot of log doctoring going on.

      Also, the timeline of events in the Israeli and the American Navy logs are a near perfect match. The timeline of the IDF investigation and the timeline from the Navy Court of Inquiry, though conducted apart from one another, essentially corroborate one another, with a few discrepancies here and there.

      If anyone is going to prove that the documentation that has been in evidence in both countries for 44 years, and which has been corroborated by the hundreds of pages of declassified evidence that was released by both countries in 1997, has been forged or doctored, then the burden is on those asserting such to document how this was so, when this was done, and by who.

      A conspiracy to fabricate the evidence denying and disproving a deliberate attack would have involved superhuman prodigies of effort in record time, not to mention a considerable staff of forging experts to accomplish the task, none of whom has yet to step forward with the “undoctored” originals: The re-forging of the COMSIXTHFLEET communications records showing Admiral Martin’s launch order at 2:50pm and his recall order at 4:40pm, the Radio log, the Deck log, and the Underway logs of the USS liberty, and the Deck log of the USS Saratoga, all in the four day period between the attack and the convening of the Court of Inquiry in June 1967. Anyone who believes that this could have been done will believe anything.

      There are many logical and evidentiary problems concerning the intentional attack theory.

      The first is a plausible motive for the Israelis to have knowingly attacked a ship belonging to their strongest ally. On this count, no one has yet produced a plausible motive. The notion that the Israelis attacked the Liberty to conceal a massacre of Egyptian prisoners in the Sinai, or to hide their pending seizure of the Golan Heights from Syria from the United States are both contradicted by a) the absence of any evidence that any such massacre in the Sinai ever took place, and b) diplomatic cables showing that Washington was well informed of the Israelis impending attack, and had not objected. Again, there is no plausible motive for the Israelis to have knowingly attacked an American ship.

      Secondly, it begs the question why the Israelis, if they had indeed been tracking the Liberty from the early morning to the moment of the attack as many have claimed, would knowingly allow the Liberty into the combat zone, reconnoiter the ship for nine hours, thus giving the Liberty nine priceless hours to relay the very information that the attack was supposed to silence, before finally attacking her in broad daylight. It makes no sense.

      Third, even if the Israelis were monitoring the communications of the Liberty, they would have heard nothing to concern them because they would have known that the Liberty wasn’t even monitoring their communications, as the Liberty had no Hebrew linguists.

      Fourth, if the Israelis were monitoring their communications, and heard, or sought to prevent them from hearing, something disturbing, and were able to jam the Liberty’s frequencies, why wouldn’t they have just done that rather than something as dangerous as attacking an American vessel?

      Fifth, if it was really the intention to destroy and sink the ship, why did the air controller Col. Shmuel Kislev order the “Royal” air mission to cease attacking at 2:11 pm and scrub the “Nixon” air mission of two Mystere IV aircraft armed with 500 lb. iron bombs? If not cancelled, the Nixon air mission would have reached the Liberty in half the time it was taking the MTB’s, and would surely have blown the Liberty to smithereens with all hands; one 500lb fragmentation bomb to the boiler would have detonated her like a hand grenade. Again, why cancel the mission if the intent was to destroy and sink the Liberty, and kill all the survivors?

    • Hostage,

      This is a pretty silly argument. Israeli did not launch an unprovoked attack on a vessel in international waters "in defense of the right of innocent passage"; they attacked what they thought was an Egyptian vessel shelling them at El Arish. Sounds like you're channeling Dean Rusk.

    • Shingo,

      Your assertion that the radio frequencies of the USS Liberty were Jammed by the Israelis is false and is contradicted by evidence.

      Your assertion that the Israelis were monitoring Sixth Fleet communications is without foundation.

      Your assertion that the attack on the Liberty lasted for an hour and 15 minutes is false.

      Your assertion that the Israelis fired on lifeboats with sailors in them is false.

      Your assertion that the Israeli MTB's fired first on the Liberty is false and is contradicted by evidence.

      Your assertion that Captain McGonagle was rendered unconscious during the attack is false.

      All of these assertions are false.

    • Hostage,

      It is true that there was of course shock and incredulity expressed by Johnson and his cabinet upon learning of the attack. But the President and McNamara, after they got the report from the Court of Inquiry, accepted that the attack was a mistake. CIA director Helms told Johnson the same thing. Repeat, there is no evidence that Johnson thereafter thought the attack to be deliberate.

      Said McNamara in July 1967 testifying before the Committee on Foreign Relations:

      “In the case of the attack on the Liberty, it was the
      conclusion of the investigatory body headed by an
      Admiral of the Navy [Isaac C. Kidd, Jr.] in whom
      we have great confidence that the attack was not
      intentional. I read the record of investigation and
      I support that conclusion, and I think . . . it was not
      a conscious decision on the part of the
      government of Israel to attack a U.S. vessel.”

      Said Clark Clifford in his memoir “Counsel to the President”:

      “The best interpretation from the facts available
      to me was that there were inexcusable failures
      on the part of the Israeli Defense Forces.”

      Said McGeorge Bundy to AJ Cristol on April 19, 1993:

      “We came to the conclusion that it was an
      interlocking collection of errors rather than
      an interlocking plot that was the cause of
      the tragedy.”

      As for Richard Helms, whatever he may have said later, the declassification of the redacted sections of the 1981 NSA report on the Liberty attack released in 2003 read as follows:

      “In part because of the press speculation at the time,
      President Johnson directed the Director of Central
      Intelligence, Richard Helms, to prepare a report by
      June 13, five days after the attack, assessing the
      Israeli intentions. The CIA report drew heavily on
      the Signet reports referred to above. While these
      reports revealed some confusion on the part of
      the pilots concerning the nationality of the ship,
      they tended to rule out any thesis that the Israeli
      Navy and Air Force deliberately attacked a ship
      they knew to be American.”

      Thus President Johnson, Robert McNamara, Clark Clifford, McGeorge Bundy, Walt Rostow, and Nicholas Katzenbach all believed the attack to be a mistake. All were miffed about it and had serious questions as top how it could have happened, but they accepted that the attack was not intentional.

      Dean Rusk, whose belief that the attack was deliberate cannot be divorced from his hostility to Israel, later admitted that he did not read any of the Naval Court of Inquiry or any other investigations, except the CIA report. His belief, I suggest, was the product of both his bias, and his ignorance of the facts. Here is a transcript of an interview with him.

      http://www.thelibertyincident.com/docs/rusktranscript.pdf

      Said the Clifford Report:

      “That the Liberty could have been mistaken for the Egyptian supply ship El Quseir is unbelievable. El Quseir has one-fourth the displacement of the Liberty, roughly half the beam, is 180 feet shorter, and is very differently configured. The Liberty’s unusual antenna array and hull markings should have been visible to low-flying aircraft and torpedo boats.”

      I think this statement trivializes the difficulties of identification by both the IAF pilots and the torpedo boat skipper.

      In the first place, Marvin Norwicki, the crewmember of an American reconnaissance aircraft who was intercepting Israeli transmissions during the attack on the Liberty, and who has himself commented on the identification issue, had this to say:

      “In reconstruction of the attack, the Liberty
      crew makes much of flying the American
      flag, as if it would somehow protect them in
      harm’s way (see Ennes, p. 152). Little does
      the crew appreciate the difficulty of identifying
      a ship from an aircraft merely on the basis of a
      flag or even a hull number (GTR 5 displayed by
      the Liberty). Based on my experience of flying
      many “low and slow” reconnaissance flights
      over ships in the Mediterranean and Atlantic
      with VQ2, unless the flights are almost
      overhead, target identification is virtually
      impossible. High-powered binoculars are
      not much good in a bouncing low-level aircraft.
      Even post facto photos do not always reveal
      identification. See, for example, Ennes’ photo
      of the ship on page 146. This crisp overhead
      photo does not clearly show the identity of the
      American ship. So how could the attacking
      Israeli forces conclude this was a friendly ship?”

      Indeed. In the first air attack (which lasted from 1:58 to 2:02 pm) the two Mirage fighters made three forward strafing runs each on the bow of the Liberty at 600mph. In the attack run it had 2-3 seconds at most to fire its guns and pull off the target before getting closer than 3000 feet. This involved split-second timing. Each plane pulled off at about a 3000 foot distance from the front of the bow, giving them no opportunity to view the side, or to even see a flag, even if it was extended, which, at a 5 knot speed in calm waters, it probably wasn’t. The second attack (lasting from 2:06 to 2:11 pm) made similar forward strafing runs on the stern and then the bow, and then made a run on the port side in an attempt to hit the boiler. That’s when the pilot spotted the Latin hull markings.

      Now, when you are strafing a ship in diving runs at 600mph from 7,500 feet and pulling up sharply at 3000 feet (i.e., 4 ½ seconds reaction time), and at breakneck speed, this makes ID a bit difficult. And all of this, mind you, occurred within a 3 ½ minute time frame for the first attack, and about a 5 minute time frame for the second attack.

      Secondly, Israeli aircraft (who strafed the Liberty from 1:58 to 2:11 pm) did not ID the ship as the El Quseir; they only knew what their HQ had told them—that it was an Egyptian ship that had been shelling El Arish. The Israeli MTB (Motor Torpedo Boat) skipper, Commander Oren, arriving at the scene at 2:24pm, consulted his intelligence manual and, viewing the silhouette of a smoke-engulfed ship some six thousand yards distant and directed westward toward the sun at an elevation of 50 degrees and azimuth 88 degrees, concluded that the ship was the Egyptian freighter El Quseir, and the skippers on the other two torpedo boats reached the same conclusion themselves. Oren attempted to signal the ship, asking for identity; getting no response, he ordered the MTBs into battle formation. At 2:30pm Naval HQ gave the go ahead to attack. So the Liberty was not misidentified by the Israelis as the El Quseir until Commander Oren did so sometime between 2:24pm and 2:30pm from his MTB, at some 6000 yards distance while the Liberty was engulfed with black smoke.

      The Israeli MTB’s did not fire on the Liberty until someone on the Liberty opened fire on them with .50 caliber machine guns.

      As to the similar dimensions of the Liberty and the El Quseir, if viewed from a few hundred yards distance, it might have been possible to discern the shape of one from the other. But, again, the ID was done at a distance of some 6000 yards—nearly 3 ½ miles. From that distance the silhouettes of the ships are very similar. Even the CIA report of June 13, 1967 stated: “Although the Liberty is some 200 feet longer than the Egyptian transport El Quseir it could easily have been mistaken for the latter vessel by an overzealous pilot. Both have similar hulls and arrangements of masts and stack.”

      ***

      All in all, no one has yet supplied an even remotely plausible motive for the Israelis to have knowingly attacked an American ship, and all of the evidence, as opposed to unsubstantiated conspiracies, overwhelmingly points to a case of mistaken identity. I would contend that many of those who believe in the theory of a deliberate attack do so more out of belief and ideology, rather than a rational appraisal of the circumstances, the evidence, and the facts.

    • Shingo,

      Said you:

      “Why would they have believed that US fighters were on their way? They were given the US radio frequencies to listen to were they not? Come on buddy, has your brain gone to sleep?”

      Uh, no. And they were not “given US radio frequencies to listen to.” What evidence is there that the Israelis were ever monitoring Sixth Fleet communications? None whatsoever. Where would they have been monitoring those communications? The Israeli naval presence in 1967 was confined to the coastal area and not the western Mediterranean where they would have to be to monitor such communications.

      If they had been listening, here is what they would have heard: Sixth Fleet Commander Admiral Martin gave the order for a launch of fighter aircraft from the USS Saratoga and the USS America at 2:50pm Sinai time—nine minutes AFTER the Israeli MTB’s cut off the attack. Martin ordered the launches for 3:39pm Sinai time with ETA of one hour and thirty minutes—giving the Israelis, if they had been listening, a good two hours and twenty minutes to finish off the Liberty without any outside interference if they had so desired. After learning that the attack was a mistake by the Israelis, Martin had the aircraft recalled at 4:40pm.

      “Oh right, the same MTB’s that had just fire 5 torpedoes at the ship you mean? Yeah, makes perfect sense – just like a jackal doing a recon on a dead carcass to see if it’s still alive. This is absolutely false and you know it”

      The Israeli MTB’s caught up with the Liberty as a sailor on board the Liberty opened up fire on them with .50 caliber machine guns (at 2:31pm according to the Liberty deck log), not receiving Liberty Captain McGonagle’s order not to fire on the approaching craft. The Israeli MTBs then returned fire with 20mm and 40mm cannon, and at 2:37pm (2:43pm in the Israeli account) fired back torpedoes. Four missed but one hit the Liberty’s starboard side midship, killing 25 sailors.

      At 2:41pm, after a few minutes of circling the craft, the Israeli MTB skipper cut off the attack. At 2:45pm the IDF Navy log reads “May be Russian nationality, based on writing on aft”; the Israelis thought they might be attacking a Russian vessel. When the Israeli boat captain got close enough to identify the hull markings of the Liberty, now listing badly, he recognized the Latin markings on the hull, and, according to the deck log of the Liberty and Captain McGonagle’s testimony, offered help and medical attention to the survivors at 3:03pm. The attack was over, and there was no subsequent exchange of fire after 2:45pm.

      This is confirmed by Marvin Norwicki, a Hebrew linguist aboard an American EC-121M Hawkeye recon plane patrolling in the vicinity that overheard the aftermath of the attack, and whose view that the Liberty was mistakenly attacked was misrepresented by author James Bamford, also commented on the Israeli MTB attack:

      “According to Ennes (James Ennes, Liberty crew member), the three MTBs left the port of Ashdod at 1200 local, some 125 miles away, heading for the Liberty at 35 plus knots. They commenced a machine gun attack and launched torpedos at 1435 local. Three minutes later, the sabras mysteriously broke off the engagement. If the boat commanders had wanted to sink the Liberty, they could have done so at this time. Instead, they ceased fire and retreated, returning later to offer assistance to the stricken Liberty. I contend it was during the attack the identification of the American ship became known to the Israeli war planners. I also believe our VQ-2 voice intercepts showed this identification causing the cease-fire. “

      Said you:

      “It was clearly no mistake. Intercepts of IDF pilots conversing with HQ revealed they knew they were attacking a US ship.”

      False and false. Both the IAF transcripts and the NSA transcripts of communications between IDF helicopter pilots and their HQ, recorded by Norwicki and his crew and declassified in 2003, contradict this completely.

      The IAF transcripts show that the first air attack (code named “Kursa”) of two Mirage fighters lasted from about 1:58pm to about 2:02pm, each Mirage completing three forward strafing runs each on the Liberty’s bow before their ammo was spent. The second air attack, code named “Royal,” commenced at between 2:04-2:06pm, was by a squadron of two Super Mystere B-2 fighters returning from bombing Egyptian infantry in the Sinai. They raked the Liberty with what they had—napalm canisters (three missed, one may have hit), and 30mm cannon fire.

      At 2:11pm transcripts of communications between the Israeli Royal wing leader and HQ show that after the second strafing run the Israeli pilot recognized the Latin markings on the hull of the ship: “Pay attention! Ship’s marking is Charlie Tango Romeo 5” (i.e., CTR- 5—the Israeli pilot in fact misidentified the hull markings; they were GTR-5) and adds, “She looks like a minesweeper.” An air controller named Menachem, Chief air controller at Air Control South in the Sinai, then unhelpfully garbled the pilot’s misidentification of the ship’s markings even further as “Charlie Senator Romeo,” i.e., CSR.

      When this is reported to HQ, Colonel Shmuel Kislev, the Chief air controller at the Kirya in Tel-Aviv, obviously now shitting himself with the prospect that they could be attacking a neutral vessel, now screams “Leave her! What ship is this?” He then immediately orders the Royal leader and his wingman to disengage, and cancels the third air attack deployment headed to attack the ship (which was code named flight mission “Nixon,” consisting of two French-built Mystere IV’s armed with 500lb iron incendiaries that would surely blown the Liberty right out of the water, and with all hands). This second air attack had lasted about five minutes.

      The IAF transcripts also show the intense rivalry between the air force and the navy. At 2:09pm, wishing their planes had bombs instead of just cannon and napalm, the Royal flight leader says,

      “Homeland, if you had a two ship formation with bombs in ten minutes before the navy arrives, it will be a mitzvah.”

      Then, adding dejectedly, “Otherwise the navy is on its way here.”

      Air Controller Menachem, perhaps sniffing an opportunity to steal some glory from the navy, then adds, “Before the navy arrives, it will be a mitzvah!”

      In fact, at this point the transcripts show that the air controllers at Air Control Central were, incredibly, still speculating about the identity of the craft an hour and thirteen minutes after she had been targeted:

      At 3:04pm:

      Robert: Is there any ID yet?

      Shimon: None yet.

      Menachem: Is it American after all?

      Shimon: That’s still not clear, Menachem.

      Menachem: Then why did they blast a torpedo?

      Shimon: They [the navy] probably can’t read English.

      (They probably can’t read English—another dig at the navy!)

      That is, in any event, what is said on the IAF transcripts. There is no mention of attacking an American ship. This is a fabrication.

      The NSA transcripts, which began monitoring the communications at about 2:30pm (19 minutes AFTER the air attacks had ceased) show that the IDF helicopter pilots en route to the point of action and their HQ were still confused about the identity of the ship.

      2:34 pm—(HQ) “Pay attention. Ship has now been identified as an Egyptian ship. You are returning home.”

      2:39 pm—(HQ) “Pay attention. You are going to the ship after all. You will try to pull people out of the water…For your info, it’s probably an Arab ship. It’s an Egyptian supply ship.”

      http://www.thelibertyincident.com/docs/nsa/104-transcript.pdf

      2:59 pm—(HQ) “As soon as you begin picking up men, find out from the first man you pick up what his nationality is and report it to us right away. It is important that we know this.”

      http://www.thelibertyincident.com/docs/nsa/105-transcript.pdf

      It is worth re-emphasizing: These NSA recordings are the only American record of communications of the Israelis concerning the attack on the Liberty. They record communications between rescue helicopters and their HQ from about 2:29 pm to about 3:19 pm. The transcripts speak for themselves.

      Said you:

      “Bamford’s book was never discredited. What ever gave you that silly idea?”

      Bamford’s source for his assertion that Israeli planes or ships attacking the Liberty saw an American flag and kept attacking, Marvin Norwicki, who was then a chief petty officer aboard an NSA aircraft spying on Israel, wrote Bamford a letter in which he stated in no uncertain terms his belief that the attack on the Liberty was a mistake. Said Norwicki in a March 3, 2000 e-mail to Bamford:

      “In this correspondence, I am concentrating on a
      single event that involved the USS Liberty in June
      1967. As you know, Jim Ennes and members of
      the Liberty crew are on record stating the ship was
      deliberately attacked by the Israelis. I think otherwise.
      I have first hand information, which I am sharing with
      you. I was present on that day, along with members
      of an aircrew in a COMFAIRAIRRECONRON TWO
      (VQ-2) EC-121M aircraft flying some 15,000 feet
      above the incident. As I recall, we recorded most,
      if not all, of the attack. Further, our intercepts, never
      before made public, showed the attack to be an
      accident on the part of the Israelis.”

      In a letter to the Wall street Journal on May 16, 2001, Nowicki wrote:

      “In regard to Timothy Naftali's review of James
      Bamford's book "Body of Secrets" (Leisure &
      Arts, May 9): Mr. Naftali doesn't quite have it right
      concerning the book portion dealing with the Israeli
      attack on the USS Liberty in 1967. I know because
      I am the person to whom Mr. Natfali [sic] refers as
      the "chief Hebrew-language analyst" aboard the
      U.S. Navy (not Air Force) EC121 aircraft. He says
      that I recall one of my teammates telling me of
      hearing references to "a U.S. flag" from Israeli
      pilots.

      For the record, we (my teammate and I) both heard
      and recorded the references to the U.S. flag made
      by the pilots and captains of the motor torpedo
      boats. My personal recollection remains after
      34 years that the aircraft and MTBs prosecuted
      the Liberty until their operators had an opportunity
      to get close-in and see the flag, hence the
      references to the flag.

      My position, which is opposite of Mr. Bamford's,
      is that the attack, though terrible and tragic
      especially to the crew members and their families
      on that ill-fated day in June 1967, was a gross
      error. How can I prove it? I can't unless the
      transcripts/tapes are found and released to
      the public. I last saw them in a desk drawer
      at NSA in the late 1970s before I left the
      service.

      MARVIN E. NOWICKI, PH.D.
      Ashley, Ill.”

      It should be noted that Norwicki’s recollection is confirmed by the release of the IAF transcripts of the attack, and the NSA tapes declassified in 2003.

      Also, in addition to Norwicki and his teammate, mentioned by him above in the WSJ letter, there was a third Hebrew linguist on board the EC-121M recon plane, who, following the declassification of the NSA tapes in 2003 was revealed to be one Richard W. Hickman, and who testified to his own thoughts on the Liberty attack in 1981, when interviewed for the NSA report on the attack:

      “From the SIGNET picture I witnessed, I would tend to
      say that the Israelis did not know that they attacked a
      US vessel…”

      Also, James Bamford’s assertion that the Israelis attacked the Liberty to conceal a massacre of 1000 Egyptian prisoners in the Sinai is unsubstantiated by any evidence whatsoever. Journalist Gabi Bron and IDF historian Aryeh Yitzhaki, the two sources Bamford cites to prove this “massacre” contradict him completely, and have both stated that no such massacre ever took place. Along with Norwicki, Bamford thus knowingly and deliberately misrepresented the very sources he has cited to “prove” his conspiracy theories. He stands thoroughly discredited.

      Your witness.

    • Shingo,

      Said you:

      "Israel only took responsibility and apologized because they were of the belief that US fighter planes were arriving on the scene."

      This is completely false. Why would they have believed that US fighters were on their way?

      "The first helicopter did not offer assistance, but wielded IDF troops carrying semi automatics. Eyewitnesses told the BBC documentary that they believed the Israelis had come to finish them off."

      I was not referring to the helicopters. I was referring to the MTB that signaled to the Liberty offering help 16 minutes after the attack ceased. The helicopters that came afterward were rescue helicopters, one of which carried the US Naval attache, but they were refused permission to land because the ship was listing too far to the starboard.

      "It was clearly no mistake. Intercepts of IDF pilots conversing with HQ revealed they knew they were attacking a US ship. James Bamford revealed this in his book."

      This is absolutely false and you know it, and you know that Bamford's book has been discredited too.

      Why do you continue peddling these falsehoods?

    • Justiceplease,

      Said you:

      " The fact that there even ARE US drills with the very same military that killed US sailors on the USS Liberty is shameful. The US government should try everything in its power to extradite the Israelis responsible for the Liberty massacre and convict them for life, and make the Israeli government pay reparations."

      It may be of interest to you to know that the Israelis took responsibility for the attack moments after it occured, offered medical attention to the survivors, apologized to the United States government, and paid some $12-13 million in damages to the government, Liberty survivors, and the families of those who were killed.

      Why is it just so impossible to believe that this attack was a mistake?

      I know that passions on this issue are strong, but I hope someday those who are so certain this attack was deliberate can be and will be persuaded by the available evidence that it was not.

  • Israel is trying to hook us into a war with Iran-- Matthews and Baer speculate
    • Shingo,

      Can you or anyone else please tell me what agreement Israelis and Palestinians were on the verge of at Taba? For example, on refugees. What were they close to agreement on?

  • "Didn't we learn anything from 1938?' Wasserman Schultz's opposition says Palestinians belong in Jordan
    • Said Shingo:

      "The quote never existed. Even Wikipedia casts doubt upon the authenticity of that quote"

      That is not true. It merely notes the reservations expressed by Morris and others about the quote's authenticity. It also notes Karsh's debunking of the inauthenticity charge with evidence, which you omit here.

      "Of course, it’s harldy surprising that such a lame propogandist as Efraim Karsh is using quotes that cannot be confirmed."

      Another false advertisement. Karsh has established the quote's authenticity and its source.

      http://www.meforum.org/3082/azzam-genocide-threat

      Here is the full quote from an October 11, 1947 interview with Azzam:

      "Abdul Rahman Azzam Pasha spoke to me about the horrific war that was in the offing… saying:

      "I personally wish that the Jews do not drive us to this war, as this will be a war of extermination and momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Tartar massacre[10] or the Crusader wars. I believe that the number of volunteers from outside Palestine will be larger than Palestine's Arab population, for I know that volunteers will be arriving to us from [as far as] India, Afghanistan, and China to win the honor of martyrdom for the sake of Palestine … You might be surprised to learn that hundreds of Englishmen expressed their wish to volunteer in the Arab armies to fight the Jews.

      "This war will be distinguished by three serious matters. First—faith: as each fighter deems his death on behalf of Palestine as the shortest road to paradise; second, [the war] will be an opportunity for vast plunder. Third, it will be impossible to contain the zealous volunteers arriving from all corners of the world to avenge the martyrdom of the Palestine Arabs, and viewing the war as dignifying every Arab and every Muslim throughout the world …

      "The Arab is superior to the Jew in that he accepts defeat with a smile: Should the Jews defeat us in the first battle, we will defeat them in the second or the third battle … or the final one… whereas one defeat will shatter the Jew's morale! Most desert Arabians take pleasure in fighting. I recall being tasked with mediating a truce in a desert war (in which I participated) that lasted for nine months…While en route to sign the truce, I was approached by some of my comrades in arms who told me: 'Shame on you! You are a man of the people, so how could you wish to end the war … How can we live without war?' This is because war gives the Bedouin a sense of happiness, bliss, and security that peace does not provide! …

      "I warned the Jewish leaders I met in London to desist from their policy,[11] telling them that the Arab was the mightiest of soldiers and the day he draws his weapon, he will not lay it down until firing the last bullet in the battle, and we will fire the last shot …"

      He [Azzam] ended his conversation with me by saying: "I foresee the consequences of this bloody war. I see before me its horrible battles. I can picture its dead, injured, and victims … But my conscience is clear … For we are not attacking but defending ourselves, and we are not aggressors but defenders against an aggression! …"

  • Just wars-- and civilian casualties
    • Jerome,

      I forgot to add something. If there is one single book that surveys the entire Asia-Pacific theater and all of the command issues (as well as an excellent account of the campaigns) comprehensively it is Max Hastings' "Nemesis: The Battle For Japan 1944-1945," (Harper Press, 2007).

      It's also an excellent read. I highly reccomend it, if you can get it.

    • Jerome,

      I agree with you that Japan’s capacity for offensive action was nil by 1945, but they were still well entrenched in China and SE Asia with some several million troops who could still fight and sustain themselves without much assistance from the home islands. Also they were palnning a series of offensive actions despite their plight. They had been training an outfit called the Yamoaka Parachute Brigade of some 300 Kamikaze soldiers who would be landed by submarine on the coast of California to shoot their way to aircraft factories in Los Angeles. They planned a similar attack on the Marianas islands involving some 2000 suicided soldiers. The former operation never got rolling because of the end of the war and the latter was only thwarted when Admiral Halsey recieved intel on the attack and targeted the 400 planes being readied on August 4, 1945. The Japanese were indeed beaten, but they still had plenty of fight--and bite left among them.

      Clearing the Asian mainland of the Japanese would, I think, probably have taken years and possibly a million troops. All of the evidence shows that American policy makers never seem to have considered anything short of surrender, and that the Japanese would probably not have been amenable to any arrangement that smacked of surrender or the yielding of conquered territory, as communications from their commanders in China and SE Asia as late as mid-August 1945 indicate.

      It’s just speculation on my part, but I am guessing that any arrangement that allowed the lunatic military regime to stay in power would only unwittingly abet them in their highest priority—rearming and re-conquering, regardless of what this meant for the Japanese people. It also seems to me that the Japanese militarists—like the German militarists after WW I—would regard any conclusion of the war that stopped short of surrender as an opportunity to scapegoat their defeat on civilians and as a spur to rearm for a future return engagement

      Any type of peace arrangement short of surrender would ultimately founder on the Japanese refusal to countenance defeat of any sort, conditional or unconditional.

      That said, and though I do think that the strategy of striking at the Japanese by securing key Pacific island locations while bypassing others to bring them within striking distance of the home islands was the correct course of action, there is one costly campaign that could have been avoided: the Philippines campaign, in which some 14,000 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Philippinos were killed, and Manila devastated. The campaign was a sop to MacArthur from Roosevelt so that MacArthur could “return.” It did nothing to bring Japan’s defeat closer.

      If you’re interested, there are some excellent books on American and Allied decision-making in the Pacific war by British naval historian H.P. Wilmott:

      --“Empires in the Balance: Japanese and Allied Pacific Strategies to April 1942,” (Naval Institute Press, 1982)

      --“Barrier and the Javelin: Japanese and Allied Strategies February to June 1942,” (Naval Institute Press, 1983)

      --“The War With Japan: May 1942 to October 1943,” (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1985)

      Also informative are D. Clayton James “The Years of MacArthur, Vol. II: 1941-1945,” (1975), and Forrest Pogue’s “George Marshall: Ordeal and Hope 1939-1942,” (1965), and “Organizer of Victory: 1943-1945,” (1973).

    • Jeffrey,

      FYI, I did not serve in the military. If I had, it is not likely that I would find occasion to revise my opinion that the dropping of the A-bomb was correct. Facts and logic dictate to me that the dropping of the bombs prevented much more bloodshed for Americans and Japanese alike; you may feel differently.

      The anecdote you relate strikes me as authentic. The Japanese rarely surrendered, and often feigned surrender to lure American troops into the open and kill them. Consequently, Navy and Marine commanders would often sanction the shooting of those attempting to surrender, rather than risk lives taking them prisoner. This was especially true among small unit commanders in the bitter island engagements at Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. In October 1943 George Marshall cabled commanders in the Pacific to discourage the practice among soldiers in making necklaces from the teeth of dead Japanese, and Life Magazine published a photo of an Arizona woman looking at the skull of a dead Japanese soldier sent to her from her boyfriend, which bore the inscription: “This is a good Jap—a dead one picked up on the New Guinea beach.”

      Also, German Admiral Doenitz relates in his memoirs how Admiral Nimitz sent an affidavit to his defense lawyer at Nuremberg, testifying that American submarines would often refuse to take on survivors of sunken Japanese ships for fear that it would put submarine crewmen at risk taking them aboard.

      However, those Japanese who were taken prisoner received decent treatment. The same cannot be said of Allied prisoners in Japanese custody, of whom some 27% died in captivity—compared to 4% in German captivity. Testimony taken at the Tokyo Tribunal relates that Japanese commanders and soldiers routinely shot and tortured Allied prisoners on the slightest of pretexts, conducted sadistic medical experiments on them, and even committed acts of cannibalism on them when food was scarce.

      So, I think it is fair to say that the Pacific war was a brutal war, and that both sides committed atrocities and acts of savagery, but the Japanese in China, SE Asia, and the Pacific, did so on a far, far greater scale that dwarfs the worst outrages committed by the Allies.

    • Woody Tanaka,

      Said you:

      “This is nonsensical, because it treats the four major Alllied powers, considering both theaters (US, UK, USSR, and China) as having the same goals, and nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, only two of them were involved in both theaters at the same time, and some in the US believed that Japan was the more immediate threat to the US, although FDR did not.”

      I wouldn’t disagree with this. I should have clarified: I was speaking of the Western Allies (i.e., Roosevelt and Churchill), who had given the defeat of Germany priority over Japan. Obviously, Russia and China both considered the defeats of Germany and Japan, respectively, to take priority for their own reasons.

      “The Chinese clearly saw the Japanese as the greater threat, indeed, they’d been fighting them since the early 1930s. The Russians weren’t going to join in the war against Japan unless Japan attacked them or until Germany was defeated. Not because Germany was “the greater, more immediate threat” but because they were at war with Germany and were not at war with Japan.”

      I agree.

      Said you:

      “But Japan only capitulated because of the Russian declaration of war (not because of the atomic bombs), because they reached a point where they believed that continuing the war (and inviting, for example, Russian occupation or a Japanese Communist revolt) would be more harmful than surrendering to the US and UK.

      The war in the Pacific could have ended sooner, even with the European War, had the Americans not insisted on unconditional surrender. Had they made it known that surrender could be done while still preserving the kokutai, Japan would have jumped at the chance to end the war much earlier.”

      I would dispute both of these assertions. While there is of course evidence that the Japanese were troubled by the declaration of war by the Soviet Union (whom their diplomats had lately been delusionally courting to mediate peace terms between them and the Allies), and that this certainly reinforced the hopelessness of their situation, attributing this, rather than both atomic bombs to the Japanese surrender is problematic for two reasons. First, it overlooks the fundamental irrationality and divorce from reality that was at the heart of all Japanese war direction, especially in the last year of the war. The Japanese war leaders who ran the country and the war were, almost to a man, die-hard fanatics whom no disaster, however catastrophic, would impel them to ever consider surrender as a viable option.

      As Gerhard Weinberg has found, American intelligence was monitoring Japanese diplomatic correspondence between Tokyo and their diplomats in Moscow and other capitols in the months prior to dropping the bomb, and Tokyo was adamant in its replies to its diplomats abroad that “the Japanese government would not accept the concept of unconditional surrender even if the institution of the imperial house were preserved.” These intercepted communications, along with watching the Japanese literally fight to the last man at battles like Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and plaster countless American ships with thousands of Kamikazes, communicated to American policy makers the fanatical intractability of the Japanese determination to fight to the bitter end, no matter the hopelessness of their situation. (See Gerhard Weinberg, “A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II,” 1994, pp. 882-890).

      Secondly, the evidence is clear that even the dropping of the first atomic bomb and the Soviet declaration of war had absolutely no influence on the Japanese to consider surrender. The Japanese Minister of War, General Korechika Anami, on the day the Soviets declared war, even went out his way to deny that an A-Bomb had in fact been dropped on Hiroshima on August 6. The government announced that the dropping of the bomb was “contrary to international law”—having brutally and brazenly violated every conceivable tenet of international law for the last decade and a half, the Japanese now demanded its protection.

      When the second bomb dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, the Imperial Council convened to meet that night and even then, incredibly, still resisted the option of surrender. While acknowledging that the Americans had as many 100 A-bombs left (they actually had none), Anami nonetheless urged that Japan fight on, and that the if the Japanese people “went into the decisive battle in the homeland determined to display the full measure of patriotism . . . Japan would be able to avert the crisis facing her.” He was seconded on this by the chief of the army general staff, Yoshijiro Umezu, who was fully confident of the military’s “ability to deal a smashing blow to the enemy,” and that “it would be inexcusable to surrender unconditionally.” Admiral Soemu Toyoda, chief of the navy’s general staff, also spoke confidently of unleashing the reserves of air power (read: Kamikazes) that they had accumulated on the home islands, and asserted confidently that that “we do not believe that we will be possibly defeated.”

      And keep in mind: these were the sentiments expressed by Japan’s leaders AFTER the Soviet Declaration of war and the dropping of both A-bombs.

      It was at this point that the emperor intervened, and he made clear Japan’s acceptance of the Allied terms with the condition that emperor be retained on August 14. Yet even this encountered fierce resistance from the fanatics in the military clique, and they resolved on the reversal of the emperor’s decision by way of a coup d’état. It might have succeeded had Anami lent his support to the coup, but he would not defy the emperor and the plot failed. Unwilling either to surrender or defy the emperor, he resolved his dilemma by suicide. But for Anami’s action, Japan would undoubtedly have fought to a far bloodier end for all concerned.

      Some indication of both the fanatical resistance to surrender and the extent to which the Soviet declaration, the two A-bombs, and the emperor’s decision to surrender had not dented the Japanese will to fight can be gauged from an August 15 message to Tokyo from General Yasuji Okamura, the commander of the army in China:

      “I am firmly convinced that it is time to exert all our efforts to fight to the end, determined that the whole army should die an honorable death without being distracted by the enemy’s peace offensive… Such a disgrace as the surrender of several million troops without fighting is not paralleled in the world’s military history, and it is absolutely impossible to submit to the unconditional surrender of a million picked troops in perfectly healthy shape. . . .”

      Field Marshal Terauchi, commander of the Southern Army, had this to say on the Allies’ agreement to grant surrender terms in reply to Hirohito,

      “Under no circumstances can the Southern Army accept the enemy’s reply.”

      The Emperor considered the bomb the decisive factor in his decision to intervene and lead the initiative to surrender. Said Hirohito: “We must put an end to the war as speedily as possible so that this tragedy will not be repeated.” Premier Suzuki said that Japan’s “war aim had been lost by the enemy’s use of the new-type bomb.” Hirohito, in his August 14 speech to the nation said,

      “The enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is indeed incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should we continue to fight, it would not only result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but it would also lead to the total extinction of human civilization. Such being the case, how are we to save the millions of our subjects. . . This is the reason why we have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the Joint Declaration of the Powers.”

      (The source for all of the above is Robert J.C. Butow, “Japan's Decision to Surrender,” 1954, pp.166-188).

      ***

      The evidence is thus compelling that the Japanese leadership was a) adamant that there would be no surrender even if the kokutai had been retained, b) that not even the Soviet declaration of war combined with the dropping of both A-bombs was sufficient to persuade Japan’s military leaders of the necessity of surrender, just the opposite; they were even more determined than ever to fight on however hopeless the situation.

      And while the importance of the Soviet declaration of war toward reinforcing the hopelessness of Japan’s situation should not be overlooked, it is clear that the emperor’s intervention was decisive in accepting the surrender terms, and that the bomb was decisive in forcing his intervention. Had he not intervened, there would have likely been a full scale invasion of the home islands causing hundreds of thousands of fatalities.

      From all of this, I draw the conclusion that the dropping of the A-bombs was not only right, but necessary to save further bloodshed.

    • Shingo,

      Said you:

      "Furthermore, Wikileqks revealed that the reason for initiating Cast Lead had nothing to do with rockets, but fear that the ceasefire was benefitting Hamas politically. The military option was decided as the means to cut off Hamas at the knees politically. Israel were entirely to blame."

      I address the rest of your assertions upthread, but here is what the Wikileaks memo of August 2008 says in full:

      “Regarding the Tahdiya, Hacham (MOD Arab Affairs Adviser David Hacham) said Barak stressed that while it was not permanent, for the time being it was holding. There have been a number of violations of the ceasefire on the Gaza side, but Palestinian factions other than Hamas were responsible. Hacham said the Israelis assess that Hamas is making a serious effort to convince the other factions not to launch rockets or mortars. Israel remains concerned by Hamas' ongoing efforts to use the Tahdiya to increase their strength, and at some point, military action will have to be put back on the table. The Israelis reluctantly admit that the Tahdiya has served to further consolidate Hamas' grip on Gaza, but it has brought a large measure of peace and quiet to Israeli communities near Gaza.”

      The memo, read honestly, makes nonsense of your assertion that Cast Lead had “nothing to do with rocket attacks but fear that the ceasefire was benefitting Hamas politically." It had everything to do with rocket and mortar attacks (some 601 between Nov. 4 and Dec. 27 alone) and your Wikileaks memo, in fact, reveals no such thing. It simply states that Israel was “concerned by Hamas’ ongoing efforts to use the Tahdiya to increase their strength, and at some point, military action will have to be put back on the table.” Your citation of this memo to support your assertion, in other words, is yet another example of your false advertising of sources that do not support your assertions.

      Let us not forget: Hamas had fired some 2473 rockets and mortars into Israel between January and the June 2008 cease-fire. Barak was simply speaking in general terms about what everyone knew was inevitable, and expressing his concerns about the use that Hamas was putting the cease-fire to build up their arsenal. You act as if these were not legitimate concerns. In any event, there is not a shred of evidence here in the memo that he (or Israel) were plotting to sabotage the cease-fire and it most certainly indicates no planned, premeditated intention to do so in the November 4 incident. The same cannot be said about Hamas.

    • Hostage,

      Said you:

      "I’ve mentioned elsewhere that thousands of Allied POWs in the Asian theater died during WWII while they were waiting to be rescued. In the meantime, the remaining Jews in the European concentration camps were being saved. I don’t think it should offend anyone to admit that they were sacrificed to save the lives of others."

      Is it really your belief that Allied POW's in the Asian theater were "sacrificed" so that the Jews of Europe could be saved? Isn't this a bit extreme?

      What evidence is there to support this? While there is no question the Allies gave the defeat of Germany priority over Japan, this was not because the Allies were concerned to liberate Europe's Jews, but because they rightly considered Germany to be the greater, more immediate threat.

      That said, it's not really clear to me how the Pacific campaign could have been won any sooner than it was regardless of the European war. Even if there was no European war, it would still have taken about the same time--and much longer, with more POW's killed, if the A-bombs had not been dropped.

    • “Do you think that the breach of the ceasefire by Israel on November 4th was justified, seeing as no Kassams were landing in Israel at the time?”

      For the record, the six month cease-fire established in June 2008 was disrupted on November 4, 2008 when Israeli troops crossed into the Gaza Strip near the town of Deir al-Balah and targeted a tunnel that Hamas was planning to use to capture Israeli soldiers positioned on the border fence 250m away from the border and directly adjacent to an IDF border outpost, not unlike the one they used to snatch Shalit. Four Israeli soldiers were injured in the operation, two moderately and two lightly. One Hamas gunman was killed and they then launched a volley of mortars at Israel. An Israeli air strike then killed five more Hamas fighters. In response, Hamas launched 35 rockets into southern Israel, one reaching the city of Ashkelon.

      The Nov.4 incursion was a necessary and completely justifiable action of self-defense. “This was a pinpoint operation intended to prevent an immediate threat,” the Israeli military said in a statement. “There is no intention to disrupt the cease-fire, rather the purpose of the operation was to remove an immediate and dangerous threat posted by the Hamas terror organization.”

      According to the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center report: “Hamas and the Terrorist Threat from the Gaza Strip: The Main Findings of the Goldstone Report Versus the Factual Findings” published in March 2010:

      “November 5 marked the beginning of the second period of the lull’s deterioration. It began with an abduction attempt prevented on November 4, which was supposed to be carried out through a tunnel near the border fence (in the vicinity of Kissufim). The preventive action conducted by the IDF was based on intelligence which began accumulating towards late October 2008, about a tunnel built by Hamas for an abduction in the region near the Kissufim outpost.

      The planned Hamas operation included the specific training of operatives for an offensive mission, and the nature of the training and the equipment indicated that Hamas was preparing for an abduction. At the same time, it was learned that the excavation of the tunnel was about to end and that Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives were conducting unusual activities. Reliable information in early November indicated the intention to activate the tunnel. As a result, Israel made the decision to launch a preemptive operation
      in the Gaza Strip to prevent the abduction attempt.

      Based on intelligence, on the night of November 4 an IDF force operated about 300 meters inside the Gaza Strip to prevent the abduction. As the IDF attacked the tunnel, it became clear that Hamas had taken the possibility into consideration and booby-trapped both the house at the end of the tunnel and the tunnel entrance. IDF forces blew up the house and left the Gaza Strip following the operation. Six IDF soldiers were injured, two of them
      seriously; seven Hamas operatives were killed and several were injured.”

      http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/g_report_e1.pdf

      “So you think it was justified given that Hamas proposed a resumption of the ceasefire in mid December, which Israel rejected? After all, a return to a ceasefire at that point would have ended 3 more weeks of rocket attacks.”

      Please. The tunnel skirmish was then met by the launching of some 193 rockets and mortars in November, and some 290 between December 1 and December 24, every one of them a war crime.

      On November 8, Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Obeida said to Al-Jazeera TV: “the lull is coming to an end and we will not renew that lull.” Khaled Mashaal, chief of the Hamas political bureau, said to Al Quds TV on December 14: “The lull was set for six months and it is ending on December 19. After December 19, the lull will come to an end and will not be renewed.”

      Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said to Al-Aqsa TV on December 17: “The lull will end on December 18, and I believe that it should not be renewed between the Palestinian factions and the Zionist occupation. And in light of this assessment of the lull and our consultations with the Palestinian factions, all of the Palestinians, both our people in the West Bank and Gaza, do not wish to extend this lull, which the Zionist occupier has converted to his benefit.” This was echoed by Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Obeida on the same day, who also announced on the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades website that the lull would not be renewed.

      http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/Hebrew/heb_n/video/evgr_a_1_8.htm

      As a reward for this terrorist aggression, the Hamas regime now demanded the following terms for a renewal of the lull/cease-fire, which lapsed on December 18: a complete opening of all border crossings, an opening of the Rafah border with Egypt, and a ban on all IDF activity in Gaza. Hamas was thus now demanding a removal of all the restrictive measures and “IDF activity” that the terrorist actions they had previously committed, and were currently committing, had made absolutely necessary. On December 24 Hamas launched “Operation Oil Stain” to the accompaniment of a 60 rocket and mortar volley. On December 25 Prime Minister Olmert said: “I am telling them now, it may be the last minute. I’m telling them stop it. We are stronger.” This was met with an attack of 5 rocket and 14 mortar attacks, and the next day there were 12 more. All efforts to constrain or contain the attacks being ineffective, on December 27 Israel commenced Operation Cast Lead, a three-week sustained military strike on Hamas's terror infrastructure and rocket launching sites in an effort to thwart future attacks.

      According to the ITIC report:

      “Hamas’ unilateral decision to the end lull and the escalation it initiated played a major role in the events which ultimately led to Operation Cast Lead. On September 18, the Hamas leadership met to discuss whether or not to extend it. Opinions in the Gaza Strip leadership of Hamas were divided, while the Damascus leadership, headed by Khaled Mashaal, chief of the political bureau in Damascus, decided to bring it to an end in an attempt to achieve a new lull with better conditions for Hamas. The decision was made
      knowing that it would lead to an escalation. The leadership, however, assumed Hamas would be able to control and contain it. Hamas was joined it its decision to end the lull by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the other Palestinian terrorist organizations.

      The Palestinian Authority opposed the escalation initiated by Hamas. Prior to Hamas’ announcing the end of the lull, Palestinian Authority leaders, including Mahmoud Abbas, said that they supported its extension, and that firing rockets was useless because all it did was provide Israel with a pretext to attack Hamas. Accordingly, the Palestinian Authority attempted to make Hamas reconsider, claiming that such a step would lead to a blockade of the Gaza Strip and worsen the Gazans’ situation, and that it could lead to an Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip in the future.

      Mahmoud Abbas’ referred to his attempts to persuade Hamas to extend the lull in a speech he gave at the opening ceremony of the Fatah Revolutionary Council meeting (October 2009). He said that one week or ten days prior to the launch of Operation Cast Lead (i.e., December 17, 2008), he had called two Hamas activists, Ghazi Hamad and Ahmed Youssef, informing them of the coming Israeli attack. He added that all they had to do to avoid it was to extend the lull. When they did not respond, he said, he ordered Sa’eb Erekat to contact the Hamas leadership in Damascus. After they, too, did not agree, Mahmoud Abbas contacted the president of Syria and asked him to convince the Hamas leadership to extend the lull (Palestinian TV, October 16, 2009), to no avail.”

      It cannot be denied: Hamas wanted war, provoked war, and got war. Hamas’ total culpability for the Gaza War, their abrogation of the lull, and their refusal to renew it for their lunatic view that their continued terrorist aggression would somehow yield them better terms (spelled out by them before the Nov. 4 incident), is thus beyond serious dispute. Like Hezbollah in 2006, they greivously miscalculated Israel's response.

    • Wisdom from the asylum:

      “In Kuwait, Saddam was given the green light by April Glasby to invade Kuwait.”

      “The US didn’t failt to protect the Iraqi people from the chaos and the military operation. The US went into Iraq to kill Iraqis. When they were met with resistance from both the Shiites and the Sunnis, the took sides and backed the Shiite Death Squads. When the violence was getting seriously out of hand, the US finally accepted in 2006 the treaty the Sunnis had made in 2004 and branded it the surge.”

      “Prior to the Iraq war, Bush was given multiple opporutnities to strike Al-Zarqawi’s camp in Northern Iraq, but chose not to. The thinking being that Al-Zarqawi would be more usedul to the propaganda war alive than dead.”

      To attempt to argue rationally against such delusional, unhinged paranoia, is vain.

    • "As for Cast Lead I think it was justified."

      I agree. Hamas' culpability in provoking the war is total. It was a just war.

    • Professor Slater,

      You have given here one of the most robust, well-reasoned defenses of liberal-humanitarian just war theory that I have ever read.

      The example of the Allied liberation of France in the light of the frightful civilian casualties it caused, is an excellent case in point to support your argument. Both Churchill and Eisenhower both agonized over the likely civilian casualties in the weeks prior to Overlord. Anthony Beevor, in his “D-Day: The Battle for Normandy,” relates how Eisenhower and Alanbrooke agonized over the decision to bomb Caen, a crucial strategic stronghold whose capture was crucial to the securing of the east Normandy beachhead. If the German 12 SS Panzer was allowed to reinforce and concentrate there, they might well have driven back the invasion. The Allies therefore had to bomb the German positions both in and around the city of Caen, a city of some 70,000 people, if they were to prevent reinforcements arriving, drive the Germans back, and secure the city. All told, some 1,150 civilians were killed in the bombing, some 350 killed while seeking refuge in shelters; a horrific tragedy, to be sure. Now, the Allies could have forfeited the bombing to spare the civilians, but only at the cost of losing the beachhead—a moral catastrophe for not only the people of Caen, but France, Europe, and the rest of the world.

      Wars involve killing and they always will. Wars will not be abolished, and for us to signal to the world that we will no longer wage war will not render it a kinder, gentler world; just the opposite. The weakness we would be signaling would be dangerously provocative to wolf-like regimes like North Korea, Iran, China, and Russia, who would only be emboldened to expand their own spheres of influence for purposes other than making the world safe for democracy, to say the least.

      Our interventions in Kuwait in 1991, Bosnia in 1995 and Kosovo were all necessary and morally justifiable interventions. It is difficult to understand the reasoning of those who objected to them. Afghanistan in 2001 was a no-brainer; the need to expel the Taliban, root out Al-Queda sanctuaries, and stabilize the country and prevent it from being a terrorist stronghold were absolutely essential. Our mistakes there over the past decade are to numerous to recount here, but if we are successful in building on the successes we have had in securing Kandahar, Kabul and elsewhere, we will be in a good position to hand over control to the Afghan police and army in the next few years, both of whom have made great strides in proficiency. This can only be to the good of all concerned, and it cannot be argued that our designs there are imperialistic.

      Iraq is a different case; though I supported the war for reasons other than wmd and still do, I understand and respect the arguments of those who do not. It is something that people of good faith can honestly disagree on. The US, in my view, cannot escape responsibility for the breathtaking incompetence of its post-war administration and lack of foresight, and our failure to protect the Iraqi people from both the chaos that ensued following the military operation, and the murderous depredations of Al-Zarqawi and his like. Nor should we. But there is a moral distinction between trying and failing to protect, and deliberately planning and executing acts of indiscriminate mass-murder in the tens of thousands, and the attempts, aided and abetted by Iran, Syria and Al-Qaeda, to openly and unabashedly foment wholesale sectarian civil war and an even greater orgy of mass slaughter. The worst follies of the Americans and the coalition simply have nothing to compare with the nakedness of these acts of deliberate and nihilistic evil.

      I did support the Libya war but I did not support Obama's feckless and indecisive conduct of it. There ought to have been a show of overwhelming force when Gaddafi was on the skids, or nothing at all. The President's tardy, half-hearted involvement in the conflict, and his tepid, scattershot application of force, coupled with his neglect of arming the rebels (and forming a strong relationship that could be helpful in a future state), guaranteed that military action could never be concentrated overwhelmingly at the decisive points at the time of maximum enemy vulnerability.

      Meaning, of course, that Gaddafi had ample time to regroup his forces, the rebels would lost their momentum, and stalemate ensued, which meant more bloodshed and more destruction over a longer period. The war ended favorably to be sure, but the unnecessary extension of the conflict was the President's making, entirely.

      For myself, I can only say this: I wish the world were not a dangerous place. But it is. And what is worse, we live in a world where so called “progressives” and “human rights” groups regularly and gleefully confer legitimacy and even victim status on terrorist entities and totalitarian regimes where racial persecution, religious intolerance, and suppression of free speech are rife, and where the citizen is a dispensable, disposable, and soulless fraction of the state.

      I believe in the primacy and beneficence of American power in this dangerous world, and would shudder to contemplate its absence. The UN ultimately fails in its stead because nations do not sacrifice their core interests for a collective foreign policy, do not sacrifice for others’ interests, and often misbehave in pursuing them. The best that can be got is that nations who share similar values and objectives can combine together for their common purposes: America and Britian to defend and preserve law, freedom, and stability, the Russians and the Chinese to thwart them. American leadership is now more crucial than ever, and it cannot be said that we have presently got it.

      In any event, your article provided a much needed countering to Paul’s childish, mindless pacifism and those who endorse it. There will always be debate and disagreement about what and what does not constitute just and unjust wars, and you sir, in a well reasoned and morally serious argument, have done justice to the terrible complexity of the reality that continues to burden this grave and unavoidable discussion.

      I should like to say that I always enjoy your contributions here, and, even when I disagree with you, I always find your writings illuminating and thought provoking. Your contribution here is valuable, and I hope it will continue.

      Btw, I particularly wanted to commend you for your takedown of Jeffrey Blankfort’s offensive attempts to implicate Zionists in provoking Nazi persecution and the Holocaust—a risible, repellent argument rife with anti-semitic implications. Nor is this an isolated instance for our friend Mr. Blankfort. A few days ago, he attempted to argue that the Balfour Declaration was a reward to the Jews from the British because Zionists got America into the war by way of giving the British the Zimmerman telegram. How about that?! Here is a link to my response:

      http://mondoweiss.net/2012/01/arendt-born-in-conflict-israel-will-degenerate-into-sparta-and-american-jews-will-need-to-back-away.html#comment-411948

  • Arendt: Born in conflict, Israel will degenerate into Sparta, and American Jews will need to back away
    • Gilad,

      I got “Take it or leave it…” from Amazon UK a few years ago. It’s superb. Love Sam Anstice Brown’s dynamic drumming, too.

      Hope you’re able to get the Coltrane; it’s excellent. There is a tendency to look askance at Coltrane’s pre-Giant Steps recordings, but this is a mistake. Trane’s intensity in albums like “Lush Life” and “Traneing In” are wonderfully complemented by Red Garland’s cool, elegant piano accompaniment, though nothing equals the magic that Coltrane, Miles, and Bill Evans would conjure up on “Kind of Blue.” Love Evans too. My uncle saw Evans perform at the Village Vangaurd with Scott La Faro and Paul Motian in 1961 before Lafaro was tragically killed. I would have given anything to have seen them live.

      I’ve been a freak for a lot of these box sets they’ve been releasing this past decade. I got Ornette Coleman’s “Beauty is A Rare Thing,” (6 discs) which is a compilation of his Atlantic recordings, “Rahsaan,” (10 discs) which is a compilation of Roland Kirk’s recordings on Mercury, and Charles Mingus “Complete Debut Recordings” (12 discs). Recently, I also got Steve Lacy’s “5 X Monk X Lacy” and Art Pepper’s “Meet’s the Rhythm Section.”

    • Jeffrey,

      Said you:

      “There is no other reason that has ever been offered to explain why the Balfour Declaration was issued to a scion of the world’s leading banking family and a major supporter of Jewish colonization, Walter Rothschild, presenting Palestine to the Zionists as a Jewish homeland that has ever withstood scrutiny. Perhaps you can pull one out of your hat.”

      While it seems that any explanation of a major world event that cannot be properly ascribed to the machinations of some sinister cabal of cynical, wily, string-pulling Jews is unlikely to satisfy you, here is one “out of my hat.”

      In the first place, the Balfour Declaration resulted, ultimately, from the waning fortunes of the Allied powers in 1917. 1917, like 1916, was a bad year. By the spring, the Verdun and Somme offensives of the previous year had bled the Allies white on the Western front, Russia was mired in revolution and chaos, and the French army was now teetering on the brink of wholesale mutiny. There was thus a strong desire to avert Russia from making a separate peace, and to encourage America into a stronger, faster commitment on the continent (only some 77,000 American troops had yet landed in France by November 1917, when the Declaration was made public). Officials in the British Foreign Office were concerned about the hostility of world Jewry toward anti-semitic Russia, and even more concerned about American Jews of German and Austro-Hungarian descent, whom they feared supported the Central Powers. The men of Whitehall, almost to a man, all held exaggerated notions of Jewish power and influence; you’d have been right at home there, Jeffrey. And Zionists like Weizmann, of course, were only too happy to encourage this kind of thinking along.

      There is thus no question that the British and the French both felt in the months before America entered the war, that supporting the Zionist cause and getting American Jews behind them would help bring America into the war, and keep Russia fighting the Germans. In the event, it did neither. America entered the war on account of German belligerence and stupidity, not the machinations of Zionists, and the efforts of Russian Zionist Nahum Sokolow, who promised the Quai d’Orsay (and later, Whitehall) to rally Jewish support for keeping Russia in the war in exchange for the pro-Zionist statement issued by French Foreign Minister Jules Cambon on June 4, 1917, came to nothing, and Russia was out of the war by the end of the year.

      There was also, then, a British desire to thwart French claims to Palestine, which were enunciated in the pro-Zionist declaration of French Foreign Minister, Jules Cambon on June 4, 1917, and an even greater fear that the Germans would issue a pro-Zionist declaration of their own, and the British were determined to beat them to the punch. At the cabinet meeting on October 31, Balfour made the case for a pro-Zionist declaration. It would aid the British in generating propaganda among Jews in America (read: Louis Brandeis and Felix Frankfurter—both close advisors to President Wilson) and Russia (read: Leon Trotsky), and among other Jews around the world. Lord Robert Cecil and Sir Ronald Graham also reminded Balfour that the clock was ticking, that a German declaration could be imminent, and that such a declaration would “throw the Zionists into the arms of the Germans.” That was the clincher. The cabinet then authorized Balfour to issue the declaration on November 2, which he did in the form of a letter to Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild, head of Britian’s Zionist Federation.

      The issuance of the Balfour Declaration was therefore perfectly consonant with wartime and post-wartime British imperial strategic interests, as they judged them to be at the time; whether it had any discernable influence on the course of the war, which was at its lowest point for the Allies at the end of 1917, and was nearly lost the following spring under the weight of a crushing German offensive, is open to doubt. World Jewry and support for Zionism did nothing to win the war; it did nothing to keep Russia fighting, and it was American participation, courtesy of German intransigence and blundering, and the exhaustion of German human and material resources after four years of conflict in the summer of 1918, along with the collapse of the German home front, that did that. With regard to America, who had already been in the war for seven months, it was hoped, among other things, that it would encourage Jewish opinion around Wilson to influence him into a more favorable disposition towards toward British wartime and post-wartime strategic interests currently at odds with some of the President’s more dreamy post-war visions. The success of this is open to even more doubt. In any event, the British sensibly saw the Balfour Declaration as a win-win proposition, whatever it might or might not actually achieve.

      Hope this clears things up for you.

      My sources for the above are:

      1) Isaiah Friedman, “The Question of Palestine: British-Jewish-Arab Relations,” 1973, pp. 57, 268-269, 278.

      2) David Fromkin, “A Peace to End All Peace: Creating the Modern Middle East,” 1991, pp. 41-42, 92, 292-293, 295.

      ***

      The notion that there exists some relationship between the Balfour Declaration and the Zimmerman Telegram is laughable, and is not entertained by any reputable historian that I am aware of.

      Mr Cornelius, writing in the virulently anti-Israel Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, posits the following: that Zionists in Britian and Germany, working in tandem, engineered the following changes to facilitate their agenda: the removal of the Asquith government in December 1916, the result of a “secret agreement” between Weizmann and Balfour and Lloyd George, so that the pro-Zionist Lloyd George government could be brought to power because Asquith was in danger of endorsing a negotiated settlement with Germany, contrary to Zionist interests, and the removal of Gottlieb von Jagow, the German Foreign Minister, with Arthur Zimmermann, who “enjoyed good relations with German Zionists and was thus susceptible to Zionist influence.”

      With Zionists thus now controlling the Lloyd George government and the German Foreign Office, Zionists in the German Foreign Office, among them one Herr von Kemnitz, an East Asia expert in the German foreign office and “presumably a Zionist agent,” gives Zimmerman a text of the proposed telegram which he had “likely received from London,” and which Zimmerman then forwards on his own authority. The telegram is exposed by the British, and revealed to the Americans, thus provoking an outraged America into war with Germany. Zionists in Britian thus drafted the telegram, relayed it to their brethren in the German Foreign Office to be sent, and won for themselves the reward of the Balfour Declaration.

      I hardly know where to begin with this. In the first place, this ignores the fact that the Asquith government was brought down not by Zionist machinations, but by a severe failure of confidence on the part of the public engendered by the disasters at the Somme, at Gallipoli, and in Mesopotamia, along with a perception of Asquith’s ineffectiveness as a war leader, for which he was ill-suited. Cornelius to the contrary, there was not much of a chance of a negotiated settlement in 1916 or anytime else; the German “peace note” of December 12, 1916, envisaged a Central Powers dominated Europe from the English Channel to the Black Sea: The German army currently occupied Belgium, Poland, most of European Russia, Serbia, Rumania, and ten of the richest provinces of France. The Germans, in effect, were offering the Allies “peace” if they could only keep the conquests resulting from the war of aggression they had initiated. Lloyd George, now PM, rejected the offer with contempt. The notion that Asquith, even if he had wanted to, would have seen this as a basis for negotiations, is preposterous. That the French would have is even more so. At the very height of the bloodshed and public outrage, no British government would have, or could have, consented to that. Both Britian and France were both unwilling to surrender without being properly beaten, Zionists or no Zionists.

      Secondly there is no evidence that von Kemnitz—an obscure German official about whom very little is known—was a “Zionist agent,” that the British drafted the Zimmerman telegram and relayed it to Zionists in the German Foreign Office, or that anyone in the German Foreign Office relayed it to London. The evidence is overwhelming that the British intercepted the telegram and were able to decipher it because they had cracked the German codes, without the benefit of Zionist intrigue, I should deign to mention.

      Specifically, Room 40 intercepted code 13040 from Persia in 1915, and they intercepted code 0075 in the weeks prior to intercepting the Zimmerman telegram in January 1917. The latter code was used to transmit the telegram first from Berlin to Washington, and the former code was used to transmit the message from the German embassy in Washington to Mexico. Mr. Cornelius’ thesis that the British somehow needed the help of German Zionists to obtain the Zimmerman telegram betrays an ignorance of the wiliness and the reach of British of counter-intelligence in both world wars—this was particularly demonstrated by their getting wind of the German plans for their High Seas Fleet to attack the Royal Navy at Jutland in 1916, and in their cracking of the Enigma code in WWII.

      My sources for the above:

      1) C.M. Andrews, “Secret Service: The Making of the British Intelligence Community,” 1985, pp. 106-114.

      2) Henry Newbolt, “Naval Operations: History of the Great War Based on Official Documents,” Vol. IV, 1928, pp. 229-276.

      3) Robert K. Massie, “Castles of Steel: Britian, Germany, and the Winning of the Great War at Sea,” 2003, pp. 696-697, 712-713.

      4) Cecil John Edmonds, “East and West of Zagros: Travel, War, and Politics in Persia and Iraq, 1913-1921,” pp.60-81.

      Also, for those who would cast doubt on the reach and agility of British counter intelligence, I would recommend David Kahn’s “Seizing the Enigma: The Race to Break the German U-Boats Codes, 1939-1943,” 1991.

    • Gilad,

      Thank you for your reply. I would have replied yesterday but my neighborhood’s internet service was shut off all day until late this morning. I will be more than happy to read Amos Elon’s “The Pity of it All,” and promise to read it with an open mind. I am currently finishing Trevor Royale’s excellent biography of Orde Wingate, which I had been reading on my vacation until a few days ago, and promise to begin reading Elon’s book, which I have ordered on Amazon, the moment I am finished.

      I am, btw, an admirer of your “Take it or Leave it,” and “Nostalgico.” I recently obtained an 18-disc recording of John Coltrane’s recordings for Prestige on Original Jazz Classics, which I highly recommend, if you don’t already have it.

    • Gilad,

      This is ahistorical. It was not "Jewish bankers" that brought America into the war. It was German unrestricted submarine warfare and the Zimmerman Telegram, in which the Germans, incredibly, promised the Mexicans the return of territories lost in the Mexican-American War in return for entering the war on Germany’s side, which provoked America into the war. An outraged America declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917.

      Long term, it was not in America’s interest to have Germany exploiting and enslaving the continent. It was also just plain wrong. By the time America declared war, Russia was all but out of the war, and the British and the French were exhausted and demoralized. Without American intervention, the Allies would have lost the war. Our intervention was therefore right as well as critical.

      I would be most interested in knowing what this readily available information supporting Bankfort's assertion could be.

      Peace tj,

      The sentiments expressed by Lloyd George here relate to the reason for making the declaration of the policy public at that particular time (which was in November 1917--seven months after America declared war), rather than for initiating the the policy itself. In any event, Blankfort has said that the Balfour Declaration was "[The Jews'] reward for pushing the US into WW1 on Britain’s side." This is baseless.

    • Jeffrey Blankfort says,

      "Without it, there would have been no Balfour Declaration which was viewed by Britain as their reward for pushing the US into WW1 on Britain’s side when its chances of defeating Germany were next to nil."

      So "the Jews" got the Balfour Declaration for pushing America into the war? Got it.

      Are you kidding with this? The Jews "pushed" America into WWI? Tell me Jeffrey, so "they" were behind Ludendorf's unrestricted sub warfare and the Zimmerman telegram?

      The German defeat did indeed sire Hitler's rise, but I hardly think a German victory would have been a blessing, and would have seen much, if not most of the continent enslaved by them.

      Johnh,

      You speak of the harsh terms imposed on Germany, but considering that the war was a war of aggression waged by Germany, and the fact that German terms on Russia and the Allies would have been infinitely more severe (take a peak at the map that emerged from the Brest-Litovsk treaty), I'd say the Germans got off rather easy, and they borrowed far more than they ever paid out in reparations.

  • Iraq-- I'm sorry
    • I quite agree that we do owe the Iraqis an apology, though not for removing Saddam from power. We owe them an apology for the breathtaking incompetence of our post-war administration and lack of foresight, and our failure to protect the Iraqi people from both the chaos that ensued following the military operation, and the murderous depredations of Al-Zarqawi and his like. However, there is a moral distinction between trying and failing to protect, and deliberately planning and executing acts of indiscriminate mass-murder in the tens of thousands, and the attempts, aided and abetted by Iran, Syria and Al-Qaeda, to openly and unabashedly foment wholesale sectarian civil war and an even greater orgy of mass slaughter.

      Said Bin-Laden in 2005: “Anyone who participates in these elections…has committed apostasy against Allah…their blood is permitted. They are apostates whose deaths should not be prayed over.”

      Said Al-Zarqawi of the Sh’ia: “They are the lurking snakes and the crafty scorpions, the spying enemy, and the penetrating venom, the most evil of mankind.”

      To cite just a few of literally dozens of examples attacks on Sh’ia civilians in 2005 alone proudly claimed by AQI and other Sunni insurgent groups: the police recruiting center in Al Hillah, on Feb. 28, 2005 where 127 were killed, the marketplace in Musyyab on July 16, 2005 where 100 Sh’ia worshipers returning from evening prayers were killed, the bombings in Baghdad on Aug 17 and Sept 14 which killed 203, and the suicide attacks on two Sh’ia mosques in Khanaqin Nov.18 in which 74 were killed.

      The overwhelming number of these attacks were aimed at Iraqi civilians, not coalition troops. The worst follies of the Americans and the coalition simply have nothing to compare with the nakedness of these acts of nihilistic and unearthly evil, and it is nothing less than shameful that not one person here has a single word to say about this. The murderers of tens of thousands of innocents are not only excused here from the crimes whose responsibility they so loudly and proudly claimed as their own, but are themselves given an ennobled status under the euphemistic obscenity of “resistance,” while those who, however imperfectly, fought and sacrificed to thwart the designs of these monsters, are portrayed as thuggish, imperialistic, racist grunts who would happily slaughter whole families in a fit of pique just to emphasize their displeasure. The moral myopia that informs this viewpoint is simply beyond belief.

      We do not know exactly what happened in Haditha on November 19, 2005. An interview with Chief Warrant Officer K. R. Norwood of Kilo Company has him answering a question posed to him whether civilian deaths were out of the ordinary, to which he responded,

      “Not out of the ordinary, sir, because, I mean, we had 24 major operations in Huseba, you know, insurgents using houses with civilians in the basement with not knowing. Insurgents utilizing children as shields for implanting IEDs, I mean these--I mean , we had this everyday . And as the Ground.Watch Officer, I mean, I was so engaged. I mean, it just happened, and I don't think you get sensitized to it, but it happened everyday, sir.”

      Norwood was thus not talking here of coalition inflicted deaths, but of all civilian deaths. Col. John Ledoux similarly commented the tactics of insurgents, and their contempt for the lives of civilians,

      “But to have, like I'm saying, just thousands of incidents, thousands of noncombatant deaths as well as, you know, enemy. It's just that there is a pretty tough mix out there. You're being—and the guys that are trying to do it in such a way that it does put you in a difficult position where you're being ambushed and your enemy really has no concern about the Iraqis, and in fact, you know, is trying to create situations, even through their IO (Intelligence operations) campaigns with fake videos where you'd have things come up, or Marines killed so many guys and they are at this hospital or that hospital, and then all of a sudden, you know, you see the same picture thing over and over again where you allegedly, you know, it's like the MEU-SOC (Marine Expeditionary Units-Special Operations Capable training) playbook, where they pull out the Marines kill, you know, forty civilians and innocent people, you know, and start playing that. That's all bullshit, but you know, it gets people spinning arid it's just part of their game. And I think part of their game too, is, you know, to try to put you in a tough spot where it is hard to distinguish the insurgent from the, you know, from the civilian. Your guys got to make hard calls all the time out there.”

      An interview with Col. S. Davis,

      “Q. But here you've got specific allegations, whatever the source, however suspect--however suspicious you are of the source, that your Marines killed guys in ways that they shouldn't have killed them.

      A . Okay, what do we have here? All right. Let's go back and review the story boards. We reviewed the story boards, talked to Chessani (Commander of 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines) and there is no meat here. If I am not mistaken, McGirk's (Time magazine reporter’s) allegations are that he had been contacted by the mayor of Haditha, that the Americans had slaughtered people and that there was a video of that. Now I have never seen this video but I've been told it's films of the deceased in a morgue or something along that line. Haditha is a special place for the insurgents. It was the center of their information operations.

      When we did Operation River Gate we overran a facility, captured it, ten stack computers, each one capable of producing ten CD's simultaneously. So if you have a beheading, and IED incident, within ten minutes you get 100 CDs out in the nukes. And this is all part of the murder intimidation campaign. We to this day don't know why, outside of the obvious strategic nature of Haditha, why Haditha is so important to the enemy. I mean, it figures greatly in their history, the revolt against the British of 1920. Quite clearly, it is very strategic terrain for them for other than just the geographic reasons. They don't want us in that town. We are well aware of that. The mayor, if he is not an insurgent himself, he is clearly an insurgent sympathizer, which Colonel Chessani dealt with routinely through out that time. In my mind this was all part of a play. They could not get what they wanted through Chessani, this was never hidden, this was never covered up, so they go outside to let the press come in and try to work it as an angle to move us out of there.”

      These sentiments do not indicate a casual indifference to civilian deaths; they indicate the stresses typical of young men living daily with the specter of combating a shadowy enemy ruthlessly indifferent to human life, let alone rules of engagement, and whose sole objective is to maximize confusion between civilians and combatants and wreak the greatest possible havoc to spur along a war of sectarian bloodletting.

      Perhaps no form of warfare puts more strain on those who wage it than counterinsurgency. The confusion between civilian and combatant, the stress of knowing that today’s friendly civilian could be tomorrow’s assailant or terrorist, sap nerves and morale sometimes to breaking point. Almost all anti-guerilla and anti-insurgent campaigns in history—the Peninsular War in Spain in 1808-1814, where Napoleon’s Grand Armee slowly bled to death under the blows of Spanish guerillas and Wellington’s army (and immortalized in Goya's "The Third of May,1808"), the Philippines in the 1890’s, and, of course, Vietnam, have incidents where soldiers have been involved in the deaths of civilians or prisoners of war. My Lai is merely the most famous.

      One particularly famous example occurred in the Second Boer War (1901-1902) between the British and the Boer Guerillas of South Africa, which was one of the more brutal insurgent wars of the century. Australian Lt. Harry “Breaker” Morant, upon learning his commanding officer, Capt. Hunt, had been murdered in cold blood by Boer guerillas and his body savagely abused, determined to avenge his murder. Morant responded “like a man demented, and…vowed there and then that he would give no quarter and take no prisoners.”

      Morant then led a contingent and set about to the farm where Hunt had been killed in search of the perpetrators, only to find they had fled. After one engagement with guerillas, they captured a Boer insurgent named Visser, who was found to have clothes on resembling those of a British officer, thought to be of Capt. Hunt (They weren’t. In fact, it later turned out that Hunt had been killed in action, not murdered). Morant then ordered that Visser be shot; there were objections voiced by some, but one soldier carried out the shooting, botching the job and leaving him alive. Morant then had a subordinate carry out the coup de grace with a revolver. This was only the beginning. Morant then rampaged about killing some 20 Boer prisoners, including a German missionary who had witnessed the killings.

      At his court martial, there was much talk about the brutality of the conflict, the stresses on the soldiers, and the savage behavior of the Boer guerillas. As with Calley at My Lai, the defense argued justification for Morant’s actions on orders from a superior officer. Again as with Calley, no such orders given could be proven to exist. George Ramsdale Witton, a fellow officer of Morant’s whose sentence was commuted, and who later published the book “Scapegoats of the Empire” (1907), which portrayed Morant’s conviction and execution as unjust and Moran himself as being sacrificed for behavior that was widespread and rampant throughout the conflict (and which formed the basis of the famous film “Breaker Morant”), had this to say:

      “War is calculated to make men's natures both callous and vengeful, and when civilised rules and customs are departed from on one side, reprisals are sure to follow on the other, and the shocking side of warfare in the shape of guerilla tactics is then seen. At such a time it is not fair to judge the participants by the hard and fast rules of citizen life or the
      strict moral codes of peace. It is necessary to imagine one's self amidst the same surroundings--in an isolated place, with the passions of war aroused, men half-starved, dangers constantly threatening from all quarters, and responsibilities crowding one upon another--to enable a fair decision to be reached.”

      This is of course all true. But Lord Kitchener, the Commander in Chief of the British Army in South Africa, in a letter to the Australian government, touched also upon a truth not to be overlooked,

      "In reply to your telegram, Morant, Handcock and Witton were charged with twenty separate murders, including one of a German missionary who had witnessed other murders. Twelve of these murders were proved. From the evidence it appears that Morant was the originator of these crimes which Handcock carried out in cold-blooded manner. The murders were committed in the wildest parts of the Transvaal, known as Spelonken, about eighty miles north of Pretoria, on four separate dates namely 02 July, 11 August, and 07 September, 1901. In one case, where eight Boer prisoners were murdered, it was alleged to have been done in a spirit of revenge for the ill treatment of one of their officers - Captain Hunt - who was killed in action. No such ill-treatment was proved. The prisoners were convicted after a most exhaustive trial, and were defended by counsel. There were, in my opinion, no extenuating circumstances. Lieutenant Witton was also convicted but I commuted the sentence to penal servitude for life, in consideration of his having been under the influence of Morant and Handcock. The proceedings have been sent home."

      Kitchener was right. These were cold blooded executions that no “fog of war” or extenuating circumstances in the heat of battle, could ever justify. To have condoned or ignored such atrocities would have been a moral travesty. Kitchener here upheld both the sentence and the principle that none are above the law, and that one man’s savagery can never be another man’s alibi for murder when his own life is not even threatened. When a prisoner avails himself to the custody of his captors, his life and security are inviolable under every custom of law and morality. Period.

      (An appeal to the British Crown to review and overturn Morant’s court-martial and conviction last year was rightly rejected.)

      http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/uk-right-to-reject-breaker-morant-review-20101214-18we0.html

      These principles are sacrosanct, as all regarding non-combatant immunity must always be. The difference between Morant’s crime and the killings at Haditha is that Morant’s guilt was never in question and the circumstances at Haditha are still unclear. According to all of the evidence, it would seem that the Marines of Kilo Company took fire after their vehicle hit an IED, and responded by promptly seeking out the source. This would be plausible: insurgents would often conduct ambushes by planting an IED, then smothering the vehicle (and those in the vicinity) with direct and indirect fire. (Hezbollah also used this tactic on the Israelis in the 2006 War.)

      In the course of seeking out four dwellings, the Marines killed 24 Iraqis, 8 of whom they said were armed insurgents. Whether the 16 civilians killed was accidental, a deliberate slaughter of innocents, or a criminally negligent killing, we do not know. If this was a deliberate killing, nothing can excuse it. All we do know is that Marines subject to combat stresses and strains beyond what most of us can imagine were involved in an engagement that involved the deaths of 24 Iraqis.

      And those strains are real, lasting long after shots are fired in anger. A U.S. Naval Medical Bulletin report examining combat fatigue in Marines on Guadalcanal in November 1942 said,

      “Many of these patients reported being buried in foxholes, blown out of trees, blown through the air…Many who had no anxiety in the daytime would develop a state of anxiety and nervous tension at night. These were shadow troops. They were the young ancients, the old young, staring with a fixed thousand yard stare out of eyes that were red-rimmed and sunken. Their bodies were taut rags of flesh stretched over sticks of bone. They had come to Guadalcanal muscular and high spirited young men, but now their high fervor had ebbed and nearly flowed away. They were hanging on by habit only, fighting out of the rut of an old valor.”

      General Alexander Vandegrift, commander of the 1st Marine Division at Guadalcanal, had no illusions about the price of that valor. He had seen too many brave men whose nerves and physique could no longer bear the strain of explosions and flying shrapnel. One officer came to him and said, “I am awfully sorry, sir, but I know I cannot stand another shelling and I do not want to crack up in front of my men.” Vandegrift sent him to the hospital, where, rested and apparently cured, he once again braved open combat, only to collapse again in a fit of nerves. The doctor who treated the officer did not understand, but Vandegrift did. “I did not ask because I knew,” he wrote. “It is not a matter of physical build, stamina, faith, courage, or what have you. It is a matter of man, and thus fortune…’There but for the grace of God go I.’”

  • 'NYT' continues to fiddle with the Nakba
    • Allison,

      Said you:

      "The article also made alterations suggesting Arab armies invaded before the Zionist para-military attacks, rather than "soon" after, as originally reported."

      It could equally be pointed out that the article makes no mention of the war being waged on the Yishuv by the Arabs form the passing of the partition till early April 1948. These "Zionist paramilitary attacks" as you call them, only occurred after four months in which Arab and Palestinian militias were assaulting Jewish settlements, strangling the roadways between them, and besieging Jewish Jerusalem, all to a cost of about 1,000 dead among the Yishuv by early April.

      You may feel differently, and, believe me, I'm not in the habit of defending the NYT, but I am inclined to think that the NYT article did not intend to deny that about half of refugees had fled before May 15. It was just a summary. One could fault it for omitting all sorts of details.

      If anyone is fiddling with the truth here, it would seem to be Mr. Munayyer, who states before quoting the following article, “Another New York Times story, this one from April 18th, 1948, tells of horror among refugees and massacres in the Galilee:

      ‘According to reports telephoned from Nablus, that town and Jenin are crowded with refugees, among whom the rumor is circulating that the Jews are driving on Jenin. The Haganah said it had killed 130 Druse [sic] tribesmen yesterday when it seized Usha, a village east of Haifa.’”

      Mr. Munayyer is here being deliberately misleading. The article does not speak of a “massacre.” The 130 Druze were not massacred, they were members of the Druze battalion of the ALA who were killed in their failed attack against the Yishuv in Usha and Ramat-Yohanan on April 13-16.

  • US loses stealth drone over Iran - accident or mobile jamming?
    • Teta MM,

      Said you:

      “Have you considered the possibility that there are alternate interpretations of the declassified documents? For example, maybe they are part of a still-only-partially revealed cache of documents inserted into the record as red herrings, or as ex post facto excuses for the incident.”

      Well, I suppose no truly open minded person could reject the possibility, I just think it’s very unlikely. However, I’ve been studying and reading about this incident ever since I did a book report in my senior year in high school on Liberty crew member James Ennes’s book “Assault on the ‘Liberty’: The True Story of the Israeli Attack on an American Intelligence Ship,” which had just been released in paperback back in 1988. Ever since then I‘ve read just about every book and article I could get hold of on the subject, and I’m always looking for new information or evidence on any aspect of it. If you or anyone else here has any, I’d love to read about it.

      American,

      Said you:

      “Oh really..then give us a link to these declassified documents. But you can’t, can you?….. you never give evidence for what you say.”

      Your wish is my command.

      Here is the US Navy Court of Inquiry, June 18, 1967 ("Case of mistaken identity")

      http://libertyincident.com/docs/CourtOfInquiry.pdf

      Here are the findings of fact from the Naval Court of Inquiry, June 1967 (See points 6, 20, and 28)

      http://libertyincident.com/docs/FindingsOfFact.pdf

      Here is the CIA Report, June 13, 1967 ("It remains our best judgment that the attack on the Liberty was not made in malice toward the US and was a mistake")

      http://libertyincident.com/docs/CIAreports.pdf

      Here is the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) memo of June 13, 1967, indicating that "The weight of the evidence is that the attacking force originally believed their target was Egyptian" and "This evidence fails to show that the Israelis made a premeditated attack on a known U.S. ship."

      http://libertyincident.com/docs/DIA-memo.pdf

      Here is the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Russ Report) June 9, 1967 (Compiled all message traffic and found no evidence that the attack was not a mistake)

      http://libertyincident.com/docs/JCSreport.pdf

      Here is the Clifford Report, July 18, 1967 (Attack was a mistake)

      http://libertyincident.com/clifford.html

      Here is Defense Secretary Robert McNamara’s testimony to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, June 12, July 14, July 26, 1967 ("The attack was not intentional")

      http://libertyincident.com/docs/SenateInvestigation.pdf

      The House Armed Services Committee Investigation, May 10, 1971 ("The Navy remains in the Dark Ages insofar as routine communications with its deployed ships")

      http://libertyincident.com/docs/HouseInvestigation1971.pdf

      The National Security Agency report of 1981

      http://libertyincident.com/docs/nsa/NSAreport.pdf

      As for then-CIA director Richard Helms, the declassification of the redacted sections of the 1981 NSA report on the Liberty attack released in 2003 read as follows:

      “In part because of the press speculation at the time, President Johnson directed the Director of Central Intelligence, Richard Helms, to prepare a report by June 13, five days after the attack, assessing the Israeli intentions. The CIA report drew heavily on the Signet reports referred to above. While these reports revealed some confusion on the part of the [Israeli] pilots concerning the nationality of the ship, they tended to rule out any thesis that the Israeli Navy and Air Force deliberately attacked a ship they knew to be American.”

      There was also:

      The House Appropriations Committee, April and May 1968 ("The use and operational capabilities of the Defense Communications system is nothing less than pathetic, and the management of the system needs to be completely overhauled")

      And,

      The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence 1979/1981 (USS Liberty mistaken for Egyptian ship as a result of miscalculations and egregious errors)

      Every investigation into this incident has thus come back with the same verdict: the attack was an accident.

      Here also is the Ram Ron report of June 1967, conducted by IDF Colonel Ram Ron as a preliminary inquiry to determine if there was gross negligence or any court-martial offenses committed under section 283 of the Israel Military Justice Law of 1955.

      http://libertyincident.com/docs/israeli/ram-ron-report.pdf

      The IDF examining judge’s report

      http://libertyincident.com/docs/israeli/yerushalmi-report-en.pdf

      The IDF history of the incident

      http://libertyincident.com/docs/israeli/IDF-history-report-en.pdf

      There was of course shock and incredulity expressed by President Johnson and his cabinet upon learning of the attack. But the President and McNamara, after they got the report from the Court of Inquiry, accepted that the attack was a mistake. CIA director Helms told Johnson the same thing. There is no evidence that Johnson or McNamara thereafter ever thought the attack to be deliberate, thus removing any motive to cover anything up.

      Said McNamara in July 1967 testifying before the Committee on Foreign Relations:

      “In the case of the attack on the Liberty, it was the
      conclusion of the investigatory body headed by an
      Admiral of the Navy [Isaac C. Kidd, Jr.] in whom
      we have great confidence that the attack was not
      intentional. I read the record of investigation and
      I support that conclusion, and I think . . . it was not
      a conscious decision on the part of the
      government of Israel to attack a U.S. vessel.”

      Said Clark Clifford in his memoir “Counsel to the President”:

      “The best interpretation from the facts available
      to me was that there were inexcusable failures
      on the part of the Israeli Defense Forces.”

      Said McGeorge Bundy to AJ Cristol on April 19, 1993:

      “We came to the conclusion that it was an
      interlocking collection of errors rather than
      an interlocking plot that was the cause of
      the tragedy.”

      Annie,

      Said you:

      “no it doesn’t and that’s why we never had any formal congressional investigation. just stop the lies robert.”

      This is not true. There have been several congressional investigations that for lack of evidence have never resulted in congressional hearings.

      There seems to be some confusion here between a congressional investigation and a hearing. When a committee decides to investigate a matter, the investigation is performed by staffers. If the staffers investigating discover something of note or importance, then the House or Senate committee holds public hearings, and finally issues a report. The reason there has been no formal congressional hearings on the Liberty attack is for the simple reason that every single investigation (See above) by all available intelligence and information has indicated that the attack was a case of mistaken identity.

      There was a Senate Armed Services Committee investigation in 1968, a House Armed Services Committee investigation in 1971, as referenced in the above link, and a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence investigation in 1979-1980. The last time Congress investigated was twenty years ago per the request of the Liberty Veterans Association. The investigation by the House Armed Services Committee, Investigation Subcommittee lasted from July of 1991 to April 1992. The investigation confirmed the verdict of every previous investigation—a case of mistaken identity—and thus no hearings were held and no report issued. The LVA were informed of the investigation’s finding by way of a letter to Liberty crew member Joe Meadors.

      Also, the events in the Israeli and the American Navy logs are a near perfect match. The American timeline from the IDF investigations and the US Navy Court of Inquiry, though conducted apart from one another, essentially corroborate one another, with a few discrepancies here and there. On balance, the evidence indicating a deliberate Israeli attack is not only conjectural, but luridly conspiratorial, and is bereft of any plausible, discernable motivation, and the evidence in all of the declassified material released by both Israel and the U.S. in 1997 overwhelmingly exonerates Israel of the charge of having knowingly and deliberately attacked the Liberty, and further exonerates our government and military of having covered up any evidence to the contrary.

    • Daniel Rich,

      Said you:

      “Yes, I fully believe in ‘accidents’ going on for 1 hour and a half or so. I also believe that after this ‘accident’ the biker-gang [the MTBs spewing torpedoes at the US Liberty, killing 24 more US sailors and strafing the ship, its crew and life rafts] encircling the vessel, are a mere coincidence and part of said ‘accident,’ ‘friendly fire’ and ‘mistaken identity.’

      The attack did not go on “for 1 hour and a half or so.” The combined air attacks lasted all of about eight and a half minutes, and the following naval attack about ten minutes.

      The Israelis, pursuing what they thought was an Egyptian warship heading home that had been shelling their compound at El Arish, called in for air support, and two Mirage fighters, closing in on the Liberty from the west at 1:58pm, raked her with 30mm cannon fire in three strafing runs until their ammo was spent. The first air attack had lasted three and a half minutes.

      By this time Commander McGonagle, the Liberty skipper, though seriously wounded, ordered the ship to turn right full rudder 360 degrees to the north. The second air attack, code named mission “Royal,” commenced at between 2:04-2:06pm, was by a squadron of two Super Mystere B-2 fighters returning from bombing Egyptian infantry. Hastily recalled from this ground support mission and, like the previous mission, with no opportunity to land and properly rearm, they raked the Liberty with what they had—napalm canisters (three missed, one may have hit), and 30mm cannon fire—again hardly appropriate ordinance for attacking a naval vessel.

      At 2:11pm transcripts of communications between the Israeli Royal wing leader and HQ show that after the second strafing run the Israeli pilot recognized the Latin markings on the hull of the ship: “Pay attention! Ship’s marking is Charlie Tango Romeo 5” (i.e., CTR- 5—the Israeli pilot in fact misidentified the hull markings; they were GTR-5) and adds, “She looks like a minesweeper.” An air controller named Menachem, Chief air controller at Air Control South in the Sinai, then unhelpfully garbled the pilot’s misidentification of the ship’s markings even further as “Charlie Senator Romeo,” i.e., CSR.

      When this is reported to HQ, Colonel Shmuel Kislev, the Chief air controller at the Kirya in Tel-Aviv, obviously now shitting himself with the prospect that they could be attacking a neutral vessel, now screams “Leave her! What ship is this?” He then immediately orders the Royal leader and his wingman to disengage, and cancels the third air attack deployment headed to attack the ship (which was named flight mission Nixon, consisting of two French-built Mystere IV’s armed with 500lb iron incendiaries that would surely blown the Liberty right out of the water, and with all hands). This second air attack had lasted about five minutes.

      There was also a breakdown in communications between the three torpedo boats and the IAF HQ—another common occurrence in the heat of battle. The Israeli Motor Torpedo Boat (MTB) skipper, Commander Oren, arriving at the scene at 2:24pm, consulted his intelligence manual and, viewing the silhouette of a smoke-engulfed ship some six thousand yards distant and directed westward toward the sun at an elevation of 50 degrees and azimuth 88 degrees, concluded that the ship was the Egyptian freighter El Quseir, and the skippers on the other two torpedo boats reached the same conclusion themselves. Oren attempted to signal the ship, asking for identity; getting no response, he ordered the MTBs into battle formation. At 2:3opm Naval HQ gave the go ahead to attack.

      The Israeli MTB’s caught up with the Liberty as a sailor on board her opened up fire on them with .50 caliber machine guns, not receiving McGonagle’s order not to fire on the approaching craft; the MTBs then returned fire with 20mm and 40mm cannon, and at 2:35-37pm fired back torpedoes. Four missed but one hit the Liberty’s starboard side midship, killing 25 sailors.

      At 2:47 the MTB captain cut off the attack. At 2:51 the IDF Navy log reads “May be Russian nationality, based on writing on aft”; the Israelis thought they might be attacking a Russian vessel. When the Israeli boat captain got close enough to identify the hull markings of the Liberty, now listing badly, he recognized the Latin markings on the hull, and offered help and medical attention to the survivors at 3:03pm.

      Audio tapes transcripts indicate that the Israelis did not know they were attacking an American ship in both air attacks and, five minutes into the second air attack, immediately disengaged when they did.

      All available evidence, including IDF Navy logs, indicate that the Israeli boat captain misidentified the ship, then engulfed with smoke, at 6000 yards distance at about 2:30 pm, incurred fire from the Liberty as they approached her, returned it, cut off the attack at 2:47pm pending further ID, got close enough to identify the Latin hull markings of the Liberty, and offered help and medical attention to the survivors at 3:03pm.

      Those are the facts. The air attacks occurred in minutes, not hours, of intense combat at high subsonic speeds and long distances, rendering positive ID difficult to say the least, and the naval attacks lasted about ten minutes from distances of thousands of yards while being fired on, making positive ID also difficult. The only logical inference that can be drawn from them is that the attack was a case of mistaken identity. There is, in all the hundreds of pages of declassified material from both countries, not a shred of evidence to support the contention that Israel deliberately sought to attack and sink the USS Liberty. None whatsoever.

      The attack on the Liberty was a classic case of friendly fire. After winning the battle of Chancellorsville in 1863, Stonewall Jackson was accidentally killed by his own Confederate troops. On the first day of the German invasion of Poland September 1, 1939, a platoon of German soldiers fired their rifles on what they thought to be an enemy plane that had been flying about them, causing the plane to come crashing down into their midst; out stepped a raging Luftwaffe general in charge of ground-air coordination. On February 22, 1940 a German bomber sank two German destroyers in the North Sea, killing 578 German sailors. During the 1956 War the Israelis attacked a British destroyer, the HMS Crane, that it had mistaken for an Egyptian Z-class destroyer. The largest tank battle of the 1956 War occurred at Abu Ageila where two Israeli tank units fought each other to a standstill. On June 5, 1967 The IAF bombed a column of IDF Sherman tanks in the battle for Jerusalem, and did so again on June 8, just a few hours before the attack on the Liberty. Many, many more instances could be cited.

    • Lysias,

      I also did not know you were a former naval officer. Thank you for your service to our country.

      According to the Naval Court of Inquiry, the first strafing run on the Liberty at 1:58pm, disabled the ship’s radio transmission capability to the extent that they were unable to transmit on the ship’s standard encrypted transmitters. They then began transmitting on the CINCUSNAVEUR hi-com unsecured high-frequency voice circuit, but to no result. It was then discovered that someone in the transmitting room had put the frequency dial one kilocycle off, and this was quickly corrected by Radioman Chief Wayne L. Smith, who testified to this at the Naval Court of Inquiry in June 1967, and how he then transmitted the following distress signal:

      1:58pm (1158Zulu): “Any station from Rock Star [i.e., the Liberty], any station from Rock Star, we are under attack, we are under attack, over.”

      The deck logs also show a response two minutes later from the USS Saratoga, who responded:

      “Rock Star from Schematic [i.e., the Saratoga], Rock Star from Schematic, u are garbled, say again, over.”

      For the torpedo attack, the following message was sent to the Saratoga:

      “schematic from Rock Star be advised that we have been hit by torpedo listing about 9 deg request immed assist over.”

      All of these messages were successfully transmitted from the Liberty during the air attacks and the naval attack.

      The time signature is corroborated by the deck log of the Liberty in Exhibit 23 of the Naval Court of Inquiry (page 501 in the pdf format)

      http://libertyincident.com/docs/CourtOfInquiry.pdf

      “I was an officer in the same signals intelligence branch of the Navy that most of the crew of the USS Liberty belonged to, the Naval Security Group. So I know something about naval use of radio frequencies. And nobody in the Naval Security Group, when I was in it, believed that the attack on the Liberty was a case of mistaken identity.”

      This isn’t surprising. If I were a naval officer at the time or afterward, I probably would have believed the attack was deliberate based on the information that was then available, too. It must have seen incredible that the Israelis could have misidentified the ship, but the declassified evidence shows in detail the tragicomedy of errors occurring at the Kirya and at Naval HQ in Haifa that led to the mistake in identity.

      All of the evidence shows that the Israelis thought they were attacking an Egyptian ship that had been firing on El Arish, and the MTB’s clearly misidentified the Liberty from some 6000 yards as the Egyptian ship the El Quseir, and it is worth noting that the MTB’s did not fire on the Liberty before someone on the Liberty, unaware of the skipper’s orders to hold fire, opened up on the MTB’s with the twin .50 caliber machine guns.

      Lysias, let me just say this. If 34 Americans were deliberately killed in cold blood, then I want those responsible held accountable and punished. But the evidence shows that the attack was a mistake, and one for which the Israelis immediately apologized moments afterward, and paid some $12 million in compensation. Also, no one, to my knowledge at least, has ever really adduced a plausible motive for the Israelis to have attacked a ship of their strongest ally. Why would they do it?

      I realize there are strong opinions on this issue, and though I believe that some people only pay even passing notice to the issue for hatred of Israel (and Jews), I know that many people like yourself genuinely believe the attack was deliberate, and are outraged by it. And I respect that. For myself, I can only look at the facts and draw the conclusions.

      Thank you again for your service.

    • Me too, Woody. So glad you mentioned it. You’re such a card. Good to know I could take but one, brief moment here and pay tribute to any veterans or anyone else who might have lived thru or sacrificed through that era in a way complimentary to them, and have it dragged thru the muck of the left's usual narrative of a nation sired and perpetuated in sin to the exclusion of anything noble or heroic.

      But perhaps I exaggerate. Perhaps we should have told the Japanese after they attacked Pearl Harbor and the Germans after Hitler declared war on us that we are far, far too flawed a nation to be fighting for anything worth defending.

      I, mean who were we look down our noses at the naked expansionism of the Japanese, and, say, their unprovoked butchery of several hundred thousand innocent souls in a single work week at Nanking, or their murder of millions of other Chinese at the time?

      Or the Germans’ enslavement of Europe, and their most recent slaughters of 16,000 Jews in a single day at Pinsk with pistols, grenades, clubs, and pickaxes, or of 33,771 Jews at Babi Yar on September 29-30, 1941, conducted by Nazi Einsatzgruppen Commander Otto Rasch, who bragged in an SS report to his superiors, "Because of 'our special talent of organization', the Jews still believed to the very last moment before being murdered that indeed all that was happening was that they were being resettled!"

      After all, compared to all this, we had racial and gender discrimination, and massive inequality of income. I mean, really, what was there to defend?

    • "During that war, incidentally, Israel deliberately destroyed an American naval vessel, the USS Liberty, which was monitoring the conflict, killing 34 and wounding 171 Americans. Amazingly, the United States helped cover up the prolonged and unprovoked attack on its own naval vessel."

      This statement by Prof Hixson is incorrect. I don't know if you (or he) know this or not, but a wide volume of documents were declassified in 1997 that showed the attack to be a case of mistaken identity. Both the Israeli and American governments foolishly kept these details secret far longer than was necessary, in disrespect of the survivors of the attack, and the families of those killed, and denying them closure. This also went a long way toward aiding and abetting the conspiracy theories surrounding the attack. The declassified info confirms what every investigation has concluded: the attack was a mistake.

    • I hope I can be excused a slight digression to remember here a not-insignificant event that occurred seventy years ago today.

      The morning of December 7, 1941 found Pearl Harbor under a brilliant blue sky and bathed in sunlight and warm breezes. Church bells ringing in the Sunday mass could be heard by the sailors of the forenoon watch taking their breakfast, and sailors on the battleship U.S.S. Nevada hoisted the morning colors while the band on the fantail piped the national anthem. At 7:55am Rear Admiral William Furlong, skipper of the U.S.S. Oglala, spotted a plane descending on the runway of Ford Island diving too steeply to be coming in for a landing, and saw it drop a bomb on the seaplane ramp. When the plane turned about, he saw the red-orange insignia on the fuselage and knew in that moment that Pearl Harbor was being attacked by the Japanese. He sounded general quarters, and hoisted the signal “All Ships in Harbor Sortie.”

      The situation in the harbor now was hellish. While being strafed and bombed, men desperately tried to man the AA guns to fend off the attackers, while ships shook and roared fire from the explosions, lights went dark, and crew members below deck milled about in confusion. The Japanese plastered the heavily armored USS Arizona with four armor-piercing incendiaries, the fourth of which detonated the forward magazine like a massive hand grenade, sending armor plate, debris, and bodies all mushrooming two-hundred feet into the sky, instantly killing 1177 of the 1400 Arizona crewmen who died in the attack.

      Below the decks of the other ships, mattresses and shores plugged holes from bombs and torpedoes against the oil-drenched water. Surgeons with bloody scalpels bent above the wounded, the acrid odor of cordite smoke filled the dank air, and burned men screamed in agony. Crippled by explosions, and hopelessly blanketed with holes and fire, ships like the U.S.S. California, the U.S.S. Nevada, and others either sank, capsized, or were run aground.

      On land, a bomb sliced through the mess hall at Hickam Airfield, catching the men innocently at mid-breakfast, killing 35, and sending trays and dishes flying. The bugler at the Schofeild Barracks, unsure of what would rouse his regiment out of their bunks the quickest, sounded the pay call. At the end of the attack lay 2403 dead, 1178 wounded, 18 ships sank or crippled, 188 planes destroyed, 159 damaged, and the United States of America at war.

      The attack, in retrospect, was a blunder for the ages by the Japanese. A divided nation, wary of war and “other people’s quarrels,” rose instantly united in shock, grief, and anger, and the recruiting centers were soon flooded to suffocation. The rich boy and the poor boy, the country boy and the city boy, the joiner, the welder, the farmer and the doctor—here the many became one, encapsulating that genius for spontaneous self-organization that De Tocqueville had so clearly seen a century before, and all were harnessed into that massive, charging juggernaut by which the victory was forged.

      Destiny seems to serve us notice at odd intervals—1861 at Fort Sumter, 1941 at Pearl Harbor, and 2001. In each emergency, a vast reservoir of selfless patriotism pours forth to duty and sacrifice, and the young men of 1941 gave of themselves unsparingly, fighting and dying, that others may live in a world where they may speak, worship, and assemble without fear, where the average Joe could walk the town street with his best girl on his arm, and not be stopped by policemen asking for “papers,” where law and liberty are safe, and where the individual is never a small, soulless fraction of the state.

      For all this, they fought and died. Memory fades, but the valor of those who fought and sacrificed on that warm December morning seventy years ago, shines as brightly as if it were yesterday. Someday those who survived will no longer be with us, but their deeds are deathless. Their glory is forever.

  • Welcome Annie Robbins as Writer at Large
    • If Annie genuinely believes what she wrote, then she should apologize to no one. I'm not in the habit of demanding people apologize for what they believe. It is rather difficult, however, to know what to make of some of these literally incredible statements about the Itamar murder being posted here.

      Amjad Mahmad Awad, along with accomplice Hakim Awad, entered the Fogel family home in Itamar, catching two children, Yoav (11) and Elad (4), unawares. Amjad led Yoav to another room and stabbed him to death there, while Hakim attempted to strangle Elad. Amjad then returned and dispatched Elad, stabbing him with the two knives he held in his hands.

      They then proceeded to the parents’ bedroom, where a struggle developed. Amjad managed to slash Rabbi Ehud Fogel to death and then stabbed his wife Ruthie in the neck and back. Hakim then shot and killed her.

      They then heard the three-month old baby girl, Hadas, crying, and stabbed her to death too.

      Amjad Mahmad Awad, and Hakim Awad were arrested for the crime, which they confessed to in gruesome, remorseless detail , and then performed a detailed re-enactment of the crime that their Shin Bet interrogators described as “chilling.”

      “I'm proud of what I did, and will accept any punishment I receive, because I did it all for Palestine,” so declared Amjad Mahmad Awad, ahead of his indictment hearing in June. "I don't regret what I did, even if it means I'm sentenced to death.”

      At his sentencing in September, he reaffirmed his utter lack of remorse for butchering a family of strangers:

      “Prior to the sentencing Awad declared he was not sorry and claimed he murdered the five "because of the occupation."

      During the court hearing, Awad claimed that Israeli security forces tied up and killed two men from his village. "I am 18 and in my teenage years. Not any young man of this age thinks about murder, only a Palestinian man whose land was taken. This is what the state does to me every day. When I want to leave my village I have to undergo a search which always involves beatings."

      As he left the court he motioned the V sign for Victory with his fingers. (See picture)

      The judges asked Awad, who confessed to the murder last month, to refrain from discussing politics and instead talk about himself. "I am a person like you, I have no mental condition, I never had a serious illness. My only illness is the Israeli occupation." He replied negatively when asked if he regrets his actions.”

      http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4121856,00.html

      According to Haaretz,

      “Two Palestinians charged with the brutal murder of five members of the Fogel family in Itamar were indicted in a West Bank military court yesterday - Amjad Awad,19, and Hakim Awad, 18. The two confessed.

      The military prosecution said forensic evidence - including DNA samples and fingerprints - linked them to the crime scene.

      http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/two-palestinians-indicted-for-fogel-massacre-1.366181

      Now, I’m all for withholding judgment until the facts can be ascertained, for protecting the rights of the accused, seeing that they receive fair treatment and due process, and that false confessions are not extorted from them by torture.

      However, when there is forensic evidence linking those arrested for the crime, when they confess to it in cold, remorseless, and elaborate detail without any provable benefit of coercion, perform a detailed re-enactment of the crime for their interrogators, and proudly own responsibility for the crime at their indictment hearing, and again at their sentencing hearing, then responsibility for the crime can, I think, be plausibly established beyond a reasonable doubt, that there was about zero chance that a Thai worker in the vicinity would be guilty of a crime for which he would have had an unfathomable motive to commit, and that those who assert otherwise, and with no evidence, can be clearly seen as the disingenuous, partisan, anti-Israel prevaricators that they are.

    • Congratulations, Annie.

  • Beinart says Israel must give citizenship to Palestinians under occupation
  • Nakba denial: 'NYT' removes the word 'expulsion' from article describing Palestinian refugees
    • David,

      Said you:

      “Do you really think the Zionist leadership was OK with a 40+ percent minority of Arabs in the Jewish State? Apparently you dismiss the statements made by the Zionist leadership themselves, some of which already were discussed in detail by Hostage. But even if there were no such publicly available statements, do you think they were stupid enough to believe that that proportion was a viable basis for a Jewish State, especially since the Palestinians had a higher birth rate?”

      No. The Zionist leadership had believed from the beginning that their objective for a Jewish majority in Palestine would come about by means of massive Jewish immigration, not expulsion. Plans within the movement at the end of the 1930s envisioned the influx of a million Jews to Palestine within a decade. That number, of course, was aimed at guaranteeing a Jewish majority, which is why the Arabs were so intransigent and hostile to immigration: because they wished to prevent a demographic transformation.

      Ben Gurion emphasized this in his much-misquoted speech to Mapai on December 3, 1947, where there is, by the way, no mention of any rejection of the partition here, or of any transfer or expulsion, but another method to increase the Jewish majority of the state: immigration.

      After “Such a composition does not even give us absolute assurance that control will remain in the hands of the Jewish majority,” Ben Gurion says:

      “From here stems the first and principal conclusion. The creation of the state is not the formal implementation process discussed by the UN General Assembly. . . . To ensure not only the establishment of the Jewish State but its existence and destiny as well — we must bring a million-and-a-half Jews to the country and root them there. It is only when there will be at least two millions Jews in the country — that the state will be truly established.

      There can be no stable and strong Jewish state so long as it has a Jewish majority of only 60 per cent, and so long as this majority consists of only 600,000 Jews. . . .We have been confronted with a new destiny — we are about to become masters of our own fate. This requires a new approach to all our questions of life. We must reexamine all our habits of mind, all our systems of operation to see to what extent they suit our new future. We must think in terms of a state, in terms of independence, in terms of full responsibility for ourselves — and for others. In our state there will be non-Jews as well — and all of them will be equal citizens; equal in everything without any exception; that is: the state will be their state as well.”

      Ben Gurion continued: “The attitude of the Jewish State to its Arab citizens will be an important factor—though not the only one—in building good neighbourly relations with the Arab States. If the Arab citizen will feel at home in our state, and if his status will not be the least different from that of the Jew, and perhaps better than the status of the Arab in an Arab state, and if the state will help him in a truthful and dedicated way to reach the economic, social, and cultural level of the Jewish community, then Arab distrust will accordingly subside and a bridge to a Semitic, Jewish-Arab alliance, will be built…” (Ben Gurion’s own words in his Ba-Ma’Araha Vol IV, Part 2, pp. 260, 265) cited from “Fabricating Israeli History,” (1997, Efraim Karsh, p.44)

      Of all the national movements in history, Zionism has been one of the most copiously documented and the most openly, transparently discussed within. There are records, not only in the political and diplomatic sphere, but also in all of the social, educational and propagandistic work over many years throughout the movement. Yet, despite all this massive documentation, what do they show? That the “transfer” idea is expressed, at best, in only isolated and fragmentary statements–secret thoughts and wishes, but nothing remotely resembling a program, or plan of action.

      As Benny Morris, who has researched and written more thoroughly and indefatigably than just about anyone on this issue has written,

      “My feeling is that the transfer thinking and near consensus that emerged in the 1930’s and the early 1940’s was not tantamount to pre-planning and did not issue in the production of a policy or master plan of expulsion; the Yishuv and its military forces did not enter the 1948 war, which was initiated by the Arab side, with a master plan for expulsion.” (“The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited,” p.60).

      You earlier said:

      “Your effort to mostly, though not completely, absolve the Haganah from responsibility is unpersuasive, but most importantly, these terror attacks were necessary for Israel to be created. There had to be widespread flight of Palestinians, and they were not going to leave their homes unless they were afraid for their lives. To suggest that these necessary attacks – massacres of civilians – were incidental rather than deliberately planned is pure sophistry.”

      What I am suggesting is that all of these events occurred in a war—a war that was waged on the Yishuv from the moment the partition plan passed the GA. This is a fact.

      Between November 30, and December 4, 1947, most of the Arab violence against Jews was scattershot and the result of intifada-like incited mayhem. It was on December 4, however, that the real Palestinian Arab assault began in earnest, when some 120-150 armed Arabs attacked the Efal kibbutz, the first small unit military attack on a Jewish settlement, and on December 8 Hasan Salame, commander of the Lydda front, launched another large-scale attack on the Hatikva quarter in south Tel-Aviv. Two days later there was another abortive assault on the Hatikva, and an armed assault on the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem. All these company-sized attacks were repulsed, but they set the pattern for the conflict, which was evolving from mob rioting and armed clashes to more military/guerilla style small unit operations. It was not until December 9 that the Hagana’s head of operations, Yigael Yadin began responding in kind to consolidate and protect crucial Jewish transportation arteries. The war had begun, and the Arabs were attacking the Yishuv, not the other way around. At the Arab league summit in Cairo, it was decided to send one million Egyptian pounds and 10,000 rifles to the Palestinian war effort.

      Not including the tit for tat terrorist attacks occurring between the Arabs and the Stern and Irgun, between December and April, the Arab and Palestinian militias launched no fewer than 15 full scale company and battalion sized assaults on Jewish settlements. There was not one single attack, or counter-attack by the Yishuv on any Arab position in this period even close to this scale and frequency. Only after seeing Jewish Jerusalem surrounded and besieged, the roadways between the settlements being sabotaged and strangled, and after suffering some four months of unrelenting attacks, took to the counter-offensive with Operation Nachshon on April 6, and drove back and defeated the Arab militias. This period saw the collapse of the Palestinian war effort, and the flight of some 3-400,000 refugees.

      The UN correctly held the Arabs responsible for the outbreak of violence. The UN Palestine Commission was never allowed by the Arabs or British to go to Palestine to implement the resolution. On February 16, 1948, the Commission reported to the Security Council:

      “Powerful Arab interests, both inside and outside Palestine, are defying the resolution of the General Assembly and are engaged in a deliberate effort to alter by force the settlement envisaged therein.

      The main facts controlling the security situation in Palestine today are the following:

      a. Organized effect by strong Arab elements inside and outside Palestine to prevent the implementation of the Assembly’s plan of partition and to thwart its objectives by threats and acts of violence, including armed incursions into Palestinian territory.

      b. Certain elements of the Jewish community in Palestine continue to commit irresponsible acts of violence which worsen the security situation, although that Community is generally in support of the recommendations of the Assembly.”

      http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/FDF734EB76C39D6385256C4C004CDBA7

      The report leaves no doubt about the AHC’s utter rejection of the partition and their sworn and bitter determination to resist it’s implementation by force, which is, by the way, what they had been doing since the vote was taken. The report also recounts, in detail, on the activities and attacks of the various Arab militias and the Arab Liberation Army that had been infiltrating from neighboring countries. While the report duly notes the “irresponsible acts of violence” committed by “certain elements of the Jewish community” (i.e., the Stern-Irgun terrorists), the Commission acknowledges the Jews’ acceptance of the partition, and posits blame for the violence almost solely on the Arabs’ rejection of the partition, and their attempts to thwart it by force.
      The Arabs, indeed, made no attempts to deny starting the war. Jamal Husseini told the Security Council on April 16, 1948:

      “The representative of the Jewish Agency told us yesterday that they were not the attackers, that the Arabs had begun the fighting. We did not deny this. We told the whole world that we were going to fight.”

      Indeed they did.

      Yet you take absolutely no notice of this. The war waged by the Arabs on the Yishuv in this period is invisible to you. You are certain that an act of unprovoked and nakedly expansionist ethnic cleansing occurred in this period by the Yishuv against the Palestinians, yet you do not seem acquainted with any of the particulars of what actually occurred on the ground in this period that completely contradict this notion. Nor do you seem interested. You merely show how little you know, and how little you care about how little you know. Facts and circumstances be damned, you just sing the same old song: Israel ethnically cleansed the Palestinians, and Israel is always guilty.

      As far as can be seen from your perspective, there does not seem to have been any need for the Yishuv to have been armed altogether. After all, since the Arabs of Palestine and their brethren in the neighborhood presented no threat to the Zionist endeavor, and, later on, to the UN partition resolution, why should Palestine’s Jews have had to bother with self defense? Sired from the corrupting bad seed of Zionism, it would thus seem that if the Haganah came into being, it was not in response to any danger posed by Arab attacks on Jewish life and property in Palestine, or, later, to defend the nascent state against an all out assault, but rather as a kind of predatory, at-the-ready task force to enforce expulsions of the Arabs when the time was right, and secure the borders of the nascent state that the Arabs would leave for the Yishuv in their wake.

      Thus, every Israeli contingency plan, every hint of a far-fetched idea expressed by David Ben-Gurion and other Israeli planners, finds its way into this narrative as conclusive, damning evidence for the Yishuv’s plans for expansion and ethnic cleansing, to the exclusion of any other consideration or contingency, and painting Ben Gurion himself and the others as a cabal of racist scoundrels and Milosevich-like ethnic cleansers.

      It does not seem to occur to you that it is simply disingenuous to deduce longstanding national trends, ideologies, or policies on the basis of a handful of random statements uttered over decades of extensive political, diplomatic, and military activity.

      “And the Israelis did not reject UNGA 194? Are you serious? The resolution called for the right of return of all refugees who wished to live in peace. The Israelis offered return to a tiny percentage, and you call that acceptance?”

      I do. In the first place, the resolution was passed at a time (November 1948) when hostilities were in effect between the belligerents; the borders of the partition were rendered irrelevant, and borders of both states were going to be dictated by which side was holding what territory when hostilities ceased.

      Secondly, the resolution nowhere calls for an unlimited repatriation of Arab refugees to the Jewish state, the configuration of which was then currently in flux. It posits a vague, non-specific recommendation that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.” The GA, indeed, specifically rejected Bernadotte’s draft that stated, “the right of the Arab refugees to return to their homes in Jewish-controlled territory at the earliest possible date.”

      As I have already pointed out, at the Lausanne Conference, the Arabs, as with all previous discussions, refused direct dealings with the Israelis, and demanded acceptance of the refugees’ repatriation in full as a precondition to further talks. The Israelis insisted on discussions of the refugee problem in the context of a full regional peace; the Arabs refused, and the discussions broke down. The Arabs, in effect, were demanding that the Israelis take into their state over three quarter of a million refugees, created by the war of aggression waged by them, which would make the Jews a 41% minority in their own state, and without any assurance that even this would impel the Arab states to make peace with Israel. Really incredible.

      After the Arabs opted for war, the refugee problem caused by the war was probably never realistically going to be settled inside Israel except on a limited basis. The notion that the Israelis would have negated the results of the war of annihilation waged on them and rendered themselves a minority by those who had just attempted their annihilation was always absurd. Most of all, since when do the losers of a war dictate terms to the victors?

      As I have said many times before, the 1948 War was a brutal war, fought in close quarters, sometimes hand to hand where regulars, irregulars, and civilians all confusingly intermingled. It is not surprising that in such circumstances atrocities on both sides did occur, as they do in all wars. The violence was not all one way.

      Certainly the Deir Yassin massacre on April 9 (3 days after the the Haganah took to the offensive), and the hysterical broadcasts exaggerating the scale of it, certainly sowed panic and influenced the flight of the refugees, but the violence of the fighting in the towns and villages, the flight of so many high ranking Arab functionaries, and the near total breakdown in services also played a role in the exodus of the refugees throughout the 1948 War. This is not to deny that there were not some expulsions at Lydda and Ramle; there were, but the numbers of those expelled were rather few. Palestine was a war zone in those days, and, in general, Palestinian Arab society had always been governed by a somewhat fragile polity at that time, and it simply collapsed under the strain of the conflict, as did countless other societies in Europe during World War Two. When war comes to your village, it is only human to want to get out of the way until it is over.

      What the evidence shows is that the Nakba (see the spelling?) was sired from the war, and the war from the Arabs’ rejectionism, lack of realism, and still-persisting allergy to compromise that made it inevitable. The war resulted from the Arabs’ rejection of the partition, and the refugee crisis resulted from the war. Again, the chain of causation here is simply undeniable: there would have been no refugee crisis if there had been no war.

      Having rejected diplomacy and compromise, the Arabs sought the arbitration of force; it was to be a war of annihilation. Ever since the announcement of the partition in November 1947, they sought to destroy the nascent Jewish state, failed, suffered catastrophe and defeat in the process, and, as usual, blamed everyone but themselves, and still do. The Nakba was indeed needlessly self-inflicted by them, and the refugees and their descendants have paid a horrific price for their unpardonable folly and intransigence. They still do.

      “As for Israeli rejection of UN authority since then, you cannot be ignorant of the yearly resolutions on the peaceful settlement of the Palestine question that Israel and the US vote against with a handful of other countries..”

      You have not answered the question. You stated earlier that “Israel has almost entirely rejected any UN authority to resolve the dispute in the 63 years since,” to which I responded, “Please detail what these UN attempts to resolve the conflict were, what was proposed, what was accepted by the Arabs, and what was rejected by Israel.”

      I did not ask you about the myriad of spurious, one-sided resolutions against Israel passed over the years that take no account of Arab/Palestinian rejectionism and intransigence and confuse terrorism with the defense against it. I wanted to know, specifically, “what these UN attempts to resolve the conflict were, what was proposed, what was accepted by the Arabs, and what was rejected by Israel.”

      As for the ICJ ruling, please don’t waste my time with that outrage. The ruling was a travesty, another sordid, shameful victory for the politicization of international law, and a clear demonstration of how the International Court of Justice, like the gruesome, Kafkaesque Human Rights Council, is a mere plaything of the General Assembly in its sinister attempts to delegitimize the Jewish state.

      While all members of the General Assembly have an equal vote, in practice the number of despotic nations outnumber those that are truly democratic and free. Israel has almost nothing but enemies in the former category, and most of the latter are lukewarm at best. There are a number of entities within the General Assembly that are openly hostile to Israel and devote much of their collective efforts toward castigating and deligitimizing her: the League of Arab States, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and the “Non-Aligned Movement”—an amalgam of over 100 countries, including the Islamic ones, all of whom recognize the occupied territories as a Palestinian state. Further reflecting the reality of this sinister super-majority, in 1968 the General Assembly created a standing entity whose very title makes a mockery of any impartiality toward the Jewish state: “The United Nations Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories.”

      This vast alliance of hostile entities and states, reflecting the corrupt arithmetic of the General Assembly, has made for a repository of anti-Israel activity, and has facilitated the passing of scores of spurious, one-sided and politically charged resolutions condemning Israel over the years. Like the Goldstone Report sired from the despot-infested UNHRC, the advisory opinion of the ICJ judges merely reflected and underscored this biased state of affairs, and, like the General Assembly, willfully ignored the dire circumstances that necessitated the creation of the security barrier, rubber-stamped the Islamic Bloc’s tendentious characterization of the barrier as a “wall’ instead of a fence that can be moved or dismantled, and treated Israel not as a litigant but as a target. That the court did not exercise its discretion to demur when asked to adjudicate ex parte a highly charged, two sided political conflict, is instructive of its biased disposition as well.

      “You manage to spruce up the usual hasbara with proper grammar and exhaustive details, for which you rarely provide any citations. You have a lot of energy and even more time on your hands. But you’re a very silly man, Robert. You obviously want to be taken seriously, but why you continue to peddle your nonsense here is beyond me.”

      If there are any assertions I have made which you call into question, please be good enough to point out what these are, and I’ll be happy to address them.

      For the rest, please trouble me no more with your adolescent name calling and hysterical accusations. Make an argument based on facts and evidence for a change, instead of sub-contracting out to Hostage or someone else. If you have no argument to make, then have the decency to just pack it in and remain silent.

      This is actually beneath contempt. A sad, sorry, pitiful attempt to deflect from your inability to posit a counter-argument based on facts and evidence, as usual. Failing to defend your arguments, or refute mine, you heckle, name-call, and smear with the usual ad-hominem jibes and table-pounding hysterics. Kind of like a lawyer who knows his client is guilty.

      But look on the bright side. At least you got me on the Nakba misspelling.

    • Hostage,

      There is a problem, I think, with interpreting all of Ben Gurion’s statements as clues to some massive plan to ethnically cleanse Palestine of Arabs when no such plan ever existed. It is simply impossible to remove Ben Gurion’s statements from the context of the events in which they were occurring: the Arab Revolt, the intransigence of the British on immigration, the persecution of the Jews in Europe, and the coming war. All of this inevitably induced an understandable sense of siege. Surrounded by enemies and restricted and obstructed by the British, the Yishuv, in the decade before the partition, was mostly concerned with the prospect of just surviving and remaining a viable, cohesive entity, not with pipe dreams of expelling all the Arabs. Simply put, they had other things to worry about.

      The Haganah was created to protect the communities of the Yishuv against Arab violence and was a largely defensive force prior to the 1948 war. In lieu of the violence and uncertainty of the Arab revolt and the at best equivocal stance of the British, a whole number of plans and contingency scenarios were drawn up by the Haganah, at Ben Gurion’s behest, in the decade before the UN partition. What community, what fighting force, surrounded by hostile enemies and uncertainty, and unable to rely on anyone else, would do any less? The attempts of left-leaning anti-Zionist historians (Pappe, Khalidi, etc.) to read into these contingency scenarios one long conspiracy to ethnically cleanse Palestine is a narrative for the paranoid. While the situation facing the Yishuv in these years was uncertain and unpredictable, to put it mildly, none of these scenarios were ever acted upon.

      There is no evidence that the Yishuv accepted the partition in 1947 with the intention to violate it, and not much sense to the notion that they did. Why not simply reject the partition in the first place, and make a grab for as much territory as you can get? Also, if it was the plan to accept the partition and then violate it, why wait through nearly five months of bloody and near fatal attacks by the ALA and Palestinian militias before they finally took to the offensive in April?

      The truth is that though the Haganah had been reforming and refitting itself since Ben Gurion took the defense portfolio in 1946, they had not really begun the process of restructuring itself from a defensive militia into a full-fledged military force until the weeks before the partition vote. On November 7, 1947, Ya’akov Dori, Haganah chief of the general staff, issued an order concerning “the order for a national structure”:

      “The danger of an attack on the country by the armies of the neighboring Arab countries…necessitates a different structure and deployment. Opposite regular armies it is imperative to prepare in a military, as opposed to a militia force—trained, armed and structured along military lines.”

      According to Morris:

      “The restructuring took on a life of its own, fueled by the spread of hostilities that began at the end of November, and the prospect of pan-Arab invasion, and by March 1948, nine brigades had begun to form, with expanding brigade and battalion HQ’s, recruitment centers, training camps, logistical services, and armories. It was a race against time, and everything was in flux; in every sphere there were shortages. The organization and equipping of the brigades was hampered by the continuous operational burdens to which each was subjected by the ongoing war against the Palestinian Arab militias…” (Benny Morris, “1948: The First Arab-Israeli War” p.200)

      What was taking place then, in the months between the partition vote and the launching of Operation Nachshon in April 1948 was a hurried, often haphazard process of restructuring, re-equipping, and reorganization, all of which were occurring under the strain of a sustained military assault on the settlements and the roadways between them.

      As for Ben Gurion’s Feb 18 remarks to Sharett, it is more likely that Ben Gurion was whistling in the dark here and putting up a brave front. Looking about himself at the time, he had not much cause for optimism.

      The outbreak of hostilities the day after the partition vote caught the Haganah flat footed. They thought the attacks were just more “disturbances.” Only by January, with increasing numbers of Arab militias and armed groups attacking Jewish communities and roadways, did they realize that the war that they had long feared had in fact begun. On January 10, the ALA attacked Kfar-Szold. On January 14 a Palestinian militia attacked Etzion Bloc, taking heavy casualties, but, in the next two days, wiping out a platoon of 35 Jewish fighters sent in as reinforcements. On January 20, the ALA attacked Yechiam. On February 16, the ALA attacked Tirat-Zvi. These attacks were repulsed, to be sure, but the attacks were not only increasing in frequency and size, but in sophistication as well. The situation in March continued to deteriorate even further, with further attacks on Magdiel and Ramot-Naftali, and the ambush of three Jewish convoys where much equipment was lost and 59 killed. A British report commented at the time:

      “The intensification of Arab attacks on communications and particularly the failure of the Kfar Etzion convoy (March 27-28), probably the Yishuv’s strongest transport unit, to force a return passage has brought home the precarious position of Jewish communities both great and small which depend on supply lines running through Arab controlled country. In particular, it is now realized that the position of Jewish Jerusalem, where a food scarcity already exists, is likely to be desperate after 16 May.”

      It is difficult to know, therefore, what “practical examination” this supposedly “cold and rational calculation” could have been based upon. In any event, Ben Gurion’s statements here were made during a war in which the Arabs/ Palestinians were assaulting the Yishuv and coming along at it rather handsomely. It is not evidence that BG intended to abort the partition, absent a war waged on the Yishuv by the Arabs.

      As Benny Morris has written,

      “My feeling is that the transfer thinking and near consensus that emerged in the 1930’s and the early 1940’s was not tantamount to pre-planning and did not issue in the production of a policy or master plan of expulsion; the Yishuv and its military forces did not enter the 1948 war, which was initiated by the Arab side, with a master plan for expulsion.” (“The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited,” p.60).

      Morris also wrote on Walt and Mearsheimer’s Spurious Opus,

      “Until 1936-1937, certainly, the Zionist mainstream sought to establish a Jewish state over all of Palestine. But something began to change fundamentally during the Arab Revolt of 1936-1939, which was conducted against the background of resurgent anti-Semitism in Europe and the threat of genocide. In July 1937, the British royal commission headed by Lord Peel recommended the partition of Palestine, with the Jews to establish their own state on some 20 percent of the land and the bulk of the remainder to fall under Arab sovereignty (ultimately to be conjoined to the Emirate of Transjordan, ruled by the Emir Abdullah). The commission also recommended the transfer--by agreement or "voluntarily," and if necessary by force--of all or most of the Arabs from the area destined for Jewish statehood. The Zionist right, the Revisionist movement, rejected the proposals. But mainstream Zionism, representing 80 to 90 percent of the movement, was thrown into ferocious debate; and, shepherded by David Ben-Gurion and Chaim Weizmann, the Zionist leadership ended up formally accepting the principle of partition, if not the actual award of 20 percent of the land. The movement resolved that the Peel proposals were a basis for further negotiation.

      It is true that Ben-Gurion harbored a hope, in 1937, that such a partition would be but a "first step," to be followed by eventual Zionist expansion throughout Palestine. But the years that followed sobered Zionism and changed the movement's thinking. The movement's formal acceptance of the principle of partition was gradually digested and incorporated into the mentality of the Zionist mainstream, which understood that the Jewish people needed an immediate safe haven from European savagery, and that the movement would have to take what history was offering and could gain no more. The Jewish nationalist leaders called this "pragmatism."

      By November 1947, the Zionists' reconciliation to a partial realization of their dreams was complete (except on the fringes of the movement), and Zionism's mainstream, led by Ben-Gurion and Weizmann, once and for all internalized the necessity of partition and accepted the U.N. partition resolution. The 1948 war was fought by Israel with a partitionist outlook, and it ended in partition (with the West Bank and East Jerusalem under Jordanian rule and the Gaza Strip controlled by Egypt), despite Israel's military superiority at its conclusion. During the following two decades, down to June 1967, there was a general acceptance by the Israeli mainstream of the fact, and the permanence, of partition.”

      http://www.israel-palestina.info/modules.php?name=News&file=print&sid=117

    • Hostage,

      Said you:

      "The UNSCOP only reported that the Jews refused to accept a bi-national state, not that it was a non-starter. In fact, the report of the UNSCOP 2nd Committee was devoted to a proposal for a bi-national state. "

      This is correct, and I was in error. Thank you for the correction.

    • David,

      Said you:

      “Once again, you point the finger of blame at the Arab side for refusing to accept “Jewish sovereignty” where quite a number of non-Jewish people happened to be living. I simply do not understand how the partition resolution could have been acceptable to any people. The Zionists were not asking for the right to emigrate and live among the Palestinians as equals, but were demanding the right to implement some sort of Jewish rule over the indigenous population… Even the borders proposed by the UN depicted a Jewish State with only a small unsustainable majority of Jewish people. The creation of a Jewish State necessarily required ethnic cleansing of most inhabitants and subjugation as second-class “citizens” for those who were able to remain.”

      David, there were some 650,000 Jews and more than twice the number of Arabs living in Palestine in 1947. What was to be done? Both the Peel and UN commissions concluded that peaceful co-existence in a binational state was a non-starter, and recommended partition. You call the portion of Palestine apportioned to the Jews for a state as the Yishuv “demanding the right to implement some sort of Jewish rule over the indigenous population” and thus judge it to be unreasonable; I view the matter rather differently. They were demanding the right to state of their own, consented to include a sizable Arab minority within that state, and to respect their rights as equal citizens.

      The notion that “The creation of a Jewish State necessarily required ethnic cleansing of most inhabitants and subjugation as second-class “citizens” for those who were able to remain” is nonsense.

      In the first place, the partition envisaged no expulsion or transfer of any Palestinian Arabs.

      Secondly, it would at least have given the Palestinians a state of their own and those living in the Jewish state would have been living in a democracy, whatever its flaws and imperfections; absent the partition, Arabs and Jews alike would have been subject to Syrian, Jordanian, and Egyptian rule, or, rather, misrule, as all the surrounding states had no intention of allowing an independent state to be formed.

      The fortunes of those Arabs who remained in Israel after the war, compared to those who were now living in the WB and Gaza, including those 400-500,000 who were not refugees and were already living there, only underscores this reality. To describe those oppressed and left rotting in refugee camps for decades as being as being merely “subjugated” and treated as “second-class citizens” would be an understatement. Dhimmi status subjugation, expulsion, or worse awaited any Jews left living in Palestine at that time, and the Mufti had more than made clear how he would treat the Jews in his midst if he were their master.

      Third, the partition was far from perfect, but what arguments against it ignore is that while some 550,000 Jews and some 397,000 Arabs would be living in the proposed 55% allotted to the Jewish state, and some 800,000 or more Palestinian Arabs would be living in the 41% of the Arab Palestinian state, 62% of the Jewish state envisioned by the partition would have consisted of desert, while the Palestinians were offered the most fertile land. (Some 100,000 Jews and an equal number of Arabs would inhabit the 4% international protectorate of Jerusalem).

      “You even concede that there were “Stern and Irgun terror attacks and a few isolated acts by the Haganah,” but consider such incidents to be exceptions. Your effort to mostly, though not completely, absolve the Haganah from responsibility is unpersuasive, but most importantly, these terror attacks were necessary for Israel to be created. There had to be widespread flight of Palestinians, and they were not going to leave their homes unless they were afraid for their lives. To suggest that these necessary attacks – massacres of civilians – were incidental rather than deliberately planned is pure sophistry.”

      What I said was this: “The Arab and Palestinian militias had been attacking the UN apportioned areas of the Jewish state’s borders ever since December 1947. With the exception of Stern and Irgun terror attacks and a few isolated acts by the Haganah, the Yishuv was, in the main, on the defensive until early April 1948.”

      And this is true. I was discussing the so-called “Civil War period” of the 1948 War, which was fought inside Palestine between the Yishuv and Arab and Palestinian militias between December 1947 until the Pan-Arab invasion on May 15, 1948. This period of the war developed in two stages: The first was between early December 1947 to April 6, 1948, when, following the rejection of the partition, numerous small unit military attacks were launched by Arab and Palestinian militias on Jewish settlements and roadways, and with the Yishuv, with the exception of Stern and Irgun terror attacks and a few isolated acts by the Haganah, were on the defensive. Some 75-100,000 refugees fled during this period, and they were not expelled. As Benny Morris has said,

      “During this period, Jewish troops expelled the inhabitants of only one village—Qisariya, in the Coastal Plain, in mid-February (for reasons connected to Jewish illegal immigration rather than the ongoing civil war)—though other villages were harassed and a few specifically intimidated by the IZL, LHI, and Haganah actions (much as during this period Jewish settlements were being harassed and intimidated by Arab irregulars).” (“1948: The First Arab-Israeli War,” pp.94-95).

      In the period between the passing of the partition Nov.29, 1947 and April 6, 1948, I am certainly aware of retaliatory attacks (actually, revenge killings) by the Haganah on Khisas in Galilee on December 19, Balad ash Sheik and Hawasa on Dec.31-Jan.1, and the Semiramis Hotel in west Jerusalem on January 5-6 (in which some 26 civilians died). There were also certainly a series of small counter-assaults on other small targets in this period, but the Haganah was, by and large, on the defensive in this period. But other than these mentioned, and, of course, terrorist attacks by the Stern and Irgun, I am not aware of any large scale Haganah attacks in this period, least of all any that could have expelled any Palestinians en masse.

      The second stage of this period of the war occurred from April 6 to May 15, when the Haganah, seeing Jewish Jerusalem surrounded and besieged, the roadways between the settlements being sabotaged and strangled, and after suffering some four months of unrelenting attacks, took to the counter-offensive with Operation Nachshon, and drove back and defeated the Arab militias. This period saw the collapse of the Palestinian war effort, and the flight of some 3-400,000 refugees.

      David, one of the points I have repeatedly tried to emphasize here is that the first Arab-Israeli War was indeed a war, and not just an assault by one side against a helpless victim. This ignores entirely the military dimension of the conflict, and the role that the fighting played, among other things, in the flight of the refugees. It is not even clear to me that you concede there was even a war at all; just one long, extended, well planned ethnic clearing operation that met negligible or meager resistance.

      But this is untrue. The Arabs launched company sized assaults (i.e., 150 + soldiers) against the Efal neighborhood (December 4), the Hatikva quarter of Tel-Aviv (December 8 &10), the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem (December 10), and a major convoy to Ben-Shemen (December 14).

      On January 10, a battalion sized (900 man) assault was launched on Kfar-Szold (January 10), a 1,000-man assault on Etzion Bloc (January 14), company sized assaults on Yechiam (January 20), Tirat Svi (February 16), Magdiel (March 2), Ramot-Naftali (March 4), a successful ambush on three major Jewish convoys (March 27, 28, & 31), and an attack on Mishmar-Haemak (April 4).

      Again, the period was certainly punctuated with terrorist attacks by the Stern and Irgun from December 12 and onward, and a few limited retaliatory attacks by the Haganah in the first two weeks of February, but nothing any where near the scale of the Arab attacks. Despite their weaknesses and disorganization, the Palestinian militias and the Arab Liberation Army had found the Yishuv’s weak spot: the crucial roadways between the scattered settlements, and they hammered home their operational and geographical advantages with a tenacity and a skill that stretched the Yishuv almost to their breaking point. Before early April, the Haganah was, by and large, on the defensive, and fighting for its existence.

      The Arabs were concerned about the collapse of the Arab war effort following the Yishuv counter-offensive in early April, and the mass exodus from the towns and villages that accompanied it. But that was not all. They did not, as I pointed out earlier, attack only the Arab-held and apportioned areas, but mostly Jewish held areas, and the Yishuv were not only occupying but a sliver of Arab apportioned territory, they weren’t even occupying some of the Jewish apportioned areas on May 15. The Arabs, on May 15, tried to finish what they started in December 1947: to abort the nascent Jewish state and establish an Arab ruled entity that they would then divide between themselves. They failed. That’s how it goes.

      “Finally, Robert, the Jewish side generally (though not unanimously) accepted the notion of partition, but it clearly rejected the boundaries imposed by the plan, murdered the UN mediator Bernadotte (a genuine Holocaust hero, no less), and rejected the UNGA refugee return resolution 194 that was at least as authoritative as the partition resolution of a year earlier.”

      If you are suggesting that the Yishuv rejected the boundaries of the partition plan after it was passed absent the subsequent war to abort the nascent Jewish state by the Arabs, this is false. They accepted the principle of partition and accepted the UN partition plan that passed the UNGA on November 29, 1947. There is no evidence that they had any intent of violating these boundaries or expelling any Arabs in the state at this stage, nor did they do so. The acceptance of the partition was explicitly noted and emphasized in Ben Gurion’s December 3, 1947 speech to Mapai.

      Benny Morris, in a critique of Walt and Mearsheimer's “The Israel Lobby” has written:

      "The Palestinian Arabs, supported by the surrounding Arab world, rebelled against the U.N. partition resolution and unleashed a bloody civil war, which was followed by a pan-Arab invasion. The war resulted in a large, partial transfer of population. The chaos that all had foreseen if Palestine were partitioned without an orderly population transfer in fact enveloped the country. But this is emphatically not to say, as Mearsheimer and Walt do, that the Zionists' occasional ruminations about transfer were translated in 1947-1948 into a overall plan and policy--unleashed, as they put it, when the "opportunity came," as if what occurred in 1948 was a general and premeditated expulsion.

      The Zionist leadership accepted the partition plan, which provided for a Jewish state in 55 percent of Palestine with 550,000 Jews and between 400,000 and 500,000 Arabs. The Jewish Agency called on the Arabs to desist from violence, and promised a life of beneficial co-existence. In private, Zionist officials began planning agricultural and regional development that took into account the large Arab minority and its continued citizenship in the new Jewish state. Indeed, down to the end of March 1948, after four months of the Palestinian Arab assault on the Yishuv, backed by the Arab League, Zionist policy was geared to the establishment of a Jewish state with a large Arab minority. Haganah policy throughout these months was to remain on the defensive, to avoid hitting civilians, and generally to refrain from spreading the conflagration to parts of Palestine still untouched by warfare.

      Indeed, on March 24, 1948, Yisrael Galili, the head of the Haganah National Command, the political leadership of the organization, issued a secret blanket directive to all brigades and units to abide by long-standing official Zionist policy toward the Arab communities in the territory of the emergent Jewish state--to secure "the full rights, needs, and freedom of the Arabs in the Hebrew state without discrimination" and to strive for "co-existence with freedom and respect," as he put it. And this was not a document devised for Western or U.N. eyes, with a propagandistic purpose; it was a secret, blanket, internal operational directive, in Hebrew. It was only at the start of April, with its back to the wall (much of the Yishuv, in particular Jewish Jerusalem, was being strangled by Arab ambushes along the roads) and facing the prospect of pan-Arab invasion six weeks hence, that the Haganah changed its strategy and went over to the offensive.."

      There was no rejection of Res. 194 by Israel; the Israelis accepted Resolutions 181 and 194 in being admitted to the UN as a member state. It was the Arab states that rejected it.

      The state of Israel in its post-armistice configuration resulted from the war and the Israelis were not going to negate the results of the war in which they had just sacrificed 1% of their population and return to the vulnerable partition lines of 1947 which a) the Arabs had rejected anyway, and b) while the Arabs continued a state of hostilities and a policy of non-recognition.

      Following the armistice and Israel’s admission to the UN, the Israelis, consistent with their obligations in gaining UN membership and Resolution 194, offered to resettle some 100,000-200,000 refugees in Israel at the Lausanne Conference; the Arabs rejected it without discussion. The Arabs, as with all previous discussions, refused direct dealings with the Israelis, and demanded acceptance of the refugees’ repatriation in full as a precondition to further talks. The Israelis insisted on discussions of the refugee problem in the context of a full regional peace; the Arabs refused, and the discussions broke down.

      The full return of the refugees to Israel in 1949 with the surrounding states still in the midst of a state of hostilities would have put some 750,000 (or more) Palestinians along with some 160,000 remaining Palestinians alongside some 650,000 Jews, thus making the Jews a (41%) minority in their own state. This would seem to have blunted the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, and negated the entire reason for the creation of the Jewish state in the first place.

      Jewish self-determination did not need to come at the price of the Palestinians’ exodus. The Palestinians, who also had a right to self determination that the Jews never denied, certainly would have had it if they and the surrounding Arab states had accepted the partition. Rejecting the partition and opting for war had consequences.

      Their self-determination was not only suppressed by the surrounding Arab states in the 1949-1967 period, but spurned repeatedly by their leadership on multiple occasions afterward.

      Regarding Resolution 194, here is the relevant paragraph:

      “Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible”

      The resolution is in the form of a recommendation and is hortatory. It may have slipped your notice that the Arabs rejected the resolution precisely because the GA rejected Bernadotte’s original draft:

      “the right of the Arab refugees to return to their homes in Jewish-controlled territory at the earliest possible date… and their repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation, and payment of adequate compensation for the property of those choosing not to return…”

      The resolution in its final form makes no mention of a “right of return” or of “Arab” refugees. It merely recommends that all refugees “wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.”

      The Conciliation Commission for Palestine established by the UN was charged with the task to "take steps to assist the Governments and authorities concerned to achieve a final settlement of all questions outstanding between them," meaning resolving the refugee issue (which was but one paragraph in the resolution) within the larger task of the establishing of a full regional peace among the former belligerents. It does not anywhere state that Israel is in any way obligated to allow an unlimited repatriation of Palestinian refugees independently of all the other provisions and recommendations, while the Arabs/Palestinians continue a state of hostilities and defy the provisions calling for them to live “at peace with [their] neighbors” i.e., Israel, and it most certainly never envisaged those refugees not repatriated to remain unsettled and stateless in their host countries. Para graph 4 of UNGA resolution 393, in fact, states clearly and unequivocally that “the reintegration of the refugees into the economic life of the Near East, either by repatriation or resettlement, is essential in preparation for the time when international assistance is no longer available, and for the realization of conditions of peace and stability in the area.”

      Said you:

      “In fact, Israel has almost entirely rejected any UN authority to resolve the dispute in the 63 years since.”

      Please detail what these UN attempts to resolve the conflict were, what was proposed, what was accepted by the Arabs, and what was rejected by Israel.

    • Wow! Guess you got me there! I stand exposed and corrected.

    • “Is the article referring to the “Israel” as drawn by the Partition Plan borders? If so, there was very little “invasion,” only some by the Egyptian Army, as the Israeli forces managed to keep almost all of the fighting in the territory allotted for the Palestinian State. Wasn’t that an “invasion”? That is why when the dust cleared, and the cease fire lines were drawn, Israel controlled not just 55% of the area as envisioned in the Partition Plan, but 78% of the land.”

      David, if you want to complain about misrepresentations of history, you might start with your own contribution to the genre quoted above. Your trivialization of the extent and reach of the Pan-Arab invasion of the newly-declared state of Israel is a case in point.

      By the time of the Pan-Arab invasion of May 15, 1948, the Yishuv were actually holding very little territory outside the Jewish apportioned areas. In Galilee the Arabs held parts of the northeast Jewish section west of Safed, while the Yishuv held the Arab section north of Acre, and the Arabs held the 10-15 mile stretch of the coastal plain south of Haifa apportioned to the Jews. What is today the West Bank was almost completely in Arab hands with the exception of a narrow corridor east of Isdod and south of Latrun running east to Jerusalem. The Negev wasn’t even completely occupied by the Yishuv at this time. The main population centers of Nazareth, Jenin, Tulkarm, Nablus, Ramallah, Lydda, Latrun, Beersheba, Hebron, Gaza, and Isdod were all in Arab hands. On May 15, the Yishuv were holding barely any Arab apportioned territory, and were not even occupying all of the Jewish apportioned territory.

      (For a map of Jewish and Arab held areas on May 15 1948 and the Arab invasion routes see Benny Morris “1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War,” 2008, p.p.64, 184, and Chaim Herzog “The Arab-Israeli Wars: War and Peace in the Middle East,” p.p. 20, 50)

      In any case, the Arab and Palestinian militias had been attacking the UN apportioned areas of the Jewish state’s borders ever since December 1947. With the exception of Stern and Irgun terror attacks and a few isolated acts by the Haganah, the Yishuv was, in the main, on the defensive until early April 1948.

      See the UNITED NATIONS PALESTINE COMMISSION’s “First Special Report to the Security Council: The Problem of Security in Palestine,” February 16, 1948.

      link to unispal.un.org

      The Arab Liberation Army attacked Jewish held Malikya from Lebanon, the Syrians attacked Jewish held Mishmar Hayarden north of the Sea of Galilee, and Jewish-held Samakh to the south of the sea. An Iraqi force from the East Bank 20 miles south of Tirat- Svi shot northwest across the Jordan to Nablus and further north to Jenin, wheeling round Ulm al-Fahm south to attack Jewish held Geulim.

      The Jordanians launched both northern and southern attacks. The north Jordanian force shot north to Nablus, where it divided, one pivoting north to Tulkharm, then wheeling south through Taybe and Qalqilya to Ras al-‘Ein, and the other shooting south from Nablus to Ramallah, where it linked with the southern force, which had shot across the Jordan and through Jericho. At Ramallah the Jordanians split their forces, one south to Jerusalem, one southwest to Latrun, and one east by northwest, wheeling round Ben Shemen to Lydda to Ramla.

      The 6000 man Egyptian force pivoted at Rafah into a parallel two-pronged advance to the north, the eastern thrust slicing through Jewish–held areas of the Negev just north of Nirim, Gvulot, Tse’elim, Alumim, northward through Beersheba and Hebron to Jerusalem. The western thrust cut through Gaza to Isdud with Tel-Aviv as the objective, with a detachment peeling off eastward from Maidal to al-Faluja to Beit Jibrin in an attempt to link up with the eastward thrust and surround the Jewish encampments in the Negev.

      This then was the attack that was put into action. Its aim was to abort the nascent Jewish state and establish a “unitary Palestinian state” that the Arabs would then slice up between themselves. It is certainly true that ‘Abdullah of Jordan had decided at the last moment to confine his objectives to seizing as much of the West Bank as possible but that doesn’t negate the fact that Syrian, Iraqi, and Egyptian attacks both into and toward Jewish held areas were occurring all around the crescent shaped perimeter that the Yishuv were presently holding: Malikya, Mishmar Hayarden, Samakh in Galilee, Geulim near the coastal plain, and the areas of the Negev just north of Nirim, Gvulot, Tse’elim, Alumim.

      In the post-May 15 stage of the conflict the Yishuv certainly had a modest superiority in numbers, and they increased those numbers as the conflict progressed, but this ignores the fact that a) Arab numbers also increased, and b) those numbers of the Yishuv could never be concentrated at a single decisive point. The Yishuv were now fighting three distinct, interconnected entities on a vulnerable multi-front crescent perimeter that was extremely awkward to defend: the Palestinians, a pan-Arab volunteer force, and the regular armed forces of six Arab states—Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and a Saudi contingent. The ability of the Arabs to field their forces on a wide front., and concentrate their individual armies at decisive points of the front created a fundamental asymmetry between them and the Yishuv.

      The Yishuv had prepared for war, and they were certainly not going to remain within the vulnerable lines of the partition if the surrounding Arab states attacked. The defense of those lines would be any staff officer’s nightmare. In the event of hostilities they were simply not defensible. In September Moshe Sharett told an interlocutor that if the Arabs initiate war, “we will get hold of as much of Palestine as we can hold.” The war and the pan-Arab invasion were thus the game-changers, and rendered the partition lines functionally irrelevant. The collapse of the Palestinian war effort in late April and early May necessitated a response from the Arabs if they were going to claim any of the Palestine that they coveted, and they gave it when the British Mandate expired. The effort to abort the nascent Jewish state that had begun in December 1947 merely entered a new, escalated stage after May 15.

      David, you can look at it upside down and sideways and it all comes down to this: there would have been no refugee crisis if there had been no war, and there would have been no war if the surrounding Arab states had not rejected the partition. From the moment it passed the GA the Arab states have literally organized their whole polity toward denying any Jewish sovereign state whatever its size, and to delegitimizing and destroying it when it was established. I have always believed that the Palestinian people, if given a choice, would have voted to accept the partition and live in peace beside the Jewish state, though I have no evidence to support it. But they really had no say in the matter; the surrounding Arab states decided for them.

      Just imagine what the lives of the Palestinians and the other Arabs would be like today if they had decided to live in peace and accept the partition instead of devoting lives, resources and prodigies of energy down the sinkhole of this destructive obsession.

  • Pamela Geller's Islamophobia hits new low with Thanksgiving Day smear of dietary laws
    • I wonder if Ms. Geller knows that it was from the Mishna and the halakah the Prophet derived many rituals of diet and hygiene, such as ceremonial purification before prayer.

      “O you who believe! when you rise up to prayer, wash your faces and your hands as far as the elbows, and wipe your heads and your feet to the ankles; and if you are under an obligation to perform a total ablution, then wash (yourselves) and if you are sick or on a journey, or one of you come from the privy, or you have touched the women, and you cannot find water, betake yourselves to pure earth and wipe your faces and your hands therewith, Allah does not desire to put on you any difficulty, but He wishes to purify you and that He may complete His favor on you, so that you may be grateful.” (Sura v, 6)

      Or that Mohammed adopted the Jewish institution of the Sabbath, marking Friday as the Muslim day of prayer.

      Or that the Qur’an, like the Mosaic Law, forbids the eating the blood and flesh of swine, or dogs.

      “Forbidden to you is that which dies of itself, and blood, and flesh of swine, and that on which any other name than that of Allah has been invoked, and the strangled (animal) and that beaten to death, and that killed by a fall and that killed by being smitten with the horn, and that which wild beasts have eaten, except what you slaughter, and what is sacrificed on stones set up (for idols) and that you divide by the arrows; that is a transgression.” (Sura v, 3)

      Or that Jewish and Muslim eschatology—devils, angels, Satan, hell, heaven, the resurrection, the Last Judgment—are virtually the same. Mohammed accepts the principal revelations: the Pentateuch to Moses, the Psalms to David, the Gospel to Jesus, and, of course, the Qur’an to Mohammed. The Prophet evinces agreement of the Qur’an with the Bible as evidence of his holy mission.

      Not that anyone will reciprocate, but Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

  • Settlers and supporters descend on Hebron to assert Jewish sovereignty
  • Kissinger: 'Is there a more self-serving group of people than the Jewish community?'
  • Dueling messages on Iran
    • Shingo,

      I have been pondering that long, disjointed mad-hatter’s rhapsody that was you most recent post in our ongoing 2006 war saga.

      A response.

      Said you:

      ”- First you claimed that Halutz rejected the plan”

      He did reject the contingency plan, in favor of his own variant.

      “- Then you claimed there was no plan”

      Nope. Said no such thing. Didn’t happen.

      ”- Then you claimed he came up with the plan”

      Nope. The Halutz plan of action differed from the contingency plans in ways that have been explained endlessly and repeatedly to you. He tried his plan (Air campaign w/standoff ground attacks) which failed, then he improvised the campaign from there.

      ”- Finally you are arguing that there was a plan in place for a long time.”
      Correct. The contingency planning had been in the works for a long time, and they had been adjusted over time. ICE BREAKER/MEY MAROM was the most recent contingency plan on the shelf.

      “And you call me a liar?”

      You need to ask?

      “First of all whatever Israel undertook in Lebanon in 2006 was not a contingency plan, but an act of aggressive war that was carefully coordinated with Washington. “

      No facts, no evidence, just more conspiracy BS.

      “If the number of troops in Lebanon was 10,000 on August 11, how can they possibly have been at 30,000 by the 12th?”

      Easily. They had been massing there, albeit chaotically, on the border areas since late July.

      “Israel might have prepared 30,000 troops with the hope of pushing north into Lebanon, but in retrospect, it’s beyond dispute that they never made it there.”

      Right. And all the media on the ground in South Lebanon were all shilling for the IDF to hide the fact that there 10,000 troops instead of 30,000 and to hide the “fact” that on August 12, 2006, 20,000 troops attempted to cross into Lebanon but “never made it there” despite the fact that there is not a shred of evidence to prove this and no record of this “fact.”

      “Post mortems from Robert Fisk and many other later revealed that Israeli claims were ridiculously exaggerated, and that the war in fact turned out to be a mopping exercise by Hezbollah.”

      It has already been explained to you that Fisk simply did not say (or suggest) that “what was supposed to be an Israeli mopping up exercise ended up being a Hezbollah one” or that “the claims of Israeli forces on occupying stretches of Southern Lebanon were utter rubbish.” He was indulging a glib, half-sarcastic observation by local Lebanese on Israel’s misfortunes on the last day of the campaign, and he noted that the IDF still had 10-30,000 troops left in south Lebanon, though he doubted the higher figure. In any event, he did not say what you are having him say

      “We’ve also established that the Israelis never managed to grab any strategic high ground in south Lebanon.”

      “We” have not established that this was ever their intention.

      “Clearly there was nothing remotely line a deployment in force.”

      Yes, clearly. Four divisions (11 brigades) deployed in South Lebanon is not a deployment in force because the IDF lied about it for whatever unfathomable reason, the AP, Reuters, press aided and abetted this lie, and because, well, you say so.

      Here is the IDF order of battle in Lebanon on August 13, 2006, published in orbat.com, which publishes orders of battle from numerous contemporary and historical sources:

      http://www.orbat.com/site/history/volume5/520/israeli%20orbat%20lebanon%202006.pdf

      “First of all, Olmert shared Halutz’s believe in the omnipotence of air power and secondly, even if we were to believe your scapegoating of Halutz, the “MEY MROM” plan, or whatever plan Israel had, was dead on arrival due to the complete failure of the air campaign. Israel continued to ramp up air strikes til the, not limit them, thus proving they had no other plan.”

      This is dumb. You are simply confusing the difference between an assault where the air campaign is the main line of attack that is supported by small standoff attacks on land, which is what the Halutz plan of action entailed and involved, and an air assault that is limited to a preparation and a ground support role for a full-scale combined arms assault envisaged by the ICE BREAKER/MEY MAROM contingency plans. In the latter scenario, the ground operation isn’t scrubbed because an air attack “fails.” The air assault is merely in a supporting role.

      The ICE/MAROM plan would have seen an air assault hitting key targets to disorient the enemy and soften up positions at the points of entry, quickly followed by a massive ground assault to hit the enemy where he was weakest, attacking in force all along the border areas at divergent axes, supplemented by sea and airborne assaults, compelling them to scatter their forces, and outflank them from every direction with shock, speed, and surprise. It envisaged the kind of classic combined arms blitzkrieg that the Germans employed in Poland and France in WWII, and the IDF employed so successfully in 1956, 1967, and 1982.

      “Secondly, the argument that Halutz rejected the existing plan in favor of his own defies logic. The tactics used by Israel during Cast Lead (relying almost entirely on air power), are identical to what you attributed to Halutz. If Halutz’s plan had been to blame, Israel would not have repeated the mistake of relying on 2 weeks of air assaults before committing ground troops in Gaza.”

      It is remarkable, in light of all the coverage and outrage expressed on this blog about the Goldstone Report and Cast Lead, how uninformed many here seem to be on the particulars of the actual campaign itself.

      Cast Lead did not rely “almost entirely on air power.” This is simply false. Anyone who knows anything about Cast Lead knows that it was a full scale combined arms assault that commenced with a wave of airstrikes on December 27, 2008, followed the next day by surface to surface naval attacks, then followed by a ground invasion into Northern Gaza on January 4, 2009. There was excellent air-ground-sea coordination throughout. Anthony Cordesman, whom you and Crook and Perry have of spoken so approvingly, wrote an excellent analysis of IDF’s superb combined arms proficiency in the campaign, how much they had obviously improved since the 2006 debacle, though he was critical of Israel’s PR and political conduct, which he thought inept and self-injuring. He also rejected any suggestion that the IDF intentionally targeted civilians.

      Said Cordesman:

      “The air-land phase of the fighting scored continuing tactical gains, but it also exacerbated the political, strategic, and humanitarian problems that had arisen during the air phase. At the same time, it showed that the IDF could fight an extended land battle against a non-state actor employing many of the same tactics that the Hezbollah had in 2006, and do so with considerable tactical effectiveness. Israeli officers and senior officials also felt that the air-land phase of the campaign showed that the IDF had recovered its readiness and had mastered many of the lessons of the fighting against Hezbollah in 2006.”

      http://csis.org/files/media/csis/pubs/090202_gaza_war.pdf

      See also “Back to Basics: A Study of the Second Lebanon War and Cast Lead” which includes an essay by Matt Matthews, “Hard Lesson’s Learned,” which charts the IDF’s post-2006 transformation, and its doctrinal reform.

      http://www.cgsc.edu/carl/download/csipubs/farquhar.pdf

      The strategic confusion and inapt tactics that characterized the 2006 war were nowhere in evidence here; there is simply no comparison between the two. There was a fundamental disconnect between the political strategic goals of the 2006 war, the military strategy to accomplish those goals, and the tactics employed to accomplish the meandering military strategy. In Cast Lead all arms were focused on narrow, achievable military objectives, and carried them out with expert timing, coordination, and execution.

      “Hezbollah had routed and driven out Israeli forces, including the Golani and reinforcements and done so with only 3,000 troops.”

      Complete fantasy.

      “The Israelis absolutely went in with a full scale ground invasion and were beaten back, but Israel only did so when it became apparent the IAF had failed to deliver.”

      “Beaten back” where?! When? There was no “full scale ground invasion” in the first 30 days of the campaign, and even OPERATION CHANGE OF DIRECTION 11 lasted a full two days and saw advances of a few miles to little benefit. You can criticize the deployment (as I have), and its meager gains, but you cannot deny its existence. No IDF unit was “beaten back” anywhere except in your imagination. You are delusional!

      “You have presented no evidence that that IDF deployments between July 19 and August 11 were standoff deployments directed at pinpointed targets.”

      This is simply unbelievable! The controversy over Halutz’s decision to use air power w/standoff attacks, and then gradually escalate them to negligible effect, is a matter of record, as are the debates within the IDF high command about Halutz’s decision. There are reams of testimony and documentation presented to the Winograd Committee, it has been endlessly debated in the Israeli and Western media, in military circles, and among military scholars in countless books and studies. This is a fact, and an uncontroversial one at that.

      “Where did you read this crap? Hezbollah absolutely mauled the 162 Division and the events at Ghanduriyih turned out to be an absolute disaster for the IDF –throughout the entire conflict. Simply repeating your Israeli centric BS is wearing thin and convincing no one. You continue to insist that Hezbollah should have fought the war your way (or Israel’s way), but the fact is that at no point did Israel manage to hold any territory whatsoever. None. They certainly never held Ghanduriyih. They got smashed at Ghanduriyih… In fact, far from enjoying any success, Ghanduriyah was a disaster. Israeli forces experienced a catastrophe at Wadi Slouqi, a ravine through which a column of Israeli tanks were sent to link up with airlifted troops at Ghandouriyah village.”

      The above paragraph well encapsulates the dishonesty, confusion and incoherence that permeates your entire post. The 162 Division could not have fought at Ghanduriyih if it had not advanced through Wadi Saluki, and it could not have advanced through Wadi Saluki if it had not beat back the company sized Hezbollah attack the on them there. At Wadi Saluki 11 of the 24 tanks were hit with ATGM fire, two of which were destroyed, and 8 tankmen were killed, along with four infantry. This was hardly a “catastrophe,” and a company of 100 Hezbollah fighters, however well armed and motivated, are not sufficient to “smash” an entire division. Once the 401st Armored Brigade brought up their artillery to bear on the attackers, the Hezbollah attackers ceased firing and withdrew and regrouped in Ghanduriyih, leaving 80 dead behind them. The 162 division then continued its advance and linked with the Nahal outside Ganduriyuh, where it fought another battle in which 12 IDF and 57 Hezbollah were killed.

      My source for this is Biddle and Freidman, who provide a substantial description of the battles at Wadi Saluki and Ghanduriyih:

      “On August 11, the IDF launched the final phase of the ground campaign, Operation CHANGE OF DIRECTION 11. Described as a “push to the Litani,”
      the main effort was actually a westward advance parallel to the river: an armored column from the 401st Brigade moved from At Tayyibeh toward Frun and Ghanduriyih (about 12 km west of Israel’s northern tip) in order to link up with troops from the Nahal Brigade who had been airlifted into position. As the 401st moved toward its objective through the Saluqi valley on August 12, it was ambushed with anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) fire; 11 tanks were hit, and 12 soldiers were killed. Meanwhile, Hezbollah had regrouped in Ghanduriyih, leading to firefights in the town and its surrounding area throughout the final 2 days of the war.” (pp. 32-33)

      “In the Saluqi valley, Hezbollah ATGM teams occupying a series of positions in depth received return fire from Israeli Merkava tanks after their initial launches, but stood their ground and continued to fire at least 10 additional missiles, easing fire and withdrawing only when IDF artillery was brought to bear.” (p.36)

      “At Ghanduriyih, defenders whose positions had been flanked but who retained potential escape routes through the town nevertheless remained in position and were eventually destroyed in close combat; IDF attackers could make only 600 meters of progress in a day of hard fighting. Of the Hezbollah fighters, 57 dead bodies were recovered from the town.” (pp.37-38)

      “Hezbollah defenders at Ghanduriyih occupied a series of defensive lines disposed in depth; on several occasions when a line was taken, defenders would maneuver to the attackers’ flanks in an apparent attempt to retake the positions.” (footnote # 78, page 40)

      None of this is contradicted or even addressed by anything written by Crook and Perry or even Robert Fisk. If you have information that contradicts or disproves Biddle and Friedman’s assertions, please give very, very, specific details of this “disaster,” and how the 162 Division got “smashed” at Ganduriyih. The IDF were deployed there and the surrounding area at the time of the ceasefire.

      By the same token, the IDF could not have fought engagements at Bint J’Bail from July 25-30 and August 3-14 if it had not flanked Maroun al Ras from all sides, as Bint J’Bail is just directly to the north. See how that works? Or maybe you want to argue that there was no battle of Bint J’Bail. I wouldn’t put it past you.

      “Crook and Perry were referring to Cordesman’s report and his access to Hezbollah sources, not their own. As a former MI6 officer, Crook would have no problem gaining access to such information, whether from Hezbollah directly or otherwise.”

      This is false. Said Crook and Perry in their first article about the direct access they were unable to obtain:

      “The portrait that we give here is also limited. Hezbollah officials will neither speak publicly nor for the record on how they fought the conflict, will not detail their deployments, and will not discuss their future strategy. Even so, the lessons of the war from Hezbollah's perspective are now beginning to emerge and some small lessons are being derived from it by US and Israeli strategic planners. Our conclusions are based on on-the-ground assessments conducted during the course of the war, on interviews with Israeli, American and European military experts, on emerging understandings of the conflict in discussions with military strategists, and on a network of senior officials in the Middle East who were intensively interested in the war's outcome and with whom we have spoken.”

      So Crook and Perry make no claim to any specialized access to Hezbollah. Fail.

      “As Crook and Perry point out, the IDF never secured perimeters inside or outside either of these towns, let alone occupy any of it. The IDF were certainly not even remotely deployed in force in either of these towns at the time of the ceasefire.”

      Does it occur to you that your whole sordid effort to deny this deployment in force at the end of the conflict is contradicted by a statement you made in an earlier post which read:

      "That contrary to Robert’s claims, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), once deployed in large numbers in southern Lebanon, were not able to prevail over their foes and dictate a settlement favorable to the Israeli political establishment."

      In any event, Crook and Perry say no such thing and you know it. They do not even address whether the IDF were deployed occupying perimeters inside or outside the towns, or what the IDF deployment in Lebanon was at the close of the conflict. In fact, Crook and Perry spend all of about six of the forty-six paragraphs of their second article addressing the battles of Maroun al-Ras and Bint J’Bail, and do so rather cursorily. They lack details, and are not comprehensive. The spotty nature of the initial IDF deployment allows them to argue that the IDF failed to secure both towns and that there were Hezbollah still resisting in and around the area, but, then again, they misleadingly fail to note the nature of the deployment that made this possible. Thus, if there are Hezbollah still resisting and harassing IDF emplacements, then Hezbollah “retains possession.” The argument thus hinges on an utterly meaningless distinction between “possessing” “occupying,” and “securing.” The IDF secured tactically important perimeters in and around both towns, and held them till the end of the conflict. I mean, so what? Big deal? You act like this is some unconscionable humiliation that must not be allowed to stand. And, again, you have presented absolutely no evidence to disprove this, and have merely repeated the usual, tired, hooray-for-Hezbollah cheerleading that is your main line of defense.

      Crook and Perry further assert:

      “Israel's decision to launch a ground war to accomplish what its air force had failed to do was made hesitantly and haphazardly. While Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) units had been making forays into southern Lebanon during the second week of the conflict, the Israeli military leadership remained undecided over when and where - even whether - to deploy their ground units.

      In part, the army's indecisiveness over when, where and whether to deploy its major ground units was a function of the air force's claims to victory. The Israeli Air Force (IAF) kept claiming that it would succeed from the air - in just one more day, and then another. This indecision was mirrored by the Western media's uncertainty about when a ground campaign would take place - or whether in fact it had already occurred.”

      This is true, confirms what I have argued all along, and contradicts completely your assertion that the IDF went in with a full scale ground attack, and was “beaten back.” This is nowhere indicated or even asserted in the article.

      Also Crook and Perry accurately portray the strategic confusion on the ground:

      “In keeping with Olmert's political ploy, the IDF's goal of the total destruction of Hezbollah was also being markedly scaled back. "There is one line between our military objectives and our political objectives," Brigadier-General Ido Nehushtan, a member of Israel's general staff, said on the day after the reserve call-up. "The goal is not necessarily to eliminate every Hezbollah rocket. What we must do is disrupt the military logic of Hezbollah. I would say that this is still not a matter of days away."

      This was a decidedly strange way of presenting a military strategy - to conduct a war to "disrupt the military logic" of an enemy. Nehushtan's statement had a chilling effect on IDF ground commanders, who wondered exactly what the war's goals were.”

      Said you: “What’s also interesting is that Jones describes Israel’s attempt to capture the high ground (thus underlining it’s importance) while Bard and Freedman (who you cited previously) criticized Hezbollah for not ceding this strategically valuable territory. Nothing like citing 2 papers that contradict one another entirely, while trying to prove the same argument. Way to go Robert.”

      I love how you play at being the analyst. What “attempt to capture the high ground?” What are you talking about? Who is Bard and Freedman and what did they say?

      “Jones’ piece reads like the large tribe of hand picked Hasbara academics, handsomely paid by various Israel lobby funders to produce feel good reports that conclude the next Hezbollah Israel war will be nothing like the 2006. In addition, pro-Israel authors like Jones routinely skew their research to reassure their paymasters that Hezbollah will lose to the spruced up, better-equipped and trained Israeli soldiers.”

      “Hasbara academics?” “Paymasters?” Zachary Jones study was a masters thesis that “analyzes the air power, coercion, strategic theory, and strategic methodology in the 2006 Israel/Hezbollah War.”

      And,

      “By examining the 2006 Israel/Hezbollah war, which is an excellent example of a high-intensity conflict between a very capable state military, and a well-equipped non-state actor, Hezbollah, I analyze the ways in which air power is most useful in state versus non-state actor conflicts, the efficacy of coercion in such conflicts, and the role of strategic theory and methodology in such conflicts. I conclude that air power is best used against material high value targets, and against outside state sponsors of non-state actors, as non-state actors often blend amongst non-combatants, disperse their men and material widely, and are difficult to target with accuracy. I also conclude that the basic logic of coercion used in state versus state conflict is sound, but that the logic is complicated by the non-state actor’s reliance on outside powers for war material, meaning that attempts to coerce without applying pressure to the outside power will be unlikely to succeed.”

      Again, I guess part of being an unhinged ideologue whose blinding, idolatrous worship of militant jihadists knows no limit, is that the notion that there are objective scholars out there who seek to study past events with an eye toward understanding and uncovering the truth, and drawing useful insights and lessons from those truths, is simply incomprehensible. Everything is either for the team, or against the team.

      ***

      The truth about the 2006 conflict is not terribly complicated or controversial. The Israelis, following the border kidnapping, wished to the greatest possible extent to destroy Hezbollah’s infrastructure and weaponry, neutralize them as a military force once and for all, and force their removal north of the Litani. They also hoped that a favorable political diminishment of Hezbollah within Lebanon would follow the successful military campaign. On July 24, 2006 the MFA enumerated the following goals:

      “First, regarding southern Lebanon, Israel wishes to preserve the gains of the current military campaign, whereby Hizbullah has been removed from the border region.

      Second, regarding the Hizbullah’s long-range missiles which are fired at Israeli civilians from beyond the border zone – unless Hizbullah disarms itself willingly, this threat must be clearly addressed.

      Third, the Hizbullah must be prevented from re-arming. This will require close monitoring of the possible routes into Lebanon from Syria or elsewhere.”

      To accomplish these goals, the IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. General Dan Halutz, eschewed the contingency plan in place concerning a war with Hezbollah, which consisted of an air assault (code-named ICE BREAKER) to be complemented with a massive ground assault 72 hours later (code named MEY MAROM), for an improvised air assault punctuated by pinpointed “surgical” forays (standoff attacks) at Hezbollah militants and strongpoints along the border. Halutz was repeatedly told by both military and intelligence analysts that such an approach would be wholly inadequate to eject Hezbollah from south Lebanon, but he ignored them.

      After a week of air assaults and standoff attacks the decisive victory promised by Halutz was nowhere in sight. Hezbollah was just as firmly entrenched along the border and south of the Litani as they ever were, and rockets were still popping into northern Israel at 100 or more a day. Halutz, realizing that air assault alone was not doing the job, now consented to the ground operation he had previously dismissed as unnecessary. Yet even here he equivocated; instead of the full-scale ground invasion envisaged by MEY MAROM, the IDF would deploy battalion and company size units in “raids” into Maroun al-Ras, Bint J’Bail, and elsewhere, where they encountered well trained Hezbollah militants who ambushed them with a skill and a ferocity that shook them.

      Halutz was warned at this stage by Lt. Col. Ron Tira, formerly of the Air Planning Staff of the IAF, that his “raid” strategy “didn’t make sense at all. You either activate MEY MAROM and occupy the entire rocket launch area or you don’t. There is absolutely no sense in raids. They are not going to stop the rockets, and soldiers can get killed. It is risk without reward.”

      Up until the end of July the IDF, consistent with Halutz’s “raiding” strategy, made no attempt to occupy territory for more than raiding purposes. By the 1st of August, the IDF now decided to increase the forces on the ground and by August 12 Operation Change Direction 11, an advance of 4 divisions, including a westward drive of 162 Division from At Tayyibeh to link up with elements of the Nahal Brigade that had been airlifted into position there near Ghanduriyih, had commenced. The ground campaign lasted two days, each division advanced several miles, killed some Hezbollah, occupied some strategically dubious territory, and accomplished absolutely nothing of significance. To emphasize this failure, Hezbollah tossed a few hundred rockets into Israel on the last day of the campaign.

      The air campaign and the efforts on the ground thus failed to destroy Hezbollah and failed, through its efforts and strategy, to stop or even limit the rocket attacks into Israel. The war exposed failures in planning, intelligence, counterintelligence, command, mobilization, execution, and logistics on the part of the IDF. The ground campaign was found to have been conducted on the fly with inadequate, ill-equipped formations, senior commanders and brigade commanders who had not trained in maneuvering large mobile formations in years, regulars and reservists who had received little or no training, and soldiers and tank crewmen whose only experience was patrolling the West Bank and Gaza.

      For most people, these facts are apparent and uncontroversial, and are deeply unflattering to the state of the IDF in 2006. Yet, even this is not enough for you. You’re greedy. Your bottomless hatred of Israel and the IDF, and idolatrous worship of Hezbollah impel your fanatical fervor to preposterously exaggerate the admittedly fierce resistance offered by Hezbollah into some all-encompassing military “victory” that has the IDF being defeated in every tactical engagement, “never secur[ing] any perimeters [in Lebanon],” being “clearly ejected by force because Hezbollah counterattacks were spectacularly successful,” and being “never deployed in force anywhere before or at the time of the ceasefire.”

      So, it would seem, then, that since Hezbollah talks to no one, the IDF lies to reporters (and everyone else) about their deployments for some unfathomable reason two days before the ceasefire, no less, and reporters on the ground in South Lebanon are either being duped or are aiding and abetting some inexplicable campaign of deceit to misinform the world about Hezbollah casualties and the IDF order of battle there at the close of the conflict, as well as to conceal the “fact” that IDF troops were “beat back”—a “fact” that no one has ever recorded or reported—well, all of this clearly points to the “fact” that the IDF attacked Hezbollah in Lebanon with a full scale ground attack but were “beaten back” into Israel.

      To conceal news of this terrible defeat, unreported and unrecorded until now by anyone except commenter Shingo on Mondoweiss, the IDF fabricated a massive campaign of deception during the war to mislead the world into believing the following: that there was an IAF air assault with IDF standoff attacks which failed to destroy Hezbollah. Then, when that was found to be inadequate, the IDF deployed company and battalion sized assaults to raid and engage Hezbollah strongholds. Then, when those failed to produce tangible results, they poured more forces into the mix piecemeal to utter negligible effect, and finally capped it off with a four-division-sized ground offensive that lasted two full days, and accomplished nothing.

      This, then, was the Big Lie with which cunning Israel has once again duped and swindled a naïve and credulous world. Until now, that is. This campaign of deception, btw, was not limited to the events of the conflict; the deception continued after the war with unanimously false testimony to the Winograd Committee, which also received detailed fabrications of IDF after-action reports, troop movements, deployments and orders of battle, and then issued a report which portrayed a military campaign of staggering confusion, incompetence, and strategic incoherence. All to Israel’s immeasurable benefit.

      The campaign of deceit continued on when these embarrassingly unflattering untruths were then disseminated throughout the Israeli and Western media, and specifically to pro-Israel think tanks in America, all of which recognized Hezbollah’s prowess, and commented witheringly on the IDF flaws and mistakes.

      So that’s it. You nailed it. It was all a lie. Having been “destroyed” in battle, and “beaten back,” the IDF then opted to mislead the world by thoroughly embarrassing themselves around the world by fabricating a floundering military campaign that cast them in the worst, most humiliating light, and then, afterward, fabricating details about the fabricated military campaign at a time when it served no purpose to do so, then issuing a scathingly self-critical report that revealed them in an even more embarrassing light. What genius, this hasbara.

    • Thank you for your latest pseudo-response. Your devotion to Hezbollah is of an intensity of an Elvis fan for the King.
      Said you:

      “You’re even contradicting your own original thesis. First you blamed Halutz for not sticking to the existing strategy, then you blamed him coming up with the strategy in the first place.”

      I said no such thing and you know it. Halutz did not “create” the MEY MROM contingency plan, and I never said he did; the plan was in the works long before he became COS. I said, “Halutz explicitly rejected the full scale ground deployment that would follow 48-72hrs ahead of the air assault envisaged in the contingency plans ICE BREAKER and MEY MAROM, in favor of his improvised version, which he adjusted continuously throughout the campaign.” Liar.

      “Israel were not deployed in force in South Lebanon at any time throughout the conflict. Only a few of their assets managed to even make it onto the Lebanese side of the border, and when they did, they were lambs to the laughter. The post mortem on the conflict revealed how much the IDF has exaggerated their position and you’re simply making a fool of yourself by repeating this BS…Hezbollah prevented the IDF from establishing a presence in Southern Lebanon. This is a fact. An unchangeable, immutable, unalterable fact. Deal with it. At least try to.”

      Your continuing denial of this documented, verifiable fact betrays the intensity of your Hezbollah hero-worship and your contempt for facts and reality.

      The number of IDF troops operating in Lebanon grew gradually from 1200 on July 19 to 10,000 on August 11. An AP story of August 11, 2006 noted that the IDF had still not launched its ground offensive:

      “Beirut was rocked by 14 powerful explosions early Friday morning as Israel resumed airstrikes on the Lebanese capital, local media reported. Warplanes pounded Hezbollah strongholds in the southern Dahieh suburb and also destroyed a bridge in Akkar province, 60 miles north of the city, the reports said. There was no immediate word of casualties.

      The moves came on the heels of an Israel grab of strategic high ground in south Lebanon on Thursday, but the Jewish state delayed a major push northward as diplomats cited progress toward agreement on a UN cease-fire resolution that could soon go to a vote.”

      http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,207679,00.html#ixzz1f1wFFZiO

      An AP story of August 12, 2006 noted the tripling of the number of ground troops, i.e., the tardy commencement of OPERATION CHANGE DIRECTION 11:

      "We have almost tripled our forces that our operating in Lebanon," Halutz told reporters. In the first stage of the ground war, some 10,000 forces operated in Lebanon. A tripling of troops would mean Israel now has a fighting force of some 30,000 soldiers in Lebanon.”

      http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,208043,00.html#ixzz1f1rDxy9R

      A CNN report on August 21, 2006 noted that there was still sporadic fighting between the IDF and Hezbollah in Lebanon:

      http://articles.cnn.com/2006-08-21/world/mideast.main_1_litani-river-israeli-troops-hezbollah-militants?_s=PM:WORLD

      A BBC report as late as October 1, 2006 noted that the IDF was only then completing its withdrawal:

      “UN HAILS ISRAEL PULLOUT

      Since the ceasefire came into force on 14 August, Israel has been withdrawing troops from a peak of 30,000 during the fighting. Lebanon had complained in recent days that the pace of the withdrawal was too slow.”

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5396966.stm

      So there you have it. Not only were there still sporadic engagements still occurring after the ceasefire, but the Lebanese government was still complaining about the slowness of the IDF withdrawal as late as October. The matter is settled. Some 30,000 IDF troops were deployed in South Lebanon at the time of the ceasefire. This is a fact. This is four divisions!

      The Reserve Armored Division was deployed in Marjayoun; the 162 Infantry Division had advanced 6 miles westward from Addaisseh through At Tayyibah to Ghanduriyah and successfully linked with units of the Nahal that had been airlifted there; the 91st Division had advanced 3 miles northwest from Bint JBail to a position between Kafra and Brashit; and the Airborne Reserve Division had advanced 6 miles north through Debel to a position just south of Bayt Lif. When 30,000 or even 10,000 troops are deployed in an area running 15-20 miles from north to south and an equal distance from east to west, THAT IS A DEPLOYMENT IN FORCE, AND NOTHING BUT.

      “The problem with your argument is that you refuse to ask the simple questions as to why, because it inevitably leads you to the conclusion you are so desperate to ignore. Why was the IDF strategy an improvised, incoherent muddle? Why did the ground assault never get moving?

      Answer: Because the IDF came up against an enemy that outfought and outsmarted them.”

      More propaganda cheering for The Team.

      “Why was the IDF strategy an improvised, incoherent muddle? Why did the ground assault never get moving?”

      You know why. Because Halutz, whose faith in airpower was boundless and unequivocal, believed airpower combined with small-bore standoff attacks would suffice to collapse Hezbollah and achieve Israel’s strategic goals. When, a week into the conflict, this was found to be inadequate, Halutz marginally escalated the standoff attacks. Then, in early August, he inexplicably commenced an inadequate ground assault within days of the ceasefire that would have no chance to achieve anything of consequence in the narrow time frame until the ceasefire. You have been advancing two contradictory arguments: 1) That the IDF went in with a full scale ground invasion which Hezbollah either prevented and/or beat them back, and 2) that they feared to do so out of fear of casualties. Which is it?

      This first is a fantasy. The confused, piecemeal nature of the Israeli deployment between July 19 and August 11 is a matter of record, and has been extensively criticized in the Winograd report. Of course, you know all of this, but you will go on to the end denying the obvious in favor of your fantasies.

      As for the second, well, duh, of course they wanted to avoid casualties; Halutz thought he could win his war on the cheap from the air, with small-scale standoff attacks on the ground. Needless to say, that failed.

      “The IDF ground deployment was scattershot because Hezbollah thwarted it so comprehensively. The ground deployment began on the 21st, but the fact that it barely even got moving was because Hezbollah stopped it in it’s tracks.”

      This first statement is not only false, it is nonsensical. If a deployment is “scattershot” then the fault is in the inadequacy of the deployment. All of the IDF ground deployments between July 19 and August 11 were standoff deployments directed at pinpointed targets, though in early August there was a gradual escalation. Again, you need to present evidence to the contrary, which you have so far failed to do.

      “From the onset of the conflict to its last operations, Hezbollah commanders successfully penetrated Israel’s strategic and tactical decision-making cycle across a spectrum of intelligence, military and political operations, with the result that Hezbollah scored a decisive and complete victory in its war with Israel.”

      What possible evidence is there to support this? This claim is simply unverifiable and you know it. Crook and Perry themselves have stated unequivocally that,

      “Hezbollah officials will neither speak publicly nor for the record on how they fought the conflict, will not detail their deployments, and will not discuss their future strategy.”

      So Crook and Perry have no more specialized access to Hezbollah deployments or tactics than anyone else, and that includes information on Hezbollah casualties, damage to infrastructure, or counter-intelligence efforts. The Winograd Report was pretty withering on IDF intelligence and counter-intelligence failures, but there is no mention in the report of Hezbollah intercepting IDF communications. Also, there is no mention of this in all of the interviews with IDF personnel conducted by many American and other Western authors and think-tanks.

      On Hezbollah’s casualties, on August 4, 2006 by Con Coughlin

      “Although Hizbollah has refused to make public the extent of the casualties it has suffered, Lebanese officials estimate that up to 500 fighters have been killed in the past three weeks of hostilities with Israel, and another 1,500 injured.

      Lebanese officials have also disclosed that many of Hizbollah's wounded are being treated in hospitals in Syria to conceal the true extent of the casualties. They are said to have been taken through al-Arissa border crossing with the help of Syrian security forces.

      Hizbollah's operational council has drawn up casualty lists that have been passed to the Shaheed Foundation. Copies have been seen by The Daily Telegraph, and have also been obtained by Lebanese newspapers, which have been pressurised by Hizbollah not to publish them.

      "Hizbollah is desperate to conceal its casualties because it wants to give the impression that it is winning its war," said a senior security official. "People might reach a very different conclusion if they knew the true extent of Hizbollah's casualties."

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/1525593/Teheran-fund-pays-war-compensation-to-Hizbollah-families.html

      Another report on August 22 by the Daily Telegraph,

      “UN officials believe that Hizbollah will not want to reignite the conflict, at least for a while. The organisation's culture of secrecy has disguised the true number of its casualties - funerals of "martyrs" are being staggered to soften the impact of the losses. Some were interred without ceremony for re-burial later. A UN official estimated the deaths at 500, 10 per cent of the force Hizbollah is thought to muster, not all of whom are front-line fighters.”

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/1526970/Peacekeeping-force-wont-disarm-Hizbollah.html

      The UN, the Lebanese government, and the IDF all agree that Hezbollah lost some 500-600 of its fighters. Crook and Perry are simply parroting the Hezbollah narrative. They present no evidence of access to any info that proves their assertions.

      “Had Hezbollah suffered losses that Byman and Simon imagined, there would have been evidence of it in terms of diminished rockets attacks, the weakening of fighting capability on the ground and the disruption to Hezbollah’s communications and command structure. None of these was remotely affected.”

      Huh? There is absolutely no way to assess where in Hezbollah’s infrastructure the losses would be impacted; it is highly unlikely that any such losses, terrible though they may be, would have any significant impact on their short range rocket launching attacks, since many of these were already successfully eluding being targeted and destroyed and thus not suffering great losses in the first place, and the loss of some 500 fighters, while significant, would not be sufficient to destroy Hezbollah as a fighting force south of the Litani. They had 3000 fighters there.

      Said I: “As I have recounted numerous times, the IDF first opted for an improvised air assault punctuated with small-bore border forays (i.e., “standoff attacks”).

      Said you: “Recount it all you like, you’re simply continue to be wrong. The air assault was a full scale bombing campaign that was of such a magnitude…”

      Whether the air assault was “full scale” or not is irrelevant; no amount of air assault by itself was going to defeat Hezbollah or even weaken them significantly. Surely we can agree on this. This was the critical flaw in Halutz’s approach. The IDF did not invade Lebanon with a full scale combined arms assault by land, sea, and air. Not even close. This is the point of what I have been repeatedly making and which you have not refuted one iota. An air assault, whatever its dimensions, is no substitute for a full combined arms assault; that would be “throwing everything they had.” But they did not. When are you going to face reality and get this through your head?

      As Zachary Jones notes in his study “Strategic Theory, Methodology, Air Power, and Coercion in the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War,”

      “Air power is neither strategically useless nor supreme in any type of conflict, a fact that holds for this type of conflict as well. Nonetheless some specific characteristics of air power and of many non-state actors may serve to inform us of what air power can and cannot do in such a conflict. Air power can effectively deal with large weapons systems, fixed targets, and infrastructure. Non-state actors generally do not have many of these targets. Targets of this type that can be identified should be struck quickly, forcefully, and without warning to maximize their effect. If these targets are positively identified they are likely to be especially time-sensitive. Attempting to strike targets which do not fall into any of the three above categories is likely a waste except when flying as close air support for ground forces. Air power enthusiasts have long overestimated the effectiveness of coercion by strategic attack from the air.

      Similarly, the backlash against these air power boosters has created unrealistic and unsupported claims about air power’s ineffectiveness. Air power is simply another tool in the military toolkit. Successful coercion depends on selecting the right tools for the right job and employing them effectively. War is a human affair and does not conform to neat theories. The relevant variables in any interaction are basically infinite and so we should exercise great caution in determining a causal link between any phenomena in war. This is perhaps the most important lesson gleaned from my study of air power during the 2006 war: be humble in your conclusions. “

      “A significant number of Israeli forces were airlifted into key areas just south of the Litani to accomplish this goal. The decision might well have led to a disaster. Most of the Israeli forces airlifted to these sites were immediately surrounded by Hezbollah units and may well have been decisively mauled had a ceasefire not gone into effect.”

      “Might have led to disaster?” “May well have been decisively mauled?” My, how powerfully the wish begats the thought!

      There is no record of any IDF units airlifted into place that were outflanked or overrun; for example, units of the Nahal were airlifted into the vicinity of Ghanduriyih on August 12 to secure a link-up with the 162 Division which was advancing westward. The Nahal had scouted the high ground around Wadi Saluki and pronounced it clear of the enemy. However, some 100 Hezbollah fighters armed to the teeth with small arms and ATGM’s had taken up positions beyond the area they scouted. Unbeknownst to them, the 24 tanks and two companies in the advance guard of 401 Brigade were walking into one of the fiercest ambushes of the war.

      After a Merkava had hit an IED, the 24 tanks on the narrow incline were now plastered with a hail of ATGM fire. In the ensuing firefight, 11 of the 24 tanks were hit with ATGM fire, two of which were destroyed. 8 tankmen were killed, along with four infantry. The 401st could get no air cover for fear of fratricide, but once they brought up their artillery to bear on the attackers, the Hezbollah attackers ceased firing and withdrew, leaving 80 dead behind them. The 162 division continued its advance and linked with the Nahal outside Ganduriyuh.

      In Ghanduriyuh, Hezbollah had skillfully prepared a series of defensive positions. However, when IDF units took one position, the defenders would move to the flank of the attackers in an attempt to retake the lost ground instead of withdrawing and regrouping to the previous defensive lines. Once again, Hezbollah defenders had an opportunity to bleed the enemy and conserve their forces for a stronger defense or a concentrated counterattack, and they instead opted for one of their usual pointlessly costly, to-the-last-martyr static defenses. IDF units had a fierce firefight with the town’s defenders, but they cleared it; the IDF lost 12 soldiers killed, and 57 dead Hezbollah were counted within the town. A squad sized counter-attack by Hezbollah on the town’s casbah was a failure. 162 Division was in firm possession of the town at the time of the ceasefire.

      “Air strikes and infantry sweeps probably eliminated about half of the longer-range rockets that were not expended, as well as a large number of launchers.

      Said you: “Again debunked. On the 28th, the Mossad leaked that Hezbollah were able to maintain the fighting for several months and the Pentagon estimated that the air strikes and infantry sweeps had negligible impact.”

      You are answering a specific assertion with a general observation, and thus not refuting it one iota. As Zachary Jones notes in “Strategic Theory, Methodology, Air Power, and Coercion in the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War,”

      “By Israeli police figures 92 rockets were fired at Haifa, 7 at Alufa, 6 in Beit Shean, 2 in Tirat HaCarmel, 2 near Hadera, and 1 near Zikhron Yaakov; all cities outside of the range of short range Katayushas near the Israel-Lebanon border. Although some suggest that this does constitute heavy fire, and is evidence that the July 12 operation was not effective, nor primarily targeted on the Zelzals, the aforementioned record of observed rocket fire lends at least some credence to the IAF’s claims. Compared to the much heavier rocket fire endured by northern cities such as the Kirat Shmona area which was hit by some 1,102 rockets, the bombardment was light. This may have been due to the IAF’s early success at destroying an impressive amount of medium range rockets and their launchers, or perhaps because Hezbollah either lacked significant numbers prior to the war, or abstained for political reasons.

      Intelligence assessments prior to the war do indicate that Hezbollah was seeking larger, longer range rockets and missiles, casting a large measure of doubt on the idea that the lighter bombardment of the abovementioned cities was because Hezbollah did not possess significant numbers of medium range rockets and missiles. Similarly there is little reason to believe that Hezbollah would have abstained from firing rockets further south for political reasons. Indeed as just indicated Hezbollah did fire a number of rockets and missiles into cities in the middle of Israel, just not in as great numbers as were fired into northern Israel. The volume of continuous rocket fire is alone enough to disabuse one of the idea that Hezbollah decided to not fire medium range rockets. Simply put it seems highly unlikely that Hezbollah didn’t have significant numbers of medium range rockets, and even more unlikely that it had them and chose not to use them. As a result it seems far more believable that the IAF significantly damaged Hezbollah’s longer range capabilities, and perhaps deterred them from using their remaining stores absent some measure of defensive capability.”

      That Hezbollah would have declined to fire its arsenal of medium ranged missiles for reasons of political reticence or restraint is of course laughable. This would mean that only 110 of the nearly 4000 rockets fired into Israel were medium ranged missiles, marking the rest as either being too few to be expended or destroyed by the IAF. This is probable because of their larger launching platforms and, unlike the more mobile shorter ranged rockets on pickup trucks, are much more easily targeted.

      “The IAF threw everything they had and achieved nothing. Then the IDF battalion sized assaults produced nothing. The extra forces they were pouring into the mix were whatever was left ie. the reserves, which were a complete shamble and an embarrassment.”

      Complete, total fantasy. So the incremental escalation of troops until early August was “whatever was left?” They had no more troops? Oh, please. A complete Israeli mobilization would number in the hundreds of thousands.

      “Yeah whatever, at the end of the day, this means only one thing Robert. Israel lost and Hezbollah won. You can try all you like to pretend that Israel scored own goals and made all the wrong choices, but as I’ve explained to you repeatedly, that’s how wars are won and lost.”

      DING-DONG HEZBOLLAH WINS!

      “Talk about a contradiction in terms! Have you completely lost your marbles? You’re citing Max Boot, the worst of the worst empire loving, war obsessed, Islamophobic, Israel worshipping neocons and yet you have the gall to accuse Crooke of being a rank apologist for militant Islam and the gangster-mullahs of Iran ?”

      I guess part of being an unhinged ideologue is that you assume that everyone is as unhinged and ideological as you are. And this slander of Boot is based in what, YOUR books on irregular warfare that are read in military academies, and YOUR intensive research and writing on the subject? What a pitiful, mindless slander. Typical of you.

      “After-battle reports of Hezbollah commanders now confirm that IDF troops never fully secured the border area and Maroun al-Ras was never fully taken.”

      What “after-action reports?” Where were these accessed, and by who? How can Cook and Perry have accessed these “reports” when they openly admit that Hezbollah gave them no such access?

      “Did you hear that Robert? Olmert deployed the full might of the IDF, so there’s no point denying that Israel threw everything they had at Hezbollah.”

      Your desperation to prove this fantasy continues, and now you are citing this characterization as “proof.” It is no such thing, and you know it. What matters are the facts. The only way you can possibly prove that the “full might” of the IDF was directed at Hezbollah on the ground is to demonstrate this in the actual troop deployments themselves. Since nothing even approaching a deployment of the “full might” of the IDF ground forces ever occurred (even the August 12-14 was only 4 divisions—hardly the “full might” of the IDF), and there is no evidence of it, you will probably have to resort to your usual obfuscations and pseudo-responses to “prove” this. Good luck.

      “This is a common fall back position by those that a losing the debate. The conclusion admits that Israel initiated the war. What is out of context about that?...Initiated is defined as “To set going by taking the first step; begin”. That tells us that Israel took the first steps or started the war. The kidnapping incident did not have to lead to war. Israel chose to use the incident as an excuse to roll out the war.”

      So Hezbollah provokes the conflict with a cross-border assault and kidnapping, killing 3—a brazen act of war, and Israel responds to this act of war with war, and Israel, by initiating hostilities in response thus “started” the war. Got it.

      “You already acknowledged that Israel had been giving power point presentations on the war plans in Washington in January of 2006, so there is no dispute that Israel were clearly looking for any excuse to unleash it – they simply waited for the opportunity. It is also beyond dispute that Blair and Bush were informed prior to the capture of the IDF soldiers, that the war was about to take place.”

      I acknowledged what? You said on Nov. 15, “It was widely reported that the Israelis were giving power point presentations in Washington about the plans to attack Lebanon in January of that year. So Israel had spent probably a year planning this exercise of not longer.” To which I said “Whatever was presented at this event could not have been the plan that was executed in July 2006 because the plan did not yet exist,” to which you replied, “Of course it did. It was widely reported that Bush and Blair were informed of Israel’s plans to attack Hezbollah well before the cross border skirmish, so the plan was not improvised at all.”

      So let us be clear what you are asserting here:

      1) That the plan adopted by Halutz in July of 2006 was the contingency plan that had been prepared months before, i.e., MEY MAROM.

      2) That Israel intended to attack Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006 absent the kidnapping in July.

      3) That Bush and Blair “knew” of this alleged Israeli plan to attack Lebanon in 2006.

      Your evidence to prove this is as follows:

      1) A report from the SF Chronicle that notes that, “By 2004, the military campaign scheduled to last about three weeks that we're seeing now had already been blocked out and, in the last year or two, it's been simulated and rehearsed across the board." More than a year ago, a senior Israeli army officer began giving PowerPoint presentations, on an off-the-record basis, to U.S. and other diplomats, journalists and think tanks, setting out the plan for the current operation in revealing detail.”

      2) Juan Cole’s July 23 post citing the above article.

      3) John Kampfner, then editor of the radical left-wing New Statesman, asserting on August 7, and without evidence, that he was “told” that “The Israelis informed George W Bush in advance of their plans to "destroy" Hezbollah by bombing villages in southern Lebanon. The Americans duly informed the British. So Blair knew.”

      The plan referenced in the SFC article cannot have been the Halutz version because Halutz had not yet decided upon that plan until July. While at war, nations do not publicly reveal their adopted plans so the enemy can know them; that is why the article is silent on the contents of the plan it references, and does not inform us whether the plan is the original contingency plan or the Halutz version of it. Again, it was reasonable to assume that the current plan of action was the original contingency plan but it was not. No one had ever made the contents of that contingency plan public to the SFC or anyone else, and the contents of any IDF contingency plan would only be known to a few Pentagon and civilian higher ups. But lets put all that aside. Let’s say that the Halutz plan was the contingency plan, and the one shared with the Pentagon months before. What would this possibly matter? What would this possibly prove? Absolutely nothing, except that this was one lousy contingency plan.

      It is a matter of record that the ICE BREAKER contingency plan, which envisaged a 72hr air assault followed by the MEY MAROM plan, which envisaged a full scale combined arms air, sea and ground assault which was to follow, was rejected by Halutz in favor of his own scaled back version at the outset of the conflict in staff meetings. He adopted the air assault but scaled back the ground activity to small-bore stand-off attacks. He was warned at this stage by Lt. Col. Ron Tira, formerly of the Air Planning Staff of the IAF, that his scaled-back version “didn’t make sense at all. You either activate MEY MAROM and occupy the entire rocket launch area or you don’t. There is absolutely no sense in raids. They are not going to stop the rockets, and soldiers can get killed. It is risk without reward.”

      Tira observed in Halutz’s over-reliance on air power a misreading of the American “Shock and Awe” doctrine:

      “[There was an] over-zealous embrace of the American effects-based operations (EBO) idea. EBO’s aim is to paralyze the enemy’s operational ability, in contrast to destroying its military force. This is achieved by striking the headquarters, lines of communication, and other critical junctions in the military structure. EBO [was] employed in their most distinct form in the Shock and Awe campaign that opened the 2003 Iraq War. However, the Americans used EBO to prepare the way for their ground maneuvers, and not as an alternative to them.”

      The contingency planning for a full scale conflict with Hezbollah had of course been in the works for years. The plans were refined, updated, and adjusted over the years like all contingency plans are. Your statement that “It was not a contingency plan for a future conflict. Contingency plans are not shopped around Washington and preceded by political leaders being informed that such a conflict was” is both false and actual nonsense. You simply made this up.

      The IDF and the Pentagon share their contingency planning with regard to a whole host of scenarios on the highest levels and with the greatest transparency. There is no evidence, repeat, NO EVIDENCE, that the Halutz plan was the original contingency plan (and makes not a whit of difference even if it was), NO EVIDENCE that Israel was intending to attack Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006 absent the kidnapping, and NO EVIDENCE that Bush or Blair “knew” of an Israeli attack before the kidnapping for the simple reason that no such Israeli attack had been planned. You, along with Cole and Kampfner, are simply taking the fact that the IDF shared its contingency planning with regard to Hezbollah with the Pentagon—an utterly routine occurrence—and exaggerating it into some supposed specific plan to invade Lebanon in the summer of 2006. It’s all bullshit, and nothing of the hearsay and speculation that all three of you have cited “proves” anything of the sort.

      “It was Hezbollah fighters that [won] every tactical engagement. In the end, it was Hezbollah that eviscerated the IDF.”

      I have repeatedly requested you to give me a single example of where one of these “victories” occurred, and you just keep repeating the same old hooray-for-Hezbollah cheerleading tripe.

      On Maroun al-Ras:

      “IDF detachments continually failed to flank the defenders, meeting counterpunches toward the west of the city. Special three-man hunter-killer teams from the Nasr Brigade destroyed several Israeli armored vehicles during the fight with light man-made anti-tank missiles.”

      This was true—in the opening stages of the battle on July 19. In fact, the advance guard infantry platoon of the Maglan brigade was very nearly surrounded and cut to pieces at this stage. I described this in my November 6 post:

      “After some initial missteps in which an infantry platoon from the Maglan brigade found itself temporarily surrounded, a reinforcement of an infantry company and an armored platoon was brought up, and a 5-7 hour firefight ensued in which all of the Hezbollah defenders were killed in place. Later in the day, some 15-30 Hezbollah militants counterattacked an Israeli company deployed in buildings on a hillcrest within the secured perimeter; the company was surprised, and there ensued some brutal hand to hand fighting before a score of the militants were killed, and the rest put to flight. The Israelis lost 8 killed and Hezbollah lost 24, and, though sniping from outside the village continued for some days afterward, the Israelis secured the village, if not the entire surrounding area.”

      This statement of Crook and Perry’s then refers to a situation that occurred in the opening stages of the battle—not the end result. By July 25 the IDF did in fact eventually flank the city on all sides, and by July 25 they had already deployed units of the Golani to the northeast of Bint J’Bail, and the 35 Brigade, Paratrooper 101st and 890th Battalion, 7th Armored were deployed to the northwest and the south, respectively. This in fact set the stage for the battle of Bint J’Bail. If these three IDF units had failed to flank Maroun al-Ras, they could not have deployed there and there thus would have been no battle of Bint J’Bail.

      Said you: “The IDF never managed to flank the city and the Golani were driven back to such an extent they called for further reinforcements – and still achieved nothing. They completely failed to secured any presence in any cities that they were subsequently driven from Bint J’Bail and never returned.”

      There is no evidence that the units of the Golani were “driven back” in the battle of Maroun al-Ras. 5 soldiers of the Egoz unit of the Golani were killed by an ATGM, but the other units of the Golani there were nowhere “driven back.” After the battle they were withdrawn for the pending assault on Bint J’Bail. The fact is the IDF secured perimeters both inside and outside both cities that they held to the ceasefire, though they did make a tactical withdrawal from an exposed position inside Bint J’Bail on July 30 before elements of the Golani and the 91st Division reentered the town in force several days later. Afterward, they were not ejected by force, and remained there to the ceasefire.

      Crook and Perry’s treatment of the actual ground engagements is limited to the battles of Maroun al-Ras and Bin J’Bail and is cursory and incomplete. For Maroun al-Ras they describe the events in the opening of the battle, and only assert that the IDF “had not taken the town” and that Hezbollah “had not been dislodged.”

      For Bint J’Bail, they state,

      “But it remained in Hezbollah hands until the end of the conflict. By then, the town had been destroyed, as Hezbollah fighters were able to survive repeated air and artillery shellings, retreating into their bunkers during the worst of the air and artillery campaign, and only emerging when IDF troops in follow-on operations tried to claim the city.”

      Hezbollah militants were certainly still hiding here and there in the rubble in and about the town, but the town was not “in Hezbollah hands until the end of the conflict.” The whole battle of Bint J’Bail consisted of sporadic fighting in and around the town, with areas see-sawing back and forth, and the IDF did not fully secure perimeters in the town until August 14, by which time the Israelis had lost 14 killed and 31 wounded, and Hezbollah had lost about 80 men killed.

      The first part of the battle raged from July 26-July 30. The second stage occurred on August 3 when the IDF reentered the town, destroyed a Hezbollah missile launcher, and discovered a cache of assault rifles. On August 5, some 8-10 gunmen were killed, IDF units discovered a cache of Katyusha rocket and Sagger missile stores, and hit another rocket launcher on August 6. On August 8, there was a fierce firefight between units of the Golani and Hezbollah when the IDF commandeered a Hezbollah command post where two IDF, and six Hezbollah were killed. A Hezbollah ATGM hit an IDF infantry position, wounding six and damaging a tank.

      Needless to say, Crook and Perry do not go into detail about the “follow on operations” in the last week of the campaign because in that period the IDF killed a number of militants and established perimeters in the town which they held to the ceasefire and, according to UNIFIL, did not even begin to evacuate until late August. In fact, while deployed in the town in this period, the IDF uncovered and photographed a number of arms caches that had been stockpiled in the dwellings.

      Crook and Perry are merely arguing that the IDF failed to fully secure both towns. This once again leads us to the pointless semantic debate over the word “secure.” It is pointless because the IDF secured perimeters inside and outside both towns, but they did not occupy the entire surrounding areas, nor did they intend to in the July 19-30 period; they were securing tactically important perimeters for “raids.” Hezbollah fighters conducted a few costly counterattacks on positions in and around both towns which were wholly unsuccessful, and they harassed the IDF positions with some sporadic small-arms fire to the end of the conflict, but they never succeeded in ejecting the IDF from their held positions, and the IDF were deployed in force in both towns at the time of the ceasefire.

      If you are going to prove that IDF units were not deployed inside both towns at the time of the ceasefire, you’re going to have to do better than merely quoting Crook and Perry, some of whose points are valid, and some of which are vague and unsourced assertions that are not adding up to much. You, in fact are making claims that not even they are making. They are merely arguing that the IDF failed to fully secure both towns, and, overall, that the IDF failed to destroy Hezbollah or even weaken them significantly, all of which would at least fall within the purview of legitimate debate; you, however, are arguing that Hezbollah defeated the IDF in both towns and ejected them by force. You are also arguing that the IDF “never secured any perimeters [in Lebanon], were clearly ejected by force because Hezbollah counterattacks were spectacularly successful,” and “the IDF were never deployed in force anywhere before or at the time of the ceasefire.” All of this goes far beyond anything asserted by Crook and Perry.

      ***

      If you wish to argue that the end result of the conflict was a political victory for Hezbollah, you are free to do that; I personally believe, for reasons I have stated at length, that the conflict a political stalemate, and that nobody “won,” though I recognize that Hezbollah snatched a propaganda victory. Whatever; in any event, arguing the politics of the conflict is an endless argument. Everyone will simply insist on their own interpretation.

      The events of the military conflict, however, are factual and demonstrable. Either Hezbollah prevented the IDF from crossing the border or they did not; either they defeated the IDF in Maroun al-Ras and Bint J’Bail, i.e., drove them out or forced their surrender, or they did not; either the IDF was deployed in force in Lebanon at the time of the ceasefire, or they were not, etc., etc.

      I have argued all along, per the facts, that the IDF engaged Hezbollah with a confused, tardy and piecemeal deployment. The evidence supporting this fact is simply overwhelming, and has been copiously documented with an abundance of after action reports, evidence and testimony. The limited and brief ground war, such as it was, was interrupted and not fought to a conclusion. Not even close. There was no “victory” for either side; the fighting was at a stalemate when it was interrupted, and the IDF remained deployed in force at the time of the ceasefire. The IDF did not destroy Hezbollah, and Hezbollah did not prevent the IDF from crossing the border, did not win a single ground engagement, and did not eject the IDF from Lebanon by force.

      You, on the other hand have argued that

      1) That the IDF “never secured any perimeters” within Lebanon, and “were never deployed in force anywhere before or at the time of the ceasefire.”

      2) That Hezbollah “won every tactical engagement” and that the IDF were “clearly ejected by force because Hezbollah counterattacks were spectacularly successful.”

      3) That Israel intended to attack Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006 absent the kidnapping.

      This first is demonstrably false. Some 30,000 IDF troops—four divisions—were deployed in South Lebanon at the time of the ceasefire. The Reserve Armored Division was deployed in Marjayoun; the 162 Infantry Division had advanced 6 miles westward from Addaisseh through At Tayyibah to Ghanduriyah and successfully linked with units of the Nahal that had been airlifted there; the 91st Division had advanced 3 miles northwest from Bint JBail to a position between Kafra and Brashit; and the Airborne Reserve Division had advanced 6 miles north through Debel to a position just south of Bayt Lif.

      Secondly, the IDF were not driven from Maroun al-Ras or Bint J’Bail at the time of the ceasefire, and nothing stated by Crook and Perry asserts or proves otherwise. Crook and Perry do not describe the engagements fought at Markaba, Marjayoun, Shaked Outpost, Ayta ash-Shab, Muhaybib, Ghanduriyih, Dayr Siryan, and Tayyibah for the simple reason that there were no Hezbollah “victories” there or anywhere else. They would surely have mentioned them if there were.

      Thirdly, you have provided not a whit of evidence to prove that Israel intended to attack Hezbollah in Lebanon in the summer of 2006, absent the kidnapping.

      At some point I think you are simply going to have to admit that these assertions of yours are simply false. Instead of all these rhetorical and argumentative gymnastics, why don't you just admit the truth: that there is not a shred of evidence to prove your assertions?

    • Shingo,

      Said you:

      “Even if we have it your way, Hezbollah were indeed victorious because:

      a) they forced Israel to retreat and reverse (one of the strategic objectives that they achieved) – Israel were not able to hold any territory

      b) they forced Israel to change their tactics and strategy numerous times (easily demonstrated)”

      A) For the last time, they did not force Israel to “to retreat and reverse”; the IDF was still occupying stretches of South Lebanon and were deployed in force there at the time of the ceasefire and, for all of your cheerleading blather and IDF-badmouthing, you have not come even close to proving otherwise.

      B) The IDF strategy, such as it was, was a work in progress; it was an improvised, incoherent muddle that was aggravated by inapt tactics to execute it.

      Hezbollah survived. Their “objectives” such as they were, were achieved outside the arena of the battlefield, by a tardy, scattershot IDF ground deployment which had barely even got moving within a few days of the ceasefire, and an IDF withdrawal mandated by the ceasefire itself. As I said before, to call this a “victory” is to cheapen the word.

      As Daniel Byman and Steven Simon have written in “The No Win Zone: An After Action Report From Lebanon”:

      “There should be no mistake that Hizballah suffered serious losses. Though exact figures are hard to come by, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) claim to have killed about 500 of Hizballah's most trained fighters. Many of those who remain were at least pushed--more or less--out of the area south of the Litani, at least temporarily. Air strikes and infantry sweeps probably eliminated about half of the longer-range rockets that were not expended, as well as a large number of launchers. Hizballah's elaborate infrastructure in south Lebanon was disrupted, and many of its facilities in the Beirut suburbs were razed. By the time Hizballah was pushing for a cease-fire, which winners do not normally do, its fighters were trapped in a box between the Israeli border, a blockaded coast, blown bridges and roads leading north, and a large IDF force in Marjayoun, poised to march up the Bekaa to the east. Both Hassan Nasrallah and Mahmoud Koumati, the second in command of Hizballah's political arm, have told interviewers that Hizballah was completely surprised by the ferocity of Israel's response to the raid. Nasrallah, in a rare confessional moment, claimed that if he had known the Israelis were going to react so violently, he would not have ordered the kidnapping.”

      http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2751/is_86/ai_n27065800/?tag=content;col1

      Said you:

      “Israel threw everything they had at Hezbollah short of using nukes, and achieved nada…The argument that Israel’s efforts were half hearted is just a lame excuse for being out fought and out smarted.”

      As I have recounted numerous times, the IDF first opted for an improvised air assault punctuated with small-bore border forays (i.e., “standoff attacks”). Then, when that was found to be inadequate, they deployed company and battalion sized assaults to raid and engage Hezbollah strongholds (extended standoff). Then, when that was found wanting, they poured more forces into the mix within days of the ceasefire to utter negligible effect. This is throwing “everything they had?”

      Said the Winograd Commission:

      “After a long period of using only standoff fire power and limited ground activities, Israel initiated a large scale ground offensive, very close to the Security Council resolution imposing a cease fire. This offensive did not result in military gains and was not completed. These facts had far-reaching implications for us, as well as for our enemies, our neighbors, and our friends in the region and around the world.”

      In my Nov. 6 post, I argued that the IDF could only have achieved their strategic goals through a full scale combined arms operation, and, failing that, should have limited themselves to smaller objectives. This is echoed in the Commission report:

      “The decision made in the night of July 12th to react (to the kidnapping) with immediate and substantive military action, and to set for it ambitious goals - limited Israel's range of options. In fact, after the initial decision had been made, Israel had only two main options, each with its coherent internal logic, and its set of costs and disadvantages. The first was a short, painful, strong and unexpected blow on Hezbollah, primarily through standoff fire-power. The second option was to bring about a significant change of the reality in the South of Lebanon with a large ground operation, including a temporary occupation of the South of Lebanon and 'cleaning' it of Hezbollah military infrastructure.

      The choice between these options was within the exclusive political discretion of the government; however, the way the original decision to go to war had been made; the fact Israel went to war before it decided which option to select, and without an exit strategy ˆ all these constituted serious failures, which affected the whole war. Responsibility for these failures lay, as we had stressed in the Interim Report, on both the political and the military echelons.

      After the initial decision to use military force, and to the very end of the war, this period of 'equivocation' continued, with both the political and the military echelon not deciding between the two options: amplifying the military achievement by a broad military ground offensive, or abstaining from such a move and seeking to end the war quickly. This 'equivocation' did hurt Israel.

      Despite awareness of this fact, long weeks passed without a serious discussion of these options, and without a decision one way or the other ˆ between them.
      In addition to avoiding a decision about the trajectory of the military action, there was a very long delay in the deployment necessary for an extensive ground offensive, which was another factor limiting Israel's freedom of action and political flexibility: Till the first week of August, Israel did not prepare the military capacity to start a massive ground operation.

      As a result, Israel did not stop after its early military achievements, and was 'dragged' into a ground operation only after the political and diplomatic timetable prevented its effective completion. The responsibility for this basic failure in conducting the war lies at the doorstep of both the political and the military echelons.”

      To Repeat:

      --“After a long period of using only standoff fire power and limited ground activities, Israel initiated a large scale ground offensive, very close to the Security Council resolution imposing a cease fire. This offensive did not result in military gains and was not completed.”

      --“… to the very end of the war, this period of 'equivocation' continued”

      --“ there was a very long delay in the deployment necessary for an extensive ground offensive”

      --“ Till the first week of August, Israel did not prepare the military capacity to start a massive ground operation.”

      --“[Israel] was 'dragged' into a ground operation only after the political and diplomatic timetable prevented its effective completion.”

      As Max Boot, who has written expertly on the 2006 War and on fourth generation warfare in general, has written,

      “Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, a former mayor of Jerusalem, and his defense minister, Amir Peretz, a former trade union leader—both national security neophytes—approved a war plan presented by Halutz, the first air force general to lead the IDF. The plan initially called for fighting Hezbollah only from the air. This was reminiscent of the small wars the United States waged in the 1990s (Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Sudan), when it relied on bombs and missiles fired from afar and ran away as soon as it suffered any casualties (Somalia). The Israelis quickly discovered what the United States had learned: Airpower divorced from ground action seldom produces decisive results.

      Yet Olmert was so eager to avoid a ground war at first that he ordered only limited raids into Lebanon. These met strong resistance from Hezbollah fighters, who proved better armed and more motivated than the Arab foes that Israel had gotten used to defeating handily. Olmert was forced to call up the reserves, but it soon became apparent that their training and equipment were not up to snuff. Complaints about inadequate logistics were rampant, with many soldiers grousing that they weren’t even given enough to eat while in Lebanon.

      Partly because of delays in mobilizing reservists, but mainly because of his own caution, the prime minister did not order an all-out assault to secure all of Lebanon south of the Litani River until just 48 hours before a U.N.-brokered cease-fire took effect on August 14. The premature end of hostilities kept the IDF from wiping out Hezbollah’s terrorist army. Hundreds of rockets continued falling on northern Israel every day right up until the end…. The fact remains, for all the losses that IDF tanks and infantry suffered at the hands of Hezbollah fighters armed with sophisticated anti-tank missiles, Israeli soldiers won every tactical engagement. There is no doubt that, if given the necessary time and freedom, the IDF would have eviscerated Hezbollah.”

      So there you have it. The IDF did not throw “everything it had” at Hezbollah, and engaged with a confused, tardy and piecemeal deployment. The evidence supporting this fact is simply overwhelming, and has been copiously documented with an abundance of after action reports, evidence and testimony. The limited and brief ground war, such as it was, was interrupted and not fought to a conclusion. Not even close. There was no “victory” for either side; the fighting was at a stalemate when it was interrupted. The IDF did not destroy Hezbollah, and Hezbollah did not prevent the IDF from crossing the border, did not win a single ground engagement, and did not eject the IDF from Lebanon by force. This is a fact.
      An unchangeable, immutable, unalterable fact. Deal with it.

      Said I: “I could similarly spin the fact that Hezbollah has not attempted a similar provocation along the border as an instance of an Israeli “victory”…

      Said you: “Actually, you already did. In fact, not only was this your first line or argument, but such a talking point is standard among Israeli propagandists trying to spin the 2006 war as anything other than an Israeli defeat – and yes, it is disingenuous. If you’re going to sign on to be an Israeli shill and propagandist, it pays to remember what you’ve already posted.”

      Swell. Let’s remember. In my October 31 post I remarked,

      “For the IDF, the war unquestionably exposed failures in planning, intelligence, counterintelligence, command, mobilization, execution, and logistics. But where was this Hezbollah “victory?” Hezbollah did not “win” a single engagement they fought. They sat by helplessly while the IAF pulverized their equipment and infrastructure, lost 500 of their best fighters and were driven back in every ground engagement, fired off most of the missiles not destroyed by the IAF to negligible effect, cowardly and deliberately targeted Israeli civilians and used Lebanese civilians and civilian areas for shielding purposes, booby trapped homes, used mosques, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure for military purposes, and instigated a war that brought death and destruction to South Lebanon unlike anything seen since the Civil War. This was a victory?”

      Every word of this is true.

      In my November 6 post I elaborated in detail on what I believe were the failures and deficiencies of the IDF and, to a lesser extent, those of Hezbollah. In my November 15 post I elaborated in detail on what I believe were the failures and deficiencies of Hezbollah. I have argued all along that neither side won a victory, and that the efforts on both sides to argue otherwise is disingenuous.

      Said you: “The Winograd Commission Report stated categorically that Israel initiated the war, and as I explained previously, Israel had been marketing the war for a good 6 -12 months prior to the attack. In other words, Israel had a least a 12 month head start so in light of this, Hezbollah’s achievements are all the more remarkable.”

      First of all, you are taking this statement from the Report ludicrously out of context, and you know it.

      Said the Report, in words that will thrill your pro-Hezbollah heart:

      “11. Overall, we regard the 2nd Lebanon war as a serious missed opportunity. Israel initiated a long war, which ended without its clear military victory. A semi-military organization of a few thousand men resisted, for a few weeks, the strongest army in the Middle East, which enjoyed full air superiority and size and technology advantages.”

      The Report then continues two sections down explicitly noting that hostilities were initiated in response to the kidnapping incident:

      “13. The decision made in the night of July 12th to react (to the kidnapping) with immediate and substantive military action, and to set for it ambitious goals…”

      And if you have trouble with that, then listen to UNIFIL:

      “The situation in the UNIFIL area of operation remained tense and volatile, although it was generally quiet during most of the reporting period. This situation completely changed on 12 July, when the current hostilities broke out and the area was plunged into the most serious conflict in decades.

      The crisis started when, around 9 a.m. local time, Hizbollah launched several rockets from Lebanese territory across the withdrawal line (the so-called Blue Line) towards Israel Defense Forces (IDF) positions near the coast and in the area of the Israeli town of Zarit. In parallel, Hizbollah fighters crossed the Blue Line into Israel and attacked an IDF patrol. Hizbollah captured two IDF soldiers, killed three others and wounded two more. The captured soldiers were taken into Lebanon. Subsequent to the attack on the patrol, a heavy exchange of fire ensued across the Blue Line between Hizbollah and IDF. While the exchange of fire stretched over the entire length of the Line, it was heaviest in the areas west of Bint Jubayl and in the Shab’a farms area. Hizbollah targeted IDF positions and Israeli towns south of the Blue Line. Israel retaliated by ground, air and sea attacks.”

      http://domino.un.org/unispal.NSF/fd807e46661e3689852570d00069e918/87e2508779d8ec83852571b6004c761f

      Secondly, Halutz explicitly rejected the full scale ground deployment that would follow 48-72hrs ahead of the air assault envisaged in the contingency plans ICE BREAKER and MEY MAROM, in favor of his improvised version, which he adjusted continuously throughout the campaign. This is a matter of record.

      Said the Commission on the confusion of strategy and planning:

      “12. In the period we examined in the Final Report - from July 18, 2006, to August 14, 2006- again troubling findings were revealed, some of which had already been mentioned in the Interim Report:

      • We found serious failings and shortcomings in the decision-making processes and staff-work in the political and the military echelons and their interface.

      • We found serious failings and flaws in the quality of preparedness, decision-making and performance in the IDF high command, especially in the Army.

      • We found serious failings and flaws in the lack of strategic thinking and planning, in both the political and the military echelons.

      • We found severe failings and flaws in the defence of the civilian population and in coping with its being attacked by rockets.

      • These weaknesses resulted in part from inadequacies of preparedness and strategic and operative planning which go back long before the 2nd Lebanon war.”

      Said you: “Lastly, Israel were sent packing, so mission accomplished for Hezbollah.”

      (HOMERUN!)

      Said I: “The United States never attempted to invade and occupy Northern Vietnam, and fought a war of attrition – i.e., on terms favourable to the enemy, in the south.

      Said you: “The very nature of occupations means they are always fought on terms favourable to the enemy.

      I am not “obsessed” with body counts and the US was not occupying North Vietnam; they were deployed in the south to help the ARVN combat the VC insurgency. I agree that strategically, body counts are a misleading metric for success, especially against an enemy prepared to incur outrageous losses. Tactically, however, they are an important indicator of combat proficiency and small-unit leadership. I was discussing the NVA and VC’s poor proficiency in open combat, and the outrageous loss-exchange ratios they suffered. After Ia Drang in 1965, for example, General Giap observed that it would take several NVA regiments to counter one single American one.

      The obsession with body counts in fact was the critical mistake of Westmoreland’s search and destroy strategy: it was attrition centered. Units would be sent in to sweep out some nest of VC, wipe them out, and more VC would then come sallying down the Ho Chi Minh Trail to take their place. Westmorland’s problems were a) the Ho Chi Minh Trail, b) that he was adopting a conventional, head-on approach to an insurgency, c) that he was neglecting population security, and d) that he was neglecting the proficiency of the ARVN as a fighting force and refusing to allocate manpower and resources to improve them. All of this was a gift to the enemy.

      General Creighton Abrams, Westmorland’s replacement in 1968, took a radically different approach. Abrams, who knew the perilous state of the NVA after Tet (and the even more perilous state of the VC), was determined to capitalize on their disarray. The mauling of the VC and the NVA after Tet allowed him to direct American forces into smaller units and deploy them in tandem with ARVN units in enforcing population security, much as Petraeus was to do in 2007-2008. The security situation in the villages in 1969-1972, as in Iraq in 2007-2008, improved dramatically and the NV were forced to limit themselves to small scale harassing attacks. Abrams complemented this with successful forays into NVA sanctuaries in Cambodia, compelling the NVA to fight on the defensive to disproportionate losses in men and equipment, and once again forcing them to resume the conventional offensive in 1972 to regain the initiative, again to no success.

      “How you can suggest that the VC would have benefitted by withdrawal to fight another day is laughable. They fought right up until the last US helicopter airlifted the last passenger from the roof top of the US Embassy.”

      The first statement is utterly irrelevant to the second. Regarding the first statement, I was merely arguing that the NVA and the VC, when they fought conventional engagements, usually opted for frontal attacks and static defense, both of which wasted manpower to little effect. You have a problem with this?

      As for the second statement, the last US combat forces (3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry, and G Battery, 29th Field Artillery) had been withdrawn from South Vietnam on August 12, 1972—two months after the failure of Hanoi’s Easter Offensive and two years and eight months before the Saigon embassy was evacuated; they hardly “had their asses handed to them.” There was only a token force of Marine security left at the Saigon embassy in April 1975, and there was no combat fought between American security personnel and the NV forces during the evacuation.

      The NV forces had benefited from a generous rearming form their Soviet and Chinese benefactors in 1973-1975, and this, coupled with the absence of any American military presence in the south after 1973, along with America’s slow strangulation of aid to the South Vietnamese (courtesy of Congressional Democrats), ensured their victory over the south in 1975. 35 years has not been nearly long enough to wipe away the shame of our abandonment of the peoples of Indochina to the mass murder and genocide that would soon engulf them.

      “The IDF is a one trick pony that has come to rely entirely on high tech weaponry. The era of the Union Army are long gone. The armies of the US and Israel forces are inflexibly structured around what they perceive to be their unchallenged dominance, so those are the areas they will continue to exploit. That is why the US are rolling out planes like the F35, which is so expensive that the US will end up with fewer attack aircraft than they previously have, and that US pilots will log far fewer hours learning to fly them. The trouble is, the US and Israeli forces are still based around WWII era warfare and have failed to adapt to 4th generation warfare. No amount of self-examination will reverse Israel’s exclusive reliance on air power.”

      More brainless badmouthing of the other team. Your fantasy portrait of US and Israeli forces seduced by technology and their “unchallenged dominance” and stuck refighting WWII is so pregnant with ignorance and falsehood as to stagger belief.

      “First of all, COIN was recognized as a failure in Washington over a year ago – though never acknowledged in public. Secondly, the British were lousy at it – just ask Menachem Begin. Thirdly, if Israel were so good at it, they wouldn’t have had their asses kicked to such a degree in 2006. Mind you, if COIN was indeed the IDF strategy in 2006, it might explains why they failed so miserably.”

      Ditto. First, who, pray tell, has “recognized” this “failure?” Coalition forces in Helmand and Kandahar provinces have noted a 26% drop in enemy attacks between July and September of 2011 compared with the same period last year. Marjah, which was a virtual shooting gallery a year and a half before, and a talking point for those espousing the “failure” of COIN, has been mostly pacified, and the Marines of the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, are now in the process of handing over control of the population center to the Afghan Police and Army while the Marines pursue the remnants of Taliban in the outlying areas. In contrast to over a year ago, Marines now patrol whole stretches of land without engaging Taliban. These gains, along with those in Kandahar City, which has seen reduced levels of violence, and the Kandahar district of Arghandab, the Garmsir and Nawa districts of Helmand province, do not exactly point to a “failure” of COIN.

      COIN operations by coalition forces are playing an important part in helping to stabilize Afghanistan, but they will not do so alone. There must be a corresponding effort on the political and diplomatic fronts as well, to tackle corruption, and for coalition governments (read: USA) not to engage in precipitous troop withdrawals for the next few years until certain districts can be safely handed over to Afghan Army and Police units. Obama’s politically-motivated drawdown, not the Taliban, is putting this in peril.

      Second, the British were not performing COIN in Palestine in the mid to late 40’s. In Malaya in the 1950’s and Northern Ireland the SAS conducted model COIN operations. At Loughgal in 1988, the IRA got the first taste of what happens when their enemy beats them at their own game. From this point on the SAS out-thought, out- fought, and out-generaled the IRA, and had so infiltrated their ranks that life became unsafe for them. It was this, and not the healing hands of George Mitchell, that brought Adams and McGuinness to the negotiating table.

      And third, the IDF did not even attempt COIN in Lebanon in 2006. It was a mishmash of conventional and anti-terrorist ops, with not enough of one, and too much of the other.

      “Matt Matthews’ analysis is completely devoid of reality. While Halutz has become the scapegoat, the reality is that the IAF failed to do their job in the 72 hours they were assigned. The plans for the massive ground invasion (after 72 hours) were shelved because the IAF could not give the green light even though they claimed success. They kept insisting that they needed another 24 hours, and then another etc. When the IDF spokesmen insisted that the date for their ground invasion was a tightly guarded secret, the truth was that they themselves had no idea when it was to take place.”

      Halutz envisioned an air assault doing the job, then opted for increased standoff attacks near the border when the air assault was not doing the job. At no time before late July did Halutz even consider a sizable ground invasion. The rest of your post merely underscores the incompetence of improvised IDF planning, decision making, and deployment that I have been arguing all along

      “Siniora was exposed for having been in on the whole deal from the start. As a puppet of Washington, he gave the go ahead for the attack on Hezbollah, and thus made the decision to sacrifice the Sh’ia in Southern Lebanon.”

      Your need to absolve Hezbollah is becoming almost pathological. What has any of this to do with the fact that Hezbollah provoked this entire conflict to begin with? How does any of this, even if true, absolve them? There would have been no war but for Hezbollah and its actions. (Not even you are brazen enough to argue that the Siniora government would have perpetrated the border kidnapping, but, then again, maybe you are). First of all, what was Siniora “in” on? Secondly, Hezbollah attacks Israel, Israel retaliates, and it’s Siniora who “thus made the decision to sacrifice the Sh’ia in Southern Lebanon?” Do you know how insane this sounds?

      Said I: “Whatever was presented at this event could not have been the plan that was executed in July 2006 because the plan did not yet exist

      Said you: “Of course it did. It was widely reported that Bush and Blair were informed of Israel’s plans to attack Hezbollah well before the cross border skirmish, so the plan was not improvised at all. The response by Israel (devoid of any attempt to rescue or recover the captured IDF soldiers) was to bomb Southern Lebanon in the hopes of turning the Lebanese community against Hezbollah – a strategy that Israel had in place since 2000. That’s not an improvised strategy, but one aimed at inciting internal strife in Lebanon. Plans that involve a 72 hour bombing campaign, followed by massive ground assault take months of organization.”

      You are again mishmashing vague political and military objectives into a confusing mélange. Stay focused. The Israelis wished, to the greatest possible extent, to destroy Hezbollah’s infrastructure and weaponry, neutralize them as a military force, and force their removal north of the Litani. They also hoped that a favorable political diminishment of Hezbollah within Lebanon would follow the successful military campaign. That the IDF had contingency plans for a future conflict with Hezbollah is of course true. If you are suggesting that Israel had planned to invade Lebanon that summer absent the border skirmish, please present evidence of this.

      The military strategy, FOR THE LAST TIME, was a Halutz improvised variant of the ICE BREAKER AND MEY MAROM contingency plans. This is a matter of record. You yourself admitted that “When the IDF spokesmen insisted that the date for their ground invasion was a tightly guarded secret, the truth was that they themselves had no idea when it was to take place.” Even this, however, overlooks the fact that the most ground activity that was planned in the first week were standoff attacks, not a full scale ground invasion.

      “In Mroun al-Ras, the IDF claimed it had taken the town on July 22, and described it as it’s first foothold, but neither were true. The IDF failed to flank Hezbollah who destroyed several AV’s. The IDF managed to enter the town but never hold it. Whenever battles with similar sized deployments took place (such as Bint Jbeil), the IDF were forced to call to reinforcements, pulling in the Golani Brigade, then it’s elite paratroopers (all against one Hezbollah platoon) and still failing to take any town. Failing this, the IDF then called up 15,000 reserves.”

      The reserve call-up occurred several days before Bint J’Bail. It would seem that we are going to descend into a semantic debate about the difference between “occupy” and “secure.” No thanks. The IDF, which made no systematic attempts to occupy territory for other than raiding purposes before early August, secured perimeters both inside and outside both cities, and though sporadic gunfire continued in and around the towns, the IDF was never ejected by force, all Hezbollah counterattacks failed in their objectives, were beaten back, and the IDF were deployed in force in both towns at the time of the ceasefire. You can fantasize, bluster and prevaricate to your wits end, but it does not change this simple fact. You have not come even close to proving otherwise.

      Crook and Perry, in their second article, underscore much of my criticism of the IDF strategy and the manner of their deployment:

      “Israel's decision to launch a ground war to accomplish what its air force had failed to do was made hesitantly and haphazardly. While Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) units had been making forays into southern Lebanon during the second week of the conflict, the Israeli military leadership remained undecided over when and where - even whether - to deploy their ground units.”

      Some of their account of Maroun al-Ras is contradicted by the consensus of information garnered from interviews with IDF personnel, testimony, and after action reports. The IDF was certainly met with ferocious resistance that threw them off balance, but they did in fact eventually flank the city, and by July 25 they had already deployed units of the Golani to the northeast of Bint J’Bail, and units of the Paratrooper 101st and 890th Battalions were deployed to the south and southwest.

      That the IDF accomplished very little, if anything in both actions, goes without saying. But they secured a presence in both cities that they held to the ceasefire, though they did make a tactical withdrawal from Bint J’Bail on July 30 before reentering it in force several days later. Afterward, they were not ejected by force, and remained to the ceasefire.

      Some of Crook and Perry’s analysis is incisive and to the point, but much of it is just souped-up partisan advocacy.

      In their third article, Crook and Perry draw the following conclusion on how “Hezbollah has provided the model for the defeat of a modern army”:

      “The tactics are simple: ride out the first wave of a Western air campaign, then deploy rocket forces targeting key military and economic assets of the enemy, then ride out a second and more critical air campaign, and then prolong the conflict for an extended period. At some point, as in the case of Israel's attack on Hezbollah, the enemy will be forced to commit ground troops to accomplish what its air forces could not. It is in this last, and critical, phase that a dedicated, well-trained and well-led force can exact enormous pain on a modern military establishment and defeat it.”

      This is pretty silly. How could someone as intelligent Mark Perry sign his name to this absurdity. What we have here is a retrospective embellishment of the conflict now being represented as some master plan of action. Such “tactics” are only applicable if the enemy cooperates as the Israelis did in 2006 with a confused, half-hearted, and scattershot ground deployment of limited duration, and not a full scale combined arms assault with the clock not ticking.

      The rest of Crook and Perry’s third article is a rapturous Hymn to Hezbollah that could have been written in the Dahiya—and probably was considering that Crook is a rank apologist for militant Islam and the gangster-mullahs of Iran.

      http://motherjones.com/politics/2009/09/spy-who-loved-hamas-and-hezbollah-and-iran

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hussein-ibish-phd/alastair-crooke-the-exspy_b_914519.html

      “Let’s bear in mind that you’re so called objective analysis began with baseless statements about Hezbollah hiding among civilians and civilians populations, as well as denigrating Hezbollah for being cowards – it has since slowly morphed into your begrudging admiration for the bravery of their fighters.”

      Hezbollah is a terrorist group who, like Hamas, are prolific and cowardly human shielders. Also, many of their soldiers fought bravely and tenaciously in battle. Same could be said about the Taliban. Not much point in denying this; both are true.

      “Your level of bombast, deception and volume of your bloviating diatribes increases proportionately with your level of frustration and desperation when your arguments fail, so in spite of having to wade through the morass of your bile, I do gain some satisfaction for my patience and persistence.”

      Two things in life are infinite: the universe, and your capacity for self-congratulation.

      “You’re clearly becoming increasingly unhinged and trying every maneuver in the book to try and pretend that 2006 was no big deal. First you pointed to the sadistic and barbaric bombing of Southern Lebanon as proof of who won the war, then you changed tact to argue that the outcome was inconclusive, then you changed tact again by arguing that it wasn’t really a war anyway (ie. merely a series of small skirmishes), only to finally settle on the position that this is all academic anyway, and doesn’t mean anything.”

      Is it not interesting that each post of mine you respond to finds me more and more “unhinged” and “desperate?” Must see a doctor about that.

      That depends on what you mean by a “big deal.” It was an absolutely important conflict, with serious ramifications, but the ground engagements were on a local scale, and they lasted for but a few weeks. It was certainly not on a scale of the numerous company and battalion-sized engagements in the first civil war stage (Dec.1947-April 1948) of the 1948 War between the Haganah and Palestinian/Arab militias, or the brigade and division sized encounters of 1956, 1967, 1973, or 1982. This is a fact. Not my fault that it’s not.

      For the rest, well, what a frightful tangle of mendacity and misattribution we have here. I did not at any time assert or suggest that “the sadistic and barbaric bombing of Southern Lebanon [was] proof of who won the war”; I merely argued on Oct 31 that the war could not be argued a Hezbollah victory in light of their losses, the destruction wreaked, and other failures on their part . I did not, in this post, elaborate on the matter in detail, and did not declare the war an Israeli victory. In my November 6 post I did elaborate, and argued, from a military perspective, why I believe that both sides had grave deficiencies, made critical errors, and why the war was no victory for either side. I elaborated on this further in my November 15 post, and I did not “finally settle on the position that this is all academic anyway, and doesn’t mean anything”; I said that “all of this is of more than just academic interest. What we say here matters little, but what matters is the conclusions that are drawn from the 2006 war in the Dahiya and throughout Lebanon, Syria, and Iran.” And that is the truth.

      ***

      Tell you what. You go on dreaming your dreams of Hezbollah “victory”; it costs you nothing. Meanwhile, both Gaza and South Lebanon have been converted into defacto military fortresses by paramilitary terrorist groups wedded to lunatic ideologies of violent jihad and martyrdom. When not oppressing and torturing their subjects, the bulk of their resources and activities are almost solely dedicated to the next round of martyr-making with Israel. They are merchants of death, and nothing but. They worship it, preach it, practice it, and industriously instill it into their youth as if nothing else in the world mattered. All for jihad. Jihad, jihad, jihad. For this, they will happily convert the whole of their dominions into rubble-strewn scrap-heaps of smoke and flame again and again. I sometimes wonder how you would feel if you yourself had to actually live under the brutal jackboot of the Hezbollah or Hamas regimes in these future killing grounds, and not just observe them from the safety and comfort of your computer.

      The philosopher Plato could afford to admire Sparta because he did not have to live in it. By the same token, you and others here can afford to admire Hamas and Hezbollah from a comfortable distance because you don't have to live under them. Maybe you should.

    • What a fine picture we have here. Shingo (who “rocks”) unsheathing his sword and sallying off to slay the “lil internet wannabe warrior robert alleged/supposed lebanese,” with Annie waving her pompoms and David hooting and heckling from the bleachers. How sweet.

      Said Shingo:

      “I am arguing that that Hezbollah defeated Israel because Hezbollah achieved their strategic objectives and Israel did not. That’s how victory is defined.”

      That is how you are self-servingly defining it in this instance. You are failing to distinguish between a political/diplomatic “victory,” which is an arguable matter of perception (and propaganda), and a military victory, which is a factual, demonstrable occurrence where one belligerent in some way inflicts surrender, retreat, or a reverse on another at the tactical or strategic level. I could similarly spin the fact that Hezbollah has not attempted a similar provocation along the border as an instance of an Israeli “victory” but I think that would be disingenuous in light of the IDF’s operational failures. You, however, admit to no Hezbollah failures and, like most apologists for the terrorist group, have invented a “victory” that comports with your crude fantasies and wholesale rewriting of the historical record.

      That Hezbollah won the propaganda war throughout the ME there is no doubt; whether the Sh’ia of south Lebanon, who bore the brunt of the Hezbollah “victory” deem it so, is another matter. (I wonder how many more such “victories” they can survive and have to look forward to). In any event, I was not in my previous post, and am not here, concerned with the spin war on both sides as to who “won” the political war. I am concerned here with the military dimension of the conflict, what really happened, and why.

      Hezbollah did not win a military victory; they were granted a reprieve with a half-hearted IDF campaign that was followed by an internationally imposed ceasefire. Your hysterical, almost unhinged hero-worship of Hezbollah and your adolescent bad-mouthing of the IDF do not change this. The IDF, whatever its failures, was not ejected from Lebanon by force by Hezbollah; they left voluntarily following a ceasefire. This is a matter of record. The war ended; it was not fought to a conclusion.

      “Hezbollah’s strategic objectives were to:

      1. Resist the onslaught of Israel

      2. Prevent Israeli ground forces from establishing any foothold in Southern Lebanon

      3. Drive Israeli ground forces out of Lebanon

      Hezbollah achieved all of these spectacularly and in the wake of that war, their stature rose politically, whereas Kadima tanked.”

      (GO TEAM! RAH!)

      This first objective, in fact, was a signal failure; the IDF crossed the border in force and penetrated to many areas within, sometimes unopposed.

      The second and third were similar failures; the IDF did not do much with the territory they did occupy, but that they were there is beyond doubt, and they remained deployed in force (10-30,000+) north of the border and south of the Litani at the time of the ceasefire.

      Said I:

      “You call the end result of the war a victory for Hezbollah because they survived. But their ultimate survival, thanks to a half-hearted, confused and scattershot Israeli ground campaign, was never much in danger in the first place.”

      Said you:

      “Recycling the arguments from the Vietnam era, are we? I love the way the war-mongers like you fight to keep reality out of your analysis, such as it is. …We’ve heard all this SHITE before: whenever the U.S. comes up against a determined foe it can’t handle, like the Vietcong or (to a lesser degree) Afghani extremists, no credit is given to them.”

      This is a profoundly stupid statement that betrays your ignorance of both conflicts. The United States never attempted to invade and occupy North Vietnam, and fought a war of attrition—i.e., on terms favorable to the enemy, in the south. The VC, like Hezbollah, were able guerilla fighters well trained in the arts of defensive concealment, ambush, and human shielding. Yet, again like Hezbollah, and despite the advantages inherent in the defense, they too suffered outrageous loss exchange ratios of 10 to 1—sometimes much higher. The NVA and the VC spent nearly three years waging a guerilla war only to see the bulk of their cadres decimated. The VC and NVA specialized in hit and run and ambush; they were wholly deficient in open combat, and like Hezbollah, usually opted for static defense over maneuver, incurring high casualties to little benefit where a sensible withdrawal would have enabled them to fight another day.

      In January 1968, they opted for a conventional invasion of the south, and suffered an annihilating military defeat in which they had every advantage of numbers, proximity, and surprise, suffered wildly disproportionate losses, and were defeated in every engagement. By 1969 the VC were all but in tatters, and the NVA again took the conventional invasion route in 1972 only to be repelled by the South Vietnamese Army with the help of American air-power. Our abandonment of the South after 1973, and a generous Soviet and Chinese rearming of the North in 1973-1975, hastened their fall in 1975. The NVA won through patience, a willingness to incur outrageous losses, a flawed American strategy, and the political collapse of the American will to fight, not through combat efficiency or superiority. There is a whole body of scholarship by Guenter Lewy, Lewis Sorely, Mark Moyar, Mark Woodruff, and others that has challenged the conventional wisdom on this subject.

      Anyone who underrates the tenacity and combat efficiency of Taliban insurgents is on drugs. They are ruthless, tenacious fighters, and they exploit the advantages of time, space, inhospitable terrain, and weather to excellent effect. How this will end, no one knows.

      “After all, is it not understood that one of the reasons Israel prevailed in 1948 was because of the mistakes and deficiencies of the Arab armies?”

      Yes. But they outfought and drove back the Arab armies by force; Hezbollah did not do that to the IDF in 2006.

      “To claim a half-hearted effort of course, is to miss the following, crucial point: its not altogether clear whether Israel CAN defeat a determined and well armed opponent. But you are immune to this thinking because you assume, without foundation, that there is lurking within the IDF some sleeping giant that merely needs to be awakened.”

      You are daydreaming, and merely badmouthing the other team again, sport, not offering a serious analysis. You are, typically, exaggerating the IDF’s poor performance into some permanent disability. Armies, especially those in democracies, tend to undergo rigorous self-examination following failures or defeats, like the Union Army did after the opening battles of the Civil War, the Americans did after Kasserine Pass in 1943, and the Israelis did after October 1973. The Winograd Commission put all of the IDF’s failures under a microscope, and diagnosed them rather severely and at length. Anyone who reads the report can see that.

      If there is a next time, the IDF is unlikely to repeat the mistakes of the previous conflict and underestimate Hezbollah. They have also garnered a stock of on the ground intelligence of their bunker network, minefields and ammo stocks. They have not solved the Katyusha problem, but it seems unlikely that anyone can stop a rocket all the time, as opposed to a short range ballistic missile, any more than one can stop an artillery shell. In any event, while the rockets will wreak terror on Israel’s northern population, they are militarily insignificant. A future war will not be won or lost by Hezbollah’s rockets.

      There is simply no evidence to support your contention that the war was not a confused, half-hearted effort by the IDF. Matt Matthews, in his scathing assessment of the IDF’s performance in the 2006 war, recounts in detail how Halutz rejected the full scale ground deployment that would follow 48-72hrs ahead of the air assault envisaged in the contingency plan MEY MAROM, and opted for a more limited, piecemeal deployment that was ludicrously ineffective. He also recounts the extent to which Halutz was advised against this course of action.

      Said I:

      “Israel did not destroy Hezbollah, and Hezbollah did not eject the Israelis from South Lebanon by force; the IDF was still deployed in force south of the Litani at the time of the cease-fire some 30,000-strong. You can spin this as a Hezbollah “victory” all you want, but the truth is that it was a stalemate. You don’t win a “victory” with a ceasefire and the enemy still deployed in force on your territory.”

      Said you:

      “Yes Robert, the Israeli border is indeed South of the Litani. Ceasefires follow victory and the only Israeli forces on Lebanese territory were the IDF troops running back home having soiled themselves.”

      (Another one for the team!)

      “Claims of IDF occupying stretches of Lebanese territory were all bluff. Israeli forces barely managed to cross the border, which is why Fisk described what was supposed to be an Israeli mopping up exercise ended up being a Hezbollah one…As Robert Fisk observed, the claims of Israeli forces on occupying stretches of Southern Lebanon were utter rubbish.”

      This is nonsense. In the first place, ceasefires do not always “follow victory”; it would depend with the situation. In this case there was merely a cessation of hostilities in a low intensity ground engagement.

      Secondly, Fisk did not say what you are having him say. Here is the quote in context:

      “Israeli military authorities talked of "cleaning" and "mopping up" operations by their soldiers south of the Litani river but, to the Lebanese, it seems as if it is the Hizbollah that have been doing the "mopping up". By last night, the Israelis had not even been able to reach the dead crew of a helicopter - shot down on Saturday night - which crashed into a Lebanese valley.

      Officially, Israel has now accepted the UN ceasefire that calls for an end to all Israeli offensive military operations and Hizbollah attacks, and the Hizbollah have stated that they will abide by the ceasefire - providing no Israeli troops remain inside Lebanon. But 10,000 Israeli soldiers - the Israelis even suggest 30,000, although no one in Beirut takes that seriously - have now entered the country and every one of them is a Hizbollah target.”

      http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-as-the-6am-ceasefire-takes-effect-the-real-war-begins-411776.html

      Fisk simply did not say (or suggest) that “what was supposed to be an Israeli mopping up exercise ended up being a Hezbollah one” or that “the claims of Israeli forces on occupying stretches of Southern Lebanon were utter rubbish.” He was indulging a glib, half-sarcastic observation by local Lebanese on Israel’s misfortunes on the last day of the campaign, and he noted that the IDF still had 10-30,000 troops left in south Lebanon, though he doubted the higher figure. In any event, he did not say what you are having him say and the fact is that there was no retreat and no ejection of the IDF by force, and the IDF was still strongly deployed in south Lebanon at the time of the ceasefire.

      “Statements by the Lebanese Army can safely be dismissed, especially seeing as the US puppet Siniora was in office at the time. The Lebanese Army came out of the 2006 conflict looking grossly incompetent and impotent, not to mention, badly bruised from IDF bombing. For the second time in a decade, Hezbollah had done the job they were unable to pull off and they looked weak and irrelevant.”

      Are you kidding with this? Hezbollah was the one who got them into the whole fearful mess to begin with! I mean, are you really going to suggest that the Siniora government and Israel would have gone to war by themselves in 2006, and that Hezbollah stepped in to save the day?

      Said I: “The indecisive results of the 2006 Lebanon war show, to some extent, that the word “victory,” like “success,” is relative”

      Said you: “Seriously Robert, has no one ever told you that when you’re in a hole, you should stop digging? You keep changing the goal posts. First you start out by arguing that Hezbollah were blown away, then it was a draw, and now you’re arguing that “victory” is relative.”

      Please. Let’s finish the rest of what I said, shall we? “Politically, we are largely in the realm of interpretations and perceptions here that further argument is unlikely to resolve.” I was merely observing the fluid, partisan nature of the political debate over who “won” the war. I said that neither Hezbollah nor Israel won a victory, and that both lost from the war more than they gained. Hezbollah survived, and scored some propaganda, which must have sounded pretty hollow to the Sh’ia of South Lebanon who were left to reap the rubble-strewn consequences of the “victory.”

      Said I: “You, on the other hand, are arguing that Hezbollah inflicted a decisive defeat on Israel at both the tactical and strategic level, and that the IDF’s anemic performance in the war renders Hezbollah the equal of the IDF in conventional warfare. That is simply false.”

      Said you: “I never suggested that the Hezbollah is the equal of the IDF in conventional warfare”

      Oh? Said you to Jeffrey Blankfort on November 1: “Hezbollah clearly has Israel’s number in conventional warfare…”

      http://mondoweiss.net/2011/10/reform-jews-biennial-will-feature-ultra-right-sharansky-and-kristol.html

      “the days of conventional warfare ended decades ago. We’ve now entered the realms of 4th generation warfare, and dinosaurs like Israel and the US have failed to adapt.”

      Another incredibly ignorant statement. The US and Israel have mastered anti-terrorist and COIN operations to an extent unequaled by any other nation except the British. In fact, as Matt Matthews and others have argued, it was precisely because the IDF had been so consumed with counter-terrorist operations over the previous two decades that their conventional proficiency had declined at the time of the 2006 war.

      “The excuse of poor planning etc on the part of the IDF doesn’t hold water in any case. It was widely reported that the Israelis were giving power point presentations in Washington about the plans to attack Lebanon in January of that year. So Israel had spent probably a year planning this exercise of not longer.”

      Whatever was presented at this event could not have been the plan that was executed in July 2006 because that plan did not yet exist. The “plan” such as it was, was an improvised variant of an IDF contingency plan consisting of an air assault (code-named ICE BREAKER) to be complemented with a massive ground assault 72 hours later (code named MEY MAROM).

      Said I: “To call this a “victory” is to cheapen the word. A victory is decisive and conclusive.

      Said you: “No it isn’t, which is why we have the term “decisive victory”. Israel claimed victory in 1967, which was described as “decisive”, and yet the events of 1973 demonstrated that it was not “conclusive”.

      You are again mistaking perceived political victories for demonstrable military ones. Militarily, there is no comparison between the ’67 and ’73 wars and the 2006 war. In 1967 Israel decisively defeated three countries on the battlefield, and had conquered whole stretches of their territory at the end of hostilities. In 1973, the Israelis absorbed the Syrian and Egyptian blows, and counterattacked them back to their lines and beyond, repelling and reversing the attack in full.

      Israel’s ’67 military victory did not translate into political or diplomatic victory, but it certainly rid them of their “Auschwitz lines” and brought them some much needed space to absorb a future Arab attack. The ’73 was somewhat different in that while Israel held and beat back the Arab offensive, they had been guilty of failures of intelligence, deployment, and underestimation of the enemy that led to the initial reverses and casualties over four times that of the ’67 war. It was a close call. Bottom line: the ’67, ’73, and 2006 wars all ended with the IDF well entrenched on enemy territory; Hezbollah did not drive the IDF from Lebanon by force; the IDF left following a ceasefire.

      Said I:

      “None of their counterattacks took place at anything above a platoon level..”
      Said you:

      “Yes you keep repeating this as though it’s supposed to mean something. It apparently has never occurred to you that they stuck to platoon level counterattacks because operating smaller units played to their advantage.”

      It does mean something, and even on this scale they were completely ineffective even when they were faced with similar sized IDF deployments in the battles fought. All of the encounters of this war took place at the platoon and squad level, though there were some company sized engagements. This was, at best, war on a local scale. In fact, I’m not even sure the word “war” applies here at all. It was more like a large-scale, gradually escalated anti-terrorist operation, and while Hezbollah’s performance even on this scale was proficient in some ways, it was notably deficient in most others.

      Said I: “What would Hezbollah do if the IDF invaded with division and corps sized units? Attack them with platoon level units?”

      Said you: “Do what they did last time. Smash them and then kick them out.”
      Really zinged me there. Smash them and then kick them out—the Shingo Doctrine. Except they weren’t “kicked out.” They left.

      Said you:

      “Another thing you’re forgetting is that division and corps sized units rely heavily on securing supply routes, so who’s to say they wouldn’t be the ones being cut off?”

      Cut off with what?! Platoon and squad sized units with grenades, mortars and ATGM’s? Please.

      Said I: “none of these local counterattacks succeeded even in their in their modest objectives.

      Said you: “On the contrary. They were incredible effective, which is why Israel were intimately sent packing back to Israel, and why it was Israel that failed to achieve every one of their objectives.”

      Please cite an instance of one of these counterattacks that supposedly sent the IDF “packing back to Israel,” and the circumstances.

      “The three of you are clearly out of your Zionist minds. Hezbollah’s territorial objective was to kick Israle out of southern Lebanon, or prevent them from securing territory. Ding dong, Hezbollah succeeded.”

      (TOUCHDOWN!)

      “Hezbollah are a small militia with limited resources. If they didn’t allocate reserve positions for mobile defenses it’s likely because they didn’t have reserves to throw around or they didn’t need them. The philosophy of fighting and dying where they stood may seem flawed, but again, this plays to the advantage of these fighters.”

      Huh? How does fighting and dying in place play to your advantage when you can conduct a gradual, fighting withdrawal that allows you to both bleed the enemy and fight another day? Also, this tactical approach would have enabled them to regroup and concentrate sizable reserves to launch effective counterattacks on the IDF when their supply lines got too thin from advancing. The narrow, built up urban areas and forested rural terrain of South Lebanon would have been ideal for this approach. As Frederick the Great once said, “He who defends everything, defends nothing.”

      “Biddle and Friedman are a bunch of clowns. They are so obsessed with outmoded and outdated forms of battle that they missed the elephant in the room with IDF DEFEAT written all over it.”

      (Take THAT, Biddle and Freidman!)

      Biddle and Freidman’s study of Hezbollah tactics in the 2006 war is studied in staff colleges around the world, and is one of the most detailed studies of Hezbollah’s tactics that we have. The study is not concerned with who “won” the war; it is a copiously documented, thoroughly objective analysis. They examine Hezbollah strategy and tactics and conclude that Hezbollah adopted a hybrid approach partaking of both conventional and insurgent models, evaluates their performance in battle, and their application to future conflicts with non-state actors like Hezbollah, Hamas, and Al-Queda. Obviously, obsessed as you are with your Hezbollah “victory,” you missed that.

      And btw, Anthony Cordesman (whom Norm Finkelstein called a "war whore" for his defense of the IDF in Gaza in 2009) did not focus on Hezbollah tactics in his preliminary study or his book on the 2006 war. He, like Matt Matthews, addressed the IDF's political, and military failures and does not differ significantly from either Matthews or Biddle and Freidman.

      Said you: “And you’re here to tell me that Biddle and Friedman plagiarized all their talking points from you?”

      So I cite my sources and paraphrase from them and this is equal to your serial plagiarizing from Franklin Lamb, Alan Hart, Abu Sitta and God knows who else? Please.

      Said you: "So please stop lionizing the IDF's prowess"

      I'll wager that anyone who reads my November 6 post on the IDf's performance in the war would see that I did no such thing and that compared to your partisan cheerleading, it at least tried to be objective.

      http://mondoweiss.net/2011/10/reform-jews-biennial-will-feature-ultra-right-sharansky-and-kristol.html

      Your argument, such as it is, really boils down to this: Hezbollah won a “victory” because the IDF is a “pathetic excuse for a military,” are “Dough Boys [who] are accustomed to witnessing success at the flick of a switch of press of a button,” who are “pampered and limp wrested,” who “ran screaming back to their mommy’s and refused to even hold their posts for more than 24 hours without being relived of duty,” who “[ran] back home having soiled themselves…sobbing as they went,” and whose “bashing of defenseless Palestinians” has made them “soft and weak.”

      Furthermore, Hezbollah “kicked the shit out of the Israeli forces,” who were “simply defeated by a tougher, smarter and more determined enemy,” and who were “too Westernized and thus soft,” who “play video games and surf on the net more than they drill,” and who thus “got their asses handed to them in 2006.”

      Other than expressing your unhinged hero-worship of Hezbollah and your bottomless hatred of Israel and the IDF, your post, which gives the cynical veneer of a debunking, conceals a morass of mendacity, irrelevancies, and non-responses. You have mastered the genre of the pseudo-response, and are a practitioner of what I call the Commissar version of history. It is the history where people and events are erased from pictures and history and other people and events are inserted and embellished to emphasize some crude ideology or political agenda. The Soviets excelled in this. Stalin had numerous old comrades of his purged and literally erased from countless photographs and books as if they never existed, and Soviet students were taught, for example, that at Trafalgar in 1805 Admiral Horatio Nelson stole his strategy from some obscure Russian admiral named Ushakov, that there apparently was no battle of Waterloo in 1815 since Napoleon was defeated by Russia in 1812 and 1813, and that inventions like the telephone, the automobile, the tank, and the airplane all originated in Russia. Your hysterical rewrites of 1948, 1967, the Liberty attack, 2006 et al, are all in this ignoble tradition.

      The truth of what happened and why in 2006 matters. As I have said before, all of this is of more than just academic interest. What we say here matters little, but what matters is the conclusions that are drawn from the 2006 war in the Dahiya and throughout Lebanon, Syria, and Iran. I fear that the rosy and exaggerated views expressed by you and others on Hezbollah’s “victory” are more widely held and will translate into a contempt for perceived Israeli weakness, and will make a future Iran/Hezbollah provocation more, rather than less likely, though there is reason to believe that Nasrallah is not so foolish to believe his own propaganda. Next time, the war will be for real. Of course this whole danger could disappear overnight if Hezbollah would disarm and behave like any other political party, abandon their violent Jihad against Israel, and for Lebanon and Israel to go on living in peace beside one another. But this seems as remote as ever.

    • "When Israelis kill in large numbers, it is either entirely justifiable or inadvertent or excusable or accidental. When Arabs kill in smaller numbers, it is a racist attempt at genocide of a noble people, borne of jealousy and hate."

      Annie, I have never even remotely expressed anything this ludicrous. I believe that the Arab-Israeli conflict and every death that has resulted from it is a tragedy. Every civilian death in any war is a tragedy, but not every tragic civilian death is a war crime. David frequently tells me that intent is inferred from the circumstances, but every time I get into the circumstances of a contentious issue, he just calls me names. Which is fine, but then why engage me in the first place?

      Both sides have been guilty of atrocities at times, but each case where this is alleged must be evaluated on the facts. That is what I believe. I also believe that there are many instances where the Israelis have been unjustly accused of deliberate attacks and war crimes (USS Liberty, Qana), and I have always tried to argue these instances factually. If I have failed, then the fault is mine.

      My post, btw, merely addressed the military aspects of the 2006 war, which Shingo and I have been debating for the last few weeks. I believe the 2006 war was a catastrophe for all concerned, and I am concerned that all this talk that I frequently hear about the Hezbollah "victory" is more widely shared throughout the ME and will tempt Hezbollah and their backers into starting a rematch. Israel and Lebanon are two nations that, but for Hezbollah, have no cause for quarrel. Let it remain so.

      (I can already see you rolling your eyes and dismissing me with the wave of your hand upon reading this)

    • Thanks, David, for the usual ankle-biting jabs, cheap shots, and ad-hominem slander. I can just never get enough of them.

    • Shingo,

      In this back and forth over whether Hezbollah “won” the 2006 war, it really comes down to this: you are arguing that Hezbollah defeated Israel because Israel failed to destroy them; hence, Hezbollah “won.” I believe Hezbollah’s survival and the IDF’s failure to destroy Hezbollah as a military force was due more to the IDF’s own mistakes and deficiencies, rather than anything to do with the military performance of Hezbollah, though I don’t downplay the ferocity of the resistance they offered the IDF and the steep challenges that the IDF faced in confronting them. There was also, to a lesser extent, the international situation that was not going to remain silent and idle indefinitely while the Israelis ravaged Hezbollah in south Lebanon with a free hand.

      In determining whether either side won a victory in the 2006 war, I distinguish carefully between where one belligerent inflicts a decisive defeat on another on the one hand, and the failure of one belligerent to achieve its strategic goals against another belligerent for reasons unrelated to decisive victory or defeat, on the other. You call the end result of the war a victory for Hezbollah because they survived. But their ultimate survival, thanks to a half-hearted, confused and scattershot Israeli ground campaign, was never much in danger in the first place. To call this a “victory” is to cheapen the word. A victory is decisive and conclusive. This was not a victory for Hezbollah; it was a reprieve. The war was indecisive, and was not fought to a conclusion. Israel did not destroy Hezbollah, and Hezbollah did not eject the Israelis from South Lebanon by force; the IDF was still deployed in force south of the Litani at the time of the cease-fire some 30,000-strong. You can spin this as a Hezbollah “victory” all you want, but the truth is that it was a stalemate. You don’t win a “victory” with a ceasefire and the enemy still deployed in force on your territory, and occupying stretches of it.

      As Lt Colonel Hany T. Nakhleh of the Lebanese Army wrote:

      “At the cessation of hostilities, both sides, Israel and Hizbollah, declared victory. This was perplexing. As UN Deputy Secretary General, Mark Malloch Brown, remarked during the fourth week of fighting, this was an "odd war" in which "both sides think they're winning." It was not easy to decide who was the victor and who was the vanquished. Analysts, who wrote about the war, come up with different views depending on their backgrounds and opinions. In fact, one could argue that each side has achieved some successes and some failures.”

      (“THE 2006 ISRAELI WAR ON LEBANON: ANALYSIS AND STRATEGIC IMPLICATIONS,” BY LIEUTENANT COLONEL HANY T. NAKHLEH
      Lebanese Army, 2007)

      This is probably the most accurate statement on the 2006 war I have ever read.

      The indecisive results of the 2006 Lebanon war show, to some extent, that the word “victory,” like “success,” is relative; it can mean whatever you want it to mean. Politically, we are largely in the realm of interpretations and perceptions here that further argument is unlikely to resolve. But one thing can be stated with certainty: I believe the Israeli failure was rooted doctrinally within the IDF, its manner of deployment, its tactics and its strategy (such as it was). I also believe that Hezbollah gave a good account of itself in close quarter fighting, and proved itself a determined and redoubtable opponent. You, on the other hand, are arguing that Hezbollah inflicted a decisive defeat on Israel at both the tactical and strategic level, and that the IDF’s anemic performance in the war renders Hezbollah the equal of the IDF in conventional warfare. That is simply false.

      Militarily, I believe that Israel failed to achieve the objectives it set for a variety of reasons at both the tactical and strategic level. Bad or inapt tactics can usually be redeemed by a sound strategy, but in this instance a bad strategy was made worse by inapt tactics, and a lumbering, confused, and piecemeal deployment. As I said before, the war unquestionably exposed failures in planning, intelligence, counterintelligence, command, mobilization, execution, and logistics. The Israelis wished, to the greatest possible extent, to destroy Hezbollah’s infrastructure and weaponry, neutralize them as a military force, and force their removal north of the Litani. They also hoped that a favorable political diminishment of Hezbollah within Lebanon would follow the successful military campaign. None of these objectives were achieved, but this failure does not a “victory” for Hezbollah make.

      Militarily, there are victories at both the tactical/operational level (battles), and the strategic level (wars). But there is a qualitative difference between winning a victory and being saved from defeat in battle or war. It is the difference between a propaganda victory and an actual one. On the tactical level, when the Romans attacked the Carthaginians at Cannae in 216 b.c. and Hannibal maneuvered them into encirclement and surrender, that was a Carthaginian victory. When Wellington’s Foot Guards withstood the advance of Napoleon’s Old Guard at Waterloo in 1815, and then routed them from the field, that was a British/Allied victory. When the Germans attacked the city of Stalingrad in 1942, were stopped on the banks of the Volga, were surrounded, and forced to surrender, that was a Soviet victory.

      When Japan attacked the US and was bombed and driven back from island to island to surrender, that was a strategic American victory. Saddam did not win a “victory” by surviving the Iran-Iraq war or the Gulf War; he was permitted to survive, by mutual exhaustion of both belligerents (and Iran’s fear of US intervention) in the former, and by American folly and weakness in the latter. Hezbollah, like Saddam, was permitted to survive by an inconclusive war the cessation of hostilities.

      As Michael Young has written:

      “So perhaps a victory it is, but in that case Hezbollah's victory is no different than most other Arab victories in recent decades: the "victory" of October 1973, where Egypt and Syria managed to cross into Israeli-held land, their land, only to be later saved from a thrashing by timely United Nations intervention; the "victory" of 1982, where Palestinian groups were ultimately expelled from West Beirut, but were proud to have stayed in the fight for three months; the Iraqi "victory" of 1991, where Saddam Hussein brought disaster on his country but still held on to power. Now we have the Hezbollah "victory" of 2006: the Israelis bumbled and blundered, but still managed to create a million refugees, to kill over 1,000 people, and to kick Lebanon's economy back several years. One dreads to imagine what Hezbollah would recognize as a military loss.”

      http://reason.com/archives/2006/08/24/hoodwinked-by-hezbollah

      You undoubtedly think I am saying this only out of my contempt for Hezbollah as a terrorist group. I am not. I am looking at their performance as a military organization, and frankly, it leaves much to be desired. In my previous post, I detailed what I believe were Israel’s failures and deficiencies. Here I focus on Hezbollah.

      On the tactical level, they showed absolutely no proficiency for large scale maneuver. None of their counterattacks took place at anything above a platoon level, and though they did show some ability to coordinate these squad and platoon level attacks into main and secondary efforts with supporting indirect fire, none of these local counterattacks succeeded even in their in their modest objectives. Said Biddle and Freidman of Hezbollah counterattacks:

      “Not all of these, however, can be distinguished unambiguously from confused movement toward undetected Israeli positions, ambush attempts, or other actions that may not have involved the intention to regain lost ground. None of these actions, moreover, was at anything larger than platoon scale, and none succeeded in securing its territorial objective. But the engagements noted above were all unambiguous, deliberate attempts to close with Israeli defenders in positions recently taken by the IDF in ways that imply an intent to regain lost ground.” (Biddle and Friedman, p.p. 40-41)

      What would Hezbollah do if the IDF invaded with division and corps sized units? Attack them with platoon level units?

      As I said before, at Maroun al-Ras and Bint J’Bail Hezbollah militants made excellent use of direct and indirect small arms and anti-tank fire from concealed positions, and they worked their elaborate tunnel system to excellent effect, hitting the IDF advance guard from multiple emplacements, and thoroughly disorienting their attackers. Their fire control was excellent and well coordinated. Yet, instead of adopting a mobile defense that would enable them to inflict punishment on the attackers, withdraw, and regroup to do so again, Hezbollah opted for a largely static defense. Though there were some exceptions, Hezbollah strategy, such as it was, seems to have been seized by a fortress mentality and the firm holding of ground. The border villages were all fortified, and well stockpiled with supplies and ammo to this effect. What Hezbollah was to do when these village strongholds were surrounded and cut off as they inevitably would be in a full scale Israeli ground assault, was unclear. They did not allocate reserve positions for mobile defense; every man was to fight and die where he stood. No one, whatever they may think of Hezbollah, can possibly withhold admiration for the steadfastness with which their soldiers held their positions, and fought to the death.

      From a command perspective, however, this was not only unimaginative and tactically pointless, but betrays the brutal, cold-blooded contempt for life that is the chief identifying mark of this terrorist group. Nothing is more contemptible than commanders or higher-ups who hold the lives of their soldiers cheaply. Commanders like Hannibal, Stonewall Jackson, and Rommel, who won battles with their brains instead of the lives of their men, would have shaken their heads at such profligacy. Militarily, Biddle and Friedman note the unwisdom of this unflexible defense:

      “If their intent were merely to coerce Israel through the killing of IDF soldiers, they could have done so at much more advantageous loss-exchange ratios (and hence have continued such attrition longer, and killed more Israelis with the forces available to them) if they had not accepted decisive engagement by holding positions for so long, or if they had not attempted counterattacks, or if they had persuaded civilians to remain under lower intensity combat and intermingled their fighters with the population.”

      The Hezbollah strategy of holding (and dying) in place and fighting to the last man, resembled nothing so much as what the Japanese did at Iwo Jima, Okinawa and many other Pacific island battles. Yet, instead of maneuvering division and corps sized mobile units around urban strongpoints such as Maroun al-Ras and Bint J’Bail, surrounding them, and reducing them bit by bit, the IDF, following Halutz’s “raiding” strategy, engaged them frontally with company and battalion sized units that played to the defender’s strengths of urban ambush and defensive concealment, just like the Germans did at Stalingrad. Yet, despite even these advantages, Hezbollah casualties, like those of the Japanese in the Pacific, were often more than several times that of their attackers.

      In the Winter War of 1939-1940, when the Russians invaded Finland, they outnumbered the Finns by 3 to 1 (40 to 1 in population). Skillfully exploiting weather and terrain, the Finns conducted a model mobile defense. In the battle of Suomussalmi, an understrength Finnish division under General Hjalmar Siilasvuo surrounded one Russian division and cut another one to pieces. Though the ultimate end result of a conflict between a nation of 170 million and one of 4 million was never in doubt, the Finns, at the end of the 3-month conflict, inflicted about a 10 to 1 kill ratio upon their attackers.

      Said Biddle and Friedman on other Hezbollah deficiencies:

      On barrier defenses:

      --“Some minefields south of the Litani were organized to canalize IDF vehicles into open ground within range and in view of ATGM positions north of the river. Yet the most extensive Hezbollah minefields could readily be bypassed, and Israeli combat engineers encountered relatively few integrated barrier defenses requiring deliberate combat clearance under fire. Booby traps were common, especially in and around abandoned
      houses, but little of the actual combat action took place through defended barrier systems, and massed indirect fires on assault forces in breaching operations were infrequent.”

      On defensive posture:

      --“Much of the Hezbollah defense was static; reserve movements were very small scale;
      Hezbollah commanders rarely succeeded in adapting to changing conditions quickly or responsively; and Hezbollah’s limited freedom to maneuver under Israeli air supremacy made any large-scale integration for mobile defense at the theater level impossible even
      if Hezbollah would have attempted this otherwise.”

      On formation maneuver:

      --“In particular, Hezbollah demonstrated no ability to control or coordinate the maneuver of large formations. Counterattacks, for example, never exceeded platoon strength, and many were considerably smaller, with individual maneuver elements sometimes as small as 3-5 soldiers; deliberate retrograde movements were normally limited to handfuls of combatants at a time; small detachments often fought isolated actions; and whereas perhaps 60-100 commandos were moved over great distances, no large reserve was withheld or maneuvered to counterconcentrate against IDF movements, and movements of Hezbollah forces within their forward defenses were small-scale and over short distances.”

      On combined arms cooperation:

      --“Hezbollah demonstrated only limited combined arms cooperation. They frequently used ATGMs in concert with small arms and heavy machine guns in direct fire, and they made significant use of mortars—but rarely were direct and indirect fires combined
      against single targets or in single engagement areas.And Hezbollah showed no ability to orchestrate mines, obstacles, direct and indirect fire in a single, synchronized defense, or to do so over any extended defensive front.”

      On flexibility:

      --“Few Hezbollah units showed much apparent ability to react to changing conditions. Counterattackers taken under surprise fire from previously concealed IDF positions away from the assault objective, for example, often halted and fell back in disorder rather than
      reorienting to the new threat, redirecting suppressive fire, and continuing the advance. Where Hezbollah organized linear defenses these were often flanked by Israeli attackers; the defenders, however, typically either fought on in the same positions or simply withdrew, rather than forming a new front to meet the assault.”

      On counterintelligence:

      --“Although Hezbollah made apparent attempts to monitor Israeli communications networks, some of which (such as medical evacuation nets) operated in the clear, there is no evidence they were able to exploit any information gained.”

      The authors conclude:

      “Hezbollah did some things well, such as its use of cover and concealment, its preparation of fighting positions, its fire discipline and mortar marksmanship, and its coordination of direct fire support. But it also fell far short of contemporary Western standards in controlling large-scale maneuver, integrating movement and indirect fire support, combining multiple combat arms, reacting flexibly to changing conditions, and small-arms marksmanship. Hezbollah appears to have attempted a remarkably conventional system of tactics and theater operational art, but there is a difference between trying and achieving, and in 2006 at least, Hezbollah’s reach in some ways exceeded its grasp.”

      Hezbollah does not lack for brave soldiers who fight to the death to defend their homeland, and small unit commanders who show much resourcefulness and ingenuity in urban warfare. But an inflexible, static defense, failure to integrate barrier defenses, failure to maneuver formations above a platoon level, failure at combined arms cooperation, failure to react to changing conditions, and loss-exchange ratios of four or five to one. How does any of this reflect favorably on Hezbollah as a conventional military organization?

      Said you in previous posts:

      Said you:

      “The Pentagon’s J-8 Directorate for Force Structure Resources and Assessment, which among other duties conducts analysis, assessments, and evaluates strategies for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and some special American friends, agrees with Israeli military planners and Hezbollah on at least one subject– The next Hezbollah-Israel war will not see Israel using many ground forces outside of armored personnel carriers once they enter Lebanon. The reason is that all three agree with the Pentagon’s J-8 Directorates’ opinion that based on previous battlefield performance, it will likely require 5 Israeli soldiers to offset one Hezbollah defender’s battlefield acumen.”

      It’s funny, Franklin Lamb, in an October 8, 2010 article published in Foreign Policy Journal also wrote,

      “Despite Barak’s instructions, the Pentagon’s J-8 Directorate for Force Structure Resources and Assessment, which among other duties conducts analysis, assessments, and evaluates strategies for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and some special American friends agree with Israeli military planners and Hezbollah on at least one subject: The next Hezbollah-Israel war will not see Israel using many ground forces outside of armored personnel carriers once they enter Lebanon. The reason is that all three agree with the Pentagon’s J-8 Directorates opinion that based on previous battlefield performance, it will likely require 5 Israeli soldiers to offset one Hezbollah defender’s battlefield acumen.”

      http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2010/10/08/the-four-conflicts-bracing-for-israels-next-attack-on-lebanon/3/

      Either this is another example of your “sloppiness,” or Lamb must have plagiarized that from you.

      In any event, this is rather puzzling considering that Hezbollah suffered such high exchange loss ratios while on the tactical defensive.

      Said you:

      “the Hezbollah forces routing of the Israeli “elite” Golani, Egoz and Magland Brigades at Maron al Ras on the Lebanese-Palestine border between July 25-30, 2006.”

      There was a fierce battle, but no “routing.” What, pray tell, were the circumstances of this “routing,” and where were the IDF brigades “routed” to? The bulk of the fighting took place between July 18-22 in and around the village, and though sniping from outside the village continued for some days afterward, the Israelis secured the village and held it until the August 14 cease-fire.

      “The Battle of Bint Jbeil which Dan Halutz called Israel’s planned “Web of Steel’, was expected to take less than 48 hours to defeat Hezbollah forces starting on July 24. By July 30, the much battered Golani forces withdrew and the Israeli air force renewed indiscriminate aerial bombardment.”

      No question A and C companies from the Golani got their noses bloodied, but the IDF withdrew only to reenter several days later, and they had the town secured by the time of the cease-fire, though sniping around the village continued.

      “In Aita al-Shaab, Israel lost 26 soldiers and more than 100 severely injured without gaining an inch of territory.”

      “Gaining” territory was not the objective, and IDF losses were 13 dead, and 50 wounded.

      Said an IDF commander:

      “The idea, a senior officer said, was to stay in the village for up to 24 hours, to kill as many Hizbullah gunmen as possible and then to move on to the next village with the ultimate goal of pushing the Hizbullah as far north as deemed necessary even beyond the Litani. A total of five brigades were operating in the region, and heavy gunfights involving light machine guns and rockets were reported.”

      http://www.jpost.com/LandedPages/PrintArticle.aspx?id=30171

      Like I said before, Hezbollah defenders showed they were prepared to extract a steep price for the loss of real estate to their attackers, but once they lost it they allocated no resources and had no plan of action to retake it. Having no defense in depth from which to counter-concentrate and regroup, their cadres simply fought in place until overwhelmed, and their counterattacks floundered and squandered lives to no effect or benefit. The IDF, in the course of its meandering and unfocused campaign, hit Hezbollah not where they were weakest, but where they were strongest. Hezbollah were saved first and foremost by an Israeli strategy that was confused, inadequately resourced, and incompetently executed, and lastly by the weight of international pressure to end the conflict and effect an Israeli withdrawal.

    • This is correct. Actually, F-86 Sabre pilots found that the MiG-15 had marginally greater maneuverability, a greater rate of climb, and a higher service ceiling. The MiG, however, was slower, was unstable at high speeds, had a tendency to lose control in sharp right turns, and had a poor gunsight. Also, the American pilots all wore G-suits; the Communist pilots did not. Many of their pilots undoubtedly blacked out in dogfights at over 600mph. The F-86 was faster, rock stable at high speeds, and better armed.

    • Walid,

      Your talk of 100,000 trained soldiers waiting to cross the border seems exaggerated. Where does this figure and the 50,000 missiles come from?

      In any event, this kind of talk is extremely troubling. Hezbollah did not win a "victory" in the last war. They unquestionably performed well on the defensive in the urban areas and proved themselves fearsome in close quarter combat, but Hezbollah is, at best, a substandard conventional military force with serious deficiencies, not to mention a total disregard for civilians and some bad human-shielding habits. The IDF ground campaign was half-hearted and disorganized, and this played into the hands of Hezbollah.

      This is of more than just academic interest. What we say here matters little, but what matters is the conclusions that are drawn from the 2006 war in the Dahiya and throughout Lebanon, Syria, and Iran. I fear that the rosy and exaggerated views expressed by you and others on Hezbollah's "victory" are more widely held and will translate into a contempt for perceived Israeli weakness, and will make a future Iran/Hezbollah provocation more, rather than less likely. Next time, the war will be for real.

      The men in the Dahiya are not fools. I believe that Nasrallah, in his heart of hearts, knows this to be untrue, whatever his propaganda. I believe he knows that another war will be calamity for both Lebanon and Hezbollah, which accounts for his inactivity on the border for the last 5 years. But you never know. Victories, both real and perceived, tend to intoxicate and corrupt, not sober those who win or claim them.

    • Shingo,

      Said you:

      “On the contrary. The Migs were always superior to US counterparts. Friends I had in the US air force told me that the first thing they were told was that if they ever came face to face with a Mig in air to air combat, to “get the fuck out of there”.

      This is utterly laughable. In the Korean War, American F-86 Sabres worked up a kill ratio of more than 10 to 1 against Soviet MiG-15’s, and 17 to 1 in the last 7 months of the conflict.

      In Vietnam, USAF F-4 Phantoms and F-105 Thunderchiefs scored a 3 to 1 kill ratio against Soviet MiG-17 and MiG-21’s, and the US Navy, while scoring a 3.7 to 1 ratio between 1964-1968, scored 12.5 to 1 in the 1969-1972 period as a result of the establishment of the Top Gun fighter academy in 1968.

      In the Yom Kippur War of 1973, the Israelis, using F-4 Phantoms and French Mirage IIIC’s (and American Sidewinder and Sparrow AAM’s), worked up a kill ratio of 22 to 1 against Soviet MiG-19 and MiG-21’s.

      On June 27, 1979, 6 Israeli-piloted American F-15 Eagles met 8 Syrian MiG-19’s in the skies over Lebanon and sent 6 of them spiraling to the ground without losing a plane, and in 1982 Israeli piloted American F-15 Eagles and F-16 Falcons scored 0 to 85 against Syrian piloted Soviet MiG-21 and MiG-23’s over the Bekaa Valley.

      On August 19, 1981, two Libyan piloted Soviet Sukhoi SU-22’s suicidally fired on two US Navy F-14 Tomcats in international waters and were splashed to sea within seconds, and on January 4, 1989 two Navy Tomcats similarly dispatched another two Libyan-piloted Soviet MiG-23’s to the bottom of the Gulf of Sidra.

      Soviet airborne communications and radars were distinctly inferior, were narrow in scope, and were easily jammed. Soviet infrared AA-2 Atoll AA-8 Aphid air-to-air missiles, which could only be fired within a narrow frame behind an enemy’s tail, were no match for American radar-guided Sparrow, Sidewinder, and Phoenix missiles, which could be fired from any position or angle—the Phoenix from 126 miles distance. The Israeli Python III model heat-seeker was even superior to the American Sidewinder, and had greater turning ability

      I agree the S-300's are nothing to sneeze at, and the alarm of the IAF was understandable. But how they would fare against American B-2, F-22, and F-35 stealth aircraft is questionable. I read in Jane's a few years ago that the IAF conducted computer simulations that indicated the extent to which the F-35's outperformed the S-300's.

    • Walid,

      I am not a Jew, and I don't "root" for anyone. I hardly consider it a fault of mine that I do not "root" for a terrorist organization that has been and is currently terrorizing and oppressing Lebanon into a gangster state, and has brought nothing but misery and suffering with its senseless war on Israel.

    • DBG,

      The Syrians are armed with exclusively Soviet made SAM's from the 1960's and 1970's (SAM-2,3,5,6,8, 10, and 11's). In June 1982 the IAF destroyed the entire network of SAM-2, SAM-3, and SAM-6's that the Syrians had deployed in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon in 2 days, and, with American F-15 and F-16 fighters, shot down 85 Syrian piloted MiG's without losing a single plane. These SAM-2,3, and 6's comprise over two-thirds of Syrias current air-defense arsenal. I hope there is not another war, but if there is, this does not bode well for the Syrians in a future air clash the Israelis.

      Throughout the cold war American air hardware and tactics were found to be demonstraby superior to that of the Soviets. This is even more pronounced today. The Israelis and the Americans have made great strides in air-defense technology, while others have stood still. The Israelis, however, still have yet to solve their Hezbollah Katyusha problem.

    • This report has not been debunked; it has been disputed. That is all. The weight of evidence indicates that Iran is almost certainly working to develop a nuclear weapon.

      Said the IAEA report:

      “While the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material at the nuclear facilities and LOFs declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement, as Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation, including by not implementing its Additional Protocol, the Agency is unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.

      The Agency has serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme. After assessing carefully and critically the extensive information available to it, the Agency finds the information to be, overall, credible. The information indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device. The information also indicates that prior to the end of 2003, these activities took place under a structured programme, and that some activities may still be
      ongoing.”

      The IAEA has determined that Danilenko, his denials to the contrary, has considerable proficiency in specific nuclear weapons subjects. Also, it should not be forgotten that the Iranians have wide and diverse apparatus of private and governmental civilian organizations and companies that front for their nuclear program. The notion that Danilenko is doing purely civilian related work in Iran strains credulity, and is further undermined by the AP report.

      Under “Possible Military Dimensions” the IAEA report read:

      “The Board of Governors has called on Iran on a number of occasions to engage with the Agency on the resolution of all outstanding issues in order to exclude the existence of possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme. Since August 2008, Iran has not engaged with the Agency in any substantive way on this matter.

      The information which serves as the basis for the Agency’s analysis and concerns, as identified in the Annex, is assessed by the Agency to be, overall, credible. The information comes from a wide variety of independent sources, including from a number of Member States, from the Agency’s own efforts and from information provided by Iran itself. It is consistent in terms of technical content, individuals and organizations involved, and time frames.

      The information indicates that Iran has carried out the following activities that are relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device:

      Efforts, some successful, to procure nuclear related and dual use equipment and materials by military related individuals and entities (Annex, Sections C.1 and C.2);

      Efforts to develop undeclared pathways for the production of nuclear material (Annex,
      Section C.3);

      The acquisition of nuclear weapons development information and documentation from a clandestine nuclear supply network (Annex, Section C.4); and

      Work on the development of an indigenous design of a nuclear weapon including the testing of components (Annex, Sections C.5–C.12).

      While some of the activities identified in the Annex have civilian as well as military applications, others are specific to nuclear weapons.

      The information indicates that prior to the end of 2003 the above activities took place under a structured programme. There are also indications that some activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device continued after 2003, and that some may still be ongoing.”

      The Iranians have also denied the inspectors access to the heavy water plant at the Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) to take samples, and continues uranium enrichment related activities at both the UCF and the Fuel Manufacturing Plant, in defiance of their obligations.

      The weight of extensively corroborated evidence and testimony in the report coupled with the Iranians’ non-cooperation on key issues of disclosure do absolutely nothing to indicate that this is a peaceful nuclear program. What is perhaps most alarming is that the IAEA, in contrast to their withering skepticism over evidence of Saddam’s program in 2003, is now leading the charge on their conclusions about Iran’s. If people here want to argue that the report is not a smoking gun, fine; but let us please dispense with this nonsense that the report has been “debunked.”

    • "Israel got their asses handed to them by a better side, not because of restraint."

      Spoken like a true sports fan defending his team.

  • Gorenberg says a one-state solution would produce another Lebanon
    • "de-Zionized?"

      "the forced removal...of every Jewish settlement on the other side of the Green Line?"

      "and here’s a good use for NATO?"

      Nice chap, this Jeffrey.

  • Fact Check!: DePaul students disrupt 'Israel 101'; Northwestern students walk out on Israel propagandist
    • I would like to ask an honest, non-rhetorical question. Will someone please explain to me what, specifically, is a Nabka denier? I need to know if I qualify. Also, how does Nabka denial compare with Holocaust denial? Is it the same thing?

      Somebody? Anybody?

  • How to avoid war with Iran
    • Matthew Taylor,

      Said you:

      “Elided from mainstream media coverage, the root cause of the current standoff with Iran is the 1953 U.S.-orchestrated overthrow of Iran's democratically-elected government and its Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadegh. This led to decades of U.S.-backed oppression under the Shah's brutal dictatorship.”

      I have addressed this before. The notion that America, by overthrowing Mossadeq in 1953, snatched democracy from Iran, is a fairy tale.

      However, I realize that the America-stole-democracy-from-Iran thesis is an article of faith on the left, and has even seeped into the mainstream somewhat. The Carter, Clinton, and Obama Administrations seem to have accepted it without question. Said Madeleine Albright:

      “The Eisenhower administration believed its actions were justified for strategic reasons. ... But the coup was clearly a setback for Iran's political development. And it is easy to see now why many Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America in their internal affairs.”

      And President Obama:

      “This issue has been a source of tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is indeed a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government.”

      In fact, Mossadeq’s Iran at the time was a cauldron of anarchy, chaos, and double-dealing, and was moving fast toward a pro-Soviet coup and/or dictatorship, not democracy.

      Mossadeq had by this time gone a long way toward alienating his former allies and supporters by his vote rigging, his Byzantine attempts to maneuver the Shah aside and gather the Shah’s power unto himself, and his extra-constitutional attempts to grab power away from the Majlis, the Iranian parliament.

      First Mossadeq had sought to empower the Majlis by weakening the Shah. He insisted the Shah reign as a figurehead, and not as executive ruler. He sought control of the army, and, in July 1952, he manufactured a dispute with the Shah over the appointment of the war minister. He then upped the ante, and now demanded the Shah appoint him as war minister, and, when this was refused, resigned to much fanfare and popular support.

      The National Front, a loose coalition of liberal-progressive parties, now threw its support behind Mossadeq, as he had expected, and the streets of Tehran were convulsed with street protests where some 69 people died and some 750 injured, though the Shah held back the police and the military from firing on the protestors. After five days of chaos, the Shah bowed to the pressure and re-appointed Mossadeq prime minister.

      Mossadeq now resumed his grab for power. He appointed himself war minister, confiscated the Shah’s lands, expelled the Shah’s sister from the country, and forbade the Shah to have any contact with diplomats. Many of his liberal minded followers in the National Front, who supported him against the Shah, now began to have second thoughts, and, disillusioned, turned against him. The most prominent among them was the Ayatollah Kashani, of the Mujahedeen-i-Islam (Warriors of Islam) party, one of the parties included in the National Front. Kashani and many other opposition leaders were now actively blocking the PM’s legislation, and there was continued violence and chaos in the Majlis. (See Reza Ghods “Iran in the Twentieth Century: A Political History,” (1989), p.186 and Sepehr Zabih “The Mossadeq Era,” (1982), pp.40, 265)

      Mossadeq’s only way to hold on to power now was to dissolve the Majlis, and hold elections whose outcome he could control, but he was faced with an obstacle: under the Iranian constitution only the Shah could dissolve the Majlis. So Mossadeq engineered a detour: he would effect a mass resignation of the National Front, dissolve the Majlis, and then put his action to a national referendum on the novel theory that “popular will superseded the constitution.” As Iran scholar Evrand Abrahamian noted, “Mossadeq the constitutional lawyer who meticulously quoted the fundamental laws against the Shah, was now bypassing the same laws and resorting to the theory of the general will.” (See Evrand Abrahamian “Iran Between Two Revolutions,” (1982), p.279)

      The Shah by now had fled the capital. The vote in early August 1953, which, on the nod from Mossadeq, deliberately excluded the rural areas in an un-secret ballot, netted Mossadeq a 2,043,300 vote margin out of 2,044,600 votes cast—a brazenly fraudulent 99.93% “victory” that would have made even Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs blush with embarrassment.

      Though Mossadeq later attempted to justify his actions on the grounds that “royal interference” made it necessary, this was untrue. He had by this time almost completely sidelined the Shah into near irrelevance, and the Shah had in fact fled the capital by time the vote was taken. Mossadeq later admitted in an interview that he dissolved the 17th Majlis to avoid a confidence vote that would have collapsed his government.

      Mossadeq was really no different from most of the other third world leaders of the post war/post-colonial period. They all talked freedom, democracy, and human rights, and, when in power, practiced graft, vote-rigging, and mass oppression.

      As Kermit Roosevelt observed, by late August 1953, Mossadeq was “barely holding on to the broken sails of his sinking ship. Everything considered, whatever might be said of the morality or legality of the American action, it still should not be considered as having overthrown a stable regime in Iran.” (See Kermit Roosevelt Jr. “Countercoup: The struggle for the control of Iran,” (1979), p.210)

      Indeed. The transparently rigged referendum further alienated Mossadeq not only from the rest of the National Front, but from most parties all across the political spectrum in the Majlis as well. He who, in the name of the constitution and “democracy” had once championed the Majlis to check the power of the Shah, had now engineered an illegal and unconstitutional dissolution of the Majlis on the dubious premise that his action could be supported or rejected by a popular referendum, and had then proceeded to rig the referendum in his favor. Majlis member Jamal Imani denounced Mossadeq for “leading the country toward anarchy,” and the Ayatollah Kashani pronounced the referendum null and void, and contrary to Islamic law. Seeing his popular support within the National Front and the Majlis sink like a stone, Mossadeq now sidled up to the well-organized Communist Tudeh party, and began openly consorting with them, each using the other to their own purposes. The Tudeh now took to the streets with mass rioting and violence. On August 8, the Soviet Union, which had already provided Mossadeq with $20 million to keep his government afloat, now tied more strings and announced that they were engaged in negotiations with Iran for further economic aid. All the conditions favoring a Soviet coup were in place.

      This then was the situation in Iran that confronted American policy makers. It must have been frankly nightmarish. The Iran-Azerbaijan Crisis of 1946, where the Soviets not only refused to withdraw from the northern half of Iran that they had occupied during the war (the British occupied the south), but attempted to create two “People’s Democratic Republics” within Iran, alerted the Americans of Soviet designs on Iran. Having just watched the Baltic states, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Rumania, China, Mongolia and North Korea all fall to Communism, the idea of an oil-rich country in a strategically vital region falling within the Soviet orbit would have been a catastrophe for the West, and anyone who thinks that the Soviets, who were in the process of deepening their claws into Iran, and helping to exploit the present instability to empower the Tudeh, would have kept the erratic and non-Communist Mossadeq in power or installed some Jeffersonian Democrat in his place, is delusional. Bottom line: Iran was going to have dictatorship one way or another, and better it be one favorable to America and the West, than not.

      What would have happened without either Soviet or American involvement has long been a subject for furious speculation. Certainly it is unlikely that the Tudeh at the time could have seized power without the Soviet assistance, yet they were gaining in power and influence, especially in their infiltration of the army. Their new alliance of convenience with Mossadeq merely added to this. (The CIA speculated that they could probably not seize power alone before the end of 1953). But the fact of the matter is that the Soviets were very much involved, had long been coveting Iran’s oil and their strategic location to posit their influence, and had presently been exploiting the chaos and laying the groundwork for converting Iran into a client state long before America became involved or even decided on a coup of their own.

      It should also not be forgotten that the coup could not have succeeded without the assistance of many internal Iranian factions, including the Sh’ia clerical establishment. The current regime goes to ludicrous lengths to deny this, but the truth is that Ayatollahs Kashani and Behbehani of the Mujahedeen-i-Islam (Warriors of Islam) party were instrumental in assisting the American-led coup, and it was unlikely to have succeeded without them. According to the wikipedia article on the Iran coup:

      “In the Islamic Republic, remembrance of the coup is quite different than that of history books published in the West, and follows the precepts of Ayatollah Khomeini that Islamic jurists must guide the country to prevent "the influence of foreign powers".[124] According to historian Ervand Abrahamian, the government tries to ignore Mosaddegh as much as possible and allocates him only two pages in high school textbooks. "The mass media elevate Ayatollah Abol-Ghasem Kashani as the real leader of the oil nationalization campaign, depicting Mosaddegh as merely the ayatollah's hanger-on." This is despite the fact that Kashani came out against Mosaddegh by mid-1953 and "told a foreign correspondent that Mosaddegh had fallen because he had forgotten that the shah enjoyed extensive popular support."[125] A month later, Kashani "went even further and declared that Mosaddegh deserved to be executed because he had committed the ultimate offense: rebelling against the shah, 'betraying' the country, and repeatedly violating the sacred law."[126]

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1953_Iranian_coup_d%27%C3%A9tat

      As Edward Shirley, a former CIA agent who toured revolutionary Iran has written, “What the Ayatollahs did in 1953 with British and America help, they might have been able to do later without such help.” Shirley also wrote that the America-stole-democracy thesis is, “too convenient in its diabolization of the CIA and M16, and too Persian in its determination to make someone else responsible for failure.” (Edward Shirley, “Know Thine Enemy: A Spy’s Journey into Revolutionary Iran,” 1999)

      “- Fly a high ranking official - Sec. Clinton, at the least - to Tehran and deliver a full and public apology for the coup and subsequent oppression, perhaps along with reparations;”

      So we apologize and pay reparations to the regime whose establishment co-authored the coup, and whose 32-year rule has not only made Iran a reviled pariah state, but has exported terror, kidnapped and killed Americans, and has oppressed the Iranian people beyond even the worst excesses of the Shah? Right.

      “- Additionally, offer Iran normalized diplomatic relations, and as part of the package, both a non-aggression treaty and a broad agreement on a nuclear weapons free Middle East, to which the U.S. would pressure all states in the region - including Israel - to become signatories.”

      A nice vision. Really. But it ain’t gonna happen. The problem is that the Mullahs’ hostility toward us is beyond cure or remedy. Every Administration since Carter has sought to diplomatically engage this regime to no avail. President George W. Bush both directly and through third parties, made extensive efforts to engage the regime, again to no success.

      President Obama’s courtship of the Mullahs has followed a similar trajectory. The problems with Iran, he was sure, stemmed from America's hawkish and aggressive posturing, from which Iran's rulers, seeking only comity and peaceful co-existence, had naturally and understandably recoiled. All that was needed here was an open hand offering friendship and a soft word, and the mullahs, being rational, reasonable folks just like us, would overcome their distrust and hostility, see the errors of their ways, and get with the program. Engagement was the key.

      Obama's Iran engagement has gone to pot, and in return for the open hand of friendship he extended to the Mullahs he got a clenched fist and a thumb in his eye. The Mullahs spat contempt on his friendly gestures, brutally suppressed a pro-democracy protest to a rigged election, and continued ahead unabashedly with their nuclear program.

      The President ignored the mullahs' rebuffs, snored through the brutal crackdown of the pro-democracy Green Movement, and continued dreaming his no-more-nuclear-weapons dreams all the way to his fall-2009 UN speech even after an Iranian nuclear enrichment facility had been discovered at Qom, which he deemed too impolitic to mention, lest it derail his "engagement" fantasies with the mullahs.

      The notion that our problems with Iran stemmed from lack of engagement was always absurd. Obama, during his campaign in 2007-2008, repeatedly criticized the George W. Bush administration for not “talking” to Iran, but the fact of the matter is that the Bush administration compiled quite a resume of direct and indirect contacts in 2007-2008 while Obama was criticizing them for not doing so. As listed by Steven J. Rosen:

      “March 8, 2007 Rice's Senior Adviser on Iraq, David Satterfield, affirms U.S. interest in discussions with Iran about the situation in Iraq

      March 10, 2007 - The US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, holds a meeting with an Iranian team at a conference of Iraq's neighbors in Baghdad.

      April 25, 2007 EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana and Iran's top negotiator Ali Larijani held talks in Ankara.

      May 28, 2007 - The US Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, and Iranian Ambassdor to Iraq Hassan Kazemi Qomi meet in Baghdad

      May 31, 2007 The EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana met Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani in Spain.

      June 22, 2007 Ali Larjani and Javier Solana met again in Geneva

      July 24, 2007 The US Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Kazemi Qomi, held a second round of talks in Baghdad

      August 6, 2007 The US Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Kazemi Qomi held a third round of talks in Baghdad

      August 20-21, 2007 extensive talks in Tehran between Iran and the UN's nuclear agency,

      October 7, 2007. The top US military commander in Iraq, Gen David Petraeus, accused Iran's ambassador, Hassan Kazemi Qomi of belonging to the Quds force, which he accused of "lethal involvement and activities" in Iraq, "providing the weapons, the training, the funding and in some cases the direction for operations" against U.S. and Iraqi forces.

      October 16, 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin met Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad at a summit meeting of five Caspian Sea nations in Iran.

      October 23, 2007 Solana and the new Iranian nuclear negotiator met in Rome

      November 20, 2007 The U.S. and Iran agree to fourth round of Crocker/Qomi talks

      November 30, 2007 Iran's new chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili met with Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, in London

      January 11-12, 2008 ElBaradei visited Iran and met Iran's leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

      January 27, 2008 U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Zalmay Khalilzad attends multilateral meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and Mojtaba Samare Hashemi, a top advisor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Davos, Switzerland. State Department says it was "unauthorized."

      May 7, 2008 Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said there was no point in having talks with Washington as long as US forces continued attacking Shiite militias in Baghdad and therefore a fourth round of talks between the United States and Iran over the security situation in Iraq is unlikely to go ahead.

      June 14, 2008 Javier Solana, travelled to Iran with representatives from the E3 (France, Germany and the UK) and from China and Russia to present Iran a new offer for negotiations.

      July 19, 2008 Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns accompanied Solana and representatives of the E3+3 to meet with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili in Geneva"

      http://www.americanthinker.com/2008/11/did_iran_offer_a_grand_bargain.html

  • '48 is beginning to replace '67 in discourse -- even at UVa
    • Said Annie:

      “What part of Israel did [Arab states] invade.”

      By the time of the Pan-Arab invasion of May 15, 1948, the Yishuv were actually holding very little territory outside the Jewish apportioned areas. In Galilee the Arabs held parts of the northeast Jewish section west of Safed, while the Yishuv held the Arab section north of Acre, and the Arabs held the 10-15 mile stretch of the coastal plain south of Haifa apportioned to the Jews. What is today the West Bank was almost completely in Arab hands with the exception of a narrow corridor east of Isdod and south of Latrun running east to Jerusalem. The Negev wasn’t even completely occupied by the Yishuv at this time. The main population centers of Nazareth, Jenin, Tulkarm, Nablus, Ramallah, Lydda, Latrun, Beersheba, Hebron, Gaza, and Isdod were all in Arab hands. On May 15, the Yishuv were holding barely any Arab apportioned territory, and were not even occupying all of the Jewish apportioned territory.

      (For a map of Jewish and Arab held areas on May 15 1948 and the Arab invasion routes see Benny Morris “1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War,” 2008, p.p.64, 184, and Chaim Herzog “The Arab-Israeli Wars: War and Peace in the Middle East,” p.p. 20, 50)

      In any case, the Arab and Palestinian militias had been attacking the UN apportioned areas of the Jewish state’s borders ever since December 1947. With the exception of Stern and Irgun terror attacks and a few isolated acts by the Haganah, the Yishuv was, in the main, on the defensive until early April 1948.

      See the UNITED NATIONS PALESTINE COMMISSION’s “First Special Report to the Security Council: The Problem of Security in Palestine,” February 16, 1948.

      http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/FDF734EB76C39D6385256C4C004CDBA7

      On May 15 the Arab League sent the UN a cablegram reaffirming to them their rejection of the legitimacy of the partition, the rejection of any Jewish sovereign state, and their intentions to “intervene in Palestine solely in order to help its inhabitants restore peace and security and the rule of justice and law to their country, and in order to prevent bloodshed” and establish a unitary Palestinian state.

      http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/arab_invasion.html

      Their intention to disallow any Jewish sovereign presence was, of course, the truth, but the intention to allow an independent Palestine was a lie, as all of the surrounding states in the league had their own designs on the area. According to Morris, by the end of the war, the “Arab war plan…changed into a multinational land grab focusing on the Arab areas of the country. The evolving Arab plans failed to assign any of these whatsoever to the Palestinians or to consider their political aspirations.”

      Said the Egyptians to the UNSC:

      “The Egyptian Government have from the outset declared, that their military operations are not directed against Palestine Jews but against terrorist Zionist bands who are armed with the latest and most destructive weapons and who have built up in the Jewish settlements scattered throughout Palestine, fortifications and strongly fortified pillboxes as springboard to attack neighbouring Arab villages and their peaceful inhabitants.”

      http://unispal.un.org/unispal.nsf/9a798adbf322aff38525617b006d88d7/a9e0fddcbef0de3085256e5300526dcd?OpenDocument

      This is really rich considering that the surrounding Arab states had been feeding troops and supplies into attacks on the Yishuv ever since the partition vote in November all the way through April. When the Yishuv, after suffering nearly five months of attacks finally took to the offensive in early April, the whole Arab/Palestinian war effort quickly disintegrated. Then followed the pan-Arab invasion of May 15.

      UN Secretary-General Trygve Lie wrote in his memoirs "The invasion of Palestine by the Arab states was the first armed aggression the world had seen since the end of the [Second World] War. The United Nations could not permit that aggression to succeed and at the same time survive as an influential force for peaceful settlement, collective security and meaningful international law"

      The Yishuv had prepared for war, and they were certainly not going to remain within the vulnerable lines of the partition if the surrounding Arab states attacked. The defense of those lines would be any staff officer’s nightmare. In the event of hostilities they were simply not defensible. In September Moshe Sharett told an interlocutor that if the Arabs initiate war, “we will get hold of as much of Palestine as we can hold.” The war and the pan-Arab invasion were thus the game-changers, and rendered the partition lines functionally irrelevant. The collapse of the Palestinian war effort in late April and early May necessitated a response from the Arabs, and they gave it when the British Mandate expired. The effort to abort the nascent Jewish state that had begun in December 1947 merely entered a new, escalated stage after May 15.

      There was no specific, detailed Arab war plan. In the invasion plan agreed to in April and executed in May, Syrian, Lebanese, Iraqi, and Transjordanian armies were to invade the nascent Jewish state in a wide, multi-pronged pincer to conquer the Galilee and the eastern Jezreel valley before reaching Haifa, the main objective. This plan went through several revisions in late April and early May 1948, but this was, in all essentials, the plan of attack that followed.

      The Arab Liberation Army attacked Jewish held Malikya from Lebanon, the Syrians attacked Jewish held Mishmar Hayarden north of the Sea of Galilee, and Jewish-held Samakh to the south of the sea. An Iraqi force from the East Bank 20 miles south of Tirat- Svi shot northwest across the Jordan to Nablus and further north to Jenin, wheeling round Ulm al-Fahm south to attack Jewish held Geulim. The Jordanians launched both northern and southern attacks. The north Jordanian force shot north to Nablus, where it divided, one pivoting north to Tulkharm, then wheeling south through Taybe and Qalqilya to Ras al-‘Ein, and the other shooting south from Nablus to Ramallah, where it linked with the southern force, which had shot across the Jordan and through Jericho. At Ramallah the Jordanians split their forces, one south to Jerusalem, one southwest to Latrun, and one east by northwest, wheeling round Ben Shemen to Lydda to Ramla.

      The 6000 man Egyptian force pivoted at Rafah into a parallel two-pronged advance to the north, the eastern thrust slicing through Jewish–held areas of the Negev just north of Nirim, Gvulot, Tse’elim, Alumim, northward through Beersheba and Hebron to Jerusalem. The western thrust cut through Gaza to Isdud with Tel-Aviv as the objective, with a detachment peeling off eastward from Maidal to al-Faluja to Beit Jibrin in an attempt to link up with the eastward thrust and surround the Jewish encampments in the Negev.

      This then was the attack that was put into action. Its aim was to abort the nascent Jewish state and establish a “unitary Palestinian state” that the Arabs would then slice up between themselves. It is certainly true that ‘Abdullah of Jordan had decided at the last moment to confine his objectives to seizing as much of the West Bank as possible but that doesn’t negate the fact that Syrian, Iraqi, and Egyptian attacks both into and toward Jewish held areas were occurring all around the crescent shaped perimeter that the Yishuv were presently holding: Malikya, Mishmar Hayarden, Samakh in Galilee, Geulim near the coastal plain, and the areas of the Negev just north of Nirim, Gvulot, Tse’elim, Alumim.

      The Pan-Arab plan’s execution thus broke down amidst the disunity and distrust of the various partners toward one another, and their competing, conflicting agendas. As Benny Morris wrote:

      “Thus in the days both before and after 15 May, the war plan had changed in essence from a united effort to conquer large parts of the nascent Jewish state, and perhaps destroy it, into an uncoordinated, multilateral land grab. As a collective, the Arab states still wished and hoped to destroy Israel—and, had their armies encountered no serious resistance, would, without doubt, have proceeded to take all of Palestine, including Tel-Aviv and Haifa.”

      In any event, the notion that the Arabs did not invade Jewish apportioned areas of Palestine both before May 15, 1948 or afterward, is simply false. Both sides, in the post May 15 stage, wanted as much territory as they could conquer and hold, and the Arabs were the aggressors in an attempt to seize as much from both Jews and Palestinians as possible, their noble, flowery rhetoric to the UN notwithstanding.

  • Threatening letter to Obama on chilling Turkey is signed by 7 Jewish House members, says Peace Now
    • "Russia’s (tragically, failed) attempt to “Osirik” Dimona was a prime motivation for what eventuated into the 1967 war, which in turn resulted in Israel’s extremely harmful turn into a full-scale zionized, militarized settler state. Think of the millions of people who have died — in Palestine, Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt — to sustain that nuclearized settler entity (it’s not a true state — no declared borders)."

      This is a pretty incredible statement. It amounts to a spurious statement ("millions have died...to sustain [a] nuclearized settler entity") based on a dubious assumption, that the Soviets sparked the 67' war in a bid to destroy the Dimona reactor.

      “Foxbats over Dimona,” by Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez is a very peculiar book. They present no evidence beyond contingency planning that the Soviets intended to intervene militarily in the ME in 1967. The truth is that Soviets were too cautious to engage in this kind of high-risk adventurism, especially if it involved a potential war with the US. They stirred up a lot of mischief in the 1950s and the 1960’s, to be sure, armed their client states, and they encouraged bad behavior, but they did not want a general war. In any event, Nasser needed little Soviet prodding, and he and 'Amer knew the Soviet reports of an Israeli build-up in the Syrian border of 15 brigades were false.

      According to former Egyptian Field Marshal Mohammed al-Gamsy, when Muhammed Fawzi, the Egyptian chief of staff arrived to consult in Damascus, he was surprised to find no evidence of any IDF buildup on the Syrian border: no reserve call-ups, and no unusual deployment of troops and armor. He later recalled:

      “I did not find any concrete evidence to support the information
      received {from the Soviets]. On the contrary, aerial photos
      taken by Syrian reconnaissance on May 12 and 13 showed
      no change in normal Israeli military positions.”

      Fawzi also noted that the Syrians had not gone on alert. (See “The October war: Memoirs of Field Marshall el-Gamsy of Egypt,” American University of Cairo, 1993)

      On May 14 Levi Eshkol invited the Soviet ambassador to Syria to inspect Israel’s side of the border; it was declined, probably, again, for the simple reason that the Soviets, not believing their own lies, knew there was no buildup. The next day, Odd Bull, chief of the UN Truce Supervision Organization, noted that he “had no reports of any buildup” from any border observers.

      Fawzi was also puzzled as to why ‘Amr did not respond to his reports that the Israeli buildup were incorrect, then drew the following conclusion:

      “Consequently, I began to believe that from his perspective,
      the business of the Israeli troop concentrations was not the
      principal reason for mobilization or the troop movements
      [in the Sinai] which we had been asked to undertake in
      such a hurry.”

      Both el-Gamsy and Fawzi believe that, given his knowledge of no Israeli buildup, Nasser had “decided to exploit the situation to annul Israel’s gains from the 1956 war: remilitarize Sinai, secure the withdrawal of UNEF, and again close the Gulf Eilat to Israeli shipping.”

      On May 27 the Soviet Ambassador had informed Nasser that the Americans had got wind of a pending Egyptian assault on Israel. On the same day 'Amer issued orders for an attack on the Negev, but Nasser, alerted to possible American intervention and the obvious unease expressed by the Soviets about such an eventuality, countermanded the order. 'Amer was furious. He had wanted war, telling Nasser that, "by waiting, Egypt loses even before the war starts." Yet 'Amer was not to be disappointed for long. Soon enough, he would get all the war he wanted.

      One of the problems of discerning whether Nasser actually intended to attack Israel is from the number of contradictory public and private statements he made in the three weeks leading up to the war. Nasser’s actions, alas, were often the captive of his ever-shifting rhetoric, and do not betray consistency. In retrospect, it seems likely that Nasser saw in the Soviet warnings of May 13, however much he and ‘Amr knew them to be false, an opportunity to, in Fawzi’s words, “to exploit the situation to annul Israel’s gains from the 1956 war: remilitarize Sinai, secure the withdrawal of UNEF, and again close the Gulf Eilat to Israeli shipping.”

      Two diametrically opposed beliefs seem to have been contesting each other for mastery in Nasser’s mind in the last few weeks before the outbreak before the war: 1) that by remilitarizing the Sinai, expelling UNEF, and closing the Tiran straits, to score a bloodless political victory short of war which would consolidate his prestige as the premier leader of the Arab world, and his belief that the UN and the superpowers would intervene like a boxing referee to separate Israel and he Arabs, and send them to their corners before things got out of hand, 2) a belief that that the time had come for the final showdown with the “Zionist entity” in order to finally wipe clean the humiliations of 1948 and 1956, that Israel, who had won her 1956 victory only with the help of Britian and France, could not resist the combined might of the Arabs by herself, and that only war could regain what was taken from the Arabs by war.

      It is equally clear that he was acting out of no master plan, and just improvising his rhetoric and his actions according to events, of which he was often the servant rather than the master. By expelling UNEF and closing the straits he lit a fire that he could not easily put out without a humiliating loss of prestige—always a priority concern of his. No high pressure diplomacy, from the UN or anyone else would ever have caused him to withdraw. He must have known that it meant war, though, being Nasser, it is possible that he deluded himself that it did not. The Soviets, who were always happy to fan the flames of the region but did not want a war, were taken aback and shocked by Nasser’s closure of the straits. They knew what it meant.

      Whatever his misgivings and apprehensions, what can be stated beyond any doubt is that Nasser was now speaking and behaving like a man who wanted war, who was determined to wage it, who was mobilizing propaganda in the service of this intention into a hysterical frenzy of militant rhetoric and imagery, and who was enlisting allies, who, along with him, were complementing their own openly declared intentions to wipe Israel off the map with an active, forward mobilization of their forces along Israel’s border.

      By June 4, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq all had reserves called up, mobilized, and massed on the Israeli border.

      On the Egyptian border, the Egyptians now had forward deployments of three active divisions from the Erez checkpoint in northeastern Gaza all the way south to Al-Qusayma, one division on the border south of Kuntilla, three divisions behind the forward positions, and several assorted armored and artillery brigades in west and south Sinai—all told about 100,000 troops, 900 tanks and about 800 heavy artillery.

      Jordan had massed some 56,000 troops organized into a forward deployment of nine infantry brigades, two armored brigades, a mechanized brigade and an Iraqi brigade. They had 294 tanks and 194 artillery pieces.

      Syria fielded about 70,000 troops into a forward deployment of six infantry brigades, with two paratroop and special forces battalions, along with two armored brigades, one mechanized brigade, and one independent armored battalion. They had 300 tanks and 265 artillery pieces.

      Against this, Israel could now mobilize about 250-264,000 men, about three-quarters reservists, and about 100,000 which could be placed on the borders. They were divided into 11 infantry brigades, two paratroop brigades, two independent units of special forces infantry, and three mechanized infantry brigades. They had about 1100 tanks and 400 artillery, divided into 12 artillery and 6 armored brigades.

      On May 30 King Hussein of Jordan had signed a military pact with Nasser in Cairo. The same day Iraqi forces took up positions in Jordan. Said President Aref of Iraq on May 31: “Our goal is clear: to wipe Israel off the map.” He added: “There will be no Jewish survivors.”

      Said Ahmed Shukairy, chairman of the PLO on June 1: “The Jews of Palestine will have to leave…Any of the old Jewish Palestine population who survive may stay, but it is my impression that none of them will survive.”

      Said Damascus Radio: “Arab masses, this is your day. Rush to the battlefield…Let them know that we shall hang the last imperialist soldier with the entrails of the last Zionist.”

      Said Hafez al-Assad to his troops in a frightening hint of what he would do to 20,000 of his own people 15 years later in Hama: “Strike the enemy’s [civilian] settlements, turn them into dust, and pave the Arab roads with the skulls of Jews. Strike them without mercy.”

      Assad also said: "Our forces are now entirely ready not only to repulse the aggression, but to initiate the act of liberation itself, and to explode the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland. The Syrian Army, with its finger on the trigger, is united... I, as a military man, believe that the time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation."

      The number of nightmare scenarios now facing the Israelis were thus endless. First, there was the time factor. As Edward Luttwak and Daniel Horowitz have stated in their excellent study of the IDF: “There was a basic asymmetry in the structure of forces: the Egyptians could deploy their large army of long term regulars on the Israeli border and keep it there indefinitely; the Israelis could only counter their deployment by mobilizing reserve formations, and reservists could not be kept in uniform for very long. Egypt could therefore stay on the defensive while Israel would have to attack unless the crisis was defused diplomatically.” (“The Israeli Army: 1948-1973,” p.110)

      Secondly, and most importantly, the Israelis, as in 1948, had a distinct geographical disadvantage. True, they had the advantage of interior lines, but this was negated by the length of the borders they had to defend, the vulnerable narrowness of the coastal plain, which impeded their ability to shunt forces from north to south and vice-versa, and the ability of Syria, Jordan, and Egypt to strike, or advance a combination of multiple feints and actual strikes at any time of their choosing that would have had the numerically inferior Israelis jumping up and down 545 miles of borders thwarting one contingency after another with no guarantee that they could ever bring decisive force to meet any of them. Their only advantage therefore lay in anticipation. The only way to effectively deter such an attack from ever occurring was to preempt it.

      The consensus of American intelligence before the war was that, in a war, Israel would win against the Arabs whether they were attacking or defending. While it is clear that this view of an Israeli first strike was dead-on, the notion that Israel could have safely absorbed an attack by the Arabs within her 1949 Armistice lines looks, in retrospect, utterly implausible.

      An attack by Egypt alone from the Sinai into the Negev could have given the Israelis some, though not much, cushion to absorb an armored strike and perhaps conduct a mobile defense at which the IDF’s superiority in tactics and leadership would have a marginal advantage, but this would be offset by the Egyptians’ superiority in mass and equipment, not to mention their ability to focus the entire forward weight of their attack in a single direction at various points along the 211 mile Egypt-Gaza border without any concern for their rear or flanks; the Israelis, on the other hand, who were numerically inferior, would have had to meet this force with less than half of their mobilized strength, while the rest of their reserves stood defensively along 334 miles of winding border with Jordan and Syria.

      Given the total lack of strategic depth on the 204 mile long border of the West Bank where Israel’s wasp-like waist along the coastal plain could be severed by the blow of a few heavy, well-placed Jordanian armored columns, this scenario was particularly hellish. All of the main Israeli population centers were within close striking distance from the West Bank: Netanya—9 miles, Tel-Aviv—11 miles, Beersheva—10 miles, Haifa—21 miles, Ashdod—22 miles, and Ashkelon a mere 7 miles from Gaza, not to mention cities like Eilat and Jerusalem that were within direct striking distance, and vulnerable to encirclement and siege. Scattering their forces up and down their eastern border to meet multiple contingencies, and without any room to maneuver and retrench, their numerically inferior cadres could be smashed or bypassed, and their units to the north and south severed from one another, surrounded, and cut to pieces. Even the most ingenious tactical flair by the Israelis would be powerless to stop it. In this eventuality, geography, the Arabs’ superior numbers and equipment, and the advantage of timing, would put the Israeli superiority in tactics, leadership, and morale at a severe discount. Israel, in all likelihood, would have been destroyed.

      It seems entirely plausible to me that Israel’s revisionist critics and antagonists, in their feverish attempts to rewrite the history of the 1967 war, can look upon the circumstances of May-June 1967 and conclude that there was not a real and imminent threat to Israel’s survival, but the Israelis did, and they chose to survive, rather than not to.

  • Neoconservative brinksmanship
    • Paul Mutter,

      An interesting, thought provoking article. Though I by no means agree with everything here, it is reassuring to know at least someone here is not blind to the mullah's sabotage of the peace process, their cavorting with terror, and their political gangsterism.

      On Iran, I am not in favor of war, and, like you, think it would be a catastrophe, and I am hopeful that it can be avoided. But the behavior of the Islamic Republic is making that more and more unlikely.

      In Iran we have a militant, inwardly decaying, totalitarian theocracy whose main export, other than petroleum and a few other delectables, is terror and support for terror. The Mullahs, luckily, lack Saddam Hussein's unstable and dysfunctional gangsterism. They are less provocative, operate more in the shadows, and usually leave it to others to wield the knife or the bomb. Saddam was reckless and brazen; the Mullahs are more like hotel burglars: if they find a room uninhabited, they’ll pick it clean, if not, they’ll withdraw. Yet like all totalitarian regimes past, they tolerate no opinion but their own, rule by force and fraud, feed on hatred, and must keep seeking new targets, new victims, new scapegoats, and new objects of hatred to divert from the misery and failure of their tyranny. The regime is thus a tangle of both dangerous strengths and vulnerable weaknesses, and the Supreme Leader views America with a combination of fear, contempt, and hatred.

      You cannot avoid war with such a regime simply by signaling to the regime that you are eager to avoid war; it just doesn’t work. You avoid it by deterring it, by vigilant containment, and by making clear that there consequences for bad behavior. Iran, from 1979 onwards has been kidnapping and murdering Americans with impunity. And they have drawn the correct and proper lesson from the violence they have wreaked on us: that we will scold and protest, but no more. This will not mellow either their nuclear ambitions or their future behavior.

      The truth of the matter is that the Mullahs’ hostility toward us is beyond cure or remedy. Every Administration since Carter has sought to diplomatically engage this regime to no avail. President George W. Bush both directly and through third parties, made extensive efforts to engage the regime, again to no success.

      President Obama’s courtship of the Mullahs has followed a similar trajectory. The problems with Iran, he was sure, stemmed from America's hawkish and aggressive posturing, from which Iran's rulers, seeking only comity and peaceful co-existence, had naturally and understandably recoiled. All that was needed here was an open hand offering friendship and a soft word, and the mullahs, being rational, reasonable folks just like us, would overcome their distrust and hostility, see the errors of their ways, and get with the program. Engagement was the key.

      Obama's Iran engagement has gone to pot, and in return for the open hand of friendship he extended to the Mullahs he got a clenched fist and a thumb in his eye. The Mullahs spat contempt on his friendly gestures, brutally suppressed a pro-democracy protest to a rigged election, and continued ahead unabashedly with their nuclear program.

      The President ignored the mullahs' rebuffs, snored through the brutal crackdown of the pro-democracy Green Movement, and continued dreaming his no-more-nuclear-weapons dreams all the way to his fall-2009 UN speech even after an Iranian nuclear enrichment facility had been discovered at Qom, which he deemed too impolitic to mention, lest it derail his "engagement" fantasies with the mullahs.

      This then has been the Obama policy. In light of this policy, whether war is actually on the horizon with Iran is doubtful; Obama’s reaction to Iranian terror and provocation has been almost wholly rhetorical, and is unlikely to change. The Mullahs have taken his measure and know they have nothing to fear from him. That, however, is the real danger.

    • I would rather see a non-theocratic democracy in Iran.

  • Reform Jews' biennial will feature ultra-right, Sharansky and Kristol
    • Jeffrey Blankfort,

      In addressing the 2006 war, I was not discussing whether the war was a victory for Israel; I was addressing claims stated above to the effect that it was a “victory” for Hezbollah. And it was not.

      Said you:

      “Not only did it require Israel to use helicopters to move troops northward because they could not advance against Hezbollah on the ground …”

      You have to be kidding with this. In modern mobile warfare, basic strategy dictates three approaches of forced entry into a field of operations: troops advancing by land, by sea, and by the air. The purpose of advancing large units of troops from the air is to insert them into a theater of operations where they can accomplish tasks such as securing strategically important positions, getting into the enemy’s rear and HQ, and disrupting his communications. The purpose is to wage a war behind the lines that will disorient the enemy, draw off his reserves, and alleviate pressure and resistance faced by the troops advancing by land and/or sea. That was the purpose for which the IDF deployed the Nahal Brigade and the 98th Paratrooper Division behind the lines, though the manner of their deployment was the subject of some well founded criticism. To what tactical advantage would it have been to focus all of their forces at the border where Hezbollah resistance would be the strongest? So more of their soldiers could be killed?

      In such a war as the one fought between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006, the use of the term “victory” to describe the outcome of either belligerent is inapt and misleading, for the simple reason that neither side “won.” It was an inconclusive war, cut short by an internationally imposed cease-fire. But if victory in this conflict cannot be unambiguously discerned, the question remains: How did each side perform, and how well did it achieve its objectives?

      The Israeli campaign in response to the Hezbollah provocation has been much criticized, and rightly so. As I said before, the war unquestionably exposed failures in planning, intelligence, counterintelligence, command, mobilization, execution, and logistics. The Israelis wished, to the greatest possible extent, to destroy Hezbollah’s infrastructure and weaponry, neutralize them as a military force, and force their removal north of the Litani. They also hoped that a favorable political diminishment of Hezbollah within Lebanon would follow the successful military campaign. On July 24, 2006 the MFA enumerated the following goals:

      “First, regarding southern Lebanon, Israel wishes to preserve the gains of the current military campaign, whereby Hizbullah has been removed from the border region.

      Second, regarding the Hizbullah's long-range missiles which are fired at Israeli civilians from beyond the border zone - unless Hizbullah disarms itself willingly, this threat must be clearly addressed.

      Third, the Hizbullah must be prevented from re-arming. This will require close monitoring of the possible routes into Lebanon from Syria or elsewhere.”

      It must be said without exception that none of these goals were achieved.
      The Israelis had a contingency plan consisting of an air assault (code-named ICE BREAKER) to be complemented with a massive ground assault 72 hours later (code named MEY MAROM). Yet the IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. General Dan Halutz, eschewed both for an improvised air assault punctuated by pinpointed “surgical” forays at Hezbollah militants along the border. Halutz was repeatedly told by both military and intelligence analysts that such an approach would be wholly inadequate to eject Hezbollah from south Lebanon, but he ignored them.

      After a week of air assaults and commando raids that had undoubtedly inflicted much punishment on Hezbollah’s infrastructure and logistics, the decisive victory promised by Halutz was, however, nowhere in sight. Hezbollah was just as firmly entrenched along the border and south of the Litani as they ever were, and rockets were still popping into northern Israel at 100 or more a day. Halutz, realizing that air assault alone was not doing the job, now consented to the ground operation he had previously dismissed as unnecessary. Yet even here he equivocated; instead of the full-scale ground invasion envisaged by MEY MAROM, the IDF would deploy battalion and company size units in “raids.”

      On July 19, at the Shaked outpost between Avivim and Maroun al-Ras, the IDF took fire from a Hezbollah detachment of 20 fighters situated on a hillcrest. For 12 hours a brutal firefight raged until the IDF brought up reinforcements, surrounded the position, and killed all 20 militants in place.

      Next, the IDF engaged Hezbollah at the stronghold of Maroun al-Ras on July 20, and they were shook by the ferocity of the resistance they encountered. The main roadway junction up to the village was heavily mined, and an IED explosion ignited by the Israelis brought a hailstorm of fire on the Israeli advance guard. The village was mined, booby-trapped, and well fortified. Hezbollah militants made excellent use of direct and indirect small arms and anti-tank fire from concealed positions, and they worked their elaborate tunnel system to maximal effect, hitting the IDF advance guard from multiple emplacements. The Hezbollah defenders’ fire control was excellent and well coordinated.

      After some initial missteps in which an infantry platoon from the Maglan brigade found itself temporarily surrounded, a reinforcement of an infantry company and an armored platoon was brought up, and a 5-7 hour firefight ensued in which all of the Hezbollah defenders were killed in place. Later in the day, some 15-30 Hezbollah militants counterattacked an Israeli company deployed in buildings on a hillcrest within the secured perimeter; the company was surprised, and there ensued some brutal hand to hand fighting before a score of the militants were killed, and the rest put to flight. The Israelis lost 8 killed and Hezbollah lost 24, and, though sniping from outside the village continued for some days afterward, the Israelis secured the village, if not the entire surrounding area.

      On July 26 the IDF advanced on the Hezbollah stronghold of Bint J’Bail for a “raid,” and the Hezbollah defenders there had prepared a warm welcome for them that would even excel the one the IDF received at Maroun al Ras. The town had been the chief rocket-launching area, and had long been a heavily fortified Hezbollah HQ. Hezbollah had reinforced the 60 man garrison in the town to about 100-150, about 40 of which included members of the Unit Nasr from the Special Forces skilled in sabotage and anti-tank defense; all were armed to the teeth. As with Maroun al-Ras but even more so, Bint J’Bail was heavily mined and booby-trapped, and the advance guard of Companies A and C from the 51st Battalion came under withering fire.

      Once again, Hezbollah militants made excellent use of direct and indirect small arms and anti-tank fire from concealed positions in the town’s elevated buildings, and 30 of C Company’s troops were hit, including the Deputy commander Major Roi Klein, who was killed. Company C was now in danger of being outflanked and cut to pieces; Company A now moved up to reinforce, and gave cover while Company C evacuated their wounded. The firefight had lasted 5-7 bitter hours, and the IDF lost 8 killed and 27 wounded while inflicting about 20 dead on the defenders, but the IDF had gained a foothold within the town by the end of the day. (On this occasion, the IDF stretcher bearers, who traversed in and out of the killing zone for several hours while the battle raged to tend and evacuate the wounded, showed particular heroism). The next two days would see sporadic fighting in and around the town, with areas see-sawing back and forth, and the IDF did not really secure the town until August 14, by which time the Israelis had lost 14 killed and 31 wounded, and Hezbollah had lost about 80 men killed. Bint J’Bail was the most fiercely fought battle of the war.

      Up until the end of July the IDF made no attempt to occupy territory for more than raiding purposes. By the 1st of August, the IDF now decided to increase the forces on the ground and by August 11 Operation Change Direction 11, a westward drive of an armored column from At Tayyibeh to link up with elements of the Nahal Brigade that had been airlifted into position there near Ghanduriyih, had commenced. The launch of this operation at this time, defied all common sense and logic. UNSC Resolution 1701 had just passed marking the cease-fire to be implemented on the 14th. What could possibly have been accomplished until then?

      As Yaakov Katz of the Jerusalem Post wrote:

      “Late Friday night, just hours before the resolution [1701] was passed, Armored Brigade 401 began moving its tanks across the Litani - facing fierce Hizbullah resistance - in what has become known as the "Battle of the Saluki." Crossing the Saluki required that the troops and tanks climb a steep hill overlooked by mountains in every direction. Understanding the risk at which he would be putting his tanks, Brig.-Gen. Zur deployed the Nahal Brigade on the outskirts of the villages of Andouriya and Farun to take up positions on the high ground and to provide cover for the armored column moving below.

      Under the command of Col. Moti Kidor, then commander of Brigade 401, the Merkava tanks had been waiting for the push to the Litani for close to a week. They had received orders to begin rolling twice. When they began to move, however, they were immediately ordered to stop. But on Friday, August 11, at close to 5 p.m., the orders came again, and by 8 p.m. the tanks began rolling. Hizbullah had meanwhile made its preparations. Kidor's men had been in the field on standby for almost a week and Hizbullah knew that the only passage West was through the Saluki. At least 100 guerrillas took up positions with the most advanced anti-tank missile - the Russian-made Cornet - and waited. By early Sunday morning, just 24 hours before the cease-fire went into effect, Kidor had finally succeeded in crossing the wadi and climbing the hill - albeit after paying a heavy price. Twelve soldiers were killed - eight in tanks and four infantry - and 44 were wounded.

      But then came the orders to stop the advance and to begin returning. Kidor and his men were left wondering what they had been sent out to achieve in the first place. Why were they dispatched to cross the Saluki when it was clear that the cease-fire would pass? What did these 33 soldiers die for? The battle of the Saluki is a microcosm of possibly all of the mishaps that occurred during the war. For a week, soldiers were like sitting ducks waiting for orders that were received and twice cancelled, signifying a total lack of clarity and confidence on the part of the diplomatic echelon in general, and particularly its head - Olmert. When the orders finally came, they made no sense. Why push to the Litani hours before the UN was set to approve a cease-fire? What was the point of the brief and very bloody operation, especially considering that two days after crossing the Saluki, they crossed it again - this time heading home?”

      http://www.jpost.com/Features/FrontLines/Article.aspx?id=88476

      The use of tanks on such a narrow incline at Wadi Saluki defies all logic, but, sure enough, the same could be said of the entire operation. No possible excuse existed for the latter part of the operation from August 11-14, and the first part was of doubtful necessity. Olmert and Halutz spun the operation as having weakened Hezbollah and made the passage of Resolution 1701 possible, but this was self-serving cant. The truth is that 24 soldiers died to no purpose or benefit in an operation that should never have been launched. There was no getting around it: the entire ground offensive launched on July 19 and concluded on August 14, had failed to achieve any of the strategic goals that had been set.

      The ground campaign was conducted on the fly with inadequate, ill-equipped formations, senior commanders and brigade commanders who had not trained in maneuvering large mobile formations in years, regulars and reservists who had received little or no training, and soldiers and tank crewmen whose only experience was patrolling the West Bank and Gaza. Matt Matthews, in his study on the 2006 war, correctly points out that the IDF focus on low-intensity, counter-insurgency actions in the territories in the last two decades, had unquestionably reduced their combat proficiency in the conventional sphere. (See “We Were Caught Unprepared: The 2006 Hezbollah-Israeli War,” Matt Matthews, 2008, Combat Studies Institute, pp. 36-67)

      Yet even these deficiencies could have been compensated for by a sound, straightforward strategy and leadership from the top. And of this there was none to speak of.

      There was a strong whiff of Westmorland’s “search and destroy” strategy here in Halutz’s approach, and the weaknesses inherent in it were obvious: instead of being deployed in force at all points along the border and coast of south Lebanon for a full scale ground assault, IDF units were sallying here and there into south Lebanon aimlessly milling about in search of Hezbollah cadres to engage and destroy, without occupying ground, clearing it, and minding each others flanks. That even the lowliest, most incompetent staff officer could have consented to such a strategy and deployment is incredible, and, indeed, Halutz was warned by many that this too would be wholly inadequate for the task. The Halutz strategy most signally violated at least three of the ten recognized axioms of war: Selection and Maintenance of the Aim, Concentration of Force, and Cooperation, and, on some level, it probably violated Security, Administration, and Flexibility as well.

      Running tandem with Halutz’s hubris and incompetence, one discerns the trembling, unmasterful hand of Ehud Olmert. They had both set out to destroy Hezbollah’s infrastructure and weaponry, neutralize them as a military force, and force their removal north of the Litani. Yet any plausible attempt to do this was going to be a long, messy affair. The situation was totally unlike 1982 when the PLO militias were scattered in isolated positions throughout the south, and where IDF armored columns sliced through them with ease. Hezbollah had spent six years fortifying virtually every major population center south of the Litani into a major stronghold, each with a sophisticated network of bunkers, minefields, booby-trapped dwellings, arms caches, and anti-tank gun emplacements. Their fighters were well trained in the arts of ambush and defensive concealment, fiercely motivated, and armed to the teeth. There was a rough consensus in military and intelligence circles that this was just not going to get done in several weeks with the strategy in place and the forces that had been allocated.

      Yet, dismissing the need for an overwhelming combined arms assault, Halutz first opted for an improvised air assault punctuated with small-bore border forays. Then, when that was found to be inadequate, he deployed company and battalion sized assaults to raid and engage Hezbollah strongholds. Then, when that was found wanting, he poured more forces into the mix piecemeal to utter negligible effect.

      War must never be waged on a string of improvised half measures. It must be waged swiftly, decisively, forcefully, and with a strategy apparent to all from the Brigadier down to the buck private. What was needed was a combined-arms operation to hit the enemy where he was weakest, attacking in force all along the border areas at divergent axes, supplemented by sea and airborne assaults, compelling them to scatter their forces, and outflank them from every direction with shock, speed, and surprise, not engage in a series of scattered, costly slugfests to little strategic or even tactical benefit in built up urban areas where the defenders were strongest and had the advantage. Given Hezbollah’s penchant for static defense, this would have been a more than viable strategy. It would have involved a maneuver operation to secure areas where Hezbollah was not in strong possession, and securing the strongholds of the major population centers would have taken at least a month, maybe longer. It would undoubtedly have been a long, bloody affair. If the Israelis were going to achieve the strategic goals they set for themselves, that is, at the very least, what it would have required. If they were unable or unwilling to do this, then they should have opted for a more limited response and more modest goals.

      Yet these Israeli deficiencies, bad as they were, do not in any way vindicate Hezbollah. True, they made excellent use of direct and indirect small arms and anti-tank fire from concealed positions, they worked their elaborate tunnel system effectively, and their small arms fire control was excellent and well coordinated. But they showed no ability to conduct the kind of mobile defense that would have enabled them to fight a long, protracted battle and avoid heavy casualties. The defenders at Shaked post, at Maroun al-Ras, and Bint J’Bail all stood their ground obstinately, made no attempt to withdraw, and were all killed in place. At Aytarum and Markaba Hezbollah defenders again fought in place until killed, and even allowed the IDF units to outflank them and surround them, rendering their positions tactically irrelevant. Even in Ghanduriyih, where the defenders had an escape route, they opted to remain fighting in place until decimated. The defenders here all showed unquestionable courage and self-sacrifice, but to what purpose? At best they harassed the enemy and slowed his advance; they did not repel him.

      The platoon sized Hezbollah counterattacks on hill 951 at Maroun al-Ras, and on hill 850 at Bint J’Bail were both made with main and secondary attacks supplemented with ATGM fire, but both were beaten back, albeit after several hours of heavy fighting. Similar squad and platoon-sized counterattacks launched by Hezbollah at Ayta ash-Shab, Muhaybib, Ghanduriyih, Dayr Siryan, and Tayyibah all failed to regain lost ground seized by the attackers.

      The Hezbollah defenders, in short, showed they were prepared to extract a steep price for the loss of real estate to their attackers, but once they lost it they allocated no resources and had no plan of action to retake it. Having no defense in depth from which to counter-concentrate and regroup, their cadres simply fought in place until overwhelmed, and their counterattacks floundered and squandered lives to no effect or benefit.

      Marksmanship was mediocre. Even in the Saluki Valley, the Hezbollah Anti-Tank Guided Missile operators fired dozens of salvos for every direct hit. (It was estimated that 8% of all Hezbollah ATGM fire hit their targets throughout the war) At Maroun al-Ras the Hezbollah defenders lost 24 killed to 8 IDF; 80 to 14 at Bint J’Bai, 50 to 13 at Ayta ash-Shab, and 80 to 12 at Saluki Valley. These were, simply put, appalling loss exchange ratios, especially given their home court advantages of fortified terrain and defensive concealment.

      (For a more detailed study of Hezbollah tactics in the 2006 war see “THE 2006 LEBANON CAMPAIGN AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE: IMPLICATIONS FOR ARMY AND DEFENSE POLICY,” Stephen Biddle, Jeffrey A. Friedman, September 2008, pp. 33-45, and pp. 69-72)

      http://www.scribd.com/doc/30632694/THE-2006-LEBANON-CAMPAIGN-AND-THE-FUTURE-OF-WARFARE-IMPLICATIONS-FOR-ARMY-AND-DEFENSE-POLICY-Stephen-Biddle-Jeffrey-A-Friedman

      And as Edward Luttwak has written:

      “Many commentators repeated and endorsed Nasrallah's claim that his Hezbollah fighters fought much more bravely than the regular soldiers of Arab states in previous wars with Israel. In 1973 after crossing the Suez Canal, Egyptian infantrymen by the thousand stood their ground unflinchingly against advancing 50-ton Israeli tanks, attacking them successfully with their puny hand-held weapons. They were in the open, flat desert, with none of the cover and protection that the Hezbollah had in their stone-built villages in Lebanon's rugged terrain. Later, within the few square miles of the so-called "Chinese farm" near the Suez Canal, the Israelis lost more soldiers against the Egyptians in a single day and night than the 116 - including the victims of accidents and friendly fire - killed in a month of war in Lebanon. Hezbollah certainly did not run away and did hold their ground, but their mediocrity is revealed by the casualties they inflicted, which were very few.”

      http://www.lebanonwire.com/0708MLN/07082405FP.asp

      The IDF, in the course of its meandering and unfocused campaign, hit Hezbollah not where they were weakest, but where they were strongest. Hezbollah were saved first and foremost by an Israeli strategy that was confused, inadequately resourced, and incompetently executed, and lastly by the weight of international pressure to end the conflict and effect an Israeli withdrawal.

    • AmAmerican,

      Said you:

      “Even if such a drone exists and it can actually get airborne, there isn’t a chance it would get near Israel. Once it leaves Iranian airspace it would be taken down by one of many anti-aircraft defense systems.”

      You can say that again. The idea of the Syrians or the Iranians getting a drone or anything else into Israeli airspace is pretty unlikely. The Syrians have had trouble enough defending their own space.

      On April 7, 1967, two Israeli tractors were operating near Tel Katzir in Galilee near the Syrian border. The Syrians opened up with 37mm cannon fire on the tractors. Israeli tanks then returned fire, and the Syrians responded not by shooting the tanks but by bombing the nearby Israeli civilian settlements with 81mm and 120mm mortar fire.

      The Golan was now flooded with cannon and machinegun fire, and by 1:30pm UN observers had noted that some 247 Syrian shells had hit the Gadot Kibbutz, where several buildings were destroyed. The Israeli Air Force now scrambled into action, hitting Syrian bunkers and artillery positions. Syrian MiG-21’s now met the IAF Mirage fighters in the skies over Damascus and in thirty seconds the IAF downed six MiG’s, and established complete supremacy over Syrian airspace. To emphasize their triumph, the IAF Mirages then did a victory loop around Damascus.

      On June 9-11, 1982, three days after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the Israeli Air Force again routed the Syrians in one of the most lopsided air battles in military history. On the afternoon of June 9, Israeli F-4 Phantoms first began demolishing the Soviet built Syrian SA-2, SA-3, and SA-6 surface to air missile batteries concentrated in the West Bekaa Valley of Lebanon with virtual impunity, 17 out of 19 being destroyed within 10-20 minutes.

      The following morning, the F-4’s returned to dispatch the remaining two, and the Syrians scrambled some 60 of their Soviet-made MiG-21 and MiG-23 fighters to take the Phantoms out and establish Syrian air superiority of the Bekaa. The IAF tracked them the moment they left their runways, and got their birds in the air within minutes. The Israelis flew in a carefully layered formation of American-made F-15 Eagle fighters, with their superb look-down capability and sophisticated radar, flying at 30,000 ft, and American-made F-16 Falcon and their own Kfir fighters flying below them where their smaller-bore radars worked best on targets silhouetted against the sky.

      As the Syrian fighters flew into the valley at about 2:15pm, they were hit by a shit storm of electronic jamming, courtesy of an E-2C ECM reconnaissance craft that was directing the Israeli fighters to their soon-to-be downed prey. The Syrian pilots, who almost totally relied on ground control, were now cut off and began to flounder. Then the Israelis arrived at the scene, and the turkey shoot began. The Soviet made MiG-21 and MiG-23’s were simply no match for the American made F-15’s and F-16’s, and their airborne radars and air-to-air missiles were found to be even more inferior. Even worse, the Syrians were using rigid, unimaginative Soviet tactics of flying in massed groups designed to destroy enemy formations by shock, weight of numbers, and closeness of formation.

      Vectored by the E-2C’s, Israeli F-15’s and F-16’s put 25 Syrian MiG fighters and 3 helicopters to the bottom of the Bekaa, and the following day downed another 18. By the end of June 1982, the Israelis had shot down 85 Syrian Mig’s—19% of Syria’s total combat planes. 40 had fallen to American–made F-15 Eagles, 44 by American-made F-16 Falcons, and one had been downed by an American-made F-4 Phantom. Not a single Israeli fighter plane was lost in air combat.

      Then, predictably, came the blame game. The Soviets blamed the Syrians for having shitty pilots, and the Syrians blamed the Soviets for the shitty Soviet planes. But the Syrians were closer to the truth. Their Soviet sponsors had given them the planes, had trained their pilots, and tutored them in their best available tactics. Pilots, being only human, can only perform as well as they are trained and equipped, and on this count the Soviets set up their Syrian clients for disaster. Had they better planes and equipment, and been trained in more flexible tactics, the Syrians surely could have met the Israelis on more or less equal terms, though I have my doubts that even the best RAF or USAF pilots would have been a match for the cool tactical cunning displayed by the IAF over West Bekaa in 1982.

      Anwar al-Sadat was one of the first Arab military officers to note the inferior quality of Soviet tactics and equipment even before the 1967 war. He knew crap when he saw it. He weeded out Nasser’s political cronies in favor of merit based promotions, stressed initiative and responsibility in small unit leadership in training, and his bold and correct decision to jettison the Soviet playbook for more flexible tactics made possible his startling initial gains of the 1973 war. The Egyptians, the Jordanians, and the Saudis have all since partaken of American and European approaches to weapons and tactics.

      What lessons the Syrians drew from their experience over West Bekaa in 1982 is not known. What is known is that most of their equipment is still Russian/Soviet made and their tactical doctrine is still drawn from the same source, albeit supplemented by the Iranians and the Chinese. This does not bode well for the Syrians in a future air encounter with the Israelis. Neither of these nations have much of an air force tradition, and much of their command structures are top heavy with political appointees. Of course the best solution to Syria’s air force dilemma would be to make peace with Israel, but the likelihood of that seems as distant as ever.

      “As for the Hezbolllah ‘victory’ you have a weird way to gauge success. Lebanon was decimated and Hezbollah hasn’t touched Israel since the conflict. How was this successful for Hezbollah? If they ever had to fight a war where they couldn’t hind behind civilians, they would be destroyed.”

      How true, how true. For the IDF, the war unquestionably exposed failures in planning, intelligence, counterintelligence, command, mobilization, execution, and logistics. But where was this Hezbollah “victory?”

      In the most recent election before the war Hezbollah won only 12 of the 27 seats allocated to Shiites in the 128-seat National Assembly – despite having made alliances with Christian and Druze parties and pouring much Iranian cash into vote-buying. But the messy niceties of democracy pose no problem for Hezbollah; they rule by the gun, and the gun alone is their legitimacy. The 2006 war, however, put even this into jeopardy, and almost all of the Lebanese factions renewed their calls for Hezbollah’s disarmament. This was illustrated in an interview with Hezbollah chief Hasan Nasrallah, who once airily observed that gathering Jews in Palestine would make unnecessary the task of getting at them elsewhere. While boasting of a “divine victory,” he had this to say:

      "We did not think, even 1 percent, that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude. You ask me, if I had known on July 11 . . . that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not."

      These are not the words of a victor. They are the words of a blunderer who knows all too well that he came within a hair of disaster, and who knows what death and destruction his actions have wreaked on the Sh’ia community of South Lebanon. And they reek with the guilty knowledge that knows that everyone there knows it as well.

      There was no air war in the 2006 war, only the IAF pounding Hezbollah targets with utter impunity.

      The ground engagements fought between the IDF and Hezbollah at Maroun al-Ras, Bint JBail, Ayta ash-Shab, and Wadi Saluki were certainly contested with the utmost obstinacy and tenacity by Hezbollah militants—and the IDF accounts give them full credit for it, but all were eventually secured by the IDF, albeit after heavy fighting. In Bint J’Bail, the Israelis learned, as the Germans had learned in Stalingrad, that close quarter fighting in built up urban areas puts superiority in tactics and mobility at a discount, but the IDF cleared the town of militants.

      Hezbollah thus did not “win” a single engagement they fought. They sat by helplessly while the IAF pulverized their equipment and infrastructure, lost 500 of their best fighters and were driven back in every ground engagement, fired off most of the missiles not destroyed by the IAF to negligible effect, cowardly and deliberately targeted Israeli civilians and used Lebanese civilians and civilian areas for shielding purposes, booby trapped homes, used mosques, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure for military purposes, and instigated a war that brought death and destruction to South Lebanon unlike anything seen since the Civil War. This was a victory?

      Politically, the most striking evidence of the chastening effect of the 2006 war on Hezbollah was how passively they sat out the 2008/9 Gaza war. When a salvo of Katyusha rockets were fired from South Lebanon into Nahariya on January 9, 2009 during the Gaza conflict, Nasrallah couldn’t distance himself from the attack fast enough.

      So let him do his little dance of bluster and bravado from the basements and underground shelters where he now bustles to and fro to escape assassination. He knows the truth. And he knows what the Lebanese Sh’ia really think of him and Hezbollah. As Amir Taheri has written:

      “Hizbullah is also criticized from within the Lebanese Shiite community, which accounts for some 40% of the population. Sayyed Ali al-Amin, the grand old man of Lebanese Shiism, has broken years of silence to criticize Hizbullah for provoking the war, and called for its disarmament. In an interview granted to the Beirut An-Nahar, he rejected the claim that Hizbullah represented the whole of the Shiite community. “I don’t believe Hizbullah asked the Shiite community what they thought about [starting the] war,” Mr. al-Amin said. “The fact that the masses [of Shiites] fled from the south is proof that they rejected the war. The Shiite community never gave anyone the right to wage war in its name.”

      There were even sharper attacks. Mona Fayed, a prominent Shiite academic in Beirut, wrote an article also published by An-Nahar last week. She asks: Who is a Shiite in Lebanon today? She provides a sarcastic answer: A Shiite is he who takes his instructions from Iran, terrorizes fellow believers into silence, and leads the nation into catastrophe without consulting anyone. Another academic, Zubair Abboud, writing in Elaph, a popular Arabic-language online newspaper, attacks Hizbullah as “one of the worst things to happen to Arabs in a long time.” He accuses Mr. Nasrallah of risking Lebanon’s existence in the service of Iran’s regional ambitions.

      “If Hizbullah won a victory, it was a Pyrrhic one,” says Walid Abi-Mershed, a leading Lebanese columnist. “They made Lebanon pay too high a price – for which they must be held accountable.”

      (“Hizbullah Didn’t Win: Arab Writers are Beginning to Lift the Veil on What Really Happened in Lebanon.” Amir Taheri, The Wall Street Journal, August 25, 2006)

      http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110008847

  • J Street presses division inside Jewish community, blaming neocons for leading 'charge to war in Iraq'
    • Said you:

      "This 82 year old potter told me he’s lived in Bint J’bail ALL HIS LIFE and knows EVERYBODY and their business – all the living and all the dead – he claimed to know ALL his village folk and their history. So I asked him about the Werdines and he said: “They’re not from these mountains”.

      It's shocking, just shocking that an 82-year-old potter in Bint J'Bail would not have heard the name of an obscure Prussian-German family who emigrated from Posen (now part of Poland) to America in the late 1880's. I can only wonder: how many octogenarian potters in Posen have ever heard of the Eidys?

      "They’re not from these mountains?" You have to be joking with this. So you concluded that I am "lying" about my identity from this ludicrous colloquy? Are you serious? This is your great unmasking of my supposed ethnic and religious fraud here? Oh, please!

      Why in the world would anyone in Bint J'Bail have ever heard the name Werdine? My mother was born in America, and both of her parents were born in America, and she has never even visited Bint J'Bail. She has never even visited Lebanon. When did I ever tell you otherwise? I also told you subsequently (July 27), upon getting more information from my cousin, who is most knowledgeable about the family history, that the Eidy family originally came from Machghara in West Bekaa and went to Bint J'Bail only briefly before going elsewhere to America. In fact, my cousin told me that it is possible that no Eidys ever lived in Bint J'Bail, though he was told there was:

      On July 27 I said to you:

      "If you are going to Lebanon, you might have better luck searching out my maternal ancestral roots in Machghara, from where the Eidy family emigrated south to Bint J’bail, before the family came to America, though some, I am told, later went to Jdaide. Machghara, a small town that doesn’t appear on many maps of Lebanon, is in west Bekka just due east of Jezzine. I would be most interested to find out if there are any left there or in Bint J’bail. If so, I would like to make contact with them.

      Also, when you go to Bint J’bail, my cousins, the Dabagias, are curious to know if there are any family of theirs still living there as well."

      I also said:

      "Tell you what. You really want to find out about me? Then call some of the Lebanese families in the Northwest Indiana area and do just that. Try the Dabagias and the Olweeans (also in Kalamazoo, Michigan), and any Eidys you can find, in Michigan City or Toledo, OH. They’ll confirm everything I’ve said."

      http://mondoweiss.net/2011/07/the-norway-massacre-and-the-nexus-of-islamophobia-and-right-wing-zionism.html

      The mind boggles at how or why , in light of what I told you, you could possibly have thought, even if there were relatives of mine still living in Bint J'Bail, that there might have been Werdines living there, or that anyone there would have even heard the name. You thus went looking for something you knew you were not going to find. I made it perfectly clear to you where you could look to confirm the substance of my background, which you declined to pursue. Instead, you preposterously decided to ask someone in the wrong place, and who would not have had the faintest notion of what you are talking about. Good work.

      In response to a question of my background by commenter Sean McBride on October 16, I wrote:

      "I was born and raised a Sh’ia Muslim. My mother’s maiden name is Eidy. Her mother’s maiden name is Mohammed. I have been talking to my cousin Phillip lately, who is the most knowledgeable about our family history and he has told me that my mother’s paternal grandfather hailed from Machghara, a small town in West Bekaa just due east Jezzine, before going to Bint J’Bail and from there to Jdaide, and to America at around the turn of the century. My mother’s maternal grandfather came from Bint J’Bail, though he was originally from Damascus, something I only learned recently. He too came to America about 1910-1914, and he (Sharif Mohammed) was one of the founders of our local mosque in Michigan City, one of the first built in the state of Indiana sometime around 1923 or so.

      I don’t know if there are any Eidys still left in Machghara, but there certainly were when my mother’s younger brother went there in the early 1970’s. My cousin tells me there are still a lot of his family, the Dabagias (Dabajas), living there in Bint J’Bail."

      I also said:

      "I am proud of both my Lebanese and my German heritage, but I am first and foremost an American. My parents and grandparents were all born in America. Certainly there is nothing in my German heritage that would or should prevent me from admitting that Germany was responsible for both world wars."

      http://mondoweiss.net/2011/10/nyt-reviewer-small-group-of-bush-advisers-will-take-real-reason-for-iraq-war-to-their-restless-graves.html

      So it would appear that it all comes down to this. On the baseless assumption that I have "thieved" the names of my mother and maternal grandparents, you have confined your method of inquiry not to whether there were any Dabagias or Mohammeds in Bint J'Bail or Eidys in Machghara, but to whether or not it is possible for an American Sh'ia Muslim woman of Lebanese descent to marry a German Christian. Your potter friend tells you that you that no "mosque building immigrant" would allow his granddaughter to marry any German Christian, and, if she did so, it would be a scandal, and male relatives would hunt her down and kill her to expiate the shame of her horrendous misdeed, and thus honor would be satisfied and the stain from the Eidy family removed.

      I don't know how to say this other than just to say it: This is just the purest of bullshit.

      These shame society mores that first generation immigrants brought back from the old country when they first arrived here were certainly common enough, but many of these destructive and violent practices (such as honor killings) were comparatively rare, even back then. Your potter friend, to put it mildly, simply does not know what the hell he is talking about, and knows nothing about Lebanese in America. If he did, he would know that ethnically and religiously homogeneous Lebanese-American communities, especially those concentrated in the Northwest Indiana-Mid/South Michigan-West Ohio area, are virtually non-existent, and the practice of such "honor killings" to enforce some sort of ethnic and/or religious inter-familial purity, are simply unheard of. I know of none to have ever occurred within this area. Ever.

      For example, five out of six of my maternal grandmother's (Sito Mohammed's) siblings all married non-Arab Christians, as have four out of five of my mother's brothers and sisters, and all are yet to be lynched by a violent mob of male Mohammeds or Eidys seeking expiation of the said crime.

      (Your potter friend might be even more disturbed to learn that my cousins, the Dabagias (Dabajas), who, unlike the Eidys, have deep, longstanding roots in Bint J'Bail, have been intermarrying with non-Arab Christians for the last several generations. It's a national epidemic)

      To even presume the plausibility or veracity of such a scenario is a smear on the entire Lebanese-American experience. Does it not occur to you that this is exactly the kind of crude, false, and negative stereotyping that is currently empowering discrimination against all Arabs and Muslims nationwide? The dissemination of this kind of cartoonish culture slander of Arab family elders honor-murdering their womenfolk is what gives the Gary Bauers, the Ann Coulters, and the Pat Robertsons exactly what they need propagandize their Islamophobia. Don't you know this? Or how offensive this is?!

      The question now remains as to whether I have "thieved" the names of my maternal grandparents. I have not.

      I have no bead on my maternal great grandfather (Sharif Mohammed), except that he came to America from Lebanon sometime between 1910-1915. My maternal grandfather was named Sam Eidy, and he seems to have emigrated here sometime around the turn of the century. Sam and Sk'ia Eidy sired 10 children: Mihley, Belle, Adam, Hassan, Hammond (my grandfather), Joseph, Alex, Faye, Lila, and Karen.

      My aunt Faye married into the Sugheir family, and my aunt Lila married into the Cheikh family. Both families originate from Macghara.

      My mother's cousin David, who is the son of Hassan Eidy, has written the following in the guest book of Machghara.com:

      "My name is David Eidy.

      In Machghara the name is Eidi. My Grandfather came from Machghara between 1900 and 1910 and the immigration officials changed the spelling to Eidy. I have a lot of Eidy relatives that live here in the U.S., but I am hopeful to find Eidi's in Machghara that have internet and e-mail. I imagine my Grandfather hopefully had other brothers or sisters that have family that I could get to know.
      I happened onto this site a few weeks ago and really like this site.

      My Mother visited Machghara in 1970 and only had a few pictures of relatives and the town, but they didn't turn out well. This site gives me a great view of everything about the town. It's a very proud place. I hope that anyone from Machghara will read this and either be an Eidi or pass the message along to an Eidi there so I can make contact. My Grandfathers name was Sam Eidy. My Fathers name was Hassen Eidy. I also know that my Grandfather had a brother who migrated to South America in early 1900, so I hope any Eidi's that live there that know their origin is Machghara will get in contact with me also.

      Thanks beforehand for efforts with helping me with this."

      He posted this entry on April 6, 2003, at the very bottom of the thread.

      http://www.machghara.com/1Guestbook/Guest%20Archive15.htm

      David Eidy is also listed in the directory, which includes many Eidys (Eidis):

      http://www.machghara.com/directory.htm#E

      I'm not sure I ever met David in person (I missed the last family reunion in Toledo in 2003) but my mother last corresponded with him some several months ago. Here is where you can contact him:

      http://www.proud-to-be-lebanese.com/David-Eidy

      Be sure and ask him if he has a cousin Pamela Eidy-Werdine living in Michigan City Indiana, who is the daughter of Ham Eidy and Faye Mohammed-Eidy, with siblings Richard, Larry, Bonnie, Greg and Tracey.

      Well, it would seem that another sordid attempt to "expose" my alleged ethnic and religious masquerade, has gone to pot. And what is the root of all this fevered speculation on my ethnic and religious identity? It is the racist and thoroughly reprehensible conviction that that all Lebanese Muslims must think and feel a certain way, or be denounced as frauds and apostates. If I were here sliming Israel and praising your Hamas and Hezbollah hero-terrorists to the skies, would you really be showering me with this slander and abuse? In a word: no.

      And for shame.

      True Islam is about prayer, meditation, tolerance, and moral governance, not chauvinism or fanatical fundamentalism. It is a matter of heart, and not a strict observance of ritual.That is the Islam I know and love. I know of nothing in my Lebanese heritage or the religion I practice that would plausibly preclude me from holding the views that I hold on politics or world affairs, or that would ever compel me to subscribe to some of the Orwellian inversions of reality, and blatant distortions of history, concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other matters that are sometimes posited on this blog. I could only support such views by betraying everything I think right, and by lying.

      Your racist intolerance, your advocacy of Hamas/Hezbollah suicide muderers, and your crude, slanderous stereotyping are simply beneath contempt.

    • Annie, this is simply incorrect.

      The consensus of the CIA that Saddam possessed wmd was supported by the intelligence services of more than a dozen nations, including Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Even bitter opponents of the war like France, Germany, Russia, and China never argued that Saddam did not have WMD; indeed, the German intelligence stated their belief that Saddam was within 1-3 years of obtaining a nuclear device–more than several years ahead of the CIA’s estimate. France and the others merely argued, for their own self-interested reasons, that war was the wrong way to disarm Saddam, not that he had no WMD.

      In March 2002, said August Hanning, chief of German intelligence:

      “It is our estimate that Iraq will have an atomic bomb in three years.”

      http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2002/03/25/020325fa_FACT1?currentPage=all

      Said the French Foreign Minister Dominique De Villepin on February 3, 2003:

      “Right now, our attention has to be focused as a priority on the biological and chemical domains. It is there that our presumptions about Iraq are the most significant: regarding the chemical domain, we have evidence of its capacity to produce VX and yperite; in the biological domain, the evidence suggests the possible possession of significant stocks of anthrax and botulism toxin, and a possibility of a production capability.”

      De Villepin, now playing to the galleries of the anti-war, pro-Saddam audience at the UN—and turning 1441 on its head—was also clear on his prescribed cure for Saddam’s continued non-cooperation—more inspectors, apparently so that he could enlarge the crowd of them already camped outside buildings and scientists’ houses, waiting vainly for admittance, cooperation, and access to documents:

      "Let us double or triple the number of inspectors and open up more regional offices. Let us go further: Why not establish a specialized body to keep under surveillance the sites and areas already inspected?”

      http://www.un.int/france/documents_anglais/030205_cs_france_irak.htm

      By gad, why not indeed?!

      It does not seem to have occurred to De Villepin that his plan for enlarging the inspection regime to compensate for Saddam’s non-cooperation would ultimately founder on Saddam’s non-cooperation. In any event, the conviction that Saddam was in material breach of 1441 and had WMD was shared not only by countries like France that opposed military action, but also shared all across the bipartisan spectrum in America.

  • Jennifer Rubin's fast track to intolerance
  • Bad Elliott
    • Ah, more fan mail.

      Cliff, still howling at the moon, I see. Your racial/ethnic/religious determinism and stereotyping is simply appalling. Get some help.

      Avi,

      I understood Abrams' post to be directed toward Hamas, not the Palestinian people. Just because Hamas are Palestinian doesn't mean it was directed at all Palestinians. She referred to captors and the whole cult of death that pervades the Hamas dominated media where children are fed a diet of pure hate of Israel and Jews on a daily basis, where they are sent to Hitler-youth like camps where they are taught to worship and pursue Jihad through violence, murder, and martyrdom, where they are taught the use of weapons.

      Frankly, I find it a bit difficult to be too bent out of shape at bad things said about Hamas; if you're going to be a genocidal terrorist group, the least you can expect is a little bad press now and then. I don't object to Abrams' characterization of Hamas, except grammatically with that run on sentence paragraph.

      I would take issue, however, with her lunatic suggestion that Hamas be scattered to the sea as fish food. That was wrong.

      I want to see the Hamas regime removed from power, the whole terrorist infrastructure dismantled, and their leadership arrested and put on trial, not eaten by sharks.

    • I think she means journalist Helen Thomas, who advised the Jews to get out of Palestine and go back to Germany and Poland, or something like that. That upset some people. Rachel Abrams' rude comments about Hamas are apparently far worse, I guess.

  • 'Neocon' is suddenly a bad career move (and Rachel Abrams ain't helping the Elliott Abrams brand)
    • Phillip,

      Said you:

      "to vanity fair, wolfow. said that WMD was basically a lie for other reasons for the iraq war. and in his case what that meant, i believe, was this grand strategy to start democracy by force, and do nothing about the israeli occupation."

      I dispute that construction on Wolfowitz' remarks. Here is the unedited transcript of Wolfowitz's interview with Sam Tannenhaus:

      "Q: Was that one of the arguments that was raised early on by you and others that Iraq actually does connect, not to connect the dots too much, but the relationship between Saudi Arabia, our troops being there, and bin Laden's rage about that, which he's built on so many years, also connects the World Trade Center attacks, that there's a logic of motive or something like that? Or does that read too much into --

      Wolfowitz: No, I think it happens to be correct. The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason, but…there have always been three fundamental concerns. One is weapons of mass destruction, the second is support for terrorism, the third is the criminal treatment of the Iraqi people. Actually I guess you could say there's a fourth overriding one which is the connection between the first two. The third one by itself, as I think I said earlier, is a reason to help the Iraqis but it's not a reason to put American kids' lives at risk, certainly not on the scale we did it. That second issue about links to terrorism is the one about which there's the most disagreement within the bureaucracy, even though I think everyone agrees that we killed 100 or so of an al Qaeda group in northern Iraq in this recent go-around, that we've arrested that al Qaeda guy in Baghdad who was connected to this guy Zarqawi whom Powell spoke about in his UN presentation.”

      On the I/P issue he said:

      "Q: And then the last question, you've been very patient and generous. That is what's next? Where do we stand now in the campaign that you talked about right after September 11th?

      Wolfowitz: I think the two most important things next are the two most obvious. One is getting post-Saddam Iraq right. Getting it right may take years, but setting the conditions for getting it right in the next six months. The next six months are going to be very important.
      The other thing is trying to get some progress on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. I do think we have a better atmosphere for working on it now than we did before in all kinds of ways. Whether that's enough to make a difference is not certain, but I will be happy to go back and dig up the things I said a long time ago which is, while it undoubtedly was true that if we could make progress on the Israeli-Palestinian issue we would provide a better set of circumstances to deal with Saddam Hussein, but that it was equally true the other way around that if we could deal with Saddam Hussein it would provide a better set of circumstances for dealing with the Arab-Israeli issue. That you had to move on both of them as best you could when you could, but --

      There are a lot of things that are different now, and one that has gone by almost unnoticed--but it's huge--is that by complete mutual agreement between the U.S. and the Saudi government we can now remove almost all of our forces from Saudi Arabia. Their presence there over the last 12 years has been a source of enormous difficulty for a friendly government. It's been a huge recruiting device for al Qaeda. In fact if you look at bin Laden, one of his principle grievances was the presence of so-called crusader forces on the holy land, Mecca and Medina. I think just lifting that burden from the Saudis is itself going to open the door to other positive things.

      I don't want to speak in messianic terms. It's not going to change things overnight, but it's a huge improvement."

      http://www.defense.gov/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=2594

      As i have argued elsewhere,

      http://mondoweiss.net/2011/10/nyt-reviewer-small-group-of-bush-advisers-will-take-real-reason-for-iraq-war-to-their-restless-graves.html

      People can, I think, agree to disagree on whether we were right or wrong to take the action that we did. In any event, there is no question that Wolfowitz and others genuinely believed the weight of intelligence that they were presented with on Saddam's arsenal. He simply said wmd was not the only consideration in removing Saddam, for the simple reason that there was a wealth of other reasons to do so. He certainly did not say that wmd was "basically a lie."

      And while it is for certain that Wolfowitz's views of an equitable solution to the I/P conflict is unlikely to match your own, it does not follow that just because he and other neo-conservatives do not share your advocacy of a 1ss means that they are indifferent to the plight and sufferings of the Palestinians, or are, or have been, thwarting their sovereign aspirations. Certainly the Arab states in the 1947-1967 period, and, afterward, Arafat, Abbas, and Hamas have done far more to do that than the most hawkish neo-con could ever do.

    • American,

      Said you: “To best of memory WWI had it origins mainly in the different alliances some countries had formed with pacts to defend each other. I don’t remember right now the first initial act of aggression in that war and who it was by…”

      The immediate cause of the war was the determination of the Germans to exploit the crisis engendered by the assassination of the Austrian Archduke in June 1914 to wage aggressive war against Russia and France.

      France had been smarting ever since her loss to Germany (then Prussia) in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. Germany’s Chancellor, Otto von Bismark, had made friendship with Russia always a high priority, lest she be driven into an alliance with revenge-seeking France, and thus putting Germany between two hostile powers. In 1889, Bismark was dismissed by Kaiser Wilhelm II, who scrapped the German-Russian treaty of friendship, and, within several years, the Franco-Russian rapprochement that Bismark had feared had come to be.

      There were many aggravating factors that led to the increase in continental tensions that led to the war, but the most decisive was the militant, belligerent nature of German diplomacy. Germany was arguably the most militarized nation on the planet at the time, and the Kaiser gave this his unrestrained support for the political power of the military with his dozens of uniforms, his parades and his obsession with other military pageantry. By the end of the 1890’s Germany now began to build a navy to contest Britian’s rule of the waves, thus foolishly driving Britian into the Franco-Russian camp. By 1914 the military, at the behest of the Kaiser, had almost wholly supplanted the authority of the politicians and the Kaiser’s cabinet ministers.

      The military were obsessed with “encirclement” by Russia and France. In 1905 Count von Schleiffen, chief of the German general staff, devised a plan for a preventive war to meet this “threat”: A preemptive invasion of France through Belgium to bypass the string of fortifications on the French-German border. The campaign would last about six weeks, and it envisaged a massive turning movement of six German armies slicing westward through Belgium into France through Flanders and Picardy, southwest and hooking round Paris, thus encircling the capitol, and trapping the bulk of the French armies therein. With France out of the way, the Germans would then turn on Russia and defeat her. That was the Schleiffen Plan.

      Nobody at the time dreamed that the assassination would lead to war. Everyone knew it was the work of the Serbian terrorist group the Black Hand. But even Franz Joseph, the Austro-Hungarian emperor (who hated the Archduke anyway), did not believe that this was any cause for alarm. So a few Serbian thugs tossed a few bombs and fired a couple of shots. Big deal. He felt Austria should not overreact, and he certainly did not consider this to be a casus belli.

      When the Archduke was assassinated in June 1914, the German war chiefs saw their chance to put the plan into action, and the German generals had told the German Chancellor Bethman Hollweg that “there must be a war before it is too late,” and a pro-German minister in the Austrian foreign office called the assassination “a gift from Mars.” War with Serbia was looked upon enthusiastically by Austrian militarists: it would punish the recalcitrant, terrorist-supporting Serbs, and make Austria great again. However, war with Serbia would also mean war with Russia, Serbia’s ally and protector, and nobody wanted that.

      Except the Germans, that is. The Germans had long feared the rise of Russia’s power and her alliance with France, and, seeing an opportunity to provoke a war with her on favorable terms, now brought the full force of their brutal persuasion to bear on their Austrian allies to maximize their outraged response to this Serbian-contrived assassination. Prodded by the Germans, the Austrians now handed the Serbs a ten-pointed ultimatum demanding full compliance for an investigation of the assassination, several of which infringed directly upon Serbian sovereignty. The Austrians, with German coaching, had designed the ultimatum to be so insultingly unreasonable in its demands as to ensure its rejection. When the Serbs accepted all but two of the demands in the ultimatum, the Austrians were shocked; expecting a wholesale rejection from the reliably haughty Serbs, they did not know quite what to do. The Germans, who did know what to do, then told the Austrians what to do: Declare war on Serbia. Following much banging of the table from Berlin, the Austrians finally did so on July 28, 1914.

      When Lord Grey, the British foreign minister, suggested a regional conference consisting of France Britian, Russia, and Germany to mediate the Austrian-Serbian dispute, German Chancellor Bethman-Hollweg, who had lately been busy engineering the present conflict and was loath to see his handiwork wrecked by a peace conference of all things, replied that he would not interfere with Austria’s sovereign self-defense, and that Britian and the others should do the same.

      The Germans had already planned a full mobilization of their forces but they were now handed a priceless gift by the Russians on July 31 when the Czar announced that Russia would then mobilize, though he emphasized that this was only a partial mobilization and did not mean war. The French also mobilized. The Germans could hardly believe their luck. They could now present their own mobilization as a defensive response to that of Russia and France. When the Russians predictably refused Germany’s demand that they demobilize, Germany declared war on August 1.

      Since the German war plan also included an attack on France, a pretext would now have to be found to provoke war with that country. It was found: the Germans issued an ultimatum to the French demanding they surrender to the Germans three of their border fortresses to ease German concern that the French would not attack them while they were at war with Russia. The Germans, in effect, were demanding France forfeit her border defenses for German peace of mind while Germany waged aggressive war on Russia, her ally. This ultimatum, which excelled the Austrian ultimatum in the brutality of its intransigent unreasonableness, was rejected out of hand, and Germany now declared war on France on August 3. On August 4, the Germans invaded Belgium, a neutral country that Britian was bound by treaty to protect. Faced with the cynical brutality of the German aggression against a neutral country, Britian now declared war on Germany. World War One had begun.

      The truth is that the Germans waged war for nakedly expansionist and even annexationist reasons. They coveted Belgian coal, French iron ore, and sought the colonization and enslavement of western Russia and its resources. They envisioned a mittleuropa where Germany would occupy the low countries, most of northern and eastern France, and all of European Russia and Russian Poland. And they were serious. Much is made of the supposed harshness of the Versailles Treaty after the war, but it was tinker toys compared to what the Germans would have done to the Allies and Russia had they been victorious.

      German unrestricted submarine warfare and the Zimmerman Telegram, in which the Germans, incredibly, promised the Mexicans the return of territories lost in the Mexican-American War in return for entering the war on Germany’s side, provoked America into the war. An outraged America declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917.

      Long term, it was not in America’s interest to have Germany exploiting and enslaving the continent. It was also just plain wrong. By the time America declared war, Russia was out of the war, and the British and the French were exhausted and demoralized. Without American intervention, the Allies would have lost the war. Our intervention was therefore right as well as critical.

      In World War Two, Germany and Japan declared war on America, not the other way around. The consequences for a victory by an expansionist Japan and a genocidal Hitler for America would hardly have been "miniscule."

      The world is, as always, a dangerous place, and I believe in the primacy and beneficence of American power in this dangerous world, and would shudder to contemplate its absence. The UN ultimately fails in its stead because nations do not sacrifice their core interests for a collective foreign policy, and do not sacrifice for others’ interests. That is why American leadership is more important than ever, and sometimes that involves intervention.

  • The US media reports: Gilad Shalit swapped for 1000 non-people (per Blumenthal)
    • Ellen,

      Said you, quoting the Likud charter:

      “The Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are the realization of Zionist values. Settlement of the land is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and constitutes an important asset in the defense of the vital interests of the State of Israel. The Likud will continue to strengthen and develop these communities and will prevent their uprooting."

      The Jewish communities in Gaza have been withdrawn completely, and the Palestinians were offered a sovereign state with a contiguous 97% of the West Bank in 2000, and again in 2008.

      “The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.”

      "In my vision of peace," said Netanyahu in his June 2009 Bar–Ilan University speech, "in this small land of ours, two peoples live freely, side-by-side, in amity and mutual respect, each with its own flag and national anthem."

      "Let us meet. Let us speak of peace and let us make peace. I am ready to meet with you anytime. I am willing to go to Damascus, to Riyadh, to Beirut, to any place including Jerusalem," he said.

      Does the Likud platform really preclude an eventual establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state? I hardly think so. Certainly Netanyahu does not seem to think so. The platform is an expression of general principles; it does not preclude any Likud prime minister from consenting to the mutually agreed establishment of such a state; it objects to the “unilateral” establishment of one. Netanyahu, in his current term as PM, to the best of my knowledge, has never stated that all the principles of the platform are all set in stone and are non-negotiable.

      Do you really believe that the whole state of Israel is bound to some kind of slavish obeisance to the Likud platform where their negotiations with the Palestinians are concerned? Likud does not rule as dictators of Israel like Hamas does in Gaza. Both Sharon and Netanyahu have openly recognized the inevitability of a Palestinian state.

      Indeed, Barak, Sharon, Olmert, and even Netanyahu are on record accepting a Palestinian state in principle and practice. Considering Netanyahu’s previous opposition to Oslo and a Palestinian state, skepticism of his sincerity is certainly in order. But we will never find out until the Palestinians decide to first negotiate, then negotiate in good faith.

      But that’s not going to happen. Negotiations involve compromise and give and take—both anathema to the Palestinians.

      Can the same thing even remotely be said of Hamas’ making peace with, or even recognizing Israel?

      No, it cannot. In Hamas, Israel is faced with a terrorist regime wholly and singly dedicated to its destruction, and one who, for over two decades, wages, and has waged war towards this objective in violation of every known law of warfare. They are not concerned merely with settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, but with Israel’s existence. Period.

      A few of the Hamas Charter’s greatest hits:

      --“Moreover, if the links have been distant from each other and if obstacles, placed by those who are the lackeys of Zionism in the way of the fighters obstructed the continuation of the struggle, the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to the realisation of Allah's promise, no matter how long that should take. The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said:

      "The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews." (related by al-Bukhari and Muslim)”

      --“Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. Abusing any part of Palestine is abuse directed against part of religion. Nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its religion. Its members have been fed on that. For the sake of hoisting the banner of Allah over their homeland they fight. "Allah will be prominent, but most people do not know."

      --Now and then the call goes out for the convening of an international conference to look for ways of solving the (Palestinian) question. Some accept, others reject the idea, for this or other reason, with one stipulation or more for consent to convening the conference and participating in it. Knowing the parties constituting the conference, their past and present attitudes towards Muslim problems, the Islamic Resistance Movement does not consider these conferences capable of realising the demands, restoring the rights or doing justice to the oppressed. These conferences are only ways of setting the infidels in the land of the Muslims as arbitraters. When did the infidels do justice to the believers?

      There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. The Palestinian people know better than to consent to having their future, rights and fate toyed with. As in said in the honourable Hadith:

      "The people of Syria are Allah's lash in His land. He wreaks His vengeance through them against whomsoever He wishes among His slaves It is unthinkable that those who are double-faced among them should prosper over the faithful. They will certainly die out of grief and desperation."

      Hamas was founded and exists for one reason: to murder Jews, to destroy Israel, and to establish an Islamic totalitarian regime in all of Palestine with themselves as rulers. Israel would have no cause for quarrel with Hamas if this were not Hamas’ ambition, or if Hamas were a peaceful, lawful entity with peaceful, lawful ambitions. But they are what they are: violent, lawless terrorists who commit indiscriminate acts of terrorism and murder against innocent Israeli civilians in the service of their openly stated objectives.

      There is, in short, no comparison with the openly ignored, increasingly obsolescent Likud charter either in the nature and intent of the documents, the objectives expressed, or the extent to which they are adhered to. The objectives of the Hamas Charter are openly proclaimed in words, and have been sanctified by the bloodiest of deeds.

  • In Cairo, we consecrate the freedom of religion
    • I was hoping I'd run into you.

      I have a gift, just for you:

      http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/10/05/what_im_telling_the_south_koreans#commentspace

      Scroll down to the comment section, and enjoy.

      Since my reply to your spurious October 1, 8:24am post

      http://mondoweiss.net/2011/09/obama-consulted-no-palestinians-for-his-rendition-of-history.html

      was banned, I decided to post my comprehensive reply on the comment section of Stephen Walt's "What I'm telling the South Koreans" October 5 blog entry, so that you would not feel cheated.

      I specifically picked Walt's blog. Appreciate the irony?

      Said you "Except that none of this took place. In Iraq for xample, it was Jewish terorists who w3ere caught setting off bombs against Jewish targets, in an attempt to create panic and flight of the Jewish population from Iraq."

      This is pretty silly. The wave of persecution that swept over Iraqi Jewry was ferocious: about 1500 Jews dismissed from government positions, doctors having their licenses revoked, merchant's import and export licenses canceled, to the accompaniment of a whole range of economic sanctions.

      Said Iraqi PM Nuri Sa'id in January 1949: "all Iraqi Jews would be expelled if the Israelis did not allow the Arab refugees to return to Palestine." They weren't, but in October some 2000 Jews were thrown into jails and concentration camps, and their property and money extorted and stolen. After 1949 they began to leave, and not because they were being treated so swell.

      I think this is called "collective punishment."

      And this was just Iraq. There were innumerable pogroms and acts of mob violence all over the Arab world after November 30, 1947 and again after May 15, 1948.

    • Annie,

      In September of 1947 the Iraqi Prime Minister warned the British Foreign Office that if the UN’s plan to solve the Palestine problem was not “satisfactory” to the Arabs, “severe measures should be taken against all Jews in Arab countries.” In October senior Egyptian UN delegate Hussein Heykel announced that “the lives of 1,000,000 Jews in Moslem countries would be jeopardized by the establishment of a Jewish state.”

      In 1948 there was about 75000 Jews in Egypt. The wikipedia article is silent on the fact that some 1000-2500 Egyptian Jews were hustled into internment camps after the pan-Arab invasion of May 1948, and that some 10,000 left in the 1948-1950 period. The rough consensus from a variety of sources is that there were about 40,000 Jews that were left there in 1958. All scholars agree that some 25,000 were expelled between 1955-1957, meaning that about 10,000 left in the period before, and that there is not any record of any mass migrations between 1951-1954.

      Benny Morris, in his most recent work on the 1948 war, puts the number fleeing in 1948-1950 much higher and has asserted that,

      “about 25,000 left in 1948—1950. The bulk
      of the remainder left under duress or were
      deported, with their property confiscated, in
      1955-1957, immediately before and after
      the Sinai-Suez war. By 1970 only about
      1000 remained. These too, subsequently
      departed.”

      So, according to all of the available evidence, it would seem that at least 10,000, perhaps more, Egyptian Jews fled immediately following the 1948 War.

      (“1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War,” p.414)

      http://www.justiceforjews.com/pop_chart.pdf

  • Brutal eviction of Palestinian family in Jaffa caught on tape
    • “The Palestinians had NO army from 1937 onwards. Husayni was exile from Palestine in 1937 and never returned, so he clearly never had a”personal” army. So Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni had 128 men. Big deal. the Irgun, Palmach and Stern gangs had well over 10,000 between them. The Haganah was 30,000 strong.”

      This, at best a dubious half-truth, by a commenter from whom much untruth and silliness has flowed, is also a factual and historical absurdity.

      As I have pointed out innumerable times to the above author, while it is certainly true that the Arab revolt (1936-1939) had fractured the then-Palestinian leadership, in June of 1946, the foreign ministers of the Arab league created the Arab High Executive (AHE) with Haj Amin al-Husseini as chairman and Jamal Husseini as vice-chairman. With the Mufti’s return to Cairo, the nine member AHE was renamed the AHC (Arab High Committee), and the Mufti influenced Palestinian affairs from there. The AHC was the recognized leadership, such as it was, of Arab Palestine, even if other Arab leaders overrode and marginalized him when it suited them, which was often. The Husseini’s anti-opposition terrorism against the Nashashibis and others in the previous years had largely eliminated rivals for their power by this time. The Mufti had agents and supporters all over Palestine that were directly answerable to him and his brother. For the British Mandatory government, the Mufti and his brother were the ones with whom Prime Minister Atlee, Foreign Secretary Bevin, and Cunningham dealt.

      The Palestinian people, then as today, have always had the singular misfortune to be one of the worst led people in history. Their leaders sided with the Germans in World War one, with Hitler in World War two, with the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and Sadamm Hussein in the Gulf War.

      Not unlike Lebanon in some ways in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the problem for the Palestinians in the late 1940’s was not that they had no leadership, but that they had too much of it. Syrians, Jordanians, Iraqis, and Egyptians all had their own designs on the area, clashed often with the Mufti as well as with one another, and all attempted to emphasize and parlay their own influence there. Everyone wanted to be top dog in Palestine. The conflicting strategies, loyalties, and agendas would ultimately doom the Arab war effort. But all were united in viewing the crusade for Palestine as a matter of principle and honor, and they honestly and honorably believed in their cause.

      However, while acknowledging the absurdity of the notion that there was no Palestinian army, it must also be said that the wikipedia article likely exaggerates the number of Arabs bearing arms inside Palestine in the December 1947-May 15, 1948. It was certainly not in the few tens of thousands. In fact, it is highly unlikely that the total number in this period ever got over 10,000 at any time before the pan-Arab invasion of May 15, 1948, and probably not even that.

      One of the problems that historians have always had in assessing the relative strengths of the Arab forces during this period is that their numbers kept fluctuating, with sections of the militias doing duty, then going home, returning and then going home again ad infinitum. Also, the constant influx of foreign fighters from the neighboring states also made tracking their numbers something of a loose guessing game, though the Haganah got their facts right more often than not.

      Part of the problem also stemmed from the fact that the numerous Palestinian militias lacked a central organizing authority. Scattered all around Palestine, they were mostly local (and tribal) in character and formation, being any where from squad, platoon to company level size, armed with pistols, rifles and small stocks of ammo. There was little co-ordination between the militias, though neighboring villages would often assist each other.

      Outside of the local militias, the main Arab/Palestinian fighting forces consisted of the Arab Liberation Army (ALA) commanded by Fawzi al-Qawuqji, and the most prominent Palestinian militias commanded by Abd al-Qader Husayni of the Jerusalem front, and Hasan Salame of the Lydda front.

      The ALA at its height probably never numbered more than 5000 troops, the Jerusalem front of Husayni numbered about 700-2000--the number fluctuated, and Salame’s Lydda front about 800-1000. The rest of the armed forces in Palestine consisted of hundreds of other Arabs, Druze, Bosniaks, and members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

      The Palestinian war effort was plagued from the beginning by disorganization, lack of equipment and resources, lack of cohesion and effective command, divided allegiances, and intense political and military inter-Arab rivalries. As Benny Morris wrote, “There were simply too many diverse Arab units and too many bodies pulling the strings from the outside.”

      The Husayni’s fought hard but failed to prevent the ALA from being commanded by one of the Mufti’s most bitter rivals, Fawzi al-Qawuqji, and complained (correctly) that the ALA would deprive Husayni’s forces of much needed arms and supplies, though the Mufti did manage to secure appointments of two of his protégés, Abd al-Qader al-Husayni, commander of the Jerusalem front, and Hasan Salame, commander of the Lydda front into the Jaysh al-Jihad al-Muqaddas (“Army of the Holy War”). The Husayni’s regarded the ALA (and its commander, Fawzi al-Qawuqji) as a rival to their own efforts, and the feeling was mutual: the Arab league had set up the ALA to counter the designs and influence of the Mufti. ‘Abdullah of Jordan set up his own force to thwart those of both the Mufti and the ALA, and Farouk of Egypt set himself against the Mufti, ‘Abdullah, and the ALA, saying: “The Arabs ought to get rid of all three of them: the Mufti, Abdullah, and Qawuqji."

      What a warm, endearing portrait of inter-Arab unity and resolve!

      When attempting to discern the relative strengths at the outset of the conflict, viewing the total numbers of troops listed in an order of battle can be misleading. What matters is the number of soldiers that can be trained, armed, and put into the field. For example, the Haganah at the beginning of hostilities in December had about 35,000 men in uniform, but only 2000 were full time soldiers, with about 10,000 in reserve. By the end of December there were 7500 full time soldiers (2500 of which were Palmahniks).The Irgun was armed with 2000-4000 members, about one-tenth of whom were fully armed and active. The Stern/Lehi had about 500-800 men, of whom about 130 were armed and active. By April there were 24,000 Haganah, by mid-May at the time of the pan-Arab invasion there were 30,000, and by mid-July there were 64,000.

      At the end of November 1947, the Haganah had 10,662 rifles, 3830 pistols, 3662, 9mm Sten submachine guns, 775 .303 caliber Bren light machine guns, 157 Vickers medium machine guns, 16 anti-tank guns, 670 two-inch mortars, and 84 three-inch mortars. The Haganah had no tanks, no artillery, no anti-aircraft guns, no combat aircraft, about 11 civilian spotter planes, and a few makeshift armored cars (actually school buses and trucks with steel plating welded on to them). Ammunition was hardly plentiful: some fifty rounds per rifle, and six to seven hundred rounds per light and medium machine gun. The Irgun had about 200 rifles, 500 submachine guns, and 160 machineguns. The Stern/Lehi had about 130 submachine guns, 120 revolvers, and no rifles.

      The first Arab attacks in early December 1947 were sporadic, spontaneous, and lacking in coordination, but they grew in frequency, scale, intensity, and sophistication. The Arabs developed a shrewd, sensible strategy of tying up the settlements with attacks and attacking the vulnerable roadways between them. The Arab Liberation Army attack on Kfar Szold on January 10 was by some 900 armed fighters. The January 14 attack on the Etzion Bloc by Abd al-Qader al-Husayni consisted of 1,000 armed fighters, and showed a commendable tactical sophistication, with the main force of 400 hitting the bloc’s main settlement and diversionary attacks hitting the flanks of the surrounding areas. The January 20 attack on Yechiam was by 400 fighters armed not only with rifles, but with medium and light machine guns and mortars, and the ALA attack on Tirat-Zvi by some 300-500 troops was commenced with a heavy barrage of mortar and machine gun fire. The Haganah could count on their tactical superiority and the advantages inherent in the defense to fight back the assaults, but the Arabs had the operational and geographical advantage: they could attack anywhere, anytime, and the Yishuv could not bring their superior strength to bear on meeting every attack.

      Indeed, Palestinian militias and the ALA performed reasonably well against the Yishuv in the Nov.1947 to March 1948 period. In fact, despite their weaknesses, they were succeeding quite handsomely. Abd al-Qadir al Husayni was a very clever and cunning warrior. He had a healthy respect for the Yishuv, and knew that the war could never be won against them on terms of equality. Like the Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest in the American Civil War, he understood how to turn his enemy’s strength into weakness: attack his supplies and the roadways by which he receives them. And it worked: by tying the Haganah up with scattered attacks on all sides of the Yishuv communities at carefully placed intervals, and causing them to disperse their superior numbers in defense, Husayni was able to negate his enemy’s superior forces, strangle the Yishuv’s vulnerable supply lines with virtual impunity, and besiege Jerusalem. Quite a feat, that. Husayni was killed leading a charge in the battle for Qastal hill on April 8. He died as he had lived, heedless of his own life, and stupefied with bravery. His loss was a bitter blow to the Palestinians’ morale, for he was irreplaceable.

      With the death of Husayni, and once the Yishuv took to the offensive on April 6 with Operation Nachshon, the fragility, disorganization, and demoralization of the Palestinian armies became apparent, and Palestinian Arab society, always poorly led, fragile and already disintegrating from the violence and chaos enveloping Palestine since the partition vote, quickly collapsed under the strain of the war.

  • NYT reviewer: Small group of Bush advisers will take real reason for Iraq war to their (restless) graves
    • Citizen,

      I’m sorry I was remiss in replying to your post above, but the cable and the internet in our community was on the fritz from the 18th till the 22nd. Here is the response I wrote to the following statement:

      Said you “Werdine: You ignore it was the CIA that overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran & installed the Shah & that this history is directly connected to the holding of a handful of US hostages by Iran back in the day. If you were Iranian, you wouldn’t forget or ignore this fact of history.”

      I might if I knew the truth. The notion that America, by overthrowing Mossadeq in 1953, snatched democracy from Iran, is a fairy tale.

      However, I realize that the America-stole-democracy-from-Iran thesis is an article of faith on the left, and has even seeped into the mainstream somewhat. The Carter, Clinton, and Obama Administrations seem to have accepted it without question. Said Madeleine Albright:

      “The Eisenhower administration believed its actions were justified for strategic reasons. ... But the coup was clearly a setback for Iran's political development. And it is easy to see now why many Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America in their internal affairs.”

      And President Obama:

      “This issue has been a source of tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is indeed a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government.”

      In fact, Mossadeq’s Iran at the time was a cauldron of anarchy, chaos, and double-dealing, and was moving fast toward a pro-Soviet coup and/or dictatorship, not democracy.

      Mossadeq had by this time gone a long way toward alienating his former allies and supporters by his vote rigging, his Byzantine attempts to maneuver the Shah aside and gather the Shah’s power unto himself, and his extra-constitutional attempts to grab power away from the Majlis, the Iranian parliament.

      First Mossadeq had sought to empower the Majlis by weakening the Shah. He insisted the Shah reign as a figurehead, and not as executive ruler. He sought control of the army, and, in July 1952, he manufactured a dispute with the Shah over the appointment of the war minister. He then upped the ante, and now demanded the Shah appoint him as war minister, and, when this was refused, resigned to much fanfare and popular support.

      The National Front, a loose coalition of liberal-progressive parties, now threw its support behind Mossadeq, as he had expected, and the streets of Tehran were convulsed with street protests where some 69 people died and some 750 injured, though the Shah held back the police and the military from firing on the protestors. After five days of chaos, the Shah bowed to the pressure and re-appointed Mossadeq prime minister.

      Mossadeq now resumed his grab for power. He appointed himself war minister, confiscated the Shah’s lands, expelled the Shah’s sister from the country, and forbade the Shah to have any contact with diplomats. Many of his liberal minded followers in the National Front, who supported him against the Shah, now began to have second thoughts, and, disillusioned, turned against him. The most prominent among them was the Ayatollah Kashani, of the Mujahedeen-i-Islam (Warriors of Islam) party, one of the parties included in the National Front. Kashani and many other opposition leaders were now actively blocking the PM’s legislation, and there was continued violence and chaos in the Majlis. (See Reza Ghods “Iran in the Twentieth Century: A Political History,” (1989), p.186 and Sepehr Zabih “The Mossadeq Era,” (1982), pp.40, 265)

      Mossadeq’s only way to hold on to power now was to dissolve the Majlis, and hold elections whose outcome he could control, but he was faced with an obstacle: under the Iranian constitution only the Shah could dissolve the Majlis. So Mossadeq engineered a detour: he would effect a mass resignation of the National Front, dissolve the Majlis, and then put his action to a national referendum on the novel theory that “popular will superseded the constitution.” As Iran scholar Evrand Abrahamian noted, “Mossadeq the constitutional lawyer who meticulously quoted the fundamental laws against the Shah, was now bypassing the same laws and resorting to the theory of the general will.” (See Evrand Abrahamian “Iran Between Two Revolutions,” (1982), p.279)

      The Shah by now had fled the capital. The vote in early August 1953, which, on the nod from Mossadeq, deliberately excluded the rural areas in an un-secret ballot, netted Mossadeq a 2,043,300 vote margin out of 2,044,600 votes cast—a brazenly fraudulent 99.93% “victory” that would have made even Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs blush with embarrassment.

      Though Mossadeq later attempted to justify his actions on the grounds that “royal interference” made it necessary, this was untrue. He had by this time almost completely sidelined the Shah into near irrelevance, and the Shah had in fact fled the capital by time the vote was taken. Mossadeq later admitted in an interview that he dissolved the 17th Majlis to avoid a confidence vote that would have collapsed his government.

      Mossadeq was really no different from most of the other third world leaders of the post war/post-colonial period. They all talked freedom, democracy, and human rights, and, when in power, practiced graft, vote-rigging, and mass oppression.

      As Kermit Roosevelt observed, by late August 1953, Mossadeq was “barely holding on to the broken sails of his sinking ship. Everything considered, whatever might be said of the morality or legality of the American action, it still should not be considered as having overthrown a stable regime in Iran.” (See Kermit Roosevelt Jr. “Countercoup: The struggle for the control of Iran,” (1979), p.210)

      Indeed. The transparently rigged referendum further alienated Mossadeq not only from the rest of the National Front, but from most parties all across the political spectrum in the Majlis as well. He who, in the name of the constitution and “democracy” had once championed the Majlis to check the power of the Shah, had now engineered an illegal and unconstitutional dissolution of the Majlis on the dubious premise that his action could be supported or rejected by a popular referendum, and had then proceeded to rig the referendum in his favor. Majlis member Jamal Imani denounced Mossadeq for “leading the country toward anarchy,” and the Ayatollah Kashani pronounced the referendum null and void, and contrary to Islamic law. Seeing his popular support within the National Front and the Majlis sink like a stone, Mossadeq now sidled up to the well-organized Communist Tudeh party, and began openly consorting with them, each using the other to their own purposes. The Tudeh now took to the streets with mass rioting and violence. On August 8, the Soviet Union, which had already provided Mossadeq with $20 million to keep his government afloat, now tied more strings and announced that they were engaged in negotiations with Iran for further economic aid. All the conditions favoring a Soviet coup were in place.

      This then was the situation in Iran that confronted American policy makers. It must have been frankly nightmarish. The Iran-Azerbaijan Crisis of 1946, where the Soviets not only refused to withdraw from the northern half of Iran that they had occupied during the war (the British occupied the south), but attempted to create two “People’s Democratic Republics” within Iran, alerted the Americans of Soviet designs on Iran. Having just watched the Baltic states, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Rumania, China, Mongolia and North Korea all fall to Communism, the idea of an oil-rich country in a strategically vital region falling within the Soviet orbit would have been a catastrophe for the West, and anyone who thinks that the Soviets, who were in the process of deepening their claws into Iran, and helping to exploit the present instability to empower the Tudeh, would have kept the erratic and non-Communist Mossadeq in power or installed some Jeffersonian Democrat in his place, is delusional. Bottom line: Iran was going to have dictatorship one way or another, and better it be one favorable to America and the West, than not.

      What would have happened without either Soviet or American involvement has long been a subject for furious speculation. Certainly it is unlikely that the Tudeh at the time could have seized power without the Soviet assistance, yet they were gaining in power and influence, especially in their infiltration of the army. Their new alliance of convenience with Mossadeq merely added to this. (The CIA speculated that they could probably not seize power alone before the end of 1953). But the fact of the matter is that the Soviets were very much involved, had long been coveting Iran’s oil and their strategic location to posit their influence, and had presently been exploiting the chaos and laying the groundwork for converting Iran into a client state, long before America became involved or even decided on a coup of their own.

      It should also not be forgotten that the coup could not have succeeded without the assistance of many internal Iranian factions, including the Sh’ia clerical establishment. Ayatollahs Kashani and Behbehani of the Mujahedeen-i-Islam (Warriors of Islam) party were instrumental in assisting the American-led coup, and it was unlikely to have succeeded without them. As Edward Shirley, a former CIA agent who toured revolutionary Iran has written, “What the Ayatollahs did in 1953 with British and America help, they might have been able to do later without such help.” Shirley also wrote that the America-stole-democracy thesis is, “too convenient in its diabolization of the CIA and M16, and too Persian in its determination to make someone else responsible for failure.” (Edward Shirley, “Know Thine Enemy: A Spy’s Journey into Revolutionary Iran,” 1999)

    • I love this colloquy.

      TGIA says that my anecdote is false because there are no Iranians in Lebanon.

      Jeffrey, musing skeptically, notes that he does “not recall ever seeing a revolving door while in Lebanon and I suspect that there would have to have been quite a few for such a saying to be commonplace.”

      To which TGIA responds, “Exactly Jeffrey,” but, gently qualifying: “Although I do not exclude the possibility they do exist in some few hotels or palaces but certainly not mainstream enough to have created a reference in Lebanese pop culture. And to be accurate, I’ve never seen one in Lebanon myself!” (Elementary, my dear Jeffrey!)

      Ergo, “This Werdine fish is starting to seriously stink.”

      And so the mystery of the Lebanese revolving door goes on unsolved…

      It is eloquent testimony to the hostility, paranoia, and intolerance that pervades this blog that a simple anecdote related by me would be the subject of this laughable forensic query in search of clues to my supposed ethnic and religious masquerade here.

      FYI, my uncle, who is now dead, was born in the United States, and to the best of my knowledge, never visited Lebanon, and didn’t even speak Arabic. His remark to me, which was not literal, but of course metaphorical (duh!), occurred during a discussion we were having about the Iran-Iraq war in the late 1980’s. The kind of cultural prejudice he expressed here is passed down by word of mouth from generation to generation in all cultures. You know, kind of like the things Arabs say about Jews, or Germans say about Poles and other Slavs?

      And why the hell is any of this your business? I come here to blog and debate, not in search of having my ethnic and religious identity authenticated and notarized by the likes of you two idiots.

      I FIRMLY believe that.

      ***

      Sean,

      In answer to your first question, I should probably point out that I come from a very history-minded family. My father, and his father were insatiable history buffs (my father even taught history before going into business), and this passion obviously influenced my own interest. Over the last 35 years, my father and I have traversed just about every battlefield we could travel to: Gettysburg, Fredericksburg, Shiloh, the Shenandoah Valley, Bull Run, Antietam, Saratoga, Cowpens, Bunker Hill, Salamanca, Omaha Beach, Normandy, Agincourt, Waterloo, Verdun, the Somme, Blenheim, Austerlitz—you name it. It has been a lifelong passion for the both of us.

      Also, my father has always been politically conservative, and his father was even more so. This too was a factor. Along with this, probably the strongest influence for my general foreign policy views occurred when, in one of several trips to Europe with my family, we obtained visas to visit behind the Communist bloc in the summer of 1983. We visited East Germany, including Berlin, where we also went to East Berlin and saw the wall. Seeing that wall and contrast of the drab, hushed lifelessness of East Berlin compared to the vitality of the West was an eye-opener. It had to be seen to be believed: The wall, the checkpoints, the guard dogs, the barbed wire and minefields, the hunted look in the face of every pedestrian at the sight of a uniformed policeman asking for “papers”—no one can forget that after seeing it up close. However, I remember that the checkpoint guards and the policemen were all very courteous to us when they found out that we were Americans.

      Being only 13 at the time, I hadn’t really thought much about Communism before I went there, except that it was bad. After that, I knew how bad. I loved Reagan’s “evil empire speech,” and had was incredulous at those who asserted that we were “no better” than the Soviets, that Communism wasn’t all that bad, or that it was America, and not the Soviets, who were responsible for the Cold War. Having witnessed the real thing, I thought these people were either misinformed, lying, or on drugs.

      Another, last factor that I can think of was reading Edmund Burke’s “Reflections on the French Revolution” which I read in a “great books” seminar I took in my senior year in high school. Another influential book: “Witness” by Whittaker Chambers.

      Recognition of human rights as we know them today, have not always existed. It really began when European philosophers of the late 17th and early 18th century began to argue that the individual had rights; the right to be consulted by his government; the right to hold the state accountable, to invoke the law against the state, and to petition courts of law to affirm and enforce this custom. That, in short, an individual was a being apart from the state, that the association with the state be voluntary, and that no individual must ever lose more than they gain by that association.

      That, more than anything else, animates and informs my worldview, and no nation has been more vigilant than the USA in promoting and protecting these rights, values, and customs. In the absence of our leadership and influence, who will step up to do so? Russia? China? Iran? I think not.

      You have said:

      “Nothing is more urgent for Americans than to start focusing on their own domestic problems and to disengage from foreign ethnic and religious feuds that will forever be unresolvable. We need to get out of the nation-building business entirely — we lack the resources to maintain our own nation.”

      I partly agree with you in spirit. President Obama would agree completely, so would the DNC. I would love nothing better than for America to busy itself by tending its own garden. I hope we can disengage from Afghanistan as soon as we can but not before we have stood up an Afghan army that can defend itself. Withdrawing prematurely would be catastrophic for Afghanistan and us. In any case I hope it comes soon.

      On Iran, I am not in favor of war, and, like you, think it would be a catastrophe, and I am hopeful that it can be avoided. But the behavior of the Islamic Republic is making that more and more unlikely.

      In Iran we have a militant, inwardly decaying, totalitarian theocracy whose main export, other than petroleum and a few other delectables, is terror and support for terror. The Mullahs, luckily, lack Saddam’s unstable and dysfunctional gangsterism. They are less provocative, operate more in the shadows, and usually leave it to others to wield the knife or the bomb. Saddam was reckless and brazen; the Mullahs are more like hotel burglars: if they find a room uninhabited, they’ll pick it clean, if not, they’ll withdraw. Yet like all totalitarian regimes past, they tolerate no opinion but their own, feed on hatred, and must keep seeking new targets, new victims, new scapegoats, and new objects of hatred to divert from the misery and failure of their tyranny. The regime is thus a tangle of both dangerous strengths and vulnerable weaknesses, and the Supreme Leader views America with a combination of fear, contempt, and hatred.

      You cannot avoid war with such a regime simply by signaling to the regime that you are eager to avoid war; it just doesn’t work. You avoid it by deterring it, by vigilant containment, and by making clear that there consequences for bad behavior. Iran, from 1979 onwards has been kidnapping and murdering hundreds of Americans with impunity. And they have drawn the correct and proper lesson from the violence they have wreaked on us: that we will scold and protest, but no more. This will not mellow either their nuclear ambitions or their future behavior.

      The truth of the matter is that the Mullahs’ hostility toward us is beyond cure or remedy. Every Administration since Carter has sought to diplomatically engage this regime to no avail. President George W. Bush both directly and through third parties, made extensive efforts to engage the regime, again to no success.

      President Obama’s courtship of the Mullahs has followed a similar trajectory. The problems with Iran, he was sure, stemmed from America's hawkish and aggressive posturing, from which Iran's rulers, seeking only comity and peaceful co-existence, had naturally and understandably recoiled. All that was needed here was an open hand offering friendship and a soft word, and the mullahs, being rational, reasonable folks just like us, would overcome their distrust and hostility, see the errors of their ways, and get with the program. Engagement was the key.

      Obama's Iran engagement has gone to pot, and in return for the open hand of friendship he extended to the Mullahs he got a clenched fist and a thumb in his eye. The Mullahs spat contempt on his friendly gestures, brutally suppressed a pro-democracy protest to a rigged election, and continued ahead unabashedly with their nuclear program.

      The President ignored the mullahs' rebuffs, snored through the brutal crackdown of the pro-democracy Green Movement, and continued dreaming his no-more-nuclear-weapons dreams all the way to his fall-2009 UN speech even after an Iranian nuclear enrichment facility had been discovered at Qom, which he deemed too impolitic to mention, lest it derail his "engagement" fantasies with the mullahs.

      This then has been the Obama policy. In light of this policy, whether war is actually on the horizon with Iran is doubtful; Obama’s reaction to Iranian terror and provocation has been almost wholly rhetorical, and is unlikely to change. The Mullahs have taken his measure and know they have nothing to fear from him. That, however, is the real danger.

      ***

      In answer to your second question: not very much. It’s not unreasonable for you to ask the question, but no, not in any way really.

      I was born and raised a Sh’ia Muslim. My mother’s maiden name is Eidy. Her mother’s maiden name is Mohammed. I have been talking to my cousin Phillip lately, who is the most knowledgeable about our family history and he has told me that my mother’s paternal grandfather hailed from Machgara, a small town in West Bekaa just due east Jezzine, before going to Bint J’Bail and from there to Jdaide, and to America at around the turn of the century. My mother’s maternal grandfather came from Bint J’Bail, though he was originally from Damascus, something I only learned recently. He too came to America about 1910-1914, and he (Sharif Mohammed) was one of the founders of our local mosque in Michigan City, one of the first built in the state of Indiana sometime around 1923 or so.

      I don’t know if there are any Eidys still left in Machgara, but there certainly were when my mother’s younger brother went there in the early 1970’s. My cousin tells me there are still a lot of his family, the Dabagias (Dabajas), living there in Bint J’Bail.

      I was not raised a strictly devout Muslim, and have never been. I believe in the Islam that I was taught by my mother and grandfather. Everyone can only take religion in their own way. That is all any of us can do. I believe in the basic precepts, but religion to me is a matter of heart, and not a strict observance of ritual. It is about prayer, meditation, tolerance, and moral governance, not chauvinism or fanatical fundamentalism. That is the Islam I know and love. I simply cannot conceive of living in some ethnic or religious straitjacket. I know of nothing in my Lebanese heritage or the religion I practice that would plausibly preclude me from holding the views that I hold on politics or world affairs, or that would compel me to subscribe to some of the Orwellian inversions of reality, and blatant distortions of history, concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other matters that are sometimes posited on this blog. I could only support such views by betraying everything I think right and by lying.

      I suppose I am at heart a moderate and an Islamic reformer: someone who fears that Islam (as well as the image of Islam) is being highjacked by terrorists and extremists who have done more to darken and stain this religion than any hostile infidel could ever do. They must not win.

      My beliefs are the result of my knowledge, experiences, and perception of reality; they are not the outgrowth of my ethnic or religious heritage. My belief that Saddam should be removed was based on my perception that he was a threat and needed to be removed for the reasons I gave; it was not in the service of some pro-Sh’ia agenda. I simply do not think in those terms and never have. I am happy that he is gone and that all Iraqis are free from his tyranny.

      I remember during the Lebanon war during the 1980’s there was a lot of tension in our Arab community, especially after Sabra and Shatilla. My views on the ME during that time were unsophisticated and ill informed (like any 13-year-old), and not different from most others in our community, which was unfavorable to Israel. My main interest then was in military history and the Cold War, and my only real interest in the ME issue was in the military history of the Arab-Israeli wars, not of the politics, for which my knowledge was limited. I didn’t really begin to study the issue seriously until my twenties.

      I am proud of both my Lebanese and my German heritage, but I am first and foremost an American. My parents and grandparents were all born in America. Certainly there is nothing in my German heritage that would or should prevent me from admitting that Germany was responsible for both world wars.

      There’s a crude, unsubtle racism in the “fake Arab/Muslim” accusations that regularly get spat at me here: the notion that all Lebanese Muslims must think and feel a certain way, or be denounced as frauds and apostates. If I were here sliming Israel and praising Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists to the skies, do you really think they’d be showering me with this slander and abuse?

      When I first started posting here back in April, David Samel, a commenter and contributor here, asked me several questions similar to the ones you asked, to which I attempted to give a serious, substantive reply. The violence of his response shocked me. Up until then we seemed to be having merely a civil disagreement; I expected at worst just some reasons he might disagree with this or that, but then he went completely nuts, calling me a liar and an apologist for murder, among other things. I was just completely baffled. I actually had to read it twice to make sure I wasn’t mistaken. I just happened to mention that I was a Muslim of Lebanese descent in passing and the whole thread below me lit up like a Christmas tree into a nearly 40-reply bloodletting that was extraordinary in its vehemence. I was, I admit, unused to having my ethnicity and religion impugned in this manner.

      As you can see above, it still continues. My latest exchange with David, who, unprovoked, continues to harass me with his customary slander and juvenile name-calling every now and then when the spirit moves him, is here near the bottom of the thread.

      http://mondoweiss.net/2011/09/obama-consulted-no-palestinians-for-his-rendition-of-history.html

      I find all of this very unfortunate and very sad. I first came to this blog to engage in discussion and debate on ME issues, not to debate whether I am who I am. In spite of everything, I still do. If I have an "agenda," that's it.

      I hope I’ve answered your questions; I’ve certainly done my best to.

      Best regards,

      Robert Werdine

    • LeaNder,

      In March 2002, said August Hanning, chief of German intelligence:

      “It is our estimate that Iraq will have an atomic bomb in three years.”

      http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2002/03/25/020325fa_FACT1?currentPage=all

      Said the French Foreign Minister Dominique De Villepin on February 3, 2003:

      “Right now, our attention has to be focused as a priority on the biological and chemical domains. It is there that our presumptions about Iraq are the most significant: regarding the chemical domain, we have evidence of its capacity to produce VX and yperite; in the biological domain, the evidence suggests the possible possession of significant stocks of anthrax and botulism toxin, and a possibility of a production capability.”

      http://www.un.int/france/documents_anglais/030205_cs_france_irak.htm

    • Ah Cliff, still howling at the moon I see.

      FYI, my nephew and my friend Matt set up that facebook page for me. I never use it, though I may in the future.

      Sean,

      Thank you for you reply. Whatever my disagreements, your opposition to the Iraq war impresses me as being principled and well informed, and, as a look at my most recent post above will show, I find your arguments hard to dispute and actually agree with many of them.

      That said, I would note one thing I did not address above--the issue of Iran. That Iran has benefited some by this is clear, but the extent is arguable. Iran today has two countries on either side of her that are now closely allied with America and contain American troops, and will contain some kind of American presence for many years to come. That certainly is not in Iran's interest.

      Also, Iranian influence in Iraq is overrated. Most of their attempts to build grassroots political organizations in Iraq have flopped at the polls; nobody except those on the militant Sh'ia fringe will have anything to do with them. And nobody trusts them. Any real influence they leverage is largely negative and destructive. Most Iraqis know this.

      Most people also overlook the fact that disdain and distrust between the Arab Sh'ia of Iraq and those in Iran has been rife for centuries. Persians Sh'ia often look down on the Arab Sh'ia as backwater simpletons who wouldn't know a mosque from a minaret; the Arabs view the Persians as too-clever by half crafty rug peddlers and double-dealers. This antagonism is often understated, and subtle, but it is there.

      (My uncle Fouad once told me that he did not trust Iranians. Why, I asked? Because, he said, shaking his head at my youthful naivete, "they walk into a revolving door behind you and come out ahead!")

      The extent to which Saddam was checking Iranian influence was also questionable. Saddam and the Iranians may have loathed one another, but it was nothing compared to their mutual loathing for America, Israel and the West. They both swam in the same sewer, and, indeed, Syria, Iraq, and Iran all worked hand in glove together in support of Hamas and Hezbollah terrorism.

      Iran by itself is a threat, and, though not anywhere near the threat Saddam posed, it is less a threat, and more able to be contained short of war, I think, than with Saddam in power.

      Again, thanks for the reply. And, best regards,

      Robert Werdine

    • It would seem that I have received yet another courtesy call from my Great Debunker. Since a comprehensive, point-by-point reply to the 144-paragraph tangle of truths, half-truths and lurid fabrications posted above would be unlikely to clear moderation, I shall have to make do with less. “Massive retaliation” will have to give way to “limited response.”

      “Bush Snr is known for referring to the neocons as “the crazies” which were to be locked up in the basement – then along came the untreated alcoholic son, who let the lunatics out of the asylum and gave them top positions at the Pentagon.”

      Nice.

      “Even if Iraq complied with the resolutions, the US would have veto’d calls for sanctions to be lifted. As Scott Ritter revealed, the CIA would not allow the UNSCOM inspection team to report compliance on Iraq’s behalf for political reasons.”

      You have it backwards. The Clinton administration would have given anything to be able to declare Saddam in compliance, and have the whole Saddam/inspections headache disappear, for Clinton spent much of his presidency in mortal terror that he might actually have to live up to his responsibilities as Commander in Chief and go to war somewhere (e.g., Iraq, Bosnia), which of course would distract from his domestic agenda. (After winning the 1992 election, he told Indiana congressman Lee Hamilton that the American people “didn’t care” about foreign policy, and Hilary in 1994 insisted that Clinton not intervene in Bosnia or Rwanda, lest it derail her health care initiative)

      In any event, there was no “compliance” to report, and Ritter, when an inspector, not only never reported any such Iraqi compliance to the inspections, but was vehement in his denunciation of Iraqi obstructionism and non-compliance, and this was the principal reason the Clinton administration attempted to marginalize and restrain him.

      Ritter, who, before his incarnation as an anti-war icon of the left, actually accused the Clinton Administration of appeasing Saddam and impeding inspections to avoid a confrontation in an August 1998 interview:

      “ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And how many inspections were blocked in this way?

      WILLIAM SCOTT RITTER, JR.: Well, I mean, the list is actually quite long over the years. But since November there-since November of 1997, I would say that there have been a half dozen or so inspections, which have been either delayed or postponed or canceled outright, due to pressure exerted on the executive chairman by the United States.”

      Ritter also said:

      “The bottom line is we haven't had-the United States hasn't had this kind of Security Council support for many years now, and Security Council support is eroding, eroding in large part because of a lack of American leadership. I don't know what they're waiting for. The Security Council is on a gradual, even a steep slide downhill in terms of its ability to support, or willingness to support the special commission. And there's no indication that anything the United States has been doing would turn the Security Council around. So I don't know-it sounds an awful lot like an excuse. It seems like it's a strategic pause, because it's been taking place for many years now.”

      On Iraq’s weapons capability at the time, Ritter said:

      “ WILLIAM SCOTT RITTER, JR.: Iraq still has prescribed weapons capability. There needs to be a careful distinction here. Iraq today is challenging the special commission to come up with a weapon and say where is the weapon in Iraq, and yet part of their efforts to conceal their capabilities, I believe, have been to disassemble weapons into various components and to hide these components throughout Iraq.

      I think the danger right now is that without effective inspections, without effective monitoring, Iraq can in a very short period of time measure the months, reconstitute chemical biological weapons, long-range ballistic missiles to deliver these weapons, and even certain aspects of their nuclear weaponization program.”

      Also, Ritter made a sound, sensible assessment of the folly of the inspection process:

      “ ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And is it your contention that without a significant and realistic threat of military action, Iraq will not allow the investigations to begin again, beyond just the monitoring that's already going on?

      WILLIAM SCOTT RITTER, JR.: Well, in this I would only echo the words made by the Secretary-General and other personnel back in February, who said that you couldn't have had the February MOU without the real and credible threat of military force. That's an obvious statement. You can't expect to enforce the law unless you have the means to carry out the enforcement. “

      And no one would “enforce the law,” least of all Kofi Annan or Clinton.

      Scott Ritter was impeded by the Clinton Administration because he was, at least then, a very aggressive inspector, which of course miffed the Iraqis, and the Administration did not want a showdown that Saddam’s documented defiance of the inspections would make necessary, so they impeded Ritter and others in UNSCOM. Nothing better illustrates the folly and futility of the whole inspection regime, especially when conducted by a feckless, craven, and cowardly administration whose only objective was to avoid a confrontation that might disturb their domestic initiatives—not disarm a dangerous dictator. (Sound familiar?)

      Said I: “He thumbed his nose at UNSCR 1441, which gave him his final opportunity to cooperate with the UN, and dearly did he pay for it.”

      Said you: “False. 1441 is related to the prohibition of missiles that Saddam never had. In other words, Saddam was being forced to prove he’d destroyed or no longer had something that didn’t exist.”

      That is misleading. The resolution inventoried the catalogue of previously ignored and un-enforced two and one half dozen resolutions, and emphasized his responsibilities of cooperation with the new inspection regime. It read:

      “Decides…to afford Iraq, by this resolution, a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations under relevant resolutions of the Council; and accordingly decides to set up an enhanced inspection regime with the aim of bringing to full and verified completion the disarmament process established by resolution 687 (1991) and subsequent resolutions of the Council”

      And

      “that the Council has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations”

      The forthright language of the resolution could hardly have been clearer: Saddam must comply with the inspections, or else. The resolution did not say that Saddam would receive another opportunity if he failed to cooperate, it said that he had a “final” opportunity. What comes after final? And what was meant by “serious consequences?” More inspections? More scoldings and paper resolutions? For shame. This dysfunctional farce was the League of Nations redux.

      In its advocacy of 1441, Bush attempted to strengthen the authority of the UN by having it say what it means and mean what it says. Words must mean something. Again, for those who love peace and hate war, it is difficult to understand how the policy of failing to hold Saddam accountable strengthened the ability of the UN to deal seriously and credibly with the problems of the world, to punish unlawful acts of aggression, and promote peace—the very reasons for the founding of the institution in the first place.

      As John Negroponte said of the resolution after passing:

      “The resolution makes clear that any Iraqi failure to comply is unacceptable and that Iraq must be disarmed. And, one way or another, Iraq will be disarmed. If the Security Council fails to act decisively in the event of further Iraqi violations, this resolution does not constrain any Member State from acting to defend itself against the threat posed by Iraq or to enforce relevant United Nations resolutions and protect world peace and security.”

      The drafting and passage of this resolution, in any event, was a colossal waste of time and effort. The US and Britian wanted Saddam removed, period, and did not believe that Saddam would consent and cooperate with inspections now any more than he did before, and they were right. They consented to the resolution only to give themselves the appropriate diplomatic cover when the time came to remove him for his customary non-compliance and obstructionism, which they fully expected, and which of course occurred. The French seem to have believed that 1441 would put an inspection regime into Iraq that would move about from here to there indefinitely, and that if weapons were found, they could be disposed of by the inspectors, and hence avoid war. The point of their support for 1441 was not to disarm Saddam, about which they had not been serious for at least a decade, but to posit a “necessary counter-weight to American dominance and hegemony” (led by guess who?), and deflect “les Anglo-Saxons” from going to war to remove Saddam.

      Saddam, however, foiled this objective by his non-cooperation with the inspectors, which gave the Americans and others what they needed to declare him in breach of the new resolution. By this time France and co. had abandoned any semblance of impartiality, were forced to reveal that they had no intention of removing Saddam however much he was in breach of his obligations in 1441, and their efforts were now focused almost solely on thwarting the American led effort come what may.

      As before with the 16 previous toothless resolutions, the transparently deceptive foot-dragging and equivocating over 1441 by the French and co. makes an open question as to who was making more of a joke of international law: Saddam for his non compliance with Resolution 1441, or the UN for its refusal to enforce it.

      The irony of all of this is that 1441 gave Saddam a perfect opportunity to thwart the Bush administration’s efforts to remove him. As we now know, the inspectors would have traversed Iraq for months upside down and sideways without finding a single WMD, completely foiling any efforts to put him in breach. All he had to do was cooperate. Why didn’t he? It’s just a guess on my part, but along with the fact that the inspectors would have uncovered a lot of information (if not weapons) that Saddam would rather not have shared, I think Saddam viewed the inspectors in a manner not unlike that which Nasser viewed the presence of UNEF in the Sinai in 1967—as a foreign infringement upon his sovereignty and an insult to his prestige. And, like Nasser, he paid dearly for his hubris.

      And, of course, no Shingo post would be complete without the usual conspiracy mongering:

      --“the ISG was massively compromised by political pressure”

      --“The claims by the Duelfer Report that Saddam had “postponed” and “not abandoned” his WMD pursuits were based purely on speculation – it was nothing more than a fig leaf to appease Bush.”

      “What Bush knew or didn’t know is anyone’s guess, but there is no question that the reason the US invaded Iraq is because they knew they did not have any WMD.”

      --“the day of the 911 attacks, Rumsfeld pulled Richard Clarke aside and demanded he find any connection they could muster to link Saddam to the attacks – hence the lies about Attah’s meeting in Prague etc.”

      --“Robb and Silberman were FED the report from the WH, just like Sen. Pat Roberts was fed his Senate Intel Report that pointed only at the CIA and away from the Bush Administration “

      And,

      “The other huge lie Cheney told was the claim that Saddam had reconstituted his nuclear weapons. Not only was it false that he was pursuing them at the time, but it was also false because Saddam never had WMD at any moment prior.”

      He said that he had reconstituted his nuclear program, not that he had weapons, which, as indicated below, was supported by the available evidence at the time.

      Said the NIE:

      “Although we assess that Saddam does not yet have nuclear weapons or sufficient material to make any, he remains intent on acquiring them. Most agencies assess that Baghdad started reconstituting its nuclear program about the time that UNSCOM inspectors depart - December 1998.”

      And,

      “Although we assess that Saddam does not yet have nuclear weapons or sufficient material to make any, he remains intent on acquiring them. Most agencies assess that Baghdad started reconstituting its nuclear program about the time that UNSCOM inspectors depart - December 1998.”

      “The inspectors were blocked from performing their duties not by Iraq, but by Washington.”

      The cooperation was fitful at best. Blix noted Iraq’s near total non-cooperation in his first report. On January 10, 2003 he said to the Security Council: “Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance -- not even today -- of the disarmament, which was demanded of it and which it needs to carry out to win the confidence of the world and to live in peace."

      Though he was at pains to emphasize every snippet of cooperation he did receive in his subsequent reports, and asked for more time, he simply could not conceal the fact that Iraq was, by and large, simply not cooperating with the inspections for the last several months.

      “All these men are pathological liars, so who cares? Rumsfeld was lying when he said of the WMD “we know where they are”, because clearly he didn’t. Not only was Cheney lying when he said it was “pretty much confirmed” that Attah met with Iraqi agents in Prague, but he then lied about never having made the claim in the first place. Both are on video.”

      Yes it is on video, where one can see that Cheney said that about Atta in December of 2001 in response to a question from Tim Russert. The question was: “the Czech interior minister said today that an Iraqi intelligence officer met with Mohammed Atta…just five months before the synchronized highjackings and mass killings were carried out.”

      Cheney also denied that there was, as yet, any evidence of Iraqi involvement in 9/11.

      A week after the interview an intelligence official told the NYT: “there was definitely one meeting.”

      Many analysts were skeptical of this, but George Tenet also believed at this time that there had been such a meeting. He, in fact, expressed this view to Cheney, and this formed the basis of Cheney’s belief in his interview with Russert.

      As doubts about the meeting later began to emerge, Cheney revised his view. In September 2002, when Tim Russert asked him if evidence of the meeting was “credible” Cheney said that it was “credible…but unconfirmed at this point.”

      The efforts of Chris Matthews, David Corn and others who have falsely accused Cheney of hawking the Atta/Prague meeting to push the Iraq war is shameful. The December 2001 interview was the only time he expressed any confidence that the meeting had taken place, and that was at a time when the Czech foreign minister, George Tenet and others believed the meeting had taken place.

      Edward Jay Epstein has his own take on the matter:

      http://www.edwardjayepstein.com/PragueConnection.htm

      As Epstein has written, no one has really proved the matter conclusively one way or another. But, in any event, the whole Atta/Prague meeting is nothing but a red herring, and played no role in the administration’s decision to go to war. Even if there was such a meeting (which I doubt), what would it prove? It would most certainly not prove any Iraqi complicity in 9/11.

      As to “there is no question that the reason the US invaded Iraq is because they knew they did not have any WMD.”

      And how did they know such a thing? What evidence is there of this “knowledge?”

      There is considerable evidence that he knew no such thing, and much basis for believing that Saddam did have WMD.

      Said the UNSCOM report to the Security Council in 1998:

      “4.10.4 Iraq claims that the BW programme was obliterated in 1991 as demonstrated by the unilateral destruction of the weapons deployed, bulk agent and some documents associated with the BW programme. Iraq, however, retained the facilities, growth media, equipment and groupings of core technical personnel at Al Hakam, and continued to deny the BW programme's existence. In spite of Iraq's continued denial of the preservation of its BW programme, the Government of Iraq has yet to offer documentation of its formal renunciation. The head of the Iraqi delegation took the position that he could offer no defence to justify the concealment and deception prior to 1995. These positions and acts raise serious doubts about Iraq's assertion that the BW programme was truly obliterated in 1991.

      5.2 Iraq's FFCD [UN mandated declaration] is judged to be incomplete and inadequate. The information presented by Iraq does not provide the basis for the formulation of a material balance or a determination of the structure and organisation of the BW programme. This is required for effective monitoring of Iraq's dual capable facilities.

      5.3 The construction of a material balance, based primarily on recollection, provides no confidence that resources such as weapons, bulk agents, bulk media and seed stocks, have been eliminated.

      5.4 The organisational aspects of the BW programme are not clear and there is little confidence that the full scope of the BW programme is revealed. Additional aspects, such as the existence of dormant or additional BW programmes, remain unresolved.”

      Said Richard Butler, head of UNSCOM in 2002:

      “Saddam has sought nuclear weapons for some two decades. Ten years ago he intensified his efforts, instituting a "crash program." The Gulf War put an end to this. Subsequent inspection and analysis by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and UNSCOM, showed that in spite of relatively deficient indigenous sources of the fissionable material needed to make a nuclear weapon, Saddam's program was as close as six months from yielding a bomb.”

      http://www.cfr.org/iraq/testimony-richard-butler-iraq-weapons-mass-destruction/p4687

      In October 2002, the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) read:

      “We judge that Iraq has continued its weapons of mass destruction program, in defiance of U.N. resolutions and restrictions. Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons, as well as missiles with ranges in excess of U.N. restrictions. If left unchecked, it probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade.”

      And,

      “We assess that Baghdad has begun renewed production of mustard, sarin, GF (cyclosarin), and VX [chemical weapons agents]; its capability is more limited now than it was at the time of the Gulf war, although VX production and agent storage life probably have been improved.

      We judge that all key aspects -- R&D, production, and weaponization -- of Iraq's offensive BW program are active and that most elements are larger and more advanced than they were before the Gulf war.”

      http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/library/reports/2002/nie_iraq_october2002.htm

      Said George Tenet on the NIE:

      “The [October 2002 Iraq WMD] NIE demonstrates consistency in our judgments over many years and are based on a decade's worth of work. Intelligence is an iterative process and as new evidence becomes available we constantly reevaluate.”

      Tenet also said:

      “We note yet again that uranium acquisition was not part of this judgment. Despite all the focus in the media, it was not one of the six elements upon which the judgment was based. Why not? Because Iraq already had significant quantities of uranium.

      Also it is noteworthy that although DOE (Department of Energy) assessed that the [aluminum] tubes probably were not part of Iraq’s nuclear program, DOE agreed that reconstitution was underway. Obviously, the tubes were not central to DOE’s view on reconstitution.

      http://www.dni.gov/nic/speeches_DCIstatement.html

      Also the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) said that Iraq "probably possesses bulk chemical stockpiles, primarily containing precursors, but that also could consist of some mustard agent or stabilized VX," that it may be “distributing Chemical Weapons munitions," and that "DIA stands solidly behind the Intelligence Community's assessment that [as of 2002] Iraq had an on-going chemical weapons program that was in violation of United Nations sanctions."

      In fact the NIE judged that the best efforts of their intelligence were probably underestimating Iraq’s WMD arsenal, as they had in the past:

      “We judge that we are seeing only a portion of Iraq's WMD efforts, owing to Baghdad's vigorous denial and deception efforts. Revelations after the Gulf war starkly demonstrate the extensive efforts undertaken by Iraq to deny information. We lack specific information on many key aspects of Iraq's WMD programs.”

      In March 2002, said August Hanning, chief of German intelligence:

      "It is our estimate that Iraq will have an atomic bomb in three years."

      Said the French Foreign Minister Dominique De Villepin on February 3, 2003:

      “Right now, our attention has to be focused as a priority on the biological and chemical domains. It is there that our presumptions about Iraq are the most significant: regarding the chemical domain, we have evidence of its capacity to produce VX and yperite; in the biological domain, the evidence suggests the possible possession of significant stocks of anthrax and botulism toxin, and a possibility of a production capability.”

      And in response to this looming danger, De Villepin was also careful to inform the Iraqis that they “must cooperate actively. The country must comply immediately with the demands of Mr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei, in particular by:

      - permitting meetings with Iraqi scientists without witnesses;

      - agreeing to the use of U2 observer flights;

      - adopting legislation to prohibit the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction;

      - handing over to the inspectors immediately all relevant documents on unresolved disarmament questions, in particular in the biological and chemical domains; those handed over on January 20 do not constitute a step in the right direction. The 3000 pages of documents discovered at the home of a researcher show that Baghdad must do more. Absent documents, Iraq must be able to present credible testimony.”

      (I love that third recommendation: “adopting legislation to prohibit the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction”—as if any such law passed by Saddam’s rubber-stamp parliament would be anything but worthless)

      De Villepin, now playing to the galleries of the anti-war, pro-Saddam audience at the UN—and turning 1441 on its head—was also clear on his prescribed cure for Saddam’s continued non-cooperation—more inspectors, apparently so that he could enlarge the crowd of them already camped outside buildings and scientists’ houses, waiting vainly for admittance, cooperation, and access to documents:

      “Consistent with the logic of this resolution, we must therefore move on to a new stage and further strengthen the inspections. With the choice between military intervention and an inspections regime that is inadequate for lack of cooperation on Iraq’s part, we must choose to strengthen decisively the means of inspection.

      To do this, we must define with Mr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei the requisite tools for increasing their operational capabilities:

      Let us double or triple the number of inspectors and open up more regional offices. Let us go further: Why not establish a specialized body to keep under surveillance the sites and areas already inspected?”

      By gad, why not indeed?!

      It does not seem to have occurred to De Villepin that his four-point plan for enlarging the inspection regime to compensate for Saddam’s non-cooperation would ultimately founder on Saddam’s non-cooperation. In any event, the conviction that Saddam was in material breach of 1441 and had WMD was shared not only by countries like France that opposed military action, but also shared all across the bipartisan spectrum in America:

      Said Sen. Bob Graham: "There is no doubt that... Saddam Hussein has invigorated his weapons programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical and nuclear programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War status."

      Former Vice President Al Gore: "We know that [Saddam Hussein] has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country." Gore added this: "Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power."

      Sen. Ted Kennedy: "We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction."

      Sen. Hillary Clinton:

      “In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members .... It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons.”

      Commenting on the pre-war intelligence failures, the bipartisan Robb-Silberman report said in March 2005:

      “The Intelligence Community's Iraq assessments were . . . riddled with errors. Contrary to what some defenders of the Intelligence Community have since asserted, these errors were not the result of a few harried months in 2002. Most of the fundamental errors were made and communicated to policymakers well before the now-infamous NIE of October 2002, and were not corrected in the months between the NIE and the start of the war.

      The NIE simply didn't communicate how weak the underlying intelligence was. This was, moreover, a problem that was not limited to the NIE. Our review found that after the publication of the October 2002 NIE but before Secretary of State Colin Powell's February 2003 address to the United Nations, intelligence officials within the CIA failed to convey to policymakers new information casting serious doubt on the reliability of a human intelligence source known as 'Curveball.' This occurred despite the pivotal role Curveball's information played in the Intelligence Community's assessment of Iraq's biological weapons programs, and in spite of Secretary Powell's efforts to strip every dubious piece of information out of his proposed speech. In this instance, once again, the Intelligence Community failed to give policymakers a full understanding of the frailties of the intelligence on which they were relying.

      As problematic as the October 2002 NIE was, it was not the Community's biggest analytic failure on Iraq. Even more misleading was the river of intelligence that flowed from the CIA to top policymakers over long periods of time -- in the President's Daily Brief (PDB) and in its more widely distributed companion, the Senior Executive Intelligence Brief (SEIB). These daily reports were, if anything, more alarmist and less nuanced than the NIE.”

      Upon the release of Phase II report of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee on pre-war intel in 2008, Fred Hiat of the Washington Post, demolishing Senator John Rockefeller IV’s assertion that "In making the case for war, the administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when it was unsubstantiated, contradicted or even nonexistent," then enumerated the conclusions in the report that Rockefeller himself signed off on:

      ”On Iraq's nuclear weapons program? The president's statements "were generally substantiated by intelligence community estimates."

      On biological weapons, production capability and those infamous mobile laboratories? The president's statements "were substantiated by intelligence information."

      On chemical weapons, then? "Substantiated by intelligence information."

      On weapons of mass destruction overall (a separate section of the intelligence committee report)? "Generally substantiated by intelligence information."

      Delivery vehicles such as ballistic missiles? "Generally substantiated by available intelligence."

      Unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to deliver WMDs? "Generally substantiated by intelligence information."

      Said Hiat: “As you read through the report, you begin to think maybe you've mistakenly picked up the minority dissent. But, no, this is the Rockefeller indictment.”

      This, then, was the evidence that informed the decisions of Bush, Cheney and others, and which they based their statements on. The consensus on the evidence indicating Saddam’s possession and continued pursuit of WMD was simply overwhelming. As I said before, if Bush did know that Saddam had no WMD, how could he have known this everyone thought he had them? And is it really plausible that he would lead the nation into war knowing that his claims on Saddam’s WMD would be thoroughly discredited when Saddam was removed? Who but a masochistic lunatic assiduously courting his own political demise would do such a thing? As I said, the failure to find WMD in Iraq was one of the worst embarrassments that any president or administration has ever endured. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Powell all declared that Saddam had WMD in the most absolute and unequivocal terms. Would they all really do so if they didn’t believe it to be true and knowingly lead the nation into war in the full knowledge that their claims would be discredited? Please. Anyone who would believe that will truly believe anything.

      This whole “Bush lied” thesis is truly for the looniest of the lunatic left.

      I have always believed that it was a terrible mistake for the Bush administration to focus its entire case for war on WMD. Even if Saddam had possessed the WMD we thought he had, was there any certainty that they would even be found in a country that size? Did it not occur to anyone what would happen when we invaded a country on that ostensible purpose and they were not found? In any case, WMD alone did not justify removal. It was not the weapons, but the technology and capabilities to produce them at any time, and the unstable, unpredictable megalomaniac sitting on the world’s second largest oil reserves who would sooner or later use them when he judged the moment propitious, that was a concern. And yet, even that was just one reason among many. And even if he were to die of natural causes, what then? We (and the Iraqi people) would have got the succession of his two sicker, even more psychotic sons—a duel dictatorship of Caligula and Fredo Corleone that would have promised even more instability, repression, and danger to the region.

      That is my view. As I said before, people can honestly and reasonably disagree on the matter, and Sean, below, makes as solid and convincing a case for an opposing view as I’ve ever read.

      For myself, I can only say this: I wish the world were not a dangerous place. But it is. And what is worse, we live in a world where so called “progressives” and “human rights” groups regularly and gleefully confer legitimacy and even victim status on terrorist entities and totalitarian regimes where racial persecution, religious intolerance, and suppression of free speech are rife, and where the citizen is a dispensable, disposable, and soulless fraction of the state.

      I believe in the primacy and beneficence of American power in this dangerous world, and would shudder to contemplate its absence. The UN ultimately fails in its stead because nations do not sacrifice their core interests for a collective foreign policy, do not sacrifice for others’ interests, and often misbehave in pursuing them. The best that can be got is that nations who share similar values and objectives can combine together for their common purposes: America and Britian to defend and spread law, freedom, and stability, the Russians and the Chinese to thwart them. American leadership is now more crucial than ever, and it cannot be said that we have presently got it.

      The US, in my view, cannot escape responsibility for the breathtaking incompetence of its post-war administration and lack of foresight, and their failure to protect the Iraqi people from both the chaos that ensued following the military operation, and the murderous depredations of Al-Zarqawi and his like. Nor should they. But there is a moral distinction between trying and failing to protect, and deliberately planning and executing acts of indiscriminate mass-murder in the tens of thousands, and the attempts, aided and abetted by Iran, Syria and Al-Qaeda, to openly and unabashedly foment wholesale sectarian civil war and an even greater orgy of mass slaughter.

      Said Bin-Laden in 2005: “Anyone who participates in these elections…has committed apostasy against Allah…their blood is permitted. They are apostates whose deaths should not be prayed over.”

      Said Al-Zarqawi of the Sh’ia: “They are the lurking snakes and the crafty scorpions, the spying enemy, and the penetrating venom, the most evil of mankind.”

      The worst follies of the Americans and the coalition simply have nothing to compare with the nakedness of this nihilistic and unearthly evil.

      Saddam was removed 12 years too late, but better late than never. The whole idea of allowing his regime to survive the first Gulf War was an unpardonable act of folly that brought unconscionable and unnecessary suffering to the people of Iraq, and would have continued to even if there was no invasion in 2003. After having invaded two countries in 10 years, we should have decided there and then that the existence of this regime was a catalyst for instability in an unstable and strategically vital region that could simply not be tolerated. At the very least we should have weakened him in 1991 to the extent that he could be overthrown, aided the resistance of the Sh’ia and the Kurds, and to have done everything possible to facilitate his overthrow. Instead, we granted Saddam a shameful cease-fire when we had him cornered, and betrayed the Sh’ia and the Kurds to his mass-murder. 20 years has not been nearly long enough to wipe away the shame and cowardice of that betrayal.

      Saddam himself was reportedly amazed that the coalition gave him a ceasefire after ejecting him from Kuwait and eviscerating his forces in Southern Iraq, and hence allowed him to survive and re-assert his power. He must surely have known all too well what he would have done were he in their place.

      His survival showed strength and cunning, and our decision to allow it was weakness. He must have smelled that weakness from the first ceasefire in 1991. Dictators-terrorists like Saddam, Arafat, and Assad senior could always smell weakness a continent away, and once they get the scent, they know what to do with it. Once he gauged that weakness, and realized that we would not remove him, it was all over. The future would consist of futile attempts by the UN, UNSCOM, and others to court his compliance on this and that, all to no avail. Inspections, Oil for Food, fawning diplomats and gullible “human rights” groups coming to Baghdad to kiss his ring, he played them all like a virtuoso fiddler to considerable global applause, support, and profit, and to the eternal shame of the civilized world.

      Yet, when all is said and done, who can blame him for getting away with so much when we, in fact, were the ones who let him? When did anyone teach him different? Again, is it any wonder that Bin Laden could view our risible appeasement of this ungovernable psychotic with all our wealth and power, and conclude that we were the “weak horse?”

      No, it is not.

    • Sean,

      1. Nation or nations of citizenship?
      USA

      2. Current nation of residence?
      USA (Indiana)

      3. Religion of upbringing?
      Muslim (Sh'ia)

      4. Current religion?
      Muslim (Sh'ia)

      5. Ethnicity? 1/2 Gerrman (from Posen, West Prussia, now Poland) and 1/2 Lebanese (from Bint J'bail and Machgara)

      6. Political orientation? On domestic issues, moderate Edmund Burke conservative. On foreign policy, neocon hawk.

      7. Personal stakes on the side of any Mideast warring parties — familial, financial, ideological, etc? None really. The issue has been prominent in my family ever since I can remember. I just want to see the whole conflict somehow resolved. I do not believe in a one-state solution, but a two state one that would envisage a Palestinian state involving the uprooting of the settlements in the WB consistent with the Clinton parameters of 2000, a capitol in East Jerusalem, and all of Gaza and the dismantlement of the Hamas terrorist group.

      You should know, btw, that my ethnic and religious identity are disputed here on the premise that Lebanese Arabs who are Shiite Muslims cannot credibly defend Israel, or something like that. (I guess it's something in their blood.) Opinion seems divided on my actual identity, since the one I have given here is so implausible. Some are of the opinion that I'm just a phony. (I'm regularly referred to as a "fake Arab" and Fake Muslim"). Some think I'm a Zionist agent planted here to do propaganda. And at least one commenter, Cliff, actually thinks I'm not even Robert Werdine at all, but someone named Michael Lefavour. I'm not sure which menu option you'll choose, maybe all three, but you asked, and I answered.

      Btw, I also defend anyone's right to call me whatever they want. That's what free speech is all about. Unlike some people on this blog, I would sooner gag than see a single hostile comment directed at me banned.

    • All this lurid talk of "cabals" and "neocons" makes for great copy. It feeds the paranoid left's conviction that foreign policy during the Bush years was "highjacked" instead of enjoying legitimacy.

      The decision to remove Saddam enjoyed strong bipartisan support at the time, even if the war itself did later become unpopular.

      I have always believed that removing Saddam was the right thing to do, and I think that in any discussion of the war in Iraq, it is a profound mistake to attempt to identify any one single reason for going to war. The Bush administration did this by stressing Saddam’s possession of stockpiles of WMD much to the exclusion of other legitimate reasons for his removal that were relevant to our national security. When the stockpiles were not found, critics of the war therefore concluded that there had been no real threat from Saddam, and, even worse, that we were “deliberately misled” into an “unnecessary” war. Both of these notions are false.

      Saddam was not an imminent threat, even if he had the WMD stockpiles we thought he had. Then again, no one in the Bush administration claimed that Saddam was an imminent threat or that he was ever on the verge of attacking us. Rather, the threat consisted in a). a past record of aggression, in which he had invaded two countries in ten years and used chemical and biological weapons against both the Iranians and the Kurds, killing thousands, b). a lavish and longstanding support for terrorism, c). having labored frenetically and unceasingly to obtain, develop, and conceal a range of conventional and nuclear WMD in the teeth of the most intense and intrusive UN inspections and coming within a hair of obtaining a nuclear weapon three times (1981, 1991, and 1995) within the previous two decades, and d). sitting on top of the worlds second most plentiful oil reserves which enabled him to pursue and finance the whole range of these sinister activities and much, much worse. The threat from Saddam can thus be seen as a cumulative and growing one rather than an imminent one. 12 years of diplomacy and 16 unenforced UNSC resolutions had failed completely to bring him to book and verifiably disarm him. He thumbed his nose at UNSCR 1441, which gave him his final opportunity to cooperate with the UN, and dearly did he pay for it.

      Of course we now know that Saddam had no stockpiles of Chemical and Bio weapons and was much further (more than a decade) away from possibly attaining a nuclear device. Yet anyone who reads the Iraq Survey Group report would see that the absence of WMD stockpiles hardly negated the totality of the threat Saddam posed and that he was a catalyst of danger and instability with or without WMD. It also showed that he had merely postponed, not abandoned his WMD pursuits until the sanctions were removed or rendered irrelevant and that he was well advanced on this course of action.

      People can, I think, agree to disagree on whether we were right or wrong to take the action that we did. In any event, we were not "lied" into war, and we did not commit "war crimes."

      The contention that the Iraq war was waged for oil is factually baseless. What attempt has been made to possess and exploit Iraq's oil wealth for our own purposes? None whatsoever. For God's sake we will be leaving Iraq within a year. If we had meant to us their oil for our own purposes, why haven't we maintained possession of the oil fields the way that, say, the British held on to the Suez Canal for so many years? Why? Because we are not "imperialists" and did not remove Saddam from power to steal Iraq's oil, that's why.

      The contention that Bush invaded Iraq knowing that there were no WMD is similarly bereft of any factual basis, and is, in fact, nonsensical. Two things are in order here. First, if Bush did know that Saddam had no WMD, how did he know this? How did he know what his own CIA--who overwhelmingly believed that Saddam had already possessed Chem&Bio WMD and was aggressively pursuing nuclear WMD--did not know? This consensus of the CIA was supported by the intelligence services of more than a dozen nations, including Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Even bitter opponents of the war like France, Germany, Russia, and China never argued that Saddam did not have WMD; indeed, the German intelligence stated their belief that Saddam was within 1-3 years of obtaining a nuclear device--more than several years ahead of the CIA's estimate. France and the others merely argued, for their own self-interested reasons, that war was the wrong way to disarm Saddam, not that he had no WMD.

      Few subjects have been more thoroughly and exhaustively investigated than the matter of pre-Iraq war intelligence. The reports of the Iraq Survey Group, the two-phase bipartisan Senate-Select Committee on Intelligence, the bipartisan Robb-Silberman report, and similar investigations into the Blair government's handling of pre-war intelligence by Lord Hutton and Lord Butler have all cleared the Bush Administration of any deliberate deception or manipulation concerning the pre-Iraq war intelligence.

      Secondly, if Bush did know that Saddam had no WMD, is it really plausible that he would lead the nation into war knowing that his claims on Saddam's WMD would be thoroughly discredited when Saddam was removed? The failure to find WMD in Iraq was one of the worst embarrassments that any president or administration has ever endured. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Powell all declared that Saddam had WMD in the most absolute and unequivocal terms. Would they all really do so if they didn't believe it to be true and knowingly lead the nation into war in the full knowledge that their claims would be discredited? Please. Anyone who would believe that will believe anything.

      In understanding why it was right to remove Saddam, it is first necessary to grasp that Saddam Hussein was not your average dictator. He had a thirty-year rap sheet crowded to suffocation with crime: oppression, lavish support for terrorism, genocide, territorial aggression, the pursuit of nuclear weapons, and the use of chemical and biological weapons among other delectable pursuits. He was in fact the warden of a vast and dangerous prison. It is possible to see the sheer number of reasons for removing him from power rather like strands on a rope: if one strand breaks, the rope is still intact. Likewise, the case for Saddam’s removal.

      After the end of the first Gulf war, we made the most serious of errors: we allowed an utterly defeated opponent to escape the full consequences of his defeat. The next twelve years would vindicate Machiavelli’s advice to his Prince that a defeated opponent should either be killed or ruined beyond all hope of recovery on the one hand, or treated generously on the other. Generosity, i.e. appeasement, was tried to no success: attempts by the Reagan and elder Bush administrations to court his favor in the late 80’s were brushed aside by him with contempt and merely led him to believe that he could invade and annex Kuwait without fear of consequences. After the war a regime of sanctions and inspections was imposed on Iraq by the UN. Upon entering the country in April 1991, they soon found that, contrary to intelligence reports that had Saddam within several years of obtaining a nuclear weapon, he was actually within several months. (He came similarly close ten years earlier when the French gave him a nuclear reactor. The Israelis destroyed it, though). Numerous defectors of Saddam’s inner circle testify that his deepest regret was that he invaded Kuwait without a nuclear weapon; if so, he said that he would not have been driven out. He was right.

      After four and a half years of sanctions and inspections, UN inspectors declared that Iraq was clean of WMD’s and urged that the sanctions be dropped. A month later, in November of 1995, Saddam’s son in law defected to Jordan and spilled his guts to the CIA about a few family secrets: namely, Saddam’s hidden WMD arsenal. (A few months later Saddam beckoned his runaway son in law to come back home; all would be forgiven, he said. He returned home to a hero’s welcome and a lavish banquet hosted by Saddam in his honor; afterward, he was tortured and shot—a typical Saddam touch).

      It turned out that despite several years of sanctions and tough inspections that Saddam had hidden stockpiles of WMD from the inspectors and was once again within range of developing a nuclear weapon. The Clinton administration fruitlessly continued the inspections for another three years until Saddam finally kicked them out for good in December of 1998, but the lesson was clear: Iraq could not be verifiably disarmed with sanctions and inspections unless Saddam complied. And he would not.

      From this time (Dec. 1998) to the invasion of Iraq (March 2003) it was naturally assumed (and all available intelligence sources claimed) that Saddam had spent this time producing WMD. We were wrong. As we now know, Saddam learned an important lesson from the humiliating fiasco of late 1995. He kept no stockpiles, it is true; but he retained the scientists, the technology, and the raw materials necessary to produce them at his pleasure. He retained a “just in time” capacity to produce chemical and biological agents on demand. As regards his nuclear program, he still retained all his scientists in high grade pay to continue his pursuit of a weapon when the sanctions were dropped and he could illicitly acquire the necessary fissile material. Question: How then does Saddam’s non-possession of WMD stockpiles negate the threat he represented if he still retained the capacity to produce them at will?

      As for the sanctions, they were all but comatose by 2003. Three of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (France, China, and Russia, allies all) wanted them dropped, as did more than three quarters of the whole UN general assembly. By March of 2003 the sanctions were being violated every which way; Saddam was exporting oil at pre-gulf war levels ($16 billion in crude in 2002), he had culled billions of dollars in illicit trade, and he had succeeded in skimming billions of more dollars from the UN Oil for Food program, meant to alleviate the sufferings of the Iraqi people, but which in fact went straight into Saddam’s bottomless back pocket. Unlike naïve western statesmen and liberals who idealize the UN as a global senate whose halls reverberate with the likes of truth and justice, Saddam had a shrewd understanding of how the UN really functions. He quickly grasped the depth and breadth of its incompetence and corruption and worked it shrewdly to his advantage.

      According to the final report of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), the bipartisan investigative body charged with investigating Saddam’s pre-war WMD activities (which constitutes the source of much of this essay), Saddam kept a list of officials at the UN, in France, in Russia and elsewhere noting who would be bribed. He sent out his oil ministers to curry favor with China, France, Turkey, and Russia. He formed illicit trading relations with Ukraine, Syria, North Korea, and others to rebuild his arsenal. And it was working: he acquired billions in illicit trading and he used the oil-for-food billions to build palaces. According to the ISG, Saddam’s oil minister was treated like a “rock star” at international events, so strong was the desire to trade with Iraq.

      With sanctions gradually eroding, and oil-money flowing, Saddam rebuilt his strength. He contacted WMD scientists in Russia, Belarus, Bulgaria and elsewhere to enhance his technical knowledge base. He increased the funds for his nuclear scientists. He increased his military-industrial complex’s budget 40-fold between 1996 and 2002. He increased the number of technical military projects from 40 to 3200”, and he was aggressively pursuing long-range ballistic missile technology. As the ISG reports, “Prohibited goods and weapons were being shipped into Iraq with virtually no problem.” All of this points to one undeniable truth: sanctions and the policy of “containment” were an utter failure.

      To a resume replete with wanton acts of casual cruelty and criminality, and of the inability of the UN to verifiably disarm or contain him, now add another troubling consideration: his reckless record of aggression. In 1975 he attacked the Kurds to the north, risking a war with Iran and Syria that he would have lost. In 1980 he invaded Iran, triggering a costly eight year war that he nearly lost but for the support he received from the US and other Arab states. In 1990, tossing another hostage to fortune, and once again bringing his regime to the brink of disaster, he invaded Kuwait and attacked Israel and Saudi Arabia with Scud missiles. After being driven out in 1991, he torched Kuwait’s oil wells and plunged millions of barrels of crude oil into the Persian Gulf, thus committing the greatest act of environmental terrorism in world history.

      In 1993 he again risked the existence of his regime when he attempted to assassinate former president Bush, an utterly senseless and irrational act of vengeance. (The reaction of the Clinton administration, though, was serious and decisive: they fired several cruise missiles at a few warehouses that the Pentagon assured Clinton would be empty, lest someone be killed). In 1994 he once again threatened to invade Kuwait, when he massed some 200,000 troops on the Iraq-Kuwait border. In 1996 he attacked an American backed Kurdish group in the no-fly zone in northern Iraq, killing hundreds, exiling thousands, and again risking war the USA. We did nothing in response, save for repeating the same cruise missile/empty warehouse farce of 1993. In each of these instances he acted recklessly, sometimes miscalculating his prospects for success, sometimes not, and sometimes coming within a hair of complete disaster. In 2003, he merely miscalculated for the last time and lost. The message of all this is clear: Saddam was a reckless, dangerous, loose canon whose capacity to disturb the peace of the region and the world was both boundless and insatiable.

      Also, sitting on top of the world’s second largest known oil reserves, his ability to disturb and blackmail the world economy along with the ability to translate his oil wealth into the finer pursuits of WMD and other acts of mischief and mayhem are frightening to contemplate. And he could not be deterred: even the heavy breathing of 160,000 American and coalition troops massed on his border and ready to pounce upon him in the spring of 2003 was not enough to bring him to compliance with UN resolution 1441, which called upon him to comply with UN weapons inspectors or face “serious consequences.” He did not comply.

      And why should he have? What did anyone (i.e. the UN or the USA) do in the preceding 12 years to teach him differently? The original cease-fire that allowed Saddam to keep in power and save his regime (UN resolution 687) in 1991 stipulated that his unfettered compliance with the inspection regime was a condition of the armistice, and, hence, of his survival. His non-compliance with the terms constituted grounds for his removal. The refusal of the elder Bush and Clinton administrations to enforce the terms of the cease-fire taught Saddam that his non-compliance would incur no serious consequences, save for a scolding or two. Between 1990 and 2003 no less than 16 UN Security Council resolutions were passed condemning his non-compliance. None were enforced with action. This preposterous state of affairs makes an open question as to who was more in breach of international law: Saddam for his non compliance with the resolutions, or the UN for its failure to enforce them. This whole episode positively reeks with cowardice and appeasement.

      After having defeated the inspection regime, Saddam pursued three objectives: (1) to focus attention on the suffering of the Iraqi people, (2) to address their grievances, (3) to enhance and intensify the split on the Security Council between the USA and Britian on the one hand, and France, Russia, and China on the other in the service of lifting the sanctions on Iraq. By the spring of 2003 he was well on his way toward achieving all of these objectives. Our opposition to the lifting of the sanctions was merely deepening our already considerable diplomatic isolation. And our acquiescence in the lifting of the sanctions would have won us no good will; to the contrary, other rogue nations wishing to weaken or undermine sanctions in this and other situations would merely have learned that there was reward in flouting US policy backed by UN resolutions. For those who love peace and hate war, it is difficult to understand how the policy of failing to hold Saddam accountable strengthened the ability of the UN to deal seriously and credibly with the problems of the world, to punish unlawful acts of aggression, and promote peace—the very reasons for the founding of the institution in the first place.

      The Clinton administration pursued two contradictory policies: (1) to reconcile with a hopefully chastened Saddam; (2) to keep Saddam “in his box” by obliging him to fulfill the terms of his disarmament by means of sanctions and inspections. The consequences of this confused and ultimately failed policy haunt us still today. Our high profile military presence in the Gulf region that was necessary to contain him and maintain the no-fly zones, coupled with the perception (correct) that we were deliberately starving the people of Iraq in order to punish Saddam for his non compliance did more to radicalize popular sentiment in the Arab-Muslim world against the USA in the 1990’s than anything else. Lest we forget, our presence in Saudia Arabia was Osama bin Laden’s principal grievance against us, and the charge that we were starving Iraq was nearly as prominent. The trauma of the sanctions (which killed an estimated 500,000 people, and by 2002 was also killing 5000 children per month under the age of five of malnourishment), coupled with our betrayal of the Kurds and Shiites in 1991(Bush the elder encouraged them to revolt, promising liberation. None came, and some 60,000 were left alone to be slaughtered) laid the foundation of much of the bitterness and distrust that greeted us in 2003, and certainly did much to fuel the insurgency.

      According to the ISG, “Saddam Hussein saw his life as an unfolding epic, with retreats and advances, but always the same ending. He knew the tools he would need to reshape history and establish his glory: weapons of mass destruction. These weapons had what the ISG called a “totemic” importance to him. With these weapons he defeated the Iranians and crushed his hated internal opponents, the restive Kurds and Shia. With these weapons he would deter what he called the “Zionist octopus” in both Israel and America.” His attempts to hide these weapons foundered in the debacle of late 1995. Afterward, he undertook a shrewd tactical retreat: he would destroy the weapons while preserving his capacities to make them on demand. By sheer attrition he would foil the inspections, divide the international community, and compel them to end the sanctions it had imposed to pen him in.

      Predicting the future is always a tricky and uncertain business. The best we can do is to make plausible projections based on the present and the past. It is, of course, possible that if we allowed Saddam the peace and the privacy that he and the anti-war crowd desired for him that he might have mended his ways and become a productive, peace-loving citizen of the global community. His activities and his behavior at the time of the invasion and the preceding 28 years, however, does little to justify confidence in this rosy scenario. To the contrary, according to testimony by everyone in Saddam’s former circle, along with everything in his present and past behavior, indications are that when the sanctions were lifted, Saddam would have reconstituted his weapons and emerged stronger and more fearsome than ever.

      In light of everything we now know, the notion that Saddam’s lack of WMD stockpiles rendered him harmless seems disingenuous in the extreme. One can, I suppose, make a case for keeping Saddam in power. To do so, however, the amount of contrary evidence one would have to ignore is staggering. Under the weight of the world community’s most intense policing, he not only survived, but prospered. His delusional megalomania, which fueled his erratic and unpredictable behavior, combined with his massive oil wealth and the range of sinister activities that that wealth and power allowed him to engage, rendered him a threat that went far above and beyond the average tyrant. Inspections failed. Sanctions failed. The whole policy of containment was bursting wide open to the rest of the world’s utter indifference. The notion that we “rushed” to war in 2003 is thus preposterous.

      The truth of the matter is that between the end of the first Gulf War and the beginning of the second one twelve years later, everything possible was done to verifiably disarm Saddam and prohibit his illicit and nefarious pursuits short of war. Anything and everything that could reasonably constrain him failed. The entire effort of the Bush administration in attempting to rally the UN was merely a last-ditch effort to achieve these objectives short of war. His removal from power was the only way to spare us the multitude of dangers that his continued tenure promised would sooner or later afflict us. The choice before us was not one of peace and war, but war with a conventionally armed Saddam now, or war with a richer, stronger, possibly nuclear armed Saddam several years or more from now.

      This was certainly an unpopular war with the rest of the world. Nonetheless, contrary to conventional wisdom, this war was not an example of “cowboy” unilateralism. Every effort was made by the Bush administration to enlist the support of the rest of the world community. This, in fact is what the Bush administration’s pursuit of Resolution 1441 was all about. In Sept. 2002 in his speech to the UN Bush declared that if the UN would not disarm Saddam and bring him into full compliance with international law, the USA would lead its own coalition to do the job. This woke the UN from its habitual lethargy and impotence. The 15 members of the Security Council debated the matter and the result was Resolution 1441, which passed unanimously. The resolution stipulated that Iraq must comply with all the demands of previous, multiple resolutions demanding his disarmament. The resolution also stated that this was Iraq’s “final” opportunity to disarm, and that his failure to comply would incur “serious consequences.”

      The inspectors returned, and for the next several months met with the same non-compliance as their predecessors. Eight out of ten times that the inspectors requested inspections and interviews, Saddam told them to stuff it. The French, the Germans, the Russians, and the Chinese, despite having committed themselves to resolution 1441, then actively aided and abetted Saddam’s defiance of it. The Germans then declared that they would not go to war with Iraq even with UN support. The French foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, who had previously declared “If Saddam Hussein does not comply, there will obviously be a use of force” now stated that even though Saddam was defying resolution 1441 this “would not justify war.” And how would the French punish Saddam for his defiance? Why, “send more inspectors” of course, apparently for him to enlarge the extent of his near-total non-compliance.

      It was only after nearly four months of Saddam’s defiance, when the US and Britian made clear their intention to remove Saddam from power, that the real agenda of the French was exposed for all to see. They were forced to reveal that they never had any intention of holding Saddam accountable to resolution 1441, and that under no circumstances would they agree to the use of force to remove him from power. Russia, China, Germany, and a host of other nations rallied behind the French, thus deadlocking the Security Council.

      It is important to grasp that the US did not need Res. 1441 to invade Iraq. We already had sufficient authority under Res.687 to do that legally. The entire purpose of the Bush administration in seeking and securing support for resolution 1441 was to restore the lost authority of the UN to deal seriously and credibly with Iraq’s intransigence and its accompanied dangers in a multilateral fashion, and offer a “final” opportunity for Saddam to comply with all the demands of the previous Security Council resolutions or face “serious consequences.” In other words, Bush attempted to strengthen the authority of the UN by having it say what it means and mean what it says. Words must mean something. The cynical, self-serving, and deceitful behavior of the French and their cohorts sabotaged and thoroughly discredited that effort, and merely emasculated whatever potential resolution 1441 possessed to achieve its objectives short of war.

      (The real purpose for the obstructionism of France and co., of course, was not some lofty desire for peace. Friendship with Saddam had long been a priority for most of them; they had spent the better part of the previous two decades courting this megalomaniacal psychotic as a lucrative trading partner, sharing sensitive technology with him, and arming him to the teeth).

      Given Saddam’s behavior, his track record, his ambitions, and his terrifying beliefs about the utility of nuclear weapons and other WMD it was crystal clear that this insatiable tyrant needed to be deposed. The evidence against continuing the policy of containment is overwhelming; this was simply not a regime whose existence we could safely neglect. It is true that Saddam was not an imminent threat, but to focus on the imminence of a threat like Saddam is to miss the most important lesson that 9/11 had to teach us, namely the lesson of confronting growing threats before they become imminent.

      It would certainly be nice if we lived in a world where rogue states were deterred from their violent and nefarious pursuits solely by reprimands and harsh scoldings. We do not. Saddam’s successful defiance of the UN (and the United States) during the 1990’s taught important lessons to would-be tyrants and terrorists everywhere about the rewards of lawless behavior. In such a permissive environment, is it any wonder that Osama bin Laden could plan and execute a massive terrorist attack on American soil and believe he could get away with it? When did anyone ever teach him anything different? With the UN hopelessly impotent on the matter, a President of the United States, not too eloquent and perhaps none too bright, nonetheless bravely bucked fashionable opinion to do what had to be done. For myself, I find it difficult to withhold admiration for a President who, upon seeing 3000 of his fellow citizens murdered in cold blood, was determined not to keep an unfettered monster on the loose while he was a growing threat instead of waiting until he became an imminent one. May God bless George W. Bush, and may God bless this horrible, no-good, unpopular war that has done so much to make this dangerous world a safer place than it was.

  • Obama consulted no Palestinians for his rendition of history
    • Hostage,

      Said you:

      “Robert the United States has voted in favor of dozens of resolutions which say that Israel’s attempts to alter the demographic balance of the Occupied Territories including East Jerusalem are illegal, null, and void. In the meantime, the US government continued to allow billions to be funneled to Israeli settlements through tax-exempt organizations…”

      Hostage, what has all this to do with anything? You have correctly and accurately argued the conflicted and contradictory positions of the U.S. foreign policy establishment with regard to the settlements in the West Bank. No question about it. But this is not what I was discussing in either post. I was discussing only President Obama’s view, and whether the statement quoted of him was a “big fat LIE.”

      The President’s foreign policy views in general have always had a strong whiff of the University faculty lounge about them; he is, like Susan Rice and the now-departed PJ Crowley, a child of the left-liberal foreign policy establishment. There is no question in my mind, from his actions and statements, that he, like most on the liberal left, considers the settlements to be the principal obstacle to peace, and, in the main, blames the Israelis for the impasse. To Obama the equation is simple: Remove settlements = Peace.

      Said you:

      “Furthermore, in his speech to AIPAC Obama explained that his use of the term “agreed swaps” is meant to account for the changes that have taken place over the last forty-four years, including the new demographic realities on the ground.”

      This is also correct. But let me ask you this: do you think he really believes this? I think not. Such Israel-friendly statements, and those recently made by him before the UN, are principally aimed at his Jewish donor base and the wider Jewish vote, which, despite some slippage, he still seems to hold securely. His remarks at APAIC and at the UN were an acknowledgment by him that he has trouble there, and he was tending to it. The statements themselves are so lifelessly mouthed, so perfunctory, and in such contrast to his spirited denunciations (both public and private) of the Jewish state (and its Prime Minister) as to lack any semblance of genuine conviction. He resembled nothing so much as a bad actor reading lines in a screen test.

      Now, I suppose it is theoretically possible that I am incorrect about the President’s views, and that his words and his actions are just clever subterfuge for his stalwart support of the settlements and the Jewish state, but I do not think that is very probable. If you want to believe that he believes this, I guess you’re entitled to your opinion, I just think it’s nuts. He is arguably the most anti-Israel President ever.

      As Jackson Diehl has commented, the President is more interested in disposing of the I/P conflict than actually solving it. He just wants it out of his hair. He blames the conflict for all his troubles in the ME that distract his attention from “nation building at home,” and he blames Israel for the conflict. Any genuine interest in foreign policy on his part is now limited to what there is available to burnish his Commander in Chief credentials and distract voters from his incompetent stewardship of the economy—hence his repeated reminders before the UN and elsewhere of his authorship of the Bin Laden hit. The President and his minions have assiduously sniffed about the region for possibilities, and they surely know there are no victories to be won on the I/P front to enhance his reelection prospects. In the future, he will most likely avoid the matter as much as he can.

      And now to David Samel.

      Said you:

      “Robert, you are nothing but a serial apologist for mass murder. The fact that you claim to be of the same ethnic background of the victims whose lives you so clearly devalue suggests a pathology that I am not qualified to analyze.”

      Translation: I have absolutely no idea of why or how the Israelis would benefit from deliberately murdering Americans on the Liberty or innocent civilians at Qana, and I don’t care what the particulars of these situations are, so instead of countering with serious substantive arguments, I’ll just pound the table and name call. Facts and context are irrelevant. I only know that Israel is guilty and that’s that. Also, I have no interest to consider the savage atrocities committed by the PLO, the Phalangists, and the Syrians in Lebanon. Not my problem. The important thing is to slime Israel. Arab victims are only important when Israel is the perpetrator, even when facts call that into question. Facts are unimportant. And you, Robert Werdine, however, “are nothing but a serial apologist for mass murder” for not focusing solely on Israel and having the temerity to ever defend such an evil country, facts be damned.

      In an earlier exchange, I would not, as a matter of conscience, level the charge of holding someone else’s blood cheap at you as you did to me. I am now ready to revise that judgment. You do.

      In an April 29 post you said:

      “Hamas offers a real alternative to the corruption of Fatah, though it is almost exclusively linked to violence and rejectionism in the US. Of course, Israeli voters regularly vote for politicians whose record of violence and rejectionism dwarfs that of Hamas.”

      Indeed, how sad that the blind, amoral American people, hopelessly enthralled to the propaganda of “The Lobby” are unable to notice the reasonable pragmatism and inner beauty and humanity that lies hidden beneath that crusty, misleading surface of murderous rejectionism. If only we could just see the truth….

      Does it concern you that the terrorist attacks conducted by Hamas, which escalated sharply in scale and quantity during and after Israel’s withdrawal, brought with it the usual border closings and counter-terrorist responses, and that these measures inevitably brought hardship on the Palestinian people, and, given Hamas’ well-documented habit of positioning their terrorist infrastructure in mosques, hospitals, and other densely populated areas encompassing civilians, has put their lives in danger?

      Does it occur to you that Hamas leaders know only too well what suffering their terror war on Israel inflicts on the Palestinian people, and that they could care less? That the Palestinian people have never been anything but dirt under their feet and fodder for their lunatic cause? That they know that any terror attack on Israel will be answered in kind, and that the UN, the EU, and Hamas’ myriad supporters and apologists around the world (like yourself) will focus their attentions and condemnations almost exclusively on the Israeli response to the attack, as well as any other countermeasures that Israel will be forced to take?

      Do you really think it can be argued that Hamas’ suicide bombings, along with their rejection of, and attempts to derail, the Oslo peace process in the 1993-2005 period, in addition to their indiscriminate rocket and mortar attacks against Israel both during and after the withdrawal from Gaza, really constitute a necessary defense of the Palestinian people, and demonstrate a responsible concern for their protection and well-being?

      Do you care that Hamas, like every other totalitarian regime in history, recognize no law but force and fraud and murder to achieve their barely concealed goals, and mock and deride the ethnic, religious, and cultural pluralism of Israel and the West?

      Do you care about their brutally medieval drive to “Islamicise” Gaza, where they force women to wear the hijab and men to grow beards? Where bands of youths calling themselves “Brigades of Enforcing the Good and Combating Evil” raid homes in search of alcohol, Western music and videos, unIslamic T-shirts and other “sinful items?” Where young men and women found together in public, or even in private cars, are stopped and interrogated to make sure unmarried couples do not violate Sharia law?

      Do you care about their round the clock media indoctrination where children are fed a diet of pure hate of Israel and Jews on a daily basis? Where they are sent to Hitler-youth like camps where they are taught to worship and pursue Jihad through violence, murder, and martyrdom? Where they are taught the use of weapons? Does any of this violently poisonous, criminally negligent brainwashing of youth for hatred and mass murder that is tantamount to a kind of mass child abuse concern you in the slightest?

      No, it does not. This is the “real alternative” that you would happily foist upon the long-suffering people of Gaza.

      Likewise, you evince no concern at the murderous depredations of the PLO, the Phalangists, the Syrians, and not to mention Hezbollah, indicating that Arabs who are murdered in cold blood by Arabs on an infinitely greater scale and savagery have no claim on your time or your sympathies, but that those killed by Israelis in whatever the circumstances stir you to furious outrage and righteous condemnation. And yet you have the unmitigated gall to accuse me of devaluing Arab life in Lebanon?

      Perhaps if I could see an iota of concern or indignation on your part about these outrages that are even remotely equal to your hysterical, and, more often than not, slanderous, denunciations of Israel and Israel's unfortunate, but lawful and legitimate, countermeasures, perhaps you could, at least in my eyes, escape the taint of hypocrisy. But you do not, and cannot. You are what you are: a partisan hypocrite and a moral relativist who hates Israel far more than you will ever care about the Palestinians.

      And now to Shingo,

      Said I:

      “The PLO attacks in the previous years were certainly a serious national-security threat, if not an existential one (though the border had been relatively quiet since the summer of 1981, there were, however, over 240 terrorist attacks by the PLO on Israelis, in Israel, the territories, and abroad).”

      Said you:

      “Absolute hogwash of course. Israel attacked Lebanon in 1982 during a ceasefire to which the PLO were holding. Thus the suggestion that the invasion of Lebanon was a response to a long campaign of terror and provocation is simply false… The ceasefire was broken when Israel decided that the shooting of the Israelis ambassador in London by Abu Nidal (not connected at all to the PLO) was a violation of the ceasefire.”

      This seems yet another of your debunk-for-debunk-sake non-responses. I have already acknowledged that “the border had been relatively quiet since the summer of 1981.” Did you miss that? The PLO did not attack Israel—on the Lebanon border. Elsewhere they (and some freelance proxies, like Nidal) conducted some 240-270 terrorist attacks on Israeli targets in Israel, the territories, and abroad since the July 1981 cease-fire. Do you call that maintaing the ceasefire? This would seem to represent “a long campaign of terror and provocation” by any reasonable standard. Whether it justified the action the Israelis took is another question, as I believe I am on record as doubting.

      Said you:

      “Even Ehud Barak, who was initimately involved in the Lebanon war, admitted that Israel’s reasons for invading Lebanon was not about Lebanon, but about defeating a Palestinian state.”

      There is truth to this, though it is not the whole truth. The elimination of the PLO infrastructure was paramount, but Begin, and even more than Begin, Sharon, wanted to expel both the PLO and the Syrians from Lebanon, install a friendly Christian-led regime, and tighten their grip on the West Bank. Of course they wanted to prevent a Palestinian state. That wasn’t even on the table back then, least of all to Begin or Sharon.

      “What Israel learned in Lebanon, as the US learned in Vietnam, is that massacring local civilians is guaranteed to erode any alliances one has with local groups. Sadly, Israel didn’t learn this lesson then nor in 2006. The reason the fascist Phalangists turned away from the Israelis is because Israel killed so many Lebanese civlians.”

      Any atrocities and that Israeli soldiers and American soldiers committed in Lebanon and Vietnam, respectively, pales in contrast to the scale committed by the PLO, the Syrians and the Phalangists in Lebanon and the North Vietnamese in all of Vietnam, not to mention those committed by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, especially after America left the region. That was when the real genocide began. The Phalangists were as treacherous and bloodthirsty as any other faction in Lebanon; they had not much standing to be reproaching anyone else in this regard, least of the Israelis. They used the Israelis just as the Israelis used them.

      “You have clearly lost the point of your argument Robert. The argument put forth is not that there were many players involved in the Lebanon war, it is Israel’s role in that war and it’s role was murderous, gratuitous and unjustified.”

      Yes, that is indeed the point. The inequities, vicious brutalities, and atrocities the Arabs have visited on one another among innocent Lebanese, Palestinians, and others, are clearly not important; what matters is when Arabs are killed by Israelis, whether accidentally or deliberately being irrelevant. Excuse me, clarification: all Arabs killed by Israelis have been killed deliberately, and in cold blood, since there are no such things as accidents, targeting mistakes, collateral damage, or civilian deaths caused by Hamas and Hezbollah human shielding. This, indeed, is one of the founding convictions of this website, along with much of the rest of the anti-Israel left.

      Said I: “The Liberty was first spotted by the IAF at 5:55am and again at 9:00am, both times identifying her positively as an American ship.”

      Said you:

      “Umm, Robert, why did you deliberately omit the subsequent reconnaissance conducted by Israel at 10:10, 10:30, 1055, 1100 and 11:30? Is it because your BS claim that “the change in watch in the Israeli HQ at 11:00am” and that this meant “For all intents and purposes to the Israelis, the Liberty had ceased to exist.” would no longer hold water, so to speak?”

      When I was a senior in high school, I did a book report on James Ennes Jr.’s “Assault on the ‘Liberty’: The True Story of the Israeli Attack on an American Intelligence Ship,” which had just been released in paperback. After reading the book, one of the things that most persuaded me that the attack was deliberate was the fact that there had been nearly eight hours of over flights of the Liberty by the Israelis prior to the attack. How could they reconnoiter a ship for so long without knowing its identity, I wondered? I was unaware of something then that you are obviously unaware of now.

      According to the deck logs of the Liberty, when she was first spotted (but not positively ID’d) by the Israelis at about 5:45am (5:15 according to the Americans), she was about 40 miles northwest of Al Arish and was headed south east at about 15 knots. When the Liberty was first positively ID’d by the Israelis at about 9:00am (8:50 to the Americans), she had reached the American Sixth Fleet geographical location known as Point Alpha, which is about 30 miles due west of Gaza City, and about 32 miles northeast of El Arish (the precise coordinates are 31-27.2 North, 34-00 East). After reaching Point Alpha at about 8:49am, the skipper of the Liberty then executed a 90 degree starboard turn to the south, eventually turning 283 degrees west, the bow pointed straight for Port Said. By 11:30 the Liberty had reached Point Bravo, which is about 36 miles northwest of El Arish, and about 30 miles slightly southwest of Point Alpha.

      (See the 1967 US Naval Court of Inquiry http://www.thelibertyincident.com/docs/CourtOfInquiry.pdf)

      There were two reasons for the unusual Israeli air traffic over the Liberty on the morning of June 8, 1967. The trajectory of the Liberty, now pursuing a south by southwest direction away from Israel from 8:49am onward, was in the dead center of the principal air route by which Israeli aircraft were entering and exiting the Sinai, a pinpointed geographical location known to the Israelis as Point Boaz. The American Point Bravo is about 30 miles southwest of Point Alpha and about 15 miles south, and about 27 miles east of Point Boaz.

      The Liberty, as the IDF report makes clear, “had entered into an arena where hostilities were being conducted between two belligerent parties. Moreover Egypt herself, on May 23, 1967 declared as prohibited by maritime traffic, the area off the coast up to a distance of 14 miles from the shore.”

      The crewmembers of the Liberty understandably thought all of the overflights were directed at them, but this was not so. The principal reason for all the air traffic in the area was reconnaissance for Egyptian submarine activity. The Israelis had spotted one at about 9:00am west of Atlit, where it was attacked by them, and another periscope had been sited some miles off the coast at the Israeli-Lebanon border. The Liberty was spotted, not tracked, in the midst of this recon activity. In fact, the first IAF sortie actually directed at the Liberty did not occur until minutes before the first air attack at 1:58pm.

      The Israelis, according to their own time logs and after action debriefings, first spotted the Liberty at about 5:45am (5:15am in the American account). The twin engined Nord (which the Liberty crew noticed to resemble the American C-119 “Boxcar”) could make no positive ID, and thought it to be a destroyer. The ship was labeled “skunk-c” and marked red on the control board —as “unidentified.”

      At about 9:00am (8:50 in the American account), following the discovery of an Egyptian sub off Atlit, a MirageIIIC jet fighter orbited the Liberty at a distance of about 3-5 miles (according to the American account), failed to site a flag, but identified the hull numbers as GTR-5, and noticed the ship heading southwest at about 15 knots. At the CIC, Commander Pinchasy, consulting his “Janes Fighting Ships” manual, identified the ship as the USS Liberty. The marker on the control board was now marked green—for “neutral.”

      The subsequent overflights after 9:00am,(at 1030am, 1056am, 1126am, 1145am, 1220pm, and 1245am) according to the IAF after action reports, were doing submarine reconnaissance, which had been intensified after the discovery of an Egyptian sub off Atlit; they were not tracking the Liberty. “Tracking” a ship’s movements is a rather elaborate recon activity that involves close coordination between ground, sea, and air. There is no record of the Liberty being “tracked” in all of the IDF archives or after action debriefings (the Israelis, like the Germans in WWII, are relentlessly copious debriefers and record keepers). According to the IAF records, the Liberty was once spotted (5:45am) and once positively ID’d (9:00am). That’s it. It was not being “tracked.” (See footnote # 14 in the IDF Report on the Liberty attack http://thelibertyincident.com/docs/israeli/IDF-history-report-en.pdf).

      Your timeline cited in you previous May 6, 2011 post, lifted from John Westbrook and Daniel Rich’s sloppy, semi-fictional screed, is flawed and studded with inaccuracies.

      Said you/they: “0603: Reconnaissance aircraft reports to Israeli naval headquarters that “GTR-5” is written on the ship, identifying it as an NSA intelligence vessel.”

      The first Israeli spotting of the Liberty occurred between 5:15-5:45am, not 6:00am (though that’s pretty close), and the Nord recon plane could not positively ID the ship. That did not happen until the second overflight over three hours later.

      Said you/they: “0900: Jet aircraft approaches Liberty, then veers off towards Gaza. Liberty crewmen unable to identify markings.”

      This is true. But the reason that they were unable to identify the markings was because the jet was flying at some 3-5 miles distance and, as Ensign John D. Scott testified to the Court of Inquiry in 1967, were therefore unable to identify any markings and insignia.

      Said you/they: “10:00: Two unmarked, rocket-armed, delta-winged jets circle Liberty three times. Liberty officers can count rockets and see the pilots, but see no identifying marks on the plane. The jets radio Israeli headquarters that the ship is flying an American flag.”

      This is false. According to the American account, two jets (not positively ID’d by them; they were Israeli Mirages, though.) briefly orbited (but did not reconnoiter) the Liberty at about 10:30 am (not 10:00am) at a height of 10,000 feet and a distance of two miles. There are reports of failing to positively ID the craft; there are no reports of a positive ID of any unmarked craft. Why in the world would the planes be unmarked? So their fellow fighter planes could misidentify them and shoot them down? Please. And how could they “see the pilots” and “count the rockets” of planes flying at subsonic speed, at a height of 10,000 feet, and a distance of two miles? Could you?

      There is not a shred of evidence that the jets “radio[ed] Israeli headquarters that the ship is flying an American flag.” This is a complete fabrication.

      Said you/they:

      “1030: Israeli “flying boxcar” with Israeli markings circles Liberty at about 200 feet. Crew member Larry Weaver says, “I was actually able to wave to the co-pilot, a fellow on the right-hand side of the plane. He waved back, and actually smiled at me.”

      The overflight of a Boxcar-like Nord was spotted at 10:56 crossing the starboard side at about a 3-5 mile distance. If Mr. Weaver and the Israeli pilot did indeed exchange a wave and a smile from an aircraft cruising at about 200mph at about 3-5 mile distance, it can only be said that they both must have had Superman-like vision.

      Said you/they:

      “1055: Pinchas Pinchasy, naval liaison officer at Israeli air force headquarters, reports to Naval Headquarters that the ship cruising slowly off El Arish is “an electromagnetic audio-surveillance ship of the U.S. Navy, named Liberty, whose marking was GTR-5.”

      There is not a shred of evidence to support this, and where did this time signature come from? It is another total fabrication. While Pinchasy had received the original report at 9:00am identifying the Liberty, he had, by the time the explosion occurred at El Arish at 11:24am, assumed that the Liberty, which had been heading westward at about 15 knots when ID’d earlier, had long left the area (the green wedge marker representing the Liberty had been removed by Commander Lunz from the control board at 11:00am, when he was relieved by Captain Rahav. More about that below). Also, as he later commented, it did not occur to him at the time that an American intelligence gathering vessel that had been traveling westward for more than several hours would likely be shelling El Arish. For these reasons, he, like the others, assumed that an enemy vessel was bombarding them.

      Why then did Lunz remove the green wedge marker representing the Liberty at 11:00am? Because he was of the opinion that the Liberty was at least 75 miles west of the point at which it had been first spotted 5-6 hours earlier, steaming at 15 knots. When positively ID’d at 9:00am, the Liberty was at the extreme southwest end of the control board, and steaming west at 15 knots (this speed, btw, is confirmed by the Liberty’s own deck log). According to these calculations, this would have put the Liberty in the direct vicinity of Port Said—about 70 miles west of the point at which the Liberty was first attacked at 1:58pm. In retrospect, Lunz’s action was not only proper, but followed standard operating procedure for removing old information from the control board. Captain Rahav, who relieved Lunz at 11:00am, thus had no knowledge of the Liberty’s existence whatsoever. It was thus even more logical for him to assume that an enemy ship was bombarding Al Arish at 11:24am.

      Said you/they: “1205: Three Israeli motor torpedo boats leave Ashdod at high speed headed toward Liberty. They are followed by Israeli air force fighters, loaded with 30mm cannon ammunition, rockets, and napalm.”

      At 12:15 the three torpedo boats (Division 914, commanded by Commander Moshe Oren) were ordered into the vicinity of El Arish—that was all. They were not “followed by Israeli air force fighters, loaded with 30mm cannon ammunition, rockets, and napalm.” No such deployment was ordered. At 1:41 Division 914 spotted a vessel on its radar some 20 miles northwest of El- Arish. The officer of the CIC on the flagship, Ensign Yifrach Aharon, miscalculated the Liberty’s speed once at 30 knots at 1:47pm, and, after a request for verification from Naval HQ, miscalculated it again at 28 knots at 1:51pm. (In naval circles it is common knowledge that a vessel steaming at over 20 knots in an area of belligerent operations is a warship). The reasons for the miscalculation of the Liberty’s speed by Aharon are not difficult to discern. The fix on the Liberty’s speed was being made in a small MTB bumping along at about 37 knots at about a 20 mile distance from the Liberty. The complex radar, radio, and navigational calculations (much of it guesswork or dead reckoning and done on primitive equipment) are rife with opportunities for errors. (The USS Maddox committed similar errors in the alleged second attack of the Gulf of Tonkin incident in august 1964. In fact, there probably was no such attack, and the “vessels” spotted were probably radar echoes resulting from atmospheric conditions). After the second fix on the vessel’s speed, the CIC felt sure that it an enemy vessel, and then called in for an air assault, which occurred at 1:58pm.

      Said you/they:

      “1358: Two unmarked delta-winged Mirage jets attack Liberty. After taking out gun mounts, they target ship’s antennae and bridge with heat-seeking missiles.”

      There is no evidence in the IAF transcripts that the Israelis knew that they were attacking an intelligence freighter or were deliberately targeting the intelligence gathering equipment. They were simply trying to sink what they thought was an Egyptian ship before the navy MTB’s arrived to hog the glory, and were merely throwing everything they had at the Liberty to accomplish this while they were attacking.

      They did not take out the gun mounts because the guns were fired later on at the Israeli MTB’s.

      Said you:

      “Why else would Kidd have threatened all the survivors, fellow Americans, with court-martial, prison and worse were it not for extremely powerful political pressure from above? Why else would there have been no Congressional Investigation into the incident? Why else would every investigation ever conduced into the incident, have deliberately omitted the testimony or evidence of the hundreds of eyewitnesses and survivors, who in many cases were not only ignored, but denied permission to attend the hearings?

      There is not a shred of evidence that Kidd ever threatened anyone—a shameful slander on a brave and patriotic naval officer. As for government investigations, the number of them on the attack is rather lengthy:

      --US Navy Court of Inquiry, June 18, 1967 ("Case of mistaken identity")

      --CIA Report, June 13, 1967 ("It remains our best judgment that the attack on the Liberty was not made in malice toward the US and was a mistake")

      --Joint Chiefs of Staff (Russ Report) June 9, 1967 (Compiled all message traffic and found no evidence that the attack was not a mistake)

      --Clifford Report, July 18, 1967 (Attack was a mistake)

      --Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, June 12, July 14, July 26, 1967 ("The attack was not intentional")

      --House Appropriations Committee, April and May 1968 ("The use and operational capabilities of the Defense Communications system is nothing less than pathetic, and the management of the system needs to be completely overhauled")

      --House Armed Services Committee Investigation, May 10, 1971 ("The Navy remains in the Dark Ages insofar as routine communications with its deployed ships")

      --Senate Select Committee on Intelligence 1979/1981 (USS Liberty mistaken for Egyptian ship as a result of miscalculations and egregious errors)

      --House Armed Services Committee 1991/1992 (No support for theory of intentional attack)

      Every investigation into this incident has thus come back with the same verdict: the attack was an accident.

      What indeed of this supposedly great silencing operation? Did it prevent numerous survivors of the Liberty from speaking out and giving numerous interviews over the years? Did it prevent James Ennes Jr. from publishing a book accusing Israel of deliberately attacking the Liberty and the US government of covering it up? Where was the long, spidery arm of the all-powerful Israel Lobby to prevent this, and punish the perpetrators? Please.

      As for “every investigation ever conduced into the incident, have deliberately omitted the testimony or evidence of the hundreds of eyewitnesses and survivors, who in many cases were not only ignored, but denied permission to attend the hearings,” this assertion is simply incorrect. The U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry headed by Admiral Kidd in June 1967 took the testimony of 19 witnesses, 14 of whom were crewmen of the Liberty. The investigation was hardly a cursory one: A record of the investigation runs to over 700 pages, including 158 pages of testimony, 49 exhibits, and concludes with 52 findings, endorsed by Admiral McCain with the following conclusion: “The foregoing comments by the convening authority lead to an overall conclusion that the attack was in fact a mistake.”

      Any conspiracy to cover this up would have involved not only Johnson and McNamara, but Chief of Naval operations David McDonald, US Naval CIC John McCain, Sixth Fleet Commander William Martin, and president of the US Navy Court of Inquiry, Admiral Isaac Kidd. All would be guilty of treason, and nothing less. To sully and defame the honor of these officers with such a heinous, unsubstantiated slander, is a calumny.

      The notion that the United States government and military would, over the course of 44 years and 9 administrations all cover up what they knew to be a deliberate attack killing 34 American sailors and wounding 171 by any nation is preposterous. What sinister, far-reaching power was forcing their hand? The Jewish vote? Johnson's reelection? Please.

      Said you:

      “You see Robert, we’ve been through al this before and you ended up looking like a complete full then as you do now. You are also blatantly lying when you claim that ”the 5×8 foot flag would be hardly visible to them” or that the Israelis were “flying fast and high” , when the USS Liberty survivors all agree that the unmarked Israeli jets were flying low and slow enough that they could see the pilots in the cockpits and and were able to wave to them.”

      The 1967 Navy Court of Inquiry stated that “the calm conditions and slow ship speed may well have made the American flag difficult to identify.”

      But let’s say this was not the case, and that there was sufficient wind. Is there any evidence that the Israeli pilots could have known they were attacking an American ship or that they could have seen the flag, even if it were extended by wind? No, there is not. In the first place the pilots were sent to attack a ship, not to reconnoiter or identify it. Secondly, the strafing runs on the first attack were a head-on attack of the Liberty’s bow. The Liberty was cruising at about five knots westward and the Mirage fighters were approaching it head-on eastward at about 600mph, or at about 1000 feet per second. In the attack run it had 2-3 seconds at most to fire its guns and pull off the target before getting closer than 3000 feet. Was it really possible to positively identify a 5x8 foot flag in the proscribed time of 2-3 seconds (at most), and at the speed of 600mph and a distance of in excess of 3000 feet? Again, could you?

      Said you/they: “Audio tapes transcripts revealed that when the Israeli pilots were sent to attack the ship, they radio’d back to headquarters that the ship was American, but were ordered to attack it anyway.”

      Bullshit. Audio tapes transcripts indicate that the Israelis did not know they were attacking an American ship in both air attacks and, five minutes into the second air attack, immediately disengaged when they identified Latin markings on the Liberty’s hull.

      All available evidence, including IDF Navy logs, indicate that the Israeli boat captain misidentified the ship, then engulfed with smoke, at 6000 yards distance at about 2:30 pm, incurred fire from the Liberty as they approached her, returned it, cut off the attack at 2:47pm pending further ID, got close enough to identify the Latin hull markings of the Liberty, and offered help and medical attention to the survivors at 3:03pm.

      Said you:

      “Israel pulled back when they heard the response from the Saratoga, confirming that US jets were on their way. It would have been impossible for Israel deny they’d sunk the ship, and they had no time to ensure the ship was underwater by the time the F4′s arrived.”

      This is false. The planes were not launched until 2:50 pm, three minutes after the MTB attack had ceased.

      Also, a few howlers from John Westbrook and Daniel Rich’s screed:
      Said they:

      “IDF Dassault Mystère IIIC jets follow initial attack with napalm bombs and rockets. USS Liberty tries to contact Sixth Fleet headquarters, but its naval radio frequencies are intermittently being jammed during the attack. Radio operator manages to send distress signal from Captain McGonagle: “Any station, this is Rockstar. We are under attack by unidentified jet aircraft and require immediate assistance!” Attack lasts approximately 22 minutes, numerous sorties, killing nine men and wounding around 60.”

      The two Mirage fighters, closing in on the Liberty from the west at 1:58pm, raked her with 30mm cannon fire in three strafing runs until their ammo was spent. The first air attack had lasted three and a half minutes. The second air attack, at 2:06pm, was by a squadron of three Mysteres fighters returning from bombing Egyptian infantry. Hastily recalled from this ground support mission, they raked the Liberty with bombs, napalm, and 30mm cannon fire—hardly appropriate ordinance for attacking a naval vessel.

      At 2:11pm transcripts of communications between the Israeli pilots and HQ show that after the second strafing run an Israeli pilot recognized the Latin markings on the hull of the ship: “Ship’s marking is Charlie Tango Romeo 5” (i.e., CTR 5—the Israeli pilot in fact misidentified the hull markings; they were GTR-5). When this was reported to HQ they immediately ordered him and his wingmen to disengage. This second air attack had lasted about five minutes.

      The transmissions were not jammed. If the Israelis were jamming the Liberty’s radio frequencies during the attack, how was it that the deck log of the Liberty shows that messages were transmitted at 13:58pm, again at 1400, and again at 1404 (1204zulu), and again at 1418 (actually 1438) when the torpedo struck the Liberty’s starboard side midship? These times are probably off by some minutes because the initial transmissions were unsuccessful. Not because of jamming, but because someone in the transmitting room had put the frequency dial one kilocycle off. It was quickly corrected by Radioman Chief Wayne L. Smith, who testified to this at the Naval Court of Inquiry in June 1967, and how he then transmitted the following distress signal:

      “Any station from Rock Star [i.e., the Liberty], any station from Rock Star, we are under attack, we are under attack, over.”

      The deck logs also show a response two minutes later from the USS Saratoga, who responded:

      “Rock Star from Schematic [i.e., the Saratoga], Rock Star from Schematic, u are garbled, say again, over.”

      For the torpedo attack, the following message was sent to the Saratoga:

      “schematic from Rock Star be advised that we have been hit by torpedo listing about 9 deg request immed assist over.”

      All of these messages were successfully transmitted from the Liberty during the air attacks and the naval attack. These are also reflected in the log of the Saratoga.

      Said they:

      “2:09 pm. Captain Joe Tully of the USS Saratoga acknowledges call for help, dispatches four jets, and informs USS Liberty that help is on the way. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert MacNamara orders rescue jets to return after launching: “Tell Sixth Fleet to get those aircraft back immediately.” Rear Admiral Geis issues the recall as ordered. McNamara in his later years claims to have “no memory” of USS Liberty specifics at all. Officially the recall of the rescue aircraft has been ignored by all in the US government ever since.”

      It is fitting that McNamara should not have remembered such specifics for the simple reason that there is no record of any communication between McNamara and Sixth Fleet at all on the day the Liberty was attacked except for a recall order issued at 5:25pm Suez time—two and a half hours after the attack had ceased.

      The deck log of the Saratoga states that the first aircraft launched to defend the Liberty was at 1602 (4:02pm)--an hour and fifteen minutes after the naval attack on the Liberty had ceased.

      The White house did not order Sixth Fleet to stand down. The Command history of the US Sixth Fleet does not indicate when launches occurred from which carriers, but it records that the first launch of aircraft occurred at 1450 (2:50pm)–three minutes after the Israeli MTB’s broke off the attack. It also shows that the aircraft were recalled at 1640 (4:40pm)–nearly two hours after the attack after Vice Admiral Martin, Commander of the Sixth Fleet, received a message from Commander Castle, the American naval attaché to Tel Aviv, informing him that the Israelis had attacked the Liberty by mistake. Martin received the message long before the White House even learned about the attack. Martin had ordered the launch and the recall on his own initiative, and there is no evidence that Martin had any communication whatsoever with McNamara or the President concerning the launch and recall. McNamara did, however, issue an order for the recall at 1725 (5:25pm)–45 minutes after Martin had already done so.

      Said they:

      “3:15 pm. After the order to “prepare to abandon ship” comes over the loudspeaker system, the lifeboats are lowered into the water. Israeli torpedo boats move in closer and fire on them, as well as those still on deck, making them all unusable. “I watched with horror as the floating life rafts were riddled with holes,” recalled Lieutenant Lloyd Painter, in charge of the evacuation. Petty Officer Rowley, who also witnessed the event, said: “They didn’t want anyone to live.” After destroying the life rafts, the Israeli boats departed. For those not familiar with laws that apply to maritime warfare, firing on life boats is a war crime. The US government to this day has refused to answer or investigate war crime claims submitted by the Liberty survivors.. Later, two Israeli SA-321 Super Frelon Hornet assault helicopters are seen carrying soldiers in battle dress, and then depart.

      In his testimony before the 1967 Court of Inquiry, McGonagle cited the ship’s deck log for 1503 (3:03pm) on Thursday, June 8, 1967, which states “One MTB returned to ship and signaled ‘Do you need help?’ Commanding Officer directed that ‘Negative’ be sent in reply.” By 3:15pm the attack on the Liberty had been over for 28 minutes. Machine gun fire occurred when the Liberty and the MTBs were exchanging fire and not 12 minutes after the captain of the first Israeli MTB offered help to the Liberty.

      Said they:

      “5:29 pm. Rear Admiral Lawrence Geis, commander of the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, protests decision to recall rescue planes to Secretary of Defense McNamara. At that point President Johnson comes on the phone and says he didn’t care if the ship sunk, he would not embarrass his allies. Admiral Geis later tells Lt. Commander David Lewis, head of the Liberty’s NSA group, of the remark, but asks him not to repeat it until after he dies. It is a promise Lewis will honor.”

      This is a complete fabrication. There is no evidence that Johnson or McNamara ever believed the attack on the Liberty was anything but an accident, thus negating any motive to cover up anything in the first place. The notion that Johnson “knew” of a deliberate attack on the Liberty, and covered it up, thus betraying those killed and wounded in the attack, is utterly baseless.

      Well, so much for “On balance, the evidence indicating a deliberate Israeli attack is beyond refute.”

      Said you:

      “Seriously Robert, if you are going to cut and paste entire paragraphs from Wikipedia, you could at the very least, have the decency to include a URL.”

      You are incorrect that I found those quotes on wikipedia. When I googled Tel el-Zaatar, I found them all (except for the Fisk quote from “Pity the Nation,” which I have a copy of.) on a website called “Liberty 05—Lebanese Civil War—The Battle of Tel el-Zaatar.”

      This website has infinitely more detail on Tel el Zaatar than the wikipedia entry, and the three quotes I cited are all bunched next to each other at the bottom of the page. You can check it for yourself. I am inclined to think that wikipedia culled the quotes from them, since they cite an external link to them.

      However, even if I did cull those quotes from wikipedia, I would hardly have reason to conceal it. Indeed, when blogging I have often drawn quotes form there, and occasionally been directed from wikipedia to other external source material when doing research. So do we all. That’s what wikipedia is there for.

      Perhaps this raises a legitimate issue of source attribution and methodology. After all, does one list google or bing when finding source material on the internet?

      In my academic work I usually document source material more copiously and at greater length, but when blogging I generally use more latitude in that regard, and I try to extend that to others, especially where common, non-controversial facts are concerned. As far as wikipedia is concerned, I think it is probably necessary to directly link to the source of an entry only when language from the article itself, as opposed to quotes or external links within the article, are being cited. However, it is also helpful to just cite it to provide a link for reference sake. Either way is fine with me. It is a judgment call, and I suppose it depends on just how much you are sourcing to the article as opposed to quotes and sources within it.

      As far as citing quotations are concerned, the most important thing is that the quotes themselves are not inauthentic or doctored, though it is common practice to truncate a quote for brevity’s sake. This, however, must be done with care. Also, that the true, primary origin of the quote always be honored. This is what is most important, and that is certainly what I did. I am not sure if a quote cited by wikipedia or any other website should be treated the same as a primary source quote cited in a secondary source, or, if, in documenting the source, it should carry the same weight. However, people can legitimately disagree on the matter, and, as far as I’m concerned, when blogging, as long as a quote is properly attributed to its original, primary source, or even to a secondary source where it is quoted, and is not altered or doctored, that is enough for truth and accuracy sake. As a matter of consideration to other bloggers, we should all probably provide more links to the information we cite so that it can be verified.

      What no one can legitimately dispute, however, is that you are about the last person to be lecturing anyone on the ethics and practice of source attribution.

      On your September 6, 1:47am post, you borrowed, without any attribution, block quotes, or quotation marks whatsoever, whole swaths of an article from the Palestine Land Society titled “The Line of 1967-1949” by Dr. Salman Abu Sitta, originally published in Middle East Insight, Washington DC October 10, 1999.

      Feel free to compare:

      http://mondoweiss.net/2011/09/turkey-expels-israeli-ambassador-cuts-military-ties-and-promises-further-legal-action-following-un-flotilla-report.html

      http://www.plands.org/articles/006.html

      Some examples:

      Shingo:

      “The area was never controlled militarily by Israeli forces prior to the Armistice Agreement. It was Arab (Palestinian/Syrian), by historical continuity, not just by default.”

      Abu Sitta:

      [T]his area was never controlled militarily by Israeli forces prior to the Armistice Agreement. It was Arab (Palestinian/Syrian), by historical continuity, not “by default”.

      Shingo:

      “Israel insisted on the withdrawal of Syrian forces from the area so that the area became demilitarized. The Syrians rejected this demand. Dr. R. Bunche the UN Acting Mediator finally arrived at a solution by issuing what is known as the “authoritative statement.”

      Abu Sitta:

      “The Israelis insisted on the withdrawal of Syrian forces from the area so that the area becomes demilitarized. The Syrians rejected this demand. Dr. R. Bunche the UN Acting Mediator finally arrived at a solution by issuing what is known as the “authoritative statement”.

      Shingo:

      “Three weeks before the signing, on 26 June 1949, Dr. Bunche (Dr. R. Bunche the UN Acting Mediator) sent a letter to both the Israeli and Syrian sides. This letter is part of the official record. It specifically excluded Israel’s claims of sovereignty over the area to be included in the Armistice Agreement . “Questions of permanent boundaries, territorial sovereignty, customs, trade relations and the like must be dealt with in the ultimate peace agreement and not in the armistice agreement” , he stated. It should be mentioned that the listed topics reflect the same issues stipulated by the 1926 Agreement.”

      Abu Sitta:

      “Three weeks before the signing, on 26 June 1949, Dr. Bunche sent a letter to both the Israeli and Syrian sides. This letter is part of the official record. In it he specifically excluded Israel’s claims of sovereignty over the area to be included in the Armistice Agreement.
      “Questions of permanent boundaries, territorial sovereignty, customs, trade relations and the like must be dealt with in the ultimate peace agreement and not in the armistice agreement”, he stated (his emphasis). It is to be pointed out that the listed topics reflect the same issues stipulated by the 1926 Agreement.”

      Shingo:

      “Dr. Bunche extended the exclusion of Israel’s claims of sovereignty to other demilitarized areas, such as the Government House and Mt. Scopus in Jerusalem and El-Auja DMZ (260 sq. km.) on Palestine/Egypt border. Two years after Dr. Bunche’s statement, the Security Council, in its resolution on May 18, 1951 about Israeli violations of the Armistice Agreement, affirmed his statement and called upon the parties to give effect to “the authoritative comment on article V of the Syrian – Israeli Agreement”. The Armistice conditions were clear. No political or military activity in the area, the local population (Arab majority and Jews) have freedom of living, work and movement, civil administration and ‘Arab’ and Jewish local police are to be set up, no heavy arms within 5 km of the armistice line and full authority of UN Truce Supervision to supervise the civil administration.”

      Abu Sitta:

      “Dr. Bunche extended the exclusion of Israel’s claims of sovereignty to other demilitarized areas, such as the Government House and Mt. Scopus in Jerusalem and El-Auja DMZ (260 sq. km.) on Palestine/Egypt border. Two years after Dr. Bunche’s statement, the Security Council, in its resolution on May 18, 1951 about Israeli violations of the Armistice Agreement, affirmed his statement and called upon the parties to give effect to “the authoritative comment on article V of the Syrian – Israeli Agreement”. The Armistice conditions were clear. No political or military activity in the area, the local population (Arab majority and Jews) have freedom of living, work and movement, civil administration and ‘Arab’ and Jewish local police are to be set up, no heavy arms within 5 km of the armistice line and full authority of UN Truce Supervision to supervise the civil administration.

      Shingo:

      “Israel’s main objective was always to control Arab water resources. All else is secondary. It is believed that Syria will never surrender its rights as a riparian state to the river Jordan and lake Tiberias and may ask for compensation for its diverted resources in the last 50 years. Such rights are clearly spelled out in the 1926 Good Neighborly agreement. The Armistice Agreement, although temporary in nature, did not invalidate these rights. The obstacles in negotiations are derived from Israel’s aim to exploit the water resources exclusively. Two thirds of Israel’s water consumption is taken illegally from Arab waters in and outside Palestine.”

      Abu Sitta:

      “Israel’s main objective is to control Arab water resources. All else is secondary. It is believed that Syria will never surrender its rights as a riparian state to the river Jordan and lake Tiberias and may ask for compensation for its diverted resources in the last 50 years. Such rights are clearly spelled out in the 1926 Good Neighborly agreement. The Armistice Agreement, although temporary in nature, did not invalidate these rights. The obstacles in negotiations are derived from Israel’s aim to exploit the water resources exclusively…Two thirds of Israel’s water consumption is taken illegally from Arab waters in and outside Palestine.

      Shingo:’

      “A report prepared by Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, which remained classified for some time, shows the max. limit of Israeli withdrawal from the Golan such that Arab water sources remain under Israeli control. On the face of it, Israel will look generous by returning “most” of Golan to Syria. In fact, Syria would then be non-riparian and its waters would be diverted to Israel.”

      Abu Sitta:

      “A report prepared by Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, which remained classified for some time, shows the max. limit of Israeli withdrawal from the Golan such that Arab water sources remain under Israeli control. (see map). On the face of it, Israel will look generous by returning “most” of Golan to Syria. In fact, Syria would then be non-riparian and its waters are diverted to Israel.”

      It would be one thing if you were borrowing from previous posts of yours that you had written—that would be one thing. But a comparison will show that 11 of the 13 paragraphs between the first two block quotes on your post were lifted verbatim from Abu Sitta’s article without any quotes or attribution whatsoever. Anyone who compares your post and that article can see for themselves. You plagiarized, pure and simple. If you were a student of mine I’d not only flunk you, but would probably petition for your expulsion from university.

      You also lifted 11 paragraphs of citations verbatim from Hostage without quotation marks or attribution, though I’m sure he won’t mind, since it was done for such a noble cause you both support—sliming Israel.

      You borrowed as well from Alan Hart, a redoubtable veteran of the left’s anti-Israel fever swamps, though at least this time you did paraphrase.

      Alan Hart:

      The complete truth about the 1967 war includes the following facts: Israel’s prime minister of the time, the much maligned Levi Eshkol, did not want to take his country to war. And nor did his chief of staff, Rabin.

      Shingo:

      “Another summary truth about what happened in June 1967 is that there would NOT have been a war if Israel’s prime minister, the much maligned Levi Eshkol, and his Chief of Staff, General Yitzhak Rabin, had had their way.”

      Alan Hart:

      “What actually happened in Israel in the final countdown to that war was something very close to a military coup, executed quietly behind closed doors without a shot being fired.”

      Shingo:

      “The short answer is that in Israel the week before the war there was what amounted to a MILITARY COUP in all but name and without a shot being fired.”

      I could quote more passages, but I think you get the picture.

      Tell me Shingo, why do you have such an aversion to citing your sources? Is it that you feel the need to appear well read and learned, or is it that you hope your sources will not be checked for statements that contradict your thesis?

      I plagiarized that. Guess where?

      Ordinarily, as I said before, I generally extend a lot of latitude to others (including you) where quotes and citations are concerned since, when blogging, much information is researched in haste. Quotes are not always given quotation marks, sometimes sentences are paraphrased a bit close to the original, or even a sentence or two inadvertently lifted verbatim. These, along with misspellings and accidents of grammar, bedevil everyone, including me. I understand that. We all blog to comment and debate, and I try to keep my focus primarily on arguments and assertions and the facts that are cited to support them, without nitpicking these peccadilloes.

      You, however, went way, way beyond the pale in this instance. I might have been inclined to overlook your transgression here, but given the merciless, intolerant, and unforgiving venom you have spewed not only at me, but Richard Witty (whom you outrageously recommended be banned), Jonah, and anyone else with the temerity to express the slightest objection or disagreement with your serial obfuscating, your little lecture on source attribution, about which you seem to be as ignorant as you are dishonest, reeked with a hypocrisy that cried out for exposure.

      And you can quote me on that.

    • “PS Does Alan Dershowitz ghostwrite for Werdine”?

      “Nope. They just plagiarize the same sources.”

      Ouch!

      Well now, it is certainly not every day that I return from a three week fishing trip, post a comment, and receive replies from my three favorite Mondoweiss prevaricators on my first day back. What a party!

      Hostage, it’s not really clear to me what point you’re attempting to make here. President Obama (along with UN Rep Susan Rice) genuinely believe that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are the principal cause of the perpetuation of the I/P conflict. He has said so repeatedly since the beginning of his presidency, nagged Israel into a futile 10-month settlement freeze, publicly picked a fight with Netanyahu over the construction of a Jerusalem housing project, and then subsequently re-emphasized his displeasure on the matter by receiving the Israeli Prime Minister to the White House with all the warmth and civility accorded to a Prohibition-era saloon keeper dragged to a gangster’s lair. These actions seem to me strong evidence of a definite conviction on his part. Were he able to support the anti-settlements resolution tabled before the UNSC some months ago without paying an unacceptable domestic political price, he surely would have. Anyone who witnessed Susan Rice’s speech could see that she was literally straining at the leash to scream “We’d love to vote with the majority, but the Israel Lobby just won’t let us. Stephen Walt can explain.”

      Now, it seems to me one may agree or disagree with the President’s view, but not whether he (or Rice) sincerely holds that view. There is certainly no basis to think his oft-expressed view on the settlements is a “big fat LIE” as Mazin Qumsiyeh put it.

      “As usual you’re demonstrating your own ignorance. FYI, “millions around the globe” knew the settlements had no legitimacy long before Obama ever opened his mouth.”

      Thank you for this novel and unparalleled insight. I just had no idea that anyone ever had a problem with the settlements before Obama spoke out. Thanks for the tip.

      And now to David,

      Well it has been a while! I hope and trust you’ve been well.

      “1) Ben-Gurion and Sharon’s attack on Qibya in 1953, in which they slaughtered scores of innocent Arab villagers, began as a legitimate “reprisal” that unfortunately “lapsed” into a massacre”

      You have the idea. It was a legitimate reprisal, I do not believe that the massacre of the town’s inhabitants was planned (for reasons that I explained at length), and I do think that what subsequently occurred there was a crime, even if it was not planned. Your only response to my argument was to declare your refusal to respond to it on the grounds that I was “full of shit” and “demented.” Nice rebuttal, counselor.

      “2) The attack on the Liberty was a mistake, as evidenced from the fact that Robert Werdine can devote 17 billion words to its re-enactment and repeat his screed over and over and over.”

      And to which David Samel has not even once attempted to refute, or even engage. I think I have more than made my case that the attack was a case of friendly fire and a mistake, based on facts and evidence. The attack was an accident David. Deal with it.

      “3) Israel’s deliberate attacks on civilians in Lebanon, Werdine’s mother’s homeland, in its 1982 invasion had a death toll under 20,000, so it couldn’t have been that bad.”

      I think the war in Lebanon was a moral catastrophe for Israel, and a tragedy for both Lebanon and Israel, two nations that, left to their own devices, had no reason to go to war. From Israel’s perspective, it was not an unnecessary war, but it was less necessary than the previous wars had been when the life of the nation hung in the balance. The PLO attacks in the previous years were certainly a serious national-security threat, if not an existential one (though the border had been relatively quiet since the summer of 1981, there were, however, over 240 terrorist attacks by the PLO on Israelis, in Israel, the territories, and abroad).

      That some response to this long campaign of terror and provocation was justified seems obvious; no sovereign state could or should be expected to suffer such attacks in silence and inaction. Whether the course the Israelis did take was justified or even wise, is debatable. I am personally of the opinion that it was probably neither. However, that is easy for me to say from the safety and comfort of my computer; were I the leader of a vulnerable nation suffering such attacks, I may have viewed the matter rather differently. But a full-scale invasion, followed by an extended occupation seems excessive, and self-defeating. In the 18-year occupation the IDF and the Shin Bet, like the Americans in Vietnam, found themselves sucked into the subterranean jungle of warring tribal and sectarian factions, and where, again as in Vietnam, today’s friendly civilian would often be tomorrow’s suicide bomber. The IDF and the Shin Bet, like the Americans, were themselves often guilty of many individual acts of murder. Surely a swifter, more surgical campaign to eliminate the PLO infrastructure, followed by a quick, orderly withdrawal punctuated with the credible threat to repeat it should matters worsen again, would certainly have been preferable to the 18-year moral, political, and military quagmire engendered by the course they did take. Whether even that would have worked, it is less easy to say. One thing, however, is certain: that Begin and Sharon could have ever thought they could tame the sectarian furies of Lebanon and install a friendly regime in its place was a dangerous and costly fantasy. They expelled the PLO only to put Hezbollah in their stead, saw their transient “alliance” with the double-dealing Phalangists slowly evaporate, and merely allowed the Syrians to strengthen their murderous grip on Lebanon as their vassel/slave state, where their depravities there far exceeded the worst of the Israeli invasion and occupation combined. It was all in vain.

      I have no recollection of ever stating that the war and those killed in it “couldn’t have been that bad.”

      However, whether there were 20,000 killed in the course of the Israeli invasion is open to doubt. Benny Morris, who served both as a soldier in the siege of West Beirut and a correspondent, expressed critical views of the war, and spent three weeks in jail for his principled refusal to serve in the territories to protest the IDF’s response to the intifada, has called the unitemized and uncorroborated 19,085 killed figure cited from a 1982 Lebanese police report “vastly exaggerated.”

      Consider: between June 1982 and June 1985 some 950 Israelis were killed and some 3000 wounded. The Syrians lost about 500-1000, and the PLO suffered some 1000 killed. That nearly 20,000 Lebanese were killed in the first two and a half months, when the fighting was at its height, is simply implausible. That the number of civilians killed was higher than that of the combatants is likely, but not 20,000. The deliberate slaughter of such a number in such a time frame would be rather hard to accomplish even if the IDF did not have to contend with the PLO and the Syrians, which they did. The real, accurate figure will probably never be known. If the IDF understated the figures, the Arabs vastly overstated them.

      Nor is Morris alone on this. Former NY Times correspondent David Shipler, not exactly an enthusiastic advocate of Israel or the invasion, has stated:

      “Those of us who covered Israel's invasion of Lebanon remember the conflicting claims by Israel that the number of casualties was extremely low and by Arabs that it was very high. Israeli figures were immediately dismissed as self-serving, but the Arabs' data gained credibility because their sources were less obviously biased, and were only later revealed as unreliable.

      After the initial Israeli drive up the coast, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society asserted that 10,000 people had been killed in the south and 600,000 made homeless, figures that were then passed on by the International Committee of the Red Cross in Beirut -- even though such a determination would have been impossible, given the cutoff of communications and roads between Beirut and the south.

      For more than a month after the invasion, I carefully interviewed numerous relief workers, medical personnel, religious leaders, Palestinian refugees and others in southern Lebanon and concluded that the figures were considerably exaggerated. This I reported in a front-page article in The New York Times on July 14, 1982, which also described in detail the sleight of hand by which Israel arrived at reduced numbers…

      The inflated casualty toll in the south retained a life of its own, however, and it appears to form the bulk of the overall total, which includes Beirut…The numbers game should not obscure the fact that thousands of innocent civilians died under Israeli bombs and shells. Statistics do not have to be overstated to make the point that it was a horrible war.”

      Fair point. Indeed, another NY Times article commented on the Lebanese police report’s figures at the time they were released:

      “Many officials [in Bierut], including those of the International Committee of the Red Cross, have said that numbering the dead correctly is virtually impossible.”

      The most reliable estimate seems to have come from the UN. A United Nations report estimated that between the 6th of June 1982 and the 15th of August 1982, 6,775 persons had been killed and 30,000 others wounded, some 80% being civilians.

      Whatever the real numbers are, David Shipler was surely right: “The numbers game should not obscure the fact that thousands of innocent civilians died under Israeli bombs and shells. Statistics do not have to be overstated to make the point that it was a horrible war.”

      In any attempt to understand the tragedy that engulfed all of Lebanon between 1975-1990, to focus narrowly and solely on the Israeli invasion to the exclusion of anything else betrays an obvious bias and hypocrisy. No one should whitewash the tragedy of the Israeli invasion for the peoples of Lebanon, but no one should whitewash the role played by the PLO, the Syrians and others in provoking the invasion and the innocent blood that was on their hands in the course of it, or, for that matter, long before it. Indeed, as I have said before, no one did more to upset Lebanon’s fragile sectarian balance than did Arafat and the PLO, who transferred to Lebanon all of the death, destruction, and chaos that they had previously been conferring upon Jordan, (from whom they had been violently ejected in 1970), and whose attacks on northern Israel, like Hezbollah attacks later on, brought nothing but conflict and chaos to southern Lebanon, and the West Bekka. The Syrians, the Phalangists, the Druze, and the myriad of militant Shi’a and Sunni Lebanese factions all did their part as well.

      There was “Bus Massacre” in April of 1975 perpetrated by Phalangists in Beirut, slaughtering some 300 innocents.

      In May 1975, tens of Lebanese civilians were massacred in the Dekkwaneh-Jisr al-Basha neighborhood in East Beirut.

      In October 1975, dozens of civilians were slaughtered in the convent of Naameh, which had received and sheltered Palestinian refugees since 1948.

      There was the “Black Saturday” massacres in Beirut in December of 1975 where Phalangists and members of the Lebanese National Movement slaughtered some 200-600 innocents between them.

      There was the Karantina Massacre of January 18,1976 where Phalangists murdered some 1000-1500 civilians.

      There was the Damour massacre of January 20, 1976 in which the PLO butchered some 584 civilians, desecrated the Christian cemetery there, digging up coffins, robbing the dead, opening vaults and scattering bodies and skeletons about the graveyard. Inside a local church a beaming portrait of Arafat and his AK-47 toting guerrillas was placed over the altar.

      Then there was the Tel al-Zaatar massacre of August 12, 1976 where Arafat’s PLO first subjected the city to an unrestrained orgy of rape, mutilation and murder, then leveled the village, and finally butchered 2-3000 civilians in cold blood in a ferocious artillery barrage while they were trying to escape. As John Bulloch, The Daily Telegraph correspondent in Beirut at the time wrote, "In their bitterness the Palestinian commanders ordered their artillery to open up on the fringes of the camp with the ostensible objective of hampering the attackers and helping those inside; instead the shells were landing among the hundreds who had got through the perimeter and were trying to escape. When they were told of this, the Palestinians made no attempt to lift their fire: they wanted martyrs".

      Robert Fisk wrote in his biography of "Arafat, The Broken Revolutionary":

      "When Arafat needed martyrs in 1976, he called for a truce around the besieged refugee camp of Tel el-Zaatar, then ordered his commanders in the camp to fire at their right-wing Lebanese Christian enemies. When, as a result, the Phalangists and "Tigers" militia slaughtered their way into Tel el-Zaatar, Arafat opened a "martyrs' village" for camp widows in the sacked Christian village of Damour. On his first visit, the widows pelted him with stones and rotten fruit. Journalists were ordered away at gunpoint."

      In another interview published May 30, 2002, Fisk recalls "Arafat is a very immoral person, or maybe very amoral. A very cynical man. I remember when the Tal-al-Zaatar refugee camp in Beirut had to surrender to Christian forces in the very brutal Lebanese civil war. They were given permission to surrender with a cease-fire. But at the last moment, Arafat told his men to open fire on the Christian forces who were coming to accept the surrender. I think Arafat wanted more Palestinian "martyrs" in order to publicize the Palestinian position in the war. That was in 1976. Believe me that Arafat is not a changed man."

      Fisk also wrote of the PLO during the siege of Beirut of 1982:

      “There was still, even now, an inability within the PLO to admit that the Palestinian presence in Lebanon had contributed to the nation’s agony. Arafat and his colleagues blithely continued to associate the Phalangists with the forces of “imperialism,” as part of the international conspiracy with which the Arab regimes had always been obsessed. This only helped to encourage the political and religious division of Lebanon. True, the Phalangists were now collaborating with the Israelis, but the contempt with which the Palestinian guerillas had treated the Lebanese was almost subconscious and long preceded the 1982 invasion…The trouble in West Beirut was that many Palestinians acted as if they did own this sector of the city. Most [residents of Beirut] would have been as happy as the Israelis to see the PLO leave, providing the guerillas were not replaced by Phalangist militiamen from East Beirut.” (Pity The Nation: The Abduction of Lebanon, p.290)

      And these are just the most notable examples of Phalangist and PLO brutality. Don’t even get me started on the Syrians. There were no innocents in Lebanon, the Israelis included.

      Indeed David, as I have said before, the Israeli involvement in Lebanon was but a part of a conflict bitterly raging between a whole host of other factions: between Sunni and Shi’a, both against Christians, the Druze against the Phalangists, the Maronites and the Phalangists and the inter-rivalry of their various militias, the PLO against the Phalangists, the Syrians against the PLO, and the rivalries and turf wars between the various groups within the PLO. The conflicts, mini-conflicts and turf struggles that destroyed and destabilized Lebanon had actually very little to do with Israel, and predated their involvement. In Lebanon, every man’s hand was raised against the other, and all against the stranger. Some 130,000 to 250,000 people were killed (more than 100,000 before the 1982 invasion), hundreds of thousands dislocated and dispossessed, and more than a million people wounded in this civil war, minus any Israeli involvement. What I said, therefore, was true: Over the years there were a lot of very, very, bad actors who have passed through the revolving door of the Land of the Cedars, and I hardly think the Israelis were the worst of them. Not by a long shot.

      Btw, the notion that the Israelis killed 118 civilians in cold blood in 1993, or that the shelling of the Qana shelter killing 106 civilians was anything but an accident, is baseless. There is not a shred of evidence that either attack deliberately targeted civilians, and you know it. And yes, if civilians had been deliberately targeted in the 1993 attack, there would certainly have been many more killed given the firepower the IDF had at their disposal, and they would most certainly not have given warnings to the civilians in the areas about to be hit if this were their intention. What would be the point of that?

      Wars and war-related actions involve killing. Every unintentional civilian death is a tragedy, but not every tragic civilian death is a war crime.

      And now to Shingo, the Great Debunker.

      “Further to that, Robert Werdine can devote 17 billion words to its re-enactment and repeat his screed over and over and over while ignoring the 8 hours of reconnaissance Israel conducted of the ship prior to attacking it.”

      This is actually partially true. The Liberty was first spotted by the IAF at 5:55am and again at 9:00am, both times identifying her positively as an American ship. They noticed the hull markings but neither pilot spotted a flag—not surprising since they were flying fast and high and a 5x8 foot flag would be hardly visible to them even if it was extended, which it probably wasn’t. The pilot spotted a hull marking that read “GTR-5″ and the headquarters identified the ship as the USS Liberty. However, with the change in watch in the Israeli HQ at 11:00am, the officer on duty at Israel's naval headquarters, Capt. Avraham Lunz, concluded his shift, and, in accordance with procedures, removed the Liberty's green marker from the control board on the grounds that it was already five hours old and no longer accurate. The officers on the new watch thus erroneously assumed that the Liberty had left the area. For all intents and purposes to the Israelis, the Liberty had ceased to exist. When an explosion rocked an Israeli arms depot at El Arish at 11:24am, the Israelis, later spotting a vessel they incorrectly assumed was an Egyptian warship bombarding them, sent three torpedo boats to engage it. They misidentified the ship, clear and simple.

      Audio tapes transcripts indicate that the Israelis did not know they were attacking an American ship in both air attacks (which lasted a total of eight and a half minutes between 1:50pm and 2:11pm) and, five minutes into the second air attack, immediately disengaged when they did.

      All available evidence, including IDF Navy logs, indicate that the Israeli boat captain misidentified the ship, then engulfed with smoke, at 6000 yards distance at about 2:30 pm, incurred fire from the Liberty as they approached her, returned it, cut off the attack at 2:47pm pending further ID, got close enough to identify the Latin hull markings of the Liberty, and offered help and medical attention to the survivors at 3:03pm.

      The attack on the Liberty was a classic case of friendly fire. After winning the battle of Chancellorsville in 1863, Stonewall Jackson was accidentally killed by his own Confederate troops. On the first day of the German invasion of Poland September 1, 1939, a platoon of German soldiers fired their rifles on what they thought to be an enemy plane that had been flying about them, causing the plane to come crashing down into their midst; out stepped a raging Luftwaffe general in charge of ground-air coordination. On February 22, 1940 a German bomber sank two German destroyers in the North Sea, killing 578 German sailors. During the 1956 War the Israelis attacked a British destroyer, the HMS Crane, that it had mistaken for an Egyptian Z-class destroyer. The largest tank battle of the 1956 War occurred at Abu Ageila where two Israeli tank units fought each other to a standstill. On June 5, 1967 The IAF bombed a column of IDF Sherman tanks in the battle for Jerusalem, and did so again on June 8, just a few hours before the attack on the Liberty. Many, many more instances could be cited.

      On balance, the evidence indicating a deliberate Israeli attack is not only conjectural, but luridly conspiratorial, and is bereft of any plausible, discernable motivation, and the evidence in all of the declassified material released by both Israel and the U.S. in 1997 overwhelmingly exonerates Israel of the charge of having knowingly and deliberately attacked the Liberty, and further exonerates our government and military of having covered up any evidence to the contrary.

    • President Obama is still clueless on the history of the I/P conflict, but at least he's getting better. At his worst, however, he would be hard pressed to excell these delectables from Mazin Qumsiyeh's noxious screed:

      "America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements". All were big fat LIES.

      "Let's be honest: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. [false]

      Israel's citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. [correct but this should be balanced by explaining that 10 times more Palestinians were butchered]

      Israel's children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. [Israelis teach hate 100 more times than the other way around and hate of the colonizer to the colonized is not the same as the reverse].

      Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, looks out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. [That is nonsense; Israel wiped Palestine including 530 villages and towns and now is the fourth strongest country plus having you Obama and Congress as its lackeys].

      The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries
      of exile, persecution, and the fresh memory of
      knowing that six million people were killed simply
      because of who they were. [Irrelevant and highly
      emotional: just study the history of Nazi-Zionist
      collaboration to see how absurd to link Apartheid
      Israel with "The Jewish People", itself a mistaken
      term no more valid than concepts of "The Christian
      People" or "The Muslim People"].

      These facts cannot be denied [they are regurgitation of Zionist myths, irrelevant facts, and half truths].

      The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland [a racist apartheid state based on land theft and ethnic cleansing; is that your definition of success?].

      Israel deserves recognition [no it does not, Israel deserves to be faced with the truth and pressured to transform just like Apartheid South Africa]...

      Who will address the fact that the Palestinian people were subjected to the largest armed robbery in the last 100 years accompanied by massacres and ethnic cleansing?

      Who will mention that the value of hard assets alone stolen by the Zionist project exceed $30 trillion?

      ($30 trillion?!!)

      Who will speak of the over 60,000 Palestinian civilians massacred or the hundreds of thousands who were injured or jailed?

      (60,000 massacred? “Hundreds of thousands” injured or jailed?)

      What happened to President Johnson when he asked Israel to get out of Gaza and the Sinai in 1956 (and Israel complied)?

      (What happened to President Eisenhower, who was president in 1956?)

      I suppose that in the alternative universe inhabited by those mouth such sentiments regularly and reasonably as a matter of course, there is not much to see here. But to me, the knowledge that whole scores of millions around the globe ascribe to such hate-filled and hysterically paranoid and libelous falsehoods, or, rather, these "big fat LIES," is downright chilling. There is no solution to this conflict.

      (Ps- Did Shingo ghostwrite this?)

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