Monday, July 31, 2006

How Is Israel Getting Anything Positive Out Of This?

I'm not anti-Israel. I believe strongly that Israel has the right to exist, has the right to defend itself and should and ought to be militant in its own defense since so many other countries in the world surely will not. But stories like this one from the Washington Post make me wonder how Israel is getting anything positive out of this bombing campaign:

BINT JBEIL, Lebanon, July 31 -- The ghosts climbed out of the rubble in this southern town Monday.

Hours after a promised suspension of Israeli air attacks, the civilian survivors of some of the most intense fighting in the war clambered from the wreckage. They were shrunken figures, dehydrated and hungry. Some had lived on candy bars, others on pieces of dry bread. Some were shellshocked, their faces blank, the expression that comes from living under bombing for 20 days. One never made it. He was carried out on a stretcher, flies landing on lifeless eyes that were still open.

Behind them stumbled Zeinab Diabis, so old and stooped that her back was parallel to the ground. Her hands groped along splintered concrete. To anyone who would listen, she cried for her brother, Ahmed, who was still trapped a half-mile away in the basement of a house.

"Who's going to bring him?" she shouted. "Who's going to show them where he is?"

"God answer my prayers!"

Bint Jbeil once numbered 30,000 people and was known in Lebanon as the "capital of resistance," a reputation won for its role in Hezbollah's fight against the Israeli occupation that ended in 2000. Today, after nearly three weeks of bombing and days of combat that pinned down Israeli troops and inflicted their heaviest losses of the war, its center is a forsaken panorama of destruction and devastation, nothing untouched.

Charred carcasses of cars were tossed in deep craters along entire blocks that were pulverized. Two ambulances were hurled on their sides, as was a burned firetruck, next to waist-high rubble that filled alleyways. A string of fluttering red, orange and green flags that once marked a shopping festival were now entwined with the casing of an Israeli artillery shell along a street strewn with cinder block, corrugated tin, wood, wires and shards of car lights. Splintered fluorescent tubes hung from awnings like funereal chimes. At times the only sounds were the cries of cats.

"What's it going to take to bring this back?" asked Ali Hakim, an 80-year-old resident, emerging from rubble that was once his house, where 70 people had taken shelter during the fiercest bombing. "It's a nightmare. It's been literally taken back to zero."

"Just because of a certain group of people, do the Israelis have to destroy everyone and everything?"

I know, I know - Hezbollah militants were firing rockets into Israel from this town and Israel has to take out the rocket sites and militant strongholds in order to keep its territory safe. But here we are, 20 days into the bombing campaign, and Hezbollah's rocket-firing capability seems to be as strong as it was three weeks ago (on Sunday they sent more than 156 rockets into parts of Israel) even as Israeli air strikes have leveled much of southern Lebanon. David Gregory noted on the NBC Nightly News that Israel has been cast as the aggressor in the Mideast, not the victim, because of the destruction and casualties caused by the bombing campaigns. What's worse, since the bombing campaign hasn't worked, Hezbollah leader "Sheik Hassan Nasrallah is now celebrated as the man who stood up to Israel." A Middle East expert, Haim Malka of the Center for Strategic and Internatonal Studies, tells Gregory that Israeli Prime Minister Olmert allowed himself to "be convinced by the military that this was going to be a quick and relatively painless operation to neutralize Hezbollah's threat."

Israel's rock and a hard place position in Lebanon is eerily similar to the United States' situation in Iraq. Just as the Bush administration and its neocon enablers thought the Iraq war would be over in a matter of weeks and the occupation over within a matter of months, the political and military leadership of Israel no doubt thought this conflict would be over in a matter of days. But three weeks in, Israel has not achieved its military or political objectives, Hezbollah has grown stronger as a result of the conflict, and the gloss may be off of Israel's vaunted miltary might forever.

I just don't see how Israel is getting anything positive out of this. I'd bet the military and political leadership know that now too but fear it's too late to do anything but keep going until they can achieve some face-saving opportunity that enables them to declare victory and get the hell out.

Just like the Bush administration is hoping will happen in Iraq.

I just left a comment over at born at the crest which I will repeat:
My suggestion is that our warriors are still caught up in the days when military untruths could be freely spread, for any number of reasons; obviously including propaganda, disinformation and massaging the brutal truth.
They can’t seem to grasp that each successive ‘war’ now has far faster and more accurate independent sources.
It is not only the warrior journalists with their high tech equipment but astute citizen reporters as well.

War is no longer detatched from the real world. Militarys are now subject to constant vigilance, but they haven't woken to that fact or don't know yet how to manipulate it.
You have a point that it is harder to manage the news these days because of technology and the Internet. This is especially true of the Israeli/Hezbollah conflict. Yet in Iraq the administration and the military have managed the news so well because a) it's too dangerous for western reporters to go out and cover the war themselves b) many reporters embedded with the army seemed to take on the pov of the soldiers they were embedded with, perhaps compromising their independence.

I guess it works both ways. Does this reply make sense? I just got in from walking around and its like a 105 degrees outside and I think my brain melted!!!
It just occured to me that we now sport the same livery. I was loking for a template which suggested simple handpress, albeit with colour for web.
I've been trying to change the link colour, but it won't take :)
Still, we'd better no go to the President's Ball dressed thae same...
Oh, does the President have balls?
I don't know if the preznit has any balls but I do know he doesn't have any table manners. And I wouldn't go even if he invited me.
There are Western journalists in the thick of things, and not just the embeedded flunkies.
There probably aren't many US journos there, but that is another story.
Yes, it makes sense and I envy you the heat.
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