Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I love how the GOP is suddenly so concerned

about fiscal discipline. Where was this sentiment for the last 8 years? What a bunch of frauds.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A contribution to the violence

In geopolitics and history, truth is a matter of perception, which is itself subject to biases. So what happens when those making judgments, the international community, are pulling for one side in a conflict? Objectivity flies out the window, and in its place is an artificial bar being set for perception of victory.

In the conflict with Israel in the summer of 2006, Hezbollah lost 50% of its fighting men. There was billions of dollars in damage to Lebanese infrastructure, and over a thousand dead civilians. Two years later, Hezbollah is going to great lengths to assure Israel that it does not intend to start another fight - an odd thing for a victor to do. And yet, Hezbollah "won" the war against Israel in 2006. The bar of victory set by the international community was merely: survival. Hezbollah did accomplish as much.

Fair enough. However, just because the rules of the game are being changed does not mean the players will no longer want to win. Israel and Hamas have insisted on fighting, and each will attempt to reach the criteria that have been arbitrarily set as being required for victory. Hamas needs to survive, and survival depends on deterring Israeli attack. Thus Hamas will hide among civilians as much as it can, hoping to avoid Israeli firepower. We are seeing a great many civilian casualties as a result. Israel on the other hand needs to completely and systematically crush the entire network of Hamas to be recognized as victorious by the international community. Accomplishing such a lofty objective would necessarily require a ground invasion, and would inevitably result in a lot of casualties among innocents.

We in the international community have changed the rules in this conflict; we cannot be surprised to see the combatants playing by them. The Israeli onslaught has been so exceptionally vicious (or "disproportionate") because we've set the bar of victory so high that anything less would inevitably result in an Israeli defeat.

P.S. This has nothing to do with whether or not Israel *should* be doing what it is doing. A military response to provocation by Hamas may be morally justified, but that doesn't necessarily mean it is wise. The Soviet Union 'provoked' the US during the Cold War (and vice versa). Pakistani militants certainly have provoked India lately, but should India think lightly of attacking an already unstable nuclear-armed country of 180 million people? Of course not. The question we need to be asking is whether or not this offensive is good for Israel's long-term security objectives. Unless there is something big that the Israelis know that I don't, I think the answer will prove to be no. Although, my opinion may be biased by the fact that I think Ehud Olmert is stupid and incompetent.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

What did I think two years ago?

In the summer of 2006, Israel went to war against Hezbollah in Lebanon. This event was shortly after the Indian train bombings that killed so many. Here was what I was thinking then.

Almost three years later we see a similar situation. India was just attacked by Pakistani-based terrorists and again their response was reserved. Israel was attacked with rockets by a non-state actor (Hamas instead of Hezbollah) and again they have escalated the situation.

One interesting event happened today, though. Someone, a few rogue men in Lebanon perhaps, launched rockets at Israel from southern Lebanon. Hezbollah went to extra effort to assure the Israelis that it was not them who shot at Israel. Seems odd for the party that "won" in 2006 to sound so conciliatory. At any rate, Hezbollah has rearmed and has more rockets now in southern Lebanon than they did before. The international community demanded a cease-fire then, but the problem festers to this day.

I am not sure what the Israeli agenda is right now, nor whether or not they will accomplish it. My feelings are different than they were in 2006. Then, I thought the Israeli action was foolish, because Hezbollah did not want war but Israel over-reacted and forced them into one. It would have been like the US going to war with the Soviets over a small cold war skirmish - not worth it. The situation today is completely different. Hamas wants war, as do the people who elected them. The Israelis want war too. So fine, let them have it. Solving their problems through violence is a novel approach that hasn't been tried before, after all. /sarcasm

----------------------- Update -----------------

I really hope the Israelis have an important strategic objective in mind. Something that isn't readily obvious to the amateur observer. Otherwise they're going to look bad when this is over. Their current leadership doesn't have my confidence, for the record. They screwed up in 2006 and the smart money says they're screwing up now. Who knows, though. Maybe they know something we don't.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Israel and Obama

Anyone wondering why the Israelis are going all-out right now: think about it. Obama is going to be inaugurated in a couple of weeks. It is unimaginable to think that the Israelis have not OK'd this operation in Gaza with the President-elect. I guarantee Obama's message to the Israelis was this: do what you will while Bush is still in office, but this shit better be wrapped up by the time I'm inaugurated.