Sunday, July 16, 2006

# Posted 8:41 PM by Taylor Owen  

MIDDLE EAST ESCALATIONS: For what it's worth, here are some random bits and pieces from some of the blogs I frequent:

Jentleson argues that the conflict, as it has regularly since ‘48, requires external crisis management, and wonders whether the Bush Administration will/can play this role?

Marshall argues that the administration’s silence is born of over-extension and policy exhaustion.

Martin Peretz points out the, hmm, inconsistancy, in Siniora demanding that the United Nations and the United States impose a cease-fire on the combat between Israel and Hezbollah now, since Hezbollah have been lobbing rockets across Lebanon's southern border into Israel for the entire time he has been PM.

Drezner clear-headedly remarks that the facts remain markedly fluid, with the NYT and WaPo reporting significantly different interpretations of how the Israeli attacks have affected Hezbollah's political position in Lebanon?

Djerejian both worries of a major Israeli ground incursion and condemns the Secretary of State. Earlier in the week, he questioned, rightly in my mind, the foreseeable strategic effectiveness of a large scale Israeli military response to the kidnapping. (to which Frum scoffed, and Greg scoffed back)

Rosen has an interesting interview with Mark Perry, an American who has been hosting a dialogue with representatives of Hezbollah and former senior US and British policymakers for the past three years. He thinks this is a game of escalation that both sides will soon climb down from. (note: the interview was 3 days ago). Rosen also points out that Solana has just flown to Beirut for talks. As a fan of his EU foreign policy work, I think this is a positive development but obviously question his potential influence, particularly with Rice so conspicuously silent.

Jo-Anne Mort, in Israel, points out that the extent of the Hezbolla strikes have largely silenced the Arab League, because “Hezbollah has knowingly put the Lebanese gov't --and people--at risk.” She then questions the US ability to serve as the needed diplomatic broker in each of ongoing the middle eastern crises – Lebanon, Palestine, Iran, Syria and Iraq.

Shadi Hamid, on Democracy Arsenal, in Egypt, points out the difference between ‘constructive instability’ and plain old instability.

Ygelsias maintains that the ‘real’ problem, when everything else is removed, is Palestinian anger.

Gandleman relays a note of thanks from a Lebanese Christian diaspora group to Israel.

Finally, I will quote from Clemmons’ argument because I both find it particularly interesting and would be curious what Oxbloggers think about it?:

Some in Israel viewed all three of these potential policy courses for the U.S. -- a broad deal with the Arab Middle East, a new push on final status negotiations with the Palestinians, and a deal to actually negotiate directly with Iran -- as negative for Israel.

The flamboyant, over the top reactions to attacks on Israel's miltiary check points and the abduction of soldiers -- which I agree Israel must respond to -- seem to be part establishing "bona fides" by Olmert -- but far more important, REMOVING from the table important policy options that the U.S. might have pursued.

Israel is constraining American foreign policy in amazing and troubling ways by its actions. And a former senior CIA official and another senior Marine who are well-versed in both Israeli and broad Middle East affairs, agreed that serious strategists in Israel are more concerned about America tilting towards new bargains in the region than they are either about the challenge from Hamas or Hezbollah or showing that Olmert knows how to pull the trigger.

Another well respected and very serious national security public intellectual in the nation wrote this when I shared this thesis that Israeli actions were ultimately aimed at clipping American wings in the region. His response: “the thesis of your paper is right-on. whether intentional or coincidental, that is what is being done right now.”

(11) opinions -- Add your opinion

in case you've missed, Powerline has Joel Mowbray's latest post from Israel, an interview with Natan Sharansky.

"And a former senior CIA official and another senior Marine who are well-versed in both Israeli and broad Middle East affairs"

Scott Ritter and Michael Sheuer?
a broad deal with the Arab Middle East, a new push on final status negotiations with the Palestinians, and a deal to actually negotiate directly with Iran

Anyone who thinks that any of these three options had any chance of getting off the ground---even before the two kidnappings (by Hamas and then Hizbullah)---either needs a serious reality check or is riding the Mearsheimer Walt wave of undermining Israel's credibility at every possible level and in every possible way.
I fail to see the consequences of Israel's actions in trying to eliminate the military wing of Hezbollah from Lebanon. The Lebanese government can't/won't do it, and with Syria/Iran or outright abetting the group I think Israel NEEDED to do this. Lebanon will be better for it, assuming of course that Israel doesn't screw up and lose the support of the citizens. The kidnappings may have been the tipping point, but this war has been brewing ever since Hezbollah decided to point 10,000 rockets at Israel from Lebanon.
Amazing there is a fan of Solana!
Sorry to be sarcastic but what he achieved outside of being enabler of that disease called "dialog" that always plays in the hands of terrorists and proxys.
CIA - Larry Johnson, USMC -Zinni
davod, is that a guess or the answer?

I thought it was standard procedure that the ex-cia anaylist is Sheuer, every ex-high ranking government official is Richard Clarke and retired marine officers are always Scott Ritter. Statistics are almost always complete bullshit and opinion polls are usually questionable at best (Zogby).
The "isreal is overreacting line" and the new (and nasty) line "this is such an overreaction, Israel must be trying to limit US options" is based on looking ONLY at the recent kidnapping, and missing the strategic context. From the Israeli POV this is a problem thats been ongoing since they withdrew from Lebanon in 2000. Hezb went in, and used the withdrawl to strengthen itself militarily and politically, and has attacked Israel across the international border since. Hezbollah has prevented the completion of the Cedar Revolution and the reassertion of Lebanese sovereignty in the south. Hezbollah acts as a proxy for Iran. Hezbollah took advantage of Israels preoccupation in Gaza, and launched an attack in the north.

WHEN Israel breaks Hezbollahs military power, with the quiet sympathy of Egypt, Jordan, and the anti-Syrian coalition in Lebanon, it will be EASIER to rebuild Lebanon, not harder, and US policy in the region will be advanced.

The notion that Israels actions are whats stopping negotiations with Iran is absurd. The war was initiated by a Hezb action that at minimum was approved in Teheran, and MAY have been instigated by Teheran, in part to divert from its stonewalling on the international proposal. Its one more piece of evidence why Iran is untrustworthy. Greg continues to head into strange places.

An Israel-Palestine deal will be possible once Hamas is weakened enough for Abbas and Dahlan to ressert control in Gaza. I think thats a ways away, but when it comes, it will be welcomed by Israel.
Only those who are suicidal in Teheran can like the present situation, which has our side thinking seriously about taking out Syria and Iran in the near future. Hezbollah will remain a threat to democratic Lebanon because they bred like bunnies and none of the other groups in Lebanon kept up. So it would be best for the future of Lebanon if the Isralis drive as many out of the country as possible. It's nice that Egypt and Jordan are going to just sit there this time. The IDF would be wise to take Damascus quickly and knock off the Assad regime, making Iran feel sanctions and think about defense - then quickly pull out of Syria and let Iran twist in the wind. (Unless Iran is foolish enough to attack, which would solve everything quickly). A sunni coalition would take power in Damascus, with rubble problems, cutting off the surviving Hezbollah shia in Lebanon from Teheran.
What date & time was the Peretz post posted? I found another post by him at TNR's blog, but not the one mentioned. Thanks.
sorry, at 12:38 a.m. on the 14th.
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