"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid" - Ronald Reagan

New York

Lebanon Death Toll

Not to make light of either situation, but I just wanted to provide some comparisons.

Average temperature in Beruit, Lebanon for the last two weeks = 79oF.
Population of Lebanon = 3.9 million
Area = 10,400 km2 (~4015 mi2)
Density of population = 971 people per mi2
Death toll from war in last two weeks = 439

Average temperature in Los Angeles, California for the last two weeks = 75oF.
Population of California = 33.9 million
Area = 163, 707 mi2
Density of population = 207 people per mi2
Death toll from heat wave in last two weeks = 141

Now if Israel was really trying to target civilians in Lebanon given that 3.9 million people are packed into 4015 mi2 (over four times as densely populated as California) don't you think they could do better than 439 people killed with all their precision guided munitions given that the average weather temperatures has been rather the same and while I don't have data for it, I bet Lebanonese don't have as many air conditioners per capita as Californians.

Things that make you go, Hmmmm.

Israeli Order of Battle - A Way

Compiling several sources, I have diagrammed a possible order of battle that Israeli Forces may use to defeat Hezbollah should they push into Southern Lebanon. While taken from many sources, a special thanks to DEBKAfile for much of the insight in preparing this Order of Battle. To view the Powerpoint presentation, click here.

Israel's Mindset - Stalemate or Major Offensive?

I am going to go out on a limb here and state that Israel is planning a major offensive into Lebanon in the next week or so. There is the bold statement, now let me support it with evidence.

  1. This war was started by Hezbollah kidnapping 2 Soldiers and killing 3 Soldiers in a cross-border raid. An additional 5 Soldiers were killed by mines and booby-traps as Israeli forces moved north towards Lebanon to save its Soldiers. This level of sophistication by Hezbollah was not typical of their past kidnapping actions. It pointed to a higher level of strategy than typical terrorists attacks.
  2. The Irsaeli ship, a Saar-5 Corvette class, was hit by a C-802 guided missile. Again, this attack pointed to a higher level of sophistication than Hezbollah typically was able to muster in the past.
  3. Unlike previous kidnappings, Israel struck Hezbollah (and Hamas) rather violently. Mahmoud Komati, the deputy chief of the Hezbollah politburo, in fact stated, "Israeli responses to Hezbollah actions had included sending commandos into Lebanon and kidnapping Hezbollah officials or briefly targeting specific Hezbollah strongholds in southern Lebanon." Israel's reaction, or counter-attack, was meant to steal the initiative from Hezbollah to put them on the defensive and gain the offensive for Israel. This succeeded.
  4. Israel seems to have had its nose bloodied in the battle of Bint Jbeil with nine dead. Its ground offensive has ground to a halt, loosing the offensive initiative they had gained earlier with air strikes. As Paul from Powerline points out in the 1980's Israel suffered a hundred dead in the same town. I do not think Israel, knowing what is at stake in this war, would turn tail with such a small number dead given prior losses. More likely, this is a tactical pause.
  5. What Israel accomplished with the Golani Battalion 51 in Bint Jbeil was to update intelligence by executing a reconnaissance by fire or a movement to contact. Israel has been out of Lebanon for over five years. Much changes in five years. Reports of complex underground bunkers is just one of the changes. The Golani Battalion 51 allowed Israel to update intelligence of the level of sophistication of ground forces given their surprises in levels of sophistication of surface-to-surface missiles and anti-tank missiles. It is now time for Israel to keep up the air strikes while gaining time to analyze updated intelligence to better protect its Soldiers.
  6. Soldiers of the Golani Battalion has been in continuous combat for almost two weeks in Lebanon and prior to that were in Gaza, severely taking a toll on its Soldiers and equipment.
  7. Israel is getting better precision-guided munitions from the United States to not only limit civilian casualties, but also to better effectively allow air support for ground troops in close in battle like Bint Jbeil in the future. These munitions have proven extremely effective in Iraq at limiting civilian casualties while greatly enhancing close air support to ground troops.
  8. Israeli's Security Cabinet approved the activation of 30,000 reservists or three Israeli Divisions. This fact, more than anything, can be seen as buying Israel time to build up combat power for a subsequent ground invasion into Lebanon while maintaining forces to continue the fight in Gaza and providing a follow-on reserve as needed. The activation of this many troops also brings Israel the logistic capability to support continuous combat operations far away from friendly borders.
  9. Israeli's Security Cabinet did not disapprove of a widening of the ground attack according to General Halutz, "We did not request approval for a ground operation today, so the cabinet did not approve a ground operation," he said. "We asked for the right to prepare the reserves for a time when we might need them, and we got that from the government."
  10. Given the surprises that Hezbollah has brought to the table in this conflict, it would not be tactically smart for Israel to show their cards at this time, therefore, all Israel is saying is that they are not widening the war at this time. That does not prevent them from planning and rehearsing and coming back later after Hezbollah is softened up more from air strikes to request a larger ground attack.
  11. Hamas has signalled its intent to accept a ceasefire. A ceasefire over the next week, would allow Israel to focus all combat power on Hezbollah. Without a ceasefire, Israel can still fight and economy of force effort against Hamas.

All of these factors lead me to believe that the activation/call-up of 30,000 reservists will allow Israel the tactical time needed to match these Soldiers with their equipment; integrate lessoned learned about Hezbollah's tactics and new capabilities; and allow them to develop, deliver, and rehearse offensive orders for future ground attacks into Lebanon.

Only time will tell. But, I cannot believe, given the unique circumstances of moderate Arab governments actually not demanding an immediate ceasefire and blaming Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran for the current crisis, that Israel will settle for the current stalemate and not execute all out war to defeat Hezbollah, and in turn severely harm Syrian and Iranian influence in the Middle East for some time to come.

However, if Israel decides on a stalemate, it will solely bear the responsibility for future attacks.

The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend

The Daily Standard has an excellent article about the relationship between Al Qaeda and Iran and its surrogates entitled, "Bin Laden's Brothers". It is a must read to understand the relationship between Shia and Sunni terrorists organizations.

It boils down to the enemy of my enemy is my friend. After dispelling the US from the Middle East, then and only then will Shia and Sunni battle each other for control of the caphilate.

Now is the time to think big in the Middle East

The Daily Star has a great analysis regarding the current war in Lebanon. Some of the most interesting analysis is below.

The war in Lebanon is not a war by the Arab world against Israel; rather, it is a war orchestrated by the region's radical forces - Hamas and Islamic Jihad among the Palestinians, Hizbullah in Lebanon, together with Syria and Iran - that reject any settlement with Israel. Conflict was sought for three reasons:
  1. First to ease pressure on Hamas from within the Palestinian community to recognize Israel;
  2. Second to undermine democratization in Lebanon, which was marginalizing Syria; and
  3. Third to lift attention from the emerging dispute over the Iranian nuclear program and demonstrate to the West the "tools" at itsdisposal in the case of conflict.

It goes on to state,

The folly of this is readily apparent, because it doesn't require much imagination to see what the Middle East would look like if an Iranian nuclear umbrella were shielding the radicals. This miscalculation will become obvious as four developments unfold:
  1. First, Israel avoids being sucked into a ground war in Lebanon;
  2. Second, United Nations Resolution 1559 - which requires the disarmament of all militias in Lebanon with the help of the international community - is enforced and a return to the status quo rendered impossible;
  3. Third, today's de facto "anti-hegemon" coalition, comprising moderate Arab countries (including moderate Palestinians), is transformed into a robust and serious peace initiative; and
  4. Fourth, the "Quartet," led by the United States, becomes actively engaged for a viable solution and provides the necessary political, economic, and military guarantees to sustain it over time.
For a full read of the insightful article, click here.

Things that make you go Hmmm.

According to Reuters on Yahoo,

Foreign ministers from the United States, Middle East and Europe agreed on the need for an international military force with a U.N. mandate to secure the border between Lebanon and Israel where the fighting has killed hundreds. They vowed to work "immediately to reach with the utmost urgency a ceasefire that puts an end to the current violence and hostilities," said a statement read by the Italian host, Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema.

"The ceasefire must be lasting, permanent and sustainable."

The final statement, reached after prolonged debate, fell short of the wish of Arab leaders, Italy and the United Nations for a call for an immediate ceasefire without preconditions between Israel and Hizbollah guerrillas. (emphasis added)
So, Arab leaders, Italy, and the United Nations (for the most part), did not want a ceasefire that would be lasting, permanent and sustainable and instead wanted an immediate ceasefire without preconditions.

Said another way, several UN member nations don't care if Hezbollah releases the two Israeli Soldiers it kidnapped. Another thing I find interesting is no where in this article nor apparently in the statement was there a mention of Hezbollah's violation of UN Resolution 1559 which directly contributed to the kidnapping and subsequent escalation. Nor do they care if the ceasefire is permanent and sustainable.

I have learned over the years in raising kids and working with people, in general, that unless you hold them accountable for their actions, they keep doing the same stupid things. Even if the UN will not hold Hezbollah accountable for its actions which caused this war, Israel will.

Again, things that make you go Hmmm.

Changing of Rhetoric

I find it interesting the changing of rhetoric from the likes of Hezbollah.
"We cannot accept any condition humiliating to our country, our people or our resistance," Nasrallah said.
The talk is all about a negotiated peace. I do not believe Israel has specified it wants a negotiated peace nor has it formally announced any such offer. In fact, just the opposite. Israel has vowed to carry this fight to the destruction of Hamas and Hezbollah. So who are folks like Nasrallah talking about when he says "accepting conditions"? Certainly not Israel. It must be meant for his own countrymen who are getting hammered by the Israelis and are loosing faith in their leaders who have brought this destruction upon them.

Again, I ask. Is all this talk about disproportionate response by Israel really a hidden cry from Hezbollah and other Arab leaders regarding destruction of terrorists some very important organizations?

Watching American TV in Beirut

AlJazeera.net does its darndest to bring to light inaccurate reporting in the west regarding the current conflict/war between Hezbollah and Israel. It is summarized in these paragraphs.
Hours later, early on Tuesday, the casualty count in Lebanon stands at around 200 as cities and towns across the country are systematically pulverised, leaving hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians trapped and unable to escape the fighting.

A massive refugee crisis looms large while the country lies in complete disarray with its arterial roadways and bridges completely destroyed. Meanwhile, around a dozen are dead in Israel, with the last large attack occurring at a train depot on Sunday.
I only ask one question, just one. Did Israel start this crisis/war or did Hezbollah?

As the saying goes-All is fair in love and war.

Israel is not be disproportionate. It is prosecuting a war, a war started by Hezbollah with the killing 8 and kidnapping 2 IDF Soldiers from the Israeli side of the border. It started a war while it felt Israel was weak and involved in another crisis/war in Gaza. Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000. It withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

No, Israel did not start this war, but it will finish it. The problem Al Jazeera has is not the lopsidedness of casualties or destruction, it is that it is lopsided against the Palestinians and Hezbollah.

Josh Manchester from TCS Daily stated it best when he said,

Decisive action is what has traditionally been missing from the wars of the Middle East. Land changes hands, blows are exchanged, and peace eventually is negotiated. But the underlying dynamic never changes because the sides are rarely faced with a decisive defeat, the only condition that can force the most avowed of men to abandon the ideas they hold dear....this moment would not have been possible without the invasion of Iraq.
Hamas and Hezbollah are both facing decisive defeat. That is what Al Jazeera is afraid of. They are afraid that these terrorist groups are facing decisive defeat. Iran and Syria have chosen to use these front organizations to spread Middle Eastern terror. Hamas and Hezbollah now face certain destruction. With their destruction, Iran and Syria will be siginificantly weakened. Internal regime change will happen most certainly in Syria. One can only hope Iran will soon follow. With their destruction, the last Axis of Evil, North Korea, will be alone in the world.

We are truly at a historic moment which started in 2001 in New York, continued to Afghanistan and then to Iraq, is now focused in Israel, Palestine, and Lebanon, and will hopefully end with the downfall of Syria and Iran.

We did not start it, but we will finish it. Likewise, Israel did not start it, but it will finish it.

Palestinians: IDF surrounds intelligence HQ in Ramallah

While Hezbollah is getting all the news, Israel is continuing to push into Gaza and have surrounded the intelligence HQ at Ramallah according to YNetNews.com.

Palestinian sources reported that a large IDF force has encircled the Palestinian military intelligence headquarters in Ramallah. According to the report, forces are using loud speakers, asking those inside to give themselves up.
What is more interesting than this is the second paragraph.

Sources in Ramallah expressed concern that the IDF would destroy the structure, as they claimed the IDF destroyed the Mukata a few days ago. (Ali Waked)
It seems simple to me. If "sources in Ramallah" are so concerned that the IDF will destroy the structure, even though the IDF is currently trying to coax terrorists out of the HQ, then why don't these same "sources in Ramallah" get the forces holed up in Ramallah to surrender to prevent its destruction?

I have repeated it several times since I heard it a few decades ago. There exists three basic human emotions: Greed, fear, and greed. These terrorists in the Ramallah intelligence HQs are not fearful of inprisonment in Iraeli prisons or death. They are only after what they can get out of the kidnapping of Cpl Shalit. One can only hope they don't give up and get what they deserve - God willing.
Josh Manchester from TCS makes an interesting observation about the relationship between the US invassion in Iraq and the current Hezbollah-Israeli crisis.

Decisive action is what has traditionally been missing from the wars of the Middle East. Land changes hands, blows are exchanged, and peace eventually is negotiated. But the underlying dynamic never changes because the sides are rarely faced with a decisive defeat, the only condition that can force the most avowed of men to abandon the ideas they hold dear....this moment would not have been possible without the invasion of Iraq.
For a full read, click here.

Are these guys this stupid? I don't think so.

USA Today reports the Israeli reaction to the kidnapping of two of its Soldiers by Hezbollah was unexpected.

OK. A little timeline here.

25 Jun 06 - Cpl Shalit kidnapped by Hamas

28 Jun 06 - After extensive bombing by the IAF, the IDF enters Gaza

12 Jul 06 - Hezbollah kidnaps two IDF Soldiers and kills 3

So, I am to believe that Hezbollah thought even though Israel reacted violently on 28 Jun 06 to the kidnapping of one IDF Soldier by Hamas, they did not expect a similar reaction almost three weeks later when they kidnapped two Soldiers.

Or, is Hezbollah trying to play to the international audience saying the Israeli response was not proportional. Anderson Cooper while not stating it, believes so.

And, if it is saying this now (two weeks after the kidnapping), does that mean the response to Hezbollah is paralyzing it and turning Lebanese away from Hezbollah?

If a wolf attacks, you don't try to wrestle with it and get all chewed up in the process and possibly get rabies that either have to take a whole bunch of shots in the stomach for or die from. You pull out your trusty .30/06 and shoot the wild animal.

The Israeli response it appropriate. It is hurting two of the most recognized and violent terrorist organizations, Hamas and Hezbollah. Our response after 9/11 was appropriate to Al Qaeda. We have severely damaged it and have turned several nations away from supporting it.

The only inappropriate thing both the US and Israel are not doing is attacking the wolf's den, Iran, and its alternate resting place, Syria.