If we are going to defeat them, then it seems it needs to cost more to the people who are supporting them than the benefits they are getting from supporting them. Right now it has cost Syria and Iran little, if anything, to support the insurgency and the militias in Iraq and it has cost them very little to have Hezbollah fight in Israel. When it begins to cost the Shias of Lebanon and the Shias in Iran more than they are getting in benefits, we may be able to get somewhere with diplomacy. It is a dificult balance to be sure. Deciding how to allocate resources between diplomacy and military actions.
As long as Hezbollah thinks the goal of destroying Israel is achievable, they will contine the fight. Iraq's old regime desired regional hegemony. As long as the insurgency believes re establishing the old regime is achieveable, the fighting will continue. If all they wanted was for the US to withdraw, this would be easy. All they have to do is stop shooting and stop planting IEDs. They could still keep all of their weapons. No one will pressure them to get rid of them. Then they could demand that we leave. Even if we wanted to stay, in such a situation, the world pressure on us to withdraw from Iraq would be tremendous.
The mistakes that have been made in the past are failing to completely defeat the enemy. This allows it to live on to fight another day. Had Israel been allowed to fully defeat the enemy either now or in 1982 the situation would be better. As it is the enemy lives on to fight another day. Diplomacy has a chance, when the enemy understands their goals are not going to be achievable. The concept of compromise seems to be missing from the terrorist lingo. In any event, a compromise with them means they take a portion now and get the rest later. Their goals are first and foremost the destruction of Israel then the establishment of a world wide caliphate. I suggest a greater focus on the military aspect and less focus on diplomacy. Right now diplomacy with them is fruitless.
Efforts at diplomacy should be directed to Russia and China. If we can get them to withdraw support from the Islamic extremists, they become much easier to neutralize.
Thankfully we are not yet at the point where a Dresden response in necessary. This is why I suggest more troops for Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the GWOT. Former 911 commissioners have said we have not allocated the necessary resources to Iraq, Afghanistan, or the broader GWOT. Get this done now before more drastic measures become necessary.
Israel and probably the US made a mistake, if they assumed that Hezbollah could be degraeded enough to make a difference in only one month of fighting. Short of completely destroying Lebanon and assuming every thing went perfectly, Israel would have needed at least three months and probably longer. If there is a silver lining, this is only one round in a long struggle. We need to learn from our mistakes and do better in the next round. Israel's military was clearly winning the round before the politicians caved. The Arab league and others would not have been trying to get a cease fire, if Hezbollah was winning. During cease fires, this enemy rearms and comes back stronger. The definition of insanity is to continue doing the same thing over and over agains expecting to get a different result. Eventually the gloves come off and we fight to win. I just hope and pray the gloves come off in time to prevent another major terrorist attack.Comment Posted By B.Poster On 15.08.2006 @ 14:15
That is exactly what I have been thinking. In my mind I called it the "dresden option." The US or Israel can do what it currently does, which is prescision strikes against specific targets followed up by a ground invasion, they can use the Dresden response as you call it, or they can go nuclear. As I stated earlier, without a Dresden response or a nuclear response, I don't think it was realistic to expect Hezbollah to be degraded enough to make a huge difference in only about thirty days.Comment Posted By B.Poster On 14.08.2006 @ 23:06
Osama and his communist allies are correct. As I'm writing this America and the West do not have the stomach to take on him and his cohorts for the long haul. This can change one of three ways. 1.) The president and the government can forcefully explain the stakes to the Aemrican people. The stakes are failure in the GWOT likely means the end of Western civilization. The very best case scenario is it would merely mean the end of America's role as a major power. 2.)After the terrorists take out a major western city, the gloves will come off and we will finally be able to fight to win. I suspect, after such an event, Iran and other Islamic extremist nations will not survive long. The only question, in a situation such as this, is what will Russia or China do? These two countries, especially Russia, are capable of militarily defeating the US. A war with Rusia, China, or both of them will not be pretty. The fact that we posess the ability to completely annihilate Iran, Syria, and any other terrorist supporting state and have chosen not to do so speaks volumes about the inherent goddness of our civilition compared to the civilization of Islamic extremism. Islamic extremists would annihilate the US, in a heart beat, if they could do so. Also, Israel could completely annihilate Lebanon, if it wanted to do so, but it has not chosen to. Lebanon would destroy Israel in a heart beat if it could do so. This speaks volumes about the inherent goodness of their civilization compared to their enemies. 3.) Russia, who has a very large and very advanced nuclear arsenal, may be using the terrorists to draw attention away from themselves. Should Russia use the destraction to launch a surprise nuclear attack, this would not be pretty. Assuming we survive, the gloves would finally come off and we would fight to win. I prefer option 1. The president and the government need to explain the stakes and all of the political correct bunk needs to end. If the president and the government will forcefully explain the stakes, we can mobilize and get this done properly with a minimum of casulties on all sides. Unfortunately a frank discussion of the size and scope of the threat is not good for polite company. In other words, it is time to be impolite.
You mention Lebanon as a loser in this conflict. I disagree. Lebanon is an enemy of Israel. It was even before Hezbollah's attack. The Israeli response ripped away the facade for anyone who is willing to see to see it. Unfortunately the US has placed so much in this democracy thing that it refuses, at least publically, to see that the Lebanese have elected themselves a terrorist government. It cannot be over emphasized that it does not matter that someone votes. What matters is how they vote. I would suspect that Lebanon, as a whole, views this situation much like Great Britian viewed WWII. Much of British infrastructure was completely destroyed by the end of the war but when it came to an end they rightly saw themselves as the victor. The analogy is not perfect because Britian did not start WWII the way Lebanon started the war with Israel. Even though Lebanon started the war and alot of their infrastructure is in shambles, they probably view themselves as a victor. This especially appears to be so in Shia areas.
Arguably the biggest mistake we made was when we pushed a democratic process we allowed Islamic extremists to enter the political process. This never should have happened. Mistakes are a part of the human condition and are forgiveable. What matters is what we learn from them. This does not change the fact that allowing groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, and Al Sadr to enter a political process is a decision that will plague us for years to come.
It appears Israel did a great deal of tactical damage to Hezbollah. Frankly. given the slowness in getting to the ground invasion, I'm amazed they did as well as they did. At the beginning, I thought under ideal circumstances Israel would need at least three months to do this job properly. I hope and pray Israel did enough damage to Hezbollah to make enough of a difference to matter. I wish I could say I was more optimistic but it looks like Hezbollah will come back when they are ready for the next round.
In my opinion no western leader looks good here. Bush caved to soon. He should have known thrity days would not be enough. He should have been able to hold out for at least six months and probably indefintitely. Doing the right thing is seldom going to be easy and it will often times not make us popular. People with true character do what is right even when it is not popular. Israel's leaderhip should have known that thirty days would not be enough. They should have been prepared to go longer. The American and Israeli leaders should have had a frank discussion about what the costs would be in taking on Lebanon. Rather than subject their people to adverse costs it appears the Aemrican and European leaders caved.Comment Posted By B.Poster On 14.08.2006 @ 21:30
I think you are right about China. Much of American actions are probably done with an eye on China and hopefully on Russia. I find no flaw in your thining about China. My understanding from reading many analysis on China and Russia is they view war with America as inevitable. Of course I hope this does not happen.
I mention Russia because Russia seems to be the biggest weapons supplier of Iran and Syria. They also have the world's largest and most advanced nuclear arsenal. They seem to be the enemy behind most of Ameirca's enemies. I'm not quite sure what they are up to but I view Russia and China as America's greatest threats, in that order. The alliance with Islamic Extremists may be a simple case of the "enemy of my enemy is my friend." This seems to be a driving factor in much of international relations. In any event, I don't think you can defeat Islamic Extremists unless something is done about Russia and China.
I think diplomatic efforts with Iran and Syria are likely fruitless. Any diplomacy should be directed at Russia and China. If we could get them to withdraw support from the Islamic extremists, I think the terrorist threat becomes much easier to neutralize.Comment Posted By B.Poster On 14.08.2006 @ 20:37
Thanks for the additional information on Panama. I think Hussein's main base of popularity was and is in the Sunni areas. From a poll done by the brookings institute, most Iraqis still think it was worth it to remove him. I think had we contributed more troops, especially in the beginning, it would have made a huge difference. Much of what we "know" now, we know in hindsight. As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. I think we could still commit the security personnel to quell the insurgency but it does not seem the American people are willing to commit to this right now. I don't think many people fully understand the stakes. Failure in Iraq probably means cedeing the country to Iran, Russia, China or some combination. Russia and China are the two greatest threats to America in the world today. If either of these countries or China is allowed to gain control of Iraq the threat to American national security will increase exponentially.Comment Posted By B.Poster On 14.08.2006 @ 18:30
Thanks for your response to my post. I think one of the biggest mistakes that George W. Bush did was after 911 he should have asked the American people to make sacrifices. I ahve long felt that to win the GWOT would require a WWII like mobilization.
Right now, we seem unwilling to make the kind of sacrifices that will be necessary to get this done. If this continues to be the case, it seems our bes option is "fortress America."
Under this option, America will immediately withdraw its troops from the middle east including Iraq and elsewhere around the world. When this happens, Iran, Russia, China, or some combination of the three will take complete control of Iraq. When this happens the threat posed by terrorism, as well as the threats to America's national security will likely grow exponentially. As such, fortress America better be locked up tight. The military personel who have been withdrawn from around the world will now guard the borders. We will institute a sensible immigration policy. In other words, there will be no Muslim immigrants for a long time. Also, we know who is most likely to commit a terrorist attack and we know what their religous beliefs are. This should help us in domestic survelience. After the withdrawl from the middle east, middle eastern oil will no longer be available or who ever controls it will demand terms that are beyond reason to purchase it. This means we will need to develop more of our own resources. This will take some time and effort. The life style that Americans are accustomed to will be drasticlly reduced for the foreseeable future.
Another mistake we made was when we pushed for democracy we allowed Islamic extremist parties into the political process. This will plague us for years to come. As part of fortress America, we will need a strong missle defense system that is capable of stopping the nuclear arsenal of
Russia or any other country. Threats will not go away. After we withdraw, the terrorists will correctly conclude that they defeated the US. This will encourage them to push harder. The fortress needs to be secure.
For me the ideal policy would be a smart and pro active foreign policy and better border security along with a more sensible immigration policy. Also, "racial profiling" should be used. We know which nationalities terrorists are most likely to come from and we know their approximate ages. If the American people are unwilling to make the sacrifices that are needed to win the GWOT, fortress America is likely the only option. At least this is a policy we can control, as opposed to one that is based strictly on hope.Comment Posted By B.Poster On 14.08.2006 @ 18:19
The United States and Israel really screwed up here. First Israel assumed that short of completely destroying Lebanon that they could diminsih Hezbollah's capability enough to mae a significant difference in only about thirty days. This was a gross underestimation on the part of the government and the IDF. Then Israel was slower with the ground portion than it seems they should have been. Now it seems many officials are publicly sniping at one another. This type of public airing of our "dirty laundry" makes us look weak and pathetic before very dangerous enemies.
Making an error is human. It is forgiveable. The important thing is to make adjustments and learn from our errors. Once it was realized that we underestimated the strength of the enemy, we should have made an adjustment, sucked it up, and mad the decsion to stick with our ally no matter how long it might take. Will this cost us? Yes it would. The economic and other costs could be quite steep. This is where character and determination come in. People with character do what is right regardless of what the cost to themselves may be. Alot of people on the American and the Israeli side, especially the American side, have shown what spineless cowards they really are.Comment Posted By B.Poster On 14.08.2006 @ 17:31
Other counter insurgency experts have disagreed. Some have said you need troop numbers of 10 to 1 up to 15 to 1. My memory is sketchy here but I remember an interview on Fox News. The person being interviewed was a person who played a prominent role in the invasion of Panama. He had said that enough troops were commited to the invasion so that an "insurgency" had no room to breathe. In other words, every where they turned they would be looking at an American GI with a gun. This interview took place in June 2003. The gentleman was reluctant to criticize the military planning but very briefly during the interview the spin came off. The bottom line is we had no where near the number of troops committed to the theater that it would take to secure the country.
Also, in a recent interview on the O'reilly factor with Dan Senor formerly of the Coalition Provisional Authority, Mr. O'reilly asked him about the insurgency and the Al Sadr militias. Mr. Senor is genrally all about pro administration spin, however, very briefly the spin came off. Mr. Senor said we lack the resources to deal effectively with the insurgency, the Al Sadr militia, or the other militias. What we are left with is a policy based on hope. We hope that the miliary and police forces we are training will be up to the job. We hope that the now liberated Iraq does not ally itself with Iran against the US. On this note, Iran appears to already have substantial influence within the country. I hate policies that are based on hope. The president should explain the stakes to the American people and commit the resources to get this done properly. Whether we like it or not Iraq and Lebanon have now become the front line in the GWOT. A premature withdrawl from Iraq will be conceding the entire country to the control of Iran. In which case, American national security would be in an even more precarious position that it already is.
"Poking a beehive that a samrt man would have left alone." In my post I was not arguing for or against invading Iraq. What I was suggesting is, since we chose to do it, we should commit the resources necessary to give us a reasonable chance of achieving our goals. the proper resouces have never been commited. What I was mainly referring to was our commitment to see a noble endeavor through to its completion. We have lost far fewer people than we did in WWII and the American people have given up far less than they had to sacrifice during WWII. Yet already we are ready to turn tail and run.
The decision to invade Iraq may not have been a sound one. Personally I would not have done it. I think a better use of those resources would have been to finish the job in Afghanistan, for stronger border security, and to reform our domestic survelience policies, as well as coming up with more sensible imigration policies. We know who the people are who are most likely to commit terrorist acts against us and we know what countries they are from. This should help us to know who we need to watch closely and who we need to stop from immigrating to the US.
"Saddam Hussein had as much chance of harming the United States as a one legged man in an ass kicking contest." The question was not did Iraq pose a threat. The question was what was the magnitude of the threat. I'm not familiar with this statement, but it implies that the threat is non existent. Thirty nations who were part of the coalition, Charles Duelfer and David Kay former heads of the ISG, and Congress after looking at the intellegence we had did not buy this theory. Thinking like that statement is the height of hubris. This kind of pride comes before a major fall.
Compared to the greatest generation many of the people in this generation are spineless wimps. Again, reasonable people can and do question the decision to invade Iraq. As I said, I would not have done it. Since we did, we should have the kind of resolve the greatest generation had to see this through.
If we don't have the resolve to see it through, we should immediately withdraw. We must understand that when we withdraw Iran, Russia, China, or some combination of the three will gain control of Iraq. When this happens the threats to American national security will grow exponentially. Also, middle eastern oil will likely be off line or those who hold it will demand terms that are beyond reason. We will have to develop our own resources. This means some animals will have to be inconvenienced. While we are doing this, Americans will have to accept a drastic reduction in their standard of living for the foreseeable future. This will take time and money to develop these resources. We better make sure those borders are secure. We better upgrade the nuclear arsenal and we better make sure we have a working missle defense. In other words, failure in Iraq means failure in the GWOT. Failure in the GWOT means we will have no choice but to withdraw to fortress America. Btw, developing more of our own resources is a good idea any way. This should give us more leverage.
Perhaps Iraq did not have to become a major front in the GWOT. We chose to invade it and it became a major focus of Islamic Extremists. Mow the question is are we going to suck it up and make the commitment necessary to give us a reasonable chance to achieve a stable, allied, and democratic Iraq or are we going to turn tail and run like cowards. At this point, I would settle for an allied and stable Iraq. At this point it looks due to a combination of hubris and arrogance we are going to turn tail and run.
A Joe Lieberman supporter summed this thinking up best when she said, "when the bad guys turn up the heat, we beat a hasty retreat.
Btw, I am appalled that the Israelis or the Americans would have really believed that based on a campaign of prescision air strikes followed by a ground invasion could possibly degrade an enemy as powerful and entrenched as Hezbollah. To do this properly they would have needed at least three months and probably up to six months. To have assumed this is hubris in the extreme. This is similiar to the kind of hubris that led someone to think they could invade Iraq with so few troops.
Please thank your father for me for his service to our country during WWII. His generation was a generation that has lived through a great depression and through a world war. The people of his generation were people of real courage. This is unlike some people today.Comment Posted By B.Poster On 14.08.2006 @ 17:16
Ze'ev writes in the article Rick links to "the arabs are seeing that military might is not a guarantee of success." This is partially correct. The US did not contribute enough troops to Iraq to have any reasonable hope of quelling the insurgency. As such, all we can do is hope and pray the forces we are training will be up to the task of defending their country and being allied with us.
The Israelis did not have enough time to have any reasonable hope of being to dgrade Hezbollah enough to make a significant difference. For this, even if all went perfect they would have needed at least three months. If things go less than perfect, as they did here, they would have probably needed at least six months and maybe longer. Western civilization which includes the US and Israel is fundamentally unserious about its security. Those of the greatest generation that have passed on who fought WWII must be spinning in their graves. They have got to be utterly ashamed of all of us. It is high time we got serious about defending what we have been blessed with.Comment Posted By B.Poster On 14.08.2006 @ 14:47
While George W. Bush probably ran interference for Israel longer than any other administration in the past would have run for Israe, I don't think 30 days was long enough. I never had any doubt that Israel would defeat Hezbollah. The only question I had was would they be given enough time. Unless the cease fire somehouw holds and someone somehow disarms Hezbollah, Israel did not have enough time.
When terms like "incompentent" are used to describe the Israeli leadership, it implies that defeating this enemy is somehow easy. It is not. From the time this started, I estimated, if everything went absolutely perfect that the IDF would need at least three months and possibly as long as six months to defeat significantly degrade Hezbollah enough to make a significant difference. Of course if Israel wanted to completely destroy the country they could do so in a day and this would be the complete elimination of Hezbollah. At this time, no one wants to do this. Given the war plan that called for precision air strikes followed by a massive ground invasion, if evrything went absolutely perfectly, it would have required at least three months and probably six or longer.
Right now the Israeli government and the American government have managed to execute the invasion of Lebanon and the broader GWOT, in such as a way as to inflame the anti-war for being to aggressive and to inflame the "hawks" for not being aggressive enough.
It seems when soldiers were kidnapped Israel could have negotiated for their release. They did not. Israel and to an extent the Americans chose to launch the invasion. This in and of itself is a good idea. Islamic extremists will ultimately have to be defeated on the battlefield. They cannot be negotiated with, however, if we are going to go this route we will need to be committed to see it through to completetion.
The bottom line is when America and its Coaliton partners invaded Iraq with to few troops we sent the message that we are fundamentally unserious about the GWOT, furthermore, it should have been obvious by June 2003 that we did not have enough troops. When we failed to make the appropiate course corrections and add more troops, this reinforced the message that we are funabmentally unserious about the GWOT.
I am assuming the Israelis and the Americans consulted before the war with Lebanon. I'm sure the Israelis wanted to know how long the Americans would be willing and able to run diplomatic interference for them. Make no mistake running diplmatic interference for about thirty days was NOT easy, however, short of destroying the entire country, I see no way that thirty days would have been enough time to degrade Hezbollah enough to make enough of a difference to be worth anything. When Israel and the US said they were going to prosecute the GWOT with Lebanon but decided that they were only going to stick it out for about thirty days they reminded the Islamic extremists that we, in the west, are fundamentally unserious about the GWOT. If anyone in the US or Israel really thought, short of destroying the entire country, that the objectives could be fully accomplished in only about thirty days, this the height of hubris.
This cease fire is unlikely to hold. It is only a matter of time before Hezbollah comes back. When they come back, they will likely be stronger than they were before. I wish I could be more optimistic. If there are two silver linings here, they are Hezbollah may be to cray to quit fighting right now. All they have to do is to sit tight and rearm. Then they can come back but they may be crazy to even do that. Also, eventually the US and the west will become serious about the GWOT. The only question is will it happen before or after the Russians launch a major nuclear attack or will it happen before or after the Islamic extremists destroy a major western city. At some point, we will become serious about this. I just hope and pray it is before we get attacked with WMD.Comment Posted By B.Poster On 14.08.2006 @ 13:20