Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Its “Put up or Shut up” Time in Lebanon

Its “Put up or Shut up” Time in Lebanon

By Mike Whitney

04/24/06 "Information Clearing House" -- -- “Over the past few days, the Israelis did the maximum they can do, from the air and sea. There is no target—old, new, assumed, expected, based on information and analysis—they did not hit… (But) Hezbollah is still managing the battle calmly, slowly, quietly, and without any emotional reaction. You can see this. There are no unnecessary threats and no random rhetoric…We are not a classic army extending from the sea to Mt. Hermon. We are a popular and serious resistance movement that is present in many areas and axes…Our equation and principles are the following: When the Israelis enter, they must pay dearly in terms of their tanks, officers, and soldiers. This is what we pledge to do and we will honor our pledge, God willing.” Hasan Nasrallah, Secretary General Hezbollah, Al Jazeera interview.

The Israeli High-Command loves the air-war phase of the conflict. After all, no one gets killed at 30,000 ft. The only victims of this lethal-strategy are the unlucky women and children who are left scampering for their lives while Israeli bombs flatten their homes and all their worldly possessions.

For 10 days now Israel has casually showered Lebanon with laser-guided munitions, bunker-busters, Daisy Cutters and cluster-bombs. The cheerily-named ordinance reflects the profound affection that US/Israel feel for the deadly weaponry that assures their dominant place in the global order.

But, let’s face it; the bombing campaign is the “coward’s war”. It doesn’t take bravery to pelt civilians with high-explosives when the F-16s are unchallenged in the sky. Nor does it show any courage to ravage the countryside leveling bridges, milk factories and mosques. That’s just terrorism, isn’t it?

But, now we’re entering the ground phase of the war and that does take courage. Israel is massing troops on Lebanon’s southern border and, apparently, has already taken a few small towns in the south. The Israeli-friendly media can be expected to craft a narrative that is sympathetic to the aggressor but, that’s okay. No one disputes the value of propaganda or the rights of the people who own the printing presses, but that will not diminish what is about to take place in southern Lebanon. We are about to see the most powerful army in the Middle East, armed with every homicidal device know to man, go up against a tough-minded, well-disciplined nationalist guerilla-force.

Israel thinks that they’ll be out in a week or two.

We’ll see. Perhaps, it will turn out to be the “cakewalk” that they predict, but maybe not. Hezbollah may not match up very well to the Israeli war-machine, but they are considerably more formidable than the unarmed women and children in the Gaza Strip. Israel will have to fight tooth-and-nail if it wants to succeed in “disarming” Hezbollah according to its “stated” plan. However, if it turns out that we are still having this discussion 3 years from now, we should be willing to admit that Israel lost the war to a very tenacious, hard-fighting organization.

Hezbollah is reviled in the West as a terrorist organization. That may be true, but what difference does it make? It arose as a direct result of Israeli occupation, just as the militias in Iraq have naturally grown up in response to American occupation.

The “militia” is the most basic societal unit. It emerges when the centralized government fragments and is unable to provide security for its people. That is when the masses of young men and women flock to tribal and religious groups with which they most closely identify. That means that Hezbollah is an Israeli invention just like Hamas. If we choose to condemn Hezbollah, than Israel must be held equally responsible. That is the inescapable logic of 18 years of Israeli occupation. Occupation creates militias; deal with it.

In the present conflict, Hezbollah is the only nationalist organization that is prepared to defend its native-soil from foreign aggression. That’s worth something isn’t it?

Sure, if we accept the Bush-Olmert lexicon, than the Israeli aggression is just another extension of the war on terror. I hope that people are smarter than that by now. Just as there were no WMD or links to terrorist organizations in Iraq, Hezbollah’s connections to terrorism are similarly opaque.

Was it wrong for Hezbollah to defend their country and chase Israel from Lebanese soil? Is that terrorism?

In any event, the present altercation is not about Hezbollah. It is about the right of people to defend themselves against unprovoked aggression and violations to their national sovereignty. The two captured Israeli soldiers are completely irrelevant. Israel has many Lebanese prisoners in its jails; that certainly would not justify the Lebanese army marching through Israel destroying everything in its path.

“Sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander”; we must apply the same standards evenhandedly and without prejudice. Israel has never bothered with a United Nations resolution to justify the current hostilities, and yet, it claims the right to “unilaterally” enforce resolution 1559 (The disarming of Lebanese militias) What sort of farce is that? Israel has stubbornly ignored over 60 UN resolutions in the last 38 years; defying the world body with nearly as much disdain as it snuffs out the lives of innocent Palestinians.

The situation could have been peacefully resolved with a simple “prisoner swap”; a practice that Israel has engaged in many times before. So, why not now?

The real reasons are already known. Numerous reports in the media have confirmed that Israel planned its attack on Lebanon at least a year earlier; the 2 soldiers were merely a pretext for war. There’s nothing anyone can say or do that will stop the impending confrontation; it is a vital part of the Israeli scheme to redraw the map of the Middle East and they won’t be deterred.

The neoconservative plan for the region is no secret. The brain-trust at the American Enterprise Institute expects to see Old Glory and the Star of David flying over every inch of ground from “sea to shining sea”. (In this case, we’re talking about the Red Sea to the Caspian) The US/Israeli overlords will govern a loose confederation of broken Arab nations which are kept in a perennial state of tribal-warfare while their resources are trucked-off to oil-thirsty markets in the West. Lebanon is simply the next domino in the way of regional supremacy.

The conflagration in Lebanon will define 4th Generation (4-G) warfare in unforeseeable ways. It will determine whether a disparate, grass-roots militia can pose a credible deterrent to the high-tech, laser-guided corporate war machine. It will decide whether a cadre of resourceful, poorly-armed nationalists can fend off the overwhelming force of the world’s 4th largest army.

The propaganda war is already in full bloom, but the foul effluent issuing from the keyboards at the New York Times and Washington Post will have no effect on events on the ground. The “coward’s war” is over; the bombing has only strengthened the resolve of the Lebanese nationalists. Now its time to either put up or shut up.

We’ll see if the “world’s most moral army” is capable of “disarming” Hezbollah or not.

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