Saturday, August 12, 2006

Neo-Cons Criticize Israel For Not Being Aggressive Enough In Lebanon

American neoconservatives, who as a group have given pathetically inexpert military advice in our ill-fated endeavor in Iraq, are extending their advertised incompetence to Israel's war in Lebanon.

The neo-cons' desire to extend the war to neighboring countries is prompting some of the usual suspects to recommend a more aggressive ground campaign in what they view as America's proxy war against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The major American Jewish newspaper, The Forward, has an article complaining about "backstage generals, sitting in Washington or in New York, trying to manage Israel's war."

Staunchly pro-Israel conservatives with close ties to the Bush administration say that Jerusalem is hindering America's global war on terror by failing to wage an all-out war to eliminate Hezbollah.

In interviews with the Forward and in recently published opinion articles, conservatives slammed Israel's reluctance to launch a comprehensive ground-war against the Lebanese Shiite militia. Top Israeli officials -- particularly Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and the military's chief of staff, Dan Halutz -- have been subject to unusually harsh criticism from the pro-Israel right, including prominent neoconservatives.

By not dealing a swift, decisive blow to Hezbollah, these critics say, Israel is eroding its own ability to deter terrorist attacks and undermining efforts by the democratic world to demonstrate that the international community is resolute in its campaign to defeat terrorism.

"The only way you defeat an organization like Hezbollah is on the ground. So I would have been much more comfortable if the Israelis had called up all of their reserves and gone all out in Lebanon from the first 24 hours," former speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich told the Forward. Bombing campaigns, Gingrich said, are "counterproductive, because they don't hurt the enemy that much and they weaken you on television."

Gingrich has lately appeared dangerously unhinged in his advocacy of "World War III", and shouldn't be taken seriously by anyone.

Comments similar to Gingrich's are reverberating throughout conservative think tanks in Washington, and -- according to some sources and pundits -- are shared by hawks in the Bush administration. Charles Krauthammer, a leading neoconservative commentator, wrote a column insisting that Olmert's "unsteady and uncertain leadership" is threatening the Bush administration's confidence in Israel as a dependable and strategic ally in the war on terror.

Publicly, at least, the administration has not expressed any such criticism of Israel. Some spokesmen have denied sharply the suggestion that Washington has given Israel a "green light" to pursue the campaign against Hezbollah. But in private conversations, sources close to the White House and the Pentagon said, administration hawks have expressed disappointment and frustration about Israel's inability to deal a swift and decisive blow to Hezbollah.

Frustration and impotence seem to be endemic to the administration in many areas of policy these days. This is caused, of course, by unrealistic expectations of success in questionable undertakings. The "stay the course" approach in Iraq comes from this denial of the facts on the ground. Denial being the operative strategy for the Iraq war, why not apply it to the Lebanon imbroglio?

"Some in the administration expected that Hezbollah, which is a fully owned Iranian subsidiary, would be not just bloodied but put in a desperate position," said Ariel Cohen, a Middle East expert at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation. "So far, we are not seeing that." It is not clear whether these sentiments were communicated to Israel and whether the administration advised or pressured Israel to change its war tactics accordingly. Multiple well-placed sources said that administration officials did convey their puzzlement with the slow pace of the operation.

Charles Krauthammer, who is on record as having screamed for several minutes at a insufficiently warmongering rabbi in his synagogue during a Yom Kippur service, gives a subtle hint to the Israeli government by implicitly threatening their lifeline from the U.S (from the Forward article):

Krauthammer, in a scathing August 4 column that ruffled the feathers of many in Washington's pro-Israel community, wrote that because Israel has failed to score a clear victory against Hezbollah, it is missing a "rare opportunity to demonstrate that it can contribute to America's global war against militant Islam" and, in the process, it was triggering serious questions within the administration about Israel's strategic value to America. Olmert's "search for victory on the cheap has jeopardized not just the Lebanon operation but America's confidence in Israel as well," Krauthammer wrote.

The neo-cons, who have no idea of the dynamics of Fourth Generation warfare, are trying again to get the U.S. to bite off more than it can chew by calling for impulsive ventures into dark alleys in the Middle East. That is the motivation of their seemingly ill-timed (and certainly ill-advised) advice to Israel to step up the level of violence.


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