Battlepanda: Escalation


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


In Laura Rozen's interview with Mark Perry, he said:

When Hezbollah attacked Haifa Thursday, first Hezbollah said, “We didn’t do it.”
Then they said, “We didn’t target Haifa.” No one picked up on it. Here’s what
they meant to say: “We understand hitting Haifia is a major escalation, and we
didn’t mean to do that.”…

Olmert responded, “You get Haifa, we’ll take
down Beirut,” and he went after Beirut. So far as I can tell, since then, Haifa
has been off limits. [snip]

So now we’re in a game. … I expect we’ll see an escalation here over the next two days, but what I would expect to find after that is that both sides climb down off the ladder.

Well, I guess Haifa is not so off-limits after all. I wonder if the second part of his prediction would also fail to hold. Meanwhile, Israeli airstrikes are also killing more civilians.

Commentary from Michael Totten, a voice from the right who seems to have much knowledge and insight into Lebanon:

There is no alternate universe where the Lebanese government could have
disarmed an Iranian-trained terrorist/guerilla militia that even the Israelis
could not defeat in years of grinding war. There is no alternate universe where
it was in Lebanon's interest to restart the civil war on Israel's behalf, to
burn down their country all over again right at the moment where they finally
had hope after 30 years of convulsive conflict and Baath Party overlordship.

The Lebanese government should have asked for more help from the
international community. The Lebanese government should have been far less
reactionary in its attitude toward the Israelis. They made more mistakes than
just two, but I'd say these are the principal ones.

What should the Israelis have done instead? They should have treated
Hezbollahland as a country, which it basically is, and attacked it. They should
have treated Lebanon as a separate country, which it basically is, and left it
alone. Mainstream Lebanese have no problem when Israel hammers Hezbollah in its
little enclave. Somebody has to do it, and it cannot be them. If you want to
embolden Lebanese to work with Israelis against Hezbollah, or at least move in
to Hezbollah's bombed out positions, don't attack all of Lebanon.

Israel should not have bombed Central Beirut, which was almost
monolithically anti-Hezbollah. They should not have bombed my old neighborhood,
which was almost monolithically anti-Hezbollah. They should not have bombed the
Maronite city of Jounieh, which was not merely anti-Hezbollah but also somewhat

Israelis thinks everyone hates them. It isn't true, especially
not in Lebanon. But they will make it so if they do not pay more attention to
the internal characteristics of neighboring countries.
"The Arabs" do
not exist as a bloc except in the feverish dreams of the Nasserists and the

There is as of yet no consensus on whether the Israeli action will turn public opinion in Lebanon against the Hezbollah or whether the opposite will occur. But let's face human nature here -- when people are attacked, they close ranks. I think of Saad Hariri as a moderate that must be fairly anti-Hezbollah. Yet in the wake of the attacks, he has taken to framing Israeli action as attempts to create internal rifts within Lebanon to be resisted.