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chossudovsky: Is Israel([search]) running out of Bombs?
The Replenishing of Israeli WMD stockpiles points to escalation both within and beyond the borders of Lebanon([search])

This proposed shipment is described by military observers as somewhat "unusual". Israel already has a large stockpile of precision guided weapons. In addition to its own stockpiles, the IDF took delivery in 2005 of some 5000 US made "smart air launched weapons" including some 500 'bunker-buster bombs.

Why would Israel all of sudden need to replenish its stockpile of Weapons of Mass Destruction, to implement what continues to be described as a punitive operation directed against Hizbollah?

While the report suggests that "Israel still had a long list of targets in Lebanon to strike", the history of these deliveries of bunker buster bombs to Israel, suggests that they are also intended to be used in the broader Middle Eastern region. Hizballah Rockets

marjorie cohn: Bush Greenlights War Crimes

On Friday morning, as I traveled north on Interstate 5, I passed two tractor-trailers heading south toward the 32nd Street Naval Station in downtown San Diego. Each vehicle carried about 10 unmarked bombs; each bomb was approximately 15 feet long. Two military helicopters hovered low above each tractor-trailer, providing overhead escort.

I wondered where these bombs were headed. They must have been in a big hurry because they usually ship their bombs more covertly.

Israel had just put out an S.O.S. to the United States government to rush over several more bombs. "The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the Bush administration," according to the New York Times. Although always well-equipped with sophisticated US-made weapons, Israel was evidently running out of munitions to drop on the Lebanese people.

Washington loses no opportunity to scold Iran and Syria for providing weapons to Hezbollah.

Yet during the Bush administration, from 2001 to 2005, Israel received $10.5 billion in Foreign Military Financing - the Pentagon's biggest military aid program - and $6.3 billion in US arms deliveries. Israel is the largest recipient of US foreign military assistance.

It is a violation of the US Arms Export Control Act to provide weapons to foreign countries that are not used for defensive purposes or to maintain internal security. During the last major Israeli incursion into Lebanon, in 1981, the Reagan administration cut off US military aid and arms deliveries for 10 weeks while it investigated whether Israel was using weapons for "defensive purposes."

Last week, both houses of Congress, mindful of the importance of retaining Jewish votes and campaign contributions, passed resolutions stating that Israel is acting in self-defense. The vote in the Senate was unanimous; the House vote was 410 to 8.

Walking in lockstep with Bush, neither resolution calls for a ceasefire. The Senate resolution praises Israel for its "restraint" and the House resolution "welcomes Israel's continued efforts to prevent civilian casualties."

the peacock report: DoD Steps Up Plans to Upgrade Israeli Air Force Bases

The U.S. Dept. of Defense this past week elevated its plans to help modernize several Israeli Air Force bases, where the construction of new facilities and the expansion of runways and other aerospace infrastructure will accommodate Israel’s growing inventory of fighter jets.

According to contracting document that TPR has obtained, the project — known as SUFA-4, in reference to the Lockheed Martin-produced Sufa ("Storm") and Suefa ("Thunderstorm") F-16I jets — initially entailed a projected $10 million infrastructure investment into Ramon Air Force Base (AFB), (about 50 kilometers south of Beer-Sheba), Palmachim AFB (15 km south of Tel-Aviv) and Hazerim AFB (5 km west of Beer-Sheba). DoD also planned to facilitate a separate $10 million package for Nevatim AFB, located about 25 km east of Beer-Sheba.

TPR has learned that the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers on July 13 added an additional endeavor to the SUFA 4 project, namely the construction of laboratories and "clean rooms," which typically are used for microelectronics production and maintenance, within an unidentified, 10-story facility in Givayatim, Israel. The addition of this segment increased the projected total of SUFA-4 to $25 million, not including the $10 million upgrade at Nevatim AFB.

tony judt: The country that wouldn't grow up

By the age of 58 a country - like a man - should have achieved a certain maturity. After nearly six decades of existence we know, for good and for bad, who we are, what we have done and how we appear to others, warts and all. We acknowledge, however reluctantly and privately, our mistakes and our shortcomings. And though we still harbor the occasional illusion about ourselves and our prospects, we are wise enough to recognize that these are indeed for the most part just that: illusions. In short, we are adults.

But the State of Israel remains curiously (and among Western-style democracies, uniquely) immature. The social transformations of the country - and its many economic achievements - have not brought the political wisdom that usually accompanies age. Seen from the outside, Israel still comports itself like an adolescent: consumed by a brittle confidence in its own uniqueness; certain that no one "understands" it and everyone is "against" it; full of wounded self-esteem, quick to take offense and quick to give it. Like many adolescents Israel is convinced - and makes a point of aggressively and repeatedly asserting - that it can do as it wishes, that its actions carry no consequences and that it is immortal. Appropriately enough, this country that has somehow failed to grow up was until very recently still in the hands of a generation of men who were prominent in its public affairs 40 years ago: an Israeli Rip Van Winkle who fell asleep in, say, 1967 would be surprised indeed to awake in 2006 and find Shimon Peres and General Ariel Sharon still hovering over the affairs of the country - the latter albeit only in spirit.

sfgate: Medics, injured civilians under attack
Red Cross trucks in south Lebanon targeted by pilots

As he closed the back hatch on his white Toyota van, Chaalan's world became one of heat, light and concussion wave. A guided missile struck the vehicle with the three civilians inside. Overhead, an Israeli Apache helicopter buzzed. It was the first attack by Israel on a Red Cross ambulance in the two-week conflict, wounding five volunteers and three patients, according to the Red Cross.

In previous conflicts in Gaza([search]) and the West Bank, Israel has struck ambulances when it believed the vehicles were being used to smuggle weapons and personnel to militants. In a statement Monday, an Israeli army spokesman said the ambulances in Qana were attacked "in an area known to be one of the main sources of the launching of hundreds of missiles," according to Cox News Service. The Red Cross has asked Israel for a more detailed explanation.

Chaalan said that while this was the first time the Lebanese Red Cross has been hit, it was not the first time it had been shot at by Israeli helicopters. "Sometimes they hit 100 meters, 50 meters away," he said.

In Sunday's attack, Chaalan was thrown backward while the other medics rushed to pull the wounded from the smashed vehicle. As they pulled the child out, the Israelis struck again, blowing up the second ambulance.

reuters: ICRC - Bulletin No. 3 - Lebanon

According to Lebanese Red Cross reports, two of its ambulances were struck by munitions, although both vehicles were clearly marked by the red cross emblem and flashing lights that were visible at a great distance. The incident happened while first-aid workers were transferring wounded patients from one ambulance to another. As a result, nine people including six Red Cross volunteers were wounded. "The ICRC is gravely concerned about the safety of medical staff ", said Balthasar Staehelin, the organization's delegate-general for the Middle East and North Africa. "We have raised this issue with the Israeli authorities and urged them to take the measures needed to avoid such incidents in the future."

Among other incidents of this type, on 19 July the Society's first-aid station in Insarieh was damaged, as were two ambulances. A first-aid worker suffered minor injuries. On 18 July, an ambulance received a direct hit while on a first-aid and evacuation mission.

The Lebanese Red Cross has been constantly active since the beginning of the crisis, meeting the most pressing needs of the civilian population with its 2,400 volunteers, 42 ambulance stations and over 50 clinics and other medical facilities across the country. It remains one of the few organizations able to evacuate war wounded and civilians under fire. The Society works in full cooperation with the ICRC.

electronic lebanon: Annan �shocked� by Israeli attack on UN Lebanon post

Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressed shock and deep distress over what he called the "apparently deliberate targeting" by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) of a United Nations observer post in southern Lebanon that has killed two military observers, with two more feared dead.

In his statement, Mr. Annan said that the "coordinated artillery and air attack" occurred despite personal assurances given to him by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that UN positions would be spared fire. The Secretary-General said the post, near the Lebanese town of Khiyam, was "long established and clearly marked."

In addition, he said the UN Force Commander in south Lebanon, General Alain Pelligrini, had been in repeated contact with Israeli officers throughout the day, stressing the need to protect this particular UN position from attack. At least 14 incidents of firing close to that post have been reported since this afternoon. A UN spokesman added that the firing continued while a search and rescue operation was taking place.

afx: UN official accuses Israel of excessive force in Gaza

NUSSEIRAT, Gaza Strip (AFX) - UN humanitarian coordinator Jan Egeland today criticised Israel's strike last month on the sole power plant in impoverished Gaza as a "clear" example of disproportionate use of force.

Palestinian officials at the plant said it would take months and cost millions to repair the transformers, which have been non-operational since the raid, enforcing electricity rationing and provoking health concerns.

"This a very clear disproportional use. Maybe this is the clearest of it all," Egeland told reporters as he toured the Gaza power plant which had supplied 70 pct of the power to the 1.4 mln residents.

"Civilian infrastructure is protected… the law is very clear," he said.

Israel fired eight missiles into the plant's six transformers on June 28, launching a huge offensive after two Israeli soldiers were killed by Palestinian militants and a third snatched in a cross-border raid.

"This plant is more important for hospitals, for sewage, and for water of civilians than for any Hamas man or (Islamic) Jihad man with some kind of a missile on his shoulder who doesn't need electricity, as a mother trying to care for her child."

sydney morning herald: Israel 'using cluster bombs' around civilians

Human Rights Watch has accused Israel of using artillery-fired cluster bombs that disperse after impact in populated areas of Lebanon.

The human rights organisation's researchers said cluster munitions were used in an attack on the village of Blida in southern Lebanon on July 19, killing one and wounding at least 12 civilians, including seven children.

Human Rights Watch said its researchers photographed cluster munitions in the arsenal of Israeli artillery teams on the Israel-Lebanon border.

human rights watch rpt: Israeli Cluster Munitions Hit Civilians in Lebanon

Human Rights Watch researchers photographed artillery-delivered cluster munitions among the arsenal of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) artillery teams stationed on the Israeli-Lebanese border during a research visit on July 23. The photographs show M483A1 Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions, which are U.S.-produced and -supplied, artillery-delivered cluster munitions. The photographs contain the distinctive marks of such cluster munitions, including a diamond-shaped stamp, and a shape that is longer than ordinary artillery, according to a retired IDF commander who asked not to be identified.

"The M483A1 artillery shells deliver 88 cluster submunitions per shell, and have an unacceptably high failure rate (dud rate) of 14 percent, leaving behind a serious unexploded ordnance problem that will further endanger civilians. The commander said that the IDF’s operations manual warns soldiers that the use of such cluster munitions creates dangerous minefields due to the high dud rate."

reuters: Lebanon president says Israel uses phosphorous arms

PARIS, July 24 (Reuters) - Lebanon's president accused Israel on Monday of using phosphorous bombs in its 13-day offensive and urged the United Nations to demand an immediate ceasefire.

"According to the Geneva Convention, when they use phosphorous bombs and laser bombs, is that allowed against civilians and children?" President Emile Lahoud asked on France's RFI radio.

video rpt: Lebanese Doctor Says Israel Using 'Phosphorus Weapons'

CNN video correspondent, Karl Penhaul, follows a family that had been mistakenly caught in an Israeli air strike. The doctor treating the family says that there is phosphorus in the weapons that cause extremely painful burns on it's victims.

sfgate: Israel set war plan more than a year ago: Strategy was put in motion as Hezbollah began increasing its military strength

Israel's military response by air, land and sea to what it considered a provocation last week by Hezbollah militants is unfolding according to a plan finalized more than a year ago.

In the years since Israel ended its military occupation of southern Lebanon, it watched warily as Hezbollah built up its military presence in the region. When Hezbollah militants kidnapped two Israeli soldiers last week, the Israeli military was ready to react almost instantly.

"Of all of Israel's wars since 1948, this was the one for which Israel was most prepared," said Gerald Steinberg, professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University. "In a sense, the preparation began in May 2000, immediately after the Israeli withdrawal, when it became clear the international community was not going to prevent Hezbollah from stockpiling missiles and attacking Israel. By 2004, the military campaign scheduled to last about three weeks that we're seeing now had already been blocked out and, in the last year or two, it's been simulated and rehearsed across the board."

More than a year ago, a senior Israeli army officer began giving PowerPoint presentations, on an off-the-record basis, to U.S. and other diplomats, journalists and think tanks, setting out the plan for the current operation in revealing detail. Under the ground rules of the briefings, the officer could not be identified.

In his talks, the officer described a three-week campaign: The first week concentrated on destroying Hezbollah's heavier long-range missiles, bombing its command-and-control centers, and disrupting transportation and communication arteries. In the second week, the focus shifted to attacks on individual sites of rocket launchers or weapons stores. In the third week, ground forces in large numbers would be introduced, but only in order to knock out targets discovered during reconnaissance missions as the campaign unfolded. There was no plan, according to this scenario, to reoccupy southern Lebanon on a long-term basis.

joshua frank: Kidnapped in Israel or Captured in Lebanon? Official justification for Israel's invasion on thin ice

As Lebanon continues to be pounded by Israeli bombs and munitions, the justification for Israel's invasion is treading on very thin ice. It has become general knowledge that it was Hezbollah guerillas that first kidnapped two IDF soldiers inside Israel on July 12, prompting an immediate and violent response from the Israeli government, which insists it is acting in the interest of national defense. Israeli forces have gone on to kill over 370 innocent Lebanese civilians (compared to 34 killed on Israel's side) while displacing hundreds of thousands more. But numerous reports from international and independent media, as well as the Associated Press, raise questions about Israel's official version of the events that sparked the conflict two weeks ago.

The original story, as most media tell it, goes something like this: Hezbollah attacked an Israeli border patrol station, killing six and taking two soldiers hostage. The incident happened on the Lebanese/Israel border in Israeli territory. The alternate version, as explained by several news outlets, tells a bit of a different tale: These sources contend that Israel sent a commando force into southern Lebanon and was subsequently attacked by Hezbollah near the village of Aitaa al-Chaab, well inside Lebanon's southern territory. It was at this point that an Israel tank was struck by Hezbollah fighters, which resulted in the capture of two Israeli soldiers and the death of six.

think progress: White House Endorses Column Calling For Israel to Attack Syria

On Friday, the White House released a document entitled “Setting the Record Straight: President Bush’s Foreign Policy is Succeeding.” One section, headlined “Conservatives Stand Behind The President’s Policies,” contains just one example:

On Wednesday, Max Boot Wrote: “Our Best Response Is Exactly What Bush Has Done So Far – Reject Premature Calls For A Cease-Fire And Let Israel Finish The Job.” (Max Boot, “It’s Time To Let The Israelis Take Off The Gloves,” Los Angeles Times, 7/19/06)

So apparently, urging the Israelis to “take off the gloves” means you are endorsing the administration’s policies in the current conflict. Also, the Boot column that the White House views as an endorsement of their policies also calls on Israel to attack Syria:

Syria is weak and next door. To secure its borders, Israel needs to hit the Assad regime. Hard. If it does, it will be doing Washington’s dirty work.

Tim Russert confronted White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten about the release on Meet the Press yesterday. Bolten claimed the Boot column “was sent around as a reflection of some of the conservative columnists’ support for Israel.” In fact, it was sent around explicitly as reflecting support for administration policy.

crooks and liars: WH press release: Hit Syria

On Meet the Press, Tim Russert points out a stunning press release from the White House Communications Office. The release, titled Setting The Record Straight, endorses an LA Times Op-Ed that calls for Israel to attack Syria:

"It’s time to let the Israelis take off the gloves…. Israel needs to hit the [Syrian] Assad regime. Hard."

It’s difficult to not interpret this as the White Communications Office officially endorsing an Israeli attack on Syria.

They have the video posted.

sharat g. lin: Ten observations

Several significant points emerge from the unfolding events in Israel, Palestine([search]), and Lebanon.

First, the capture of Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit on June 25 was not an unprovoked aggression. It was immediately preceded by a series of Israeli shellings, rocket attacks, and commando raids on Gaza that killed over three dozen people, mostly civilians. Even the earlier Palestinian rocket attacks into Israel beginning on June 9th were in response to a series of Israeli assaults on the Palestinian Authority in particular and Palestinian sovereignty in general.

Second, the capture of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah on July 12 was in support of Palestinians trapped and under almost continuous siege in Gaza. It was also a reaction to the virtual dismemberment of the Palestinian government through Israel’s widespread arrests of its elected political leaders. No people would be able to tolerate such a physical assault on their democratic political institutions and society.

Third, all meaningful proposals for ceasefires came from the Palestinian side and the Lebanese government. All Palestinian and Lebanese ceasefire proposals were summarily rejected by the Israeli government, which placed decidedly asymmetric conditions on the acceptance of any ceasefire.

Fourth, both in Gaza and in Lebanon, Israeli attacks deliberately targeted essential infrastructure – roads, bridges, airports, seaports, and power stations. These targets have little military significance to militias like those of Hamas and Hezbollah. Yet they are crucial for the civilian population, for the movement of food and medicines, and for escape routes. The systematic destruction of Lebanon’s transport infrastructure had no more immediate effect than to deny all Lebanese citizens and foreigners routes of escape from the heavy Israeli bombardments.

Fifth, both in Gaza and in Lebanon, Israel’s deliberate policy was to exact collective punishment on all residents in the hopes of putting pressure on the militias from within. The plan is more likely to have the opposite effect of galvanizing a broad range of popular support behind the militias in much the same way that the Israeli assault on the Palestinian government and Gaza brought Hamas and Fatah much closer together.

Sixth, the U.S. government’s unconditional support for Israel, and unwavering rejection of ceasefire proposals, does not even pretend to advocate a peaceful resolution of the crisis. The U.S. government’s prior role as peacemaker, however partial, in the Camp([search]) David Accords in 1978 and the Oslo Accords in 1993, has apparently been abandoned. This extreme position will only further galvanize Arab and Muslim public opinion against the U.S. government and exacerbate declining U.S. credibility in the region.

Seventh, the cut-off of Palestinian tax revenues by Israel and the severance of direct aid by the U.S. and European Union in response to the lawful installation of a democratically-elected government in Palestine belie the U.S. and Israeli commitment to democracy. They also reflect an utter disregard for the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people who had already been cut off from their jobs and only means of livelihood in Israel since the beginning of the second Palestinian Intifada in 2000. The potential collapse of the Palestinian Authority would bring complete anarchy to an already chaotic situation, and unleash heretofore unseen forces from inside the Palestinian resistance.

Eighth, the iron-handed control that Israel continues to exercise over the movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza belies the political and economic reality of Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in September 2005. Ten months after that withdrawal, Gaza residents are as much at the mercy of Israeli restrictions as ever. Even the movement of people and goods between Gaza and Egypt, which share a common land border, remains under strict Israeli military control.

Ninth, Israel’s repeated suggestions that it might assassinate Palestinian leaders, including Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, demonstrate complete disregard for the rule of law and Palestinian national sovereignty. Its arbitrary arrests of Palestinian cabinet ministers and legislators prove that it may act with impunity against any duly-elected Palestinian government not to its liking.

Tenth, the slanted language of war belies the objectivity of U.S. policy as well as the impartiality of news coverage. Israeli soldiers are “kidnapped” or “abducted”, but Palestinian leaders are “arrested” or “apprehended”. Palestinian militants are “terrorists”, but the massive Israeli air strike that left a vast gaping Ground-Zero-like hole in the midst of high-rise residential buildings in southern Beirut is “Israel’s right to defend itself”.

ashraf isma’il: Why Israel is Losing

The world is witnessing what could be a critical turning point in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Israel is now engaged in a war that could permanently undermine the efficacy of its much-vaunted military apparatus.

Ironically, there are several reasons for believing that Israel’s destruction of southern Lebanon and southern Beirut will weaken its bargaining position relative to its adversaries, and will strengthen its adversaries’ hands.

First, Israel has no clearly defined tactical or strategic objective, and so the Israeli offensive fails the first test of military logic: there is no way that Israel's actions can improve its position relative to Hamas or Hizballah, much less Syria or Iran.

The logic of power politics also implies that a no-win situation for Israel is a definite loss, because Israel is the stronger party and thus has the most to lose. In an asymmetric war, the stronger party always has the most to lose, in terms of reputation and in terms of its ability to project its will through the instruments of force.

The lack of any clearly defined objective is a major miscalculation by Israel and its American patron.

Second, Israel cannot eliminate Hizballah, since Hizballah is a grassroots organization that represents a plurality of Lebanese society. Neither can Hamas be eliminated for the same reason. By targeting Hizballah however, Israel is strengthening Hizballah's hand against its domestic rivals, such as the Maronite Christians, because any open Christian opposition makes them look like traitors and Israeli collaborators.

Consequently, while Hizballah will obviously pay a short-term tactical cost that is very high, in the long run, this conflict demonstrates that it is Hizballah, and not the Lebanese government, that has the most power in Lebanon.

The Shia represent an estimated 35-40 per cent of Lebanese society, while Lebanese Christians are thought to constitute no more than 25-30per cent of the entire population. Furthermore, the Shia community’s fertility rate is thought to be far higher than that of the other religious components within Lebanon.

Thus, the current confessional division of power in Lebanon, which grants Christians a political position that goes far beyond their minority status, is ultimately unsustainable, which means that the Maronite Christians will lose even more power, and the Shia and Hizballah will inevitably gain more power.

Third, Israel's failure to achieve anything at all greatly enhances Syria's influence over Lebanon and its bargaining position relative to the U.S. and Israel itself. No solution in Lebanon can exclude Syria, and so now the U.S. and Israelis need Syria's approval, which certainly weakens both the U.S. and Israel.

And even Israel's accusations against Iran, although largely baseless, greatly enhance Iran's prestige in the region, and may bring about exactly what the Israelis are trying to prevent. While the Arab states look like traitors, Iran looks like a champion of the most celebrated of all Muslim causes.

Fourth, Bush's impotence is a clear demonstration that America has lost a great deal of global power over the last three years. If Bush cannot control Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hizballah, or Israel, then what real power does the world's "hyper-power" possess? America’s inability to influence any of the actors that are relevant to the current crisis is yet more evidence that America's foreign policy is a form of global suicide.

Fifth, the age of great power warfare has been replaced by a world in which great powers must live and compete with non-state actors who possess considerable military capabilities. William Lind calls this transformation “4th generation warfare.”

Consequently, the age of Bismarckian warfare, or what William Lind refers to as "3rd generation warfare,” is effectively over. “Bismarckian warfare” is a term that describes large-scale wars fought by large-scale armies, which require national systems of military conscription, a significant population base, and enormous military budgets.

Bismarckian warfare seems to have become ineffective in the Arab-Israeli context, because Israel no longer poses the threat that it once did to the Arab regimes, and the Arab regimes much prefer Israel to the rising non-state actors growing within their own borders.

William Lind has also argued that non-state actors such as Hamas and Hizballah can checkmate the Israelis as long as these Muslim parties never formally assume power. If Muslim parties were to assume the power of states, then they would immediately become targets for traditional Bismarckian warfare. However, as long as Muslim movements retain theirnon-state identity, they are strategically unconquerable.

Sixth, we must more carefully study the reasons why Bismarckian warfare is no longer effective.

The global diffusion of the news outlets is obviously important for understanding why Bismarckian warfare has become so ineffective. For instance, Hizballah has its own media network, and can draw upon the global satellite network to get its message out, and can also use the global media to take advantage of Israel's targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure.

Further, the competition between Arab and Muslim satellite channels is also important, because each station wants to demonstrate its sincerity by spreading news that is not only critical of Israel and the U.S., but ultimately undermines people's trust in the Arab regimes and thereby lends legitimacy to non-state actors.

And although the American media largely supports Israel, the information about the Americans stranded in Lebanon limits Israel's freedom of action, and makes Israel look like it cares nothing for the lives of American citizens.

At an even deeper level, the rate and density of global information transfer, and lack of any centralized control over the global distribution of information, is causing the fabric of space and time to contract, and so Israel's crimes can much more quickly create a global backlash.

Time and space, as we experience them, are contracting because the global diffusion of technical and scientific knowledge is permitting events in one part of the world to increasingly influence events in other parts of the world, and events that once took years or even decades to unfold can now occur within mere months or weeks.

As a consequence, the disenfranchised peoples of the world are developing the ability to affect the lives of the more privileged members of humanity, which means that anything that Israel does to the Palestinians or Lebanese will have effects upon Israel that are more direct and more negative than ever before, and that further, these effects will occur in an accelerated time scale.

Thus, as it becomes self evident that Israeli military power is no longer as effective as it once was, this will surely accelerate the flow of Jewish settlers out of Israel. Information regarding emigration of Jews out of Israel is a closely guarded secret, but using Israeli government statistics, we can infer that immigration to Israel has rapidly declined over the last several years, and that Israel may even be experiencing a net outflow of Jewish migrants. According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, the number of Jewish immigrants to Israel declined to 21,000 in 2004, which is a 15-year low. In 2005, the number of immigrants rose slightly to 23,000, which is still dramatically lower than the 60,000 that immigrated in 2000. Furthermore, Israel became a net exporter of its citizens in 2003, when9,000 more Israelis left the country than entered, and in the first two months of 2004, this figure rose to 13,000.

The global micro-diffusion of military technology is also critical, and so military innovation and its global diffusion will only strengthen grassroots rebellions and allow them to more effectively resist the instruments of Bismarckian control, as well as the depredations of the military hippopotami that are the ultimate guarantors of statism and statist regimes.

For all of these reasons, Israeli attempts to impose terms on Lebanon, or to redraw the political map of Lebanon, or even to impose a NATO force upon Southern Lebanon, are not militarily feasible nor politically achievable, and if attempted, will prove ultimately unsustainable.

As will soon be demonstrated by events on the ground, Israel will not be able to destroy or even disarm Hizballah. Neither will Hamas, Hizballah, Lebanon, or Syria permit Israel or America to dictate terms to them. Consequently, if Israel lingers too long in Southern Lebanon, its presence will be paid for at such a high cost, that it will be forced to withdraw in ignominy, as it has so many times in the past.

In the end however, Israel's loss of power will make it even more dangerous, because the more threatened the Israelis feel, the more likely they will launch destructive wars against the Palestinians and Israel's other adversaries.

Finally, the same can be said of the U.S., with respect to its loss of global power. Instead of becoming more careful with its use of force, the erosion of America’s global dominance will likely make the U.S. government more aggressive, as it attempts to re-assert its former position relative to its adversaries and competitors.

And it is precisely because America and Israel are losing influence over global events, that an American attack upon Iran in 2007 becomes more likely.

God help us all.

ze'ev maoz: Morality is not on our side

There's practically a holy consensus right now that the war in the North is a just war and that morality is on our side. The bitter truth must be said: this holy consensus is based on short-range selective memory, an introverted worldview, and double standards.

This war is not a just war. Israel is using excessive force without distinguishing between civilian population and enemy, whose sole purpose is extortion.

What exactly is the difference between launching Katyushas into civilian population centers in Israel and the Israel Air Force bombing population centers in south Beirut, Tyre, Sidon and Tripoli? The IDF has fired thousands of shells into south Lebanon villages, alleging that Hezbollah men are concealed among the civilian population. Approximately 25 Israeli civilians have been killed as a result of Katyusha missiles to date. The number of dead in Lebanon, the vast majority comprised of civilians who have nothing to do with Hezbollah, is more than 300.

Worse yet, bombing infrastructure targets such as power stations, bridges and other civil facilities turns the entire Lebanese civilian population into a victim and hostage, even if we are not physically harming civilians. The use of bombings to achieve a diplomatic goal - namely, coercing the Lebanese government into implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1559 - is an attempt at political blackmail, and no less than the kidnapping of IDF soldiers by Hezbollah is the aim of bringing about a prisoner exchange.

There is a propaganda aspect to this war, and it involves a competition as to who is more miserable. Each side tries to persuade the world that it is more miserable. As in every propaganda campaign, the use of information is selective, distorted and self-righteous. If we want to base our information (or shall we call it propaganda?) policy on the assumption that the international environment is going to buy the dubious merchandise that we are selling, be it out of ignorance or hypocrisy, then fine. But in terms of our own national soul searching, we owe ourselves to confront the bitter truth - maybe we will win this conflict on the military field, maybe we will make some diplomatic gains, but on the moral plane, we have no advantage, and we have no special status.

pepe escobar: The spirit of resistance

Only the foolish or the misinformed may doubt that this war is also a Pentagon war. As their mutual interest is obvious - Hezbollah must be destroyed - the only detail to be established is who wagged the other's tail first. According to the US-Israel axis' plan, cutting off Hezbollah from Lebanese society would lead to a vulnerable Syria extricating itself from a close relationship with Iran. That's pure wishful thinking, because what Syria wants back is the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights - and that's anathema for Olmert and the Likudniks.

A Vietcong master class
Some, but still only a few, Israelis - sometimes in the columns of the daily newspaper Ha'aretz - are beginning to notice that this carnage will lead nowhere. There are no more than 5,000 Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon. Hezbollah the political party - heavily involved in health, education and social services - is what really matters for Lebanese. It's absurd to pretend to destroy a movement with such popular support as Hezbollah. Secular democrats may not empathize with the movement, but any serious Middle East observer cannot question its legitimacy.

It's as if the Israeli military machine were betting on the elimination of the Shi'ites from Lebanon (they're the majority of the population already) without facing any consequences. Israelis have reasons to believe it's doable. The mainstream US and European media work as nothing but press offices of Israel's Foreign Ministry.

A ceasefire remains "premature" (the whole world is for it, except the US, Britain and Israel). The House of Saud - supported by the US-Israel axis - has de facto encouraged a Sunni-Shi'ite war in the wider Middle East (that fear of the Shi'ite crescent again). It may take time, but the Arab street - and radical Islam - will renew efforts to try to hang the rulers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait from lampposts sooner rather than later. Fawaz Trabulsi, a professor at the American University in Beirut, said, "Now you risk producing something worse than Hezbollah, maybe al-Qaeda No 2."

Meanwhile, Hezbollah's asymmetrical war effort is absorbing everything thrown at it. Resistance is fueled by a mix of beggar's banquet anger, creative military solutions and Shi'ite martyr spirit. Hezbollah fighters are using olive-green uniforms to confuse the Israelis. According to Jane's Weekly, Hezbollah has done a perfect Vietcong - its fighters operating in a network of underground reinforced bunkers and command posts near the Lebanese-Israeli border almost unassailable by Israel Defense Force bombs.

The practical result is that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is ever more popular all over the Arab street. Kind of like the new, 21st-century Saladin. Hezbollah's moral and political cache could not but rise among peoples and movements worldwide who keep being bombed to oblivion but never had a chance to bomb back.

For Hezbollah - as well as for Hamas - "winning" means not being disarmed and/or exterminated, the avowed goal of the State of Israel. Apart from Mao Zedong in China and Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, Hezbollah may have also learned a lesson or two from the battlefields of Chechnya - as it configures itself, like the Chechens, as one of the only guerrilla groups in the world capable of facing an extremely powerful state army.

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An inglorious peace is better than a dishonorable war.
-- Mark Twain
Source: "Glances at History" (suppressed)

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