"No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine." - - - William Blum

July 23, 2006

Juan Cole's analysis of the planning and motives behind the ongoing slaughter of Lebanon by Israel, with the financial, military and political backing of our Bush-war Administration, is today's lesson (small excerpt):

....Israel is a regional superpower, the only nuclear power in the Middle East proper, and possessing the most technologically advanced military capability and the most professional military. Since Egypt opted out of the military struggle for economic reasons and since the US invasion broke Iraq's legs, there is no conventional military threat to Israel. Israel seeks complete military superiority, for several reasons. One impetus is defensive, on the theory that it has to win every contest and can never afford to lose even one, given its lack of strategic depth (it is a geographically small country with a small population, caught between the Mediterranean and potentially hostile neighboring populations). But the defensive reasons are only one dimension.

There are also offensive considerations. The Right in Israel is determined to permanently subjugate the Palestinians and forestall the emergence of a Palestinian state. This course of action requires the constant exercise of main force against the Palestinians, who resist it, as well as threats against Arab or Muslim neighbors who might be tempted to help the Palestinians. Thus, Iraq and Iran both had to be punished and weakened. Likewise, the Israeli Right has never given up an expansionist ideology. For instance, the Israelis have a big interest in the Litani River in south Lebanon. If and when the Israeli military and political elite felt they needed to add territory by taking it from neighbors, they wished to retain that capability.

The remaining challenges to complete Israeli military superiority and freedom of movement are 1) asymmetrical forces such as Hamas and Hizbullah guerrilla cells wielding rockets and 2) the menace of future unconventional challenges such as an Iranian nuclear weapon (circa 2016 if in fact the Iranians are working on it, which is not proved). Given the alliance of Shiite Hizbullah with Shiite Iran, one capability shielded the other.

That this war was pre-planned was obvious to me from the moment it began. The Israeli military proceeded methodically and systematically to destroy Lebanon's infrastructure, and clearly had been casing targets for some time. The vast majority of these targets were unrelated to Hizbullah. But since the northern Sunni port of Tripoli could theoretically be used by Syria or Iran to offload replacement rockets that could be transported by truck down south to Hizbullah, the Israelis hit it. And then they hit some trucks to let truck drivers know to stay home for a while.

That is why I was so shaken by George W. Bush's overheard conversation with Tony Blair about the war. He clearly thought that it broke out because Syria used Hizbullah to create a provocation. The President of the United States did not know that this war was a long-planned Israeli war of choice....

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