23 July 2006
I need someplace to collect the rather confusing and occasionally contradictory stuff that's flying around, so that I can examine it for veracity a bit further down the road. At the moment, the voices I'm most inclined to listen to are very critical of US govt action/inaction. Some are clearer than others, though. Here's Juan Cole:
Because of their fetish for states, the Neoconservatives of the Bush administration are unable to see that the Levant and points east are now the province of militia-parties that dominate localities and wield asymmetrical paramilitary force in such a way as to stymie states, whether local host states, local adversaries, or imperial Powers. Hizbullah in Lebanon, Hamas and other groups in Gaza and the West Bank, al-Qaeda/ radical Bedouins in the Sinai, the Muslim Brotherhood in some Sunni areas of Syria, the tribes and gangs of Maan in Jordan, the Peshmerga of the Kurds, the guerrilla groups of the Sunni Arabs in Iraq, the Mahdi Army, Badr Corps and Marsh Arabs of the Iraqi Shiites, the Basij and Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Iran, the party-tribes of Afghanistan--whether the Tajik Jami'at-i Islami or the Pushtun Taliban--and the biradaris and ethnic mafias of Pakistan, are all arguably as significant actors as states, and often more significant.And this from Harper's seems pretty balanced: http://harpers.org/sb-six-questions-for-wayne-white-2308402183.html
6. Will there be any negative consequences resulting from the administration's relatively passive diplomacy?===
Very much so. As I have noted, the Israelis have embarked on a campaign that will most likely make matters worse over the long term. This crisis will further erode U.S. credibility in the Middle East—and beyond. Despite clearly siding with Israel, Washington used to be regarded as a party quite often useful for intercession with the Israelis, but in this case the Bush Administration has seemingly given Israel a blank check to do whatever it wants for as long as it wants. With respect to another extremely serious consequence of not working to bring this carnage to an early end, Lebanon already has absorbed billions of dollars of damage. By the end of the crisis, the cost of rebuilding Lebanon will be incredibly high and the rebuilding effort quite prolonged, leaving most Lebanese, aside perhaps from the hard-core Christian right, considerably more hostile to Israel—and the United States—than ever before. In this respect, I find scenes of devastated Lebanese urban areas not only appalling, but frightening.
This one prompted me to note the desirability of checking for Reality in a month: http://best-guess.blogspot.com/2006/07/on-lebanon_115354030804338059.html
The Bush Administration believes that, with Israel ensconced on Syria’s southwest flank and with the U.S. military on Syria’s eastern flank in Western Iraq, the young ruler of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, will cave in and agree to force the Shia Hizbollah out of Syria and back into Iran. If this occurs, with a compliant and acquiescing Syria, the Bush Administration may use the clear road to Teheran to attack, with the aid of the Israeli Air Force and from U.S. bases in Iraq, Afghanistan, and South-central Asia. The potential for this scenario is real.===
The new guard at the bastion of foreign policy, the Council on Foreign Relations, has concluded that Iran must go, and the Council’s allies in the White House are on board. American air power on full parade and deployment can handle the job – not unlike Israel’s ‘limited’ display over Beirut and not unlike the U.S.’s destruction of Iraqi cities. Besides, some may argue, Iran deserves it for refusing to stop its sinister Hizbollah guerrillas from contributing to ‘terror’ and ruining the Bush Agenda in Iraq. The Bush Administration appears determined to settle all scores, from the threats on President George H. W. Bush by Saddam Hussein, to the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Iran in 1979. And, we will continue to hear about Hizbollah and Iran and their Syrian enablers over the coming days and weeks, until they morph into one enemy, complimentarily giving credibility to the current Israeli actions.
this from today's Washington Post, by Amal Saad-Ghorayeb
By provoking its southern neighbor, Hezbollah knew it would present Israel with a ghastly choice. Hezbollah is a popular social movement, and it is well aware that it can be destroyed only if the Israeli army is prepared to commit mass murder, genocide, ethnic cleansing -- use whatever unpalatable term you will -- against the entire Shiite community.===
If Israel does attack Iran, the "summer of 1914" analogy may play itself out, catastrophically for the United States. As I have warned many times, war with Iran (Iran has publicly stated it would regard an Israeli attack as an attack by the U.S. also) could easily cost America the army it now has deployed in Iraq. It would almost certainly send shock waves through an already fragile world economy, potentially bringing that house of cards down. A Bush administration that has sneered at "stability" could find out just how high the price of instability can be.
It is clear what Washington needs to do to try to prevent such an outcome: publicly distance the U.S. from Israel while privately informing Mr. Olmert that it will not tolerate an Israeli strike on Iran. Unfortunately, Israel is to America what Serbia was to Russia in 1914. That may be the most disturbing aspect of the "summer of 1914" analogy.