Lebanon 3

A few days old but still relevant as we all track the military actions in South Lebanon. Varifrank reminds us that:
I’ve been watching the war from afar. I haven’t been able to comment daily as I’ve been really busy with real revenue generating work instead of blogging. But I have come to one conclusion based on what I’ve seen and what we’ve heard.

It’s all crap.

It’s not the usual bias that I’m complaining about. It's not the usual “reporting news the way they want things to be” as news instead of commentary that is going on.

It’s that I don’t think what is happening – or what is being reported as happening is necessarily what is happening.

Relax for a just second loyal readers, I’m not the "black helicopter" type, that’s not what I’m saying.

Here’s what I’m talking about. When you see news coming from Israel, its censored. That’s a good thing. I support that, its saving lives. When you see news from Beirut, its also censored. It’s also mostly propaganda. It’s a fact. I think were all over the age of 5 here, so I don’t think anyone who reads this blog is going to slap themselves in the head and shout “ Oh say it isn’t so!”

The hardest thing when fighting insurgents/terrorists is actually getting them to fight on your terms. When you set the conditions for the confrontation, you choose conditions that are favorable to victory. This applies to all enemies in general but against conventional forces, they fight on similar terms and their effectiveness is similar, though hopefully inferior, to yours. When you are fighting insurgents, if they were smart, they would recognize their inferior capability in a stand-up fight and thus would retreat when facing a conventional force. But when dealing with Islamofascist insurgents, who think that God is with them and will bring them victory based on their faith alone, their ego can be used to draw them out to fight, and thus be killed.

If Hezbollah thinks they have a fighting chance against Israel, then so much the better. If they don't think they have a chance but can get away, they will run. If they do not think they can get away due to the overwhelming number of Israeli forces, they may just hole up, which makes getting them out harder. Unless Israel is willing to bypass these bunkers and just level them flat. Which is what I believe is happening at Hexbollah strongholds. The willingness of Israel to flatten these areas is also suggested by their pre-attack warnings for civilians to evacuate and their disinterest in taking and holding territory.

With what is going on in Southern Lebanon currently, the fat lady hasn't even come on stage yet.


Lebanon 2

Over at The Belmont Club Wretchard has an excellent post regarding what may be Israel's strategic plan against Hezbollah. Read it all!
Reduced to its essentials, the IDF strategy may be ridiculously simple: fix the Hezbollah force in Southern Lebanon while detaching its command structure from the field by simultaneously striking Beirut. One of the great mysteries, upon which newpaper accounts shed no light, is why the IDF should so furiously pulverize Hezbollah's enclaves in southern Beirut, blockade the port and disable the airport. The object isn't to shut down Lebanon. It is to momentarily disorient the Hezbollah headquarters in Beirut, so that in a moment of absentmindedness, the Hezbollah forces in Southern Lebanon will do what comes most naturally: commit themselves against the IDF.

I also believe that in order for Israel to destroy Hezbollah now and future, they will need to do more than just "disarm" Hezbollah. Part of Hezbollah power, both practically and public relation wise, are the social services Hezbollah provides in Southern Lebanon. Practically, they are the de facto government in Southern Lebanon because the central government of Lebanon cannot "keep the trains running on time" sort to speak. And this translates to political power that grants them legitimacy regionally. And this also has endeared them to Europe, granting them international legitimacy in the eyes of some as well.

Thus this war presents a second opportunity for the central Lebanese government to reassert itself in Southern Lebanon. With international assistance, primarily US but also EU, the central government should do all it can (without Hezbollah) to rebuild and provide for Southern Lebanon after the ceasefire and while Hezbollah seek to rebuild itself and its paramilitary infrastructure.

This is how Hezbollah can be destroyed. Degrade its military forces in war; marginalize its social services in peace. Have to win both.



Meanwhile on the Gaza front

All groups in Gaza, including Hamas, would now accept a cease-fire deal with Israel which would include releasing Gilad Shalit, according to the Palestinian Agriculture Minister, who also heads the coordinating committee of Palestinian organizations there.

Ibrahim Al-Naja said the factions were ready to stop the Qassam rocket fire if Israel's ceased all military moves against the Palestinian factions in Gaza. They are also ready to release Shalit in exchange for guaranteeing the future release of Palestinian prisoners.

Very interesting if true, that the Palestinians and Hamas have more sense than the Lebanese/Hezbollah. I laud this as the first wise strategic move from the Palestinians to move away from suicidal use of violence for nationhood.

At the same time, it kind of undermine the cause celebre of Hezbollah a bit doesn't it. Just demonstrating that Hezbollah's action is for Hezbollah/Syria/Iran rather than for Palestine, or for Lebanon.



What the government of Lebanon needs to do is to reassert is sovereignty. If they do not view Hezbollah actions against Israel as a threat to its sovereignty, then they in effect are accepting Hezbollah actions as legitimate actions of Lebanon. Under these condition Israel is making war against all of Lebanon and the Lebanese army needs to repel Israel. The Lebanese government must be able to militarily evict Israel, and or muster international support, military and or diplomatic, to do so. However, other than Iran, no other Middle Eastern nation are likely to do so. Syria will not risk injury and damage for the sake of Hezbollah, not to mention Lebanon.

However, if the Lebanese government view Hezbollah as a threat to itself as much as Israel's incursion, then there is an opportunity to address both.
Firstly, allow Israel to militarily degrade Hezbollah while responding to the humanitarian crisis and mustering the Lebanese army.
Secondly, broker a deal with Israel with international powers for the Lebanese army to occupy southern Lebanon and assume control from both Israel and Hezbollah. Thus avoiding foreign military forces in southern Lebanon.
Thirdly, disarm a weakened Hezbollah.

Update: From Debka regarding the behind the scene maneuvering in Lebanon with Rice's visit.
Speaking privately to PM Fouad Siniora Monday, July 24, the secretary of state said, according to DEBKAfile’s exclusive Middle East sources: You don’t want to be like the Palestinian Authority which stands by and watches its people go to ruin.

Before taking off for Jerusalem, she also met Nabih Berri, the pro-Syrian Shiite parliamentary speaker. He said later their talks had failed but, according to DEBKAfile, they did arrive at some tactic understandings. Before moving against his Shiite rival Hassan Nasrallah and the Hizballah, Berri preferred to wait for the first cracks to appear in their standing.

The US secretary also interviewed anti-Syrian coalition leaders, known as the “March 14 Camp.” Druze leader Walid Jumblatt remarked that Nasrallah was behaving like Yasser Arafat in the 1982 siege of Beirut. “He is willing to let the Lebanese capital burn while he haggles over terms of surrender.”

The Christian leader Samir Geagea said: The situation is terrible but the calamity has created an opportunity which we must not miss.”

Rice stressed to all her Lebanese interlocutors that the United States had never planned to use Lebanon to fight Iran. Americans, she said, would never forget that Hizballah is a terrorist organization which has murdered Americans and other nationals. Hizballah has a problem not just with the US president but with both houses of congress.

She rejected pro-Syrian leaders’ demand for a ceasefire without first establishing its components. Washington is willing to consider a multinational force, or even a NATO presence, but would insist on the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1559, namely the disarming of Hizballah. This could take place in stages but, first of all, Hizballah must give up its rockets, missiles and heavy weapons.

Condoleezza Rice informed Siniora that she was representing the position President Bush had put before Saudi foreign minister Saud al-Faisal at the White House Sunday, July 23, implying that there was no point in the Lebanese running to the Saudis for help. They would have to cope with the crisis themselves


Pentagon Flight 77

When I moved to Arlington Virginia in December of 2001, the ruins of the Pentagon structures were still very much evident as it was a part of my daily commute. This video is incredible in deconstructing the event of that September morning.


Geneva Convention and PoW

This is the natural consequence of events surrounding the detainees at Guantanamo as played out in the left driven media and recent court decision. I support this stance whole heartedly.
Violent Islamist extremists must be killed on the battlefield. Only in the rarest cases should they be taken prisoner. Few have serious intelligence value. And, once captured, there's no way to dispose of them.

Killing terrorists during a conflict isn't barbaric or immoral - or even illegal. We've imposed rules upon ourselves that have no historical or judicial precedent. We haven't been stymied by others, but by ourselves.

The oft-cited, seldom-read Geneva and Hague Conventions define legal combatants as those who visibly identify themselves by wearing uniforms or distinguishing insignia (the latter provision covers honorable partisans - but no badges or armbands, no protection). Those who wear civilian clothes to ambush soldiers or collect intelligence are assassins and spies - beyond the pale of law.

Traditionally, those who masquerade as civilians in order to kill legal combatants have been executed promptly, without trial. Severity, not sloppy leftist pandering, kept warfare within some decent bounds at least part of the time. But we have reached a point at which the rules apply only to us, while our enemies are permitted unrestricted freedom.

The present situation encourages our enemies to behave wantonly, while crippling our attempts to deal with terror.

Consider today's norm: A terrorist in civilian clothes can explode an IED, killing and maiming American troops or innocent civilians, then demand humane treatment if captured - and the media will step in as his champion. A disguised insurgent can shoot his rockets, throw his grenades, empty his magazines, kill and wound our troops, then, out of ammo, raise his hands and demand three hots and a cot while he invents tales of abuse.

Conferring unprecedented legal status upon these murderous transnational outlaws is unnecessary, unwise and ultimately suicidal. It exalts monsters. And it provides the anti-American pack with living vermin to anoint as victims, if not heroes.

Isn't it time we gave our critics what they're asking for? Let's solve the "unjust" imprisonment problem, once and for all. No more Guantanamos! Every terrorist mission should be a suicide mission. With our help.

The Geneva Convention had two intentions in mind. The first and foremost intention is the protection of innocent civilians in areas of conflict. This intention is achieved by differentiating combatants from civilians based on dress code and uniform. An enemy combatant masquerading as a civilian would put the lives of all nearby civilians at risks, thus is not protected by the Geneva Convention. The terrorists clearly fall outside of the Geneva Convention based on this criteria alone.

Secondly, the Geneva Convention seeks to protect legal combatants taken as prisoners of war. This is achieved primarily based on good faith, that "I will take care of your captured legal combatants and you will do similar with mine." The terrorists' regular execution of captured, both civilians and legal combatants, have demonstrated that there can be no good faith in this regard. If our captured are to be executed, we should consider the same.

Of note is that there is no room to put on trial enemy combatants captured. If they are illegal combatants, they could be executed without trials. If they are captured as prisoner of war and good faith is maintained, then there is no room for a "show trial" of any sort. If there is no good faith, then the Geneva Convention does not apply and a trial is not necessary.

HT Powerline
Also at WILLisms


Academic Independence

Happy Independence America!

On the topic of Independence, consider this item on the Academic Independence:
DENVER -- Three years ago, David Horowitz came to Colorado to promote his newly inked Academic Bill of Rights, a plan the radical-turned-conservative activist said was needed to liberate students from an oppressive atmosphere of liberal groupthink at the nation's universities.
Critics had scoffed at the assertion by Mr. Horowitz -- who in the 1960s had been a prominent left-wing student activist -- that freedom on 21st-century campuses was being crushed by a tyrannical regime of political correctness.
But as then-state Senate Majority Leader John Andrews listened to Mr. Horowitz over breakfast at the Brown Palace Hotel, he agreed the time was ripe for an intellectual revolution.
"We were finishing each other's sentences, because this has been a concern for conservatives for such a long time," Mr. Andrews recalled. "I started working on and researching legislation right away."
A few months later, the Colorado legislature became the first to broker a deal with state universities on policies to protect students from political discrimination.
Since then, the Academic Bill of Rights, which says students should be graded and faculty should be hired and promoted without regard to their political or religious beliefs, has inspired the introduction of legislation in 18 states. Ohio and Tennessee struck deals with their universities on protecting academic freedom in lieu of legislation.
Meanwhile, Students for Academic Freedom, the campus watchdog group founded by Mr. Horowitz, has established chapters on more than 150 campuses

What are the items in particular?
1. Faculty members shall be hired and fired based on their competence and expertise, not their political or religious beliefs.

2. No faculty member shall be excluded from hiring, firing or tenure committees based on political or religious beliefs.

3. Students will be graded solely on their knowledge of a subject matter, not political or religious beliefs.

4. Reading lists should reflect a broad range of knowledge within a discipline.

5. Faculty will expose students to a wide range of viewpoints, not use their courses "for the purpose of political, ideological, religious or anti-religious indoctrination.

6. Campus speakers should reflect a broad range of viewpoints.

7. Efforts to censor viewpoints by obstructing invited speakers or destroying literature will not be tolerated.

8. Academic institutions and professional societies should maintain a position of organizational neutrality on scholarly disputes over resea

The Full Bill of Rights
HT Powerline


Inconvenient Truth: Kyoto

Want to know the consequences of the US not signing the Kyoto Protoco? From The Business Online:
THE United States has frozen its carbon dioxide emissions at a time when signatories of the Kyoto Protocol are conceding that they cannot meet their own targets, according to official figures released last week.

While the American economy grew by 3.5% last year, more than twice the European average, its fossil fuel emissions were up by only 0.1% – with no growth in road pollution and a drop in aircraft emissions.

Its progress came as several members of the European Union (EU) missed the deadline to submit new targets to reduce their carbon footprint with Germany demanding an opt-out for its power stations and Spain and Portugal preparing to abandon their target.

The US Energy Department said last week that rising fuel prices had a profound effect on its economy, encouraging the shift to more efficient technology and seeing a decline in carbon usage, which many European countries would find enviable.
The oil price rises hit the US proportionately harder as its petrol is taxed at a lower rate. Pump prices in the United States jumped 19% to 61cents (35.2p) a litre while UK prices rose by just 3.6% to 89.4p a litre with similar rises across Europe.

Road pollution increases were halted across the US and aircraft CO2 emissions declined. American industry reduced its carbon emissions overall by 3.3% – a trend reflecting the economic shift from manufacturing

Since 1997, when the Kyoto Protocol was first signed, the US has now made more progress in reducing its per capita fossil fuel emissions than the UK, France, Spain, Finland, Sweden and Japan – even before its economic growth is considered.
The US is frequently criticised for having the highest CO2 emissions in the world – 19.5 tons per person. This is more than twice the level of Britain, at 9.5 tons a head, which itself is sharply ahead of nuclear-driven France at 6.8 tons a head.
The Bush administration has said this is because the US generates more wealth than any country in the world, and it has instead said carbon emissions should be judged as a function of economic wealth created, not per capita.

Although President George Bush pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol in 2001, after a bipartisan vote in Congress, America has made substantially more progress than its European counterparts, which are still signed up to reach its targets.

The EU has moved to a new flagship environment policy called the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), and all 25 member states were due by the end of last week to have submitted their carbon reduction targets for the period from 2008 to 2012.

Those countries that went public with their plans had low ambitions. The German government said last week it would be able to reduce its carbon emissions by only 1% by 2012 and has said this will not apply to its new power plants.

David Miliband, UK Environment Secretary, acknowledged last week that the government is “off track” in meeting its own target of reducing emissions by 20% under the 1990 baseline set by Kyoto. It has met the 10% target.

Spanish carbon emissions were 48% above the 1990 base in 2004, more then treble the 15% limit of its Kyoto target. Portugal, Greece and Ireland – also Kyoto signatories – all have emissions at least 20% higher

Of the 30 industrialised countries which signed Kyoto, 17 were exceeding their targets at the time the last count was taken, in 2004. Japan pledged itself to a 6% drop in its 1990 emissions levels, yet has so far experienced a 7% rise.

The main US increase was registered from air conditioning, reflecting an economic boom in America’s hotter states. Arizona’s economy grew by an extraordinary 8.7% over the year and Nevada’s by 8.2% – both on a par with the growth rates in India.

Well wishes and intention are not enough to change the world. Legislation without basis in practical reality won't either.

HT: No Parasan