Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Halftime

Throughout the opinion-sphere, Israel is being declared a loser in their military action against Hezbollah. Political pundits must be watching a different game than me. From my couch, Israel is clearly dominating a game that has now reached halftime. During the first half of play, Israel rarely even needed to make a third down conversion. Second half adjustments by both sides may change the nature and eventual outcome of the game, but there is no reason to believe a comeback by Hezbollah is possible based on first half statistics.

So far in the game, Hezbollah has been completely unable to defend against the Israeli air strikes. Some of the Israeli bombs may have missed the intended target. However, since Hezbollah has been hiding amongst women and children, the only way to hit the target is to also hit the family of the target. Big media may take away points for collateral damage, but my scorecard counts the number of future terrorists that won’t be reproducing and playing in the second half of the game.

Israeli ground forces played a conservative first half by only taking and then holding small pieces of territory. Since the Israelis appear to be able to advance wherever and whenever they want using tanks and mortars to drive out Hezbollah forces, pundits claim they should have pounded the ball down the throats of Hezbollah during the first half and tried to put the game out of reach. However, Coach Ohlmert seems more concerned with keeping his team healthy for the second half than piling up points before halftime.

Hezbollah has been unable to mount any type of offense since the start of the game when they captured two Israeli soldiers. Thousands of the missiles they have lobbed into Israel landed incomplete. They haven’t once taken a piece of Israeli land or even been able to retake any of their own land until it was abandoned by Israel.

Syria and Iran, the feckless owners of Hezbollah, don’t seem willing to make the investment necessary to field a team that can compete with Israel. Iran could easily pour many more resources into team Hezbollah. They just aren’t willing to dump anymore funds into a losing team.

From my couch, things are looking pretty good for the home team!

19 comments:

Rick and Gary said...

Hi David -- My guess is that the people claiming a victory for Hezbollah mean a political victory. Of course, that a lot harder to define and measure than a military victory.

There's a really intersting article in the New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/060821fa_fact)
that says the Israeli action is a warm up for a similar U.S. strike against Iran after it violates the U.N. deadline to stop uranium enrichment (Aug. 31)

Buz said...

I am all for peace through attrition. When all your enemies are radioactive dust, you will have peace.

There are two types of people, reasonable people and unreasonable people. Reasonable people don't start wars for no reason, so there is usually no reason to negotiate with them.

Unreasonable people start wars for no reason, and trying to negotiate with them is useless. If you take them to the brink of total annihilation, and if you let them go when they cry "uncle" they will only turn around and try to fight until they are dead. (The knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail ... "come back here, I'll bite you!")

So the short answer is if you totally annihilate them in the first attack, you won't have to fight them a second time. It may seem cruel and heartless, but cruel and heartless to whom? Not to your children or your grandchildren who will never have to face that enemy again.

Buz

David M. Smith said...

Hi Rick and Buz,

Surely Israel could have wiped out Lebanon. Israel could have even marched into Syria if sending Syria a stronger message is what Israel wanted to do. Political and PR considerations prevented an all out military victory for Israel. It is ironic that Israel made the politically correct decision and still so many view the ceasefire as a defeat. I understand and even partially agree with the argument that accuses Israel of backing down by accepting a ceasefire, but I don’t agree that Israel lost anything. Hezbollah, Iran, Syria, and most of the world knows Hezbollah got their butts kicked regardless of what Hezbollah claims publicly. The only people who really think Israel lost are some Israelis, the wacky terrorists, and many on the right and far left in America.

I think it is probable, but not certain, that Israel will have to periodically remind Hezbollah, Hamas, and other terrorist organizations that Israel will strongly defend itself against terrorism. I don’t ever see an end game. Middle East countries that have something to lose, including Iran, are not going to attack Israel directly. Israel is never going to march through the entire Middle East. Periods of peace and periods of war are and will be the norm in the Middle East for the rest of our lives. I choose not worry until Israel actually loses a battle with terrorists, which I don’t foresee happening.

I also don’t see America attacking Iran at this point. We need to do something to keep the radical Iranian Shia’s out of Iraq, but there just isn’t enough political will in America to escalate matters to a point of dropping bombs on Iran.

Rick and Gary said...

Hi David -- Yeah, that's a really good point about attacking Iran. In particular, an attack would cause a huge spike in gas prices right before mid-term elections.

As for the victory or defeat(military vs. political) by Hezbolla, I'm pretty jazzed by Hassan Nasrallah.

They say that the Muslims are more into killing us gays than the Jews (or Christians), but I really think that these are the good guys.

David M. Smith said...

Hi Rick,

You lost me. Either I don’t understand your humor or I don’t get your point.

Are you saying you think Nasrallah and Hezbolla have a moral justification to kidnap soldiers, lob missiles at civilians, and conduct suicide bombing missions? What am I missing?

Rick and Gary said...

Hi David --

No, I'm serious, although I can't say that I have confident perspective.

But as far as I can tell, the West stole land from the Arabs to make way for a resettlement of European Jews. If the U.S. was weak and divided, and if China took over California and threw everyone out of their homes to make way for a resettlement of Mongolians, and if all Californians were living for generations in refugee tents in Nevada, I don't think Americans would ever accept that.

Rick and Gary said...

No, I'm serious, although I can't say that I have confident perspective.

But as far as I can tell, the West stole land from the Arabs to make way for a settlement of European Jews. If the U.S. was weak and divided, and if China took over California and threw everyone out of their homes to make way for a resettlement of Mongolians, and if all Californians were living for generations in refugee tents in Nevada, I don't think Americans would accept that.

Rick and Gary said...

Also, back to the question of whether there was a political victory for Hezbollah, two intersting things I've seen:

In Turkey, according to The Times of London, "this summer there has been a distinct shift in public mood away from Europe. The message of the Lebanon crisis is that the West cannot take Turkey’s support for granted."

And then there were the moderate Arab-Sunni governments (Saudis, Jordan, Egypt) who at the start of the attack came out against Hezbollah (probably with pressure from us). Their own people rioted and they caved.

David M. Smith said...

The Jews took no one's land

As the most visible Arab-American critic of Yasser Arafat and the phony "Palestinian" agenda, I get a lot of hate mail.

I've even received more than my share of death threats.
Most of those who attack me – at least those who bother to get beyond the four-letter words and insults – say I just don't understand or have sympathy for these poor Arabs who were displaced, chased out of their homes and turned into refugees by the Israelis.

Let me state this plainly and clearly: The Jews in Israel took no one's land.

When Mark Twain visited the Holy Land in the 19th century, he was greatly disappointed. He didn't see any people. He referred to it as a vast wasteland. The land we now know as Israel was practically deserted.

By the beginning of the 20th century, that began to change. Jews from all over the world began to return to their ancestral homeland – the Promised Land Moses and Joshua had conquered millennia earlier, Christians and Jews believe, on the direct orders of God.

That's not to say there wasn't always a strong Jewish presence in the land – particularly in and around Jerusalem. In 1854, according to a report in the New York Tribune, Jews constituted two-thirds of the population of that holy city. The source for that statistic? A journalist on assignment in the Middle East that year for the Tribune. His name was Karl Marx. Yes, that Karl Marx.

A travel guide to Palestine and Syria, published in 1906 by Karl Baedeker, illustrates the fact that, even when the Islamic Ottoman Empire ruled the region, the Muslim population in Jerusalem was minimal. The book estimates the total population of the city at 60,000, of whom 7,000 were Muslims, 13,000 were Christians and 40,000 were Jews.

"The number of Jews has greatly risen in the last few decades, in spite of the fact that they are forbidden to immigrate or to possess landed property," the book states.

Even though the Jews were persecuted, still they came to Jerusalem and represented the overwhelming majority of the population as early as 1906. And even though Muslims today claim Jerusalem as the third holiest site in Islam, when the city was under Islamic rule, they had little interest in it.

As the Jews came, drained the swamps and made the deserts bloom, something interesting began to happen. Arabs followed. I don't blame them. They had good reason to come. They came for jobs. They came for prosperity. They came for freedom. And they came in large numbers.

Winston Churchill observed in 1939: "So far from being persecuted, the Arabs have crowded into the country and multiplied till their population has increased more than even all world Jewry could lift up the Jewish population."

Then came 1948 and the great partition. The United Nations proposed the creation of two states in the region – one Jewish, one Arab. The Jews accepted it gratefully. The Arabs rejected it with a vengeance and declared war.

Arab leaders urged Arabs to leave the area so they would not be caught in the crossfire. They could return to their homes, they were told, after Israel was crushed and the Jews destroyed. It didn't work out that way. By most counts, several hundred thousand Arabs were displaced by this war – not by Israeli aggression, not by some Jewish real-estate grab, not by Israeli expansionism.

In fact, there are many historical records showing the Jews urged the Arabs to stay and live with them in peace. But, tragically, they chose to leave.

Fifty-four years later, the sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters of those refugees are all-too-often still living in refugee camps – not because of Israeli intransigence, but because they are misused as a political tool of the Arab powers.

Those poor unfortunates could be settled in a week by the rich Arab oil states that control 99.9 percent of the Middle East landmass, but they are kept as virtual prisoners, filled with misplaced hatred for Jews and armed as suicide martyrs by the Arab power brokers.

This is the modern real history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. At no time did the Jews uproot Arab families from their homes. When there were title deeds to be purchased, they bought them at inflated prices. When there were not, they worked the land so they could have a place to live without the persecution they faced throughout the world.

It's a great big lie that the Israelis displaced anyone – one of a series of lies and myths that have the world on the verge of committing yet another great injustice to the Jews.

Joseph Farah is founder, editor and CEO of WND and a nationally syndicated columnist with Creators Syndicate. His latest book is "Taking America Back." He also edits the weekly online intelligence newsletter Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin, in which he utilizes his sources developed over 30 years in the news business.

Rick and Gary said...

Interesting stuff. Thanks for the post.

Rick and Gary said...

Hi David --

Well, I've had some time to ponder Mr. Farah's article. He makes some good points, and I can certainly see why the Jewish people feel that they are entitled to this land.

Nevertheless, this was Muslin land, part of the Ottoman Empire, whose leader was the like the Pope of Islam.

It's fine that there were lots of Jews in Jeruselem and not many Arabs, but that's not really an absolute justification to create your own breakaway nation.

My guess is that we wouldn't like to it much if areas along the Mexican border that are predominantly Mexican and Mexican-American decided to start their own country or to rejoin Mexico.

It would certainly be something if that did happen at some point in the distant future (perhaps with the backing of new superpower rivals) and our logic in supporting Israel is thrown back in our face.

David M. Smith said...

Hi Rick,

The country of Israel was formed by the Untied Nations in 1948 out of land that was being governed by Britain. Israel then became a democracy where all citizens had the same property rights and political rights regardless of their religion. This is still the same today.

Most of Israel is not owned by the country of Israel anymore than my house is owned by America. The only possible analogy to America would be if I sold you my house for twice its market value and then I threatened to blow you and your family and neighbors to smithereens if you did not give it back to me or if I never even owned your house but threatened you anyway.

Real property in Israel can be bought and sold. Hezbollah does not want to buy the land and participate in the government. They want to kill Jews and take the land. They are evil.

Rick and Gary said...

Hi David --

Well, you have had me thinking all day today about the notion of evil, a word I never really heard in serious talk until Clinton labeled the McVeigh bombing as an act of evil.

To me, no one is all good or all evil. I think that wanting to kill is part of human nature.

I have never wanted to kill anyone, even for a moment, but I think that's because of my extreme luck in growing up privileged in a fair, secure evironment, thanks to our country, its people, and its soldiers and leaders.

But there's a thin line between civilization and the darker side of human nature. My guess is that if someone from a particular group killed my loved ones, I think I would be dead set on killing anyone and everyone in that group, as well as anyone who ever gave so mush as a kind wink to that group.

David M. Smith said...

Hi Again Rick,

I am a lot like you. I have never wanted to kill anyone either. I grew up with the na├»ve notion that other people were making an effort to be good because I was raised to always make an effort to be good. My dad was in the Army in the South Pacific during the Second World War. Surely he experienced real evil in his life, but I don’t remember him ever explaining it to me.

I completely agree with you that no one is completely good or completely evil. In fact, some people who have a very good side also have a very bad side and vice versa. Certainly, the circumstances of ones birth will play a role in their actions and their beliefs as an adult. However, good and evil are objective concepts that societies have accepted from the start of recorded history. My belief is that they are laws of God, but even if someone doesn’t believe in God, they can still believe and adhere to objective understandings of good and evil.

Murder is at the top of the list of evil. Theft is also on the list. There may be circumstances where it is justified to kill someone else or steal from someone, but the facts of ones birth are not justification for either. Even though I have never wanted to kill another person, I know there are times when I need to be willing to kill another person. I am willing to die and I am willing to kill others who are a threat to the lives of my family, my country, and even my freedom in some situations.

Some people, while not completely evil, still deserve death. Hussein murdered hundreds of thousands. He deserves death, even if at some point in his life he gave money to widows and performed other good deeds. No amount of good could compensate for his acts of evil. Justice means giving people what they deserve.

There are many people throughout the world, especially the Middle East, who are motivated by revenge. Revenge is sometimes justice, but justice and revenge are not the same. After the Civil War, the North did not take revenge on the South for every death. Both sides realized the deaths were a result of war, not individual acts of evil.

Hezbollah and other Muslim extremists want to impose their will on everyone who does not believe as they believe. Their method is to murder or dominate the innocent. I have no other word than evil to describe them and their acts.

Buz said...

I am not a bit-time end-timer, but I seem to remember hearing a preacher who was talking about the end times quite a few years ago. One of the points he brought out was that, according to biblical prophecy, the country of Israel would be attacked and that, with God's favor, they would consistantly repel their attackers. However, at some point, they would turn and put their trust in "man's ways" and in the protection of their allies, and at that point their enemies would begin to overpower them. Finally, before they were destroyed, they would realize that it was God who had been defending them and not their own might. In an act of national repentance, they would turn to God and He would smash their enemies.

If I recall correctly, I heard that preached some time in the 1970s ... not too long after Israel had practically driven their enemies back into the sea in the 6-day war.

Maybe we are on the verge of seeing a great tide turn here. While the nation of Israel are "ethnic Jews", many of them are not "religious Jews" in that they do not adhere to the Law of Moses and the teachings of the Prophets.

(Nice to meet you, Rick and/or Gary.)

Buz

Buz said...

(oh, that should have been "big-time end-timer" not "bit-time end-timer", sorry, type-o)

Regarding good and evil (your comment, David), I could think of a couple of other words, "Satanic" and "demonic" come to mind.

Many have called this a "religious war", meaning that it is fueled by religious beliefs ... "if you don't believe like we do, we'll kill you". I believe that it is a religious war, but of a different kind, the kind mentioned in religion, specifically in the book of Revelation. There is something unnatural about the degree of baseless hatred that is fueling the relentless attacks.

I find it inhuman that one group of people would hate another group to the extent that they would be willing to strap bombs to their own children to kill their enemies. If you made me angry enough, I MIGHT be willing to risk my own life to kill you, but I would never ever ever put the lives of my children at risk to try to kill you. That type of thinking doesn't originate from human beings, it is planted there by something that is just pure hatred, pure evil.

Buz

Buz said...

(Sorry to do three separate posts, I should have done this all in one, but it is late here and I am not thinking as fast as I should be.)

One more minor point about the country of Israel and the Palestinians living there ... (this stretches my history WAY back, but if I remember correctly ...) When the U.N. formed the country of Israel in 1948 (going on 60 years, or almost a generation ago) they drove ALL the inhabitants out of the land. Interestingly, the Arabs living in the surrounding countries did not want most of those Arabs displaced from Palestine and were pushing them back and forth from one country to another or even slaughtering many of them. Israel had compassion on those who were displaced, having been without a country to call their own for almost 1900 years, and they opened their country and welcomed the Palestinians back into their new country (which was given to them by the U.N. ... the same organization that everyone turns to today to be the final say in all national disputes).

So, to put a little more reality into Rick and Gary's analogy, it would be more like the U.N. took Nevada away from the U.S. (it's all desert and casinos anyway) and gave that to the Chinese to settle the Mongolians. Then after California, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado kept forcing the displaced Nevadians to march between them, and New Mexico killed off a bunch of them in one of the passes, the beneficent Mongolians opened their doors and allowed the Navadians to return to areas of Nevada.

Then to repay them for their compassion, the Chicago Mob funded the Nevadian Liberation Organization. In which union thugs would rape up the Mongolian's wives and kill their children at school.

That is reaching way back to my High School history, so I may have it a little foggy, but I believe you will find that it is close.

Buz

Buz said...

This will be my last post for the night ...

After my last post, I decided to go out to the web and see if I could find any confirmation of that story ... so far I have not been able to. However, I remember the 6-day war, and the tensions that were running at the time. When talking about that period of history, the top six sites in Google simple said something to the effect "Israel attacks neighbors" or "Israel grabs Arab land". The truth of the matter (at least from what I heard on the news and in the papers) was that for months Israel's neighbors were joining forces and plotting to obliterate it as a nation. Days before a secretly planned attack, Israel got wind of the plot and in a premptive strike not only disabled its enemies, but took their land, more as a (really huge) defensive buffer than a land grab.

This site was a bit more objective than most of the others,

http://www.mideastweb.org/timeline.htm

If you look at a lot of the time between 1960 and 1980, there is a lot of "[terrorist group abcd] bombs supermarket/school/restaurant, Israel retaliates against Syria/Egypt/Lebanon, U.N. condemns Israel".

That could have been written last week ... oh wait ... "Hezbolla attacks Israel, Israel bombs Lebanon, U.N. Condemns Israel" it was ...

Buz

David M. Smith said...

Hi Buz,

I agree with you. There is no human explanation for the level of hate in the Middle East by some radical Muslims towards Israel and the west. The breeding of suicide bombers is way beyond my level of human understanding. It’s interesting to me how evil is never completely defeated. Germany and Japan were defeated, but the spirit of Germany and Japan in the early to mid 1900’s was passed to Stalin and Tse-Tung and then to Hussein and Bin Laden. God has been very merciful to America.