3 August 2006
Israel’s deliberate and continued destruction of Lebanon is intended to force the Western powers to occupy the country on US/Israel’s behalf
I’ve spent the last couple of days doing (almost) nothing but reading, trying to get a handle on events. Firstly, it’s obvious to anyone who knows anything about Lebanon and the place of Hizballah in Lebanese society realises that the idea of destroying Hizballah is ridiculous regardless that it’s Israel’s stated objective. Therefore what are the real objectives of the US/Israeli onslaught?
Firstly, Israel is in no position to occupy Lebanon, either militarily or even more importantly, economically, thus it needed to create the right conditions for some kind of foreign occupation force, ideally a NATO-led force (this explains why Israel is so opposed to the UN) to move in.
“The Prime Minister [Olmert] said any international force should be able to fight and be modeled on the Enduring Freedom mission in Afghanistan, and called the UN forces currently in south Lebanon inefficient.” — Ha’aretz, 3/8/06
Thus the objective is to blackmail the world by refusing to negotiate a ceasefire unless what is being called a ‘peacekeeping force’ moves into Lebanon, effectively taking over US/Israel’s role. The simplest and most effective way to do this was to brutally destroy Lebanon and continue to do this until the Western powers were forced to step in. However, the Lebanese government want to see an expansion of the existing UN force (UNIFIL).
No doubt the ruling elites of the US and Israel saw the ruins of Lebanon as a stepping stone on the way to the larger objective of ‘taking out’ Syria and Iran but what is this policy based on? Publicly at least the US and Israel have presented Hizballah as no more than a proxy force of Iran and Syria but regardless of the relationship of Hizballah to Syria and Iran, the destruction of Lebanon has revealed that as a propaganda weapon, tying Hizballah to Iran has been a complete failure. In fact, it has had the complete opposite effect.
With forces tied down in Afghanistan, the former Yugoslavia and the US neither militarily or politically able to fulfill the role, the so-called negotiations have been about how to realise the US/Israeli objective. Bear in mind that a little over a week ago, both Israel, the US and the UK were opposed to the idea of any other force being present in Lebanon. My, how things change!
Not surprisingly, the EU states are somewhat reluctant to take on the role of being the US/Israel’s enforcer not the least because the situation has not turned out the way the US/Israel envisaged it would. Hizballah has proved to be a tenacious opponent and furthermore, the sheer scale and ferocity of the destruction has rallied the majority of Lebanese society behind them. The invasion has once more revealed the deep divisions within the Western powers over strategy and tactics.
“But the French, who are currently the prime candidates to lead an international force, are making clear that the international community is not going to finish the job for Israel, and will only police a cease-fire when one has been agreed to by the Lebanese government, which includes Hizballah. In other words, it won’t try to disarm Hizballah unless Hizballah has agreed to be disarmed. And the only formula likely to achieve that objective on the basis of the current battlefield situation would be an agreement among Lebanese parties to somehow incorporate Hizballah’s fighting forces into the Lebanese Army — which may not be quite what the U.S., and certainly not Israel, had in mind. [my emph. WB]” — ‘Who Is Winning the Peace in Lebanon?’ Time Magazine, 2/8/06
Thus the plan has thus far failed to achieve its objective, namely the Balkanisation of Lebanon. That it has proved to be a failure is evident from the fact that behind the scenes talks are now taking place with both Syria and Iran, both of whom are opposed to the idea of a NATO occupation force. Just how much of a failure it has been can be gauged from the statements coming out of Tel Aviv whose initial gung ho comments about the complete destruction of Hizballah have been replaced by the reluctant admission that destroying Hizballah is pure wish fulfillment.
In addition we read that instead of a military victory, the war will have to be ‘won’ purely on the battlefield of propaganda.
“Israel is trying to frame its narrative now around the most minimal achievement, which is a major setback to the fighting capacity of Hezbollah …. But the question and the challenge is to frame a narrative of victory around more ambitious objectives.” — Gidi Grinstein, a former Israeli negotiator and director of the Reut Institute, quoted By STEVEN ERLANGER in ‘The Long-Term Battle: Defining ‘Victory’ Before the World’, New York Times, August 3, 2006
I think we can safely say that the invasion and destruction of Lebanon as part of the strategy for a US transformation of the Middle East is a failure, for not only has it failed to trigger some kind of Lebanese rejection of Hizballah, it has also opened up the possibility of a wider, regional opposition to US plans and even more importantly, revealed the vulnerabilities of the US client states in the region who now fear that the adventurist policies of the US/Israel threaten their own power.
And, the longer the destruction continues, the greater the anger of the mass of Arab peoples’ who can see quite clearly that Israel is no more than a local imperialist gendarme for the US. Moreover, the lie of Israel as ‘victim’ has been destroyed completely, an achievement that Israel inflicted on itself. No wonder the media mavens are trying to figure out a way of turning a defeat into a victory.
By overreaching itself, the US, via its proxy Israel, has moreover, forced those who claim to to be on the left of the Labour government, to stand up and be counted (though it remains to be seen just what the numbers add up to). Blair’s PR offensive which he undertook at a very safe distance from these shores, is testament to just how damaging the invasion of Lebanon has been, not only to the Blair government but to the ‘war on terror’.