Monday, August 14, 2006

Was the Bush Administration Complicit in the Attacks on Lebanon?

I expect, rather hope, that the Seymour Hersh article in this week’s New Yorker will create a major ripple, first in the blog world, and then in the mainstream media. Hersh, who was at the forefront of investigative reporting on the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse case, as usual, has written a well-researched piece. The thesis of this article is one of major concern—the Bush Administration was closely involved in the planning of Israel’s attacks on Lebanon. Indeed, Israel had shared its plan for attacking Hezbollah with Bush Administration officials well before the July 12th kidnappings.

There are many reasons, most of them foolhardy, why the Bush administration would go along with the Israelis in planning to attack Hezbollah, and Hersh’s even-handed article discusses them at length. However, what I find most striking is that the Israeli campaign was encouraged by the U.S. because it was deemed as a dress rehearsal for forthcoming actions on Iran. So, the bloodshed and devastation inflicted on Lebanon, in the eyes of Bush Administration officials, was just a part of a greater game.

The callousness with which this administration continues to operate is astonishing. Lebanon, which anyway has now proved to be a much harder battleground than the slick war planners from Israel and the U.S. had though it would be, is a mere dot next to Iran’s dimensions, especially with respect to military, personnel, and economic might. Did no one think of these basic points before engaging in such murderous planning?

If a military college student tried to make an argument along these lines (attack Lebanon; weaken Hezbullah; gain pointers for Iran) in a war games class, I suspect he or she would be chastised by the instructor for an overly simplistic, ill-informed, and poorly judged piece of analysis. Shockingly, in real life, ideas that would get an F in the classroom are now the best that can be offered by the most powerful nation on earth.

Will the Israelis and Americans learn nothing from the failed campaigns in Afghanistan, Iraq, and now in Lebanon? Military might, which invariably leads to unintended consequences as seen over and over again, is a vastly inferior second to prudent diplomacy. Achieving a lasting peace is seldom borne out of outright military campaigns. The history book of international conflagrations is littered with instances of leaders who arrogantly believed that everything would work out if only they could have the enemy on his knees. What each successive generation of military campaigners seems to ignore is that wars end when ideas, not a people, are defeated. To fight ideas, there is no substitute for goodwill, smart and long-term strategic thinking underlying diplomacy, and respect for humanity.

11 comments:

the_arab_guy said...

As expected, here is what the US says:
"The piece abounds in fictions," White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said in an e-mailed response to a request for comment. He also assailed reporter Seymour M. Hersh's use of unnamed sources, saying it was "hard to imagine that the story would meet any major news organization's standards for sourcing and verification."

Appearing Sunday on CNN's "Late Edition," Hersh alluded to his early reporting on detainee abuses at the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. "When I did Abu Ghraib, the same kind of stuff was thrown at me — that I'm fantasizing," he said. His editors at the New Yorker, he said, "know who my sources are. In many cases, they've talked to my sources."

National security advisor Stephen J. Hadley said in an e-mailed response: "The suggestion that the U.S. and Israel planned and coordinated an attack on Hezbollah — and did so as a prelude to an attack on Iran — is just flat wrong."

Bush dismissed the report as "patently untrue," the White House response said.

Morning's Minion said...

I agree with much of this analysis. What struck me from the beginning of this campaign was how unbelievably stupid the tactic was from an Israeli standpoint. And Israel is generally not stupid. What it did sound like was some poorly thought-out, context-free, kneejerk moral relativist response-- the kind associated with Bush and Cheney in other words. Things really started falling into place upon reading the Hersh article...

Morning's Minion said...

From Slate this morning:

The NYT says returning refugees expressed "hatred against Israel—and, to a striking degree in this normally Western-leaning nation, against America." Said one refugee, "Bush did this."

Again, how unbelievably stupid.

John Lowell said...

Hersh's professionalism past and present speak for themselves. He's been digging in the Iranian soup for sometime now and continues to uncover woppers.

I believe him. I believe that Bush tried to coordinate strategy with Ohmert and I believe Bush eventually will attack Iran, more likely sooner than later. Hersh points to the end of August as the beginning of the drama.

We are in for a big surprize if we attack Iran. They sport a one million man standing army, they are experienced and are but a stone's throw from Bahgdad. And ten dollar/gallon gasoline will assuredly go over like a turd in the punchbowl here. Maybe that's what it will take to awaken the public concerning these brownshirts. Something needs to.

John Lowell

shadhu said...

John, your points are valid, but I am afraid that the honchos in the Bush administration are blinded by their zeal for regime change. If the editorials at the Weekly Standard are anything to go by, a military confrontation with Iran is just around the corner.

asma said...

What amazes/shocks me is that Hersh seems to be the only journalist in this country asking these questions and making these connections.

John Lowell said...

shadhu,

Yes, you can almost feel it coming. It's the same warlust extant in the immediate pre-war days with Iraq. One is almost reminded of Herr Hitler when preparing his generals for the assault on Poland in 1939. His most telling remark: "I am only afraid that at the last minute some swine will as yet present a proposal for mediation." Such is the attitude of Bush/Cheney.

shadhu said...

And contrary to my hopes and predictions, the story is not gaining any momentum. How depressing.

shadhu said...

John, my only hope is I am wrong...

John Lowell said...

shadhu,

The cause of peace is an orphen in the United States at the moment. We are in the hands of truly dangerous men.

John Lowell

the_arab_guy said...

Shadu: this story will be buried and there is no way you will hear it in the mainstream press. Note that there is no mention of it in NYT, Washington Post, etc...

I agree with John that cause of peace is an orphan in the Republican administration with I am afraid worse things to come in the next two years. It seems that no lessons have been learned.