Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Revolutionary War—It’s Old Hat

Guerilla war, fought from within the matrix of a country, hiding in homes, places of business, hospitals, schools, and appearing now and then to fire hodge-podge destructive potshots to hurt the enemy—the guerillas always win.

The French vacated Indo-China when they could see the handwriting on the wall. The US moved in gradually until ten years later there were 500,000 American troops stationed there fighting an unbeatable enemy. 50,000 troops were killed in Vietnam, then the US vacated and is trading with that country today.

The obvious best example of guerilla warfare is the American Revolutionary War. There is no known casualty total--several thousand died in battle on each side. Disease killed ten times the number of war casualties in the same period. Around 40-45% of American colonists were supportive of the revolution. It became a burden for the British to continue fighting on another continent, so they recognized the new nation of the United States.

The Hizbollah militia in southern Lebanon operates in a similar fashion as any guerilla group, blending in with the population and not staging specific battle grounds. They fire their vintage WWII Russian-made Katyusha rockets into northern Israel from just about anywhere, hiding them in private homes, schools, hospitals—anywhere.

Hizbollah does not expect to be able to wipe out the Jews in Israel, or destroy the State of Israel. Hizbollah is a proxy militia force set up by Iran subsequent to Israel vacating southern Lebanon in the 1980’s. Hizbollah is Iran in Lebanon. And Syria is the pimp go-between.

They are trying to start a gathering storm of congealing groups of anti-Israel forces throughout the Arab world to eventually make it impossible for Israel to continue as Jewish state, and to give up as much of its land as they can force.

And there is the demigod—the “idol” to see on cable news and Arab TV--their leader, Nasrallah, wants a world stage from which to bloat his bloateries, not unlike Arafat 40 years ago, who was a nobody without a cause--until he got the Palestinian diaspora to see itself as unjustly displaced. Never mind that it was the Arab countries who displaced them.

Israel wants utterly to destroy Hizbollah, and Israel is not making any progress so far in accomplishing this aim. The US powers-that-be – Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, mouthpiece Rice – see a chance to gain an upper hand against Iran while Israel fights the battle on the front. Bush and cronies are itching for a “good” reason to start bombing Iran. How else do they distract the American “proles” from the real issues at hand—relying less on fossil fuel for this nation’s wealth and resources; taking responsibility for the hungry and suffering of the rest of the world while there is the means and method of alleviating that insufficiency. That’s too much work—that doesn’t buy a better cushion for the power-elite in the US.

The current strife has managed to gain recruits for Hizbollah and the radical anti-Jewish anti-Israel movement in the Arab countries surrounding Israel, while not to diminish the zeal and numbers of militia. In addition, Israel has thrown enough firepower into the structures of Lebanon, including the airport, to knock it literally fifty years back in time from its pre-current-war state.

Israel does have the right to defend itself from unfriendly invasion, with which Hizbollah started off this business. Israel military might, including it’s nuclear capability, has the power to destroy Lebanon completely, and Hizbollah with it, which Israel won’t do for obvious reasons, not the least of which is the immorality of killing millions of innocent people to get rid of a few tens of thousands of the enemy.

Short of such all-out destruction by Israel, Hizbollah will survive, probably gain strength, and negate all of the goals and reasons for Israel’s attack on southern Lebanon in order to avenge the original, initial Hezbollah invasion. Israel’s number one, and these days only, international friend, the United States, resolutely stayed out of the fray hoping that Israel would do it’s dirty work alone.

There is even rumor that Bush and Rice don’t see 100% eye to eye on trying to stop the conflict:

"The United States and Israel must understand that it is not in their long-term interests to allow themselves to become isolated in the Middle East and the world," said Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Rice ally and senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "Both Damascus and Tehran must hear from America directly."

Bush the warmonger trumps Rice this time.

All this contradiction and futility is not lost on the saner leader of the region, Jordan's King Abdullah II, in an interview with the BBC. His judgment, while negative and depressing, is the reality of the day, after one month of fighting:

Each time we have a crisis it gets far more unstable and the end game or where we're going to be leading a region is dim," he told the BBC.

"I can't read the political map of the Middle East anymore because I see all the heavy clouds over our shoulders at this stage.

"I fear for the future of the Middle East."

The king, after reiterating his calls for an "immediate ceasefire" in the conflict, said that if Arabs and Israelis did not sit down and "declare a new future" for the region, countries in the region "will continually be sucked into the abyss."

While stating his hopes for a United Nations Security Council resolution bringing an end to the conflict "today as opposed to tomorrow," the king said:

"You can't destroy Hezbollah."

The ongoing conflict is even starting to take second and third-tier importance in the daily news. The primary vote for democratic senator from Connecticut between incumbent Lieberman and challenger Lamont is the big story today, along with the closure of the British Petroleum pipeline section which may cost Americans more money for gasoline, and the Fed pausing rate hikes after 17 increases in the last 2 years.

And American Idol is having auditions at the Rose Bowl, where several thousand wannabe contestants showed up at 4 AM to wait in line to get put down by Simon Cowell and his gang.

The Lieberman-Lamont race is important to catch a flavor of how democrats prefer their candidates from now on—will the pro or anti Iraq war stance make the difference, Lieberman being pro and Lamont anti?

That campaign’s importance to the future makeup of congress in the US lies in the enormous shadow of the conflict in the Middle East. There is a worldview in the leadership of the US that is completely apart from the reality of politics and society internationally. Some citizens are starting to get the message.

The Bush administration is looking for a fight against radical Islam. Bush sees himself as the “wartime president,” wants a war with Iran, and Syria if necessary. This will take the minds of American voters off the failure of US policy on the grand scale. and fear can be generated in place. The press can join arms with the government to make people think it’s better to have an armegeddon in the Middle East than to have one in New York, or St. Louis, or Omaha…

But the longer it takes to stop the conflict, the worse America’s options are, not to mention Israel’s. That Bush and company don’t understand this in all of it’s clarity gives more reason toi claim their incompetence. Over two weeks ago, Newsweek reporter Christopher Dickey already wrote what is happening and what Bush should have known:

The United States, following Israel’s lead, does not want an immediate ceasefire precisely because that would hand Hizbullah a classic guerrilla-style victory: it started this fight against a much greater military force—and it’s still standing. In the context of a region where vast Arab armies have been defeated in days, for a militia to hold out one week, two weeks and more, is seen as heroic. Hizbullah is the aggressor, the underdog and the noble survivor,
all at once. “It’s that deadly combination of the expectation game, which Hizbullah have won, and the victim game, which they’ve also won,” as my straight-talking friend put it.

Neither U.S. nor Israeli policymakers have taken this dynamic into account. If they had, they’d understand that with each passing day, no matterhow many casualties it takes, Hizbullah’s political power grows. Several of my worldly Lebanese and Arab friends here in Rome today—people who loathe Hizbullah—understand this problem well. Privately they say that’s one of the main reasons they are so horrified at the direction this war has taken: they fear not only that Lebanon will be destroyed, but that Hizbullah will wind up planting its banner atop the mountain of rubble.

Cooler minds must prevail here. The defeat of Lieberman as a referendum on the Iraq war is a start. It’s time to rise up in dissension against what our representatives in Washington, D.C. think is OK—the passive status quo, following pollsters, not taking the lead in fear of losing voter support--it lines their mattresses with the green stuff while it mortgages our lives and our children’s future.

The immoral inaction of congress to stand up to Bush and his dangerous notions is staggering. We need to elect new leaders, so that King Abdullah's fear for the Middle East remains a warning, and not a reality.

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