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All Eyes on Israel

We have spent a lot of time this week discussing the crisis in the Middle East and I’ve tried to provide a variety of perspectives on the show. So far, we’ve heard from Chris Arend, Santa Maria Bill and Dr. Larry Martinez. Tonight military historian Jack Greene weighs in at 5:35. We’ll stick with it next week, as well, if circumstances warrant. By the way, we’re always looking for smart, opinionated, articulate people to come in the studio and join us for Hometown Radio. Drop me a line any time at
davecongalton@clearchannel.com if you’d like to be considered.

I’m going to post the latest column from Pat Buchanan here, mainly because (1) I happen to agree with him and (2) I want to give you a chance to discuss what is happening in the Middle East. Personally, I think Hannity and Gingrich are way off base referring to this as WWIII. That’s crazy. This is a regional conflict that must be gotten under control, but so far, the U.S. is dragging it s feet to bring the fighting to a halt. Any guesses why?

Anyway, read what Mr. Conservative has to say here and let’s hear what you think:

IT’S NOT OUR WAR

By Patrick J. Buchanan

My country has been “torn to shreds,” said Fouad Siniora, the prime minister of Lebanon, as the death toll among his people passed 300 civilian dead, 1,000 wounded, with half a million homeless.

Israel must pay for the “barbaric destruction,” said Siniora.

To the contrary, says columnist Lawrence Kudlow, “Israel is doing the Lord’s work.”

On American TV, former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says the ruination of Lebanon is Hezbollah’s doing. But is it Hezbollah that is using U.S.-built F-16s, with precision-guided bombs and 155-mm artillery pieces to wreak death and devastation on Lebanon?

No, Israel is doing this, with the blessing and without a peep of protest from President Bush. And we wonder why they hate us.

“Today, we are all Israelis!” brayed Ken Mehlman of the Republican National Committee to a gathering of Christians United for Israel.

One wonders if these Christians care about what is happening to our Christian brethren in Lebanon and Gaza, who have had all power cut off by Israeli airstrikes, an outlawed form of collective punishment, that has left them with no sanitation, rotting food, impure water and days without light or electricity in the horrible heat of July.

When summer power outrages occur in America, it means a rising rate of death among our sick and elderly, and women and infants. One can only imagine what a hell it must be today in Gaza City and Beirut.

But all this carnage and destruction has only piqued the blood lust of the hairy-chested warriors at the Weekly Standard. In a signed editorial, “It’s Our War,” William Kristol calls for America to play her rightful role in this war by “countering this act of aggression by Iran with a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Why wait?”

“Why wait?” Well, one reason is that the United States has not been attacked. A second is a small thing called the Constitution. Where does George W. Bush get the authority to launch a war on Iran? When did Congress declare war or authorize a war on Iran?

Answer: It never did. But these neoconservatives care no more about the Constitution than they cared about the truth when they lied into war in Iraq.

“Why wait?” How about thinking of the fate of those 25,000 Americans in Lebanon if we launch an unprovoked war on Iran. How many would wind up dead or hostages of Hezbollah if Iran gave the order to retaliate for the slaughter of their citizens by U.S. bombs? What would happen to the 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, if Shiites and Iranian “volunteers” joined forces to exact revenge on our soldiers?

What about America? Richard Armitage, who did four tours in Nam and knows a bit about war, says that, in its ability to attack Western targets, al-Qaida is the B Team, Hezbollah the A Team. If Bush bombs Iran, what prevents Hezbollah from launching retaliatory attacks inside the United States?

None of this is written in defense of Hamas, Hezbollah or Iran.

But none of them has attacked our country, nor has Syria, whom Bush I made an ally in the Gulf War and to whom the most decorated soldier in Israeli history, Ehud Barak, offered 99 percent of the Golan Heights. If Nixon, Bush I and Clinton could deal with Hafez al-Assad, a tougher customer than son Bashar, what is the matter with George W. Bush?

The last superpower is impotent in this war because we have allowed Israel to dictate to whom we may and may not talk. Thus, Bush winds up cussing in frustration in St. Petersburg that somebody should tell the Syrians to stop it. Why not pick up the phone, Mr. President?

What is Kristol’s moral and legal ground for a war on Iran? It is the “Iranian act of aggression” against Israel and that Iran is on the road to nuclear weapons – and we can’t have that.

But there is no evidence Iran has any tighter control over Hezbollah than we have over Israel, whose response to the capture of two soldiers had all the spontaneity of the Schlieffen Plan. And, again, Hezbollah attacked Israel, not us. And there is no solid proof Iran is in violation of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which it has signed, but Israel refuses to sign.

If Iran’s nuclear program justifies war, why cannot the neocons make that case in the constitutional way, instead of prodding Bush to launch a Pearl Harbor attack? Do they fear they have no credibility left after pushing Bush into this bloody quagmire in Iraq that has cost almost 2,600 dead and 18,000 wounded Americans?

No, Kenny boy, we are not “all Israelis.” Some of us still think of ourselves as Americans, first, last and always

And, no, Mr. Kristol, this is not “our war.” It’s your war.

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  1. Rich from Paso
    July 21, 2006 at 5:30 pm

    Dave, believe it or not I agree with the premise of Buchanon’s artilce: this is not a U.S. War. It is fully Israel’s war. The Arabs have been at war with Israel since the day the State of Israel was founded in 1948. Hezbollah and Hamas and the PLO have had no interest in ever accepting the existance of Israel, much less peacefully co-existing with the Jewish state. If Israel has the right to exist, then they have ever right to stop the constant and consistant bombardment of their country from all sides. Only if Israel does not have the right to exist,then their actions are out of line and illegal because they were an illegal state. Need I remind you all that it only took 19 Arabs to kill 3,000 Americans and heavily damage one and completely destroy two vitally important buildings for the U.S. to destroy the State of Afghanistan in an effort to destroy the terrorists that planned and executed the 9/11 attack. Think how America would feel if 9/11 happened every other day or so like it happens in Israel, where suicidal homocide bombers wreck havoc on the Israeli civilian population? So, in the sense that we Americans should feel a kinship with Israel as allies in the War on Terror, I agree with Ken Mehlman that we are all Israelis.

    Do I think the U.S. should get involved? No. Israel has proved time and again that they are more than fully capable of defending their country and kicking the crap out of any Arab force that comes up against them. They have an outstanding army and one of, if not the best, airforces in the world (funded and supplied by the U.S. of course). What we need to do is let Israel put an end to the global threat to peace that Hezbollah poses. In doing that, I forsee Iran taking a more active role in supporting Hezbollah creating a proxy-war between the U.S. and Iran. As someone who served in Iraq, I can tell you that we are very good of taking care of ourselves. If Iran were to use the occasion of this conflict in Lebanon to start making trouble in Iraq, Iran would be making the U.S.’s case for war against themselves.

    Not WWIII? How many countries does it take to rise to the level of a world war? In WWI, it was the U.S., England, France, Russia, Italy, Austria/Hungry and Germany; total of 7. In WWII, it was U.S. England, Russia, Germany, Italy, and Japan; total of six. As of today, England, Spain, Russia, Jordan, Indonesia, India and of course, the United States have all been attacked by Islamofacsist terrorists; total of 7. So by shear numbers, it is keeping with the World War numbers. I think it rises to the level of a world war, even though it doesn’t fit the historical template set in the 20th Century. This is a 21st Century World War.

    Again let me remind you all of the actions Hezbollah has taken against the U.S.:

    1983, 241 Marines died at the hands of a Hezbollah car bomb at the Beruit Airport.

    1996, Hezbollah bombed the American Air Force barracks at the Khobar Towers killing 19 Americans.

    Throughout the last 30 years, Hezbollah has been linked or responsible for the deaths of dozens of Americans living in the Middle East.

    Here are news articles detailing Hezbollahs efforts to infiltrate America: here, here, and here.

    You will see that Hezbollah is just as large a threat to America as al Qaeda is. I say, let Israel defend themselves and in doing so fight our enemy, Hezbollah for us.

  2. Bob from San Luis
    July 22, 2006 at 6:34 am

    Rich: Welcome back. You make some very cognizant points, but I beg to differ with you on a few items. You pointedly reminded us of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001; can I remind you that there were demonstrations of support of the US in Tehran, the capital of Iran? Do you remember how many countries proclaimed, “We are all Americans, now”? I disagree with any assertion that we Americans are “all Israelis” now; we were attacked on our soil in a gruesome manner like never before and the world responded with a sympathy that we have never experienced before. You are correct about your example of Israel having the equivalent of a 9/11 type of attack on them, and most like minded people think that situation is deplorable. Hezzbolah and Hamas can bring up any justification for their attacks on Israel they want, and be very wrong about those justifications, but one tiny inescapable grain of truth is that Israel’s overly aggressive “defense” of itself has a certain amount of “cause” to the “effect” of the recent attacks on Israel. Let me be clear here, I, in no way, shape or form, feel that Hezzbolah is justified in their attacks on Israel at all. What is, IMO, the saddest part of all of the recent conflict is our countries contribution to the intensity of Hezzbolah’s attacks. Our mishandling of our invasion of Iraq caused the Iranian people to elect a radical president who with the backing of the mullahs have been able to invest more into the funding of Hezzbolah.
    Terrorism cannot be defeated militarily; it is not possible to kill every terrorist for the simple reason that terrorists are not “born”, they are people who have either suffered some injustice, or they have “perceived” that they are persecuted for their beliefs, and are then recruited, indoctrinated and trained, believing that they have no other options, and they will, through their terrorism, make their “enemies” suffer. Terrorists cannot function without funding or recruits, so that should be the focus drying up the roots of any and all terrorists movements. How to do that is the 64 million dollar question, that I sure don’t have the answer to, I do believe that smarter people either have or will have that solved soon. Unfortunately for us and the world, those people do not have the ear or trust of our current leadership.

  3. Rich from Paso
    July 22, 2006 at 10:32 am

    Bob, glad to see that we agree on most of what I said. You said that there was support for the US in Iran after 9/11. That is 100% true, but you have to understnad that the mullahs of Iran are in no way, shape, matter or form representative of the Iranian people. If we were to effect “regime change” in Iran, then a most decidedly pro-American and pro-western Iranian government would take over. The oligarchy of Iran has been funding Hezbollah since the 1979 revolution, not just because of the Iraq invasion. I sure hope you are not deluded enough to believe that the election of old Mahmoud was anything resembling a “fair and open” election, because it wasn’t. Iran has been plotting the destruction of the West and the Great Satan since Khomeni. I am troubled by your quibbling on the level of aggressiveness Israel has been showing, as if the diplo-speak of a “measured response” or “showing restraint” actually means anything to the Israelis. Olmert, the new PM, feels that now is the time to destroy Hezbollah once and for all. I think he is right. With all of the build up, Israel has no choice but to destroy Hezbollah. Anything less will just make Hezbollah that much more determined because they survived the attack. There will be even more death and destruction if Israel fails.

    Contrary to your opinion, I do think that terrorism can be defeated militarily. Terrorism is in many ways a cult of personality around key central figures. Carlos the Jackel, Yasar Arafat, KSM, Osama bin Laden, Zawahiri, Zarqawi, and now this Nasrallah bum. They are all charismatic types that attract people to join them. Al Qaeda in Iraq has filtered into the background noise of Iraq since the Israeli conflict flared up. Might have something to do with Zarqaui’s death.

    Israel is justified in what they are doing and I hope that we don’t get in the way.

  4. Anonymous
    July 25, 2006 at 2:57 pm

    Death to all Islamic extremists and all terrorists. Israel is not only our friends in that region they are right to destroy any faction that officially claims they are committed to the total destruction of that state and people.
    Buy a gun, and learn how to use it. You think theses Islamic idiots are going to stop short of your driveway?

  5. Christine from La Jolla (Fred from Arroyo Grande's daughter)
    July 30, 2006 at 4:11 pm

    Thanks for the great article, Dave. It’s been disconcerting to watch this conflict’s US news reporting. It was only several days in that CNN started running headlines about the Lebanese killed (as with today’s horrific news: 19 Children Killed. A day or two into the conflict, CNN ran a headline about an Israeli grandmother and grandson killed in the fighting (awful), with a footnote about dozens killed in Lebanon. People are people and it’s awful when civilians die on either side. The inconsistency with coverage makes me wonder in what other ways are the American people are being manipulated.

  6. Rich from Paso
    July 31, 2006 at 4:47 pm

    Look at this website on the deaths in Lebanon. The only thing missing is the words “Baby Milk Factory” or “Children’s School” written in English for the staging of that event for the western media to be complete.

  7. Marilyn
    August 3, 2006 at 12:25 am

    The following is an analysis of Israel’s current folly in Lebanon by Ze’ev Sternhell, published in the Israeli paper, Ha’aretz:

    Let’s declare victory and start talking

    1 August 2006

    By Ze’ev Sternhell

    It’s a widely accepted idea that an Israeli who returns home, even after a short period of time, feels as if he has come to another country. But the opposite is the case: He returns to the same situation, the same problems, the same thought patterns and mainly, the same solutions. Apparently, we did not learn a thing from the first Lebanon War or from the American defeat in Iraq. If the definition of Israel’s strategic goal given by the head of Military Intelligence at the beginning of the week reflects the government’s position, we are in big trouble.

    If Israel really did embark on the war in order to force Lebanon to impose its authority on the south, which is in Hezbollah’s hands – or in other words, to force the Lebanese government to begin a civil war in the service of Israel – that is a sign that it is dominated by thinking even more primitive than the thinking that led Ariel Sharon to Beirut about a quarter of a century ago.

    But this time, we have exacerbated the problem: At the beginning of the third week of fighting, in spite of the determination and courage of the attacking soldiers, the war seems only to be beginning. That is why we should achieve a cease-fire before the campaign gets out of control, claims victims in vain and, in the long run, even turns into a strategic failure. In the more distant future, it will be necessary to carry out a fundamental structural reform of the government’s work procedures and to examine its dependence on the Israel Defense Forces’ General Staff. These are truths that are not pleasant to voice at this time, but that is the reality, and we are obliged to confront it.

    And in fact, considering the means that the IDF is employing and the ratio of forces in the field, any outcome less than the elimination of Hezbollah as a fighting force will be considered an Israeli failure and a great achievement for the enemy. But since it is impossible to uproot Hezbollah from among the Shiites without destroying the population itself, wisdom requires us to refrain from positing goals that are unachievable.

    The inability of a major power to put an end to a guerrilla war is not a new phenomenon: From Napoleon in Spain, through his successors in Algeria, to the Americans in Vietnam and now in Iraq, well-organized armies equipped with modern technology have always failed in attempts to defeat irregular forces. The latter know how to adapt themselves to their surroundings, they are an inseparable part of the population and they serve its material, religious and emotional needs.

    When there is fighting, guerrilla organizations want the entire population to be harmed. When everyone is a victim, the hatred will be directed at the enemy more forcefully. That is why bombing residential neighborhoods, power plants, bridges and highways is an act of folly, which plays into Hezbollah’s hands and serves its strategic goals: An attack on the overall fabric of life creates a common fate for the fighters and those standing on the sidelines. At the same time, the greater the population’s suffering, the greater its alienation from the formal ruling institutions – the government, the parliament and the various security forces that are powerless to save them.

    It is an illusion to hope that the 700,000 Lebanese refugees will direct their fury at their government, or that the population that still remains in place will evict the Hezbollah members from among it. As far as the population is concerned, responsibility for its catastrophe lies entirely with Israel, and failure to cooperate with whoever fights against Israel would be considered national treason. It was foolish to assume that the Lebanese political elite would dare to confront Hezbollah and use force against it. And anyway, who was even capable of using force? The Lebanese Army, whose bases were bombed as well?

    That is why Israel’s interest must be to isolate Hezbollah, to strike a hard blow at its bases and camps, but to avoid harming the infrastructure of life for the general population, even when its gives refuge to those bearing arms. This is not a matter of military ethics, but of a cold practical considerations.

    The goal of the war is to restrain Hezbollah, because nobody is dreaming any longer of destroying it. As things look today, at best, Israel will make do with removing it from the border. There, behind the back of an international force, which in the Arab world will in any case be seen as protecting Israel, Hezbollah will be able to reorganize, train, equip itself with more modern weapons and prepare for the next round.

    There is no military solution for this situation. IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz has already implied that the solution is political. The prime minister, who bears overall responsibility and will be required to give an accounting in the future, would do well not to lag behind the person who in any case will pass him the hot potato.

    And a word about the price of American support. Sometimes it seems as if U.S. President George W. Bush wants Israel both to destroy Lebanon and to sustain painful losses. That way, Israel provides him with an excellent alibi for the war in Iraq: The fight against terror is global, the blood price is the same, the methods of operation and the means are identical, and the time needed for victory is long. The Israeli vassal is serving its master no less than the master is providing for its needs.

  8. Rich from Paso
    August 4, 2006 at 7:18 pm

    The Israeli-Hezbollah conflict is not folly, however it is a sovereign country’s right to seelf-defense. The Hezbos miscalculated exactly which straw was going to break the proverbial camel’s back when they kidnapped and murdered those three Israeli soldiers on Israeli soil. 80% of the Israeli people, both Jews and Arabs in Israel, are standing together and are telling the Hezbos that enough is enough. Israel did learn the lesson of 18 years of occupation of southern lebanon, that is why they are going to reestablish the buffer zone and then turn it over to a UN force to manage.

    If Israel is wrong in attacking Hezbollah in Lebanon, then you are saying Israel does not have the right to exist. You are on the same side as Syria and Iran. Israel only does Israel’s bidding and goes along with the US when it is in Israel’s best interest (note the restraint when Saddam was lobbing SCUDs at Tel Aviv. Israel could do far more damage and everyone knows they have far worse weapons in their arsenal than they have been using.

    Finally, you do not engage diplomatically with people sworn to kill you, your family, your neighbors and anyone living within the confines of your country and have sworn to do so for as long as you have existed as a people. You do however, engage them at close range and destroy them utterly. That is how peace is made. It is not negotiated; it is won. There will be peace when Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, Syria, Iranian mullahs, and all other islamofascists give up armed conflict and their bogus claims on Israel, which existed in that spot 1,800 years before Mohammed was born.

  9. Marilyn
    August 5, 2006 at 1:25 am

    I still think that the main purpose of this barbaric invasion is to occupy South Lebanon and restructure the country strategically to Israeli and American advantage. The waters of the Litani River are an added bonus which Israel has been after for years. After all, if you do believe in the Zionist claim to the lands of Israel “from the Nile River to the Euphrates,” they’re just getting warmed up!

    By the way, the Jewish Kingdom in Palestine lasted less than one hundred years. There were other religions and other nationalities living in the region before King David put the people of Canaan to the sword to establish his small canton. I would think that the peoples, nationalities, and religions that came before and after David would beg to differ with who has more entitlement to the land.

    There are those who believe that a Jew who will be born in Russia in the next century has more right to a plot of land than a Palestinian who actually has a paper deed for that land and who is forbidden to go back and reclaim his property. People who actually think that is acceptable should reconsider their morality and revisit words like:

    “oppression,” “injustice,” “racism,” and “Arab hater.”

    Such a belief also reinforces my view of the barbarity of a military power that uses the moral ethics of 4,000 B.C. (the time when god talked to delusional people from behind a burning bush) to fight a vicious war cloaked in the guise of a superficially modern democracy.

    Statements like “the Lebanese have not learned their lesson yet.” “They have not felt enough pain yet,” and “We are going to teach the Lebanese a lesson for supporting Hezbollah” really do wonders for the arrogant hogs who are bellowing such obscenities. They are the Chosen Ones with a bone to pick with every one who crosses them. Thank you very much, but I could do without being friends with such a belligerent and entitled entity.

    But there is always hope that people can mend their ways.

    I wonder if Israel will EVER draft a written constitution, or if Israel and the United States will ever elect a woman for president. Isn’t it shameful that Indonesia, the largest Muslim nation in the world, managed to elect a woman for the office of President from 2001-2004, Megawati Sukarnoputri. But, excuse me, I forgot that those things are not part of the world view of the know-it-alls, especially the self-appointed experts on “Islamofascists.”

    Let not the pot call the kettle black.

    And, oh, Hezbollah whether you like them or not, were democratically elected into Parliament and the Cabinet after the well-publicized “Cedar Revolution” of 2005, courtesy of the United States, France, and the Christian Right Wing in Lebanon, and their Israeli supporters.

    Violence and blitzing people and their neighborhoods may win you a few battles, but you end up losing the war.

    The civilians and infantrymen have been the losers in all wars, not the ideologues and certainly not those profiting from all the destruction and reconstruction.

    I wonder if Halliburton will get a no bid contract to rebuild Lebanon.

    But that topic is reserved for another chapter in this obscene soap opera.

  10. Rich from Paso
    August 5, 2006 at 4:58 am

    Marilyn,

    Golda Meir was the fourth Prime Minister of Israel from March 1969 to June 1974.

    Israel has an unwritten constitution like that other non-woman electing country, Great Britain. Oh, that’s right… They had Margaret Thatcher. Gues the United States… your United States, is the only barbaric, backwards country not to elect a woman leader.

    For those of us not as up to speed as Marilyn here, I give yuou all a link to the wikipedia link here on the subject.

    Hezbollah, like Hamas, is no less a terrorist organization because they found a few other anti-semites to vote them into parliment. The National Socialist Party of Germany was legitamately elected into the Germany Parliment. That veil of legitamacy does not in any way, shape, matter, or form lessen the pure evil that they unleashed upon the world in 1938.

    Thank you for the Hezbollah position.

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