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Fitful Empire… 27 July 2006

Posted by marisacat in Inconvenient Voice of the Voter.
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 The UN Observers killed by Israeli bombardment

The UN observers who died were under the command of a New Zealander, Army officer Major General Clive Lilley (who was not present at the post), so…a snip from the report from a NZ news service:

New Zealand soldier Tekimiti Gilbert, based with the UN mine action team in the Lebanese port city of Tyre, told The Press last night that UN staff had been shaken by the deaths.

“We got the news last night and it’s very shocking and almost unbelievable. That UN position that was attacked has been there for 20 years,” he said.

“It is a well-established post and those guys that are in there are unarmed. Their sole objective is to observe.” Gilbert said the post was well-marked and well-known as a UN safe haven. It seemed “extremely unlikely” the deaths had been a mistake.

“For the time being, it is safe here. We haven’t taken any direct hits and we haven’t had any hits close by,” he said.

We seem rapacious, certainly not wise nor steadfast in our strange wars.

From Jonathan Schell:

It wasn’t just that Nixon’s wiretapping was directed against Daniel Ellsberg, war critic and leaker of the Vietnam-era Pentagon Papers; or that the “plumbers” outfit that carried out the Watergate break-in was founded to spy on, disrupt and attack war critics; or that Nixon’s persistence in trying to win the war even as he withdrew American troops from it drove him into the paranoia that led him to draw up an “enemies list” and sponsor subversions of the electoral process – it was that his entire go-it-alone, imperial conception of the presidency originated in his pursuit of his war policy in secrecy and without Congressional involvement.

    And now, thirty years later, we find ourselves facing an uncannily similar combination of misconceived war abroad and constitutional crisis at home. Again a global crusade (then it was the Cold War, now it is the “war on terror”) has given birth to a disastrous war (then Vietnam, now Iraq); again a President has responded by breaking the law; and again it falls to citizens, journalists, judges, justices and others to trace the connections between the overreaching abroad and the overreaching at home.

In consequence, not only are we condemned to repeat ourselves for the duration of the current crisis but a remarkable number of those repetitions are already repetitions of what was said thirty years ago.

Al-Ahram, Lucy Felder reports that Save the Children is now saying that a full half of the dead are children.  A few days ago, a third was being reported – and this at the end:

About 20 per cent of Lebanon’s population are on the road or in schools, or have left this tiny country. The UN reports the number of displaced as 700,000. With roughly 2,000 to 3,000 houses destroyed, according to economist Al-Hajj, and a much higher number partly ruined, no one knows yet where the legions of displaced and homeless will go once the new school term starts.

“Say there was a ceasefire today, where would they go, how would they live?” Al-Hajj asks. “Many of their homes no longer exist.”

Africa’s Mail and Guardian:

Israeli warplanes and artillery hammered Lebanon again on Thursday as the Beirut government said up to 600 people may have been killed in Israel’s 16-day-old campaign against Hezbollah guerrillas.

Israel’s inner Cabinet chose to pursue a strategy of air strikes and limited ground incursions, rather than a full-scale invasion of Lebanon to halt Hezbollah rocket fire on its towns.  [al Jazeera’s take was worded a bit differently, israel knows they can take their time… ]

Lebanese Health Minister Mohammad Khalifeh said hospitals had received 401 bodies of people killed during the war launched by Israel after the Shi’ite guerrillas captured two of its soldiers and killed eight in a cross-border raid on July 12.

“On top of those victims, there are 150 to 200 bodies still under the rubble. We have not been able to pull them out because the areas they died in are still under fire,” he told Reuters.

*************************************************************

 UPDATE: 1:20 pm

From Reuters Alertnet:

UNITED NATIONS, July 27 (Reuters) – China on Thursday warned the United States that its opposition to a statement condemning a deadly attack on a U.N. post in Lebanon could have a “negative impact” on U.N. talks on Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

The United States was blocking a U.N. Security Council statement on Israel’s attack on the outpost in southern Lebanon, despite what council diplomats called many compromises by Beijing.

But the envoys said there was some hope a policy statement would be adopted late on Thursday.

“This is a serious matter,” China’s U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya told reporters after a private meeting with the U.S. negotiators. “It is an attack on the U.N. peacekeepers.”

“If the Security Council cannot send a strong political message supporting our guys on the ground, it will be difficult for people to understand,” Wang said.

   Protest at the UN offices Panama,

From TimesOnline:

The Cabinet said that the call up of three additional reserve divisions was meant mainly to refresh the existing troops in Lebanon. But the huge size of the mobilisation raised questions about the military’s future strategy.

“The draft is to prepare the force for possible developments as they have been presented to the Cabinet, and also to freshen the forces as needed. Using the force will require another approval by the Cabinet,” said a statement from Mr Olmert’s office after the Cabinet meeting.

Senior military commanders have been pushing for a wider campaign in Lebanon, but Amir Peretz, the Defence Minister, favours limited action, officials said. Israel Radio said that ministers made clear they had no intention of widening the conflict to confront Syria, which backs Hezbollah.

AND this tidbit:

“The editor-in-chief of Maariv newspaper says today in a front page column that the time has come for Israel to wage war in the Lebanese border villages without caring for the consequences, and not to be afraid to send soldiers into difficulty and danger in fraught hand-to-hand combat without caring how many people get killed.”

  ultra-orthodox visit an artillery site, near Fassuta, Israel

*************************************************************************

UPDATE:   2:20 pm

w00t!… I think Putin just said Bite Me.

Russia signed a £1.6bn arms deal with President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela today, risking a confrontation with the US, which has imposed an arms embargo on the South American country.

The outspoken Venezuelan president, who has claimed that America wants to assassinate him and pledged cheap heating fuel for London’s poor, also told reporters in Moscow that his country could develop its own nuclear programme.

“Maybe some day we will start using nuclear energy,” he said, according to Interfax. He did not specify when or how he might obtain nuclear power, but his ambitions will rile a Bush administration already deeply concerned by Iran’s nuclear programme. Moscow has agreed to build nuclear power plants for Tehran, despite Washington’s claim that the scheme is a front for a nuclear weapons programme.

***********************************************************************

UPDATE, 6:30 pm

I guess this was a given.  All things considered… ;)

Israel’s Government has thrown its weight behind efforts by supporters to counter what it believes to be negative bias and a tide of pro-Arab propaganda.

The Foreign Ministry has ordered trainee diplomats to track websites and chatrooms so that networks of US and European groups with hundreds of thousands of Jewish activists can place supportive messages.

In the past week nearly 5,000 members of the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS) have downloaded special “megaphone” software that alerts them to anti-Israeli chatrooms or internet polls to enable them to post contrary viewpoints.

A student team in Jerusalem combs the web in a host of different languages to flag the sites so that those who have signed up can influence an opinion survey or the course of a debate.

They call it making the news ”balanced”… so very foxy!  And this:

Israel’s Foreign Ministry must avoid direct involvement with the campaign but is in contact with international Jewish and evangelical Christian groups, distributing internet information packs.

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Comments»

1. aemd - 27 July 2006

Billmon has a new one up, “A Blight Unto the Nations”. Sobering.

http://billmon.org/archives/002581.html

2. marisacat - 27 July 2006

ooo thanks aemd!

3. D. Throat - 27 July 2006

Russia said Thursday it had sold 24 aircraft and 53 helicopters to Venezuela, defying the United States, which has urged Moscow to halt arms sales to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Russia’s arms export chief, speaking as Chavez met Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin, said the aircraft deal was part of a long-term package of arms contracts with Venezuela that was worth more than $3 billion.

Gee… I wonder why Putin did that???

4. D. Throat - 27 July 2006

Opps I didn’t see your update

5. D. Throat - 27 July 2006

Gee… do you think Venezuela along with Iran… will become new members in the SCO????

Bush is trying to bomb oil rich countries into submission… Putin is just doing what “was” the old US Foreign Policy… write a check.

Bush entertained broke ass Romania today and Putin entertained oil rich Venezuela… damn those backwards Ruskies…

6. CSTAR - 27 July 2006

Re Chavez: It’s only a matter of time before the Neocons et al make Caracas the south american endpoint of the axis of evil.

7. CSTAR - 27 July 2006

This article in
Haaretz on the origins of the free hand given to the Israeli military by the political establishment. It ends with this quote

“The need to defend the country against aggression, the military confrontations on the borders… the military achievements, the mass drills… all of these create an atmosphere that necessarily harbors acute social and moral dangers. The danger of the spreading of chauvinist and vulgar militarism is a real danger in Israel… The culture of arms bears with it the danger of losing social, moral and cultural values, to the point of the blurring of the nation’s image as an enlightened society… This applies to all civilians and the youth, and also military personnel, who may be intoxicated by the very charm of involvement with arms.”

One shouldn’t conclude to readily however that the present crisis is purely a result of some institutional failure. There is also a disturbing element of racism in regard to palestinians and arabs.

8. NYCee - 27 July 2006

Ah yes, the US in the UN. On the world stage. Our ME ‘diplomacy’ No, our Sopranos.

It was quite a telling scene in Rome.

I watched that footage of the Rome summit, with Condi and the diplomats, Condi and the Lebanese PM, Siniora. There were the diplomats, all trying (or forced to go thru the motions) to get language for a cease-fire, but the Mafia princess (with boarding school manners!), Condi, was having none of it. They were haggling over the position of a word or two that would make the difference, but we all know the girl gets what she wants (Bossman says), which means, in real terms, to drag out the carnage and the destruction of a nation. As I was watching, the distress of others was obvious, shown in their body language, like on the grim face of the Italian minister. But the Lebanese PM Siniora was the most painful to watch. It was so clear how he felt – helpless and furious – no need for sound or words.

They came out and stood before the press, and I saw Siniora, whose country was, at that moment, being smashed to dust, forced to stand next to Condi and contain his revulsion as she babbled inanities and hypocrisies from the Demented King of the World. It was as if I could hear him screaming at the top of his lungs. (Think The Scream.) Here he is seeing his country “cut” to bits, and this creature next to him, has laid down the Boss’s orders that this will continue… and he will just fucking stand by and watch, like it or not. Well, she says it much prettier than that. This is, after all, the ‘Charm’ Arm of The Strongarm, isnt it? (See how charm arms bear gifts of aid – ahhh! A thousand thanks! – dropped down in the wake of the ‘family’s’ bombs.)

Siniora vowed to sue Israel for the “barbaric destruction” of his country, while Annan urged Hizbollah to stop “deliberate targeting of Israeli population centres” and Israel “to end its bombardments, blockades and ground operations”.

It was extremely sad to watch this, to see how, in reality, the world is so under our thumb, so stuck and so ravaged with US in charge. And our citizenry is so unhelpful in pushing back to make any changes – too many Americans are so complacent, self-absorbed, crassly prioritized, brainwashed, and/or badly informed. And/or overworked to death.

9. NYCee - 27 July 2006

Small wonder there’s No Welcome for Condi in Beirut

As for how The Plan (one version) is coming along (a snip from above link):

If Israel believed that by bombing Lebanon it would provoke the rival communities in the country to turn their anger on Hezbollah, then the plan appears to have misfired. Even sworn enemies of the Shia militia in the Christian community are supporting Hezbollah’s stand against Israel’s invading tanks.

Michel Araj, a doctor and former university lecturer, cannot remember having a good word for Hezbollah before, but says: “They are our only resistance. We don’t want to be overrun again.”

The face of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is on TV more often than that of Mr Siniora. If there was little prospect of the Beirut Government disarming Hezbollah before, it surely has no chance now.

10. NYCee - 27 July 2006

Dont know how it happened, but last paragraph of my #8 is — quite plainly — my words, not those of the article. Wasnt put in the blockquote, but somehow, there it went.

11. NYCee - 27 July 2006

Wow. Lincoln Chafee on a fucking roll today at the Bolton hearings.
On the ME. The bullshit. The unevenhandedness. Bam bam bam!!!

There’s that post I dropped down on the other thread this AM re Rush doing some hating on Chafee for this very reason, because he told David Gregory he wants a ceasefire in Lebanon and serious honest brokering of the I/P conflict and speaks out against Bush’s policies and all the wasted opportunities.

There is a diary at Kos about it. People beating up on the diarist for saying he is going to donate to Chafee and that Dems are a shameful lot by comparison. Folks going at him. (He claims he’s from Israel)

This is the HuffPo piece referenced at his diary SURPRISE OF THE DAY: Lincoln Chafee Shoves John Bolton Around Senate Hearing Room Floor

I do so want to watch that.

12. marisacat - 27 July 2006

D THroat…

don’t worry,on the Putin/chavez you link to the CNN article.. it gives me a chance to poke arund CNN while I am there… ;)

13. marisacat - 27 July 2006

CSTAR

thanks for the Haaretz article. I had never understood the full power at the top of the IDF leadership.

I did hear a IDF spokesperson, in the field dressed for combat and with a strong (by which I mean native or so close to native as indisinquishable) American accent today say that the border battle they are engaged in (and he referred by name to Bint Jbail where the ambush took place) is literally the pivot of the world.

LOL Even Shep at Fox News was not buying that one.

gah. We are so skrewed…

14. pyrrho - 27 July 2006

NYCee,

nice comment at dkos.

15. marisacat - 27 July 2006

NYCee

(fixed the blockquote thing, I have trouble in the “publish” end of WP to get bq to work exactly right…)

I missed hearing Chafee. Good going. I think I had mentioned I read somewhere that AIPAC is supporing Laffey, his R challenger (and that does clarify the hard push against him at Dkos, imo. NOt a pretty picture. Honestly Kos/FP at Dkos is not very interested in most Dems, they pick a few and try to tear them down, ignore most R and go at a fairly moderate one…you have to wonder)

I caught Boxer and Feingold. Boxer wasted some of her time going at Maliki and then inviting Bolton to work on something with her. Lordy.

As if there will be much of a battle.

Thanks for the links off to check them out.. ;)

16. CSTAR - 27 July 2006

This morning I saw in the WSJ this morning (online here
Sample quote:

Calls for Israel to show restraint violate “God’s foreign-policy statement” toward Jews, he said, citing a verse from the Old Testament that promises to “bless those who bless you” and curse “the one who curses you.”

God with a foreign policy statement? This is so looney.

17. CSTAR - 27 July 2006

I think I screwed up my previous post (unmatched quotes)

I saw in the WSJ this morning online here
Sample quote:

Calls for Israel to show restraint violate “God’s foreign-policy statement” toward Jews, he said, citing a verse from the Old Testament that promises to “bless those who bless you” and curse “the one who curses you.”

On another front, I just read this article by Israeli military analyst Ze’ev Schiff of Ha’aretz. The title says it all “For Israel, the conflict in Lebanon is a must-win situation”. Quoting from the article: “We cannot afford a situation of strategic parity between Israel and Hezbollah” I think this should be interpreted as meaning IDF will use any means at its disposal to destroy Hezbollah and if things are going badly (particularly in Lebanon South if Hezbollah strongholds remain unsecured by IDF) who knows, maybe even a nuke or two.

18. marisacat - 27 July 2006

CSTAR,

sorry for the delay… your two last posts got caught in the spam file. I am nto sure why… Madman gets cuaght and sometimes the “throats”.

hmmm thanks for the Schiff from Ha’aretz… it fits with a piece I jsut read in comment in the Guardian… that talks about the absolute need Israel has for absolutes. has to be abandoned. The problem is I think they want to fight forever.

Will pop both up in the next post. ;)

19. NYCee - 27 July 2006

pyrrho:

Thanks. Which one?

Funny thing, I just checked DK and the diary I referenced re Chafee – Im gonna donate ’cause of what he said on Israel (paraphrase) – is like nowheresville. It got disappeared.

Here is what’s left of it (Damn, I wrote a good comment on it too! And recommended it! :-)

Sorry. I can’t seem to find that story.
Tags: troll diary, Not a Democrat, plant story, paid operative (all tags) :: Add/Edit Tags to this Story

Lol. So innocent: “Sorry. I can’t seem to find that story.” Looks like the Clean-Up Crew got to it. Right quick.

It’s TrollMania there.

20. marisacat - 27 July 2006

this is the Woolacott piece from The Guardian that dove tails with Schiff…

21. NYCee - 27 July 2006

Whoops. There it goes again. Oh well, dont sweat it, mc.

Hey, just curious … are you going to post the Avraham Burg essay? You said you were looking for a good photo to go with it. I was looking forward to seeing what youd come up with. If you arent feeling like it, that’s fine and good. I may post it as a diary, even if you post it here, but I am just over-saturated with all this. Cant bring myself to deal at this point. Still interested?

22. CSTAR - 27 July 2006

Le Monde on Ha’aretz: Soutenir Tsahal ou pas : quand un grand journal de gauche bascule (To support or not IDF when a great leftist newspaper switches sides). This is a tragedy for the Israeli left.

The article mentions the recent article (noted previously) by Ze’ev Schiff in support of Tsahal. This is all very sad.

23. NYCee - 27 July 2006

Oh, this oughta be a blast. Look who’s on Cspan tomorrow:

07:00 AM EDT
0:30 (est.) LIVE
Call-In
Open Phones
C-SPAN, Washington Journal

07:30 AM EDT
1:00 (est.) LIVE
Call-In
Israel-Hezbollah Conflict
C-SPAN, Washington Journal
Daniel Pipes , Middle East Forum

Thankfully, followed by…

08:30 AM EDT
1:00 (est.) LIVE
Call-In
Israel-Hezbollah Conflict
C-SPAN, Washington Journal
James Zogby , Arab American Institute

24. observer - 27 July 2006

This is a lovely diary from heavy-hitter thereisnospoon after TNR dissed him and his buddies. If he’s so flush, why doesn’t start to pay Bowers a salary so he quits whining to his readers about how hard things are?

25. D. Throat - 27 July 2006

Soutenir Tsahal ou pas : quand un grand journal de gauche bascule (To support or not IDF when a great leftist newspaper switches sides). This is a tragedy for the Israeli left.

I see it in the bigger picture of backing off and allowing Israel “space” to save some kind of face in their fast approaching retreat… there will be plenty of time later for Ha’aretz to say WE told you so.

There is an excellent diarist on DK (funny how he seems to never make the “rescued diaries” list… well never mind here is the link to his own site

The shift in Israeli direction is subtle, but nonetheless it is there and it is significant.

Israel’s climb down and the eventual end to this conflict will be seen by Hezbollah and the Arab world as a defeat. The only thing left to do for Israel and the United States is to try to soften the strategic blow to Israel by searching for a best-case withdrawal plan. To that end, the wheels have already been set in motion.

Enter Tony Blair, George W Bush’s hapless poodle. Mr. Blair will make a show of urging for a ceasefire during his meeting with Mr. Bush:

The US and Israeli position will be that they can now propose a ceasefire because they have sufficiently degraded Hezbollah’s capabilities. They will proclaim victory and exit stage left. After weeks of defending the ridiculous notion that negotiations must occur before a ceasefire, the Bush Administration is reportedly ready to reverse course on the main sticking point

The draft peace deal involves two phases. In the first, Israel and Lebanon would agree a ceasefire and a small multinational force would be deployed on the border, allowing Israeli troops to withdraw. Then a much larger force of between 10,000 and 20,000 troops would be assigned to implement UN security council resolution 1559, agreed two years ago, under which militias such as Hizbullah would be disarmed and the authority of the Lebanese government forces extended to the country’s southern border.

Of course the thought of China and Russia running around the world arming the US enemies to the teeth…may have had something to do with the change of heart. China also threaten that they may give “Iran a Nuclear chance” in the Security Council.

As per B. Clinton’s sudden return to lucidity… he and his wife have perfected the art of triangulation down to a two step waltz… she says give Israel a free had to “Give War a Chance… and he says give diplomacy a try..”Give Peace a Chance”… they are too clever by half… to the point of becoming down right schizto..

26. gong - 28 July 2006

D. Throat, thanks for that pointer. The dkos thread is here, for anyone who’s interested. So far it’s a pretty good thread.


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