2006/07/18

Mideast situation 17Jul06

Back in 1916, Irish revolutionaries hit upon a very good method for getting the civilian population radicalized against their occupiers. A small group rose up and seized a few key locations in Dublin. They were quickly defeated, court-martialled and executed. A few months after World War I ended, many Irish people remembering the Easter Rising, the military lessons learned and led by some veterans of that event, rebelled against their British occupiers.

Although some republican leaders, notably Éamon de Valera, favoured classic conventional warfare in order to legitimise the new republic in the eyes of the world, the more practically experienced Michael Collins and the broader IRA leadership opposed these tactics that had led to the military débacle of 1916. The violence used was at first deeply unpopular with the broader Irish population, but most were won around when faced with the terror of the British government's campaign of widespread brutality, destruction of property, random arrests and unprovoked shootings. Events began slowly, but by 1920 widespread violence was the rule.

British overreaction was the spark that really radicalized the Irish and made their separation in 1921 more or less inevitable. If that was the idea behind the kidnapping of two Israel soldiers and missile attacks by Hezbollah and if provoking a massive overreaction by Israel was the objective, then Hezbollah has succeeded brilliantly. As LeftCoaster puts it:

As I said yesterday, Israel did overreact, but it is easy for me to say that from thousands of miles away when their soldiers were fired upon by Hezbollah in Israeli territory and were taken hostage by Hezbollah.

LeftCoaster also relays a message from retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner that:

An individual with former connections to the CIA told me the current situation is all is about the Iranian nuclear program. I was skeptical of that explanation until I heard Zal Khalilzad, the US Ambassador to Iraq, on CNN late in the day. He said, "It is about the Iranian nuclear program."
In other words, Iran did not wait for the US preemptive strike. It conducted its own.
Of course, observers like Billmon are having none of it:

This is fascinating as well as terrifying. It suggests that Bush and his faithful water carrier both really believe their own bullshit -- not just in terms of viewing Hezbollah and Hamas as the mindless tools of Syria and Iran, but also in their rosy-lensed assessments of how things are going in the Middle East these days.

Problem of course, is that the Bush Administration has so little credibility that no one believes them. It's clear that conservatives and Neocons in general began talking of Iran being to blame long before they had any evidence to that effect.

LeftCoaster also claims the Bush Administration did not see this problem coming. They were caught flat-footed. Sure enough, there have been surprises.

Whatever else we can accuse President Bush of (And that category includes lots and lots of things) we can't accuse him of inconsistency. In December 2005, Bush said:

"Freedom in Iraq will send a message to the reformers from Damascus to Tehran."

And at the G8 Conference on the 17th:

Bush referred to the "root causes" of instability seven times in his brief remarks with Blair on Sunday morning. His point: "One of the interesting things about this recent flare-up is that it helps clarify a root cause of instability in the Middle East -- and that's Hezbollah and Hezbollah's relationship with Syria, and Hezbollah's relationship to Iran, and Syria's relationship to Iran. Therefore, in order to solve this problem it's really important for the world to address the root cause."

The problem was Iran and Syria then and it's Iran and Syria now. Dan Bartlett demonstrates that he understands:

"Dan Bartlett, the White House counselor, said failures to address the deeper issues in the Middle East had ultimately led to the creation of Al Qaeda. . . .

"Mr. Bartlett's comments appeared to be part of a White House effort to link all Middle East militant groups together, and to suggest that strangling all of them -- from Hezbollah to Al Qaeda -- was critical to establishing a long-term peace."

Linda McQuaig of the Toronto Star smells a plot to attack Iran and Glenn Greenwald notes that right-wingers and Neocons seem to be absolutely delighted over the turn of events.

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