Gaza Propaganda War: Let the Character Assassinations Begin

by matttbastard

Well, looks like Fox and co. have discovered this years Green Helmet Guy–and he’s *gasp* a communist Euro-weenie!

Yes,  Bob, this totally proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that ordinary people aren’t actually dying in Gaza (shorter Lawhawk: “the chest compressions were produced on a computer in a Times New Roman typestyle that would not have been available in a war zone”).  Israel is (reluctantly!) using top sekrit SMRT ordinance that only explodes upon hitting Teh Bad Guyz.  Any evidence to the contrary should by default be dismissed as fauxtography mass-produced in Hamas’ secret underground lair (and people wonder why Israel continues to bar the international press from entering the strip…).

Fuck’s sake, it really is 2006 all over again–only the burning stupid engulfing Greater Wingnuttia is now a raging inferno.  They deserve to have their simplistic bizarro-worldview clumsily affirmed by Joe the War Correspondent.

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There Goes the Neighbourhood

by matttbastard

The New York Times:

Israel’s military operation in Gaza is aimed primarily at forcing Hamas to end its rocket barrages and military buildup. But it has another goal as well: to expunge the ghost of its flawed 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon and re-establish Israeli deterrence.

[…]

“In the cabinet room today there was an energy, a feeling that after so long of showing restraint we had finally acted,” said Mark Regev, spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, speaking of the weekly government meeting that he attended.

Mark Heller, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, said that that energy reflected the deep feeling among average Israelis that the country had to regain its deterrent capacity.

“There has been a nagging sense of uncertainty in the last couple years of whether anyone is really afraid of Israel anymore,” he said. “The concern is that in the past — perhaps a mythical past — people didn’t mess with Israel because they were afraid of the consequences. Now the region is filled with provocative rhetoric about Israel the paper tiger. This operation is an attempt to re-establish the perception that if you provoke or attack you are going to pay a disproportionate price.

Which is, essentially, a banal affirmation of what Gideon Levy wrote yesterday:

The IDF launched a war yesterday whose end, as usual, is hoping someone watches over us.

[…]

A hero against the weak, it bombed dozens of targets from the air [Saturday], and the pictures of blood and fire are designed to show Israelis, Arabs and the entire world that the neighborhood bully’s strength has yet to wane. When the bully is on a rampage, nobody can stop him.

Y’know, most people respond to a midlife crisis of confidence by purchasing an impractical European sports car, or perhaps having a May-December relationship–not dropping heavy munitions on the neighbours (even if they are a pain in the ass sometimes). At least no one is accusing Barak of being soft (on Palestinian rocket fire) anymore.  Who needs little blue pills when you can call for a series of devastating air strikes, eh?

Related: Rabbi Michael Lerner says the best way to “destroy Hamas” is for Israel to “rebuild Gaza and the West Bank with a massive Marshall Plan type enterprise—adopt our Strategy of Generosity and renounce the strategy of domination.”

h/t Kai Chang (by way of Sylvia/M via IM)

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Compare and Contrast: Defining ‘Success’

by matttbastard

smirk.jpg

While the enemy is still dangerous and more work remains, the American and Iraqi surges have achieved results few of us could have imagined just one year ago. (Applause.) When we met last year, many said that containing the violence was impossible. A year later, high profile terrorist attacks are down, civilian deaths are down, sectarian killings are down.

When we met last year, militia extremists — some armed and trained by Iran — were wreaking havoc in large areas of Iraq. A year later, coalition and Iraqi forces have killed or captured hundreds of militia fighters. And Iraqis of all backgrounds increasingly realize that defeating these militia fighters is critical to the future of their country.

When we met last year, al Qaeda had sanctuaries in many areas of Iraq, and their leaders had just offered American forces safe passage out of the country. Today, it is al Qaeda that is searching for safe passage. They have been driven from many of the strongholds they once held, and over the past year, we’ve captured or killed thousands of extremists in Iraq, including hundreds of key al Qaeda leaders and operatives.

Last month, Osama bin Laden released a tape in which he railed against Iraqi tribal leaders who have turned on al Qaeda and admitted that coalition forces are growing stronger in Iraq. Ladies and gentlemen, some may deny the surge is working, but among the terrorists there is no doubt. Al Qaeda is on the run in Iraq, and this enemy will be defeated. (Applause.)

When we met last year, our troop levels in Iraq were on the rise. Today, because of the progress just described, we are implementing a policy of “return on success,” and the surge forces we sent to Iraq are beginning to come home.

– US President George W. Bush, 2008 State of the Union Address

In only one respect has the surge achieved undeniable success: It has ensured that U.S. troops won’t be coming home anytime soon. This was one of the main points of the exercise in the first place. As AEI military analyst Thomas Donnelly has acknowledged with admirable candor, “part of the purpose of the surge was to redefine the Washington narrative,” thereby deflecting calls for a complete withdrawal of U.S. combat forces. Hawks who had pooh-poohed the risks of invasion now portrayed the risks of withdrawal as too awful to contemplate. But a prerequisite to perpetuating the war — and leaving it to the next president — was to get Iraq off the front pages and out of the nightly news. At least in this context, the surge qualifies as a masterstroke.

Andrew Bacevich, Surge to Nowhere

Related: Dahr Jamail talks to some of the missing voices in the Iraq debate; Al Qaeda may be “on the run in Iraq”, but, as Nir Rosen reports, support for the movement is surging in Lebanon.

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Quote Of The Day: The Blind Leading The Naked

by matttbastard

Iran’s involvement in Lebanon is destabilizing, to be sure. An international confrontation with Tehran would be serious indeed, and Hezbollah’s political power within Lebanon is cause for concern. But the [Bush] administration has allowed the focus on Iran and Hezbollah to result in policy that is dangerously blind to other dynamics at play.In the context of the current political stalemate, the administration cannot afford to view the possible selection of a consensus candidate acceptable to Hezbollah as a greater danger than the failure to select anyone at all. And, beyond this week’s crisis, the focus on Hezbollah and Iran has distracted from the rise of Al Qaeda-inspired Sunni radical groups in Lebanon — groups that represent a far greater strategic threat to the U.S. and its allies.

These groups don’t have the popular support in Lebanon that Hezbollah boasts. But that also means they have no “red lines” of violence they will not cross. And, while Hezbollah wants to play an expanded political role in the Lebanese state, the Sunni extremist groups would like nothing more than to see the collapse of the state into anarchy and civil war – truly a worst-case scenario both for Lebanon’s fragile democracy and for regional security.

– Andrew Exum and Stephen McInerney, Beirut Is Not Tehran

(h/t abu muqawama)

More on Lebanon’s burgeoning political crisis from Milton Viorst and Robert Fisk, who penned a sobering report last month that detailed the recent influx of weaponry into the increasingly unstable region, seemingly on the verge once again of civil war.

Related: Blake Hounshell, referencing Exum and McIerney’s op-ed, is blunt–and expansive–in his condemnation of “a mistaken U.S. approach to foreign policy that dates back decades and across administrations of both parties”:

Here’s how it works: The United States says it supports democracy, but ends up backing pro-Western leaders when push comes to shove. Take the case of Pervez Musharraf, whom U.S. President George W. Bush described Tuesday as “somebody who believes in democracy” despite the fact that the Pakistani leader has suspended the Constitution, thrown many of his opponents in jail, and gone after independent media outlets. Or consider the Palestinian territories, where the White House called for elections and then blanched when the distasteful Hamas won them fair and square. Is it any wonder that U.S. rhetoric on democracy isn’t taken seriously?

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