Jumblatt Blasts Syria
Hizbullah revs up Aid to Victims
Majority in US wants Even-Handed Policy
Anthony Cordesman surveys the military pros and cons of the way the war was waged. (PDF). This study provides important statistics and details I haven’t seen elsewhere.
A majority of Americans wanted the US to be neutral in the Israeli-Lebanon War. Only a third wanted to support Israel to the hilt. But the US Congress and executive acted as part of that third and ignored the majority.
A majority of Israelis in one poll wanted Defense Minister Amir Peretz to resign as a result of the inconclusive war on Lebanon. Some 41 percent wanted Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gone. I saw on cable television that Olmert’s approval rating is only 40 percent now, and Peretz stands at 28 percent. The danger is that hardliner Bibi Netanyahu of the Likud Party (who recently openly celebrated the anniversary of the terrorist attack by Zionists in the 40s on civilians in the King David Hotel) has risen in popularity as a result of the debacle. The war could leave us with a strengthened Likud and a politically strengthened Hizbullah-Syria-Iran bloc, a recipe for further disaster.
Anyway, that’s how you tell who won. The Lebanese are not demanding a commission to investigate the conduct of the war. In fact, Bashar al-Asad of Syria and Saad Hariri of Lebanon’s reformist bloc are arguing over who gets to take credit for Lebanon’s ability to weather the Israeli attack. (Neither is mentioning the Hizbullah footsoldiers who did so much damage to Israeli tanks and soldiers). Al-Asad is implying that Hizbullah could stand up to the Israelis mainly because of Syria’s support, and that the 14 March reform movement had been wrong to kick Syrian troops out of Lebanon (their presence might have deterred such a massive Israeli attack). The Lebanese reformers are claiming credit for “steadfastness” (sumud) and are ridiculing Syria for cautiously staying out of the fight.
Hizbullah has taken the lead in providing aid relief to victims of the Israeli war on Lebanon. This is an important step in the rivalry between Hizbullah and the central government for the allegiance of the average person.
The BBC provides pictures of Lebanese returning to the rubble of their homes in the south, as a result of massive Israeli bombing of the civilian infrastructure. The stench of dead family members, women and children often greets the returnees as they sift through the ruins of their homes.
Returning families and children face severe danger from unexploded ordnance, including cluster bombs. It is estimated that 10 percent of the tens of thousands of bombs dropped on Lebanon by Israel did not explode immediately.
NaharNet/ wire services report:
France and Italy are declining to send big contingents of troops as part of the United Nations peacekeeping force in South Lebanon until the UN Security Council clarifies their mission. Neither country wants to be responsible for trying to disarm Hizbullah, and both would like their troops to be able to engage in hot combat if necessary. In protest at the vagueness of the charge, Italy has so far declined to commit any troops at all, and France is just putting in another 200. The UN was disappointed.
The UNSC resolution was vague because US ambassador to the UN John Bolton wanted it vague or wanted the language about disarming Hizbullah in there. The Bush administration still has not learned the rule that you can throw your weight around at the UN and can do as you please, but if the results don’t suit other countries, they take revenge on you by simply refusing to save your bacon. It happened in Iraq. Now it is being repeated in Lebanon.
Druze leader Walid Jumblatt lashed out Thursday at Syrian President Bashar al-Asad for not opening a second front at the occupied Golan Heights while Israel was attacking Lebanon. He also demanded that Hizbullah be integrated into the Lebanese military such that it couldn’t just take it into its head to attack Israel without so much as a by your leave from the Lebanese government.
Lebanese troops arrived south of the Litani River for the first time since 1968. They were bringing in tanks. They denied that there would be any clashes between the Lebanese Army and Hizbullah.
European nations are rushing to give aid and help with regard to the vast oil spill cause in Lebanon by the Israeli air raid on the Jiyyeh refinery.