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July 25, 2006

Israel set war plan more than a year ago

Is this possible?  And, if so, was Bush aware of it?  So, where were the efforts to prevent this war? The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that Israel has been working on the invasion of Lebanon for over a year.  Matthew Kalman, foreeign affairs writer for the Chronicle says:

More than a year ago, a senior Israeli army officer began giving PowerPoint presentations, on an off-the-record basis, to U.S. and other diplomats, journalists and think tanks, setting out the plan for the current operation in revealing detail. Under the ground rules of the briefings, the officer could not be identified.

In his talks, the officer described a three-week campaign: The first week concentrated on destroying Hezbollah's heavier long-range missiles, bombing its command-and-control centers, and disrupting transportation and communication arteries. In the second week, the focus shifted to attacks on individual sites of rocket launchers or weapons stores. In the third week, ground forces in large numbers would be introduced, but only in order to knock out targets discovered during reconnaissance missions as the campaign unfolded. There was no plan, according to this scenario, to reoccupy southern Lebanon on a long-term basis.

I have great sympathy for Israel's position in the Middle East and for their concern about Hezbollah.  They were not getting international assistance to deal with the Hezbollah militants and their increasing provocations.  But this was avoidable!

Kalman goes on to say:

Israel didn't need sophisticated intelligence to discover the huge buildup of Iranian weapons supplies to Hezbollah by way of Syria, because Hezbollah's patrons boasted about it openly in the pages of the Arabic press. As recently as June 16, less than four weeks before the Hezbollah border raid that sparked the current crisis, the Syrian defense minister publicly announced the extension of existing agreements allowing the passage of trucks shipping Iranian weapons into Lebanon.

But to destroy them, Israel needed to map the location of each missile.

"We need a lot of patience," said Hanegbi. "The (Israeli Defense Forces) action at the moment is incapable of finding the very last Katyusha, or the last rocket launcher primed for use hidden inside a house in some village."

I can see, under the circumstances, why they feel the need to go into southern Lebanon.  I do have an argument with their decision to go into Lebanon and destroy a country and displace more than half a million people.  This is clearly a disproportionate response.  More than anything, I wonder what the heck the US was doing during this last year.  No diplomatic efforts to try to prevent what is likely to wind up being a horrible situation for Lebanon and Israel and all of us.  Hard to imagine that Bill Clinton would have allowed this to occur.  Or Wes Clark.  I say Wes Clark because he is the person I most want to have around regarding foreign policy issues.  I don't  really care if he is President or Secretary of State under a sane Democrat. 

Which brings us to President Bush.  Juan Cole, who is probably the most knowledgeable writer on the Middle East we have, says,

That this war was pre-planned was obvious to me from the moment it began. The Israeli military proceeded methodically and systematically to destroy Lebanon's infrastructure, and clearly had been casing targets for some time. The vast majority of these targets were unrelated to Hizbullah. But since the northern Sunni port of Tripoli could theoretically be used by Syria or Iran to offload replacement rockets that could be transported by truck down south to Hizbullah, the Israelis hit it. And then they hit some trucks to let truck drivers know to stay home for a while.

That is why I was so shaken by George W. Bush's overheard conversation with Tony Blair about the war. He clearly thought that it broke out because Syria used Hizbullah to create a provocation. The President of the United States did not know that this war was a long-planned Israeli war of choice.

Why is that scarey? Because the Israeli planning had to have been done in conjunction with Donald Rumsfeld at the US Department of Defense. The US Department of Defense is committed to rapidly re-arming Israel and providing it precision laser-guided weaponry, and to giving it time to substantially degrade Hizbullah's missile capabilities. The two are partners in the war effort.

Scary indeed.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 25, 2006 at 11:31 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink

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