Monday, July 31, 2006


As Israel continues to pummel Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, we should never forget what this is all actually about.

At it's core it's about old fashioned 20th century colonialism.

This is a fast-paced musical documentary that visualizes the words of Arundhati Roy, specifically her famous Come September speech. Download the entire film for free or get a DVD copy at

The producers ask that we spread it far and wide. It's free, so why not do so.

Matthews: War in Iraq United ‘the Disparate Pieces of Shia Radicalism into a Frankenstein Monster’

Chris Matthews has spoken of the result of Bush's invasion of Iraq. Bush has merely succeeded in allowing the formation of a Shia crescent from Tehran to Beirut, with all power centering in Iran.

MATTHEWS: Two years ago, King Abdullah of Jordan warned me of what was coming in the mideast. His prediction was dead on. He spoke of his fears and what the United States was doing in iraq, toppling one government, electing another, was creating what he called a shi’ia crescent, from Tehran through Baghdad to Beirut that threatened to dominate the Arab world, challenging modern Sunni governments in Egypt and Saudi Arabia and others with an axis of Shia power based in Iran.

When I look at the map today, that Shia crescent the King foretold has come to light. It is hard for us westerners to understand the internal politics of another region when we can’t predict whether the Democrats will take congress from the Republicans three months from now, how could we see the Shi’ia grabbing the high ground from the Sunni in the mideast three years ago? That’s what happened. We converted Iraq from a country which has fought revolutionary Iran for eight years to a bloody stand still to a Shia dominated ally of Iran and created a boulevard of common religion and common regional politics.

Did you hear the new Iraqi leader take sides with Hezbollah in a struggle with Israel? This is the emerging threat, not just to the moderate Sunni countries including Egypt and Jordan who formed and honored treaties to Israel and us. Our brave soldiers have fought, died and been dismembered in Iraq only to connect the disparate pieces of Shi’ia radicalism into a frankenstein monster that has come to life right there on our TV screens and worse yet in the vicarious mideast where young arabs found a hero named Hezbollah.
Watch the video by clicking here.

Thanks to Think Progress for this.

Matthews destroys Coulter.

Chris Matthews takes on Coulter and, for my money, he domolishes her. She, of course, has no sense of shame and fails to realise that her argument has vanished.

Olmert: "All residents were asked to leave"

It was an attack that was so shameful that even the US couldn't bring itself to veto a UN resolution condemning it.

Having yesterday killed more than 60 civilians- including 34 children - in an attack strangely reminiscent of the Israeli strike ten years ago on this same town of Qana in 1996 which left 102 people dead as they sheltered in a UN compound, the Israelis have finally agreed to a 48 hour cessation of air strikes.

However, Israel still reserves for herself the right to kill:

"If we see a missile, we will shoot it," (Asaf Shariv, a spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister) said. "If we see a launcher, we will shoot it. If we see the Hizbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, for sure we will shoot him. Ground operations are continuing."
So we shouldn't kid ourselves just how much of a reprieve has been won here. However, we can ask - if the Israeli campaign of cruelty against the civilian population of Lebanon is to continue - just how effective has the campaign so far been? What has actually been achieved to justify this level of civilian deaths?

Yesterday Hizbullah fired 140 rockets into Israel, the largest number it has ever launched in a single day, giving some indication of the effectiveness of the Israeli campaign in reducing the attacking power of Hizbullah. Zero, nil, zilch, nada.

The Israeli campaign for all it's vicious cruelty is having no effect on their enemy who's ability to attack seems to increase with each Israeli onslaught.

However, the Israelis are at pains to point out that this is not a ceasefire and that the onslaught will continue in 48 hours.
Just prior to Rice's press conference, Justice Minister Haim Ramon said the 48-hour suspension of air strikes did not mean the war was about to end but should lift some pressure on Israel.

Ramon told Army Radio: "This (suspension) decision will allow us to continue the war over time and it will take off some of the political pressure, so I am sure this is the right decision for now. It is not stopping the war.

"If it ends today it means a victory for Hezbollah ... and for world terror, with far-reaching consequences. Therefore this war is not about to end, not today and not tomorrow," he said.
And so the war, if Israel gets her way, will continue. For no better reason than Israel cannot be seen to lose. However, Israel is demonstrably losing, so one can only imagine - employing Ramon's logic - that the killing must simply continue until Israel can find something, anything, that they can hold up as signifying victory.

It is unlikely, after yesterday's atrocity, that the world will accede to that request. Israel appear, as they did in 1996, to have overplayed their hand and shown too little consideration for the safety of civilians for their operation to be allowed to continue.

The condemnation world wide has been unanimous.
Tony Blair said the Qana attack was "absolutely tragic [and] showed the necessity of wrapping this entire process up now".

Mr Blair and the German chancellor Angela Merkel last night issued a joint statement trying to bridge the differences that have emerged between Britain and the EU. "The tragic events of today have underlined the urgency of the need for a ceasefire as soon as possible. It is now necessary to work in New York [at the UN Security Council] on the preconditions for such a ceasefire.

Further condemnation poured in from the Middle East, Europe and the UN. Jordan's King Abdullah described Qana as "an ugly crime". Syria and Iran, accused by the US and Israel of arming and financing Hizbullah, also weighed in. "The massacre ... constitutes state terrorism committed in front of the eyes and ears of the world," Syrian president Bashar al-Assad said.

Ms Rice appeared shaken when news of the bombing broke: "I think it's time to get to a ceasefire. We actually have to try and put one in place," she said.
Yesterday Ehud Olmert maintained:
That Israel had "no policy of killing innocent civilians," but he stopped short of an apology. The Prime Minister told his regular Sunday cabinet meeting: " All residents were ... called to leave.
There can be few people left who believe him. For the charge is not that Israel deliberately sets out to kill civilians, it is that Israel simply doesn't take adequate preventative steps to ensure that civilians are not killed during their operations. Indeed, Olmert's comments that "All residents were asked to leave" makes very clear where he believes the blame for this atrocity truly lies.

He's blaming the civilians themselves. For the crime of being in their own homes.

Olmert, and indeed the entire IDF, appear to have totally lost the plot. Surely now, even Bush must finally raise his hand and say, "Enough".

Sadly, I have no confidence that he will do so. The United States is still, at this moment, refusing to call for a ceasefire.

This is the BBC coverage from yesterday, before the full death toll was actually known.

Yesterday, angry mobs descended on the UN compound in Lebanon protesting the massacre.

The Lebanese government are now refusing any contact with Condaleezza Rice until a ceasefire has been called.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Dozens killed in Israeli air strike

Only hours after I wrote that I dread what Israel will do next to establish some negotiating position for Bush and Blair to cling to as they try to establish a ceasefire in a war that Israel is losing, comes news that Israel are indeed going to use their overwhelming military superiority to inflict damage on the civilian population.

More than 20 children were feared dead today after Israeli missiles struck the southern Lebanese village of Qana, flattening houses on top of sleeping residents. Early reports said that about 50 adults and children had died.

"We want this to stop," shouted villager Mohammed Ismail. " May God have mercy on the children. They came here to escape the fighting."

"They are hitting children to bring the fighters to their knees," said the black-haired man with a grey beard, his brown pants covered in dust.

We are now about to witness the inhumane predictions of Israel's Justice Minister, Haim Ramon, played out in front of us.

He said that in order to prevent casualties among Israeli soldiers battling Hezbollah militants in southern Lebanon, villages should be flattened by the Israeli air force before ground troops moved in.

He added that Israel had given the civilians of southern Lebanon ample time to quit the area and therefore anyone still remaining there could be considered a Hezbollah supporter.

"All those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah," Mr Ramon said.

Israel will now treat everyone in southern Lebanon as a legitimate target. I can only suppose that the logic of this is that Israel's reputation is so tarnished that she has nothing left to lose.

It is a despicable attitude that has led to her using cluster bombs and phosphorous munitions in civilian areas, where the casualties are easy to predict.

Israel will now openly indulge in war crimes and the Bush administration and it's regional office in Britain - led by Blair - will continue to insist that Israel is merely defending herself.

How long do we have to wait before member of the British cabinet grows some balls and resigns from office, refusing to lend legitimacy to this inhumane policy?

I would have much more respect for Jack Straw if, rather than talking about "proportionality", he did the decent thing and forced a true revolt in the Labour party by resigning.

Both Bush and Blair claim to be religious men, and yet I note that, once again, they find themselves supporting a policy that is condemned by the Vatican. It is obvious that no moral argument will move either of them, so the move has to be political.

Bush is untouchable - as the Republicans control both the House and the Senate - Blair is not. Blair's control over his party is withering. If they don't drive a stake through his heart over this, then one is left wondering if there exists such a thing as a principled Labour politician.

New maximum-security jail to open at Guantanamo Bay

One of the things that has made the neo-cons so formidable is their stubbornness. Their sheer pigheaded refusal to accept any form of reality other than the one that they demand we all conform to, even when every rational argument says that they are wrong. Indeed, especially when every rational argument says that they are wrong.

It was this arrogant mindset that allowed Cheney to continue to claim that Saddam approached Niger for Uranium, even after most sane people on the planet had long accepted that this simply had not happened.

It was this same mindset that allowed Rumsfeld to make his spectacularly ill-informed comments about how the war was progressing in Iraq, demanding that we ignore the evidence in front of our eyes and believe that what we were looking at was an approaching victory.

Now, we witness this stubbornness again.

Just weeks after the Supreme Court ruled that the administration's system for trying prisoners using military tribunals breached United States and international law, and with every sane person believing that this ruling spelled the end of Guantanamo Bay, the Bush administration has announced that it is opening a new prison on the Cuban enclave.

Those of us who thought that, at last, the administration would accept it had contravened international law, underestimated the sheer intractability of this regime's mindset.

The Bush administration has signalled its intention to introduce new legislation that would circumvent the court's ruling. The revelation that Camp 6 is poised to open is proof that it intends to keep using the prison.
This has produced an inevitable backlash of international condemnation.

Amnesty International's UK campaigns director, Tim Hancock, said: "This appears to make a mockery of President Bush's statements about the need to close down Guantanamo Bay. In addition to strongly urging the President to step in to prevent any extension to this already notorious prison camp, we call on him to speed up the process of closing Guantanamo and of ensuring that all detainees are allowed fair trials or released to safe countries."

Zachary KatzNelson, senior counsel with the group Reprieve, which represents 36 Guantanamo prisoners, argued that public opinion and the courts would ultimately force the US to close the camp down. "If Bush had the choice, he would not shut it, and the men [held there] would never see the light of day, and neither would their stories come out," he said. "The reality is that the world knows too much. He has to shut it down."

I fear that the senior counsel from Reprieve is making an assumption that Bush and his neo-con cohorts care what the rest of the world thinks.

All indications are, not only that they don't, but that they never feel more sure of a policy than when it causes the greatest outrage.

We have entered the Ann Coulter world of politics, where our outrage is merely held up as evidence that we are wimps and they have the balls to make the "tough decisions."

They have constructed an argument in which, in their own minds, they can never lose. This is because their argument is essentially based on their faith, their religious certainty.

It is a world in which facts become irrelevant. In truth, this has always been the way of the Bush White House as Ron Suskind reported in the New York Times:

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

Despite every defeat they have suffered, despite an Iraq war that spirals out of control, despite Israel engaging in acts that may lead to chaos in the Middle East, it is this same mindset that continues to dominate the Bush administration.

Reality is what they say it is. The new prison on Guantanamo is merely more proof, were any needed, that their suicidal faith in their own sense of righteousness continues undiminished.

And as Bush now seeks to dispense this same logic towards the tinder box that is the Middle East, anyone who believes in God should start to pray.

Israel: Searching for an end game.

Only the most devoted supporter of Israel could pretend that she has not committed war crimes. "Wanton destruction of property" and "collective punishment" are both war crimes and have both been carried out by the IDF.

Now Israel has been accused of using phosphorus shells in a manner human rights organisations claim is in breach of international law.

Western diplomats in Beirut admitted they were 'baffled' by Israel's targeting policy. Ambulances, refugee columns and civilian homes, infrastructure and UN posts have all been hit - and evidence has begun to emerge that civilians may have suffered phosphorus burns.

Footage has also emerged of the increasingly widespread use of cluster munitions in areas with civilian inhabitants. Concern has been further heightened by the delivery to Israel by the US of at least 100 GBU-28 'bunker-buster' bombs containing depleted uranium warheads for use against targets in Lebanon.

Human rights organisations are also examining whether Israel's 'order' for hundreds of thousands of Lebanese residents south of the Litani river to abandon their homes is a breach of international law and UN conventions.

A field researcher from the American based Human Rights Watch (HRW), Lucy Mair, sent pictures to military experts at the organisation's New York office of munitions being transported to Israel's northern border and fired into Lebanon from howitzers.
She was shocked to discover they were cluster munitions.

Mair said researchers on the other side of the border documented an attack using the munitions on the village of Blida last week which killed one person and injured 12 and that the explosives - which disperse after impact - are
'inaccurate and unreliable', and should not be used in populated areas.

And yet, despite using tactics that have alienated the entire world, if not the ever faithful US of A, all evidence points to the grim reality that Israel is continuing to lose this war.

Further proof of this came yesterday when Israel announced it was withdrawing from Bint Jbeil. Israel may claim they have "achieved their objectives there" but Hizbullah still hold this village. A withdrawal is not a sign of victory.

All the signs are that Israel greatly underestimated the strength of Hizbullah, approaching them with the same attitude that Israel approaches fighters in the West Bank and Gaza, where Israeli victory is always guaranteed. There are signs that Israel is waking up to that reality.

General Udi Adam, head of Israel's northern command, made a revealing slip of the tongue when he referred in a briefing to Hizbollah 'soldiers', quickly correcting himself to say 'fighters' instead. Israelis who sneer at rag-tag Palestinian 'terrorists' armed with little more than Kalashnikovs compare the Lebanese group to Iranian special forces that have studied their enemy's tactics and battle doctrine. 'This isn't like the war we fight in the territories [the West Bank and Gaza],' said another senior officer. 'This is a real war.'

Israel's failure to achieve any tangible military success greatly complicates Bush and Blair's plans for imposing peace through a UN resolution which declares Israel victorious.

Without some obvious victory on the ground there is no way that Syria, Iran and Hizbullah are going to agree to the terms that Bush and Blair envisage for ending the conflict.

Indeed, such is the disquiet amongst the ranks that, here in the UK, open revolt has broken out in the British cabinet.

Jack Straw, now Leader of the Commons, said in a statement released after meeting Muslim residents of his Blackburn constituency that while he grieved for the innocent Israelis killed, he also mourned the '10 times as many innocent Lebanese men, women and children killed by Israeli fire'.

He said he agreed with the Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells that it was 'very difficult to understand the kind of military tactics used by Israel', adding: 'These are not surgical strikes but have instead caused death and misery amongst innocent civilians.'

Such open revolt will only add to Blair's problems as he continues to attempt to hold the Labour Party to what is essentially a neo-con policy.

The worry now is what action Israel will take to ensure that the Bush/Blair line holds when they approach the UN. As things stand, they have no chance of success. My worry is what Israel will now do to reverse this balance.
Shocked by its losses, Israel is displaying a new determination to see this through, though nobody can say exactly what that means. 'What's our endgame?' said one senior government official. 'We're working on it now.' But before the end there looks like being a lot more bloodshed - cheered on by the public and media. 'Before any international agreement, Israel must sound the last chord, launching a massive air and ground offensive that will end this mortifying war, not with a whimper but with a thunderous roar,' urged the influential Haaretz columnist Yoel Marcus.
Faced with defeat, the Israelis have only one option left open to them. And that is to use it's military muscle to inflict horrendous damage upon the civilian population of Lebanon.

And that is what I fear they are about to do. As far as war crimes go, we ain't seen nothing yet.

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

War on Lebanon Planned for at least a Year

Thanks to Bhc at Anything They Say for making me aware of this.

By Juan Cole

Israeli war planes hit the cities of Sidon, south Beirut and Baalbak on Saturday and Israeli ground troops fought a hard battle to take over the village of Maroun al-Ras, said to be a Hizbullah rocket-launching site. The Israeli bombing of Sidon hit a religious complex linked to Hizbullah. The BBC reports that 'The UN's Jan Egeland said half a million people needed assistance - and the number was likely to increase. One-third of the recent Lebanese casualties, he said, appeared to be children. '

Matthew Kalman reveals that Israel's wideranging assault on Lebanon has been planned in a general way for years, and a specific plan has been in the works for over a year. The "Three Week War" was shown to Washington think tanks and officials last year on powerpoint by a senior Israeli army officer:
"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."
The Israelis tend to launch their wars of choice in the summer, in part because they know that European and American universities will be the primary nodes of popular opposition, and the universities are out in the summer. This war has nothing to do with captured Israeli soldiers. It is a long-planned war to increase Israel's ascendency over Hizbullah and its patrons.
For the rest of the article click here or hit title.

If It Bleeds, It Leads.

With the news from the Middle East so unremittingly depressing, I have at least found something to make you smile.

A Fox News presenter falls for a rather crude practical joke. It's her reaction that amuses me so much, her need to distance herself from what has happened.

To Arabs, he's the new Nasser, but to the West he has become the new Bin Laden

At this moment, for example, in 1984 (if it was 1984), Oceania was at war with Eurasia and in alliance with Eastasia. In no public or private utterance was it ever admitted that the three powers had at any time been grouped along different lines. Actually, as Winston well knew, it was only four years since Oceania had been at war with Eastasia and in alliance with Eurasia. But that was merely a piece of furtive knowledge which he happened to possess because his memory was not satisfactorily under control. Officially the change of partners had never happened. Oceania was at war with Eurasia: therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia. The enemy of the moment always represented absolute evil, and it followed that any past or future agreement with him was impossible.

George Orwell 1984
And having failed to capture Osama bin Laden and, with the trial of Saddam coming to it's conclusion, we have identified our latest Terrorist du Jour upon who's destruction our entire future depends.
THREE times in the past three weeks Israeli jets have flattened buildings where they hoped that Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the unchallenged leader of Hezbollah, was hiding. Three times they missed him, and three times he appeared on his own TV channel soon afterwards to mock them.

Where is Sheikh Nasrallah now? On Thursday a Kuwaiti newspaper put him in Damascus. Last night Iran denied that he was hiding in its Embassy in Beirut — but offered refuge should he want it.

This is the man now hailed by Arabs from Syria to Egypt as the new Nasser. He is also the terrorist whom Israel must kill to claim victory in southern Lebanon. And, for all the rumours, he is believed to have stayed in Beirut throughout this war, racing between hiding places in unmarked family saloon cars as the Israeli air force tries to catch up.

The survival of Sheikh Nasrallah is already remarkable. Even more so is the West’s sudden obsession with his leadership — not just of Hezbollah but also, for all practical purposes, of Lebanon and of an upsurge of pan-Arab solidarity potentially more powerful than any since the Yom Kippur war of 1973.

His support on the Arab street will not of itself rebuild Lebanon or destroy Israel, which remains a key Hezbollah goal. But it has made him the new face of jihadism, with an appeal transcending border and sectarian divides. This is why, with stunning swiftness, Sheikh Nasrallah has eclipsed even Osama bin Laden as the West’s most potent enemy in the War on Terror.

Am I the only person who is beginning to find this both tedious and an insult to my intelligence?

Click title for full article.

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Legitimate targets?

When claims are made that the Israelis are deliberately targeting the UN and The Red Cross, I - like most reasonable people - find that very hard to believe.

However, when I come across pictures like this, where the Red Cross logo itself appears to have been lined up the crosshairs, it is time to consider this as a serious possibility.

And I have heard the argument that, during certain disputes, rebels have used ambulances to transport militias.

If they have done so, then they should be condemned and tried after any dispute is over for war crimes. However, that cannot be used as a justification for any country's military to start targeting ambulances.

And that does appear to be the implication of where this particular rocket struck.

When Mr Blair went to Washington

Bush and Blair are to table a UN resolution that possibly "could lead to a ceasefire" as early as next week. However - and I notice none of today's newspapers appears to have picked up on this point - Bush is seeking a Chapter VII resolution which endorses the possible use of force.

So he plans to end the war by threatening war.

Obviously it's impossible to know what they propose putting in this resolution as both men are so spectacularly vague when you put them on a press podium, and so easily slip into platitudes.

However, one thing is clear, this is not peace as you, or I, or any normal person understands it. From what I can gather from the tone of the press conference, this will be a resolution designed to save Israel's face and imply defeat for Hizbullah, Syria and Iran.

It will be a declaration of victory that the reality on the ground simply does not merit.

As they set out a vague plan for bringing a cessation of violence in the Israel-Lebanon conflict at a joint press conference in the White House, they repeatedly referred to the threat posed by Iran and Syria, and their links with Hizbullah.

Mr Blair said events such as the conflict in Lebanon underscored the "simple choice" faced by Iran and Syria. "They can either come in and participate as proper and responsible members of the international community, or they will face the risk of increasing confrontation," he said.
Again, the risk of widening the war is implicit in their threats.

Speaking of their plan for a peace deal in Lebanon, Mr Blair and Mr Bush set out a timetable that the prime minister said could lead to a ceasefire by next week. Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, is to return to the Middle East today to present the plan to Israel and Lebanon.

Her aim is to tempt Israel with a pledge to install the Lebanese army, backed by an international force, in southern Lebanon to stop Hizbullah rocket attacks and to tempt Hizbullah with the return of the disputed Sheba'a Farms area. Hizbullah will not have to disarm immediately.

Like so much of this proposal, quite who would volunteer to put their troops in the suicidal position between Hizbullah and the IDF remains spectacularly vague.

However, what Bush and Blair have singularly failed to do is to face up to the very real danger that this conflict could escalate. Indeed, from their statements yesterday, they appear to be waving a Zippo lighter above the straw in the barn and daring Syria and Iran to back off or they will light it.

Blair, far from being a supposedly sobering influence on Bush's policies, appears to have officially joined him in a policy best described as, "Bring it on!"

We must always remember that it need not have turned out this way. Israel could have easily done a prisoner swap at the beginning of this, and now Bush and Blair are risking escalation on an unprecedented scale simply to cover up for those Israeli mistakes early in the conflict.

Paddy Ashdown summarises it rather well in today's Guardian Comment:

Hizbullah may have started this with an outrageous breach of international law and a sustained and flagrant contravention of a UN security council resolution. But it is not Hizbullah's position that is weakening now. It is Israel's. Its stated war aim was to destroy Hizbullah. It is not clear why, having failed to do this by occupying Lebanon, it thought it could achieve it by bombing. But whatever its thinking, it has been unable to deliver the knockout blow that was its primary military aim.

From now on, Hizbullah does not have to win. It merely has to survive as a potent force - and it appears to be doing just that. Meanwhile the political damage done to Israel through miscalculation, overreaction and targeting errors is incalculable. But there is no comfort to be taken in the thought that Israel may be reaping the whirlwind it has helped to sow. A defeat for Israel and a victory for Hizbullah would have terrifying consequences for the Middle East, which would probably begin with regime change on a wide scale (but not the kind Washington looks for) and could end with the very battle for survival that Israel has always claimed that its use of military force was designed to avoid.

Alongside Israel's failure sits the failure of what I suspect was the strategy of Blair and perhaps Bush. The most positive construction that can be put on this is that they hoped Israel would weaken first Hizbullah and then Iran and Syria, and thus create the context for a wider Middle Eastern settlement, incorporating Palestine and easing our problems in Iraq. Israel's failure so far to achieve its war aims means that this strategy too is in danger of being frustrated.

The world should get very nervous when the US feels frustrated and Israel faces defeat. This is when miscalculations of even greater magnitude become even more possible. There are powerful voices among the neo-con Christian right - now very influential in Washington - that the US policy aim should be to use Israel's excesses to draw in Iran and Syria, so that the US could "take them down" as a prelude to reshaping the Middle East for democracy. This is the Clint Eastwood-style "C'mon punk, make my day" strategy. If it were adopted it would be bound to lead to a widening conflagration that would embrace the fragile tinderboxes of central Asia and goodness knows where beyond. I have to believe that no responsible government, in Washington or elsewhere, would follow such a path. But I wish I felt more sure in that belief.

As I have always argued, Bush and the neo-cons want a wider war with Iran and Syria and the proposed resolution sounds to me like a threat that, if Syria, Iran and Hizbullah don't accept these terms and back down - allowing Israel to claim victory - then such a widening of the conflict is exactly what they are going to get.

It is impossible to underestimate the danger of the situation Bush and Blair have now placed us in. The neo-cons are no doubt delighted to be so near to the wider regional conflict that they have long dreamed of.

However, you should be careful what you wish for, as you might just get it.

Click title for full article.

Friday, July 28, 2006

When "Stop" seems to be the hardest word.

The US's unwillingness to ever allow any UN condemnation of any Israeli action - no matter how severe - has been primarily responsible for the escalation of the conflict between Israel and the Hizbullah.

After Israel kidnapped two Palestinians and a Palestinian rebel group responded by kidnapping Gilad Shalit, the Israelis immediately started a bombing campaign in Gaza which included knocking out power stations, an act that many throughout the world condemned as collective punishment.

At this point the UN attempted to censure Israel and the US vetoed that censure.

Only when the international community remained silent in the face of Israel's over-reaction did Hizbullah enter the fray and kidnap a further two Israeli soldiers.

Israel then started the present campaign against the citizens of Lebanon, a campaign of such ferocity that the phrase wanton destruction might have been thought up simply to describe it.

At this point the US defied the wishes of almost the entire planet, by not only failing to allow Israel's actions to be censured, but it also promised to veto any calls for a ceasefire.

Even after the Israelis have bombed a well established UN observation post, which had called the Israelis and asked that they stop attacking them, the US issued no condemnation. Indeed, the silence of the US has been startling.

Especially as Kofi Annan has said that the attack was deliberate:

"I am shocked and deeply distressed by the apparently deliberate targeting by Israeli Defence Forces of a UN Observer post in southern Lebanon that has killed two UN military observers, with two more feared dead," said UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, after rushing out of a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora.

"This coordinated artillery and aerial attack on a long established and clearly marked UN post at Khiyam occurred despite personal assurances given to me by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that UN positions would be spared Israeli fire."

The Israelis have denied Annan's claims, but others appear to back what he is saying.

But, Sunil Ram, a defence and security analyst, told CTV Newsnet that the Israelis had shelled the base at least 14 times before bombing it with what was clearly a guided bomb.

"UN posts like this are very well marked. The Israelis knew it was there; it's been there for years.

"But then when the Indians tried to send a rescue mission in there, they then shelled the troops who were trying to get to the post. So how much more deliberate do you want it to be?"

Indeed, when one reads the comments of some of Israel's supporters regarding the UN, it is quite obvious that Israel, or at least her supporters, regard the UN with contempt - holding them responsible for many of the attacks that came out of Lebanon. Indeed, the reactions of delight at the killing of four UN observers on many right wing blogs highlights the point.
#56 SlothB77 7/25/2006 06:33PM PDT
and the UN wonders why the peacekeepers get accidentally hit when Israel goes after Hezbollah. I know 4 UN peacekeepers who
will no longer be building roads for Hezbollah.

#2 400lb gorilla 7/25/2006 05:06PM PDT
Kofi the CHOAD

#20 RadicalRon 7/25/2006 05:14PM PDT
Too bad Kofi wasn't there, too.

24 Pro-Bush Canuck 7/25/2006 05:16PM PDT
Annan Says Israel Attacked UN Post Deliberately
Yah. *snort* If only!

#29 big L 7/25/2006 05:17PM PD
a brush-back pitch from the let the skanks know that kidnapping assistance from the UN and the Red Cross meat wagons full of RPGs are definitely standing to close to home plate.

#38 baldylox 7/25/2006 05:23PM PDT
I know it sounds a bit harsh, but I wish that it were deliberate, and that Israel came right out and said so.
I have no idea whether or not the Israelis deliberately targeted a UN observation post and would like to think that they did not, but the evidence of eyewitnesses and the fact that it's presence was so well known, makes this either an act of supreme idiocy by an army that is literally firing at everything and anything that moves, or it was a deliberate act. Neither option is a good one.

The Israelis can be assured though, that no action they take, no matter how severe, will ever be severe enough to warrant sanction from this White House.

George Bush, by failing in the traditional US role of acting as a lever of restraint, has allowed this conflict to escalate at each and every turn. His failure to ever condemn has led to the Israeli excesses that we witnessed in Beirut where an entire city was almost reduced to rubble. His failure to ever condemn has led Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon to declare that the world has given Israel a "green light" to continue it's offensive, including the astonishing claim that:
"All those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah," Mr Ramon said.

He said that in order to prevent casualties among Israeli soldiers battling Hezbollah militants in southern Lebanon, villages should be flattened by the Israeli air force before ground troops moved in.

He added that Israel had given the civilians of southern Lebanon ample time to quit the area and therefore anyone still remaining there could be considered a Hezbollah supporter.
This is the extremism that Bush's lack of leadership is encouraging. And they can be assured that, even if they "flatten" the whole of southern Lebanon, this White House will remain mute.

This is the most disgraceful abdication of responsibility I expect to see by a politician in my lifetime. It is as shameful as it is shameless.

Bush no doubt thinks that he is proving himself a great friend of Israel. He is not. Israel's reputation is becoming severely tarnished here, as a newly elected Prime Minister with little military experience engages his forces in a way that has scandalised people world wide. Nor is Israel's military reputation looking like it is going to survive this onslaught as Hizbullah continue to seem impervious to everything that Israel throw at them.

A good friend would know when to take an ally aside and whisper, "Stop."

Bush is not a good friend.

As the article I've linked to in related articles shows, the Arab world's support is now moving towards Hizbullah. Bush's judgment, once again, makes the world a more dangerous place.

Related Articles:

Tide of Arab Opinion Turns to Support for Hezbollah

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Israel says world backs offensive

Is the prospect of losing it's campaign against Hizbullah driving certain Israeli's insane? Because Justice Minister Haim Ramon has started to sound like a raving loon.

He claims that the failure of the Rome Conference to call for a ceasefire means that, in actual fact, it gave "a green light" for Israel to continue and implied that the whole world backed the Israeli operation.

Speaking on Israeli army radio, Mr Ramon - a close confidant of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert - said "everyone understands that a victory for Hezbollah is a victory for world terror".
If the US and UK represent the entire world then he might have a point, but it still strikes me as worrying that he seems not even to hear the condemnation that should surely be ringing in his ears by now.

Nor do his future plans sound as if they are going to endear the world to Israel's tactics either. He outlined them in the same interview.

He said that in order to prevent casualties among Israeli soldiers battling Hezbollah militants in southern Lebanon, villages should be flattened by the Israeli air force before ground troops moved in.

He added that Israel had given the civilians of southern Lebanon ample time to quit the area and therefore anyone still remaining there could be considered a Hezbollah supporter.

"All those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah," Mr Ramon said.

This is disgraceful talk and the US and UK governments should be ashamed of themselves for ever allowing this to take place. For their hands are covered in blood as they are, despite what Mr Ramon claims, the only two countries who are not screaming for a ceasefire.

Yet Ramon seems to be revelling in the fact that they are being allowed to continue this carnage.

As the inimitable Mark Steel put it in yesterday's Independent:

Convoys of civilians, families on beaches, Red Cross trucks carrying the wounded; the Israelis must see it as a party game, where they think of the most indefensible thing to bomb - and then bomb it. Today it will probably be a care home for sick rabbits. Then a defence spokesman will glare into the camera and say, "But this is the fault of Hizbollah, for using the rabbits as shields of fur. You tell me how we are supposed to distinguish between civilian rabbits and terrorist rabbits. Let me show you evidence of terrorists being hidden in safe hutches."

Normally even America would have told Israel at least to keep the noise down a bit. But with George Bush, Israel must feel like a gangster's wife when the old man's in an especially generous mood, winking at her and saying, "Go on, treat yourself. Bomb yourself somewhere nice, doll. Get yourself down to Beirut, you kill as many as you like sweetheart, you deserve it."

And presiding over all of this carnage sits Bush in the White House, the first American President ever to not even pretend that the US is a neutral in this issue, waving his Israeli flag and calling for more death and destruction.

And after Israel's attacks on a UN observation post, which killed four UN observers - after the UN had contacted the Irsaeli's TEN TIMES to ask that they stop shelling them - Australia has withdrawn 12 UN peace-keepers, describing the prospect of sending an international force to Lebanon right now as a "suicide mission".

Bush meanwhile asks for another beer before the second half begins.

It's no wonder that Haim Ramon sounds slightly unhinged, he simply can't believe there's anyone in the White House mad enough to let this carnage continue.

It's enough to drive anyone nuts.

Blair is called to account again over war in Iraq

It is widely documented that, prior to the Iraq war, Lord Goldsmith gave Blair advice that his case for going to war was only "a reasonable one".

In his statement of March 17 Goldsmith says, "In assessing the risks of acting on the basis of a reasonably arguable case, you will wish to take account of the ways in which the matter might be brought before a court".

At the time I read this as a warning that Tony Blair might want to ensure that this matter never ever came before a court. Well, Blair's lawyers might want to re-rehearse those dubious arguments because the day Tony hoped would never materialise is upon him after the families of four soldiers killed in Iraq won their battle in the Court of Appeal to apply for a judicial review of the Government's refusal to hold an independent inquiry into the decision to go to war.

The appeal judges concluded that there was force in the argument that the circumstances leading up to the invasion were insufficiently clear as to warrant an investigation into that, into the lawfulness of the invasion itself and into whether it caused the men’s deaths.

The applicants are relatives of four men who died in military action. They want to force a full public inquiry into why Britain entered the conflict.

Three days were set aside for a hearing in November.

Technically, this will be an application for leave to bring a judicial review against the Government for refusing an inquiry. The judges will hear full arguments from both sides and reach a decision on the merits of the challenge, lawyers said.

Neither the Prime Minister nor any witnesses will attend, but lawyers for each side will submit full evidence in support of their outline arguments.

Phil Shiner, the families’ solicitor, said: “The Government must finally explain how the 13-page equivocal advice from the Attorney-General of March 7, 2003, was changed within ten days to a one-page completely unequivocal advice that an invasion would be legal. In changing his advice, he sent these soldiers to their deaths.”
We probably shouldn't get too excited about this as the families are unlikely to succeed in forcing the government to order a full public inquiry as the ordering of such an enquiry, as the judges pointed out, were “essentially matters for the executive and Parliament”.

Nevertheless, the judges ruling highlights one very important point, "It is at least arguable that the question whether the invasion was lawful, or reasonably thought to have been lawful, as a matter of international law is worthy of investigation."

That question is one that many of us would like to see answered by an international court of law. Was the Iraq war legal? I am strongly of the opinion that it was not.

Babies among dead on Gaza front line

As events continue to unfold so badly for Israel in Lebanon, we must not forget the ongoing situation facing the Palestinians in Gaza which is, as described by Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to Abbas, "The forgotten war," he said. "We urge the international community to intervene."

On Tuesday Hamas offered Israel the return of Gilad Shalit if Israel would offer them a ceasefire and a prisoner exchange.

Yesterday, Israel gave her reply.

Israeli shells struck at a rate of one a minute throughout the afternoon, with the buildings of Beit Hanoun shaking under the sustained fire. The army has killed 140 Palestinians since it began its assault. About half are civilians.

Yesterday's barrage against the Palestinians killed at least 19 Palestinians, including three children and a handicapped man. Two Palestinian girls, one just eight months old, were amongst the dead.

Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, rejected demands by militants to free hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of Cpl Shalit, but said he might consider it later to help Mr Abbas, a moderate.

Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said: "The Hamas position is clear. There must be a reciprocity of time and action in the process, meaning the soldier gets freed and Palestinian prisoners go free at the same time."

Olmert's position is simply bizarre. He concedes that he might agree to a prisoner exchange somewhere down the line but refuses to do so now meaning this cycle of violence must continue.

Olmert has taken on as un-winnable a battle here as the one he fights in Lebanon. His unstated goal in Gaza is the collapse of the government of Hamas, although he surely realises that the more brutal he is with the people of Palestine, the more he ensures that Hamas will be re-elected.

One thing appears certain in all this. Israel will end these battles severely damaged, both in terms of her reputation as "a peaceful nation surrounded by hostile Arab regimes" and in terms of her military reputation as a force that can act with impunity.

Perhaps one day, Olmert will regret that he acted so hastily after Gilad Shalit was kidnapped.

For it appears that, after all this bloodshed and violence, Olmert is going to have to make the deal that was always on the table.

The price of that, to both Israel and the US on the world stage, will be huge.

Click title for full article.

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The summit fails. War rages

It has been Israel's toughest day so far in it's battle with Hizbullah and it may well be seen as a turning point. The day when Israeli forces accepted that they could not destroy or disarm Hizbullah.

Israel yesterday lost 14 soldiers, it's highest casualty toll since fighting broke out between Israel and Hizbullah.

And the losses appeared to unnerve Ehud Olmert.

Less than a day after he had vowed to fight Hizbullah to the end, he yesterday spoke for a need for a quick end to the conflict. The Israeli military has been taken by surprise by the ferocity of Hizbullah's resistance and may have to rethink its strategy.
The unthinkable appears to be happening. Israel is losing the war.

After two weeks of intense bombing and the recent attempts to make ground assaults into Lebanon, the rocket attacks from Hizbullah show no sign of abating. Indeed, if anything, they are merely growing in intensity with the number landing in Israel increasing yesterday to 100.
In a seeming U-turn, Mr Olmert signalled that he would make do with a weakened Hizbullah rather than one that had been completely disarmed. "We want to stop the operation as fast as possible," Mr Olmert told MPs, "but we will not do so until we achieve the results which would justify the price we have paid and which would prevent us paying a price which we cannot pay."
Even the Israeli press now seem to be accepting that Israel's military aims will not be met and that a prisoner release will have to be carried out to free Israel's captured soldiers. Which, of course, was the deal already on the table before Olmert decided to level Beirut.
It is similarly unlikely that Israel's kidnapped soldiers will be returned without at least a token release of prisoners.

But it is the Shaba Farms that will pose one of the greatest problems for Israel. Israel recognizes that it is not its territory and ostensibly should not find it hard to hand over the keys, but conceding the area to the Lebanese government, or to a committee that will decide whether to give it to Lebanon or to Syria, will be presented as another Hezbollah victory. The Americans, too, know this.

The U.S. realizes that Israel will probably not succeed in destroying Hezbollah's infrastructure in Lebanon. It hopes that strengthening the government in Beirut will eventually enable that regime to get the job done, but is not counting on it. "Right now Hezbollah is not disarmed, and to hold off as the precondition for deployment of [an international] force.. is to create a precondition that cannot be met," Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs David Welch said Wednesday while flying with Rice from Israel to Rome.

"So let's be realistic about this," Welch counseled. In other words, the time for making big promises is over, now is the time for negotiations.

And if there are to be negotiations, then it is more than likely that the Americans will also have to pay a price. Just as the U.S. was forced to take a new tack with regard to Iran, now it may have to resume talks with Syria. That would be a very bitter pill to swallow, especially for Pentagon officials, but there are already signs that they are getting ready to do so.
For all Condi's talk yesterday about "a new Middle East" and despite the arrogance that has led the Israelis to launch it's disproportionate attacks against the people of Lebanon, the Israelis now find themselves in the same quagmire that Bush finds himself in within Iraq.

Traditional armies are very good at fighting traditional armies. They find it infinitely more difficult to confront Guerilla forces who do not obey the established rules of war.

Yesterday, Condi again refused calls from all and sundry for the imposition of a ceasefire.
Ms Rice said: "We have to have a plan that will actually create conditions in which we can have a ceasefire that will be sustainable." Mrs Beckett said: "Even if you could get a ceasefire half an hour ago, you would probably be back in hostilities in a few days."
One has to wonder whether or not they actually believe what they say. Are they really this stupid and arrogant? Have they totally lost the plot and missed the significance of what is taking place on the ground?

Any forces that the international community places in southern Lebanon will remain there only as long as Hizbullah decides to allow them to remain there. Otherwise, like the Israelis - with the fourth largest army in the world - they will be swatted away like flies.

That is the new reality.

The time for posturing is over. It is time to negotiate. And not just for the return of kidnapped soldiers.

Olmert has stated that he intends to withdraw from the West Bank, just as Sharon withdrew from Gaza. The US and Israel should now open talks with Hamas and finally bring an end to the occupation.

If they could bring themselves to do that, they would they would do more to destroy the causes of international terrorism than any amount of military action could ever achieve.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Dump Condi: Foreign policy conservatives charge State Dept. has hijacked Bush agenda

The warmongers are furious. They had their plans and now certain people are ruining them and they are not ready to accept defeat.

The plan was that Israel was to invade Lebanon with such reckless abandon that, hopefully, Syria or Iran would intervene giving the warmongers their long dreamed of wider Middle Eastern war.

Indeed, as I pointed out in a recent post, the secret wish of the extreme right for this wider conflict was shown in Victor Davis Hanson's solemn plea:

Why do not Iran and Syria — or for that matter other Arab states — now attack Israel to join the terrorists that they have armed?
You can almost hear the desperate disappointment in his voice .

Now neo-conservatives such as Newt Gingrich and Richard Perle have decided who they are going to blame for "reversing the administration’s national security and foreign policy agenda."

They are calling on Bush to fire Condaleezza Rice for incompetence.
The conservatives, who include Newt Gingrich, Richard Perle and leading current and former members of the Pentagon and National Security Council, have urged the president to transfer Miss Rice out of the State Department and to an advisory role. They said Miss Rice, stemming from her lack of understanding of the Middle East, has misled the president on Iran and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

"The president has yet to understand that people make policy and not the other way around," a senior national security policy analyst said. "Unlike [former Secretary of State Colin] Powell, Condi is loyal to the president. She is just incompetent on most foreign policy issues."
Now what can Rice have done to be deserving of such wrath from these nutcases? After all she has refused to criticise Israel and certainly, as I pointed out yesterday, she gave Israel so much time to complete whatever it may have wanted to do in Lebanon that she'd have been quicker getting to the Middle East on a pogo stick.
"North Korea firing missiles," Mr. Gingrich said. "You say there will be consequences. There are none. We are in the early stages of World War III. Our bureaucracies are not responding fast enough. We don't have the right attitude."
Perhaps Miss Rice is unaware that we are in the middle of WWIII, though to be fair to her not many of us have ever been told that we are in such a conflict, so you'll have to cut Rice a little slack there.

It is left to Richard Perle, the Prince of Darkness, to spell out the real sin that Rice - and by implication, Bush - has committed.
The failure of successive U.S. administrations, including this one, to give moral and political support to the (Iranian) regime's opponents is a tragedy.
By which he means Israel. The fury can surely only be because Rice has now arrived in the Middle East and the shooting match they have been enjoying so much will eventually be brought to an end before the great battle against Iran can even commence. This fact infuriates the nutbags of the far right.

Of course, with the US forces tied up in Iraq any idea of a war with Iran, as any sensible person could tell you, is solely for fantasists.

However, these dangerous fantasists surround Bush, and their dream is of an all out Middle East war - leaving Israel at the top of the pile - and they are hoping to use US military might to pull it off.

They have been scheming and planning this for decades and they are furious that, with it seeming so tantalisingly close, it about to be snatched away from them.

Although there have, indeed, been hints that they have been planning this for decades, for anyone to have suggested they wanted the US to fight a war for Israel would have instantly been dismissed as anti-Semitic nonsense. However, all that changed when William Kristol made his soon to be infamous remarks, that Israel's wars are the US's wars too.

This was an astonishing comment. Thanks to the US, Israel possesses the world's fourth largest army. The idea that they need the US to fight their wars would baffle most Americans and force them to ask why they give Israel $6 billion a year in aid. Surely that was to equip Israel to fend off any foes?

However, the logic employed by most of us misunderstands the neo-con way of thinking. They essentially see no difference between the well being of Israel and the well being of the United States. To them they are the same.
Indeed, Wurmser, Perle and Feith were the principal authors of the 1996 100-day policy plan for incoming Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. None ever registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act for this work.
Perle has even transmitted classified information to the Israelis, proving that he sees no essential difference between the security needs of the US and the security needs of Israel. To him, as to all neo-cons, they are the same.
"An FBI summary of a 1970 wiretap recorded Perle discussing classified information with someone at the Israeli embassy."
In Bush, the neo-cons thought they had finally found the man who would allow them to unleash US and Israeli forces towards Israel's enemies in the Middle East.

And they thought now was the time. A glance at this site tells us that over at the Rapture Ready Forum they were so excited about the coming conflict that they were preparing to meet the Lord.

The neo-cons have not yet given up on Bush, so the blame must belong at Rice's door, hence the calls for her to be fired.

The idea of young Americans laying down their lives for the citizens of another nation would appal most Americans, who believe their troops should only risk their lives when their country faces maximum danger.

But that's because most Americans, whilst supporting Israel, recognise that Israelis are not Americans. The neo-cons do not make this distinction.

And having sent US troops into Iraq based on a set of lies, why should we suppose that they wouldn't send them to fight their great war in the Middle East for Israel? They never cared about whether the troops needed to be employed in Iraq, they were simply determined that Saddam would be overthrown and, if we lost troops, that was the price we had to pay. Indeed, Perle, especially, has never shown any concern for US troops.

When discussing his new book "Battle Ready" co-authored with retired general Anthony Zinni, author Tom Clancy stated that he almost came to blows with Perle. According to Clancy:

"He was saying how (Secretary of State) Colin Powell was being a wuss because he was overly concerned with the lives of the troops," Clancy said. "And I said, 'Look ..., he's supposed to think that way!' And Perle didn't agree with me on that. People like that worry me.
Perle's attitudes are typical of the "chickenhawks" who make up the neo-cons. These are people desperate to send the sons and daughters of America's poor into battle zones and yet, they themselves, when the opportunity presented itself to them in their youth, avoided combat.

But their hypocrisy doesn't stop there. These men claim to believe in God. Whether they are Jews or Christians, they claim to believe in a Higher Being and to live by his teachings.

And yet they are salivating to send young men and women into war and calling for the dismissal of anyone who they perceive to be standing in their way.

All of us must now stand in their way. William Kristol overplayed his hand when he claimed Israel's wars were the wars of the USA. They can no longer brand anyone who opposes what they are proposing as anti-Semitic.

Israel's wars are not the US's wars. And the neo-cons are being unpatriotic when they claim that they are. American soldiers should only ever die defending American causes. Anyone who argues otherwise is a traitor.

Click title for full article.

Matthews Slams neo-Cons for warmongering.

Chris Matthews talks sense. I'm going to have to go and lie down. Shocks like this are very bad for one's heart I've heard.

Palestinians agree deal for return of abducted soldier

The Palestinians are offering to return Gilad Shalit to the Israelis if Israel will agree to a ceasefire.

An adviser to Mr Abbas told the Guardian that all Palestinian politicians were united on the need to free the Israeli soldier and stop all violence in Gaza, but the obstacles were the Israeli government and the Hamas leadership in Damascus.

"The problem is that both Islamic Jihad and Hamas have to seek the advice of their political bureaux in Damascus and we are waiting for their response," he said.

Ibrahim al-Naja, a Hamas minister in Ramallah, told the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz: "This initiative was presented in an attempt to alleviate Palestinian suffering, but now it depends on Israel, which is showing no indication yet of its willingness for a ceasefire."

The Israelis should accept this deal. After all, the kidnap of Gilad Shalit was supposedly where all this madness began.

And, with the war against Hizbullah going so badly, this would give the Israelis an opportunity to concentrate on the greater problem that exists on their northern border. Stopping their senseless attacks on the people of Palestine would free them to do this.

The futility of Israel's behaviour over the past few weeks has been highlighted by the news that Israel is now considering acceding to the request of prisoner exchange.
According to the aide, Israel is willing to release Palestinian prisoners in return for Cpl Shalit but insists the exchange will not be simultaneous and its release of prisoners will be described as a "goodwill gesture" and not as a direct exchange.
When this senseless fighting is over, when we finally know the cost of this war in terms of loss of infrastructure and loss of human life, we will be justified in asking what was it all for when the Israelis accept a deal that was always on the table before she unleashed carnage in the Middle East.

Israel should learn a hard lesson from all of this. The days are gone when she can attack the Arabs with impunity.

This should hasten a return to the negotiating table over the larger question of the return of the Occupied Territories.

Click title for full article.