[eDebate] israeli leaders fault bush/neocons on war

Jake Stromboli infracaninophile
Sun Aug 13 18:03:40 CDT 2006

neocon miscalc not producing "new middle east" but weakening israeli 
position -- isolation -- diplomatic rollback on palestinians etc  neocons 
pretend to be "voice of israel"


Israeli Leaders Fault Bush on War
    By Robert Parry
    Consortium News

    Sunday 13 August 2006

    Amid the political and diplomatic fallout from Israel's faltering 
invasion of Lebanon, some Israeli officials are privately blaming President 
George W. Bush for egging Prime Minister Ehud Olmert into the ill-conceived 
military adventure against the Hezbollah militia in south Lebanon.

    Bush conveyed his strong personal support for the military offensive 
during a White House meeting with Olmert on May 23, according to sources 
familiar with the thinking of senior Israeli leaders.

    Olmert, who like Bush lacks direct wartime experience, agreed that a 
dose of military force against Hezbollah might damage the guerrilla group's 
influence in Lebanon and intimidate its allies, Iran and Syria, countries 
that Bush has identified as the chief obstacles to U.S. interests in the 
Middle East.

    As part of Bush's determination to create a "new Middle East" - one that 
is more amenable to U.S. policies and desires - Bush even urged Israel to 
attack Syria, but the Olmert government refused to go that far, according to 
Israeli sources.

    One source said some Israeli officials thought Bush's attack-Syria idea 
was "nuts" since much of the world would have seen the bombing campaign as 
overt aggression.

    In an article on July 30, the Jerusalem Post referred to Bush's interest 
in a wider war involving Syria. Israeli "defense officials told the Post 
last week that they were receiving indications from the US that America 
would be interested in seeing Israel attack Syria," the newspaper reported.

    While balking at an expanded war into Syria, Olmert did agree on the 
need to show military muscle in Lebanon as a prelude to facing down Iran 
over its nuclear program, which Olmert has called an "existential" threat to 

    With U.S. forces bogged down in Iraq, Bush and his neoconservative 
advisers saw the inclusion of Israeli forces as crucial for advancing a 
strategy that would punish Syria for supporting Iraqi insurgents, advance 
the confrontation with Iran and isolate Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in 

    But the month-long war has failed to achieve its goals of destroying 
Hezbollah forces in south Lebanon or intimidating Iran and Syria.

    Instead, Hezbollah guerrillas fought Israeli troops to a virtual 
standstill in villages near the border and much of the world saw Israel's 
bombing raids across Lebanon - which killed hundreds of civilians - as 

    Now, as the conflict winds down, some Israeli officials are ruing the 
Olmert-Bush pact on May 23 and fault Bush for pushing Olmert into the 

    Building Pressure

    Soon after the May 23 meeting in Washington, Israel began to ratchet up 
pressure on the Hamas-led government in the Palestinian territories and on 
Hezbollah and other Islamic militants in Lebanon. As part of this process, 
Israel staged low-key attacks in both Lebanon and Gaza. [For details, see 
Consortiumnews.com "A 'Pretext' War in Lebanon."]

    The tit-for-tat violence led to the Hamas seizure of an Israeli soldier 
on June 24 and then to Israeli retaliatory strikes in Gaza. That, in turn, 
set the stage for Hezbollah's attack on an Israeli outpost and the capture 
of two more Israeli soldiers on July 12.

    Hezbollah's July 12 raid became the trigger that Bush and Olmert had 
been waiting for. With the earlier attacks unknown or forgotten, Israel and 
the U.S. skillfully rallied international condemnation of Hezbollah for what 
was called an unprovoked attack and a "kidnapping" of Israeli soldiers.

    Behind the international criticism of Hezbollah, Bush and Olmert 
justified an intense air campaign against Lebanese targets, killing 
civilians and destroying much of Lebanon's commercial infrastructure. 
Israeli troops also crossed into southern Lebanon with the intent of 
delivering a devastating military blow against Hezbollah, which retaliated 
by firing Katyusha rockets into Israel..

    However, the Israeli operation was eerily reminiscent of the disastrous 
U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. Like the U.S. assault, Israel relied 
heavily on "shock and awe" air power and committed an inadequate number of 
soldiers to the battle.

    Israeli newspapers have been filled with complaints from soldiers who 
say some reservists weren't issued body armor while other soldiers found 
their equipment either inferior or inappropriate to the battlefield 

    Israeli troops also encountered fierce resistance from Hezbollah 
guerrillas, who took a page from the Iraqi insurgents by using explosive 
booby traps and ambushes to inflict heavier than expected casualties on the 

    Channel 2 in Israel disclosed that several top military commanders wrote 
a letter to Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, the chief of staff, criticizing the war 
planning as chaotic and out of line with the combat training of the soldiers 
and officers. [Washington Post, Aug. 12, 2006]

    One Israeli plan to use llamas to deliver supplies in the rugged terrain 
of south Lebanon turned into an embarrassment when the animals simply sat 

    Reporter Nahum Barnea, who traveled with an Israeli unit in south 
Lebanon, compared the battle to "the famous Tom and Jerry cartoons" with the 
powerful Israeli military playing the role of the cat Tom and the 
resourceful Hezbollah guerrillas playing the mouse Jerry. "In every conflict 
between them, Jerry wins," Barnea wrote.

    Olmert Criticized

    Back in Israel, some leading newspapers have begun calling for Olmert's 

    "If Olmert runs away now from the war he initiated, he will not be able 
to remain prime minister for even one more day," the newspaper Haaretz wrote 
in a front-page analysis. "You cannot lead an entire nation to war promising 
victory, produce humiliating defeat and remain in power.

    "You cannot bury 120 Israelis in cemeteries, keep a million Israelis in 
shelters for a month and then say, 'Oops, I made a mistake.'" [See 
Washington Post, Aug. 12, 2006]

    For his part, Bush spent July and early August fending off international 
demands for an immediate cease-fire. Bush wanted to give Olmert as much time 
as possible to bomb targets across Lebanon and dislodge Hezbollah forces in 
the south.

    But instead of turning the Lebanese population against Hezbollah - as 
Washington and Tel Aviv had hoped - the devastation rallied public support 
behind Hezbollah.

    As the month-long conflict took on the look of a public-relations 
disaster for Israel, the Bush administration dropped its resistance to 
international cease-fire demands and joined with France in crafting a United 
Nations plan for stopping the fighting.

    Quoting "a senior administration official" with Bush at his ranch in 
Crawford, Texas, the New York Times reported that "it increasingly seemed 
that Israel would not be able to achieve a military victory, a reality that 
led the Americans to get behind a cease-fire." [NYT, Aug. 12, 2006]

    But the repercussions from Israel's failed Lebanon offensive are likely 
to continue. Olmert must now confront the political damage at home and the 
chief U.S. adversaries in the Middle East may be emboldened by the outcome, 
more than chastened.

    As in the Iraq War, Bush has revealed again how reliance on tough talk 
and military might can sometimes undercut - not build up - U.S. influence in 
the strategically important Middle East.


    Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the 
Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of 
the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at 
secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at Amazon.com, as is his 1999 
book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & "Project Truth."

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