Saturday, 15 March 2008

Despatches from Lebanon - Part 3

I asked my friend who is currently punting around in Lebanon for a political view of things. He and I disagree on some matters concerning Israel but, as I point out to him, he needs to read more of the history of the region rather than believe the bulldust presented by a profoundly biased mainstream media.
Israel and Lebanon

As a passerby in the land of confusion, Lebanon, a fervent mix of European and Arab culture, I am caught between the politically correct speak of supporting Israel and its right exist and the effect of war and intolerance.

Today, I went down to Tyr near the border with Israel. After crossing all of the bridges that were bombed out in 2006 and seeing the power station and oil facilities that were bombed I was appalled. As a former army officer looking at the rationale for the attack on infrastructure, I can only conclude that it was politically inspired and not advised by the military. This may be a forlorn hope or conclusion.

The Israeli intelligence services have had a well publicized history in tracking down errant groups such as the Black September Movement, settling scores from Munich and dabbling in counter terrorism during Entebbe. There is a sense of professional awe about their skills and resolve. In undertaking any military activity, professionalism and the mantra of ‘doing no more harm than necessary’ springs to mind. The military of any nation is do the bidding of their masters (hopefully), tomorrow ones enemy may become ones ally. Remaining professional in the execution of the task is paramount. It is not about settling old scores. This only leads to the ground hog day scenarios that are now being visited upon us in the Balkans. Here there was harmony for over 50 years with different flavours of Christianity and Islam, but due to the leadership vacuum and minor war lords left over by the leadership vacuum that was created by Tito’s inability to accept succession to power these trite minor leaders forced the genie of nationalism out of the bottle to help themselves garner power. Like all genies they don’t want to go back into the bottle.

From my own experience, if an officer cadet had come up with a plan from the Israeli perspective to take out infrastructure in the way that they did in 2006, he/she would have secured a lucrative position the pay corps for the rest of their career. Apart from being clearly in breach of the Geneva conventions of which Israel seems to baulk, ignore or just vacillate, this action has only galvanized the ordinary people to see the Israelis as aggressors. One can argue that the Hezbollah have been firing rockets into Israeli territory, not a smart thing to do, but from a military perspective there needs to be an approach that attacks the teeth not the belly of the third party. Here the plan from Israel seems to take on shades of Washington.

Advice from intelligence services is most likely being ‘modified’. George Tenet as the former head of the CIA, took a great swing at the White House after his retirement about how the intelligence advice was ‘altered’. Condoleesa Rice denied the accusations. History through the freedom of information ,may provide the answers after the protagonists have long parted their mortal coil.

During lunch I had the opportunity to meet the Lebanese commander of 12 Brigade. A garrulous womanizer that looked like George Clooney, without the grey hair. He and a number of senior cohorts were enjoying a quiet lunch away from the troops. I was having lunch with 22 doctors from the National Social Security Fund and was not seen as one who might have caused problems for this dear chap. I always find it amazing how people open up when they think that their thoughts are confidential. A few schooners of Arak and he was very loquacious about life in general.

It was during our conversation that I thought that the Israeli actions against the civil infrastructure was yet again a salient reminder of my own training that you need to have a military objective and not a political one.

If I was a local politician I would right now be sidling up to the Russians to get sufficient anti aircraft missiles to make the issue of one Israeli corporal look insignificant against the number of pilots that I now have interred, after they were shot down. We need to remember that the 2006 crisis was started with the capture of one hapless Israeli corporal. Looking at him photos during that period one wonders why his mother let him out of school. Not exactly Steven Segal caught up in a school yard brawl.

I would also be looking at buying a few disused SS 24 missiles as reminder that attacks on Israeli infrastructure will help bring both parties to the negotiation table. If I can hurt your infrastructure you might listen to my claims of sovereignty. Perhaps you might think twice before sending young pilots across the border to take out bridges that are used by ordinary people to get to work each day. The only problem with SS 24 is that Lebanon does not have a rail system.

I don’t know what the casualty numbers are on either side but neither side has ever had claim to the moral high ground.

Recently we have seen the events in Serbia where Kosovo has claimed independence. What a grand concept! The battle of Kosovo was in 1389. Unfortunately the Serbs lost the war. Vienna on the other hand was rejoicing as it had contained the marauding Ottomans. This would only have been repeated some 500 years later where the Balkans were yet again the bulk head against the Islamic thrust towards the conquering of European Christianity.

On this note there seems to be a major anomaly. Kosovo which is now inhabited by the descendants of Albanian shepherds, once invited in by lazy Serbians landowners to be the shepherds, have breed themselves into the dominant ethnic group. Generations later after having more children than fingers and toes, they are the dominant ethnic group. The world including the evangelistic Christian chorus of the United States have recognized the new state. Just wonderful!!

I as a tourist and only recently I looked at the local history and discovered that Palestine is part of Israel. A quick look at recent events since the birth of General MacArthur and I can see that the late British Empire decreed that the Jews should yet again be brought back by Moses and the Palestinians should get the Torrens title to their bit of the sandy outcrop. But alas Palestine is part of Israel ( and they collect the taxes according to Caesar, which they withhold), there seems to be a rationale and simple argument that if the Albanians can claim Kosovo due to squatting rights then the Palestinians should be able to do the same. If America was fair and just in its approach with the world around it then. Palestine would today be emulating Kosovo. A bunch of people that have inhabited the land and therefore have a right to it. How long does it take for the Torrens title to take hold? Or is there something that I am missing???
Despatches from Lebanon - Part 2
Despatches from Lebanon - Part 1

(Nothing Follows)

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