Sunday, August 13, 2006

When Success Is Success, and Failure Is Success

Sy Hersh's take on Washington's support for Israel in its war against Lebanon: It's preparation for a U.S. bombing campaign against Iran.

Dick Cheney is still the power behind the throne, and he's handling intelligence the same way he did before the Iraq war:

The Pentagon consultant told me that intelligence about Hezbollah and Iran is being mishandled by the White House the same way intelligence had been when, in 2002 and early 2003, the Administration was making the case that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. "The big complaint now in the intelligence community is that all of the important stuff is being sent directly to the top -- at the insistence of the White House -- and not being analyzed at all, or scarcely," he said. "It's an awful policy and violates all of the N.S.A.'s strictures, and if you complain about it you're out," he said. "Cheney had a strong hand in this."

Both Washington and Israel planned on getting the Lebanese people to withdraw support for Hezbollah by destroying southern Lebanon's infrastructure:

The initial plan, as outlined by the Israelis, called for a major bombing campaign in response to the next Hezbollah provocation, according to the Middle East expert with knowledge of U.S. and Israeli thinking. Israel believed that, by targeting Lebanon's infrastructure, including highways, fuel depots, and even the civilian runways at the main Beirut airport, it could persuade Lebanon's large Christian and Sunni populations to turn against Hezbollah, according to the former senior intelligence official. The airport, highways, and bridges, among other things, have been hit in the bombing campaign. ...

Of course that strategy failed:

... "Strategic bombing has been a failed military concept for ninety years, and yet air forces all over the world keep on doing it," John Arquilla, a defense analyst at the Naval Postgraduate School, told me. Arquilla has been campaigning for more than a decade, with growing success, to change the way America fights terrorism. "The warfare of today is not mass on mass," he said. "You have to hunt like a network to defeat a network. Israel focussed on bombing against Hezbollah, and, when that did not work, it became more aggressive on the ground. The definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting a different result."

But this assumes that America -- or at least the Bush administration -- wants to fight terrorism, if fighting terrorism is defined as reducing it. After five years of watching my government enthusiastically embrace policies that have consistently failed to bring peace, make my country or the world safer, increase support for U.S. global leadership, or reduce the threat of terrorism, I am beginning to think that Dick Cheney has a different set of goals in mind.

BooMan seems to think so, too:

The Bush administration is in the game of creating win-win situations. If Iraq flourished as a pro-western Democracy, they stood to take the credit for it and reap the benefits of close relations with another oil-rich Arab country. If the country fell into chaos, they would benefit from an open ended conflict with billions in revenues and a broken Iraq would be powerless to threaten Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, or Israel. Likewise with the war between Hizbollah and Israel. If Israel's air campaign worked it would eliminate a threat that could become troublesome when it comes time to bomb Iran. If it failed, it would divide Democrats over the issue of unquestioning support for Israel, and it would offer an opportunity to put U.S. forces mere miles from Damascus as part of a peacekeeping force.

This is how Cheney creates new realities. A month ago the idea of having a huge peacekeeping force in Lebanon was unthinkable. Today, it is the official policy of the UN Security Council.

There is going to be a lot more blood spilled in the Middle East before Cheney leaves office. Hopefully, he will be leaving next year.

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