The Nudnik File

Nudnik - n. U.S. colloq. Esp. in Jewish usage: a pestering, nagging, or irritating person

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

              First Casualty
It seems that the Lebanon War has taken its first political casualty.
Adam informed Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Dan Halutz on Tuesday that he wished to retire as soon as possible. According to an IDF spokesman, Halutz accepted Adam's request.

The Maariv daily reported Wednesday that Adam decided to retire "when the last soldier returns from Lebanon," which is expected next week.
Undoubtedly Gen. Adam commanded incompetently during the war. However, he was far from the only one or the most important one. The main fault lies with the political leadership, specifically Olmert and Peretz. At this point it looks like Peretz will be the next one to be pushed out, in Olmert's attempts to avoid responsibility.
|| Nudnik 9:00 AM || Permalink || (2) comments

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

              More Reassessment
Since the end of the Israel-Hizbullah war, more and more analysts and pundits have been reassessing the conventional wisdom that Israel lost and Hizbullah won. Today, Emanuele Ottolenghi weighs in, with his opinion. In essence his point is that while it may seem that Israel lost because it did not achieve its stated war aims - freeing the 2 captured soldiers, and destroying Hizbullah - Hizbullah did not win either because it did not achieve its stated and unstated war aims. Yet, the myth that has been created is that by being able to survive, Hizbullah achieved victory. Ottelenghi tries to refute this growing myth.
The myth about Hezbollah's victory is therefore just that: a myth. This means that Israel did not lose. Israel certainly did not win either. But one should not dismiss Israel's military achievements and their potential effectiveness in thwarting at least some of Hezbollah's objectives.

Hezbollah's fighting force was drastically downgraded. With over 500 fighters killed (depending on estimates, anything between 10 and 40 percent of its fighting force), it will take years for Hezbollah to return to where it was. Israel failed to destroy Hezbollah's Katyusha arsenal, but it dealt a crushing blow to its strategic arsenal of long-range missiles. Few noticed that at some point in the war, Nasrallah stopped threatening to hit Tel Aviv if Israel continued to hit Beirut, mentioning Haifa instead. That is because he could not hit Tel Aviv anymore. With Hezbollah's arsenal so depleted, its ability to seriously mount a new challenge is for now correspondingly damaged. Iran and Syria are no doubt already rearming it. But this exercise will take time and it will not be ignored by the international community as it was in the past.
Yes, in many ways Israel did a lot better than what it is being given credit for. But there was one major factor in this war that will be critical going forward. In all its previous wars, Israel fought knowing that the "international community" will come in and stop them before they had a chance to fully achieve victory. The doctrine was, therefore, to achieve as many objectives as quickly as possible. And in every single war it was the Arabs or their Great Power patron - the USSR - who demanded a ceasefire to halt Israel's advances. In this last war, it was Israel who wanted the ceasefire. It seemed that almost from the beginning, they were not fighting to achieve their stated objectives, but for a ceasefire to be imposed. In a reversal of all its previous wars, Israel ran to the "international community" to halt the war. In the medieval world of the Middle East, this shows weakness. And in showing weakness, Israel weakened its detterent capability vis-a-vis the Arab world. This is the strategic loss that Israel suffered in this war.
|| Nudnik 10:49 PM || Permalink || (0) comments

Friday, September 01, 2006

              Joke Headline of the Day
Annan: Syria to enforce arms embargo. Is he serious? Annan couldn't really be that stupid. In which case he is simply coddling and appeasing dictators.
|| Nudnik 9:17 AM || Permalink || (0) comments

Thursday, August 31, 2006

              The Face of Battle
Powerline today links to a riveting video of what combat in Lebanon for the IDF was really like. Israeli journalist Itai Anghel went into Lebanon with one regiment of the Nahal Brigade and recorded the brutal fighting that the IDF had to face against Hizbullah terrorists. The video is about 25 minutes long, but well worth watching. To watch, paste this link into your browser.
|| Nudnik 1:08 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              Amnesty International's Redefinitions
Last week Alan Dershowitz took on Human Rights Watch and its looking the other way at Hizbullah's use of human shields. This week he attacks Amnesty International's redefinition of "war crimes" and its accusations against Israel.
For Amnesty, "Israeli war crimes" are synonymous with "any military action whatsoever."

The real problem with Amnesty's paper is that its blanket condemnations do not consider the consequences of its arguments. (It doesn't have to; it would never advance these arguments against any country but Israel.)

Amnesty International's conclusions are not based on sound legal arguments. They're certainly not based on compelling moral arguments. They're simply anti-Israel arguments. Amnesty reached a predetermined conclusion - that Israel committed war crimes - and it is marshalling whatever sound-bites it could to support that conclusion.
|| Nudnik 12:57 PM || Permalink || (0) comments

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

              The Media and Israel
Throughout the Oslo War (aka Second Intifada) the mainstream media, especially in Europe, was overwhelmingly biased towards the Palestinians. To say that they were biased against Israel in Israel's war against Hizbullah would be an understatement. In this excellent essay, Melanie Phillips details a few of the media's distortions and outright lies and comes up with this conclusion:
But the big answer is that the western media transmit the lies of Hezbollah because they want to believe them. And that'’s because the Big Lie these media tell -— and have themselves been told -— about Israel and its place in history and in the world today has achieved the status of unchallengeable truth. The plain fact is that western journalists were sent to cover the war being waged against Israel from Lebanon as a war being waged by Israel against Lebanon. And that'’s because that'’s how editors think of the Middle East: that the whole ghastly mess is driven by Israel'’s actions, and that therefore it is only Israel's aggression which is the story to be covered. Thus history is inverted, half a century of Jewish victimisation is erased from public consciousness, victims are turned into aggressors and genocidal mass murderers turned into victims, and ignorance and prejudice stalk England’s once staunch and stalwart land.

That's why the fact that hundreds of thousands of refugees from the north of Israel fled to the shelter of strangers in the south; that within one third of Israel, those too poor or old or handicapped or disadvantaged to seek refuge elsewhere were forced to live in shelters for a month in great hardship; that the entire economy of northern Israel was effectively shut down for a month; that thousands of rockets were fired at northern Israel, hundreds every day, many times more than were daily fired at Britain during the Blitz - that'’s why none of this was reported in Britain (where as a result such facts, when now related, are received with open-mouthed astonishment) because journalists were told to ignore it all since that wasn't the story their editors wanted. Israel'’s victimisation simply was not, could not, be the story. The only story was Israel's aggression. But that story is a Big Lie. So a host of lies were transmitted to support it.
|| Nudnik 11:31 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              UNIFIL Past and Future
Throughout its existence, UNIFIL has been a disaster for Israel and not much help to the Lebanese. The only group that it has been good for is Hizbullah. In fact, they have been so good for Hizbullah that during this past war UNIFIL gave them critical intelligence.
UNIFIL--the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, a nearly 2,000-man blue-helmet contingent that has been present on the Lebanon-Israel border since 1978--is officially neutral. Yet, throughout the recent war, it posted on its website for all to see precise information about the movements of Israeli Defense Forces soldiers and the nature of their weaponry and materiel, even specifying the placement of IDF safety structures within hours of their construction. New information was sometimes only 30 minutes old when it was posted, and never more than 24 hours old.

Meanwhile, UNIFIL posted not a single item of specific intelligence regarding Hezbollah forces. Statements on the order of Hezbollah "fired rockets in large numbers from various locations" and Hezbollah's rockets "were fired in significantly larger numbers from various locations" are as precise as its coverage of the other side ever got.
Given this past, the question is why did Olmert agree to an expanded UNIFIL force?

Mario Loyola thinks that the UN and Europe have effectively tricked themselves into protecting Israel with the new UNIFIL.
What is a new and very real possibility now is open conflict between Hezbollah and the U.N. force. UNIFIL has in past years been accused of coordinating with Hezbollah, which it might have had to do just as a matter of survival. But the robust UNIFIL, operating with the military freedom of action which France appears to have secured at the urgings of its army, will be in a position to impose facts upon Hezbollah. It will be high profile, and its commanders will want to prove that it is not "a joke", as one Israeli ambassador described the current force. Importantly, it will not have to seek Hezbollah'’s permission to move around. And although U.N. officials have made it clear that the U.N. force will not actively seek to disarm Hezbollah, they will demand that Hezbollah fighters found in the open give over their weapons, and they are prepared to use force to exact obedience.

The enhanced U.N. force will no doubt create many frustrations for Israel, and we should be prepared for the possibility of a hostile encounter between the two at some point. But we should also recognize one important bit of good news in all this: From now on, Hezbollah's activities will be Europe'’s problem, too. And however much the Europeans may oppose us on Iraq, their Angry Muslim problem is starting to dominate both their domestic- and foreign-policy agendas, and one gets the feeling that they are starting to get really sick of it now.
I'm not quite sure that it will work out this way, given Europe's prediliction against taking any military action and the large presence of Muslim forces among the new UNIFIL. But UNIFIL may provide enough of a buffer to enable the Lebanese to eventually do something about Hizbullah themselves.
|| Nudnik 12:32 PM || Permalink || (0) comments

Saturday, August 26, 2006

              Would That It Were So
One can only wish that our leaders spoke this way:
(2006-08-26) — Just hours after Iran opened a new plant capable of making plutonium “for peaceful purposes”, U.S. President George Bush assured his Iranian counterpart that any B-2 bombers that appear over Tehran in the near future would also serve peaceful purposes.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cut the ribbon on the new heavy-water nuclear plant Saturday as part of a month-long Iranian tribute to the effectiveness of the United Nations.

Mr. Bush hailed Iran’s “transparent diplomacy” and said, “I called President Ahmadinejad today to congratulate him, and I told him that if he happens to notice one of them Stealth bombers going over his town at about 600 miles per hour, he can be assured that the pilot has only the best intentions in his heart for world peace.”

“There’s nothing like the B-2 when it comes to giving peace a chance,” Mr. Bush added.
|| Nudnik 11:35 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              Human Rights Watch
As Israel was battling Hizbullah in Lebanon, and Hizbullah rockets were raining down on Israeli cities, Human Rights Watch - the self-proclaimed arbiter of human rights violations - was condemning Israel. Their complaint was that Israel was committing war crimes by bombing civilian areas. When it was reported that Hizbullah was using these civilian areas to launch rockets and hide their weapons, HRW's response was
Human Rights Watch found no cases in which Hizbullah deliberately used civilians as shields to protect them from retaliatory IDF attack.
As Alan Dershowitz points out, it is unclear what exactly Human Rights Watch was watching. Dershowitz lists multiple eyewitness reports from inside Lebanon that show exactly what Hizbullah was doing.
HOW COULD Human Rights Watch have ignored - or more likely suppressed - this evidence from so many different sources? The only reasonable explanation is that they wanted there to be no evidence of Hizbullah's tactic of hiding behind civilians. So they cooked the books to make it come out that way.

Even after the fighting ended and all the reports of Hizbullah hiding among civilians were published, HRW chief Kenneth Roth essentially repeated the demonstrably false conclusions that "in none of those cases was Hizbullah anywhere around at the time of the attack." So committed is Human Rights Watch to its predetermined conclusions that it refused to let the facts, as reported by objective sources, get in its way.
HRW is the organization that was screaming loudest about a "massacre" in Jenin in 2002, only to quietly say "never mind" when it was shown that no such "massacre" ever occurred. I would say that their credibility is pretty close to zero at this point.
|| Nudnik 12:31 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              Katyusha Defense
One of the results of the recent Lebanon War has been the restarting of the debate about a defensive system for short range rockets - Katyushas - and mortars, the primary weapons of Hizbullah.

Such a system had been in development by the US and Israel for approximately the last ten years. The System is called Nautilus Tactical High Energy Laser (THEL) and the Mobile Tactical High Energy Laser (MTHEL). Both systems had shown themselves to be fairly effective, being able to track, lock on, and shoot down Katyushas - both singly and in salvos - and even artillery shells. Yet, the funding for the systems was withdrawn by the US Army and Israel last year. Now there is renewed interest in the systems and Northrop Grumman says that it can deliver an operational system in 18 months. Given the damage done by Hizbullah's rockets in the past month, this seems like a worthwhile investment.
|| Nudnik 11:33 AM || Permalink || (0) comments

Friday, August 25, 2006

              Europe's Learning Experience
In the last few years Europe has come to view the UN (and other international institutions) as the arbiters and solvers of all situations. But as Denis Boyles writes, the past few weeks may finally be giving them some pause as to the usefulness of these institutions.

The events that seem to have upset Europe's assumptions are Iran's response to the nuclear offer, and the cease-fire Resolution in Lebanon. The main lesson with Iran is that

Not even Iranians can be persuaded carrots make a meal and confusing a U.N. resolution with a stick offends the dignity of sticks everywhere.
|| Nudnik 2:47 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              Olmert Done
I guess this should not be a surprise, but in the latest poll by Yediot Ahronot, 63% of Israelis think that Olmert should resign. Even more - 74% - think that Peretz should resign. It seems that elections will be held fairly soon, and Kadima will, like almost all new parties, be a one-time event. Bibi has positioned himself very well to be the next Prime Minister. And most likely, the next Defense Minister will be Moshe Ya'alon, the IDF Chief of Staff who was pushed out due to Sharon's Gaza disengagement.
|| Nudnik 2:01 PM || Permalink || (0) comments

Thursday, August 24, 2006

              Uzi Landau
Here is an interesting interview with Uzi Landau, a former Member of Knesset and a Minister in the previous government. Unlike many politicians and ex-politicians, he is not afraid to express his views, even if they are not sensitive and politically correct.
|| Nudnik 11:23 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              Soviet Legacy
It has been fairly well known that one of the Soviet Union's activities was the organization and financing of terrorism against Israel, especially after the Six Day War. Ion Mihai Pacepa, the former leader of Romania's intelligence service, details the extent of Soviet involvement and its continuing effects.
Today'’s international terrorism was conceived at the Lubyanka, the headquarters of the KGB, in the aftermath of the 1967 Six-Day War in the Middle East. I witnessed its birth in my other life, as a Communist general. Israel humiliated Egypt and Syria, whose bellicose governments were being run by Soviet razvedka (Russian for "foreign intelligence"”) advisers, whereupon the Kremlin decided to arm Israel'’s enemy neighbors, the Palestinians, and draw them into a terrorist war against Israel.

General Aleksandr Sakharovsky, who created Communist Romania's intelligence structure and then rose to head up all of Soviet Russia's foreign intelligence, often lectured me: "In today'’s world, when nuclear arms have made military force obsolete, terrorism should become our main weapon."”
|| Nudnik 12:58 PM || Permalink || (0) comments

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

              Nationalism and Jihadism
In the past few weeks there have been a number of articles (one is here, although registration is required) about the transformation of Palestinian nationalism into just another branch of the international jihad. Today, Amir Taheri takes up that argument.
The same is now true of pan-Islamists. They dream of a universal Islamic state, either under Iranian Shiite leadership (as with Hezbollah), or under the leadership of Salafi movements. In their vision, there can be no distinct Palestinian identity, let alone Palestinian nationalism.

Muhammad Khatami, the mullah who was president of the Islamic Republic, has dismissed nationalism as an illegitimate child of the European Enlightenment which led to colonialism, imperialism and world wars. In this view, the idea of a nation-state of Palestine is a Western concoction, alien to Islam. Even the "one state" formula (the fusion of Israel and Palestine) is only an intermediate step. Such a state would eventually be absorbed into the single universal Islamic domain.
Undoubtedly, in the past few years the Palestinians have drawn closer to Islamism and away from nationalism; Hizbullah as well as al Qaeda has infiltrated at least Gaza, if not also the West Bank. More importantly, the election of Hamas shows the route that the Palestinians want to take - religion as opposed to secular nationalism.

However, Taheri's conclusions are completely incorrect.
Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert is wrong in putting Ariel Sharon's policy of unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank on hold. For the two-state formula to work, it is imperative for Israel to decide exactly where it wants its frontiers to be drawn. Once it is clear where Israel wants to be, it would be possible to discuss where Palestine could be as a state.
His "solution" ignores the facts on the ground. Israel's two withdrawals (Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005) have not led to peace. In fact, the very opposite has happened. Both groups saw weakness in the Israeli withdrawals, and the lessons that they took away were that through rocket attacks and bombings Israel would be forced to withdraw. The same will happen with a withdrawal from the West Bank. Palestinians have already been smuggling rockets into the West Bank, and preparing to use them. Without an Israeli presence, they would undoubtedly smuggle in longer range rockets from Hizbullah and its sponsors. They would then have the capability to directly attack Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. One of the main lessons of the Lebanon war was that withdrawal doesn't work; and the idea of a Palestinian state has been postponed for another generation.
|| Nudnik 12:33 PM || Permalink || (0) comments

Monday, August 21, 2006

Already the reassessments of Israel's performance in the war against Hizbullah is starting. Edward Luttwak, in today's Jerusalem Post, thinks that the results of the war have been misread. In general, his analysis is that the IDF performed much better than what it is being given credit for. His argument is, in essence, that on the tactical level Israel won. This is undoubtedly true; the IDF destroyed a large portion of Hizbullah assets and personnel, while suffering fairly light casualties. Strategypage drew very similar conclusions a few days ago.
While Hizbollah can declare this a victory, because it fought Israel without being destroyed, this is no more a victory than that of any other Arab force that has faced Israeli troops and failed. Arabs have been trying to destroy Israel for over half a century, and Hizbollah is the latest to fail. But Hizbollah did more than fail, it scared most Moslems in the Middle East, because it demonstrated the power and violence of the Shia Arab minority. Sunni Arabs, and most Arabs are Sunnis, are very much afraid of Shia Moslems, mainly because most Iranians are Shia, not Arab, and intent on dominating the region, like Iran has done so many times in the past. Hizbollah's recent outburst made it clear that Iran, which subsidizes and arms Hizbollah, has armed power that reaches the Mediterranean. This scares Sunni Arabs because a Shia minority also continues to rule Syria (where most of the people are Sunni). The Shia majority in Iraq, which have not dominated Iraq for over three centuries, is now back in control.
I would agree with both those assessments, but as I have written previously, Israel has suffered severe damage to its reputation of invinciblity and ability to cause total destruction to an attacking army.
|| Nudnik 3:00 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
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