Mike Whitney: Ceasefire or Trojan Horse?


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

Ceasefire or Trojan Horse?
Mike Whitney

August 14, 2006

"Israel¹s strategy is to establish positions as far north as possible to 
implement a fighting withdrawal, meaning they will try to take on as much of 
Hezbollah as they can as they work their way south. " Ha¹aretz editorial 8-17-06

"As long as there is Israeli military movement, Israeli field aggression and 
Israeli soldiers occupying our land, it is our natural right to fight them and 
defend our lands, our homes, and ourselves." Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, head of the
Lebanese armed resistance Hezbollah

Israel¹s sudden push to the Litani River is a blatant act of political 
desperation intended to conceal the humiliating defeat the IDF has suffered at 
the hands of Hezbollah. It comes in the wake of a UN ceasefire agreement worked 
out by friends of Israel in the Bush administration who were looking for a 
diplomatic way for Olmert to climb down from Israel¹s greatest debacle since the
Yom Kippur war.

The so-called ceasefire is tailored to stop the victim of Israeli aggression 
from defending himself, but provides the IDF with the go-ahead to continue its 
rampage. Such is the Kafkaesque logic of the United Nations and their 
puppet-masters in Tel Aviv.

There is no longer any reasonable expectation that Israel will accomplish any of
its stated objectives. The mighty IDF has been slapped around by a handful of 
tough-minded guerillas who kept Israel pinned-down to within a 5 mile radius of 
the northern border for a full month. It is, without question, one of the 
greatest triumphs in the history of asymmetrical warfare.

Hezbollah will not be "disarmed" as Ehud Olmert boasted just weeks ago. Instead,
their fortunes look to be steadily improving as Israel continues to flail about 
dropping bombs indiscriminately on critical infrastructure and civilians with 
impunity. The conflict has simply reinforced widely-held suspicions that the 
Jewish State is a loose-cannon ready to go berserk at the slightest provocation.

Prime Minister Olmert, Defense Minister Peretz and Chief of Staff Dan Halutz 
have been the brunt of withering criticism in the Israeli press, and for good 
reason. They are, without question, the worst collection of bunglers in Israeli 
history; the political equivalent of the "3 Stooges". Sharon may have been a war
criminal, but he was an astute strategist. Olmert and "wrongway" Halutz are 
completely clueless. As soon as it was decided that the war could not be won 
militarily, Halutz charged up to the Litani River backed by thousands 
ground-troops afraid that his chances for glory were quickly ebbing-away. In the
process, another 31 soldiers were killed in a campaign that still has no clearly
defined objectives. Meanwhile, Shaul Mofaz, the only Israeli general who could 
probably transform the current disaster into something resembling "a draw"; is 
left sitting on the sidelines.

What a fiasco.

Now that the ceasefire has been approved, the politicians and the generals are 
stumbling over themselves trying to cobble together the victory that has escaped
them for the last 4 weeks. Olmert and co. know that as soon as the dust settles 
they will face an irate Israeli public looking for someone to hold accountable 
for the debacle. Ha¹aretz op-ed writer Ari Shavit summed up the public mood this

"One thing should be clear: If Olmert runs away now from the war he initiated, 
he will not be able to remain prime minister for even one more day. Chutzpah has
its limits. 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, wear down deterrent
power, bring the next war very close, and then say, oooops, I made a mistake."

Columnist Moshe Arens added to Shavit¹s critique saying, "The task facing Israel
now is to restore its deterrent posture and prepare for the attacks that are 
sure to come. But not with this leadership. They have exhausted whatever little 
credit they had when they were voted into office."

The anger that is growing in Israel is narcissistic and self-serving and has 
nothing to do with the vast devastation the IAF has visited on battered Lebanon.

Lebanon is in ruins. The country¹s main bridges, roads, industries, ports, 
canals, telecommunications, oil depots, water facilities and factories have been
buried by a steady barrage of Israeli precision guided munitions. George Bush 
can be credited with a large part of the damage. He rushed an order of high-tech
bombs to his friends in Tel Aviv to make sure that the slaughter would continue 
without interruption. He also blocked the ceasefire resolutions at the UN which 
allowed Israel to continue its withering bombardment of Lebanon.

The UN ceasefire agreement was clearly written in close collaboration with 
Israel. It allows the IDF to continue "defensive operations" while Hezbollah is 
required to stop fighting. Israel interprets this as a green light for 
aggressively pursuing Hezbollah.

According to Israeli daily newspaper Ha¹aretz, "The army will stop its offensive
as soon as it is ordered to do so by the political leadership and later it will 
begin to retrace its steps to uncover any pockets of resistance that may remain 
in the area." With troops presently located at the Litani River that could 
involve military operations throughout the entire south, which means that 
hostilities could continue for months.

Israel is at war with itself. It¹s trying to produce a victory where victory is 
impossible. With less than 24 hours until the ceasefire goes into effect, 
they¹ve unleashed a massive aerial assault bombing more than 50 cities and towns
north and south of the Litani River. The bombing campaign drew the immediate 
censure of Kofi Annan who said that the attack was not in keeping with the 
spirit of the ceasefire.

No matter. Israel will keep firing away; savaging what little is left of 
Lebanon¹s tattered infrastructure in the vain hope that they might patch 
together something that resembles success, but to what affect? Hezbollah may be 
badly damaged and its supply-lines ruptured, but they merely need to hang on to 
generate a reliable stream of new recruits and to win plaudits from around the 
world for standing up to the IDF.

Prime Minister Olmert is ambivalent about the sudden military escalation just 
prior to the ceasefire. Clearly, the war is controlling Olmert; Olmert does not 
control the war. The uproar in the media has left him vacillating and hesitant; 
searching for other solutions besides a quick withdrawal. He looks like a man 
gabbing at straws, hoping for a decisive event that will prove that Hezbollah is
weakening. Meanwhile the IDF casualties continue to mount and the collective 
angst of the Israeli public becomes more palpable.

As for Sheik Nasrallah, he has resisted the usual inflammatory rhetoric and 
demonstrated Hezbollah¹s lethal proficiency on the battlefield where it counts. 
The guerillas have matched the IDF man-for-man and forced the world¹s 4th most 
powerful army into a stalemate.

In the early days of the war, Nasrallah described Hezbollah¹s abilities in 
modest terms:

"We are not a classic army extending form the sea to Mt Hermon. We are a popular
and serious resistance movement that is present in many areas and axes. Our 
equation and principles are the following: When the Israelis enter, they must 
pay dearly in terms of their tanks, officers, and soldiers. That is what we 
pledge to do and we will honor our pledge, God willing".

Olmert should study this passage and commit it to memory. Nasrallah has laid out
his very limited goals in the war in lucid but powerful language. These are 
realistic objectives and they are achievable, unlike Israel¹s. That¹s why he 
will probably prevail, if he perseveres. Nasrallah does not entertain the 
foolish idea that he will overwhelm the IDF or invade Israel. He simply plans to
gnaw away day by day, hour by hour, at the occupying army forcing them 
eventually to retreat. He is a shrewd student of asymmetrical warfare and grasps
how to exploit the vulnerabilities of a regular army as well as Israeli public 
opinion (which is already souring on the conflict)

Nasrallah has said that he will abide by the terms of the ceasefire, but will 
not disarm until the Lebanese Army and the UN forces are in place and the IDF 
has left Lebanese soil. In his mind, it is pointless to talk about disarmament 
now when Hezbollah is the only force capable of defending Lebanon from foreign 

Will Hezbollah willingly disarm after Israel leaves?

That is what Israel wonders, but it is the wrong question. The real question is:
What are the chances that the IDF will reinvade sometime in the future as they 
have 4 times before? And, who will provide the weaponry that will create a 
viable deterrent to Israeli aggression so that Lebanon can live in peace?

Nasrallah¹s promises to disarm mean nothing. His primary responsibility is to 
his own people, to protect their right to live free of Israeli violence and 

If Sheik Nasrallah chooses to disarm and put his faith in Israel¹s assurances of
non aggression, that¹s his choice. But he should pay close attention to the 
treatment of the Palestinians in Gaza before he sets his rifle down.

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