November 22, 2006
. . . But somebody's got to do it
Der Spiegel carries a slideshow of photos of assassinated Lebanese Industry Minister Pierre Gemayal. He is seen in turn with various members of his family, including his wife, when they were married.
The Washington Post reports the details of Gemayal's death.
Gemayel, a 34-year-old father of two and an up-and-coming politician, was killed when his car was ambushed by men from one or two cars that collided with it in the suburban neighborhood of Jdeideh. At least three gunmen opened fire with automatic weapons equipped with silencers, hitting him in the head and chest, officials said. Television footage showed the tinted driver's-side window pocked with at least eight shots and the glass on the passenger's side shattered. The silver sedan's hood was crumpled from the collision.
Doctors said Gemayel was dead when he arrived at the hospital, and his bodyguard later succumbed to his wounds.
Is this a consolidation or an overextension? Iran announces it is seeking a new set of centrifuges. Syria tells James Baker it'll help in Iraq in exchange for the Golan Heights. Iran invites Iraq and Syria to a conference. Syria and Iraq re-establish diplomatic ties. Syria offs another prominent Lebanese politician.
Are Syria and Iran overplaying their hands? Have the carefully leaked deliberations of the Iraq Study Group been so much theater, meant to force an over-reaction? Victor Davis Hanson wrote in his book The Soul of Battle that upon hearing of the German offensive that came to be known as the Battle of the Bulge, Patton's inclination was to let the Germans go as far west as they could, and then take his Third Army and cut off their rear, blocking their retreat.
Patton, of course, knew from his initial conversation with Bradley that he would be under orders to go north, not to continue east: "That's too daring for them. My guess is that our offensive will be called off and we will have to go up there and save their hides."
Tony Blankley, writing at RealClearPolitics, says this:
In fact, even those Americans who today can't wait to end our involvement in the "hopeless" war in Iraq will -- when the consequences of our irresponsibility becomes manifest -- join the chorus of outrage.Jules Crittenden writes that "It's a dirty job . . .
Expedient Washington politicians, take note: Your public is fickle. They may cheer your decision today to get out of Iraq but vote you out of office tomorrow when they don't like the results . . .
Iran has been our persistent enemy for 27 years -- Syria longer. They may well be glad to give us cover while we retreat, but that would merely be an exercise in slightly delayed gratification, not self-denial, let alone benignity. So long as Iran is ruled by its current radical Shi'a theocracy, she will be vigorously and violently undercutting any potentially positive, peaceful forces in the region -- and is already triggering a prolonged clash with the terrified Sunni nations. Our absence from the region will only make matters far worse.
We need to start undermining by all methods available that dangerous Iranian regime -- as the Iranian people, free to express and implement their own opinions and policies, are our greatest natural allies in the Muslim Middle East.
We have only two choices: Get out and let the ensuing Middle East firestorm enflame the wider world; or, stay and with shrewder policies and growing material strength manage and contain the danger. [emphasis added]
This is the thing about dirty jobs that need to be done. They can only be ignored or left half-done for so long . . .But will any of this happen? What prevents it from happening right now? It is not a lack of resources. It is only a perception that all is lost, held by a large part of the political class. Fortunately, they are wrong. Sadly, they don't know it.
This is why the current move to restrain the militias in Baghdad must be stepped up. This is why the calls for more troops there must be heeded. This is why the United States must pursue and destroy militias there ruthlessly and in force.
This is why these regimes need to know that their missteps will cost them, and that their own infrastructure, seats of power and persons are not immune from our threat of force as long as they abet murder, spread instability through the region, and seek weapons of mass destruction.
Belmont Club takes the pessimistic argument: The Rout Continues:
The most comical aspect of this whole rout is the way the diplomats will continue to prepare for the big meeting with Syria and Iran to broker a regional peace, something they believe "only a Superpower" can achieve. Alas, the habits of self-importance die hard. The countries are already making their own arrangements with the new victors, because those countries realize better than Barack Obama that you cannot charge a price for what you have already given away. And what will come of it all won't be peace. It will be war on a scale that will either draw America back into a larger cauldron or send it scurrying away behind whatever line of defense it thinks it has the will to hold. More than 60 years ago, Winston Churchill told the appeasers they had a choice between war and dishonor. They had chosen dishonor, and added that now they would have both war and dishonor.
If Bush lied and people died, then Pierre Gamayel is probably dead today because Nancy Pelosi told the truth last week: Bringing the war to an end is my highest priority as Speaker. James Baker didn't stage that.
Posted by Chester at November 22, 2006 12:36 AM
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I suspect that two things will happen:
1) The West's awareness of and emotional investment in what's going on over there will diminish as we withdraw. In the short term, we will return to our pleasant diversions and simply ignore the chaos and bloodshed. The racist, isolationist impulse has a strong hold on much the left and a permanent franchise with some the right. Together they make up a majority that will want to pull up the drawbridge so long as buildings are not actually falling down this week. Cambodia and Vietman post 1975 provide the grim examples. We have been happy to let the skulls pile up before so long as they are not ours.
2) Iran's increased power in the region will lead it and enable it to attack Israel effectively. (By 'effectively' I do not imply any moral sanction of such an action, only that Iran and its proxies will strike a major blow against Israel--one or two orders of magnitude more severe than the August incursion--possibly but not necessarily nuclear.) That blow (and/or a similarly massive strike on Europe or the U.S.) will lead the reinvigoration of Western military action you hint at here. My best guess? 2008-2010 under a peace-talking Democratic president who feels no political need to keep said action limited and great political opportunity in demonstrating that donkeys also have b*lls.
Do I like any of this? No. The pre-November course, however arduous, was the wiser one.
Posted by: Kobayashi Maru at November 22, 2006 9:14 AM
Some folks don't believe there is a train until the track vibrates.
Some folks don't believe there is a train until the whistle blows.
Some folks don't believe there is a train until they see it.
Some folks don't believe there is a train until it runs them over.
Those that sponsor Islamic Extremism know that democracy is a difficult train to stop once it takes root. They can take action when the railroad track starts vibrating.
Democracies require popular consent..sometimes one needs to wait until the deaf see the train.
Posted by: Soldier's Dad at November 22, 2006 4:50 PM
I'm away from home and only got into the loop on the assassination(posting this from a borrowed computer). I'm amazed at how it is gotten no attention. The Syrians are clearly letting all relevant players in Lebanon know that control is being reimposed.
My own mood about the war, and where we stand it it, is still pretty bleak.
Posted by: El Jefe Maximo at November 22, 2006 5:01 PM
I agree with Juel Critteden's thinking wholeheartedly and have wondered why it hasn't happened already. This is one more mistake added to many.
The Democrats want to bring 140,000 troops home for the holidays and THEN they will decide what course to take. If it were only that simple, but I would wager the troops wouldn't agree with it.
What has troubled me for the past five years is that no-one talks about Iraq and the war -- only on the Net in blogs. Nobody discusses it. It's as if there is no war. During WW II and Korea people discussed it. Try that on Thanksgiving Day at the table and see how quickly you are silenced.
Dr. Kissinger says we "can't win militarily", we had better win militarily because that's all we have to win with. There is no other way. Jawing won't buy anything but time and the diplos usually waste the little they get. The time for jawing is over. What the voters really want is decisive action and results!
If there is going to be mass slauter in the ME let it be our enemies, they deserve it.
Posted by: JimM at November 22, 2006 10:29 PM