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Candide Recommends: Wednesday, August 2, 2006
War Fare
Peace Out
  • Peace is to Ehud Olmert what an human appetizer is to Hannibal Lechter. So it’s not a surprise that he thinks politics and bomb tonnage are synonymous: "We are at the beginning of a political process that in the end will bring a ceasefire under entirely different conditions than before," he told an audience at Israel's National Security College. The Lebanese were wondering what those decapitating missiles and moonscaping bombing runs were really called. A political process. Ehud is almost as eloquent as George Bush. A cease-fire would not be in Israel’s interest, he says, because Israel is “winning the battle.” In Bush arithmetic, Olmert is right. A battle is won—in modern American, and now Israeli, military strategy—in proportion to the extent of destruction, lethal and human, inflicted on the given target. The more Arab, the more tonnage. The United States also claimed to have “won the battle” in Afghanistan in 2001, when it did no more than flatten whatever was left, bought a couple of warlords, shipped off a few hundred men to Guantanamo, most of them hapless peasants and taxi drivers, and declared victory by taking custody if six square miles in a country the size of Texas (Bush and DeLay properties not included). The United States has been claiming victory, or impending victory, in Iraq since 2003. It controls about 12 square miles there. Israel will land troops in the Bekaa Valley, it will destroy its decennial fill of villages in South Lebanon, it will declare victory, and it will withdraw, to an occupation zone or to a symbolically irritating twelve square miles of Lebanese territory or even back to its borders, but without achieving anything more than seeding enough bile and resentment, and orphans, to produce an army of revenge seekers. And in the greater Middle East, the likes of Osama and Iran’s version of the foreign legion (think Hezbollah again) will have had their recruiting drives guaranteed through the 2008 summer bombing season. (The same cannot be said of the US Army’s recruiting drives.)
  • Stiletto Secretary of State: And what’s the cease-fire babbling Condoleezza Rice doing through all this? Why, the only thing that speaks louder than her abject imbecility in the Middle East: she’s landed herself a spot “on Vanity Fair’s annual International Best Dressed List. All she needed was that pair of knee-high stiletto boots!” (The exclamation mark is the Boston Herald’s. It looks different from Qana’s angle.)
  • Jimmy Carter on the Middle East’s favorite commodity trading: “One of the special vulnerabilities of Israel, and a repetitive cause of violence, is the holding of prisoners. Militant Palestinians and Lebanese know that a captured Israeli soldier or civilian is either a cause of conflict or a valuable bargaining chip for prisoner exchange. This assumption is based on a number of such trades, including 1,150 Arabs, mostly Palestinians, for three Israeli soldiers in 1985; 123 Lebanese for the remains of two Israeli soldiers in 1996; and 433 Palestinians and others for an Israeli businessman and the bodies of three soldiers in 2004.” Carter then states the obvious, which the Bush junta wouldn’t understand if it bit it in the pretzels: “A major impediment to progress is Washington's strange policy that dialogue on controversial issues will be extended only as a reward for subservient behavior and will be withheld from those who reject U.S. assertions. Direct engagement with the Palestine Liberation Organization or the Palestinian Authority and the government in Damascus will be necessary if secure negotiated settlements are to be achieved. Failure to address the issues and leaders involved risks the creation of an arc of even greater instability running from Jerusalem through Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and Tehran.” The full column in the Washington Post…
  • Mel Gibson: "I am Not a Bigot." Oh yes you are, and your drunken idiocy has nothing to do with it. It's your movies drunk on violence and vengeful messianism that speak your bigoted language, no subtitles necessary. But this is the kicker: "Hatred of any kind goes against my faith." Since when has Catholicism been a self-evident defense against bigotry? Since when has it not been among bigotry’s probable-cause hit parades?
  • Another journalist jailed in the United States: “U.S. District Judge William Alsup found Josh Wolf in contempt of court for failing to comply with a subpoena that the grand jury issued in February for tapes Wolf made of the July 2005 demonstration in the Mission District,” the SFChronicle reports. “Wolf posted some of the videos on his Web site -- -- and sold that footage to local television stations. Federal prosecutors demanded the rest of the tapes, saying they might contain evidence of attempted arson.”

In Other Worlds and Blogs

  • Jon Swift, who could write Russel Baker under the table on his worst day, is "shocked to learn that community theater actors have infiltrated our armed forces." Trailing the story of the deliciously named Sgt. Bleu Copas, a "decorated Arabic language specialist in the Army stationed at the 82nd Airborne," Swift relates that "while he was serving in the military, unbeknownst to his superiors, Bleu Copas (whose name sounds like a stage name, which should have been a clue) had acted in three community theater musical productions: Ragtime, Children of Eden, and Beauty and the Beast. And apparently he has not reformed his theatrical ways since being drummed out of the military as he has just been cast as the male lead in a production of Bye, Bye Birdie." See "Don't Ask, Don't Trill"...
  • World War Tripe: “One of the trendy things on the right these days seems to be the proclamation of World War III, based (most recently) on the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, and before that 9/11. Newt Gingrich seems most determined to trumpet this theory, echoed by astute observers like Bill O’Reilly (and expertly mocked by Stephen Colbert). This talk of World War III is wrong, and dangerous.” See the full post at Across the Aisle…
  • Eric Martin at American Footprint points out the warnings to the West, and particularly to the United States, by Iraq’s Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, without whose cooperation and endorsement the United States occupation in Iraq is as good as dead. Al-Sistani has been the Bush administration’s poster-boy of Shiitism’s “middle way.” But Sistani has been playing the administration equally deftly, ensuring the Shiite resurgence in Iraq. He now may be getting tired of the arrangement as he begins using the Israeli assault in lebanon to make his break, and reassert his authority over other would-be Shiite leaders in Iraq (viz., Moqtada al-Sadr): “The size of the catastrophe in Lebanon resulting from the continuation of the Israeli aggression has reached a point that cannot tolerate more patience and we cannot stand idle toward it,” al-Sistani said. As Eric Martin writes: It should come as no surprise that the Bush administration's clumsy approach to the crisis - initially wishing to delay the advent of a cease-fire - is coming back to haunt it. It represents a most extraordinary position from a diplomatic perspective: revealing to the world that we not only tolerate, but perhaps welcome, some level of military confrontation - at least initially. Fairly or unfairly, we will be held accountable for our role in facilitating the bloodshed in the interim period.” See the full post at American Footprint…
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