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In tentative praise of French Diplomacy
Posted by: Jon Henke on Sunday, August 20, 2006

French bashing may be fun red meat to throw to the converted, but this strikes me as a much more plausible and intellectual read of the recent, apparent French perfidy at the UN. Essentially, both Israel and Hezbollah made major miscalculations and found themselves engaged in a war in which either could lose, but neither could win. Hezbollah could bruise Israel, but nothing more; Israel could bloody Hezbollah, but—without another disastrous occupation of Lebanon—they could not remove the Hezbollah threat from Lebanon altogether, and they certainly could not eliminate Hezbollah.

As The Glittering Eye puts it — in "game [theory] terminology" — "both Israel and Hezbollah were treating their mutual relationship as though it were a “zero sum game of perfect information” (a set of transactions in which, when one side wins, the other loses and each side knows what the other is doing) whereas, clearly, that was far from the case." But after showing up to fight, neither Israel nor Hezbollah could afford to back down.

"Enter France":
In essence, through two consecutive bait-and-switches — first over the wording of a UN resolution, and second over the deployment of French troops to Lebanon — France managed to get both parties to agree to a return to the status quo ante, which is better for both sides (that's why the tricks worked), but that neither side could admit to wanting. That's a pretty good result, especially considering that Chirac spent essentially none of France's resources achieving it.

Now, yes, it's true that it would be nice for some gigantic crew of foreigners to come into Lebanon, disarm Hezbollah, police the border, and create a giant, happy, stable democracy at peace with its neighbors. But nobody really knows how to pull this off. The internal political balance in Lebanon is extremely delicate. Nobody — not Israel, not France, not the United States, not even Hezbollah's patrons — was or is in a position to actually destroy or disarm Hezbollah absent a wider reform of all of Lebanon.
So, France looks foolish to the sort of people who prefer cheap shots at France...and puts brakes on an exit-less war. That's not a long-term solution — and peacekeepers will probably still be necessary before too long — but the status quo ante is quite a bit better than what anybody else had to offer.
 
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I don’t accept the premise that Israel could not have militarily defeated Hizb’allah. They could’ve done it, but it would have been costly.

It occurred to me today that in the longer run, Israel just may benefit. Now that they know exactly what they’re up against in terms of how dug in Hizb’allah is, and now they have an opportunity to find a technical solution that won’t cost hundreds of Israeli soildiers.

yours/
peter.
 
Written By: Peter Jackson
URL: http://www.liberalcapitalist.com
Sorry about the mangled grammar. Ragweed just arrived in Austin.

=P=
 
Written By: Peter Jackson
URL: http://www.liberalcapitalist.com
I don’t accept the premise that Israel could not have militarily defeated Hizb’allah. They could’ve done it, but it would have been costly.
I’d take that bet. You tell me how, by attacking Lebanon, Israel can defeat an amorphous, decentralized non-State entity whose armament, manpower, recruiting, and funding base covers many nations.

Absent some gradual evolutionary change in the culture and societies of the region, I don’t think it can be done. And that’s not something at which a military is adept.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
One of the worst outcomes of this war is the apearence of Israel as weak. The IDF had the opportunity, and ability to uproot MOST of Hezbolah. Nasrallah was NOT expecting retaliation as fast or as hard as it came, and took time to go to his bunkers. The IDF has confessed it had a plan of action before the conflict ("If you want to live in peace, plan for war"), but the gov’t was too hesitent to implment it. Hezbolah dug in... Vietnam.

Israel as a nation now is doing major soul searching. Olmert is out... duh. But there is more going on. People are questioning everthing from outmoded military tactics to the nature of our failed political system. The Nation of Israel has changed the world more than once; I think the world will be supprised by what comes next.

At the end of the day Israelis showed how tough they really are. Far tougher than even their own media expected. The IDF fought true, hard, and without complaint or political fracture. (a big deal after the Gaza withdrawl) Israels economy turned out to be much more robust than it’s ever been.

Our only failure (besides needing new tactics, but the whole west needs those) was our political system. Politicians who were more concerned with their portfolios than with their citizens. I don’t know how much of that can be fixed, but Israelis are now aware of it, and something has to give.


 
Written By: TheLoneCabbage
URL: http://
I applaud your bravery, Jon.

I’d like to add a plus and a minus.

Minus: It can still be argued that the immediate french letdown in terms of troops risks the collapse of their own cease-fire - therefore the humiliation of their own initiative. The international troops need to be there fast, not to disarm hizballah and create a peace treaty, but to create the classic buffer between two sides itching for revenge. The Israeli raid today demonstrates the volatility of the situation without an international force to get between the punchers.

Plus: I’d heard statements to the effect that the French are holding off because they don’t have what they want to hear from Israel/Lebanon, meaning that things are really going to cool down when they arrive. In essence, they are holding out for better promises that the military side of things is over. This might not be a bad idea. You can then see the Israeli raid as, sort of, a counter-negotiation. Games within games.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Its not quite the status quo. We now have an emboldened Iran, Syria and Hezbullah.

Perhaps this moment is like it was before, but this has hastened the inevitable. War with Iran.

Perhaps that’s not a bad thing. Iran wants it anyway and the sooner we have it the better our chances.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
I don’t accept the premise that Israel could not have militarily defeated Hizb’allah. They could’ve done it, but it would have been costly.
I’d take that bet. You tell me how, by attacking Lebanon, Israel can defeat an amorphous, decentralized non-State entity whose armament, manpower, recruiting, and funding base covers many nations.
You tell me how, by attacking Lebanon Iraq, Israel the United States can defeat an amorphous, decentralized non-State entity whose armament, manpower, recruiting, and funding base covers many nations.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://ceilidhcowboy.typepad.com/
Good morning Jon.
You tell me how, by attacking Lebanon, Israel can defeat an amorphous, decentralized non-State entity whose armament, manpower, recruiting, and funding base covers many nations.
You don’t do it by attacking Lebanon, you do it by attacking Hizb’allah. And I’m not talking about Hizb’allah the political entity, I’m talking about Hizb’allah the militia. Israel was well on their way to routing the militia before they stopped.

The Hizb’allah militia wasn’t and isn’t an amorphous, decentralized non-state entity, they’re a few thousand guys with guns and rockets in southern Lebanon.

yours/
peter.
 
Written By: Peter Jackson
URL: http://www.liberalcapitalist.com
I don’t accept the premise that Israel could not have militarily defeated Hizb’allah. They could’ve done it, but it would have been costly.
I’d take that bet. You tell me how, by attacking Lebanon, Israel can defeat an amorphous, decentralized non-State entity whose armament, manpower, recruiting, and funding base covers many nations.
You tell me how, by attacking Iraq, the United States can defeat an amorphous, decentralized non-State entity whose armament, manpower, recruiting, and funding base covers many nations.
Now apply that to Al Qaeda. I guess the WoT is impossible. Time to go home.

Well, I guess I better get my wife fitted for a burka.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Now apply that to Al Qaeda. I guess the WoT is impossible. Time to go home.

Well, I guess I better get my wife fitted for a burka.
Joe, the WoT was/is a joke anyways. We have done nothing really about the two biggest sponsors of Islamic terror - Saudia and Pakistan. They are our ’allies’ to boot. With ’allies’ like these, who needs enemies..
 
Written By: Ivan
URL: http://
French bashing may be fun red meat to throw to the converted, but this strikes me as a much more plausible and intellectual read of the recent, apparent French perfidy at the UN.
Given other examples of "French perfidy at the U.N." and how they conduct foreign policy, what makes this a more plausable read exactly?

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
It can still be argued that the immediate french letdown in terms of troops risks the collapse of their own cease-fire - therefore the humiliation of their own initiative. The international troops need to be there fast, not to disarm hizballah and create a peace treaty, but to create the classic buffer between two sides itching for revenge.
Maybe. Or maybe not. Peacekeepers without a well-defined mission can be more of a problem than a solution. Part of the problem is that UN peacekeepers, regardless of their directives, just can’t ’disarm’ Hezbollah.

I don’t know if the geography of the region would permit it, but a Korean-style DMZ might be helpful, with both sides ensuring its imperviousness.
We now have an emboldened Iran, Syria and Hezbullah.
I don’t think the UN actions had much to do with that.
The Hizb’allah militia wasn’t and isn’t an amorphous, decentralized non-state entity, they’re a few thousand guys with guns and rockets in southern Lebanon.
And if every one of those few thousand guys with guns and rockets in Southern Lebanon was killed, Hezbollah could/would have another manned militia in relatively short order.
Now apply that to Al Qaeda. I guess the WoT is impossible. Time to go home. Well, I guess I better get my wife fitted for a burka.
None of that follows from what I wrote.
Joe, the WoT was/is a joke anyways. We have done nothing really about the two biggest sponsors of Islamic terror - Saudia and Pakistan. They are our ’allies’ to boot. With ’allies’ like these, who needs enemies..
What would you have us "do" about Saudi Arabia and Pakistan?
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
What would you have us "do" about Saudi Arabia and Pakistan?

Jon, *I* think that it is important to recognize that while Iran, Syria & Hezbollah threaten our *interests* in the middle-east, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan threaten our *homeland* by their direct/indirect support for Al-Qaeda. I therefore think that we should be getting SA and Pakistan to toe our line first (which they are not doing). What do you think ?

You asked for a prescription, here is one:

Saudia:

1. Go after the wahaabists in SA. Use Military force, if necessary *in* Saudi Arabia(the Saudi monarchy seems to be reluctant go after them)
2. Lean on SA government to cut-off funding Wahaabist organizations

Pakistan:

1. Conduct overt military operations inside Pakistan instead of relying on the Pakistani military to do it. Pakistan will not do anything about the terrorists. Please refer to the speech Pres. Musharraf made in *Urdu* after he purpotedly threw his support behind us.
2. Cut-Off all military/financial Aid to Pakistan if they continue to provide support for terrorists
 
Written By: Ivan
URL: http://
Ivan, think about what you said.

The only way we could wage that kind of war with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia (which are countries much larger than Iraq) is to not only throw the book away but to burn it to ashes. What you suggest can only be done with nukes. You aren’t going to be able to blow up a few mosques and madrassas and stop there. You need to do what the Romans did to Carthage. And then once you are done there, then start on the other Muslim countries as well. And at the same time prepare for a full scale internal war agains the not so peaceful muslims (anymore) in the US.

No one is going to go in that direction unless we completley change the way we think.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Joe,

As of date, we are not doing anything about the SA/Pakistan problem. You are suggesting a maximalist approach (using nukes). There is a middle-ground, is there not ? Doing something is better than doing *nothing*...
 
Written By: Ivan
URL: http://
Jon I have written many stoopit things and read many of them... this is one of the most stoopit things I’ve read.

Yes if ONLY someone had managed to intervene between the US and the Confederacy or the Allies and the Germans... after all both sides couldn’t back down in those conficts either.

This whole thing is silly. It’s fundamental presupposition is that peace is inherently GOOD. The reality is that Israel would have done better to press Hizb’Allah more strongly and push them openly north of the Litani, MUCH EARLIER.

So it seems to me that this whole argument is that fighting IS BAD but not fighting is GOOD... or that Hiz’Allah and Israel can NEGOTIATE a solution. But that’s not possible. And that’s the foolish flaw of this silly article... that IRRECONCILABLE differences are not or can be negotiated away. Game theory is NOT a particularly effective tool for analyzing foreign affairs any way. Sorry jon. But THIS IS my area and whipping out Game Theory tends to produce giggles... not "OOOhs" and "Aaaaahs"...it’s heyday was 30 years ago.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
So it seems to me that this whole argument is that fighting IS BAD but not fighting is GOOD
That’s what you got out of it? Views of conflict as a binary "win or lose" choice is unhelpfully simple-minded.
As of date, we are not doing anything about the SA/Pakistan problem. You are suggesting a maximalist approach (using nukes). There is a middle-ground, is there not ? Doing something is better than doing *nothing*...
I’m not suggesting the maximalist approach. And I agree that "doing something" is better than doing nothing. I’m just far from sure that you have a good idea of the complexities and cross-currents involved. It may very well be that "doing something" would push those States into even more anti-American positions. Believe it or not, the relatively pro-US people are in charge there. It could get worse.

In the meantime, I believe we’ve decided that those are not the pressure points against which we can productively move.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
As of date, we are not doing anything about the SA/Pakistan problem. You are suggesting a maximalist approach (using nukes). There is a middle-ground, is there not ? Doing something is better than doing *nothing*...

Written By: Ivan


Both SA and Pakistan have been helping us out of late. At least, the governments have (the population may very well hate us, but that’s a good reason for NO change of government in either place at this time).

As for Jon’s point, Israel could have won, but it started off too timidly and stopped too soon. By "won", I mean mopping up the Hez militia in Southern Lebanon, not eliminating Hez from the Middle East.

But as we all know, war doesn’t solve anything, just paves the way for the next war (under the assumption, I guess, that for war to be usefull it has to end war for all time).
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
It may very well be that "doing something" would push those States into even more anti-American positions. Believe it or not, the relatively pro-US people are in charge there. It could get worse.

In the meantime, I believe we’ve decided that those are not the pressure points against which we can productively move.

Written By: Jon Henke


We are doing something. Diplomacy and coordinated intelligence work.

And you are right, the people in power there are much better than the likely alternatives.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://

 
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