[The current Middle East conflict, orchestrated by the United States, has brought forth unintended consequences: victory for Hezbollah and the uplifting of Iran to the position of the most powerful nation in the Middle East.—CB]
The US-Israeli Defeat in Lebanon
FTW Military/Veterans Affairs Editor
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“Another such victory over the Romans and we are undone.”
-Pyrrhus of Epirus
August 24th 2006, 2:14 [PST] - With the tentative implementation of a UN-brokered ceasefire in Lebanon, two things have become crystal clear: Lebanon has been destroyed, and the US-Israeli axis has been delivered a remarkable geopolitical defeat.
In what -- even today -- was a shockingly savage attack on Lebanon, ostensibly over the capture of two IDF soldiers, neither the alleged nor the actual intent of the US-Israeli campaign was achieved. Let there be no doubt, the collusion between Israel and the US in this sadistic failure was absolute, and it was intimately related to the broader collapse of the neocon strategy in the region, especially Iraq. Just as Tony Blair was dragged into the vortex of the Bush cohort’s Straussian hubris, now Ehud Olmert has been directed to join them at Waterloo.
Never one to hitch onto uni-dimensional interpretations, in this case there is, nonetheless, one persistent concern that functions as the strange attractor: Iran. Certainly, there are other currents that flowed into this decision to wreck Lebanon and displace a million human beings, but more than anything, it was an attempt to demonstrate to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad what might happen to him.
This was a Bush Administration operation all the way to its roots; let there be not the slightest doubt of that. The notion that Israel dictates to the US is ludicrous on its face. Israel could not continue to exist as a viable political entity without US assistance. It is an externally funded state. More than one-third of US foreign aid arrives in this one country, because Israel is seen as nothing more nor less than the US’s massive forward-deployed military base in the region. In the words of a US State Department communiqué, the US is committed to “maintaining and enhancing Israel’s security and qualitative edge over any combination of adversaries… [and] …the important advantages the US-Israeli strategic relationship has and will continue to provide us.” If the US subsidy to the Israeli State were withdrawn, the country would collapse economically and militarily.
It is for this reason, if we wish to understand why Israel undertook such a destructive and ultimately humiliating operation, we need to conduct a review of US fortunes to date in the Southwest Asian campaign of the Energy War.
Quite simply, the US -- originally planning to militarily occupy Iraq, then move on to “regime-change” in Iran -- has subdivided Iraq into a Kurdistan that is provoking Turkey, a multiform northern guerrilla resistance, a training opportunity for Saudi Wahabbist fighters in urban insurgency, and an Iranian rump state in the south… the latter being the nominal US ally in Iraq. Iran has emerged as the most influential Islamic country in the region, and is now securing its strategic interests in bi-lateral and multi-lateral trade and security agreements with Russia, India, and China. In the capitol of Iraq, where he has positioned himself to exercise the plurality of power that will influence any political outcome in Iraq, is Muqtada al Sadr. Sadr’s successful resistance to the US humiliated the Bush Administration in 2004 and catapulted Sadr’s popularity.
Sadr’s opposition to the US occupation put the conciliatory maneuvers of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in check in much the same way Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah has checked the comprador Sunni rulers of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan -- by going directly to their popular bases. None of these rulers is particularly happy with the sudden emergence of Shia and Persian influence in an area where they benefit by being the “moderate” Muslims under the paternal gaze of the US. But they are all faced with the more alarming prospect of being identified with Israel, via the US, at a point when their own domestic populations are growing restive and holding up both Sadr and Nasrallah as folk heroes.
Now, just as the destruction of Iraq has translated into a growing militant resistance to the US occupation, the Lebanese have been bombed directly into the armed camp of Nasrallah, who may face an administrative challenge keeping up with new recruits. And neither Mubarak, nor Abdullah, nor Abdullah II can now serve the US master by crowding Iran. Their initial criticisms of Nasrallah are now muted… and mooted.
Given that military actions can only be judged at the end of the road by their political outcomes, the position of both the US and Israel is now weaker in the region than at any point since the settler state was established in 1948.
As US hegemony -- that is, control through the consent of the governed -- has begun to unravel around the world, the US faced a choice: go gently into that good night by beating an orderly retreat into a multi-polar world, as Britain did with the loss of its empire, or make the shift from hegemony to naked brutality. The Bush regime has chosen the latter. Any time force becomes the single-note option, war planners are already at a disadvantage. They are not consolidating a political advantage, as FDR did for the US in World War II. They are trying to create a political advantage by force. This is how they are reduced to the linear logics of “metrics,” like Rumsfeld and McNamara before him.
When mathematics is one’s only measure of success in political affairs, one has already lost. It is easy to change outcomes, but very, very hard to predict them. War and politics are not linear.
The power of military brutality alone is the power to demoralize and demobilize, which presupposes a belief by the physically weaker party in the invincibility of the stronger party. The myth of the military invincibility of the United States had already been destroyed in Iraq. All that remained within the axis was the mystique of Israeli invincibility, and Hezbollah has shattered that by the simple act of survival. The destruction of Lebanon has massively increased the ranks of an ever-more general and regional resistance.
A refugee Lebanese woman with a baby in her arms declared to reporters yesterday, "Even if we die we are with Hezbollah. We want the resistance to live and to hold its strength. We don't want Israel to come in and take a single piece of our land and we're telling Hassan Nasrallah, you are the jewel in our crown.”
Many have been killed, and many more wracked with physical and psychic pain, but few among the Arabs and Muslims of the region have been demoralized. Quite the contrary. Furious morale, is very high.
This is a world-historic event. More, we can be sure, will follow.
**Editor’s Note: This week, a BBC report confirms Goff’s assertion that Iran has emerged as the supreme power of the Middle East **