Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Correlation of Forces

Strategy Page has a helpful analysis of what Marxists might refer to as the "correlation of forces" in Lebanon. It's a little dated now that it seems that there will be a cease-fire, but it's interesting nonetheless:

Hizbollah has no incentive to broadcast the extent of its injuries in the current war. The losses have been substantial. For example, Syrians have noted an enormous exodus of Lebanese Shia into Syria. Some 10-15 percent of Lebanon's Shia appear to have fled the areas of southern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley, for refuge in Syria. They are not just getting away from Israeli bombs, but the rising possibility of another round of civil war with Lebanese Sunnis, Druze and Christians. Hizbollah is a terrorist organization, and for nearly two decades, other Lebanese have been on the receiving end of that terror. There are payback issues in play. Before Hizbollah attacked Israel, these issues were being worked out, but the deal involved Hizbollah disarming and giving up control of southern Lebanon. The Hizbollah militants didn't go for this, partly because they feared retaliation from Lebanese families they had terrorized (via murder, kidnappings or worse) over the last two decades. Better that all of Lebanon should suffer, than a few hundred Hizbollah thugs should pay for their crimes. The Lebanese know this, the Israelis know this, the international media ignores it. But it's these grudges that will destroy Hizbollah in the end. The Shia fleeing to Syria fear their fellow Lebanese more than they fear the Israelis.

Hizbollah doesn't have a large "army." Only a few thousand trained and trustworthy gunmen. About 20 percent of these have been killed or wounded so far. About half of the 70,000 man army is Shia, a consequence of depending on Syria to help form and train the army. That's one reason why most Lebanese don't trust their own army, and why the Israelis don't accept the Lebanese offer to send 15,000 of their soldiers into southern Lebanon to take over from Hizbollah. While the Shia Lebanese soldiers aren't all Hizbollah members, those that are Shia know that Hizbollah can reach their family members. Hizbollah is a terrorist organization, and good at that sort of thing.

While no Lebanese want another round of civil war, if it did happen, it would be everyone against the Hizbollah led Shia. The result would be up to half the Shia population exiled in Syria, and Shia power in Lebanon broken for a long, long time. The Shia sect (Alawites) that runs Syria wouldn't mind a few hundred thousand Shia refugees in their midst, as Shia are only about ten percent of Syria's population. The Sunni Arabs who are the majority of Syrians might mind. Iran would come through with lots of money to make it all better, and keep the Shia in charge of Syria.

Israeli troops advancing into southern Lebanon are finding a lot of late model Russian weapons. Especially abundant are recently manufactured Russian anti-tank missiles. Three post-Cold War Russian missile systems have been found in large numbers. These include the 9M111 Fagot, which has a 25 pound missile fired from a 24 pound launch unit for up to 2,000 meters. Then there is the 9M133 Kornet, a replacement for the 9M111. This is laser guided missile with a range of 5,000 meters. The launcher has a thermal sight for use at night or in fog. The missile's warhead can penetrate 1200 mm of armor, which means that the front and side armor of the Israeli Merkava tank are vulnerable. The missile weighs 18 pounds and the launcher 42 pounds. Then there is the 9M131 Metis 2, which is a 30 pound missile, with a 1,500 meter range. It is fired from a 35 pound control unit, that has a thermal sight. Missiles and launch units have been found in bombed out buildings. The 9M131 can be fired from inside buildings. The missiles are used to take long range shots at Israeli infantry, as Hizbollah knows that, up close, their gunmen tend to lose quickly, and with heavy casualties, to the better trained Israelis. Russia has been selling these new missile systems to Syria and Iran, and this is the first real combat test of these systems. A few Israeli tanks have been hit, but most of the missiles have been fired at Israeli infantry, causing over a hundred casualties. Israel won't release details of these operations until after the war is over, but has admitted that most of their casualties in southern Lebanon have come from these Russian missiles.

Israel is moving sufficient troops, to the Lebanese border, to clear an area about 20 kilometers north of the border. This would severely limit the ability of Hizbollah to fire 122mm rockets into Israel. The Israelis would systematically clear civilians and Hizbollah fighters out of the area. Hizbollah has already lost hundreds of millions of dollars in assets (buildings, vehicles and equipment). The Israelis are holding off on the "20 Kilometer Zone" operation to see if the UN can work out a ceasefire deal. That would have to include a force of "trustworthy" (Western) peacekeeping troops in southern Lebanon. There would have to be peacekeepers who could, like the Israelis, fight Hizbollah, and not be intimidated, or bribed by Hizbollah, as has been the case with the current UN peacekeeper force. Hizbollah refuses to accept this more robust force, and Israel will accept nothing less.

Although Israel has lost about fifty soldiers killed so far, this is a much lower loss rate than in previous wars. Better technology, weapons and medical care have all combined to reduce the casualty rate.

Israel is on the front lines of a war whose battle zone covers the globe. Right now the conflict is raging most obviously in the Middle East, but, as Thursday's revelations indicate, the Islamists are eager to extend the fight to Europe and the United States as well. Let us hope that Israel can eliminate Hezbollah and make at least that theater a little safer for civilized people to dwell in.

If Materialism is True

Materialism is the philosophical view that matter is all there is and that everything can therefore ultimately be reduced to, and explained in terms of, material entities. Terry Mirl offers six predictions based on materialism which, assuming that view were true, should eventually be confirmed. If, after a suitable period of time, these predictions have not come to pass, the lack of confirmation should be taken as an indication, Mirl claims, that materialism is false.

His six predictions are quite provocative. If you read them, ask yourself what you think the likelihood is of any of them ever being fulfilled and what the implications of that might be. You can find them at Uncommon Descent.

Have we Got a Deal For You!

Paul Nowak sums up the Israeli position after the recent passage of the U.N. Security Council cease-fire resolution:

Sex Slaves

Andrew Sullivan has a You Tube video of a comedian who has an interesting, and funny, take on the Muslim view of heavenly rewards for terrorists. Go here and click on the video.

Thoughts of a Lebanese Christian

These remarks by Brigitte Gabriel, a Lebanese Christian, delivered at the Duke University Counter Terrorism Speak-Out on October 15, 2004, are well-worth our attention today:

I'm proud and honoured to stand here today, as a Lebanese speaking for Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. As someone who was raised in an Arabic country, I want to give you a glimpse into the heart of the Arabic world.

I was raised in Lebanon, where I was taught that the Jews were evil, Israel was the devil, and the only time we will have peace in the Middle East is when we kill all the Jews and drive them into the sea.

When the Moslems and Palestinians declared Jihad on the Christians in 1975, they started massacring the Christians, city after city. I ended up living in a bomb shelter underground from age 10 to 17, without electricity, eating grass to live, and crawling under sniper bullets to a spring to get water.

It was Israel who came to help the Christians in Lebanon. My mother was wounded by a Moslem's shell, and was taken into an Israeli hospital for treatment. When we entered the emergency room, I was shocked at what I saw. There were hundreds of people wounded, Moslems, Palestinians, Christians, Lebanese, and Israeli soldiers lying on the floor. The doctors treated everyone according to their injury. They treated my mother before they treated the Israeli soldier lying next to her. They didn't see religion, they didn't see political affiliation, they saw people in need and they helped.

For the first time in my life I experienced a human quality that I know my culture would not have shown to their enemy. I experienced the values of the Israelis, who were able to love their enemy in their most trying moments. I spent 22 days at that hospital. Those days changed my life and the way I believe information, the way I listen to the radio or to television. I realized I was sold a fabricated lie by my government, about the Jews and Israel, that was so far from reality. I knew for fact that, if I was a Jew standing in an Arab hospital, I would be lynched and thrown over to the grounds, as shouts of joy of Allah Akbar, God is great, would echo through the hospital and the surrounding streets.

I became friends with the families of the Israeli wounded soldiers: one in particular Rina, her only child was wounded in his eyes.

One day I was visiting with her, and the Israeli army band came to play national songs to lift the spirits of the wounded soldiers. As they surrounded his bed playing a song about Jerusalem, Rina and I started crying. I felt out of place and started walking out of the room, and this mother holds my hand and pulls me back in without even looking at me. She holds me crying and says: "It is not your fault." We just stood there crying, holding each other's hands.

What a contrast between her, a mother looking at her deformed 19 year old only child, and still able to love me, the enemy, and between a Moslem mother who sends her son to blow himself up to smithereens just to kill a few Jews or Christians.

The difference between the Arabic world and Israel is a difference in values and character. It's barbarism versus civilization. It's democracy versus dictatorship. It's goodness versus evil.

Once upon a time, there was a special place in the lowest depths of hell for anyone who would intentionally murder a child. Now, the intentional murder of Israeli children is legitimized as Palestinian "armed struggle."

However, once such behaviour is legitimized against Israel, it is legitimized everywhere in the world, constrained by nothing more than the subjective belief of people who would wrap themselves in dynamite and nails for the purpose of killing children in the name of God.

Because the Palestinians have been encouraged to believe that murdering innocent Israeli civilians is a legitimate tactic for advancing their cause, the whole world now suffers from a plague of terrorism, from Nairobi to New York, from Moscow to Madrid, from Bali to Beslan.

They blame suicide bombing on "desperation of occupation." Let me tell you the truth. The first major terror bombing committed by Arabs against the Jewish state occurred ten weeks before Israel even became independent.

On Sunday morning, February 22, 1948, in anticipation of Israel's independence, a triple truck bomb was detonated by Arab terrorists on Ben Yehuda Street, in what was then the Jewish section of Jerusalem. Fifty-four people were killed, and hundreds were wounded. Thus, it is obvious that Arab terrorism is caused not by the "desperation" of "occupation" but by the VERY THOUGHT of a Jewish state.

So many times in history in the last 100 years, citizens have stood by and done nothing, allowing evil to prevail. As America stood up against and defeated communism, now it is time to stand up against the terror of religious bigotry and intolerance. It's time to all stand up and support and defend the state of Israel, which is the front line of the war against terrorism.

HT to Andrew Sullivan.