Monday, August 14, 2006

Global Trend in Terrorism


Just out in the Boston Globe: a piece that has a previously unreported bit of news relevant to the current situation in the Middle East:

Recent US intelligence community analyses raise the question: What would change Hezbollah's current posture of standing on the sidelines and not actively targeting Americans?

In April , the community produced a National Intelligence Estimate on terrorism, which, according to people who have read it , says that Hezbollah is the only major terrorist group with global reach currently not trying to kill Americans. The document also raised the intelligence community's concern that, if the United States were to attack Iran over its nuclear program, Iran might use Hezbollah to strike US targets once again.

The situation in Lebanon presents a more indirect confrontation between the United States and Iran. On one level, it pits the US-supplied Israelis against the Iranian-supplied Hezbollah. What's more, the Bush administration is widely perceived to be providing diplomatic cover for Israel's assault on Hezbollah in Lebanon. And because the group has so far survived, respect for Hezbollah on the so-called Arab street is at an all-time high. As former Reagan-era Pentagon counterterrorism chief Noel Koch puts it, ``Hezbollah's stock is rising up the charts."

The previously unreported April 2006 NIE, Global Trend in Terrorism, was getting attention of policymkers months before the current conflict in Lebanon arose, when people were considering how might Iran try to retaliate against the US should the US confront Iran over its nuclear program.
* meanwhile, this from larisa 2 weeks ago
" and I'm told that Cheney gave Israel a green light (to invade Lebanon) in June."
and this via RawStory:

(Seymour) Hersh's intelligence and diplomatic sources tell him that the reason for this hands-off reaction was that George Bush and Dick Cheney already knew about Israeli plans for a bombing campaign against Hezbollah's underground missile complexes and were convinced that it could both increase Israel's security and serve as a prelude to a American pre-emptive attack on Iran's nuclear installations.

The White House also wanted Hezbollah stripped of the ability to retailiate against Israel in the wake of an American attack on Iran. As one U.S. government consultant told Hersh, "The Israelis told us it would be a cheap war with many benefits. Why oppose it? We’ll be able to hunt down and bomb missiles, tunnels, and bunkers from the air. It would be a demo for Iran."

The White House and National Security Council have denied knowing in advance about Israel's plans. However, Hersh's sources made it clear that Israel shared its plans with the Americans this past spring and received strong encouragement. Israeli military and intelligence experts acknowledged the American support but insisted to Hersh that Israel had acted against Hezbollah solely on the basis of its own interests and not as an agent of American policy.

Richard Armitage, who served as Deputy Secretary of State during Bush's first term, suggested that the White House should take the Israeli example as a reason to re-examine its plans for Iran: "If the most dominant military force in the region--the Israel Defense Forces--can’t pacify a country like Lebanon, with a population of four million, you should think carefully about taking that template to Iran, with strategic depth and a population of seventy million.""


Don said...

...Bush and Dick Cheney already knew about Israeli plans for a bombing campaign against Hezbollah's underground missile complexes...

"Underground missile complexes", huh? I read that phrase and I picture the subterranean ICBM complexes we've seen depicted in the movies, a far cry from Hezbollah's capabilities.

But I suppose "arsenal of rockets stored in underground tunnel networks" doesn't roll of the tongue as well, or carry the desired emotional weight.

'Missile' implies guidance, which Hezb's weapons (other than the hypothetical C802 used on the Hanit) do not have. For residents of Haifa it's an insignificant difference, unless they're thanking God most of Hezbollah's rockets missed because they weren't guided.

To the world at large who need to be convinced of the terr'ists' capabilities, it's a big implication. Ditto for anyone looking to spin Israel's difficulties in dealing with them.

Politically, they might look to paint Hezbollah more favourably so as to minimize what a fiasco the campaign has been in terms of its originally stated intentions.

lukery said...

lol - remember the elaborate stories (and .ppt diagrams - with arrows!) about saddams subterranean tunnels?