"I wish I could say I was confident that the colossal fuck-up in Lebanon (added to the colossal fuck-up in Iraq) would hasten the NeoCons' demise (it has gotten Joe halfway gone, at least). But there is a scenario where this abysmal result will actually strengthen the NeoCons.
Olmert, anxious to have a military success to prove he could match the hawkishness of his rivals, will instead be seen as responsible for a terrible debacle. I would not be surprised at all to see Bibi Netanyahu challenge Olmert in the near future, promising to offer real hawkishness rather than a middling approach that brought nothing but failure. Ah, wouldn't Bibi love to return to oversee the implementation of his "Clean Break Strategy"?
And in the US, I predict the Neocons will blame this debacle not on Israel's lack of resolve (which is who they'd blame here in the US). But on Condi, for championing a cease fire that leaves Israel as a loser. I've been suggesting for weeks that the NeoCons were anxious to have Condi out of their way. And a little thing like the truth isn't going to stop them from claiming Condi deserves the blame for this."
There's much to digest in Sy Hersh's new piece on the Lebanon war, but the crux of it seems to be right here:The surprising strength of Hezbollah’s resistance, and its continuing ability to fire rockets into northern Israel in the face of the constant Israeli bombing, the Middle East expert told me, "is a massive setback for those in the White House who want to use force in Iran. And those who argue that the bombing will create internal dissent and revolt in Iran are also set back."
Nonetheless, some officers serving with the Joint Chiefs of Staff remain deeply concerned that the Administration will have a far more positive assessment of the air campaign than they should, the former senior intelligence official said. "There is no way that Rumsfeld and Cheney will draw the right conclusion about this," he said. "When the smoke clears, they’ll say it was a success, and they’ll draw reinforcement for their plan to attack Iran."
I think the staff 'droid at the JCS has a better bead on this, probably because he's been watching the Cheneyite reaction in real time. This doesn't necessarily mean an irrevokable decision to go to war with Iran has been made -- although I'd put the odds at better than 3 in 4 that is has, and Sy's reporting seems to support that conclusion:A former intelligence officer said, "We told Israel, 'Look, if you guys have to go, we’re behind you all the way. But we think it should be sooner rather than later -- the longer you wait, the less time we have to evaluate and plan for Iran before Bush gets out of office.'"
But like the JCS staffer, I also suspect that failure in Lebanon has badly eroded whatever slim chance remained that war could be avoided. I say that at least in part because of Commander Codpiece and his demonstrated tendency to treat any unexpected reversal or failure as a personal rebuke....
On the other hand, I seriously doubt Cheney and his circle care much about the failure of the bombing-them-into-democracy theory. That's Shrub's bag, not Shotgun Dick's. Whether an aerial assault could actually neutralize Iran's nascent nuclear program may also be irrelevant. The main pupose of destroying Lebanon, as I pointed out awhile back, may have been simply to demonstrate to Tehran the terrible price it will have to pay if it continues to defy the laughably misnamed "international community."The Israeli plan, according to the former senior intelligence official, was "the mirror image of what the United States has been planning for Iran."
This is a depressing thought. If Lebanon really was a demonstration of the madman theory in action -- or, in this case, the madmen theory -- then it's possible the scope and intensity of the Beirut blitz was designed to be an alternative to war with Iran, not a prelude to it....
The thing is, if a devastating strategic bombing campaign couldn't even deter the Hezbollanians -- the direct target of all those bombs -- then it isn't likely to deter the Iranians. If one were intelligent and sensible, one would probably conclude that only an air campaign backed by a full-fledged ground invasion would do the trick. But Hizbullah's success at defending its turf (even in the face of something like 10-to-1 IDF numerical superiority) also suggests Iran's Revolutionary Guards aren't likely to be quite as easy a pushover as Saddam's conscript army and the professional criminals who commanded his Republican (body) Guard.
But of course, the neocons are not intelligent and sensible, so they'll likely conclude that the problem with Israel's war was that it didn't go far enough, fast enough. (This, of course, has been the neocon explanation for every military or foreign policy debacle they have caused or helped cause since the Vietnam War.)...
Still, the fact that everthing has not gone to plan in their splendid little war in Lebanon must have had some impact on the gang's thinking. The vulnerability of our army in Iraq does appear to have registered on Field Marshall von Rumsfeld's consciousness, at least according to Sy:At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on August 3rd, Rumsfeld was less than enthusiastic about the war’s implications for the American troops in Iraq. Asked whether the Administration was mindful of the war’s impact on Iraq, he testified that, in his meetings with Bush and Condoleezza Rice, “there is a sensitivity to the desire to not have our country or our interests or our forces put at greater risk as a result of what’s taking place between Israel and Hezbollah. . . . There are a variety of risks that we face in that region, and it’s a difficult and delicate situation.”
Yes, a difficult and delicate situation. Which is why I wouldn't be surprised if we see the nuclear option put back on table very shortly.