[Marxism] In Battle to Remove Hezbollah, Both Israel, Lebanon Pay Price

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Mon Jul 24 09:01:58 MDT 2006


Considering the racist hostility and complete dehumanization which
the Israeli and much of the U.S. media express toward Palestinians,
all the more stunning is the fact some Israelis have actually come
to experience some slight semblance of what the Lebanese have been
experiencing recently. It's hard to imagine we're reading this in
the pages of the WALL STREET JOURNAL, but what follows is hard fact,
not rhetoric in the news columns, unlike the opinion columns, which 
recently ran an essay advocating that Israel openly adopt a policy 
of assassinations - "targetted killings" in current parlance, but
imagine how this is going to play internationally. What goes around
comes around and Israel and its supporters have been getting away
with murder since 1948. The price is getting higher now, and we'll
see in time how quickly, and to what extent, Israelis will come to
understand the price they are paying for living in a state which is
pitted against the entire rest of the region. Notice here that the
U.S. is saying it'll support an international force to take part,
and to use force against Hezbollah. Israel still home free...


Walter Lippmann


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
("Hezbollah has avoided direct confrontations with better-equipped
Israeli troops. But by firing a constant barrage of rockets on
northern Israel -- more than 200 over the weekend and more than 2,000
since hostilities broke out -- it has succeeded in seriously
disrupting much of the country's economy. The war has paralyzed a
large swath of northern Israel, shuttering factories, offices and
stores and sending large numbers of people into bunkers or searching
for safe haven further south. Of Israel's two million northern
residents, a third are estimated to have fled south. In Haifa,
Israel's third-largest city, there had been hope going into the
weekend that Hezbollah's ability to strike was waning after the
number of rockets falling on Israel declined. But after the barrage
of attacks Sunday and Saturday -- including one Sunday in Haifa that
killed two citizens -- fear and economic paralysis aren't going away
soon. Officials say the total death toll has climbed to 36 people in
Israel, and nearly 400 in Lebanon."

("Haifa now resembles a ghost town. Its once-full beaches are empty.
The central business district is shuttered, with mom-and-pop shops,
auto dealers, electrical goods stores and restaurants closed.")
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


The Wall Street Journal 		

July 24, 2006
	
PAGE ONE

Balancing Act
In Battle to Remove Hezbollah,
Both Israel, Lebanon Pay Price
Crisis Grows in Two Countries
As Economic Toll Mounts,
Deadly Attacks Continue
Secretary Rice's Mission
By JAY SOLOMON in Beirut, Lebanon, 
KARBY LEGGETT in Jerusalem, 
GUY CHAZAN in Haifa, Israel, 
and NEIL KING JR. in Washington
July 24, 2006; Page A1


As Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrives in the Middle East
Monday, the U.S. and Israel must balance their goal of defanging the
militant group Hezbollah against the growing toll the war is taking
on Israel, Lebanon and President Bush's hopes for reshaping the
region.

Amid growing calls for a cease-fire, including at the United Nations,
the first question Secretary Rice and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert will tackle is how long Israel should aggressively attack
Lebanon to try to debilitate Hezbollah. Permanently damaging
Hezbollah's military capacity could take weeks, or even months.

The rising casualties, especially in Lebanon, after nearly two weeks
of fighting are adding to a humanitarian crisis in both Israel and
Lebanon. That could ultimately put pressure on Israel to rein in its
ambitions to destroy Hezbollah, leaving it potentially lethal and
even more popular in the Islamic world.

Hezbollah has avoided direct confrontations with better-equipped
Israeli troops. But by firing a constant barrage of rockets on
northern Israel -- more than 200 over the weekend and more than 2,000
since hostilities broke out -- it has succeeded in seriously
disrupting much of the country's economy. The war has paralyzed a
large swath of northern Israel, shuttering factories, offices and
stores and sending large numbers of people into bunkers or searching
for safe haven further south. Of Israel's two million northern
residents, a third are estimated to have fled south. In Haifa,
Israel's third-largest city, there had been hope going into the
weekend that Hezbollah's ability to strike was waning after the
number of rockets falling on Israel declined. But after the barrage
of attacks Sunday and Saturday -- including one Sunday in Haifa that
killed two citizens -- fear and economic paralysis aren't going away
soon. Officials say the total death toll has climbed to 36 people in
Israel, and nearly 400 in Lebanon.

Haifa now resembles a ghost town. Its once-full beaches are empty.
The central business district is shuttered, with mom-and-pop shops,
auto dealers, electrical goods stores and restaurants closed.

Not far away, the Haifa Port -- along with Ashdod, one of Israel's
two busiest -- has been closed now for nearly a week, with ships
directed to a southern port. A battery of huge cranes used to haul
goods off of ships stand idle and normally busy wharves are empty of
people.

The war has had less impact on Haifa's industrial zone, a sprawling
complex of oil refineries and petrochemical plants that form the
backbone of Israel's economy. But some fear a direct hit by a
Hezbollah missile could have a catastrophic impact, causing an
environmental disaster and cutting oil and gas supplies to the rest
of the country.

"This is a very sexy target for Hezbollah," says Eli Dolev, head of
security and firefighting at Haifa's oil refinery. He says
administrative staff have been sent home, but the plant -- whose
control center is in an underground bunker -- is still working at
full capacity. "We have to keep going -- we're one of only two
refineries in Israel," he says.

Some big industrial giants have been affected. Iscar Ltd., a maker of
precision tools that U.S. investor Warren Buffett recently invested
$4 billion in, was forced to close for three days last week, though
it has now reopened. Other companies have reduced staff to skeleton
levels. Another toll on Israel's economy is the military's recent
call-up of more than 5,000 reserve soldiers. Because the vast
majority of reservists hold jobs, calling them up for service has a
broad impact on businesses in Israel. If the war expands and more
soldiers are needed, some business leaders say the impact will be
enormous, especially in economic centers like Tel Aviv.

Though public support for the war is high -- near 90% by some
measures -- some Israeli analysts say economic fallout could also
shape the debate over the course of the war. The stakes are
particularly high for Israel's prime minister. Mr. Olmert -- who
never served in the military, aside from a short stint as a military
correspondent decades ago -- counts Israel's business community as
one of his strongest support bases, and many are eager to bring an
end to the fighting.

Meanwhile, in Lebanon, senior officials say they're increasingly
struggling to provide services to the country's four million citizens
as Israel decimates Lebanon's roads, bridges and airports. Over the
weekend, Israeli planes struck telecommunications and television
towers, as well as milk-production plants and a Procter & Gamble Co.
distribution warehouse. Tens of thousands of Lebanese from the
hardest-hit regions in the south continue to migrate north looking
for havens in northern Lebanon and Syria.

Some senior officials in Lebanon's government say Israel's offensive
-- and the Bush administration's support for it -- threatens to
undermine democratic strides made in Lebanon recently and could
ultimately strengthen Hezbollah. In what many Lebanese refer to as
the Cedar Revolution, after the country's national tree, Syrian
troops were forced to withdraw last year after the assassination of
then-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri sparked a popular, anti-Syria
uprising. A reform-minded government then swept to power in a
democratic election.

But few believe the administration of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora can
survive a protracted war between Israel and Hezbollah without
collapsing.

Israel is "trying to destroy the model for democracy and freedom that
the Cedar Revolution was trying to achieve," said Lebanon's finance
minister, Jihad Azour, in an interview. "This isn't serving the
interests of the U.S. to have this one-sided approach."

Many inside the Lebanese government are rallying around Hezbollah,
saying their country needs to remain united at a time of war.
Hezbollah's political party holds 14 out of 128 seats in the Lebanese
Parliament and two ministerial seats. Many Lebanese also see
Hezbollah militants as having played the leading role in ending
Israel's occupation of south Lebanon in May 2000.

Still, many politicians in Beirut acknowledge that once the Israeli
offensive subsides, Beirut will need to come to grips with Hezbollah
and its leader, Hassan Nasrallah. Among the thorniest issues: how to
reconcile the fact that Hezbollah, which initiated the crisis by
attacking an Israel military patrol and kidnapping two soldiers,
remains a key part of Lebanon's elected government. This question
will become even more pronounced if the Lebanese government turns to
western nations to secure reconstruction funds.

Indeed, to get international funding, some believe Lebanon will face
pressure to boot Hezbollah out of the coalition. Others, however,
believe Hezbollah must remain in the government in order to ensure
the country's large Shiite population gets adequate representation.
Either way, the result will be an enormous test for Lebanon's
sectarian political system -- one that could end up in new elections
for a government increasingly viewed as unable to serve its citizens'
needs.

The difficulty facing Lebanon's young government is evident in the
offices of Mohammad Safadi, the minister for transport and public
works. A Sunni politician from the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli,
Mr. Safadi took to the streets in support of last year's Cedar
Revolution and says Lebanon's pursuit of economic revival was being
realized. Below his office, he points to a string of cranes and
construction sites where Lebanese and Arab companies have been
constructing new residential towers and retail spaces, though the
work sites have recently been abandoned.

Mr. Safadi says he can't even begin to plan for the rebuilding of
Lebanon's infrastructure as the Israeli offensive continues unabated.
Roughly 80% of Lebanon's major highways have been damaged by the
Israeli raids, says the 62-year-old minister, and 95% of the
country's bridges. Israel's air and sea embargo against Lebanon also
remains firmly in place, he says, making it nearly impossible to
import oil and construction materials. Without a rapid cease-fire
followed by a major commitment to rebuilding Lebanon, "it's the end
of Lebanon as a sovereign state," he says somberly.

The only way forward for Lebanon at this stage, says Mr. Safadi,
would be a comprehensive deal struck between Lebanon and Israel over
the future of Hezbollah's arms and Shebaa Farms, a piece of disputed
land that sits between Israel, Lebanon and Syria. To do so, he says,
all sides will need to make concessions, something they may not be in
the mood to do. Moreover, because Israel and Lebanon don't have
official relations, any such deal would have to be brokered by a
third party. He also says Lebanon will now need substantial financial
assistance from the international community to recover from the
Israeli attacks.

Perhaps the greatest concern if Israel's confrontation with Hezbollah
drags on is that Lebanon could once again be plunged into the sort of
civil war that ravaged the country between 1975 and 1989.

Members of Mr. Siniora's government stress that his government hasn't
ceased operating. Mr. Azour, the finance minister, says that the
administration is working closely with the U.N. and international
nongovernmental organizations to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches
the 600,000 Lebanese who have been displaced by the conflict. He also
says that his government is successfully keeping the country's
financial system operating, as most banks remain open and the
Lebanese currency has stayed largely stable. "These are short-term
measures," Mr. Azour says. "We need a cease-fire" in order to ensure
the rebuilding of the country.

As Secretary Rice left for the region late Sunday, the Bush
administration sought Arab support to pressure Hezbollah to disarm
and to give Israel more time to weaken the Islamic militia's
strongholds in Lebanon. The first push came at the White House Sunday
afternoon, when President Bush and Ms. Rice met with Saudi Foreign
Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the
former veteran ambassador to the U.S. and now chief of the Saudi
National Security Council.

The Saudis outlined a proposal for a cease-fire that would
effectively postpone the matter of disarming Hezbollah. But the U.S.
made no public commitment to back the Saudi plan, and American
officials sought to downplay the significance of the meeting. The two
sides discussed restoring sovereignty to the Lebanese government,
building stronger Lebanese armed forces, rebuilding Lebanon and
putting conditions in place for an end to the violence, among other
issues, an administration spokesman said.

The purpose of the Saudi session, and others to come in Rome on
Wednesday, "is to seek a coordinated Arab approach to strengthening
the Lebanese government and pressuring Hezbollah," said one senior
administration official. The administration is particularly keen to
see countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt keep up their criticism
both of Hezbollah and Syria, which for years has been a main
supporter of Hezbollah, alongside Iran. Even so, during the meeting,
the Saudi officials pressed Mr. Bush to seek a speedy cease-fire,
something Washington has been reluctant to do so far.

After talks with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas, Ms. Rice will then travel to Rome for talks
Wednesday among an array of European and Arab ministers. Much of
those talks will focus on what sort of international armed force
might be sent into Southern Lebanon as part of a cease-fire and an
eventual plan to disarm Hezbollah.

U.S. officials Sunday said that the administration supported
proposals to send in a NATO-like contingent under a strong U.N.
mandate that would allow the troops, as in Kosovo or Afghanistan, to
use force against Hezbollah as needed. The U.S., however, is not
likely send American troops into Lebanon.





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