[Marxism] Re:Marxist analysis of US/Israel offensives

David McDonald dbmcdonald at comcast.net
Thu Jul 27 12:20:39 MDT 2006

The crucial thing about this war is that it extends the string of military
defeats imperialism has suffered at the hands of Muslims. David Walters
says, essentially, watch out, and in a way he is right. The sheer power of
destruction available to the Israeli government is no less awesome,
relatively speaking, than that of the US. And the Israelis are at least as
bloody-minded as the US imperialists. But.

Currently, Israel is unable to use that power effectively in combat agains
Hezbollah. Tanks cannot manuver is tiny streets, and the Israeli soldiers
are forced into hand-to-hand combat where of course the moral factor
predominates and the Israelis are being smashed by being held at bay. It is
well to remember that whatever the mystic notions of the insuperability of
the all-powerful Israeli army, it has in fact for the last many years done
nothing but shoot unarmed teenagers. That has a corroding effect on the
moral factor.

Remember this little piece of bragadoccio from Brigadier General John Kelly
on April 9, 2003?

'"They stand, they fight, sometimes they run when we engage them,"
Brigadier-General John Kelly said. "But often they run into our machine guns
and we shoot them down like the morons they are."'

Not a lot of that kind of talk coming out of Washington or Tel Aviv in the
last couple of weeks. Instead, we get amazement at the fact that Hezbollah
learned from chasing Israel out of Lebanon the last time, and actually paid
attention to what caused the PLO to find itself facing an obviously
unwinnable set-piece battle with the Israeli army that forced surrender and
retreat, the defeat that was sealed by Israel's putting to the sword the
inhabitants of the refugee camps Sabra and Shatila under Sharon's orders.

In Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Lebanon it isn't working for the imperialists.
This is the third recent occasion on which the imperialist powers have
picked fights with Muslims who fight back. If the Lebanon war drags on for
any time at all you betcha you'll begin to see foreign volunteers looking
for the chance to take a shot at the Israelis, just like in Iraq. What is
Osama bin Laden's fundamental point? It is a demonstration to the Arab
masses, he thinks, that anyone with a few hundred people and a million bucks
can put a severe hurt on the imperialists, so what is wrong with the Arab
leaders that allows them to tolerate the Crusaders in the middle of the Arab
and Muslim world? (This is my hopefully accurate re-phrasing of the gist of
an article by M Shahid Alam I read on Counterpunch).

But the current targets of Hesbollah are not civilians working in a
high-rise, but Israeli troops in tanks. Hezbollah's strategy is not the same
strategy applied by Saddam in 2003, for whom the real war did not begin
until Baghdad fell.

I think it may be useful to compare this Lebanon invasion to the Tet
Offensive. I say this because it appears -- appears, and I admit I can know
very little sitting in Seattle -- that Hezbollah has decided *strategically*
to attempt to deny the Israeli invasion at the border and at each point
along the way, so far with amazing success. The United States is already
completely internationally isolated in their opposition to an immediate

The key to Tet was not the losses inflicted on the US during the
insurrection, but the fact that the lie of a war going well was thoroughly,
irreducibly and permanently wiped from the imagination of the American
people. (Tet was, IMHO, the greatest propaganda victory of all history.)

Hezbollah is making a stand that speaks directly to 1 billion or so Muslims.
Their strategic gamble is that they can hold off the Israelis long enough at
the border or nearby such that it will be impossible for Israel to actually
invade Lebanon full-on, mobilize its entire army, yada yada.

It is worth while recalling that the United States' invasion of Iraq in 2003
was *not* preceded by a month of shock-and-awe bombing, as happened in 1990.
I have always felt, with nary a thing to back it up except circumstantial
evidence of the obvious hastiness and ad-hoc planning of the invasion (where
were the batallions of military police that usually follow extremely closely
behind *liberating* forces?), that the invasion was *moved up* because the
US was losing the propaganda battle for the war and had only the decisive
weapon of military action to change the momentum. Given the howl that
existed before the invasion internationally (demos totally 15-30 million on
the same day) there was no way the US could have bombed Iraq for a month or
even a week before outrage, in the absence of casualties or even danger to
US troops, would have mounted to higher and more frightening levels and made
a ground invasion impossible. They just didn't have the time for shock and
awe and that political fact overrode the unbelievably cautious slug-like
minds of the Pentagon planners who always bomb first. A movement that swells
to 15-30 million is not something you fool around with or encourage to grow
with more atrocities. You go to war and rally round the flag, even if you
are seriously unprepared and know it. If you can also commit the troops of
other nations with people then at risk, like Britain, who also have a long
imperialist history of supporting their troops anywhere on earth doing
anything while the bullets are flying, so much the better.

It will be much easier to mobilize world opinion against an all-out Isrtaeli
invasion while they are held off at the border. I think it is fair to say
that Hesbollah has seized the strategic initiative in this conflict. That
doesn't mean they will keep it. What is exceptionally dangerous is that the
imperialists desperately need a win and they are unbelievably vicious.

More information about the Marxism mailing list