Elster's World

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Some Ramblings

There’s a lot to talk about today and I’ll try and do it in the order of importance.

- The battle for the key Hezbollah stronghold of Bint Jbail in Southern Lebanon is responsible for the death of at least nine Israeli soldiers today. Despite the fact that Israel has been forced into a land war, it is still jarring (if not unexpected) and extremely saddening to hear the news of the death of Jews. Clearly Israel has somewhat underestimated the will of the Hezbollah terrorists, which is, quite frankly, surprising. Why would anyone have assumed that people who are willing to strap explosives to themselves and blow themselves up in crowds of innocent people would simply give up arms when the bombs started falling? Israel is going to have to pound them to death and that is why battles like Bint jbail are so important. You cannot break the spirit of radicals, you have to uproot them.

- The death of the UN observers in Lebanon is tragic and sad. But it begs the question. Why have these people there in the first place? What, exactly, are the observing? It’s a war. And the fact that Israel hater Kofi Anan would publicly state “outrage” for Israel’s intentionally targeting the UN post is ludicrous. Why, when Israel is finally holding an almost universally accepted “in the right” position would they do something to upset the apple cart? The whole thing is ridiculous. There should not be UN civilians in a war zone and there should only be sadness and regret, not baseless accusations.

- The Nine Days has just begun and already I miss meat. I’m so sad.

- I’m officially concerned about the Mets. The starting pitching situation is approaching danger zone. Tom Glavine has been terrible for about a month, Steve trachsel, despite a 9-5 record, has been painful all season, El Duque is on-off-off-on, not good enough, and thus there is way too much reliance being put on rookies John Maine and Mike Pelfrey. The good news is, the Mets have an 11.5 game cushion in the East right now and they have Pedro coming back Friday night to open against (and hopefully shut down) the Braves. But, as constructed the Mets don’t have enough pitching to win the world series and in fact, you could see them losing to a team like the Cardinals in the playoffs.


  • 1. "Clearly Israel has somewhat underestimated the will of the Hezbollah terrorists, which is, quite frankly, surprising."

    Please don't make silly comments like these. It's terrible that Israeli soldiers are dying, but it's also inevitable in war. Nobody underestimated Hezbollah.

    2. Glad you're seeing the light about the Mets, finally.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 7:59 AM  

  • No Joe - you are dead wrong. I believe that israel assumed that a few days of bombing Southern Lebanon would break their spirit. My point that Israeli soldiers dying is seperate. I believe that a land war was probably not in the original thought process but only became necessary when hezbollah, instead og lying down arms, started firing 100 missles a day across the border.

    I stand by my "silly" comment. I may not have the background in Israeli politics that some of my other esteemed bloggers possess, but when interested, I'm a damn quick learner.

    By Blogger Elster, at 9:14 AM  

  • Oh - But last night's performance by John Maine and Co. make me a believer once again. And welcome back Pedro tomorrow night.

    By Blogger Elster, at 9:16 AM  

  • "when interested, I'm a damn quick learner."

    Reading Israeli papers for two weeks don't make you an expert.

    Perhaps Israel overestimated the ability of the IAF, but it did not underestimate Hezbollah. Not after Israel's experience in Lebanon over the last three decades.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 7:01 AM  

  • Yet, Joe, every day that goes by I am being proven correct. Israel announces they have detroyed 50% of hezbollah's munitions yet more rockets than ever are being fired into the contry. Isreal announces they control Bint Jbail and the next day the famed Golani brigade is ambushed and 8 soldiers are killed. Israel uses shock and awe tactics to subdue hezbollah and a week later they are forced to mass troops at the border, massive air raids having failed to break the enemy.

    The fact seems kinda clear on this one. Then again, I bow to an expert on this subject, after all you are there in Jerusalem, tasting rugellach and visinting the zoo. I'm kidding, but the facts do seem to support a slight miscalculation on the part of the Israeli government.

    By Blogger Elster, at 1:23 PM  

  • I'm too tired to adequately respond.

    I will say that nothing in your latest comment has anything to do with the baseless notion that "Clearly Israel has somewhat underestimated the will of the Hezbollah terrorists."

    With regard to rockets, Olmert said on the day the crisis began that rockets will likely fall on Israeli cities for quite some time.

    The death of eight soldiers was tragic, but in war, mistakes inevtibly occur, and these guys didn't die because of underestimation of Hezbollah but because of operational errors.

    Israel's massive air raids weren't so massive, and a week is hardly enough time to "break the enemy." In any event, what did Hezbollah do to fight against the bombing other than to force civilians to stay in the areas targeted by Israel? Otherwise, Hezbollah is indeed almost defenseless from the air.

    Israel was not forced to mass troops. It would not be possible to move Hezbollah out without at least some activity on the ground.

    If your point is that this war is not going as well as hoped, I'd suggest you wait to the conclusion of this battle. But regardless, that is separate from the notion that Israel underestimated Hezbollah. I suggest you research Israel's experience in Lebanon since the mid-70's, and especially thw war of attrition with Hezbollah through the 90's. Perhaps Israel overestimated the ability of the IAF to crush Hezbollah in a short time, but it did not underestimate Hezbollah.

    Finally, your crack about eating rugelach and visiting the zoo is silly. What else can an American Jew do to support Israel at this time? You'd be amazed how few tourists are there now.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 11:43 AM  

  • I said I was joking. Lighten up, Joe.

    Regarding your other points, Of COURSE soldiers die in battle, no one is naive enough to think that you can win a war or conflict without casualties. My sense, though, was that Israel despite past balltles with attrition with Hezbollah they wouldn't still be fighting 2 weeks later. Perhaps I am incorrect, but they did publicy tell the US they would be done in 10-14 days and that no longer looks realistic.

    By Blogger Elster, at 12:26 PM  

  • There have consistently been reports that the IDF says it needs 10-14 days. Olmert never told Bush or Rice that. In fact, he said that Israel was ready to fight for a year. To his citizens, Olmert has always said that the war will continue until Hezbollah can no longer threaten Israel.

    The references to 10-14 days appear to be constant implicit requests for a little more time before imposition of a cease-fire.

    Israel fought in Lebanon for more than 25 years with mixed results. It is naive to think that it could crush Hezbollah in 14 days. Even if you look at the most sucessful recent Middle East war - the 1991 Gulf War - the U.S. bombed Iraq for seven weeks and still needed a few days on the ground. Wars are seldom won in two weeks - the Six Day War is a noteable exception, but also an aberration.

    I was not offended by your rugelach/zoo statement. Simply poinitng out that participating in everyday Israeli life is the most I could do while there.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 1:18 PM  

  • I suspect you and I are not that far apart on this issue. It's possible I was just selling the government short. How do you think yeterday's incident will affect the war? I think this will cause everyone to step up pressure against Israel to stop their offensive, including the US.

    By Blogger Elster, at 2:25 PM  

  • On the issue of whether Israel underestimated Hezbollah, I completely disagree with you. On other issues related to Lebanon we likely are not fasr apart.

    While you may seem it as semantics and a matter of phrasing (i.e. I say perhaps Israel overestimated its air force's ability to destory rockets and rocket launchers, you say it underestimated Hezbollah), to me the notion that Israel has underestimated Hezbollah is Hezbollah/Iranian propoganda that must be rejected.

    Yesterday's incident has obviously put pressure on Israel. I like that Olmert is refusing to take a bad ceasefire deal. If the U.S. sees that Israel is committed to destroying Hezbollah, I don't think it will impose a ceasefire that would allow Hezbollah to claim victory.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 6:23 PM  

  • Early indications are that you are correct. israel has rejected thwe ceasefire and I saw on Fox today that the president is still calling for a sustainable peace - i.e. (reading between the lines) peace after Hezbollah has been eradicated

    By Blogger Elster, at 8:30 PM  

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