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July 17, 2006
Status of ForcesBy Greyhawk
A look at Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, who "is believed to lead a force of about 5,000, backed by around 12,000 short- and medium-range rockets" in southern Lebanon.
On Saturday he issued a statement saying to Israel, "You wanted an open war and we are ready for an open war."More background here:
Hezbollah clearly made a decision in favour of fighting over a political role, and felt confident it was strong enough for the fight it knew it was starting.The deployment - or lack thereof - of the Lebanese Army will be an indicator of "rising tensions" (for want of a better term). Lebanon will have to draw a line somewhere, but I expect they'll remain well north of the action - effectively making Lebanon militarily "neutral" (also for want of a better term) in the conflict. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that some sort of communication on that topic between the governments of Israel and Lebanon has already occurred.
But at least for a few more days (after which international pressure will be brought to bear on the Israelis) Israel will be calling the shots - regardless of bluster from Hezbollah. If they are serious about a long and painful campaign, what they've done so far is simply "shape the battlespace" - creating a battleground on which they plan to win, under conditions as advantageous to their goals as possible.
One thing you can be sure of - Israel has no plan to rebuild Lebanon. Once this conflict is over - or placed on temporary hold - the international community will have an opportunity to achieve some real results in Lebanon. (Or a huge mess to clean up, whichever you prefer.) Iran and Syria will certainly do it if no one else will.
Update: More on shaping the battlespace here. John's "endstate" is accurate in terms of a combat phase - but the ultimate endstate is post-combat, when that international community (UN? Syria/Iran?) rebuilds. That's assuming Israel 1) does intend to eliminate Hezbollah as a force in the region and isn't simply "sending a message" (and as noted above they are operating under an as-yet undetermined time limit here) and 2) doesn't plan on a decades-long occupation of southern Lebanon, a prospect which is only unreasonable if enough nations are willing to take advantage of a real opportunity to secure Lebanon. There is a fragile opportunity here for Lebanon's (and the wider region's) future. I imagine there is an endstate that is agreeable to Israel and Lebanon, and in the best interest of the world. Hopefully it won't be used as a bargaining chip for other issues involving Syria and Iran, who will do their best to obstruct any efforts towards that goal.
Yes, there's also the "total war" possibility, involving years of combat throughout the region, that many think inevitable or even desirable. (Choose your reason. On the right: "Time to kill them all and let God sort them out", on the left: "This proves Bush's foreign policy is a failure", and from the media: "Wow, this stuff sells newspapers!!!!") But we ain't there yet.
Posted by Greyhawk / July 17, 2006 8:28 AM | Permalink
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November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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