Israeli offensive doomed to fail? (Update: Leb gov't knew kidnappings were coming??)

Rarely accurate, usually entertaining, always depressing:

Last week, Israel’s army chiefs believed they had encountered Hizballah’s primary war tactic – Viet Cong-style guerrilla warfare out of hundreds of small bunkers scattered across the country. This week had scarcely begun when a still more formidable impediment was discovered: Hizballah camouflage techniques borrowed from the Japanese in the 1945 Iwo Jima battle. To stop the rockets coming, Israeli special forces must continue to blow up the tunnels and also adopt the methods the US Army’s methods for overcoming the Japanese dug in at Iwo Jima and other Pacific islands at the end of World War II. Without regard to losses, they stormed Japanese dug-in positions and camouflaged units. using flame throwers and gasoline to burn the foliage concealing the enemy…

In the first ten days of the war, therefore, the Israeli air force bombed out empty Hizballah premises in South Beirut and Baalbek, but missed the moving woods and vegetation which concealed the rocket launchers – which explains why the blitz continued notwithstanding heavy Israeli air force assaults on Hizballah’s centers and strongholds.

Yeah, it would also explain why U.S. sources think the Israelis are pounding sand. The IDF estimates Hezbollah has a month’s worth of rockets left — and that they have 10 days to take them all out before international pressure on Olmert forces him to call a ceasefire. Debka says Iran is already resupplying the group via Syria; even if not, they will once the blockade is lifted. As someone (I forget) said the other day, Hezbollah wins simply by surviving. Which, given the time constraints, seems inevitable.

You guys interested in this, by the way, or should I suspend regular posting and join the blogospheric American Gladiators episode that is the Glenn Greenwald sock-puppet saga? There are a million variations on the word “douche;” we could explore them all together. Whatever you want, I’m here to please.

According to Haaretz, the IDF has already entered Bint Jbail, the “capital” of Hezbollah. Two Hezbollah jihadis were captured yesterday but there’s no word on whether they’re providing usable intel; eleven Israelis have already been wounded in Bint Jbail, so all signs point to no. Yahoo News photos confirm that it’s rough going, although Israel already controls positions east of the town. Olmert is now reportedly considering allowing NATO/EU peacekeepers (specifically, German, Czech, and — gulp — French troops, according to Debka) into southern Lebanon, which might be useful only insofar as it will expose the Europeans’ unwillingness to confront Hezbollah when given the chance. Since Bush is going to put the brakes on Olmert in 10 days anyway, why not let the next rocket barrage humiliate Europe by having it happen on their watch?

Proxy wars are like sock puppetry, you know. Nasrallah is Assad’s sock puppet, Assad is Khamenei’s, etc. I saw a ventriloquist do something like that once, with a dummy on his lap and a smaller dummy on the dummy’s lap. It’s reminiscent of the Glenn Greenwald/Rick Ellensburg/Thomas Ellers fooferaw, although I suppose that’s less a case of one dummy on the lap of another than, like, five different dummies all on Greenwald’s lap. Anyway, really interesting stuff.

I suppose Ehud Olmert is Bush’s sock puppet — potentially. If Bush brings him to heel before the job is done, then yeah. But what if Olmert tells Bush to take a hike? Then he wouldn’t be a sock puppet.

He’d be the magic boyfriend.

Syria’s making noise today about direct talks with the U.S., but only as part of a comprehensive peace plan with Israel involving the return of the Golan Heights. I’ll level with you: I have no idea what to make of it. Supposedly, the U.S. strategy is to try to drive a wedge between Assad and Iran by having the Sunni regimes in Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia lean on him. But with what leverage? None of those countries will put boots on the ground to defend Damascus from a U.S. or Israeli attack. Assad can’t be worried much about Bush anyway given the war weariness here, and Olmert’s not going to open a third front with the international supreme soviet already whining about ceasefires. Iran is the ascendant power in the region and they wouldn’t hesitate to have Assad replaced with a more cooperative, um, puppet if he made a move towards cutting off Hezbollah. Which makes me think Syria’s proposal for talks is so much hot air, designed to make the regime look “reasonable” in case Olmert does do something dramatic and possibly to entice Bush into losing (more) face in the region by getting him to negotiate with a Baathist dictator three years after he knocked out the one next door. This seems especially transparent in that regard — although if they’re really clever, they’ll drop a hint or two about maybe possibly knowing the location of Saddam’s missing WMDs.

Bits and pieces: Shin Bet says Hezbollah sleeper cells have been activated; another sock puppet — or is he? — says the final solution is nigh; and lefty bloggers say … well, nothing at all.

Update: I owe you some multimedia, huh? All right: airstrike war porn on what the IAF says is a Hezbollah outpost; a flash map of rocket attacks on northern Israel; and video from Google Current of a rocket attack on Haifa — as it happens.

Update: MEMRI TV just posted a clip of Nasrallah telling Al Jazeera three days ago … that people in the Lebanese government knew Hezbollah was planning to kidnap Israeli soldiers.

Something must have been lost in translation here. Right?

Interviewer: Did you inform them that you were about to abduct Israeli soldiers?

Hassan Nasrallah: I told them that we must resolve the issue of the prisoners, and that the only way to resolve it is by abducting Israeli soldiers.

Interviewer: Did you say this clearly?

Hassan Nasrallah: Yes, and nobody said to me: “No, you are not allowed to abduct Israeli soldiers.” Even if they had told me not to… I’m not defending myself here. I said that we would abduct Israeli soldiers in meetings with some of the main political leaders in the country. I don’t want to mention names now, but when the time comes to settle accounts, I will. They asked: “If this happens, will the issue of the prisoners be over and done with?” I said that it was logical that it would. And I’m telling you, our estimation was not mistaken. I’m not exaggerating.

And on that note, here’s your photo of the day.

Update: Dan the Man Gillerman is on DaySide right now saying that Israel will accept an international peacekeeping force. I didn’t hear the details, but since they don’t have much choice in the matter they might as well act like they’re keen on the idea.

Update: The White House says a ceasefire would be unenforceable right now, but that might change rapidly. Humanitarian supplies, meanwhile, are being shipped in.