Juan Cole: What Is Hizbollah?

Roundup: Historians' Take

Mr. Cole is Professor of Modern Middle Eastern and South Asian History at the University of Michigan. His website is http://www.juancole.com.

Western and Israeli pundits keep comparing Hizbullah to al-Qaeda. It is a huge conceptual error. There is a crucial difference between an international terrorist network like al-Qaeda, which can be disrupted by good old policing techniques (such as inserting an agent in the Western Union office in Karachi), and a sub-nationalist movement.

Al-Qaeda is some 5,000 multinational volunteers organized in tiny cells.

Hizbullah is a mass expression of subnationalism that has the loyalty of some 1.3 million highly connected and politically mobilized peasants and slum dwellers. Over a relatively compact area.

I take sub-nationalism as a concept from Anthony D. Smith. It would be most familiar to Western readers under the rubric of the Irish Catholics of North Ireland, or even the Scots of the UK. Subnationalism, like the larger, over-arching nationalism, is a mass movement.

Thus, a very large number of the Pusht uns in Afghanistan are sub-nationalists with a commitment to Pushtun dominance. They deeply resent the victory of the Northern Alliance (i.e. Tajiks, Hazara Shiites, and Uzbeks) in 2001-2002. A lot of what our press calls resurgent "Taliban" activity is just Pushtun irredentism. There are approximately 14 million Pushtuns in Afghanistan and another 14 million or so in Pakistan.

The Shiites of southern Lebanon are compact enough to likewise offer a subnationalism. Note that this is a new phenomenon. The Shiite masses were not socially and politically mobilized until at least the 1970s, and probably it is more accurate to say the 1980s. ("Social mobilization" refers to literacy, access to media, urbanization, industrialization and so forth; isolated small villages have difficulty organizing big movements.)

The main factor in causing these peasant sharecroppers to become politically aware and mobilized was the Arab Israeli conflict. The Israelis stole som e of their land in 1948 and expelled 100,000 Palestinians north into south Lebanon, where they competed for resources with local Lebanese Shiites. In the late 1960s and early 1970s the Palestinians became politically and militarily organized by the PLO. The Shiites' conflict with the PLO in the southern camps in the 1970s was probably a key beginning, but from 1982 it was primarily their conflict with the Israeli Occupation army that spurred them on.

Processes of integration into the world market and increased mechanization of south Lebanon agriculture, as well as urbanization (Tyre, south Beirut) provided a *social* mobilization substrate that enabled but did not cause their *political mobilization* (see A. Richard Norton's book on early AMAL). The rise of a Shiite wealthy class, especially as a result of commerce with the Oil Gulf, added to the community's organizational capacity and resources. Still, the Shiites of south Lebanon are generally poor and a lot of the m are still rural.

The Sunni Arabs of central, west and north Iraq are now also creating a subnationalism and organizing extensive paramilitary cells with highly significant asymmetrical warfare capabilities. The entire might of the formidable US military machine has made no headway against these 5 million persons.

Where subnationalisms are organized by party-militias willing to use carbombings and other asymmetrical forms of warfare, they are extremely difficult, if not impossible to defeat militarily. It would take a World War II style crushing military defeat of these populations, with the willingness of the conqueror to suffer tens of thousands dead in troop casualties. Israel is not even in a position to risk such a thing, given its small population.

Hizbullah is not like al-Qaeda in any way, sociologically speaking, and making such an analogy is a sure way for a general or politician to trick himself into entering the fires of hell.

What t he Israelis set out to do, if they intended to "destroy" or even substantially attrite Hizbullah, was completely impractical. What they have done is to convince even Lebanese formerly on the fence about the issue that Hizbullah's leaders were correct in predicting that Lebanon would again be attacked in the most brutal and horrible way by the Israelis and that an even more powerful deterrent is needed. I.e more silkworms, not fewer. . The days when the Israelis could lord it over disconnected unmobilized Arab peasant villagers with their high tech army are coming to a close. The Arabs are still very weak, but are throwing up powerful asymmetrical challenges (e.g. party-militias with silkworm missiles!). Israeli alarm about the new connectedness of their foe explains the orgy of destruction aimed at bridges, roads, television and radio facilities and internet servers. But it is too late to disconnect the south Lebanese, who can easily and quickly rebuild all those connectors.

One hope the Israeli hawks appear to entertain is that they can permanently depopulate strips Lebanon south of the Litani river. Since most Shiites vote Hizbullah and offer political support and cover to it, fewer people means fewer assets for the party-militia. This project would require the total destruction of large numbers of villages and the permanent displacement of their inhabitants north to Beirut.

That is why the massacre at Qana occurred. The Israelis had bombed Qana 80 times. They were destroying all of its buildings. Therefore, of course, they destroyed the building where dozens of children and families were hiding. This tactic is both collective punishment and ethnic cleansing all at once. It is not only a matter, as the Israelis claim, of hitting Hizbullah rocket launchers. They are destroying all of the buildings.

The Israeli demographic project of thinning out the population of the far south of Lebanon will fail. They do not control that territory, and cannot stop people from coming back and rebuilding. The Israelis have an Orientalist myth that the Arabs are Bedouin and not attached to their ancestral villages. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Palestinian refugees in Lebanon still around their camps in accordance with the geography of their former villages. The Lebanese Shiites will mostly come back.

The Israelis cannot win this struggle against a sophisticated, highly organized and well armed subnationalism.

The only practical thing to do when you can't easily beat people into submission is to find a compromise with them that both sides can live with. It will be a hard lesson for both the Lebanese Shiites and the Israelis. But they will learn it or will go on living with a lot of death and destruction.

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Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

I'm waiting to find what the folk here think about Mr. Ebbits link to the crazy "Masters of War" article. I half expect that no one will take it seriously, thinking it a comic exercise. More probably, however, all understand that by responding to it with any forthrightness whatever will bring down the charge of being "Jew haters." The usual.

But then, maybe I'm wrong, and today will prove to be the day.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Who is Dr Mounir Herzallah?

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

And what pray tell, are you "refraining" from? Please try to make your hypocritical evasion original for a change.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Despite Mr. Geshekter's inability to distinguish between facts and opinions, his serial brutality towards the English language in general, and his latest long laundry list of AIPAC spin points, Ariel Sharon struck a deal in 2004 with Hezbollah trading hundreds of prisoners for one captured Israeli. That IS a fact.


Sheik Abdul-Karim Obeid and Mustafa Dirani were eventually used to secure the release of Israeli businessman Elchanan Tenenbaum along with the bodies of IDF soldiers Sgt. Adi Avitan, Staff Sgt. Benyamin Avraham and Staff Sgt. Omar Sawaid. The three IDF soldiers were captured by Hezbollah during an attack in October 2000 on Shebaa Farms. They were killed either during the attack or in its immediate aftermath.
Hezbollah instigated negotiations over the release of 14 Lebanese prisoners, together with a number of Palestinian prisoners. A prisoner exchange took place on 29 January 2004:
▪ 30 Lebanese and Arab prisoners,
▪ the remains of 59 Lebanese militants and civilians,
▪ 400 Palestinian prisoners, and
▪ maps showing Israeli mines in South Lebanon were exchanged for Tenenbaum, a businessman captured in 2000 on a business trip to Kuwait and held in Lebanon by Hezbollah, along with the remains of the three dead soldiers.
As part of this prisoner exchange information on the fate of Ron Arad was to be given over in exchange for Lebanese prisoner Samir Kuntar. The Israeli Government announced that Kuntar would be released when Hezbollah provided "concrete proof as to Ron Arad's fate". As part of the document summarising the Framework for the exchange prisoner Guy Hever was also mentioned, but information on his whereabouts was not a condition of the deal.

I have said on numerous occasions on HNN that the atrocities of Hezbollah are worse than those of the Olmert regime. If Mr. Geshekter believes, along with his juvenile lies about my being an exponent of "multiculturalism, moral equivalence and cultural relativism" [which he will not find in any prior HNN post of mine], that "Hezbollah supporters love to read" my saying that that organization is run by dangerous Anti-Semitic murderous thugs (which I think it is and have said so repeatedly) then he may wallow in his willful deranged ignorance. It is to the lasting disgrace of HNN, however, that there is no mechanism -other than volunteer BS exposers such as myself- for excluding such progagandizing discussion-rapists from this website.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


"I am sorry from bottom of heart for all deaths of children or women in Qana," Olmert said. "We did not search them out... they were not our enemies and we did not look for them."

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr. Redfern, My point was simply that Olmert's apology was not conditional on the body count.

I quite agree with your decrying of lazy journalism, and it is certainly relevant, if somewhat tangentially, to the topic of this page. I would hope, however that you might join me in also denouncing the sort of amoral hypocrisy, exhibited by some others on this page, which uses journalist failings as a smokescreen for obscuring the Israeli atrocities in Lebanon.

I don't think there would be grounds for major complaint if the Israelis had gone into villages such as Qana with ground troops, and if a few left-behind civilians had been caught in the cross-fire of a gun battle between IDF and Hezbollah. But the long distance ariel bombardment which has killed a handful of Hezbollah fighters and hundreds of innocent Lebansese civilians is clumsy, cowardly and counterproductive to the interests of both Israel and the USA. It does not matter if whether those hundreds are 200 or 800. Either way, the net damage to America's national security is undeniable and unacceptable, and Bush's being a patsy for Olmert would border on treason were it not undoubtedly a result mostly of his colossal incompetence.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

His name is Ebbitt.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Geshekter's rude tone and tiresome propagandizing merit no response, but I would like to commment on the notion that the Israel war on Lebanon is "deterring" Hezbollah and its followers. I've made this point on HNN before, but it bears repeating.

I consider this "deterrence" argument at best a dangerous delusion and at worst a damnable lie.

Islamic fanatics, such as those in Hezbollah, who worship death, "martyrdom," and suicide bombers are hardly "deterred" by the threat of death. Meanwhile, what the Israeli bombing rampage has undoubtedly done is to create future recruits for Hezbollah, Hamas, Al Qaeda and host of similar and future such organizations in far greater numbers than have been killed or maimed in Lebanon. And, in case anyone forgot, there are hundreds of times as many Moslems as Jews in the world and they have a much higher population growth rate. Even if you count slain Lebanese civilians (some of whom are Christians) the Israelis in their current campaign are behind in the kill ratio relative to their population and that of their currrent and potential future enemies. And (to reiterate the main point) the main effect of the attack on Lebanon has been to turn potential future enemies into probable ones.

In spite of the incredibly arrogant and thick-skulled attitudes (even by HNN standards) of IDF-worshippers on this page, it seems to me that Olmert&Co are beginning to absorb and heed such considerations and to focus more on ground troops, special ops, paratroopers, and less on cowardly long distance bombing.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Noam Chomsky, Robert Fisk, Al-Jezeera, and Mel Gibson have nothing to do with me or vice versa, and you will not find a shred of evidence in anything I've ever said on HNN to substantiate such foul and incessant lies, Geshekter.

Have you got nothing at all left to say on the topic of the page?

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

I answered your question in great detail already. Many of the alternatives I listed have been espoused or endorsed by the people you voted for.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


by Charles Lee Geshekter

"the delusional Mr. Clarke...reveals once and for all what a feckless, witless, hapless and one-dimensional ideologue he truly is...with his furrowed brow, clenched teeth, squinting eyes, thin skin and manic hatred"

by Charles Lee Geshekter

"It's a pleasure to read, laugh and simply point at such an edgy ideologue and chronically embittered, one-dimensional bottom feeder as Peter Clarke...vapid..feeble and limp-wristed"

by Tim R. Furnish


I HAD been wondering what Mr. Furnish meant, in his comment

"How long have you been beating your wife?" ? ? (#94748) by Tim R. Furnish on August 6, 2006 at 3:36 PM

by the phrase "sneering ad hominem attacks."

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

"what on earth are you talking about?"

1...We can all tell from your vapid, chewing gum comments that your grasp on Middle Eastern realities is exactly as feeble and limp-wristed as you make it out to be.

Re: Is this siphon Clarke as dumb as he appears? (#94749) by Tim R. Furnish on August 6, 2006 at 3:42 PM

Excellent...Clarke is one of the favorite (and easiest) whipping boys here...

2. Re: A public service announcement (#94697) by Tim R. Furnish on August 5, 2006 at 8:54 PM

Mr. Clarke,
What, pray tell, is so repugnant to you about the U.S. attempting to inculcate democracy around the world?

3. "Re: "How long have you been beating your wife?" ? ? (#94748)
by Tim R. Furnish on August 6, 2006 at 3:36 PM

Can you read English? I said I knew YOU couldn't refrain from your sneering ad hominem attacks--and of course I was correct.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

There is no basis for your assumption that I was a supporter of Clinton. But, your unwillingness to tolerate the slightest criticism of George W. Bush (and to hurl all sorts of unfounded accusations against those of who do find his presidency severely wanting) suggests some opposition to John McCain. McCain COULD have been the alternative to Gore in 2000 were it not for the sorts of Karl Rove engineered dirty tricks later used against the country. Frankly, I find it easy to understand disliking Clinton, Gore and Kerry. But what did you and the majority of Republicans have against McCain?

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Your logic is predictibly bogus, Mr. Clayson. Hezbollah is much more evil than IDF, but not more cowardly. They use their hugely ineffectual rockets because they're the most deadly toys currently available to them, and their crowd in the "Arab Street" likes the show, even when the rockets land on them. Two wrongs don't make a right, and Hezbollah's murder and mayhem are no reason for Israel to act stupid and for America to kiss its ass.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Read the rest of the page to find out what I think. Hint: It is NOT turn the other cheek. Israel's blundering rampage has so far HELPED Hezbollah. I am OPPOSED to helping Hezbollah, thus I am opposed to Olmert's senseless slaughter of Lebanese civilians.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Professor Cole used to be featured more often on HNN. His observations are not infallible, and I tend to agree with the critique of Mr. P.P.P. above ("does not make sense 4 me"), but HNN's Mideast coverage is clearly less informed and more lopsided since Cole became a relative rarity here.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

No, not quite. Indeed, not even close.

Israeli troops have been in the West Bank almost continuously, causing more problems for Israel than solving them, for almost 40 years. Irrespective of land claims, etc., they have been a key element of an often brutal occupation that has lasted decades. Far, far longer than anyone except Jewish religious fanatics wanted or expected back in 1967. THAT, as much as anything else, is what has caused the vicious cycle of violence and hatred and the camels-back breaking decision of Rabin et al to try to end the insanity, and the presumption by the world community of both sides being butchers.

I am not saying that a ground invasion of Lebanon with more limited bombing would not have also led to complaints and accuations against the "expansionist Zionists," but the strong likelihood is that the civilian deaths of innocent Lebanese would have been far less. In their often blunderous current Lebanese invasion, Israelis have (a) started a war of choice, (b) committed aggression against a country not threatening them, and (c) in order to save a few of their own lives along the way, willfully chosen a strategy that sacrifices hundreds of third party innocents. (a) and (b) arguably were unavoidable at some point given the very real threat posed by Hezbollah. (c) was not neccessary, is immoral, is cowardly, and will most probably hurt Israel and America in the long run.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

For the "merits" of the "neo-con" viewpoint, review the history of Iraq over the past four years, their one great achievement, and reflect honestly on the disastrous implications of that history for America's national security. You might as well have told Germans in 1945 that they ought to considered the "merits" of retaining Nazi officials in power.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

1. Unless Dr. Mounir Herzallah is a personal acquaintance of yours, what is your source (date, page number, or url) for his interesting story about Qana and the laughing sheik?

2. What are the "deceptions of Juan Cole" to which you refer?

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

According to Wikipedia


there are multiple "wings" of Hezbollah: militia, terrorist cells, social services, parliamentary represenation, etc. A bit like the IRA (before the Good Friday breakthrough).

Cole does not appear wrong, only selective, in his designation of it as a "sub-nationalist movement." The validity of his larger point, that it cannot be fought successfully as though were similar to Al Qaeda is unaffected .

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

It is a very reasonable conclusion from history that if there had been no neo-cons (their members included Wolfowitz and Cheney) there would have been no Iraq invasion, at least not the arrogant blunder-ridden, planless and strategy-less mess which has occured. The Wall Street Journal's long historical article (I have the date filed somewhere, but it was in March, 2003) essentially concluded that the invasion was largely due to the efforts of one (colossal "Neo-con") man: Cheney. It is well documented that he was supported over many years by the group that called itself neo-cons. It is extremely improbable that Bush would have decided to this on his own. Powell was against it for many months, and only came on board reluctantly towards the end. The Congress was sleepwalking. These are the key historical "merits" that matter, and I most assuredly do deal with and respect such historical facts. Always have.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

You are flailing wildly, Friedman in the vain attempt to justify your unjustifiable and unAmerican bias that whatever Israel does must always be right and best for America. Horse manure.

America did not bomb the hell out of the Haiti or the Dominican Republic during the Cuban missile crisis and kill hundreds of innnocent civilians. There is absolutely no comparison to Israel's behavior of recent weeks. .

It also matters very little what exactly happened in Qana (except of course to the innocent children who were blown up by the Israeli cowards). The effect is mainly symbolic. The fact that hundreds of Lebanese civilians have died, and hundreds of thousands driven from their home, and vast infrastructure damage done to people and a country that is NOT Israel's enemy ACCORDING TO THE PRIME MINISTER, is an atrocity in and of itself. That this is almost surely HELPING Hezbollah is an outrage. That Bush is being lead like a dog by the nose doing cringing before Olmert's every blunderous whim is either colossal stupidity or treason. Take your pick.

I implied it before (on another page and to another pair of oppositely biased stubborn-as-mule posters) and I will say flatly here: It will not kill you to say "I was wrong". Because you were and are. Israel has damaged itself and America by the needless carnage and destruction of non-Hezbollah people and infrastructure in Lebanon and there is no excuse for it. Period.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Aside from its incessant and tiresome adhominems, your AIPAC homage here would make a useful rebuttal to Cole's piece, Mr. K., were it not that such neo-Likud tracts already outnumber their neo-Saidist counterparts by, well maybe not 1000 to 1 but 10 to 1 easily, on this website.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr. Heuisler,

I am not Cole's bodyguard, but I think you misunderstood his point in the snippet you extracted. An organization can be defeated by a stronger & bmore skilled counter organization. An "ism" cannot be defeated by an organization, but only by some other "ism". Britain contained and has largely defanged the IRA. It has not dented Irish patriotism to any similar extent. The 1860s American Confederacy was vanquished, but Dixie is still whistled and the battle flag still emblazons pickup truck bumpers. Indeed some of the most potent nationalisms stem from glorified failures. Serbia is a case in point.

Cole's main point is really about different strategies needed for different organizations. The best way to go after Al Qaeda is not also best way to go after Hezbollah. With due respect, and apologies to Tom Lehrer, "send the marines" is not automatically most effective as the "number one instrument of foreign policy."

There is a more than sufficient amount of hyperbole in Cole's piece, but none of the regular commenters here have a leg to stand on criticizing him on that score either.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

I look a look, Friedman. Unfortunately, this "theory" of Taheri amounts to little more than warmed-over "neo-con" BS. Like weeds springing up after a rain, the Lebanon conflict has given new life to old discredited mythmaking. As if the failed cakewalk to Baghdad never happened and isn't disgracing America's name day after day.

Same old, same old. Israel, brave, noble, modern, good. Islam bad, dangerous, backward. This flaccid stretched out balloon won't fly. Intelligent and informed people know that America did not go into Afghanistan to "spread democracy". It is questionable whether George Wet-behind-the-ears Bush could have even found Afghanistan on the map on September 10, 2001. What Ahmadinejad is really up to is anyone's guess, but surely the possibility of demogogic distraction cannot be ignored in favor of presuming that war against Israel is all he cares about. Heuisler dislikes adjectives, but his applies here: this is a cartoon rerun of the same old simplistic clash of civilization mantras we have heard thousands of times before.

Why is Hezbollah content with killing a relative handful of Israels? Why didn't the Israelis try to kidnap Hezbollah members of parliament like they did to Hamas? Why is Bush kissing the posterior of any Israeli leader who comes knocking? Why doesn't anybody talk about Moslem population growth and sustainability of oil production lick? Taheri's recycled terror-mongering is a far far cry from insightful historical or even contemporary analysis of "what is going on."

Not to pick on a sore point, Friedman, but why do all your pet authors seem to be cut from the same dubious "neo-con" Islamophobia-mongering cloth? Could it be that you spend time exclusively on one set of websites with one slant on the world?

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


"Robert Bruce Spencer is an American scholar and commentator on Islam and Jihad. He has written five books, including two bestsellers, on topics related to Islam and terrorism, is the founder and current director of the Jihad Watch and Dhimmi Watch websites covering Islam and Islamist terrorism-related events from a critical perspective, and is currently a columnist writing for Front Page Magazine."

In other words, yet another "neo-con" (phony conservative) demagogue jumping on the rickety paranoia-propelled bandwagon and utterly lacking in any credentials as either a historian or a political scientist.

The story about Qana might still be true. But I surely would not take this Horrorwitz fellow-traveller clown's word for it.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

"Qana may bite Hizbollah in the butt, as the sordid facts begin to emerge" says Mr. Kovachev

Here are "sordid facts" according to the Washington Post (go the url for the links within the article itself):


A Daily Survey of What the International Online Media Are Saying

The Qana Conspiracy Theory

by Jefferson Morley

As Hezbollah wins support throughout the Middle East in the aftermath of the Israeli airstrike that killed at least 57 Lebanese civilians over the weekend, an alternative view of the attack is emerging in blogs -- that the incident was actually staged by Hezbollah.

This "story" is a useful companion to last week's post about watching the war as it unfolds on the Web. The Qana conspiracy theory not only underscores how the Internet can misinform (an old story), it also reveals a popular demand for online content that attempts to explain away news reports that Israel (and by proxy, its closest ally and arms supplier, the United States) was responsible for the deaths of dozens of women and children in a Hezbollah stronghold.

At a time when American and Israeli public opinion of the war diverge radically from the world opinion elsewhere, the emergence of a right-wing equivalent of the Sept. 11 conspiracy theories is worth noting.

The Qana "conspiracy theory" poses this question: If Israeli shells landed near the building that collapsed between midnight and 1 a.m., why didn't reports of the collapse emerge until about 8 a.m.? One site pushing this question on Tuesday was the Israeli Insider, published by a Tel Aviv company that bills the site as a "an independent, nonpartisan online publication that aims to provide an 'inside perspective' on the latest news, analysis and commentary from and about Israel."

Israeli Insider's Ruben Korvet contends that the Qana story has the hallmark of a Hollywood ending and called for the "revelation of the improbable and inconvenient truth." Citing news images of the event, Korvet said the bodies of 57 civilians "looked like they had been dead for days" and suggested that Hezbollah operatives planted them there.

On another site, British bloggers asserted that a "Hezbollah official" took control of the scene to orchestrate false photo opportunities with the dead bodies. Confederate Yankee, a onetime guest blogger for washingtonpost.com, sees "evidence of a most revolting Hezbollah fraud."

Confronted with photographs of dead children, Israeli Insider's Korvet insisted they must be something else: "The victims were non-residents who chose to shelter in the building that night," he writes. "They were 'too poor' to leave the down, one resident told CNN's [Jon] Wedeman. Who were these people?"

That question has been definitively answered in the mainstream press. Almost all of the victims belonged to two extended families, the Hashems and the Shalhoubs, who lived in the area, according to the independent accounts of The Washington Post's Anthony Shadid and the Daily Star's Nicholas Blanford.

Nevertheless, the Qana conspiracy theory is apparently being taken seriously in the blogosphere and in Israel. The American Thinker, a popular conservative site, says unnamed major media photographers were "willing" tools of Hezbollah. The EU Referendum blog claims its stories on the subject attracted 115,000 page views in a day, more than 50 times the average. YNet News, Web site of the country's largest newspaper, reported the story under the headline: "Blogs: Hizbullah 'Milked' the attacks."

The follow-up questions for the bloggers touting the alternative theory are obvious:

Who killed the Hashems and Shalhoubs, if it wasn't an Israel bomb? Korvet and the other bloggers don't offer any theories.

How did Hezbollah truck in bodies to the Qana site without the pervasive Israeli aerial surveillance catching it on film? Israel has released footage of what it says are Hezbollah fighters firing rockets from the area. Presumably, the Israeli Foreign Ministry is not covering up the story.

As for EU Referendum's claim that a Lebanese rescue worker seen in many photos from Qana was a "Hezbollah official," I e-mailed co-author of the site, Richard North, to ask for his evidence.

"All I have to go on is gut instinct," North replied.

I appreciate his candor. It confirms that he has no evidence to support the central claim of his blog posts.

North says he is just trying to "raise questions," which is certainly a legitimate goal. My question is: What is it about the photos from Qana that made Israel's supporters prefer fantasy to fact?

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

In some ways, yes. You and the other apologists for mass civilian slaughter by Israel start from the ridiculous assumption that whatever Olmert and Bush do must be right and best. Then you try to come up with an unending series of excuses for their inexcusable stupidity. The excuses have to be complicated, because they are trying to prove something that is simply impossible to prove to a fairminded and unbiased observer.

By most informed accounts Israel and Bush are blundering, weakening both countries by helping Hezbollah. This is not complicated to understand. Blowing the beMoses out of a country that did not attack it and slaughtering hundreds of innocent civilians because two of its soliders were kidnapped, is producing anger and lasting resentment amongst tens of millions of young people across the Arab world who will remember these atrocities and AS A RESULT be inspired to join Hezbollah or the like in the future.

This asinine Israeli policy is simply wrong no matter how many illogical and "complicated" contortions you and the other unAmerica apologists for Israel here try to make to rationalize its immorality and counterproductive foolishness.

I disagree with much of what Cole has said, and agree with much of criticism of his piece on this board, but you and your fellow IDF-worshippers would do well to try to ponder Cole's conclusion:

"The only practical thing to do when you can't easily beat people into submission is to find a compromise with them that both sides can live with. It will be a hard lesson for both the Lebanese Shiites and the Israelis. But they will learn it or will go on living with a lot of death and destruction."

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr. Redfern, Thanks for your comment.

I am not going to try to parse Cole's words, nor do I have any major objection to your well-put exposé of the deficiencies of his vague call for compromise. The point simply was that the policy of Israel in its current Lebanon campaign, up 'til now (and that policy DOES seem to be shifting considerably week by week) has not only backfired horribly, it was doomed to do so from the start.

We cannot rationally discuss alternatives while the juvenile deliquent waterboy U.S. president and his numerous duped supporters on this page, and his spineless and brainless rubberstamps on Capitol Hill, pour 95% of their energy into shrill, bogus, and convoluted attempts to rationalize their collective head-in-sand-burying when it comes to the blatantly counterproductive policy of "fighting terrorism" by massive bombing of non-terrorists who are very likely -and as a direct result- to be thereby converted, and in large numbers, into future terrorists.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

"We've tried moderation and talking. What other alternative is there but [killing] ?

1. Better intelligence gathering
2. Better security measures
3. Better secular education in Moslem countries
4. More Women's Rights in Moslem countries
5. Saying no the Israeli Prime Minister from time to time
6. Ending the disgraceful and idiotic hypocrisy which says that preserving the state of Israel must be some kind of holy grail for America to worship, while denying even a modicum of possibility for the Palestinians to have their state unless they all become saints first.
7. A U.S. presidential administration that is not so grossly incompetent as to be regarded by most of the world as the worst in living memory
8. At least a solid minority of taxpayer-paid public servants of the U.S. government responsible for Mideast policy being able to speak Arabic
9. Cracking down on arms manufacturers who help produce and distribute weapons to terrorist and tryants (don't tell me there are no western-made components in the "Iranian" rockets used by Hezbollah)
10. A sensible energy policy to reduce dependency on oil from likes of Saddam.

There's much more, but those 10 would not be a bad start, and the total cost would not approach what we are wasting in Iraq doing nothing but squandering our military power, national security, and international reputation.

I am not against America using military power as a last resort, or even on rare occasions as a first resort. But military power as a first resort ALL the time (ala Mr. Heuisler) is not anti-terrorism, it is militarism. Not a path any democracy should want to march down.

"Whether there remains a flicker of Caliphate-lust in the families of dead terrorists in the future is quite immaterial to me," by which, Mr. H., you presumably mean that you could not care less if 10 new terrorists are create for each existing one slain.

If you have any grandchildren, however, they WILL care and will hate you. Maybe YOU might care about that.
The basic hippocratic principle applies here: If the military action is strengthening the enemy by creating a net increase in its numbers and failing to get at its roots, then the military action is failing. That is what is happening in Iraq (while the U.S. Congress sleepwalks) and now in Lebanon (while the U.S. Congress kisses AIPAC's crooked rear). We need a new military strategy, a new overall strategy that is not 95% military-oriented, a new commander in chief, and a new Congress. If we can manage 1/10 of that, we might even get American youngsters to volunteer for the Marines. Think about it.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

You can do better than try to tell me that the American media is controlled by Islamists. A taller tale by far, than any other yet recounted on this page. The Israeli prime minister apologized. Count on the fingers of your hands how times that every happened before. Is he a raving maniac or did something much different than a "sham" take place in Qana? From the safety of thousand of miles away you can afford to be without shame for the atrocities committed by your brave civilian butchering heros. THEY on the other hand, have to live in the God-forsaken hell they and their even more inhumane opponents are creating. Time to update your propaganda sheet, Mr. K.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

If someone misunderstands

"carefully shepherded by Hizbullah PR types"

is there a reading or a writing problem involved ?

If what was actually meant was
"Ignorant and irresponsible" journalists "reporting from areas where information is ruthlessly controlled and manipulated," well, that makes sense to me. The endless articles and broadcast-feeds about Arabs, Palestinians, and Lebanese, reported by non-Arabic speaking Yank journalists stationed in Jerusalem, for example.

But, in your striving for general denuciation, you're still missing the weakest part of that Washington Post story. (The angle I actually went googling for in the first place). Were their actually bombs and rockets in the building? Did the Israelis somehow think that that was all that was in the building? Those, not the weird Isreali conspiracy theories are the current excuse, which Olmert obviously considered inadequate. Or which Rice, finally finding a fragment or morality, told him he had to consider inadequate. The question is, are the excuses (however inadequate) actually valid?

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr. Clayson

I am not apologizing and have never apologized for Islam in the slightest way, and I would appreciate your retracting that idiotic accusation. Nor do I have the slightest bias towards Hezbollah. My only bias is towards the United States of America whose interests are not foremost in the minds of the Israeli government whom our president is slavishly obeying. Indeed blundering Israeli government's damage to ISRAEL's security has become eve more since this discussion started. The Israeli Army's long-earned reputation for skill, cleverness, and brilliant strategy is being squandered by a bunch of bumbling cowards.

Your logic seems to be: Hezbollah set a trap. Israel stupidly fell into it, therefore any blunder or atrocity committed thereafter by the Israelis is Hezbollah's fault. You are getting steadily more ridiculous, as might be expected given your untenable premise: whatever Bush and Olmert decide to do must be the best possible course of action.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

If Israel really wanted to they could kick Iran's backside. This is a country that took on several other countries simultanously and smashed or outmaneuvered their armies in a matter of days and on multiple occasions. But there are two big differences this time: (1) They are making the classic senile generals' mistake of fighting the last war, they are up against shadowy guerillas this time (not countries) and (unlike Gaza and West Bank) NOT in territories under their thumb (2) They, or at least their leaders, have become feeble cowards unwilling to take casualties, but willing to slaughter masses of innocent third party civilians instead. Clinton had a somewhat similar policy with Kosovo but it worked there, because he was NOT up against guerillas but against a hated dictator of a country who had ruined his country and committed mass ethnic cleansing on several of its fragments.
Plus he had the whole world, except for a few sex-obsessed youthfully indiscrete Republican Congressmen, behind him.

The Israelicowards need America's help now and they have it fully and unthinkingly and to America's lasting detriment, but America under Frat Boy Bush's disastrous misrule has become a paper tiger. Hezbollah is triumphing and that is NOT good news for anybody body except Hezbollah and its ilk.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

You lie stupidly and repeatedly in the vain attempt to cover up and run away from your prior asinine statements. And I am for damn sure no limey. You are however correct that I have written too much on this page, and wasted far too much time on unAmerican fools such as you. Hezbollah is succeeding thanks to your inept AWOL water carrier in the White House and your unwillingness to ever admit how badly you have screwed over America by electing that blundering traitor.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

No insult meant to your father. I'm sure he tried hard despite failing with you.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Okay Mr. Know it All,

Kindly explain the "frank fact" that Wikipedia manages to so thoroughly "have no idea" what it "is talking about."

Has it perchance fallen prey to the mightly Jihadist Caliphatian plot to infiltrate all our computers?

When you have forgotten everything else, including what you said in your last post, remember this: You can say "I was wrong" and NOT DIE INSTANTLY!!


Neoconservatism is a political current and ideology, mainly in the United States, which emerged in the 1960s, coalesced in the 1970s, and has had a significant presence in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. It is today most closely identified with a set of foreign policy positions and goals: a hawkish stance during the Cold War and, more recently, in various conflicts in the Middle East….The prefix neo- refers to two ways in which neoconservatism was new: many of the movement's founders, originally liberals, Democrats or from socialist backgrounds, were new to conservatism; neoconservatism was also a comparatively recent strain of conservative thought, which derived from a variety of intellectual roots in the decades following World War II. While some (such as Irving Kristol) have described themselves as "neoconservatives", the term is used today more by opponents and critics of this political current than by its adherents, some of whom reject even the claim that neoconservatism is an identifiable current of American political thought….

In academia, the term "neoconservative" refers more to journalists, pundits, policy analysts, and institutions affiliated with the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and with Commentary and The Weekly Standard than to more traditional conservative policy think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation or periodicals such as Policy Review or National Review.

Neoconservatives also have a very strong belief in the ability to install democracy after a conflict - comparisons with denazification in Germany and Japan starting in 1945 are often made, and they have a principled belief in defending democracies against aggression. This belief can be seen in the reconstruction of the Iraq War, which was a war largely backed by neoconservatives such as Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Dick Cheney. Despite the distance, practical difficulties and dangers involved, neoconservatives would generally support the belief that it is America's duty to install democratic government after a conflict has settled…. Cheney has been vocally supportive of the ideas of Irving Kristol)… As of 2005, the most prominent supporters of the neoconservative stance inside the Administration are Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

…Michael Lind, a self-described 'former neoconservative,' wrote in 2004, "It is true, and unfortunate, that some journalists tend to use 'neoconservative' to refer only to Jewish neoconservatives, a practice that forces them to invent categories like nationalist conservative or Western conservative for Rumsfeld and Cheney. But neoconservatism is an ideology, like paleoconservatism and libertarianism, and Rumsfeld and Dick and Lynne Cheney are full-fledged neocons, as distinct from paleocons or libertarians, even though they are not Jewish and were never liberals or leftists"


After the 2000 election of George W. Bush, many of the PNAC's members were appointed to key positions within the new President's administration:

Name Department Title Remarks

Richard Cheney Bush Administration Vice President PNAC Founder

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

So: It's all about immodesty.
No wonder Abu Ghraib was exposed.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

The absurd attempt at a parallel with Cuba was Friedman's. But if you want to join his his ridiculous pursuit of a justification for the unjustifiable, please note that Cuba and the USSR were countries with capitals, heads of state, armies, coastlines, bombable infrastructures, vulnerable gross national products etc..

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007



When a new employee asked Thomas Edison what the rules at his lab were, Edison reportedly cracked, We don't have rules. We're trying to accomplish something. Great line, but in practice rules sometimes are needed. These are the rules HNN has implemented to govern the posting of comments on our threaded discussion boards....

Please be civil. No ad hominem attacks.

Please do not post comments that are irrelevant to the subject under discussion."

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

1. It has been years since I read Mother Jones or The Nation.
2. I have no idea what their position is on any of the dozen plus points made in the circa 20 points made in my post "real not bogus choices" (#94388) above.
3. I have no idea what "Z magazine" is.
4. I have no idea what Bono or Angelina Jolie's views are on any aspect of American foreign policy except that I recall reading that the latter is very concerned about refugees.
5. I wonder whether you are (a) capable and (b) able to prove even a coincidental similarity between (c) anything I have said here and (d) any remark made by any of these publications or individuals.
6. Welcome to HNN, Mr. Geshekter. You have proven yourself adept at swiftly discovering and claiming for yourself the bottom of the barrel here.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

1. It has been years since I read Mother Jones or The Nation.
2. I have no idea what their position is on any of the dozen plus points made in the circa 20 points made in my post "real not bogus choices" (#94388) above.
3. I have no idea what "Z magazine" is.
4. I have no idea what Bono or Angelina Jolie's views are on any aspect of American foreign policy except that I recall reading that the latter is very concerned about refugees.
5. I wonder whether you are (a) capable and (b) able to prove even a coincidental similarity between (c) anything I have said here and (d) any remark made by any of these publications or individuals.
6. Welcome to HNN, Mr. Geshekter. You have proven yourself adept at swiftly discovering and claiming for yourself the bottom of the barrel here.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Hi. Welcome to the show here. I am not an expert on the history of Islam or how it relates to the recent geopolitical history of the Mideast, and that is why I prefer to rely on experts who are unbiased and who are not pursuing ulterior agendas that conflict with discovering and understanding the truth about these topics.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr. Heuisler,

1. Your AIPAC laundry list timetable for 2004-06 above failed to include any examples of "Israel tried conciliation" during these many months. Care to fill in the gaps?

2. Most of the ten points in my prior post "real not bogus choices" (#94388) above, to which you refer more immediately above, were at one time or another official U.S. government policy producing concrete programs and historical results. Some of them are actually official U.S. policy today.

3. If there is any "tooth fairy" involved in this discussion, she very clearly failed to show up for the Cakewalk to Baghdad, which was scheduled to have our boys and girls back home again (or onto Syria) within months, and be fully paid for by the oil revenues from a prosperous, stable, safe, democratic, peaceful and pro-Western Iraq, flourishing under the expert tutelage of Wolfowitz, Garner and Chalabi, while the many weapons of mass destruction found there were painstakingly dismantled, and Osama bin Laden surrendered.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

What ignoramous is feeding you this endless nonsense? Can't you even get the basic historical facts behind your Israeli-kook propaganda straight?

Barak was elected to try and make peace after playboy crook NetaYahoo messed up all the progress his murdered rival Rabin had made before. Barak left Lebanon in order to try to focus on hammering out a deal with Palestinians, not because of "our political interference" [by which I suppose you mean the "interference" of MY country, the USA]. Had Barak succeeded, the RepublicanBozos now kissing Olmert's rear would be talking about some Democrat's male appendage, as they were in 1999, or stirring some other tempest in a toilet bowl.

This concern about political interference is lamely disingenuous. Shall America withdraw its troops from Germany, Japan, and South Korea, in order to not "interfere" there as we did with our great masses of soldiers in Israel in 1999?

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Wikipedia is what you and me and anyone else submit to it. You are now excused to go off and disgorge your great knowledge of frank facts by writing the true history of neo-conservatism and its great foe, Dick Cheney, and send it Wikiward for all the world to see. Meanwhile try to remember: You are still alive. People can confess mistakes and not be struck dead on the spot.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

I wonder whether you are (a) capable and (b) able to prove even a coincidental similarity between (c) anything I have said here and (d) any remark made by any of these publications or individuals.

Apparently the answer is no on all counts. What a surprise.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr. K., You are again crassly and immorally contradicting your leader Olmert. Shame on you. He declared that the victims in the Qana bombing were not Israel's enemies.

You need to proofread a bit more carefully to avoid showing your hardwired hypocrisy. Here is an example:

Any responsible leader of any nation would protect his people first and worry about the enemy's civilians and PR after.

should read

Any WAR CRIMINAL of any nation would protect his people first and worry about INNOCENT THIRD PARTY civilians and PR after.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Goodness gracious, a live Expert here in River City. How Interesting. What could it be that makes him realize with such breaktaking speed that I am "on the Left"? Because I am pro-America, and believe in defending OUR country, not kowtowing to slipshod-warmongering foreign leaders, in balanced federal budgets, not squandering tax dollars on crooked giveaways from Baghdad to New Orleans, and in fighting terrorism rather than betraying our national security to creating vast numbers of new recruits for terrorist organizations? How very insightful and original and precisely perceptive to discern that I am merely on the third base side of the ballfield. And that that explains great forces of escatological or whatever it is history and my paucity of relevance to them. And I thought doctorates were issued in History, not Hyphenated History. How dumb of me. Must be because I read such a gutter rag as The Economist. I really should try to move up to the New York Post.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Time permitting (and I do believe in a much smaller number of posts per poster than I have indulged in on this page), I will answer questions when you stop making utterly unfounded misattributions. At this point I will simply say I think helping to foster democracy worldwide is generally a very good idea. IF it is done with a degree of competence and not merely rendered lip service as a slogan of the month. And certainly not under the mishandled direction of arrogant bunglers who insure that the fleeting moments of democracy achieved blowback directly in America's face.

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


I am no 'Jew hater' or anti-Semite but, a concerned traveler on life's road with no fear whatsoever, to ask uncomfortable questions and do not believe the Fishman essay to be a 'comic exercise'. To some it may be the voice of a tiny unhinged Jewish extremist base to be viewed as pure/harmless rhetoric. To others, such as I, it is quite problematic/ troublesome.

What is actually being preached in the Synagogues? Is the level of hate on par with what the media portrays coming out of the Mosques? Does a media, documented ownership/suspected leanings of Jewish origin, cover/sanitize the message transmitted/shared at Sabbath worship? How did God become the sole propriety of the Jew? Why is it that everywhere the Jew has settled the local natives have tried to kill/ evict or at the very least, beat the piss out of the Jew?

The Jews I know are really great people/so kind to me and this whole Jewish history/ issues/ future is confusing to this earth passenger.

Maybe, the Jew are the penultimate beings on this planet.

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006

Professor Furnish,

You're right. Penultimate is the incorrect word being defined as 'last'. Use of the word 'best' or 'greatest' was my intended meaning. What do you think, are the Jewish 'first among men'?

Sometimes, I think with my heart not my head, so the slashes replace 'and' to help me cram more info as my mind outpaces my typing skills to allow me to spew within, the limited comprehension skills I have, to get out more data/sharing. That's honest, as I am not the brightest as many of my posts clearly show/ not in the class of many thinkers here. I am sure you've taught kids like me (now a full grown dyslexic adult), so you should know first hand this type.

You did not address the Fishman essay and you're viewpoint would be highly valued. What do you think of the essay as posted above?

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


The Fishman essay is a massive negative vibe. Here is site full of positive energy.


Good night...

Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/24/2006


N. Friedman - 8/6/2006


Of course, there is never propaganda in war and the press never assists in that propaganda. Right? Well, in fact, wrong. See this: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1154525816599&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

According to the article: In the most recent in a series of online controversies to take on the mainstream media, a series of Web sites discredited a Reuters photograph of the fighting in Lebanon, forcing the news agency to issue an apology and remove the image from their archives.

The photograph by Adnan Hajj, which shows plumes of smoke rising from downtown Beirut after an IAF bombing, appeared to have been doctored to show more intense smoke and destruction over the city.

The truth is: truth is the first casualty of war. And, there is a tradition, backed by religion - and, for Shi'a, a mandatory doctrine -, in the Middle East to make things up. So, I reitereate that the events at Qana should be carefully checked because a good deal of what is alleged to have occurred may never have occurred.

Tim R. Furnish - 8/6/2006

As I said, I never said anything about "wife-beating."
What is so offensive to you about asking that question about the U.S. inculcating democracy?
And I stand by my question about your ability to read English--which if you reread the post, makes total sense.
I do confess to call you a "whipping boy"--because your absurd attacks are so easily refuted.
Now, go try and learn something about the Middle East besides blaming George W. Bush for everything there, including the salinity level of the Dead Sea.

Tim R. Furnish - 8/6/2006

Mr. Clarke, what on earth are you talking about? I have never, ever used the phrase "when did you stop beating your wife" on this, or any other, post.

E. Simon - 8/6/2006

Mr. Ebbitt,

Having just lightly skimmed over the article, I can say that it's significance is probably very slight if any in the way of informing military policy in Israel.

The vast majority of Jews in Israel are unorthodox to the point of practical secularism, but proudly maintain their ethnic identity the way any nation does in the world. This probably even moreso due to their achievements over the millenia in the face of incredible hardships. I would find it very unlikely that the country's military actions and operations are informed by much other than the hard-nosed military tactician's perspective and strong role in a country with an actively engaged and consulted military establishment. Due to the degree to which its prior actions and current strategies are consulted by military experts all over the world, I'd say it's decisions are informed by something quite different from whimsical religious fancy.

In American congregations, I'd say the most mainstream opinion you are likely to hear during times of crisis like these is one appealing to general support for their state/country, and not one that goes into abstract religious arguments for strange perspectives on how to justify specific military actions.

Many people have speculated on the pervasive nature of anti-Semitism. I think minorities anywhere of any stripe can be vulnerable to scapegoating and hatred. Obviously as an institution it took off in early European history as a way to confirm the superiority of the descendant religion's institution of political ascendancy in the continent - The Church. Others have speculated on how this took on a global dimension, including the Zionists who have commented on the exposed, stateless nature of Jews, and with 22 potential allies in the U.N., the Palestinians have a wide coalition of nations to work with them in their fight against the Jewish right to self-determination.

I heard James Woolsey once comment on how the religious component of Jewish ethnicity, with its acknowledgment that no man is above an omnipotent God, was deemed threatening to the various tyrants throughout history who have relied upon crushing opposition in any form - even that held by an obscure minority, and of an inexplicit and theological nature - in their quest for power over men.

I think it's presentist to assert some kind of "sole propriety" of Jews over God. First came a uniquely Jewish conception of God, and then came borrowings on that theme by what later grew into half the planet. The Jewish idea of a relationship with God in the form of a covenant is still unique to both Judaism and Christianity, so far as I know, but Jews do not disavow that non-Jews may be looked upon kindly by the deity by virtue of any willing adherence they might maintain to broader humanistic principles (Noahide tenets).

I'm interested in whether the anecdotal ideas explored by Thomas Cahill - on the role of how Jewish ideas have influenced civilization - might not someday be further confirmed through more in-depth historical analysis.

Tim R. Furnish - 8/6/2006

Mr. Ebbits,
Are you sure you mean "penultimate?"
And at the risk of appearing pedantic, your posts would make more sense if you reduced your addiction to slashes (/).

Tim R. Furnish - 8/6/2006

Excellent. But with those lines about "meringue" and "pepper mill," I'm starting to suspect you're a chef moonlighting here.....
Clarke is one of the favorite (and easiest) whipping boys here....along with his brother-in-arms Omar Ibrahim Baker. In case you didn't already know that.

Tim R. Furnish - 8/6/2006

Can you read English? I said I knew YOU couldn't refrain from your sneering ad hominem attacks--and of course I was correct.

Vernon Clayson - 8/6/2006

Mr. Clarke, I only have one vote and surely you would not expect me to waste it on appeasers ALGore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. I had to live through the years of no spine governance with Bill Clinton, suck it up and live with George Bush. He will be gone in January 2009, perhaps the next president will be as self-obsessed as Clinton and make his personal pleasure, hedonism, more central to his administration than our national security - backing down and licking our wounds should please you.

William Redfern - 8/6/2006

More trouble at Reuters. Seems the guy who manipulated the photo at Reuters is the same photographer who took pictures at Qana, where the phoney body count story was given birth.

To top it off, a Reuters employee is on the way out the door after writing to a blog, from a Reuters IP, a death threat.

I think we can dispense with the old chestnut, put out regularly by journalists, that their professionalism keeps their politics from getting in the way.

The really scary thing is that otherwise intelligent and well-read people are forming strongly-held views and positions based on such partial and biased reporting.

William Redfern - 8/6/2006

Reuters seems to have been caught with its pants down, manipulating a photo of burning Beirut. No surprise there, as Reuters banned the use of the term terrorist.

A little skepticism is needed here. As Michael Ware (formerly of Time, now of CNN) put it, Hezbollah has an iron grip on the press in Lebanon. The names of each journalist is taken down during one of their Hezbollah-controlled press tours, and areas not on the Potemkin village tour are off-limits.

One CNN reporter, quickly and breathlessly escorted through "the most dangerous place in Beirut right now" by the head of Hezbollah press relations, returned to the area, but to a place a couple of blocks over, unescorted, and immediately was barred from filming by Hezbollah.

John Lee Anderson, writing in the New Yorker, says he was escorted away from a bombed out area in Beirut he had been led to believe was the military headquarters of Hezbollah.

That skepticism should be extended to reports of soaring popularity of Hezbollah since the conflict started. Lebanon is not a country where people feel free to speak openly. They understand the nature of Hezbollah. It is a picture of studied naivete to take reports of public attitudes at face value in such circumstances.

James Spence - 8/6/2006

As pundits and academia arrogantly discuss what Hizbollah is or is not, Arabs continue to be killed and the perception by them is that Western leaders covertly cheer the slaughter. And most Westerners who write about this have not ventured far from “green zones” or their platoons to truly live as their subjects do without protection, yet believe they are authoritative enough to impress their fellow white men. It’s like a westerner trying to write about the experience of Zen when it should be written by an accomplished Zen master who also knows English. There is always a lack of perspective and grasp by an outsider when they write about the Islamic world.

If someone posting here does not condemn Hizbollah as evil terrorists, it is stupidly assumed they are supporters. The same for the Palestinians. The weak and the conquered are always blamed for the misfortune that has befallen them and the present is cruel to them. But this has been going on since 1920 when TH Lawrence wrote about the atrocities committed by British army. To a lot of Arabs, Hizbollah are certainly not terrorists. Today leaders still talk about what is the worth. The worth of human life, that is. It’s always been cheaper than dirt. Little is emphasized in Western media about this. You have to turn to non-western media to hear the stories that are, of course, suspiciously viewed by most Westerners as biased. The hypocrisy is laughable.

You would think that all this killing of innocent women and children by Israel would on moral grounds force our leaders, who apppear to be religious or on a mission from the Lord, to stop the slaughter. With power comes responsibility. But the worth of things are always discussed. Madeline Albright was once on 60 Minutes at CBS in 1996 discussing whether it was worth it to kill over 500,000 children in Iraq and she said that it was worth it. When a two year old was shot through the head by an Israeli soldier as he looked out the window of his concentration-camp home in the Gaza strip it was justified, according to Rabbi Ginsberg of Nablus, “The blood of the Jewish people is redder, and therefore more preferable to the Lord.” Whether it’s the secular indifference of an Albright, or where, once again, primitive religions kick in to increase human misery, it shows me how irrelevant the question of what Hizbollah is or is not.

John Chapman - 8/6/2006

None of this might have occurred if our government had refused to support Israel's long subjugation of the Palestinians.

Yes, endless blunders, so now, maybe, more people can realize that the Bush doctrine is becoming unsustainable against reality.

Tim R. Furnish - 8/5/2006

And again--my point is proved: ad hominem, thy name is Clarke.

Tim R. Furnish - 8/5/2006

"Arrogant bunglers?"
See, I KNEW you couldn't refrain.

Tim R. Furnish - 8/5/2006

Mr. Clarke,
What, pray tell, is so repugnant to you about the U.S. attempting to inculcate democracy around the world? Would you prefer the Chinese were inculcating Marxism (wait--that may be a trick question), or UBL Islamic tyranny, or...you get the picture. And please, try to answer without ad hominems attacks on either me or the President (if you can do that).

N. Friedman - 8/5/2006


You clearly did not understand the analogy I drew.

N. Friedman - 8/5/2006


If that is what Wiki claims, Wiki is mistaken.

N. Friedman - 8/5/2006


Peter claims to know things based on reading the Economist, etc. However, pick up a book about the Muslim regions? Never. He just assumes that the Euro babblists know things.

Vernon Clayson - 8/5/2006

Israel did not blunder into a trap, all sides knew exactly what would happen and it did. Do you even know that Israel held southern Lebanon several times for the same reason they fight now and because of a number of factors, including our poliitical interference, left it to the Lebanese who quickly gave it over to, first the PLO, and then Hezbollah. Lebanon is complicit in everything going on.

Tim R. Furnish - 8/5/2006

Thanks. Not sure Mr. Clarke would agree, or Mr. Ibrahim....

Vernon Clayson - 8/5/2006

Mr. Clarke, you've written one-third of the comments on this issue and lean towards empathy for Hezbollah in each of them, and you want me to apologize? Back in the day, those who favored communism while not actually being members of the "party" were labeled as "fellow travelers". You, Mr. Clarke are a fellow traveler of Hezbollah. Your odd attitude signals you aren't an American, more likely an Englishman living in fear of the day that Islam may one day take over your country. Toughen up, Englisher, England has endured setbacks and will again, get over your fear.

John Chapman - 8/5/2006

One of the keys to the terrorism, especially affecting the West, related to the black eyes America has been receiving from 9/11 onward by its poor policies, have always been partially rooted in the Israeli-Palestinian problem.

Now Israel and the US are killing any chance for peace by “staying the course” and the sickening slaughter of civilians by copy-cat moves on both sides, each asserting they don’t target civilians, will echo and create more terrorism for generations. This will be Man’s legacy before he dies out altogether. With Iran supplying Hizballah with SAMs, the conflict between Lebanon and Israel may be the last of the pieces to the puzzle that could bring on the bigger war between Israel-Iran, much to Rumsfeld’s chagrin who once said the war in Iraq would only take six months and who just lately contradicted this by saying “you’d have a dickens of a time trying to find instances where I have been excessively optimistic" he must have momentarily slipped outside his parallel universe.

Israel is now entering its own quagmire – I thought at first Israel could outclass Hizballah militarily but didn’t think about the real possibility of support from Iran. Although I wonder about experts who sincerely believe in their self-centered beliefs of what Hezbollah is, that it was not originally formed to counter Israeli occupation, among other beliefs, this حزب الله is a slightly different animal than al-Qaidah. The neocon’s war, the whole war in the Levant, are becoming one. A real Walt fucking Disney zen moment in the making, and more fuel for the End of Times tribe.

N. Friedman - 8/5/2006

Hi again, Tim,

Very good. Your book really is quite a good one.

Tim R. Furnish - 8/5/2006

Right, Mr. Clarke. That's why every time I post an article on here, you savage it. Despite the fact I have a doctorate in Islamic history and spent years as an Arabic linguist in U.S. Army Intelligence. Like most on the Left, you consider "informed" and "intelligent" those who agree with you (no matter their paucity of education or reasoning ability) and lob ad hominem attacks at those with whom you disagree (no matter their qualifications).

Tim R. Furnish - 8/5/2006

Thanks.....It's supposed to get reviewed on here some time....
It's not "Harry Potter," but it's done rather well for an overpriced hardback.

E. Simon - 8/5/2006

Peter, you can go ahead and make contrasts between Cuba and Lebanon. Before you do, you might want to make the contrast of whether attacks were occuring regularly from Cuba into the U.S. and whether or not Cuba's sponsor backed down in direct negotiations with supplying them with particularly problematic arms.

But of course, you won't. The single, selective contrast you made was sufficient to make your biased argument. All claims to not having a dog in this fight notwithstanding.

Vernon Clayson - 8/5/2006

Mr. Clarke, in your first paragraph you say "fairminded and unbiased observer", then castigate our president and the Israelis?? You are neither fairminded or unbiased, rather, you are unreasobable and illogical and think too small. Hasn't it occurred to you that the Hezbollah knew just what they were doing when they took the two Israeli soldiers captive? They knew it would start Israel on the road to war, they, Hezbollah, sought that war knowing they would get the benefit of the publicity engendered by the Israeli response, nothing sells like civilian deaths and you can be sure they desired that. To get philosophical, as water wears away stone over time, the Muslim know their insidious attacks wear at Israel - and, by the way, the rest of the non-Muslim world. Why do you apologize for Islam, they hate you even more than their different factions hate one another.

N. Friedman - 8/5/2006

Hi Tim,

Well said.

By the way, I am reading your book Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, Their Jihads, and Osama bin Laden. It is an excellent piece of scholarship. My congratulations. I hope it is being widely read.

N. Friedman - 8/5/2006


NO. I shall not say I am wrong when, in fact, I am not wrong. I have seen no evidence that your analysis has any factual basis.

N. Friedman - 8/5/2006


Only an unread person would call Cheney a neo-con. That comment suggests you have no idea what you are talking about. That, frankly, is a fact.

William Redfern - 8/5/2006

It would be more helpful if Cole put a little meat on those bones. Particularly interesting are the words 'easily' and 'submission'. If you can't do something easily, I guess one shouldn't do it at all. And which party wants submission here? The party that has vowed to destroy the state of Israel, or the party that was content to stay behind it's international border with Lebanon?

Now where exactly is that meat? Where is the compromise position? Lebanon, having secured the exit of Israel, decided to throw in a post hoc demand for Chebaa Farms, which the UN says is Syria (I guess Israel is supposed to transfer Syrian territory to Lebanon), and the release of the murderer, Kuntar.

You will notice that I said Lebanon, since the fantastical demands were made first by Hezbollah, then echoed by Saniora.

In the rest of the Arab world Israeli "occupation" is most often a euphemism for the very existence of Israel (as in "we must end the Israeli occupation of Palestine"). Given the historical context of Lebanon, the word 'resistance' has been substituted for 'occupation', inasmuch as Hezbollah supported the Syrian occupation of Lebanon. For many Lebanese, resistance plays the same role. Impossible demands are made which, when unfulfilled, justify a resistance that even the Lebanese admit wouldn't stop with the fulfillment of the demands, but are only a mask for the larger project of the destruction of Israel.

Putting aside the question of Israeli war crimes for the moment, just what has Cole said in his empty truism at the end (if one accepts that one must accept anything that can't be addressed "easily") that passes for such deep wisdom? What does he see as likely bases for compromise? Israel having retreated behind an internationally-recognized border, what is there to compromise on? Allow Hezbollah to periodically kill and kidnap its citizens? Pay a yearly bribe, like the Barbary pirates? Give Lebanon some Israeli territory? Please, we await instruction from our intellectual and moral superiors. Tell us Juan (or Peter), what is the compromise that will end the fighting? Don't hide your genius. Share it.

john crocker - 8/5/2006

Just curious. Can you list a few prominent neocons who did not support the war in Iraq at its inception?

Vernon Clayson - 8/4/2006

And Israel can sort out Hezbollah from Lebanese citizens by?? And while they are doing this, do they expose themselves to attacks? And the vehicles traveling north have only innocent Lebanese in them and not Hezbollah fighters repositioning themselves? Life is really uncomplicated for you, isn't it?

N. Friedman - 8/4/2006


To be blind to propaganda is beyond me. Did people die in Qana? Probably. Was there indescriminate bombing there? Not likely. Were the events in Qana staged? Much of it likely was. How do I know that? You can examine the various photographs taken, many hours apart, with the same people holding the same body which was just allegedly removed from rubble yet: the worker is wearing different clothing in some of the pictures, the baby's pacifier is clean while the baby is dirty, etc., etc.

Now, you might ask why Hezbollah would stage such an event. That is called war. Truth is the first casualty, as the saying goes. In Islam - and particularly Shi'i Islam -, there is an explicit doctrine permitting lying. Such has a history, arising out the of the need for Shi'i to survive in a dominant Sunni society. The tradition is called Taquiah and it is rather well documented.

The tradition also exists among Sunnis. But, it is not considered mandatory. In Shi'i Islam, such lying is deemed mandatory. That, you will note, is a rather unique doctrine but it is rather real and it is - whatever you might think - employed as it is, as I said, religiously mandated. And, to note: Hezbollah, more accurately written Hezb (i.e. Party) Allah or Party of Allah, is a religious party and a branch of the religio/political party that rules Iran.

Now, the gist of what you write is that Israel overreacted to the kidnapping of Israelis. Here is an alternative scenario for you. Back in the 1960's when the USSR began the process of bringing nuclear weapons into Cuba, did the US overreact?

Note the disctinctions: the US prepared the world for nuclear war, not in response even to being attacked but to the possibility that the USSR would introduce weapons into the region in order, perhaps, to have a Sword of Damocles over the US. In the end, the USSR backed down sort of. What, in fact, would have happened if the USSR had not backed down? Our government had set a policy which literally could have brought all of civilization crashing down - again, over a possible threat!!!

You claim that the Israelis are in a war of choice. I think that is untrue. I think they are in a war of survival, which depends on their ability to stave off Iran. And that makes the war one of necessity, from their perspective.

N. Friedman - 8/4/2006


In that not all neo-con's supported the Iraq war, your statement makes no sense. That is the problem with you. You do not deal with things on the merits.

Tim R. Furnish - 8/4/2006

How is it possible that a professor of Middle Eastern history at that august institution, Michigan (although now the SECOND-best football team in the Big Ten), seems not to know anything about the influence of Iran's Islamic Republic in gestating Hizbullah?
Methinks he knows this full well--but stating that would undercut his apologia for Nasrallah Inc.

N. Friedman - 8/4/2006


You write: "I don't think there would be grounds for major complaint if the Israelis had gone into villages such as Qana with ground troops, and if a few left-behind civilians had been caught in the cross-fire of a gun battle between IDF and Hezbollah."

Have you ever heard of Jenin? What you describe is exactly what occurred. Yet, the word massacre and war crime was screamed repeatedly. As Journalist David Warren states:

What happened at Qana was, almost certainly, what happened at Jenin in 2002, what happened on a beach in Gaza a few weeks ago, and what has happened on innumerable other occasions. The Israelis are instantaneously accused and convicted of a monstrous and perhaps intentional act of butchery, by people quite incurious about the facts.

That, I suggest, is the reality.

N. Friedman - 8/4/2006


Why the ad hominem argument? Calling an argument neo-con does not make it wrong. Deal with the merits.

I provided the argument to you to show you a different point of view. You, for one, might consider that before you sing out another dumb rant.

N. Friedman - 8/4/2006


You would do well to look at Z. It is the voice of the very far left. Chomsky publishes a blog on its website.

I agree, by the way, with some of the advice being sent your way. Whether or not ad hominem - and some is -, you have become more and more strident and less and less conherent.

N. Friedman - 8/4/2006


There is no such thing as non-biased. That is a dumb comment.

Peter Kovachev - 8/4/2006

Mr. C,

Mr. Olmert is not my leader, and were I an Israeli, I would have never voted for his Kadima party. The Gaza give-away and the sorry results should have been obvious to the Israeli public, and it's too bad they often tend to learn the hard way.

As for your other comments, you issue is with international law, not with me. The Lebanese government, which claim sovereignity over the whole of Lebanon, which has profited from Iranian billions in (now pulverized) infrastructure and which has admitted Hizbollah into their givernment cannot in good faith claim to be a "third party." It didn't cry for help when Syria and Hizbullah rode their butts for all those year, so now they can stuff it.

What Olmert says for PR purposes is beside the point. International law is clear on defensive actions; Israel could be throwing artillery barrages right back at the source of Hizbollah's rocket launches, killing thousands of Lebanese civillians and the war criminals would still be Hizbollah. Alas, politics and a politicised and corrupt international court system prevents them from taking this effective course. Olmert war criminal? Maybe, but the way you think. If he is not careful, Olmert faces the chance of being hauled to court as a war criminal by Israelis not for bombing Lebanon, but for not implementing a robust and effective campaign to stop Hizbollah rockets.

Bill Heuisler - 8/4/2006

Mr. Clarke,
Your answers are either meaningless, ineffectual or lacking any connection to the real situation today.

You suggest:
Better intelligence,and security in the US; secular education and women's rights in Moslem countries.None of which will affect anything current nor can any man or political party achieve these wishes.

Other suggestions are ignoring and then abandoning Israel in favor of a Palestinian state, a new US President and some Arabic speaking diplomats.

Last you want US, "cracking down on arms manufacturers" and having a sensible energy policy. Shall we arrest the arms manufacturers? The charge? Crimes against the State, I suppose. Do you support drilling in ANWAR and off the US coast until we develop a real ethanol and alcohol industry? Wind farms? Solar?

And what the hell does all this have to do with the current war against the Islamofascists who say they will kill us all if they can?

You sound like a contestant in the Miss America Pageant vowing to work for world peace. Reality means more than insults and wishes.
Bill Heuisler

Vernon Clayson - 8/3/2006

My logic is bogus? Are you unaware of what you've said? Hezbollah murder and mayhem is no reason for Israel to act stupid? I presume you think sitting still for the missiles and suicide bombers is the intelligent thing to do. Who are you really, is this Bill Clinton? That's what he did in Somalia, the attack on the Cole and the first attack on the WTC and see what that got us, the most brazen attack on mainland America in its history. Turn the other cheek, huh?

Charles Lee Geshekter - 8/3/2006

Very well put Mr. Clayson.

This boy Clarke sits home angrily in front of his computer and types gibberish, empty-headed nonsense, none of which comes from either his heart or his brain.

Charles Lee Geshekter - 8/3/2006

It's a pleasure to read, laugh and simply point at such an edgy ideologue and chronically embittered, one-dimensional bottom feeder as Peter Clarke [not his real name] whose narrow, sectarian meringue about Hezbollah (or anything else for that matter) is mere grist for my pepper mill, among other things.

Now run along li'l fella, try extra hard to be clever, dodge all the key issues and questions about Hezbollah, and imagine that you actually have a real life somewhere.

We can all tell from your vapid, chewing gum comments that your grasp on Middle Eastern realities is exactly as feeble and limp-wristed as you make it out to be.

Vernon Clayson - 8/3/2006

Cowardly long distance bombing? How about cowardly random rocket shooting? Does shooting and running, hiding behind civilians seem brave to you? The Israelis use various means to notify those in the vicinity of their bombing runs, the first notice the Israelis get from their enemies is the few seconds of life between hearing the incoming missile and the explosion. You are truly all heart, Mr. Clarke.

Charles Lee Geshekter - 8/3/2006

More evidence of the obsessions and dementia that haunt Mr. Clarke, making him livid, frothing and utterly unable to stick to the topic which is all about Juan Cole's vapid apologia for the murderous behavior and wanton aggression that characterize Hezbollah.

Hezbollah, like al-Qaida, Ba'athism, or the Iranian mullahs, is a product of tyranny, poverty, desperation, anti-liberalism, fascism and an embrace of violence whereby Arabic-speaking Muslims embrace a reactionary past and their familiar cult of victimization.

Enraged and embittered stenographers like poor, sad, old Mr. Clarke just cannot and will not abide any of this so they rail and whine and, of course, change the subject.

This is about the tyrannical, murderous history of Hezbollah and its wanton, cruel, barbaric use of defenseless women and children to achieve their military objective which is never ever to negotiate or live with Israel but to destroy it.

That said, the Israelis will do and must do what they must to deter such a wicked and evil enemy.....no matter how much you wish to pretend otherwise.

William Redfern - 8/3/2006

Apologies don't restore the dead to life. I'd be more impressed by a thorough explanation of how the building came to be targeted. At best, it looks like criminal negligence. At worst, part of a deliberate plan to depopulate southern Lebanon by means of terror. I don't support Israel to the extent of ruling that out beforehand (Deir Yassein, and all that). I simply wouldn't mimic, as Cole has done, the rhetoric of Hezbollah in calling the Qana incident a massacre, which suggests, to my mind, evidence of intent not yet established. That's one reason why I don't trust Cole's reportage.

As a general rule, I'm against atrocities, whoever they are committed by. But neither am I willing to accept the self-serving reporting of Lebanese "officials" and others that only a handful of Hezbollah fighters have been killed (for the reasons stated above, and others). Nor do fighters exhaust the list and measure of military targets.

It would indeed be a crime to take out an entire apartment building, perhaps with civilians in it, to destroy a single mortar tube stored in the basement. But it would not be a crime to do so were it stacked with hundreds of rockets that could kill thousands. Numbers of civilian dead alone don't determine the legality, but the specific facts of each case. I'm willing to entertain the notion of Israeli guilt, and pronounce it when the facts demand it, but it seems that so many of the "facts" are in contention right now, that I'm less willing than say, Cole, to pronounce guilt.

War is clumsy, and civilians die. When they die because of indifference or use of a force disproportionate to the military value of the target, it deserves to be condemned and not minimized, even by reference to lazy and dishonest journalism.

Bill Heuisler - 8/3/2006

Mr. Clarke,
Please don't lump me in with anyone.
AIPAC is an American Jewish lobbying group and my opinion of most American Jews has fallen precipitously since they gave 70% of their vote to that vacuously pompous traitor, Kerry.

Most American Jews in high profile positions do not support Israel even though they profess to the religion that considers Israel the wellspring.
Many Sabras share my contempt for the Jews who substitute money & prosperity
for any sense of loyalty to etnic kin.
They complain that many American Jews think their monetary gifts give them the right to preach appeasement in the face of aggression.

As to conciliation, Mr. Clarke,do you not recall the Gaza, West Bank and Lebanon withdrawals? Please answer my question about realistic alternatives.
Bill Heuisler

William Redfern - 8/3/2006

I don't wish to give the impression that Hezbollah always lies. Give credit where due. Hezbollah has not and will not apologize for a single Israeli civilian death. They can't honestly do that, given their announced intention to destroy Jewry worldwide. Nor can they given their strong desire to secure the murderer of innocent civilians, Samir Kuntar.

On the other hand, the WHOLE TRUTH would include pointing out that a lack of intent on the part of the Israelis to kill civilians in Qana, does not absolve them of due diligence in avoiding such casualties to the point possible, consistent with the military threat. Israel has yet to give a full explanation of the incident.

BTW, I've noticed the fact that Cole, in his blog, has made great hay of the two Human Rights Watch reports condemning Israel for indiscriminate bombing and using cluster bombs. I couldn't find there a reference to the Human Rights Watch report downsizing the toll at Qana, nor the one condemning Hezbollah for rocketing civilians in Israel. So there is one fact I'm very sure of: I won't be looking to Cole's blog for the WHOLE TRUTH.

BTW, I hope you didn't get the impression from my posts that civilians didn't die in Qana, or that they weren't killed by Israel. I'm not an apostle of conspiracy theories, just of the laziness and dishonesty of much of present-day journalism.

Charles Lee Geshekter - 8/3/2006

One can be sure that when the delusional Mr. Clarke resorts to quotations from.......drum roll please..... Wikipedia that he reveals once and for all what a feckless, witless, hapless and one-dimensional ideologue he truly is.

His lazy regurgitation of fairy tales, lies, and distortions usually associated with the likes of Noam Chomsky, Robert Fisk, Al-Jezeera, and Mel Gibson provides a wonderful source of mirth and pity.

Perhaps if Mr. Clarke had stayed in graduate school another semester, he might have improved his ability to reason logically and to stay on topic, but I doubt it.

There he sits, alone as always, lost in the blogosphere.... type type typing away furiously, with his furrowed brow, clenched teeth, squinting eyes, thin skin and manic hatred for Israel and the current U.S. administration.

Verily, as the Beatles sang it years ago, "oh-blah-dee, oh-blah-dah.....life goes on," and so too for the cramped, irrelevant world of Peter Clarke.

Ta ta......

William Redfern - 8/3/2006

The reporting on the Qana incident is something of a revelation. Cole, in his blog, linked to a CNN report that claimed over 60 had died. Cole repeats this. The CNN report he links to then says the toll includes 37 children, while Cole has it that there were 19 children and 11 still missing (without explaining the discrepancy, or his source).

Needless to say, Cole has not revisited the issue now that Human Rights Watch is revising the figures downward. Still, while HRW says 28 are dead, they say there remain 13 missing. What is interesting is that the BBC gives no source whatsoever for its figure of 54, while CNN unintentionally gives the whole ballgame away: they give their source as "Lebanese internal security officials".

Cutting through the newspeak, we all know what that means: Hezbollah. In other words, the reporters, as usual, have done no reporting other than taking dictation, and have deliberately obscured the fact that they are taking dictation from one side in the conflict.

Moreover, it is a side which is not known for its commitment to truth. Hezbollah says it destroyed an Israeli warship. They damaged it. They didn't mention that they also hit a non-Israeli merchant vessel. Similarly, they have claimed to have shot down an F-16, a claim credulously repeated by Robert Fisk and James Wolcott, despite the lack of evidence.

This harkens back to the Jenin "massacre". There doesn't seem to be a lot of quality reporting in the area. Then again, Hurrican Katrina didn't bring out much quality either.

Charles Lee Geshekter - 8/3/2006

Thanks for the poignant and effective reminders.

He wasn't necessarily referring, of course, to Qana but Scott Adams, the cartoonist who draws Dilbert, once put it succinctly: “Reporters are faced with a daily choice. They can either painstakingly research stories or they can write whatever people tell them. Both approaches pay the same."

William Redfern - 8/3/2006

The latest is the report attributed to Human Rights Watch that 28 rather than 54 were killed in the Qana incident, 16 of them children.

I tracked the earlier reporting at the BBC website, and they earlier reported the 54 figure without sourcing, saying also that more than 30 were children. Their latest reports, which include the Human Rights Watch toll, don't link back to all their earlier reports, nor explain their earlier sources, nor the discrepancy.

I know Qana is where Jesus turned water into wine, but it isn't where he raised Lazarus from the dead. How do you get from 54 to 28 dead without divine intervention? Or should we just call it what it apparently is: taking dictation, rather than journalism?

Charles Lee Geshekter - 8/3/2006

Key facts for Mr. Clarke to grasp:

1) Hezbollah regards its power and philosophy as God-given.

2) Hezbollah considers warfare as ideologically inevitable, hence welcome.

3) Hezbollah consists primarily of would-be martyrs eager for death.

4) Hezbollah regards death as beautiful and defeat as a vindication.

5) Hezbollah is irrational in its defense of religious warfare.

6) Hezbollah has one overriding desire – to see Israel destroyed.

7) Hezbollah are religious fascists with genocidal fantasies.

8) Hezbollah’s primary external supporter is Iran whose crazed President embraces the end-of-days view of the world that history will come to its grand finale under his aegis.

9) Hezbollah’s brand of Islamism is virulently anti-western, anti-capitalist and anti-Semitic.

10) Hezbollah supporters love to read the incoherent drivel of Peter Clarke suffused with its holy trinity of multiculturalism, moral equivalence and cultural relativism.

Charles Lee Geshekter - 8/3/2006

All of your comments thus far equally lack substance, meaning, relevance and importance.

Hence, you get what you deserve. Now run along, sonny.

Charles Lee Geshekter - 8/3/2006

Thanks for confirming my suspicions about your ludicrous and irrelevant ideas. By your own admissions, you really need to get out more and spend less time at the blogosphere. It'll do you a world of good.

adam richard schrepfer - 8/3/2006

Peter would you say you know more about Islam than Robert Spencer? Or that you have logged in as many hours studying Islamic doctrine than he has?

Bill Heuisler - 8/3/2006

Mr. Clarke,
By the way, how do you plan to make your ten solutions happen? We live in a Democracy with majority rule. The Islamists live in dictatorships. Do you anticipate forcing your points?

Good luck. Now try suggesting some things that do not require the hand of God, multiple regime changes or the tooth fairy. Try reality.
Bill Heuisler

Bill Heuisler - 8/3/2006

Mr Clarke,
Recent history proves cease fires and truces aid terrorists. Cole writes about Hezb'Allah as though last month happened in a vacuum.

In fact,Israel has endured too much. The West has been too tolerant and our failures to react to savagery with force has cost us dearly. We were warned of 9/11 by escalating attacks for decades. For six years Israel's warnings have been eloquent.

UN Resolution 1559 (9/04)demanded the
"...disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias". Lebanon thus was told to disband and disarm Hezb'Allah, and prevent the flow of armaments to Hezb'Allah from Syria and Iran. Lebanon did not.

On 21 November 2005, heavy Hezb'Allah mortar and rocket fire raked several IDF positions near the Blue Line in the eastern sector of the UNIFIL Area. Simultaneously, a large group of Hezb'Allah infiltrated Ghajar village, assaulted the Mayor’s office and also the IDF position. Fighting along the UN Blue Line lasted nine hours. No response.

On 4/18/06, Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on Syria and Iran to stop interfering in Lebanon. The report said Hezb'Allah, "maintains close ties with frequent contacts and regular communication with Syria and Iran". The UN threatened action.

Again, UN Resolution 1680, 5/17/06, demanded the Lebanese disband and disarm all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias and restore Government control over Lebanese territory.

On 7/12/06 members of Hezb'Allah infiltrated into Israel near Shtula, an Israeli farming village, ambushed 2 Israeli Army Hummvees, captured 2 Israeli soldiers and killed 3 others. Five more Israeli soldiers were killed pursuing Hezb'Allah back into Lebanon. The capture and deaths was the worst loss for Israeli military forces in more than four years.

The same month, Hezb'Allah rocketed two other Israeli towns, killing one civilian, injuring 25. No response.

In October 2000 Hezb'Allah abducted 3 Israeli soldiers. All three were executed. The bodies were exchanged for Arab prisoners. No response.

Enough? Any other country would have reacted much sooner. Israel tried conciliation and relied on Kofi Annan to their sorrow.

Cole wants Israel to commit suicide, and die slowly by a thousand cuts. In spite of Olmert, the Israeli people finally realize they must fight the agents of Iran supplied by Syria or they will be killed. That is a lesson all in the West will soon learn.

Kill or be killed. Please explain any other options you envision.
Bill Heuisler

Charles Lee Geshekter - 8/2/2006

I was not surprised to detect within the incoherent, frothing rant of Mr. Clarke the rehashed, retreaded, repetitious and tiresome pieties from rags like Mother Jones, Z Magazine and The Nation.

As a full-fledged card-carrying member of the so-called Angry Left, Clarke's sweeping and sophomoric insistence sounds alot like the witless, large pronouncements one hears and ignores from the likes of Bono, Angelina Jolie, and their sanctimonious ilk.

Earth to Clarke: better get going, stop wasting time with blogs and start rounding up those votes for 2006..... you're gonna need them all, duckie.

Peter Kovachev - 8/2/2006

What is unclear about "carefully shepherded by Hizbullah PR types"? I'm not a native English speaker and I make weird errors from time to time, but in this case I can't see a problem.

Your "astounding" angle was never of much relevance. Whether there was ordnance in the building or not, whether there were civilians there or not, is all immaterial if rockets were being fired at Israel from the location. Any responsible leader of any nation would protect his people first and worry about the enemy's civilians and PR after.

Given the fact that Hizbullah routinely stores ornance in schools, hospitals, mosques and homes, chances are there were weapons in there. And given their desperation and disregard for human life, including that of their own people, I wouldn't be surprised if they blew up the building themselves; in their value system the PR value would be worth it ... and given the ridiculous skewering Israel got for this event, it seems they scored one.

The questions, discoveries and musings which you lump under "conspiracy theories" were not around when Olmert made his unnecessary apology. He's a busy chap, I'm sure, but one would think someone near him would have stopped him. Rice and a lot of others got understandably carried away by the event...as Hizbullah and their supporters hoped...and made fools of themselves in lecturing Israel.

Peter Kovachev - 8/2/2006

Such an angry chap you are. Caution: Your fragile emotions mess with your reading comprehension and reasoning skill.

I didn't say the US media is controlled by Islamists. That, actually, wouldn't be so bad, since no one would believe them. I would say that it's running on old activist/human interest scripts on the ME put into place by befuddled 60s Leftist burnouts, and that many journalists in the field are ignorant and irresponsible careerists when reporting from areas where information is ruthlessly controlled and manipulated.

Olmert likes to apologize at the drop of the hat and many are displeased about it. In common sense, healthy ethics and international law, the party that uses civilians as shields is solely responsible for their fate. Olmert should have expressed formal regret, not apologies. Olmert's first responsibility, as any leader's in the world, is for the citizen of Israel ... who were just subjected to a barrage of over 200 rockets ... not to those of the enemy. I would hope that in similar situations in the future, where terrorists fire from civilian areas, the IDF would not hesitate to respond.

As for upgrades to my "propaganda sheet," I'll keep you posted.

Peter Kovachev - 8/2/2006

That was pretty weak, Peter C. The "Quana conspiracy theory," as the Washington Post and the mainstream media (the same one that "reported" breathlessly on the famous "Jenin massacre") will calls any alternate interpretation of their official lines a "conspiracy theory."

Suffice it to say that all those very well paid journalists are carefully shepherded by Hizbullah PR types and they know that not only would they never get another lucrative story, but might not make it out of Lebanon with a heart beat. Miruculously, the journalists got there through the "impassable" roads, just in time to see and report in suitably somber tones on the "rescue workers" taking out and parading corpses. Not even the Jenin sham was as transparent as this obscenity.

Bill Heuisler - 8/2/2006

Mr. Clarke,
The question is neither send whom nor semantics, and whether there remains a flicker of Caliphate-lust in the families of dead terrorists in the future is quite immaterial to me. To pretend there is s difference between terrorists in the Lebanon and those in Iraq or Somalia is sophism. What barbarians call themselves cannot be used to argue differences. Head-chopping, civilian targeting, women hating fanatics who hate us do not care what we call them except as a means to confuse.

The question Cole avoids is that of an effective end to the actions of this enemy. Cease fires, truces and UN agreements have proxied military action ever since our Marines were slaughtered in their sleep in 1983.
We've tried moderation and talking. What other alternative is there but the destruction of implacable enemies?

Terror must be confronted in the most basic fashion or civilization becomes lost in the civilized trappings of dialectic - a terrorist ploy. Kill terrorists and the people who abide them, using the same object lesson we use in our criminal courts (for far lesser crimes) and also punish those who conspire in their commission before and after the fact.

The final question? Who does the West want to prevail? If Cole thinks the terrorists should get what they say they want, then he must defend them.
Can you imagine a defense for those who slaughter civililans because of what the civilians don't believe?
Bill Heuisler

E. Simon - 8/2/2006

We certainly can criticize his choice of focus - along with its typically fixed aperture. But each is entitled to endlessly ponder his choice of vastly interesting and colorful background scenery - at the expense of the primary plot. Of course, I'm sure you were aware of that already.

I don't think what Cole says is completely useless; far from it. I just think he's got too much of a regionally-based focus to appreciate the contributions of discrete actors as such. As actual, potentially independently-acting persons and not just as cultural icons.

Charles Lee Geshekter - 8/2/2006

Peter K. Clarke's jittery, venomous, hilariously-skewed nonsense shows him to be just another soppy, multiculti excuse-maker for the ugly, medievalist bandwagon of the Arabic-speaking Islamist world whose conspiracy-driven, self-mutilating and dysfunctional societies utterly lack any economic basis beyond oil exports, remittance imports and international largesse.

The "story" about Qana is most likely true, and we surely should not take the word of this Al-Jezera fellow-traveller's word one way or the other.

Charles Lee Geshekter - 8/2/2006

Extract from Spencer's analysis sent to me by a colleague about Herzallah who is from southern Lebanon.......

N. Friedman - 8/2/2006

You may want to read Amir Taheri's analysis of what is going on. His is a very interesting theory.


N. Friedman - 8/2/2006


He is quoting Robert Spencer's analysis.

Bill Heuisler - 8/2/2006

Mr. Clarke,
Cole writes, "The Israelis cannot win ... against a sophisticated, highly organized and well armed subnationalism."

Brits failed in Ireland and Malaya? Russians failed in Asia? Ottomans failed in the Middle East? The Union failed to surpress the "subnational" Confederacy? Ridiculous. History has many examples where "subnationals" were subdued by determined opponents.

Cole's silly historic viewpoint is further flawed because of the close connections between Hizb Allah and the Assad Family's takeover of the Lebanon in the past thirty years. If there's a nationalism involved, it's Syrian.
Bill Heuisler

Peter Kovachev - 8/2/2006

A packed and an amusing side note there, Mr. C.; AIPAC home pages, neo-Likud and neo-Saidist tracts and such. I like it.

Peter Kovachev - 8/2/2006

Cole hangs up his scholar's hat and again bravely takes on the illustrious "anti-Zionist" cause, this time on behalf of an increasingly desperate Hizbollah and its puppet-masters.

Nothing new here, just the same official message (albeit tarted-up for Western consumption) that's coming out of Teheran and whatever hole Nasrallah is hiding in: Israel can't win this one, it's merely killing innocent civilians and so it must cease its activities immediately and begin talking to Hizbollah. In other words it must meet whatever demands Iran makes through its proxy chum, no matter how many times goal-posts are moved.

The rest, the pseudo-history lessons, the mental images of rich and idylic life of Arab peasants under the caring gaze of Hizbollah, the "subnationalism" and "Oriantalist myths" piffle, are all just transparent attempts to humanize a terrorist organization which is committing serious war crimes on a daily basis. He hopes to obscure the obvious, that Hizbollah is a creation of Iran and Syria, and that it gained and retained power over its subject civilian population through a mix of savage oppression and bribery, the famous "social services" ... all under the nose of the UN, by the way. Just what a cheesy crank Cole has debased himself into for this agitprop project here is evidenced by his seemingly accidental omission of any mention of the elephants-in-the-room, Iran and Syria, all the while nattering about Pushtuns, changes in Lebanese agriculture and such.

Cole notwithstanding, the facts on the ground are quite different. Iran clearly began this war to draw attention away from its nuclear program. With the assumption that Israel will revert to form and will exchange murderers for soldiers at the rate of 1000/1, Hizbollah crossed the border to kill and kidnap Israeli soldiers. When that didn't work, it added another stupidity on top of the first and unleashed its katyushas and missiles. Iran, Syria and their Frankenstein are now desperate. The IDF has killed a substantial number of Hizbullah combatants, has demolished well over half of Hizbollah's weapons and amunition inventories, and is systematically destroying billions of dollars worth of Iran-sponsored military and civilian infrastructure. At the end of the day, Hizbullah will be a much diminished, if not shattered organization living-off endless UN humanitarian aid in the rubble of south Beirut, with little to threaten or bribe with. Israel will probably not accept a UN role as a buffer force for the simple reason that the UN is incompetent, amenable to terror organizations' demands, and cannot be trusted to even properly observe and report.

That Hizbollah has already lost is clear from its desperate attempts to fire all their missiles before they are found and by savagely using civilians not only as shields. The symbolism-filled Qana "massacre" is a prime example of Hizbollah's desperation and insane savagery. Assuming that we're all teary-eyed chumps, Hizbollah packed a building, in an evacuated village, full of living or already dead children, set up missile launchers right beside them and fired over 150 missiles into northern Israel from Quana. The results were inevitable and predictable, as was the media circus which converged there (in spite of the roads being allegedly impassable) and the staged "rescue" efforts with the obligatory professional keeners. It almost worked; the world "recoiled in horror" for a day or so, but not enough, as no cease-fire to save Hizbollah materialized, and now Qana may bite Hizbollah in the butt, as the sordid facts begin to emerge.

Cole's essay is not about Hizbollah, it's about Juan Cole's well-known hobgoblin, his obsession to demonize Israel. Now that he's hit his academic advancement ceiling, he's free to have go at this at his heart's content. So over-riding is this obsession that he'll drop academic integrity and plain common sense, and will turn genocidal fascists into people's heroes for us if he has to.

Norman Miller - 8/2/2006

And since when does a "sub-nationalist movement" (as opposed to a terrorist organization) blow up buildings in a far-distant and totally unrelated place, such as the destruction of a Jewish community building in Buenos Aires in 1994?

Charles Lee Geshekter - 8/2/2006

Dr. Mounir Herzallah, a Shiite from the South of Lebanon reported that Hezbollah-terrorists came to Qana, dug a munitions depot and then built a school and a residence directly over it.

He wrote: ‘Laughing, a local sheikh explained to me that the Jews lose either way: either because the rockets are fired at them or because, if they attack munitions depot, they are condemned by world public opinion on account of the dead civilians.’

Hezbollah, he says, uses the civilian population ‘as a human shield and then, when they are dead, as propaganda.’

While the Islamic doctrines of religious deception (taqiyya and kitman) are most often identified with Shi’ite Islam, and ostensibly rejected by Sunnis, because they were sanctioned by the Prophet, they can still be found in traditions that Sunni Muslims consider reliable, and are practiced among Salafis.

The Hezbollah jihadists today often speak about the usefulness of deceptive practices.

Despite the pleadings and deceptions of Juan Cole, most Americans are not used to dealing with carefully orchestrated and large-scale deception of this kind.

It is time that it be recognized as a weapon of warfare, and an extremely potent one at that. Qana has already largely accomplished what it was supposed to.

Lorraine Paul - 8/2/2006

Of course de-population will not work and this is exactly what Prof Cole says further on in his article.

Peter P Paul - 8/2/2006

According to the author the killing in Qana was intentional.
Its objective was to depopulate south lebanon.


One hope the Israeli hawks appear to entertain is that they can permanently depopulate strips Lebanon south of the Litani river


This project would require the total destruction of large numbers of villages and the permanent displacement of their inhabitants north to Beirut.

That is why the massacre at Qana occurred.

end of quote.

This theory only has a small problem.

Everyone knows sooner or later a international force will arrive in lebanon.

Israel will withdraw.

So Israel wont have control who will return to their homes.
People will return.

How can israel have the hope, the plan to depopulate south lebanon if a few weeks or months from now israeli troops will cease to have control over the area ?

Naturally the population will return back.

So the plan the author claims Israel has makes no sense.

The plan of depopulating the wholle area does not make sense since everyone knows that in a not very far distant future israel will handle back south lebanon to an international force and when that happens the lebanese will have the possibility to return to their lands and certainly that will happen.