No Bolton Filibuster: Schumer

Chuck Schumer confirmed that he may change his position on the confirmation of John Bolton and now considers a filibuter “unlikely”, removing one of the key struts to Harry Reid’s obstructionism during Bolton’s last confirmation attempt. Bolton’s defense of Israel appears to have changed his mind:

A Democratic filibuster of John Bolton’s nomination as United Nations ambassador is “unlikely,” Senator Schumer said yesterday.
Mr. Schumer supported an effort last year to block Mr. Bolton’s nomination from gaining a full Senate vote, but he confirmed that he is considering changing his position. …
Mr. Schumer said he had not made a final decision on which way to vote and that a lot of Democrats were also contemplating their position. The Democrats would need the support of 41 of their 45 members in the Senate to block Mr. Bolton’s nomination. Three Democrats crossed over to oppose a filibuster last year, meaning that a shift of even a few senators would signal Mr. Bolton’s confirmation. “I think that if you count the votes, a filibuster is unlikely,” Mr. Schumer said.
Mr. Bolton has served as the U.N. envoy for nearly a year after President Bush appointed him during a congressional recess last August. Mr. Bush could reappoint Mr. Bolton again at the end of the year, but some have said it is important for the ambassador to have legislative backing, especially with a war in the Middle East.

Schumer still had to get in a few digs at Bolton, reminding everyone of the bogeyman Democrats built out of the current ambassador to the UN. Schumer talked about the “good part of Bolton” and the “bad part of Bolton”, but had trouble explaining the latter. He said that Bolton had a “go it alone” attitude that has come across in his efforts on Iran and North Korea.
Huh? The last time we heard from the Democrats on this issue, they blamed the Bush administration for its multilateralism, not for a “go it alone’ attitude. John Kerry demanded that we cut out the other four nations in the six-party talks and start dealing direct with Kim Jong-Il. Democrats across the party have complained about “outsourcing” the negotiations with Iran to the EU-3, which insisted on leadership in those talks because they already had diplomatic relations with Teheran. France, Germany, and the UK also have economic ties with the mullahcracy and thought they could leverage that into concessions from the mullahcracy.
I’m happy that Schumer has decided to stop playing partisan politics with foreign-policy positions, which clearly fall into the purview of the White House and have tenure limited to that of the president’s term. Hopefully, his caucus will follow his lead and quit acting like petulant children. However, it would also be nice if they could finally make up their mind about whether multilateralism is a virtue or a vice and get their stories straight forthwith.

Adding Insanity To Insult

Mel Gibson made an ass out of himself this weekend, first by driving while drunk, and then by reportedly spewing anti-Semitic slurs while police officers took him into custody. As he said in his apology, Gibson’s remarks were despicable, and regardless of his state of sobriety, he richly deserves his embarrassment for those actions and remarks.
Some have said that his controversial film, The Passion of the Christ, should be re-evaluated in light of Gibson’s alleged latent anti-Semitism. Of course, people are free to do so, although people didn’t appear to be shy in reviewing the film on those terms during its release over two years ago. (My review can be found here.) Gibson invited those reconsidered evaluations with his remarks, as well as speculation on the motivation behind his upcoming work on the Holocaust.
However, some people just cannot abide the fact that even stupid people have the right to free speech. Abraham Foxman, the director of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, wants the police to open a criminal probe into Gibson’s stupid remarks:

Gibson’s reported criticism of Jews, contained in a leaked police report detailing his arrest early on Friday morning, included the phrase: “F*****g Jews. The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.”
He has since apologised for his actions, saying they were “despicable”, but community Jewish leaders called for Gibson to be ostracised from Hollywood, where the A-list actor is considered an industry powerbroker.
Calling for a criminal investigation into the Oscar-winning actor and director’s remarks, Abraham Foxman, the national director of the US Jewish Anti-Defamation League, said: “We believe there should be consequences to bigots and bigotry.”

What crime does Foxman claim Gibson violated with these remarks? Americans have the right to say some pretty stupid things. Hell, the blogosphere proves that almost every day! We also can say some hateful things about our fellow man, and it’s still not a crime.
Perhaps some might want the government to police our speech and our thoughts in order to ensure that no offensive speech can occur. Many have already tried this; Russ Feingold and John McCain have succeeded in no small measure, and many colleges and universities have enacted speech codes. However, that is a blade that cuts both ways, and those who complain about the speech of others should take care that their speech is not the next target for a powerful lobby to silence.
Foxman had our support while he expressed outrage and disgust at Gibson’s drunken rant. However, he loses it when he advocates criminal penalties for merely offering an opinion. Gibson’s remarks, as reported, were hateful and obnoxious — but Foxman’s are truly dangerous.

Thanks For All That Death And Destruction

Fuad Saniora apparently wants to make it difficult for people to remain sympathetic to Lebanon, or perhaps he just has the worst case of Stockholm Syndrome since Patty Hearst. Whatever the reason, Saniora made it clear that he will not have the stomach for disarming Hezbollah as required by the UN Security Council as he praised their “defense” of Lebanon:

Lebanese Prime Minister Fuoad Siniora expressed his ‘gratitude’ to Hizbullah and its leader Hassan Nasrallah for “sacrificing their lives for the country.”
During a press conference held in wake of the Qana village incident in which 55 Lebanese were killed, Siniora asked: “Is Israel’s mission to wipe out the Lebanese? It seems they want to kill all of us. One of those killed today is a baby just one day old. With its aggression, Israel is encouraging extremism.” …
Siniora repeatedly stressed his desire to reach a ceasefire, and called on the UN Security Council to meet immediately and act on the issue.
The Lebanese prime minister added that he esteems those who fell in “the defense of Lebanon,”‘ and said that his government is doing everything to strengthen its stance. He even expressed his “full admiration for Nasrallah and all those who sacrifice their lives for Lebanon.”

Under any rational view of the situation, Saniora should decry the deliberate sacrifice of southern Lebanon and its denizens to the radical terrorism of Hezbollah — that is, if Saniora didn’t sympathize with Hezbollah’s aims. It appears that he does, which calls into question the notion that Lebanon itself isn’t primarily responsible for this act of war, and isn’t getting the response it deserves.
We already know that Lebanon has ultimate responsibility for acts carried out by militias it tolerates on its land, but the assumption was that Saniora didn’t disband Hezbollah out of inability. Statements such as these make it appear that Saniora didn’t want to disband Hezbollah under any circumstances. That makes Saniora more overtly responsible for the act of war, and it frees Israel to target Lebanese military assets on a much broader basis.
Israel won’t do that, and for good reasons, even if Saniora deserves it. Ehud Olmert can beat Hezbollah by making it clear to the Lebanese that supporting the terrorists come at too high a price. Once they get the message, Lebanon has to have enough capability left to eject Hezbollah and strip them of their weapons. If Israel crushes the Lebanese army, Hezbollah will not only never get disarmed, but they may just conduct a coup and take over Beirut altogether.
It’s a tough balancing act. However, if Saniora continues to salute Hassan Nasrallah and his terrorists, the Israelis will discount Saniora altogether and conclude that he wants to be part of the problem and not the solution. At that point, the Lebanese may find a much wider war on their hands.

Israel Agrees To Temporary Suspension

In response to the outcry over the bombing in Qana, Israel has agreed to suspend aerial attacks on southern Lebanon for 48 hours, and also to suspend ground operations for 24 hours in order to allow humanitarian aid into and civilians out of the area:

Israel agreed to a 48-hour suspension of aerial activity over southern Lebanon after its bombing of a Lebanese village on Sunday that killed a number of children.
The suspension of over-flights was announced by State Department spokesman Adam Ereli. He said Israel has reserved the right to attack targets if it learns that attacks are being prepared against them.
“The United States welcomes this decision and hopes that it will help relieve the suffering of the children and families of southern Lebanon,” Ereli told reporters traveling with Rice.

This is a smart move by the Israelis. It gives Hezbollah 24 hours to manuever, of course, but the time won’t be long enough to bolster their capabilities in any meaningful manner. The suspension shows that the Israelis will respond to the global community within reason, taking some of the diplomatic heat off of Israel and the US.
A suspension puts more pressure on Hezbollah than it does Israel. The world has screamed for a cease-fire, and Israel has conditionally agreed, at least for a short period. If Hezbollah quits firing over the border, the Israelis may extend it, allowing the conflict to settle. However, no one really believes that Hezbollah will honor this — after all, they started the war, and they obviously believe this plays to their benefit. Once they launch another rocket, all bets are off, and Israel will get at least another two weeks before the ADD-addled global diplomats again forget that Hezbollah started the war.
The US also benefits with this suspension. Given that our State Department announced it first and that it came at the end of Condoleezza Rice’s trip to Jerusalem, it appears rather obvious that the demand came from the White House. That kind of intervention establishes that we have some limits — even if they are foolish limits — to our laissez-faire attitude towards Israeli action.
I predict that the suspension will not last; Hezbollah will continue its operations, providing yet another point of clarity in this conflict.

Webb Tangled

Virginia supposedly offered one of the brightest hopes for a Democratic takeaway in this year’s Senate race. James Webb, a former Reagan official and a best-selling novelist, challenged potential Presidential aspirant and leading conservative George Allen, who has served as Governor and Senator in the state. Early polls showed Allen vulnerable to Webb, but the latest surveys show that Webb has dropped back rather dramatically:

Republican Sen. George Allen has a 16-point lead over Democratic challenger Jim Webb in the latest independent statewide poll, published Sunday, but a fifth of the electorate is still undecided. …
Forty-eight percent backed Allen and 32 percent supported Webb in the Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. survey of registered voters likely to vote in the Nov. 7 election.
However, 20 percent of the 625 respondents surveyed statewide by telephone July 25-27 said they had not decided between Allen, a former governor seeking a second Senate term, and Webb, a former Republican who was President Reagan’s Navy secretary.
The poll’s margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Webb probably damaged his chances in a recent debate when he admitted he had no idea what or where Craney Island is. Allen used it to brag about bringing home some pork, which doesn’t speak well for Allen, but he scored an important point about Webb’s lack of depth regarding Virginia’s economy and politics. Craney Island supports tens of thousands of jobs and serves as a major refueling port on the Atlantic Coast. It also has plenty of historical significance for a state that practically serves history with every breakfast. Ignorance of its significance painted Webb as a lightweight, and the new polling demonstrates that plenty of Virginians paid attention.
Even before that, however, Webb’s numbers had started to decline. Rasmussen put Allen up by eleven on July 18, up slightly from June. While the AP points out that Bush’s declining job approval has created a drag on Allen, his own approval far exceeds that of Webb. Allen gets a 64% favorable rating from Rasmussen’s survey against a 31% unfavorable rating. Webb, despite his status as a relative newcomer and a popular author, only garners a 46% favorable rating against 31% unfavorable, with 24% undecided.
Allen still has not topped 50%, which provides some cause for anxiety. Allen can’t afford to let up. However, if the Democrats counted on Virginians to end Allen’s career, it looks like they’re in for some disappointment.

Gray Lady vs WaPo On Lieberman (Update)

With the Connecticut primary approaching, one could expect local newspapers to consider endorsements, even though papers do not usually endorse candidates until the general election. Having not one but two national newspapers outside of the contest endorse primary candidates is even more unusual — but given the exposure of Connecticut’s Senate race, it seems utterly predictable that the New York Times and the Washington Post would feel it necessary.
The Gray Lady likes Ned Lamont, and that should come as no surprise, either. The one issue on which Lamont seeks to oust Joe Lieberman is the war in Iraq, which the Times has opposed from the beginning:

This primary would never have happened absent Iraq. It’s true that Mr. Lieberman has fallen in love with his image as the nation’s moral compass. But if pomposity were a disqualification, the Senate would never be able to call a quorum. He has voted with his party in opposing the destructive Bush tax cuts, and despite some unappealing rhetoric in the Terri Schiavo case, he has strongly supported a woman’s right to choose. He has been one of the Senate’s most creative thinkers about the environment and energy conservation. …
If Mr. Lieberman had once stood up and taken the lead in saying that there were some places a president had no right to take his country even during a time of war, neither he nor this page would be where we are today. But by suggesting that there is no principled space for that kind of opposition, he has forfeited his role as a conscience of his party, and has forfeited our support.
Mr. Lamont, a wealthy businessman from Greenwich, seems smart and moderate, and he showed spine in challenging the senator while other Democrats groused privately. He does not have his opponent’s grasp of policy yet. But this primary is not about Mr. Lieberman’s legislative record. Instead it has become a referendum on his warped version of bipartisanship, in which the never-ending war on terror becomes an excuse for silence and inaction. We endorse Ned Lamont in the Democratic primary for Senate in Connecticut.

The Times tries to throw in more meat than just Iraq, but its reasoning seems faulty at best, and more than a little bit of a stretch. They blame Lieberman for leaving the task of “investigating” the Bush administration to Lindsey Graham, but the American electorate left that “task” — as if a never-ending investigation of another branch should comprise some sort of standing committee — to the GOP. Joe Lieberman has no chair on any committee, thanks to Democratic ineptitude at the polls the last three election cycles.
The Times also faults Lieberman, and takes a quote out of context, by claiming that he endorsed the idea that American forces should be held to no better standard than the terrorists. This comes from Lieberman’s response during the Abu Ghraib scandal, when Lieberman noted that the world has not held any of our enemies to the Geneva Convention when they flew civilian jets into civilian buildings in New York, killing almost 3,000 of our fellow Americans. I might add that few members in Congress who blathered on for years about Abu Ghraib spent more than a few moments noting the depraved manner in which terrorists killed several of our troops in Iraq.
Bill Keller and his editorial board may think they have built a broad argument for Ned Lamont, but every word in their endorsement says one thing over and over again: the war, the war, the war.
The Post, however, talks about Lieberman’s efforts to bridge partisan divides to accomplish difficult tasks in its endorsement:

[I]t seems that Mr. Lieberman is also being pummeled for his ability to work with Republicans and get things done in Washington — also rare traits — and that’s a criticism that strikes us as shortsighted even from a partisan Democratic point of view. Throughout his Senate career, Mr. Lieberman has been faithful to the fundamental values that most Democrats associate with their party: care for the environment; dedication to a progressive tax code and other ways to help the poor and middle classes; and support for Israel and other democracies around the world. But he’s managed to hold on to those values while also working with Republicans to move legislation forward: with Susan Collins (R-Maine), for example, on homeland security; or with John McCain (R-Ariz.) on climate change.
This is a talent and temperament that is helpful to the Democrats in the minority but will be needed even more if there’s a change in power in one or both houses of Congress or, in 2008, in the White House. Then, more than ever, the Democratic Party, if it hopes to accomplish anything, will need people such as Mr. Lieberman who bring some civility to an increasingly uncivil capital — who can accept the idea that opponents may disagree in good faith and who can then work to find areas of agreement and assemble working majorities of 60 senators. His ability to do so is a strength, not a weakness, for the party as well as the nation.

I have seen no evidence that Lamont lacks civility, either, but that really isn’t the point. His backers have almost an allergic reaction to civility, and that has fueled the Lamont campaign from its inception. The same party that blames George Bush for divisiveness is about to pillory one of its most effective and yet solidly Democratic members for disagreeing with the activist base on one issue. Under those circumstances, it would be hard to imagine that Lamont — no matter how much of a nice man he probably is — could work across the aisle to get decisions made and accomplish good works on behalf of all Americans.
In fact, it sends a message to all Democrats that to differ from the base on any issue puts them at serious risk of attack from their own ideological compatriots. In the last three sessions of Congress, Lieberman has come in close to dead center in his caucus. At least 15 Democratic Senators in each session had more conservative voting records than Lieberman, including Minority Leader Harry Reid in all three. Will the activist Left start unseating those incumbents as well for committing heresy to the Left — and if so, how can Democrats ever expect to gain a governing coalition of moderates when even Joe Lieberman cannot be abided in the caucus?
The Post seems to understand this, although their advice will likely get dismissed by the Left as conservative propaganda. Instead, they will follow Bill Keller’s political advice, and likely suffer the same declining support as the Paper Of Record’s declining subscriptions. That’s what happens when any organization panders to the extremes.
UPDATE: Connecticut newspapers have endorsed Lieberman. The Hartford Courant:

He is now called a renegade by many in his party for standing with President Bush on the invasion and occupation of Iraq. We have not often agreed with Mr. Lieberman on the conduct of the war but admire his sticking to his beliefs in the face of withering criticism. Not enough members of Congress have such character. …
Mr. Lieberman’s history of enthusiasm for military interventions overseas is an anomaly in a man famous for mediating among warring factions in Washington. But to dismiss this moderate – a vanishing breed in a Congress sundered by extremism on both sides – for dissenting on a single issue would be a terrible waste. And a mistake.
It would show an intolerance unworthy of any political party.

Palestinians: We’re Not Hezbollah

The Palestinians in Gaza have begun to resent the linkage made between their conflict and that in Lebanon, the Washington Times reports. In their objections, they point out the key flaw in Hezbollah’s claims of self-defense and resistance:

As fighting between Israel and Hezbollah continues to rage in Lebanon and northern Israel, Palestinians find themselves at the margins of a regional conflict that has shifted attention away from their six-year uprising for the first time.
The war between Israel with the radical Shi’ite Hezbollah also has highlighted the Hezbollah-Iran alliance as a major Middle East flash point that has overshadowed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
To the chagrin of many Palestinians, a resolution to the Gaza clashes often is linked to a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hezbollah.
“The Palestinians have to prove that they are not in the same basket and that they should not be punished for the Lebanese cause,” said Omar Shaban, a Gaza-based political analyst.
“We have our own political agenda. We need a political solution. What is going on in Lebanon is different. Hezbollah has no political agenda. Lebanon is not occupied by Israel.”

Although the Palestinians use terrorism to gain political advantage over the Isrealis in the same manner as Hezbollah, in the West Bank they still live under occupation and do have the right to resist. That’s not true in Gaza, as Israel has withdrawn from that territory, or at least they had until Hamas committed an act of war against them. And it certainly isn’t true in Lebanon, where Israel ended its occupation six years ago — which made their attack an act of war against Israel, a war which Hezbollah had not expected.
The Palestinians have suffered from the lack of global attention. They had counted on world leaders to force Israel into more concessions, including the same kind of prisoner swap that they had extorted from Israel in the past. Instead, Israel has attacked the leaders of the various terrorist groups to drive home the message that everyone suffers when people start wars. The latest attack, this morning, came on the home of a leading member of the Palestinian Resistance Council, one of the groups believed to be responsible for the Gilad Shalit kidnapping. The IDF called the man and told him to get his family out of his house immediately — and then leveled the three-story house with a 500-pound bomb shortly after they evacuated.
Israel sent a message: We know who you are and where you live, and the next time we won’t bother to call.
The Palestinians can’t wait for the Hezbollah initiative to play out. The Israelis keep getting better intelligence, and they will soon start picking off all of the terrorist leaders if Shalit does not come back alive. The Gazans need an intervention — and they’re unlikely to get it while everyone’s focused on Lebanon.
UPDATE: A couple of comments in this thread talk about “occupation” and whether the West Bank qualifies, but from two different perspectives. I agree that Israel conquered the land in response to a war declared on their nation by Jordan and others. That, however, doesn’t make it part of Israel for the simple reason that Israel has never annexed it, nor do they want to do so. That would make the residents Israelis, and they would have the right to vote — and to destroy the Israeli democracy. In fact, Arafat threatened to declare both West Bank and Gaza part of Israel and demand the vote for that very purpose. In legal terms, the West Bank is occupied territory.
That does give the Palestinians the right of resistance, just as it would anyone else. However, two points have to be kept in mind. First, the PLO predates the occupation (1964 vs 1967), and the aim of the PLO and other terrorist groups has always been the destruction of Israel, not an end to occupation as defined by the global community. Second, the right of resistance does not extend to the deliberate targeting and murder of civilians. A “legal” resistance would have to limit its targets to military, police, and government assets and personnel. The PLO, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the other assorted lunatics have never limited themselves in that sense, and therefore have earned the sobriquet of terrorist.

The Qana Funeral

Israel attacked Hezbollah launching positions in the ancient city of Qana, resulting in the deaths of dozens of civilians. Ehud Olmert and his staff immediately expressed regret for the deaths, but pointed out that Hezbollah’s positioning made this kind of collateral damage unavoidable:

Olmert expressed deep regret for the harm inflicted on the civilians in Qana Sunday morning when at least 57 civilians – 37 of whom were children – were killed as the IAF fired missiles at a building in the southern Lebanese town.
“I express deep regret, along with all of Israel and the IDF, for the civilian deaths in Qana,” said Olmert. “Nothing could be further from our intentions and our interests than harming civilians – everyone understands that. When we do harm civilians, the whole world recognizes that it is an exceptional case that does not characterize us.”
“In contrast,” Olmert said, “Hizbullah has launched rockets with the aim of murdering innocent civilians in northern Israel.” …
Olmert said that the area was a focal point for the firing of Katyusha rockets on Kiryat Shmona and Afula. He said that from the outset of the conflict, “hundreds of rockets have been fired from the Qana area.”
Defense Minister Amir Peretz was also profoundly repentant for the fatal strike, saying, “this is a tragic incident that is a result of war. Hizbullah operates in the heart of populated centers with the full knowledge of endangering the lives of innocent civilians.”

Qana is considered the same town where Jesus performed his first miracle, turning water into wine at a wedding feast. Unfortunately for Qana, no miracle will bring the residents back to life after this destruction. Nor is this the first time that a conflict between Israel and Hezbollah resulted in civilian deaths in Qana; ten years ago, an Israeli strike on this town killed over 100 civilians, under similar circumstances as today.
The IDF has video showing that Hezbollah positioned its rocket launcher adjacent to the bomb impact site, making it an open target for military response. Militarily, the Israelis have plenty of justification for the attack. Politically, however, they may have run out the string on their operation. The attacks comes as the UN Security Council meets to debate any action that can be taken to put an end to the fighting — one of the key roles for the almost-toothless body — and with civilian deaths escalating, there will be a lot of pressure to enforce some kind of cease-fire,
This could play out well for Israel, at least in one aspect. Israel has made clear that they will not accept another UNIFIL mission — useless, toothless, and eventually hostage to Hezbollah terrorists themselves. The UN and NATO nations had been reluctant to suggest anything else but a UNIFIL-like force to replace them. With the deaths escalating, the UN and/or NATO will have more pressure put on them to create an effective force to keep this kind of war from breaking out again.
Israel has two choices: occupy Lebanon again or smooth the ground out for a buffer force to protect their northern border. The Israelis do not want another 20-year occupation on their backs, for understandable reasons, so they have to do what they can now to make the alternative as successful as possible. It looks like time may run out more quickly, in terms of political cover, than they may have considered.

IDF Preparing Ground Incursion, Setting Table For Int’l Forces

After successfully reducing Bint Jbeir and Maroun al-Ras, the IDF has amassed its forces at the border for more operations in southern Lebanon. With American diplomacy working towards an end to the fighting, the Israelis want to clear as much territory from Hezbollah as possible in the time remaining:

The IDF wrapped up its operations in the southern Lebanese village of Bint Jbail on Saturday and withdrew most of its troops from the area. At the same time, the army was gearing up for a new ground incursion into Lebanon.
Also Saturday night, the IAF struck a road along the Lebanese border with Syria that the IDF said was being used by Damascus to smuggle weapons to Hizbullah.

It does not appear that Israel has contemplated an all-out occupation of the land south of the Litani. However, they do intend on trapping as many of Hezbollah’s fighters between their airstrikes and their ground forces. Cutting off the road to Damascus ensures that Hezbollah will get little resupply from their Syrian patrons. It helps the Israelis force Hassan Nasrallah to run through his stores quickly, a pragmatic if disturbing manner to render them more impotent later on.
As David Horovitz explains in the Jerusalem Post, the initiative aims to beat the clock in kneecapping Hezbollah for the peacekeepers that will surely come soon to southern Lebanon:

[T]he talk is of 10-20,000 troops led by France and/or Turkey, with possible contingents from Germany, Italy, India, Brazil and Pakistan. But with European troops bound to be targeted by Hizbullah and its allies, some commentators are suggesting that any European role should be backed up with forces from the Arab world – from Morocco, Algeria, Egypt and/or Jordan.
However composed, the concern for Israel is that the force simply will not survive in the vicious territory where it will deploy. And, ironically given the international pressure for its establishment, the strong sense in Israel is that the sooner it takes shape and the Israeli-Hizbullah fighting ends, the poorer the force’s chances of having a constructive impact and a viable future.
Anxious to minimize Lebanese civilian casualties, concerned not to find itself reoccupying Lebanon, determined to limit its ground force fatalities, yet increasingly aware of the limitations of its air power, the IDF is, nonetheless, daily weakening the potent guerrilla infrastructure Hizbullah has painstakingly constructed over the past six years. Its commanders chorus, day after intense, taxing day rooting out a thoroughly entrenched guerrilla force, that it still has much more left to do. If a ceasefire comes sooner rather than later, purported “good news” for international diplomacy would likely turn out to be very bad news indeed for the international troops left to grapple with a defiant, even victorious Hizbullah.

The Israelis have plenty of experience with peacekeepers lacking any will or ability to fight off Hzbollah. They understand that they have a short window of time in which to inflict maximum damage. With luck, they may have enough time to reduce the terrorists to a point where even a multinational force can force them to withdraw — or better yet, put Hezbollah in position where it is unable to challenge at all.
Given those parameters, expect the IDF to strike soon and hard.

Hezbollah Hiding Among Civilians

Some people have argued over the last two weeks that Hezbollah’s reputation for hiding among civilians is either false or overblown. However, Australia’s Herald-Sun newspaper published photographs that show Hezbollah firing positions within residential areas of Lebanon, confirming the terrorists’ use of civilians as human shields (via AJ Strata):

THIS is the picture that damns Hezbollah. It is one of several, smuggled from behind Lebanon’s battle lines, showing that Hezbollah is waging war amid suburbia.
The images, obtained exclusively by the Sunday Herald Sun, show Hezbollah using high-density residential areas as launch pads for rockets and heavy-calibre weapons.
Dressed in civilian clothing so they can quickly disappear, the militants carrying automatic assault rifles and ride in on trucks mounted with cannon.
The photographs, from the Christian area of Wadi Chahrour in the east of Beirut, were taken by a visiting journalist and smuggled out by a friend.

The Herald-Sun site clearly shows anti-aircraft guns in a suburban residential neighborhood. The crew comprises two middle-aged men and at least two who look no older than teenagers. In the background, viewers can clearly see well-maintained apartment buildings.
According to the text, the paper has another picture of a Katyusha rocket lying in a devastated residential area, hit by Israeli bombers. The Australian who took the pictures said that the neighborhood had not been targeted by the Israelis until Hezbollah set up the rocket launchers there — and then the IDF returned fire and destroyed the residential buildings around the launcher.
When people complain about the civilian death toll in Lebanon, we need to remember why it has been as high as it has been. Lebanon and the UN allowed Hezbollah to use civilians as human shields for their rocket launchers and anti-aircraft batteries. The Israelis have little choice but to target Hezbollah’s offensive assets, and that makes the collateral civilian damage the responsibility of the terrorists and their enablers.