.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}


news & opinion with no titillating non-news from the major non-news channels.


I am: progressive, not a wild-eyed Progressive; liberal, but shun liberals and Liberals; conservative, but some Conservatives worry me; absolutely NOT a libertarian. I am: an idealist, but no utopian; a pragmatist, but no Machiavellian. I am a realist who dreams.


I welcome all opinions.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Israel vs Hezbollah (Stratfor.com):
   What the Israelis are waiting for

In inimitable character, George Friedman of Stratfor.com posits, if strategy is rational, then the consequences of that strategy should be revealing.

Friedman makes no bones about Hezbollah's strategy in today's Special Report,

Now that the war has started, it cannot maneuver in the open, for fear of Israeli air power; therefore, it is holding its positions, absorbing the airstrikes and engaging Israeli troops as they approach. Hezbollah continues to fire rockets at Israel. The longer it fights and the more resistance it offers, the more of a psychological blow it inflicts on the Israelis and the more it improves its credibility as a fighting force and its influence among groups resisting Israel. In an ideal form, the Israelis would be drawn into Lebanon, forced into an occupation and forced to fight the kind of counterinsurgency in which the United States is now engaged in Iraq.

But what of the Israelis? What in the name of everything rational are they doing?

Israel's stated goal is the destruction of Hezbollah's ability to wage war. [...] Israeli forces also must do this without being drawn into an occupation that Hezbollah and others could draw out into an extended counterinsurgency operation. In other words, Israel's goal is to shatter Hezbollah without an extended occupation of Lebanon.

Thus far, Israel's strategy has focused on an air campaign. Supplementing the air campaign has been a substantial mobilization of ground forces and a very shallow insertion of these forces along the southern Lebanese frontier. This is where the mystery begins.

Historically, Israel has tried to fight wars as quickly as possible. There are three reasons for this. First, Israel is casualty-averse and fears wars of attrition. [...]. Second, large-scale mobilization is extremely expensive for Israel economically. [...Third,] the United States normally supports Israel but usually wants to see cease-fires put into place as quickly as possible. Therefore, Israel typically has to end major, conventional combat operations as quickly as possible.

But to this point, Israel is fighting a very different war. It essentially has been conducting an extended air campaign without significant engagement on the ground.

Historically, the air campaign has been seen as incapable of delivering victory except in concert with a ground campaign. In this particular campaign, Israel clearly has not achieved either of its two objectives. First, rocket fire from Hezbollah has not been suppressed. [...] Second, the air campaign, from the little we have seen, does not appear to have broken Hezbollah's will to resist.

It is difficult, thus, to envision the air war as the totality of the campaign. If the Israelis have counted on this to be sufficient, it has failed so far. It also is difficult to imagine the Israeli air force having convinced the army that an air campaign by itself would suffice. Therefore, we are drawn to one of two conclusions: Either the main effort will come on the ground but has not yet been launched, or the Israelis envision some diplomatic solution to the problem of Hezbollah. In other words, the air campaign is either preparation for a ground invasion, or it is designed to set the stage for a political settlement.

There are three possibilities here:

1. Israel is going to go with the air campaign indefinitely.
2. Israel is going to negotiate a diplomatic solution.
3. Israel is going to wage a ground campaign.

We have explained why the first two options do not appear viable to us. Unless Israel's battle damage assessment of the airstrikes is showing its intelligence people something we can't see from afar, the air campaign is a valuable preparation for a ground war but not a substitute. Unless some sort of strange deal is in the works with Syria, which we doubt, we do not see the shape of a diplomatic settlement. And unless Israel is going to declare victory and just stop, we don't see the war ending. Therefore, our analysis continues to point to a major ground operation.

Stratfor.com believes the Israelis are preparing for a major ground offensive. But what and when is the big mystery.

People we have contacted in Israel keep talking about Israel having some surprises. We already are surprised by the amount of time between the initiation of the air attack and the initiation of a major ground offensive. If the Israelis have more surprises waiting, it will be interesting to see what they are. However, at this point, unless Israel wants to abandon the goal of rendering Hezbollah harmless for an extended period of time, it would seem to us that a massive raid in force, followed by destruction of infrastructure in detail, followed by withdrawal, is the most realistic option remaining.

We have been told to expect surprises in how Israel does this. We agree fully: We are surprised. We see the Hezbollah plan and it is unfolding -- not as well as it might have hoped, but not that poorly either. We await the Israeli solution to the problem posed by Hezbollah. There will be at least one clear criterion for victory or defeat on both sides. If Hezbollah continues to attack Haifa and other major cities without Israel being able to stop it, or it halts those attacks only after a diplomatic compromise, Hezbollah would have achieved its strategic goal and Israel would have lost. If Israel can end the attacks without making political concessions, Israel would have won. At a certain point, it is as simple as that.

Here is my thought. Hezbollah clearly wanted to provoke Israel and drag them into a war it did not want.

Given that the nearest major military threat to Israel after Hezbollah is Syria, is Israel trying to provoke Syria?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Israel vs Hezbollah:
   A kidnapping too far?

Former Ambassador Dennis Ross makes some guardedly optimistic observations in an article to be published in The New Republic next Monday,

Hezbollah, until now, has branded itself as a protector of the Lebanese people, not the representatives of a foreign agenda.

That self-image is no longer tenable. Many Arab (and non-Arab) observers see an Iranian hand guiding Hezbollah. Isn’t it interesting, they ask, that Hezbollah’s attacks coincided with the deadline the European Union set for Iranians to respond to its proposed nuclear deal?

Those who view the Israeli offensive in Lebanon as counterproductive to U.S. foreign policy miss an emerging reality: Iran is waging a struggle to achieve regional dominance that threatens the United States and all its friends in the Middle East. The good news is that Hezbollah has unmasked Iran’s intentions, which even Arab leaders now appear to recognize. As such, with the right U.S. steps, the current crisis may be turned into an opportunity.

When Hezbollah was fighting Israeli “occupation,” it was untouchable. But the general Arab narrative has been that the violence, meaning terrorism, is driven by occupation: no occupation, no violence. Saudi Arabia has taken the lead in denying that Hezbollah’s act represented “resistance” -- hallowed in Arab psychology -- and declared it “reckless.” Then, over the weekend, at the Arab League, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al Faisal -- hardly a paragon of unscripted language -- called Hezbollah’s actions “unexpected, inappropriate, and irresponsible.” He told his counterparts, “These acts will pull the whole region back to years ago, and we cannot simply accept them.” The foreign minister’s remarks were then endorsed by Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and the Palestinian Authority. (The Palestinian Authority represented Mahmoud Abbas, not the Hamas-led cabinet.) In Lebanon, you could hear similar noises. Walid Jumblatt and other parliamentarians asked what gave a party (Hezbollah) the right to commit the country to war, with all its attendant costs.

It is not only Israel that may demand the Lebanese army assume positions along the border, something that the Lebanese government was required to do, according to U.N. Security Council Resolution 425. The Arab world may join in making this possible, determined to prevent Hezbollah from being able to repeat this scenario in six months’ time.

Israel will demand this as an outcome, since it will not accept the preexisting status quo vis-à-vis Hezbollah or Hamas. Israel is now trying to reestablish its deterrent. Withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza were interpreted as signs of weakness, and a new Israeli government is now acting to prove that, if you attack Israel, you pay a terrible price.

Reestablishing the Israeli deterrent is also necessary as part of the struggle with Iran and its proxies. They have provoked these twin conflicts, and they must not be seen as gaining from them. This is part of a larger struggle, and Islamists must begin to lose their swagger; they must be discredited and their more secular opponents must begin to gain.

Israel vs Hezbollah:
   'Fight on All Fronts'

From a December 2003 Washington Institute Policy Focus, 'Fight on All Fronts': Hizballah, the War on Terror, and the War in Iraq,

The events of September 11, 2001, played a major role in galvanizing Hizballah to intensify its strategy and violent activities. The group’s spiritual leader, Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, acknowledged that “the stage after September 11 is similar to a major earthquake” and that “Islam is living a crisis that it never witnessed in all of its history.” Indeed, the al-Qaeda attacks on the United States, the subsequent U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan, and the ensuing “war on terror” all threatened to rob Hizballah of the strategic gains it had made following the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon. The Bush administration’s post–September 11 policies also raised the possibility that both Hizballah and its state sponsors might eventually be targeted in a continuing campaign against the “axis of evil.” In response, the organization decided to escalate both its attacks on Israel and its support of the Palestinian intifada, primarily as a means of obstructing U.S. action in the region and concentrating international attention on the Palestinian arena.

Our 'disproportionate' response to 9/11, just as Israel's 'disproportionate' response to the twin attacks in the past month, seriously threatened the enemy. As a result, they stepped up their attacks to obstruct our further actions in the region.

Think about that for a moment. We endanger our enemy's position, they respond, and we are supposed to abandon that merely because the enemy reacted violently to their potential demise? No. Their reaction validates our offensive. They would not be committing resources and assets if our strategy wasn't effective.

We should be pressing the advantage. That is basic strategy and tactics. We do have an objective, do we not?

Have we not learned anything in 10,000 years of warfare and political violence?

Middle East:
   Where the rubber hits the road

A summary from William Kristol at the The Weekly Standard,

Bush and Blair were, famously, caught on an open mike at the G-8 summit in St. Petersburg. Blair demonstrated a shrewd understanding of what was at stake for Syria's dictator, Bashar Assad: "He thinks if Lebanon turns out fine, if we get a solution in Israel and Palestine, Iraq goes in the right way . . . he's done." And Bush explained, simply and correctly, that the first step was "to get Hezbollah to stop doing this s---."


Pity the news hounds jumped on the second quote and not the first.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Boots on the ground:
   Marines in Beirut

An excerpt from a WaPost article on the ongoing events in Lebanon:

about 40 U.S. Marines landed on a beach in Beirut at dawn to help with the evacuation
Semper fi, my friends.

New World Order 2:
   What is Democracy, Really?

A response from Cliff May, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, during an interview with The Echo Chamber Project, July 28th, 2004:

When we talk about the democratic societies, it means more than the right to vote, for example. People don’t always understand that democracy does not mean that the two wolves sit down with the sheep and vote on what to have for dinner. When we talk about democratic societies and democratic institutions, what we mean are such things as the rule of law, and an independent judiciary, and a free press, and a way for citizens to choose or at least consent to who governs them. And probably property rights are a very important component of that as well. You can prioritize this -- But those are the kinds of concepts that people need to understand -- And by the way, even here in the west -- or here in the United States -- I think we don’t necessarily understand these concepts very well. We operate within them perfectly well, but that’s not the same. Its like saying, "Well, I can drive a car, but that doesn’t mean I could build a car -- or even fix a car." And when we talk about a country that has lived under tyranny, where you’re trying to bring democratic institutions, you have to do more than operate a system that is already in use. You have to create systems. And that’s a very tricky thing to do. It has not been very successfully done very many times in history. It has happened, but it’s not been easy.

Right on target.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Man and Woman:
   My Fantasy CD

Track 1: Treat Her Right - George Thorogood
Track 2: Pretty Woman - Roy Orbison
Track 3: Legs - ZZ Top
Track 4: Fever - Peggy Lee
Track 5: When A Man Loves A Woman - Percy Sledge
Track 6: Got Me Under Pressure - ZZ Top
Track 7: Stand By Me - Ben E. King
Track 8: You Talk Too Much - George Thorogood
Track 9: If I Could Be Where You Are - Enya
Track 10: Move It On Over - George Thorogood
Track 11: Stand By Me - Ben E. King (Euro disco version)
Track 12: These Boots Are Made For Walkin' - Nancy Sinatra
Track 13: Don't Do Me Like That - Tom Petty
Track 14: Core 'ngrato - Luciano Pavarotti
Track 15: Drifting - Enya
Track 16: Treat Her Right - George Thorogood

ok, ok. no more.

New Deal; New Direction:
   Democratic jingoism at its best

From USNewswire,

Democrats are proposing a New Direction, where we have robust diplomacy, which is dependent on a military second to none, where we build diplomatic alliances that help us fight terrorism, stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, keep the peace in the world, stop global warming, alleviate poverty to end the fury of despair that breeds terrorism in the world, and protect the American people at home and where our interests are threatened throughout the world, in way that is fiscally sound and respects the contributions of our veterans.

Excuse me. I need to practice my rolling on the floor exercises.

New World Order

In the run-up to the 2006 elections, strident calls to return to an multilateral international order based on Cold War institutions are on the increase. Columbia University Professor of International Politics Robert Jervis offers a quintessential argument that the twin goals of Bush’s hegemonic (his word) foreign policy, to encourage democracy around the globe and transform the international order, to defeat the threat of terrorism and bring peace is idealistically appealing but fundamentally flawed.

Current doctrine emphasizes that peace and cooperation can exist only when all important states are democratic [and asserts] it is an illusion to believe that [the international order of the Cold War] can be maintained. One way or another, world politics will change drastically. The questions are who will change it and whether it will be for better or worse. In a way that should shock Henry Kissinger and other students of the order established by the Congress of Vienna, U.S. foreign policy should be more closely modeled after Napoleon than after Talleyrand and Metternich. The United States simply cannot maintain its hegemonic position through the policies advocated by realists and followed before September 11, 2001, so current doctrine argues that the United States must instead be a revolutionary power.

As Gregory Gause has written, the connection between tyrants and terrorists is tenuous at best. The Palestinian semistate is democratic, but will it abandon its use of terrorism? The extent of Pakistan’s sponsorship of terrorism in Kashmir and India has not ebbed and flowed with the extent to which Pakistan has been democratic. Iran sponsors some terrorism and yet is much more democratic than Saudi Arabia, which does not. Aside from killing their vocal opponents who have gone into exile, most nondemocracies shun terrorism, especially because terrorists are difficult to control.

Common sense and most academic thinking argue that a hegemon’s prime objective should seek to maintain the prevailing international system, but that is not the world in which we live today. Measured in any conceivable way, the United States has a greater share of world power than any other country in history. Whether it is referred to as the world leader by those who approve of its policies or an empire by those who oppose them, it is a hegemon in today’s unipolar world order. The irony is that Washington seeks to change the rules of that order. Why?
Jervis’ argument is flawed.

Using those sterling examples of democracy, Hamas, Iranian mullahs, the military coup of Pakistan, Jervis implicitly argues that elections make a democracy (Jervis also includes Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez in that august group. Where, I ask, is Cromwell and Robespierre?) But to be a democracy, those elections must also encompass an electoral franchise that represents the people, there must be real choice (oops, Iran just fell off the radar screen), the process must be unencumbered by intimidation (again, Iran falls, as well as Pakistan and Venezuela), and the ruling party must still respect the rule of law and the rights and dignity of the individual (oops, there goes Hamas). The right to rule in a democratic society is not a blank check.

To claim any state is democratic whilst acknowledging it uses and sponsors terrorism is an oxymoron of the highest order!

Why indeed would Washington seek to change the rules of that order!

Arguing that the attempt by the Bush Administration to impose global hegemony is a hypocrisy (again, his word) of how a hegemon must behave, Jervis ignores simple common sense, and his own logic. “A hegemon’s prime objective should seek to maintain the prevailing international system, but that is not the world in which we live today.”

Exactly. Except the prevailing international system was designed, whether by intent or by consequence, to maintain a bipolar world. Jervis' title, The Remaking of a Unipolar World, deceives itself into believing that the "prevailing" international system is conducive to both a bipolar as well as a unipolar world. As Bush made abundantly clear, when calling the United Nations to task and live up to its chartered obligations, “Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding or will it be irrelevant?”

Most of understood that was essentially a rhetorical question.

Jervis raises the strawman argument in asserting that 9/11 is the rationale for changing the world order, “The most simple and obvious explanation for this strategic shift is the September 11 attacks.” Using the above arguments, he goes on to show that 9/11 is not a sufficient reason.

Jervis gets it wrong.

9/11 did not change the world.

1989 did.

The perfect epitaph for the welfare state

From a crude attempt to kill the messenger, a blogosphere quote taken wholly out of context, and made right,

Repressive agendas do not grow...they stagnate...they do not look for a better way to do things unless it’s for self-serving reasons, because that upsets their egg cart .... To expect change...by doing the same thing over and over again...is the definition of insanity....


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

War with China:
   Taepodong Crisis: Faulty Assumptions

After Kim Jong-il's madly belligerent missile thrust into the Sea of Japan, much of the resultant commentary and analysis are making three tragically wrong assumptions:

  1. the Taepodong-2 launch failed
  2. targeting the Taepodong-2 toward America was the intent of the exercise
  3. the Chinese are concerned that their "mad dog" is out of control

In yesterday's Stratfor.com's Geopolitical Intelligence Report, Rodger Baker takes their patented "the-results-speak-for-themselves" look at what actually happened:

North Korea has done it again. A week after it tested seven missiles, including the long-range Taepodong-2, a resolution condemning its actions has stalled in the U.N. Security Council (UNSC), South Korea is criticizing Japan for hyping the launch, Japan is openly discussing changes to its constitutional military restrictions, and the United States is asking China to use its negotiating capabilities to bring some stability to the situation. If North Korea was largely marginalized leading into July, it is now once again the center of attention -- and controversy.

When the Taepodong-2 finally lifted off ... it flew within parameters for just 40 seconds, before either breaking up or suffering engine troubles. But not all the details of the missile's flight path are clear. According to some reports, the missile performed normally for some 40-42 seconds, burned out and fell into the ocean.

There is some possibility that North Korea intentionally scrubbed the launch. On the one hand, simply putting the missile away after leaving it on the pad for more than a month would have been viewed as capitulation -- and that could have weakened the internal cohesion of the regime.

But on the other hand, while North Korea has always walked close to the line, it has been very careful not to cross it. A successful Taepodong-2 test could have shifted the strategic calculation of Japan or the United States toward North Korea. Tokyo already had warned that if any part of the Taepodong-2 fell on Japanese territory, it would be considered an act of war. And while Washington has been relatively lax toward North Korea, aside from rhetoric and the occasional economic lever, all bets would be off should North Korea demonstrate the ability to pose a concrete threat to the U.S. mainland.

Whether Pyongyang failed to succeed or succeeded to fail, the Taepodong-2 was not the only missile launched that morning. North Korea is intending again to trade its missile launches for concessions from its neighbors and the United States. If a moratorium on missile tests is coming anyway, this launch represented a final chance to assess improvements to North Korea's missile systems, particularly as the country so rarely tests its ballistic missiles. Testing six short- and intermediate-range Hwasong and Nodong missiles -- the real bulk of North Korea's missile force -- would allow the country's military to learn more in a single day about their own capabilities and upgrades than they had in the entirety of the preceding decade.

It is these overlooked missiles that are the true face of North Korean missile technology. Pyongyang's Nodong missiles have the capability of reaching most of Japan, including U.S. bases in Okinawa. North Korea has more than 100 of these mobile missiles, making them an extremely valuable commodity. And its short-range Hwasong series can strike anywhere in South Korea and potentially parts of Japan.

Amid all of this, China appears to be the least fazed by the North Korean tests.

The Chinese once again have found the world turning to them for a solution. Given the Security Council deadlock, China is the only viable path to negotiations with North Korea. For China, the missile launches have reinforced Beijing's importance to the United States and even Japan.

In the weeks leading up to the missile tests, Beijing had proposed various ways to restart the stalled six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program -- talks from which both Washington and Pyongyang had basically walked away. As the primary coordinator and host of the talks, Beijing has leverage with all the participants -- but China found few takers (aside from South Korea) for its recent proposals. All of that changed, however, when North Korea actually tested the missiles. Washington sent envoys to Beijing and held out the possibility of bilateral talks with Pyongyang (which North Korea has demanded in order to discuss economic sanctions and frozen assets) on the sidelines of the six-party discussions.

While it is not certain that China facilitated the North Korean missile tests, it does seem that Pyongyang was certain the tests wouldn't trigger China to turn on it. If Beijing were truly upset, it could make that rather clear to North Korea in very painful ways. It hasn't. Rather, the Chinese have called on all parties to return to dialogue -- dialogue facilitated by and benefiting China.

For China, the issue is not North Korea; Kim Jong-il is merely a useful fool. China wants Taiwan back; that is, and always has been, on the short list of China's high priority foreign policy goals, and the US Navy's Pacific Command, particularly the 7th Fleet, is the biggest obstacle to that end. Given the disparate capabilities between Chinese and American conventional forces, the Chinese have pursued asymmetrical means. To support an assault on Taiwan, that has translated militarily into an emphasis on anti-satellite, submarine, nuclear and cruise missile technology to defeat the 7th Fleet, whether it is acquired indigenously, bought or stolen. Politically, in the past decade there has been considerable Chinese covert and (facially innocuous) diplomatic activity in the South Pacific. In time of war, this would provide the Chinese deep access into the US Pacific Command's rear area.

But even if the Chinese were to be wildly successful in acquiring the military technology and establishing bases of operations deep in the US Navy's rear, the risks are still way too high. China could not in the foreseeable future ever take on American global military might, mano-a-mano.

Recent hostilities in the Middle East are illuminating. In the wake of 9/11 and the encircling invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran did not become deliberately and openly belligerent towards the United States until it was clear the occupying forces to their east and west were in no position to take advantage of that posture. Encouraging unrest through tacit support of the Sunni insurgency and political support for Shiite ascendency was Iranian's opening moves. A smart tactician does not atack a stronger adversary without encouraging some form of diversionary demonstrations, splitting their opponents attention, if not their forces.

And yesterday, Hezbollah has captured two Israeli soldiers, a la Hamas. Both terrorist organizations, one to Israel's north and the other to it's southwestern flank, are beginning to coordinate diplomatic blackmail with each other.

During World War II, Hitler could have easily consolidated his holdings if he had just stopped when the going was good. But he got greedy and ended up fighting a two-front war.

The United States can take on China vis-a-vis Taiwan without breaking too much of a sweat. Unless it is forced into splitting its forces defending South Korea and Japan against a mad dog gone amok on the Korean Peninsula and in the Sea of Japan.

Keeping that dog on a leash is China's strategy. The fear that China may lose control in North Korea scares the entire region. A fear that China is quite willing to exploit.

Every now and then you have to take the dog out for a walk. The time to be afraid, really afraid, is when China "drops" the leash in North Korea. The price of stopping the mad dog might very well be Taiwan.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Israel is NOT the aggressor

At The Nation, Palestinian writer and editorialist Marwan Bishara unilaterally blames Israel for the latest escalation of tension and violence in the Middle East,

The Israeli government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has exploited the capture of Army Corporal Gilad Shalit to restore the country's diminished deterrence against militant Palestinian factions, to break the elected Hamas government and to impose its unilateral territorial solution on the West Bank. But when the dust finally settles, Israel's offensive against the besieged territories--and now Lebanon--will have left the region with more destruction and death and the Israeli government with the same strategic deadlock. That's why instead of lashing out against their neighbors, Israelis must end the vicious cycle of provocations and retaliations, and pursue meaningful negotiations to end the occupation.

The Olmert government bases its campaign against Palestinian civilian infrastructure on three fallacies: that Israel does not initiate violence but retaliates to protect its citizens--in this case a captured soldier; that its response is measured and not meant to harm the broader population; and that it does not negotiate with those it deems terrorists.

But Israel's offensive did not start last week. The three-month-old Israeli government is responsible for the killing eighty or more Palestinians, some of whom were children, in attacks aimed at carrying out illegal extrajudicial assassinations and other punishments. Hamas has maintained a one-sided cease-fire for the past sixteen months, but continued Israeli attacks made Palestinian retaliation only a question of time. (Palestinian factions not under Hamas's control had been firing home-made rockets across the border off and on during this period--almost always with little or no damage or casualties--but these factions maintained that the attacks were in response to Israeli provocations.)

Precisely. Pity Bishara does not see the answers in his own words.

Palestinian factions not under Hamas's control had been firing home-made rockets across the border off and on during this period ... from Hamas controlled territory.

Israel has every legitimate right to demand both Hamas and Lebanon take responsibility for acts committed against Israel from within their borders. The ability to control one's territory is a necessary precursor to sovereignty. Israel has every right to take necessary actions to protect its citizens, including its armed forces, from harm.

Are governments in exile responsible for acts committed within their country? Of course not. They have no control, no authority to prevent it. Lebanon and Hamas can claim neither authority nor sovereignty over territory they cannot nor will not control.

"Meaningful negotiations" require at least two sincere participants.

(The editors at The New Republic take a similar stance in defense of Israel and make a larger observation between the Hamas and Hezbollah kidnappings, and Syria and Iran.)