The Israelis tend to launch their wars of choice in the summer, in part because they know that European and American universities will be the primary nodes of popular opposition, and the universities are out in the summer.I responded to him as follows:
Apart from nutty ... it's not even TRUE (for comparison, it WAS a fact that a half-dozen or so American presidents in a row elected in years ending in "0" DID in fact die in office -- a streak broken by Ronald Reagan. The underlying fact was TRUE, however nutty any theory of causation would be).
Obviously, a lot turns on what Juan means by "optional," but beyond question, Israel's most clearly "optional" war was the 1956 Suez invasion, which occurred in October. October.
And yes, the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1982 Lebanon invasion were both launched in June, but it doesn't seem to enter Juan's mind that both were at least somewhat provoked. One could say of the latter case ... I emphasize COULD say ... that the Israeli response was disproportionate and/or not in response to an existential threat (in fact, the latter claim seems pretty obvious. The occasional PLO shelling of Galilee and assassination attempts on Israeli diplomats, bad though they were, did not pose the threat to Israel's *existence* that Nasser's and Sadat/Assad's militaries did in 1967 and 1973).
But of 1967, there can be no question that it was provoked by the Arabs (and I'm counting it as an optional war in the purely formal sense that Israel struck the first military blow ... though not the first act of war). One might consider it not an optional war, but that would take out half the examples, prior to this one, of Israel launching a major war. Just during May, Nasser remilitarized the Sinai and kicked out UN forces, closed the Straits of Tiran (an act of war), and signed a military pact with Jordan that included putting the kingdom's forces under an Egyptian general. Nasser said in signing it "Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight."
Consider two further basic facts, and the assumption of Cole's basic sanity and/or integrity as a scholar disappears. Of course, it would be churlish and not strictly speaking relevant, for me to point out that the Arabs launch THEIR wars of choice on Jewish high holy days. But it would be satisfactory, in terms of pointing what a one-sided blind buffoon Juan is.
For one thing, the anti-Israel/pro-Arab/divestment movement on US campuses is a relatively recent phenomenon, mid-to-late-90s at the earliest. When I was on US campuses -- 1986-1994 -- the big foreign-policy cause was apartheid and divestment in South Africa. (Ironically, those years and the previous decade was the era of much of the Israel/South Africa footsie-playing.) Sure, the radical left could be relied on for a few pro-Palestinian gestures, but it usually item 7 in a laundry list. And as you go farther back from my years in college -- and you have to to get to any of Israel's three major optional wars -- you'd shade into times when, because of US demography and immigration patterns, and college admission rules, there were fewer Arab, Muslim and Third World students. In that era, you also had, proportionately-speaking, a much stronger Jewish influence on US campuses, expressed in the policies of Cold War Democrats (who were for much of the post-WW2/pre-80s era, more pro-Israel than the Republicans). Not until Peace Now! did you get major dissent from liberal/leftist Jews in Israel and the US, and on American campuses, against Israeli military policies. And that group didn't even exist until the late-70s, and didn't become more than a fringe player outside Israel until the 1982 Lebanon invasion, and it launched its largest protest to date in Israel in response to Sabra and Shatila, which occurred after Israel launched the war and the PLO had fled Lebanon. In other words, Israel wouldn't even theoretically have had to think about hostile Western campus activism in launching any of its major optional wars. (Suez is practically ancient history to campus activists.)
Second, summer is a very popular time for launching military operations for a rather obvious reason. The weather tends to be good (that's why they call it "summer," I think). That helps in launching military offensives. Just a few examples -- it was not until quite recently that "all-weather" capability became standard for combat aircraft; even when you CAN fly, clouds, wind and precipitation make flying harder and add another consideration; tanks and armored vehicles have always had a difficult time dealing with snow and mud; the sea tends to be calmer, which facilitates naval operations (the British had to win the Falklands War ASAP -- the Argentines invaded in April -- before the Southern Hemisphere's winter made naval operations too risky). Hitler launched most of Germany's major offensives in the spring and summer for these reasons. And we know that Juan loves Israel-Nazi comparisons, so maybe we can just say the Likudniks are learning from their Master.
To add a few further thoughts here:
I think it may be the case that teaching at
Second, it indicates the skewed view of the universe Juan has (has I do mean that). Every Arab/Muslim action has a context, has a history, is a response to centuries of colonialism and humiliation, etc. But Israel (and the US) simply are and simply do. When Israel invades in June, there's an element of choice; it cannot be forced on them by the Arabs. The Israelis/Americans are never constrained, their actions never have a context. When they do something, it is because they choose to do that something. But when Juan (as he does on occasion) admits that Arabs/Muslims do wrong, it was the Israelis/Americans that made them do it. Historical materialism for one group; Sartrean existentialism for the other. To say this is dehumanizing of Arabs/Muslims is almost too polite. It reduces them to animals, incapable of moral choice.
Third, there was also this interesting quote from Juan not highlighted by my Mossad co-lackey:
Matthew Kalman reveals that Israel's wideranging assault on Lebanon has been planned in a general way for years, and a specific plan has been in the works for over a year.This would be a revelation or even very interesting only to those with no understanding of how a military works. Which includes Juan. He then riffs off this into more insanity:
That this war was pre-planned was obvious to me from the moment it began. (cites operational details) ...Militaries develop contingency plans. That's a large part of what military planners do during peacetime. And what dictates their training (after all, you have to train FOR something, there's limits to what generic "training" can do). The existence of a contingency plan, even an updated one, proves nothing, zero, nada, zip, zilch, about why and when politicians act upon them. It doesn't deny a stated causa belli fthat contingency plans pre-existed that event. I have no doubt that there's a plan somewhere in the bowels of the Pentagon for an invasion of Canada. Updating it weekly to cope with changes in the Canuck military juggernaut probably isn't a very high priority, but I have no doubt it exists. It wouldn't prove that the US is in any meaningful sense "planning to invade Canada." (Plus, there's another leftist double standard here, about the licety of contingency plans ... remember how they bitched about how Rumsfeld invaded Iraq without a plan to secure the peace. That was awesome.)
[Bush] clearly thought that it broke out because Syria used Hizbullah to create a provocation. The President of the United States did not know that this war was a long-planned Israeli war of choice.
Is it really a surprise that Israel has been worried about Hezbollah rocket and missile attacks from south Lebanon for some years. (Well, to Juan, maybe.) A nation being attacked might have developed contingency plans for an invasion in the event that something in some attack justified war in response (leave aside whether this particular act was justified at this particular time ... at SOME point, maybe a sarin-warhead missile hitting downtown Tel Aviv ... Israel would have to have a right to invade south Lebanon to put a stop to it. Unless it's Juan's view that the Jews should meekly submit to their extermination, as the Islamofascists say they will do). But if such a circumstance, leave aside what it might be, were to come about, Israel better damn well have a plan ready to implement quickly. But because Israel had a plan, Juan assumes he's entitled to say that
This war has nothing to do with captured Israeli soldiers. It is a long-planned war to increase Israel's ascendency over Hizbullah and its patrons.This assumes that events have only one cause and no occasions. Hezbollah and Hamas repeatedly declare themselves at war with Israel (most of the Arab states, including Syria and Lebanon are formally so too). Hezbollah has fought Israel constantly for 20 years, and didn;t stop after the withdrawal from southern Lebanon.
Plus, did Juan read to the end of the San Francisco Chronicle article he links to? Kalman makes it explicit that the planning was a response to the withdrawal from south Lebanon, and Hezbollah, which repeatedly calls for the destruction of Israel, setting up shop there (Kalman doesn't mention the mobilization-ready population of Western college campuses for some reason). he also has this rather interesting tidbit:
There was no plan, according to this scenario, to reoccupy southern Lebanon on a long-term basis.Not what Juan tells us benighted non-Arabic speakers, most recently, in this post:
For instance, the Israelis have a big interest in the Litani River in south Lebanon. If and when the Israeli military and political elite felt they needed to add territory by taking it from neighbors, they wished to retain that capability.