Peak Oil and the Middle East

You want to read Juan Cole’s hypothesis on the role of oil in the bombing of Lebanon. Trust me on this.

In addition: Via Kevin Drum, Jeff Weintraub suggests that the Israeli bombing of Lebanon was not about getting rid of Hezbollah.

Instead, it looks increasingly apparent that a prime Israeli goal was to provoke a multilateral diplomatic and political intervention by the so-called “international community” (meaning in this case the US, the major European governments, Russia, and some Arab governments) to help broker, impose, and guarantee a political solution alone the lines of UN Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1680. In the meantime, Israel’s military assault would also weaken Hezbollah’s military capacities and other bargaining cards in ways that could facilitate a diplomatic & political solution of this sort. It also seems clear that the Israeli & US governments have been roughly in accord on this strategy–and, more surprisingly, that the major European governments have signed on to its broad outlines (expressed, for example in the G-8 Summit statement on the Middle East crisis and the positions adopted at the later Rome conference), a fact that has been obscured by surface noise and posturing about the more specific issue of an immediate cease-fire. All the commentary that has misunderstood or ignored these connections between the military, diplomatic, and political dimensions of the situation–which is to say, most of the commentary in news reports, punditry, and the blogosphere–has largely missed the point of what is going on. (For one example, see here.)

Compare/contrast to the Michael Levy article at, “Ending the Neoconservative Nightmare.”

Witnessing the near-perfect symmetry of Israeli and American policy has been one of the more noteworthy aspects of the latest Lebanon war. A true friend in the White House. No deescalate and stabilize, honest-broker, diplomatic jaw-jaw from this president. Great. Except that Israel was actually in need of an early exit strategy, had its diplomatic options narrowed by American weakness and marginalization in the region, and found itself ratcheting up aerial and ground operations in ways that largely worked to Hezbollah’s advantage, the Qana tragedy included. The American ladder had gone AWOL.

As Juan Cole says, much is not making sense.

The wholesale destruction of all of Lebanon by Israel and the US Pentagon does not make any sense. Why bomb roads, roads, bridges, ports, fuel depots in Sunni and Christian areas that have nothing to do with Shiite Hizbullah in the deep south? … Hizbullah had killed 6 Israeli civilians since 2000. For this you would destroy a whole country?


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