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A dark time for Israel -- and us

George Bush said Hezbollah was the loser in its war with Israel. On paper it looks that way. Hezbollah was pounded, hard, by the Israeli Air Force. They were forced to retreat everywhere that the Israel army attacked, and suffered disproportionate loses. They only survived by cowardly hiding behind women and children, and depending on the decency of their enemies. I want to believe that Hezbollah lost. It's important that they lose.

But they didn't.

Ralph Peters sums up the war like this:

  • Despite the physical damage the Israeli Defense Forces inflicted, Hezbollah's terror-troops were still standing (and firing rockets) when the bell rang.
  • At the strategic level, Hezbollah's masterful manipulation of the seduce-me-please media convinced the region's Shi'a and Sunni spectators alike that Hassan Nasrallah is the new Great Arab Hope. He's got a powerful Persian cheering section, too.
  • While Israel couldn't plan or execute a winning campaign, it also failed to think beyond the inevitable cease-fire. But Hezbollah did. The terrorists had mapped out precisely what they had to do the moment the shooting stopped: Hand out Iranian money, promise they'll rebuild what Israel destroyed - and simply refuse to honor the terms of the U.N. resolution.
But the damage goes even deeper. Arthur Herman compares UN resolution 1701 that ended the war with Chamberlain's capitulation to Hitler in Munich, and sees it sending a dangerous message:
But other states in the region will have learned their lesson. Faced by an internal terrorist organization, especially one with links with Tehran, they will have to make accommodations. No white knight in the guise of U.S. Marines will ride to their rescue; no Israeli tanks and F-16s will do their dirty work for them. Appeasement will be the order of the day.

That includes Iraq. The disarming of Sunni and Shia militias, the necessary first step to ending sectarian violence there, will be postponed - perhaps for good. On the contrary, this crisis has taught Iraq's Shia minority that extremism pays, particularly the Iranian kind.

For everyone in the Middle East knows Iran is the clear winner. Only the diplomats and politicians, including the Bush administration, will pretend otherwise. Iran has emerged as the clear champion of anti-Israeli feeling and radical Islam. The Iranians have their useful puppet in Syria; they have their proxy armies in place with Hezbollah and Hamas. They have been able to install missiles, even Revolutionary Guards, in Lebanon with impunity. Sunni regimes in the region will move to strike their own deals with Iran, just as Eastern European states did with Germany after Czechoslovakia. That includes Iraq; the lesson will not be lost on Russia and China, either. And all the while, the Iranians proceed with their nuclear plans - with the same impunity.

The 'War on Terror' -- or, as it should properly be known, the War on Islamic Fascism -- is similar to the cold war in that it's a war of ideologies. Propaganda victories are more important than military ones. And Hezbollah just won a huge propaganda victory, there's no question about it.

Comments

I think comparisons with Munich are a little over the top. While I would have been delighted to see the IDF kick Hizb'Allah's butt more thoroughly I don't think the end result is all that bad.

We need to keep in mind that for a variety of reasons the war wasn't going as well as it should for Israel. They now have a much better idea of their own preparedness (many shortcomings) and what to expect from Hizb'Allah. Even granting that Hizb'Allah will take the time to regroup Israel will likely benefit from this hudna even more. They will retrain, re-examine their doctrines and intelligence about Hizb'Allah and if this ceasefire doesn't work out (as it likely won't) then they'll be back for a much more professional job.

If the war had been going well then it would be legitimate to harp on the shortcomings of the ceasefire - but it wasn't, so calling a pause in less than ideal circumstances is not necessarily such a bad thing. They've delivered a big hurt even still and learned a lot of necessary lessons in the process.

I've tried to console myself with the idea that Israel needed to break this off just as much as Hezbollah did, and it works to a point. Next time they'll be better supplied, fully committed, and will use the lessons they learned last month to their advantage. I hope.

But as I said, the propaganda front is what's important, and that was a crushing defeat. Israel's enemies have learned that the international community is willing to tolerate the worse kind of provocation, and will go to extreme lengths to protect them after they've committed it.

Israel at the very least should have not agreed to any cease fire that did not return their kidnapped soldiers or at least their remains. By not getting what they claimed they went to war with is a public admission of defeat.

Yeah, I hear you. I don't think it was what the Israelis originally had in mind, but it strikes me that what they actually performed was a reconnaissance in force maneuver(
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reconnaissance#Reconnaissance_in_force).

They've learned a great deal about Iran's Revolutionary Guards equipment and methods, especially the electronic warfare methods that will be crucial if it turns out strikes on Iran will be necessary, as I believe they will be.

There's some interesting reading on this at http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/.