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Interesting Take On Israeli/Hezbollah Conflict


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If this was a defeat, the Israelis must be praying for a lot more of them

Tim Hames

IF ONLY Israel were as effective at public relations as at military operations, the results of the conflict on and around its border with Lebanon would be so much starker. As it is, however, the real meaning of the UN resolution that will start to come into force today is being widely misrepresented. Hezbollah is hailing a “victory” of sorts, albeit one of a presentational character. In a bizarre situation, Israeli politicians on both the hard Left and the hard Right appear to agree with the terrorists. All are profoundly mistaken.

What, after all, does this Hezbollah claim consist of? The organisation considers it a triumph that it has not been completely “destroyed” after just four weeks of fighting. It contrasts this with the dismal record of several Arab armies combined in 1967. It has not yet been disarmed and may not be formally neutralised in the near future. Nor has it been discredited on the Arab street, where it has enhanced its popularity. The Hezbollah leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrullah, thus proclaims himself a “new Nasser”.

As victories rank, not being destroyed, disarmed or discredited is not that impressive. It is hardly Henry V at Agincourt. The idea that the Six-Day War represents the military standard for the Arab world is a somewhat humiliating notion. Allowing for the feeble record of the original Nasser, Israelis should not be too disturbed by the prospect of another incarnation. Nor was the Arab street that equivocal about Israel’s existence before these clashes started.

The facts now evident on the ground suggest an entirely different assessment.

First, the damage inflicted by the Israeli Defence Forces on Hezbollah’s infrastructure and resources is far, far greater than the equivalent harm that it has suffered. A sizeable proportion of Hezbollah rocket launchers and fighters have been eliminated, while the Israeli army has lost no more than a few tanks and, to its regret, about 100 soldiers. For a body that is used to incessant combat, this is not a spectacular setback.

Secondly, Hezbollah has deployed a huge percentage of its missile arsenal to very little advantage. Only in the Alice in Wonderland world of the Middle East could it be seen as a “triumph” for a terrorist organisation simply to launch Katyusha missiles in the direction of Israel and roughly 95 per cent of them to hit nothing of any value. It took Hezbollah six years to accumulate a stockpile that, fundamentally, it has wasted.

Thirdly, the administration in Lebanon, which had ostentatiously refused to send its soldiers to the south of that country for the past six years, has been obliged to pledge to the United Nations that it will now do so. It will, furthermore, be under the de facto control of a much larger international force than has been assembled in that region before — one that will be judged a success or otherwise by the extent to which it keeps the place quiet.

The wider strategic consequences of these recent events are yet more significant. Hezbollah was, until July 11, a problem exclusively for Israel. That dilemma has been internationalised. It is now of paramount importance to the Lebanese Government and the UN Security Council. If Lebanon’s troops cannot pacify Hezbollah then ministers there well know that Israel’s air force will be back over Beirut. The UN will come to appreciate that if it cannot maintain the peace this will be because Hezbollah has broken the ceasefire that the Security Council imposed, and its own authority will be endangered. This is an important breakthrough for Israel. If Ehud Olmert, the Prime Minister, had been told six weeks ago that Hezbollah would cease to be the principal militia in southern Lebanon by the beginning of September he wouldn’t have believed it possible.

Further, Israel’s security has been improved more than has been acknowledged. Fewer than three years ago, Israel’s northern border was exposed to Hezbollah, its eastern boundary with the West Bank was so porous that suicide bombers regularly broke through it and its military was engaged in a bitter and often futile attempt to contain Hamas in Gaza. As of now, it can be confident of pushing Hezbollah back beyond the Litani river in Lebanon, the barrier it erected around the West Bank has reduced the number of suicide blast atrocities to the level of an unfortunate irritation and Hamas, whose military command was decapitated by Israel in a series of controversial strikes in 2004, is more likely to engage in a civil war with Fatah than it is seriously to inconvenience Mr Olmert.

The final dimension to this saga may, nevertheless, prove the most compelling. The past few weeks have exposed Iran’s pivotal role as the political patron of terrorism as well as the audacity and extent of its ambitions to shape Islam in its image. None of this has taken Israel by surprise. It has been a severe blow to Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Jews constitute no threat to mainstream Sunni Islam. The Shia challenge is another matter. Once the crocodile tears for Lebanon have dried up (which will take a month at most) and the mood on the Arab street has moved on (which will not take much longer), it will become obvious to Sunni regimes that Israel is an ally against Iran. The rhetoric directed against Israel will not abate, but it will be increasingly irrelevant.

That Lebanese civilians with no connection to terrorism have died while all this has occurred is a tragedy of the highest order. Israel relied too much on air power at the start of these exchanges and allowed its opponents a propaganda opportunity. Yet, in the end, Israel’s survival does not depend on Arab “hearts and minds” or opinions expressed by television viewers who live many thousands of miles away. It relies instead on winning crucial battles. If this is a “defeat”, then Israel can afford many similar outcomes.

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Thanks for the article.

,,,it will become obvious to Sunni regimes that Israel is an ally against Iran.

If that indeed happens, it would be great.

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I see the basic action here is that Israel has pretty much made it clear the the UN is NOT giving Israel a chance, but the Israel is giving the UN a chance. Something our spineless country cannot seem to do when it comes to the UN

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I see the basic action here is that Israel has pretty much made it clear the the UN is NOT giving Israel a chance, but the Israel is giving the UN a chance. Something our spineless country cannot seem to do when it comes to the UN

Yeah, I hate it that the US won't give the UN a chance either. I'm not ready to call us 'spineless' yet, though.

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I see the basic action here is that Israel has pretty much made it clear the the UN is NOT giving Israel a chance, but the Israel is giving the UN a chance. Something our spineless country cannot seem to do when it comes to the UN

Yeah, I hate it that the US won't give the UN a chance either. I'm not ready to call us 'spineless' yet, though.

When it comes to the UN, historically, we have shown little spine. Up untile the Iraq War, we were just patsys. Now we seem to be going right back into our role. We must realize that the UN IS our enemy. There are very few countries in the UN that are truly our allies. The rest would love to see us fall.

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Give the UN and all its member delegate 30 days to get out of our country. They are nothing more than a lipservice organization. Like most things, it started out as a decent idea and now has been bastardized to the point were they are less than non-effective!

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I see the basic action here is that Israel has pretty much made it clear the the UN is NOT giving Israel a chance, but the Israel is giving the UN a chance. Something our spineless country cannot seem to do when it comes to the UN

Yeah, I hate it that the US won't give the UN a chance either. I'm not ready to call us 'spineless' yet, though.

You mean like the chance the UN was given to disarm Hezbollah? Resolution 1559 did a lot to disarm Hezbollah didn't it? Hezbollah has used the time to stockpile missiles and weapons. Being the sceptic I am, I expect Hezbollah to continue what they have done in the past.

Here is an idea you don't hear often.

VIN SUPRYNOWICZ: Just once, let them fight till someone loses

War is horrible. It kills and maims and orphans the innocent along with the combatants, who themselves are not always there willingly. It is to be avoided whenever possible.

(For instance, Lincoln had no right to invade the South, which in no way threatened the North -- especially given that he'd promised the Southerners they could keep their slaves if they stayed in the union, proving that emancipation was not one of his casi belli. Also, this nation had no right to invade Iraq, which had done us no harm.)

But there are two major exceptions.

Rather than live as slaves, rather than watch our loved ones picked off one at a time while we stand by and do nothing, it is better to risk our lives -- and to kill as many of the enemy as humanly possible, by whatever means -- until such danger is decisively eliminated. It is better to respond to aggression by going to war. Not "going to social work." War, as in, "If everything around you is exploding, that's probably us."

But when?

When did World War II begin?

Most would point to the German invasion of Poland in the fall of 1939. But is that to say the fascist conquest of North Africa -- where the Italians invented the modern "concentration camp" -- and the brutal conquest of Manchuria and Korea and parts of mainland China by the Japanese, both dating back into the early 1930s, were "A-OK"? What about the German annexation of Austria and proudly independent Czechoslovakia?

It's typical for those who crave peace to try compromise and appeasement. These rarely work, merely emboldening the aggressor. What works are tanks and really big artillery pieces and stubble-faced G.I.s doing the thankless job of winning the war 50 yards at a time. But America didn't do that in 1936, or even in 1939.

America, craving peace, waited till our fleet lay in smoking ruins at Pearl Harbor. Not that the rape of China had gone unnoticed. The Roosevelt administration embargoed oil shipments to Japan. The Japanese didn't want to conquer America; they wanted to seize the oil-rich islands of the South Pacific. But they knew Roosevelt would come to the aid of the Dutch and British there if they tried.

So, declaring the oil embargo an act of war (as though we had some obligation to sell our oil to anyone), figuring they had to "use their fleet or lose it," they struck first, at a time and place unexpected.

When did the current war in Lebanon begin? When Israel attacked? But Israel was responding to the murder and kidnapping of its own soldiers in its own territory, as well as to the endless and intentional Hezbollah missile barrage against its civilian populace. Did it begin when Hezbollah snuck across the border, killing three Israeli soldiers and kidnapping two more, three weeks ago?

But that would be to say that the failure of the Lebanese government to disarm Hezbollah and stop these wild-eyed fanatics from committing such acts of war -- demanded under Security Council Resolution 1559, and part of the deal under which Israel withdrew completely from southern Lebanon years ago -- was "A-OK."

Imagine now that America, finally stirred from her lethargy, had fought through that miserable year of 1942, American boys desperately throwing away their lives at places like Wake and Midway as they took on a superior foe while equipped only with inadequate pre-war weapons and supplies.

Now, in 1943, the tables are finally starting to turn. We have finally driven the Japanese from Guadalcanal. Our factories having run at full pace for a year, we now have enough materiel to start slogging our way up the island chains toward Japan ... when some vastly superior coalition of nations steps in and says, "Your response has been disproportionate. They only sank a handful of your ships and killed a few hundred sailors at Pearl Harbor. Look at the pictures of the suffering your bombs and torpedoes are causing. This is barbaric."

Imagine that a three-year cease-fire had been imposed, during which Imperial Japan had time to rest, refit and re-arm. Then, in 1946, when Japan was ready, they attacked us again, unexpectedly, sinking more of our ships in Australia and in San Diego. Back to war we go.

But no, on the evening of our planned 1948 landings at Okinawa, again we're told "Time out. This is awfully disproportionate. Your B-29 bombings of the civilian populace in Japan are probably war crimes; you'll have to stand trial at The Hague. Have you seen the photos of the burned and bleeding children? The whole world condemns your barbarism. We need a three-year timeout." And so on, over, and over, and over.

If war is evil, how much more evil is it to impose on anyone an endless stop-and-start war, which the righteous and aggrieved victim is never allowed to pursue to a victorious end -- the aggressor always allowed to rest and refit and then to come again at a time of his choosing, pecking relentlessly at the victim's liver?

Some will say Israel has committed aggression simply by existing. But to say that is to violate the U.N. charter, which guarantees the right of all member states to exist.

"But the Palestinians have no state!" the war-lovers cry.

Sure they do. It's called Jordan. In fact, the Palestinian Arabs got by far the larger part of the old British protectorate of Palestine -- and no one attacked them for daring to set up an essentially one-religion nation where Jews find scant welcome. The masses now huddled around the borders of Israel were kicked out by King Hussein in 1972 after they tried to overthrow him. How is that Israel's fault?

The defeatists cry that "Nothing can be accomplished by violence; war only breeds more terrorists who will fight forever."

Really? Sixty years later, is America still under attack by the aggrieved suicide-belted grandchildren of the Germans and Japanese whose cities we flattened and burned to rubble in '44 and '45?

No. Because wars usually do resolve these issues -- if one side is allowed to fight to a decisive victory. It's just that the pink petticoat gang shriek hysterically and threaten to faint dead away when confronted with the reality of how real wars really end.

Someone raises a white flag, and promises to fight no more if only you'll give the survivors some food and water and stop burning them out of their holes. Many of the conquered women marry the conqueror's soldiers and move home with them, giving up their native dress and learning to drive Buicks.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah is nowhere near ready to surrender. To end a war which has now been dragging on for 58 years, somebody's ass has got to, finally, be whupped.

Who is that more likely to be? Do you hear anyone calling on the Hezbollah guerrillas to show more "restraint" as they overrun large portions of Israel?

Not now, you say? When better? After Iran has started supplying Hezbollah with nukes?

Today, Hezbollah and Hamas have a problem. All their planning was based on the fact that the world and the United States have never allowed Israel to really win a war -- they always call a cease-fire after a maximum of 20 days.

Can anyone see the terrorists looking around now, wondering when they get their next three years off for rest, refit and resupply? "Hey, it's been the full three weeks. Guys? Anyone? Hello?"

We started out saying war is horrible and is to be avoided whenever possible. But there is a corollary doctrine. If you want a generation of peace, those who launch wars have to be shown this, good and hard.

Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal and author of the new novel "The Black Arrow," which has made the short list of nominees for the 2006 Prometheus Award. See www.LibertyBookShop.us.


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