August 19, 2006


Vital lessons from a 'premature' war (David Horovitz, 8/18/06, THE JERUSALEM POST)

In the very first days of the war with Hizbullah, Israel's top political and military echelons simply could not contain their delight.

Displaying quite horrifying misplaced confidence, ministers crowed in private briefings that Sheikh Nasrallah's fighting force would be broken in a week.

It was already 20 percent, no 30%, no 40% demolished, the generals chimed in, insisting furthermore that the job could be done overwhelmingly from the air; there was no need to risk a bloody ground war.

The Lebanese public was being alienated not by Israel but by Nasrallah and his destructive Iranian proxy army, they all chorused. The fighting, furthermore, would not end without the unconditional release of the two kidnapped soldiers. And moderate Arab states were signaling a shift in attitude to Islamic extremism, finally, that was being seized upon by the watching Western world and that boded well for the existential challenge posed by Teheran.

The variety and gravity of such misconceptions point to a level of arrogance and complacency probably unparalleled since the false pride bred by 1967's military achievements was punished so bitterly by the surprise of the 1973 war.

With speed, Hezbollah picks up the shovel: Group's engineers, funds pour into war torn Lebanon (Thanassis Cambanis, August 19, 2006, Boston Globe)

Lebanon's government is still talking about its own reconstruction plan, but Hezbollah has already flexed its organizational muscle to deploy heavy machinery, hundreds of engineers, and thousands of workers across the country, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, and in the process leaving the government looking flat-footed.

Flush with cash that it says comes from Iran, Syria, and other donors, including Islamic charities and Shi'ite groups, Hezbollah was able to hire contractors and give money to the displaced even before the shooting stopped. The donor largesse has enabled Hezbollah to plan for reconstruction with a budget party officials described as ``without limit." Meanwhile, Lebanon's debt-saddled government is still seeking reconstruction financing from Western and Arab donors.

Nasrallah promised when a cease-fire halted the monthlong war on Monday that the ``Party of God," which led Lebanon into the conflict with a cross-border raid into Israel, would also lead the reconstruction effort.

Through the first week of the cease-fire, the intensive Hezbollah effort has underscored the group's speed and strength relative to the central government's plodding bureaucracy. With its urgent efforts, the group also signaled to Lebanese that it was prepared to assert itself in the country's postwar political dynamic.

``The Lebanese state takes three months to bring help. The United Nations takes three years. Hezbollah is there the next day," said Timur Goksel, who worked as a liaison officer in Lebanon between Hezbollah and the United Nations in Lebanon for more than a decade and knows the group intimately.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 19, 2006 9:53 AM

Hezbollah is there the next day. They are saving their base for their rocket launchers whose destruction was caused by them.

Posted by: ic at August 19, 2006 2:08 PM

Who knew Bob (Pollyanna) McNamara was Jewish?

That said, I'm still convinced the damage done to Hezbollah has been grossly underestimated in the West. Teheran knows. Damascus knows.

Problems arise from this only if the media spin causes us to lose our nerve.

Posted by: ghostcat at August 19, 2006 6:51 PM

Just because you don't believe the MSM doesn't make you unspun.

Posted by: oj at August 19, 2006 8:05 PM

Israeli commandos intercepted an arms shipment in the Bekaa Valley today. Kofi Annan went into orbit.

If Kofi is going to drop his drawers when Israel does what the Lebanese Army is supposed to do (by the UN's own resolution), then perhaps the Hezbos are way behind, after all.

And those pictures of the street sweepers in Beirut reminded me of Beijing, circa 1966. Sure, Israel has to put spin on what happened (because there wasn't a conclusion). But the Hezbos (and more to the point, Damascus and Tehran) need to spin even harder, because they have a lot more to lose than the average Shi'a in Lebanon. Remember, Syria will fight to the last Shi'a (in Lebanon).

Posted by: ratbert at August 20, 2006 2:31 AM

The war was highly successful at showing that Olmert didn't have a clue.

Posted by: Joseph Hertzlinger at August 20, 2006 3:01 AM

Israel, not just Olmert.

Posted by: oj at August 20, 2006 9:02 AM


Hezbollah can't lose. Winning was a bonus.

Posted by: oj at August 20, 2006 9:03 AM

Hezbollah will lose if the rest of Lebanon decides to stand back during the 'next' round. That's not fair to the Shi'a, but that's the price for allowing a Nasrallah.

Posted by: ratbert at August 20, 2006 11:40 PM

Lebanon stood back this time.

Posted by: oj at August 20, 2006 11:52 PM

Siniora won't survive a second war - and all the ethnic embers will only burn the Shi'a if Hezbollah re-arms and starts launching again.

That's the problem with hitching up to a Nasrallah.

Plus, the UN probably has embarrassed itself again (courtesy of the French). They won't be even a speed-bump next time.

Of course, if there is a round two, Israel needs to attack Syria from hour one. Let the Hezbos shoot their rockets. After a few days, Damascus will be a very different place. And so will Lebanon.

Posted by: ratbert at August 21, 2006 9:59 AM

Quite. This round was just a wasted opportunity.

Posted by: oj at August 21, 2006 10:16 AM