August 1, 2006


Israel Is Losing This War: Its leaders need to act fast (BRET STEPHENS, August 1, 2006, Opinion Journal)

Generally speaking, wars are lost either militarily or politically. Israel is losing both ways. Two weeks ago, Israeli officials boasted they had destroyed 50% of Hezbollah's military capabilities and needed just 10 to 14 days to finish the job. Two days ago, after a record 140 Katyushas landed on Israel, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told visiting Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice he needed another 10 to 14 days. When the war began, Israeli officials spoke of "breaking" Hezbollah; next of evicting Hezbollah from the border area; then of "degrading" Hezbollah's capabilities; now of establishing an effective multinational force that can police the border. Israel's goals are becoming less ambitious while the time it needs to accomplish them is growing longer. [...]

The goal, rather, is to ensure that Hezbollah will never again be in a position to spark a similar crisis, and to do so with maximum effect in the shortest possible time. Israeli Chief of Staff Dan Halutz warned two weeks ago that Hezbollah wants a long war: "They realize that prolonged attrition causes internal pressure from Israeli citizens and international pressure, and think those are our weak points." That's right, which makes his three-week bombing campaign puzzling.

More puzzling was the Israeli cabinet's decision last week against launching a full-scale ground invasion. Instead, they will content themselves with a narrow security strip in southern Lebanon, one that is too narrow to prevent rocket fire from reaching Israel but will give Hezbollah a fresh excuse to fight the new "occupation." The cabinet also went out of its way to reassure Syria--a country Mr. Olmert listed in his own Axis of Evil only the week before--that it had no intention of dragging it into the conflict. But Israel need not have bombed Damascus to derive the benefit of keeping Bashar Assad awake at night, to guess what his patronage of Hezbollah will get him.

That's quite wrong. The war can't be won in Southern Lebanon and oughht not to have been fought. In the long term a Shi'a Republic there serves Israeli interests. It can be won by regime changing Syria and destroying Iran's nuclear program. All of this was obvious from the start but folks werre too busy enjoying the visceral satisfaction of reacting to a minor provocation from Hezbollah.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 1, 2006 7:06 PM

Once again, HB is not a viable Shia nationalist movement in southern Lebanon. Its deep Iranian roots are in fact what is preventing such a movement -- which would indeed benefit Israel -- from coalescing.

Israel is fighting this battle to rid southern Lebanon of an anti-Lebanese and indeed anti-Shia Lebanese Iranian proxy. And I've seen nothing, despite the hand-wringing by Stephens et al, to indicate that they are failing in this.

Syria btw is hardly a threat to either Israel or the US or Iraq at this point. Boy Assad is hanging on by his fingernails. They'll fall over of their own accord.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at August 1, 2006 8:58 PM

The Shi'a of Lebanon think it is. Their vote counts, not yours.

No one's a threat. The Ba'ath are just a rotten regime.

Posted by: oj at August 1, 2006 9:31 PM

OJ: you are only right as long as there is not a warhead payload on those rocket; the hezbohs could just be callibrating their targetting, with chemical payloads to follow

Posted by: Palmcroft at August 2, 2006 10:23 AM

They do? And how do we know that the Shia of Lebanon support HB? Because they vote for them? Opinion polls?

Awfully hard to vote against an armed militia who dominates your village or town.

We'll see how HB fares without their weapons and without Iranian money to build hospitals cum weapons depots.

I suspect they'll face some competition.

(And that's the point, isn't it?)

Meanwhile as the handwringers wring and the bedwetters wet the bed Israel marches into the Bekka, into the very town that has been the headquarters of the Iranians and Syrians in Lebanon, into the hospital that serves as HB's home base, seizes HB officials, and waltzes out again.

Yep, they're losing.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at August 2, 2006 10:58 AM



Posted by: oj at August 2, 2006 11:07 AM

Beligerent theocracies make good neighbors.

Posted by: Tom C.,Stamford,Ct at August 4, 2006 7:42 AM

Yet Canada and Mexico still bitch.

Posted by: oj at August 4, 2006 8:21 AM