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Every Bomb Makes Hezbollah Stronger


[Steve Gilliard was nice enough to share a post on the conflict between Israel and Lebanon.  For many in the US, making any sense out of the factions and nations involved, let alone the strategy, is difficult — partly because this part of the region has been neglected by the Bush Administration, it’s been off the radar for a lot of Americans.  (The World had a great interview with Dennis Ross yesterday saying just that — click on the "Diplomacy Review" link.)  No excuse, but a lot of folks have short attention spans, I suppose.  Anyway, Gilliard gives us a lot to think about in this post, and we really appreciate him sending it our way for everyone to read here at FDL.  — CHS]

Israeli planes pound Lebanon, 6 killed 
By Alaa Shahine 1 hour, 16 minutes ago 
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Israeli warplanes pounded south Lebanon on Tuesday, killing at least six people, as world efforts to defuse the crisis brought no signs of an early end to the week-old assault in retaliation against Hizbollah attacks. 
The six civilians, all from one family, were killed during an air strike that hit a house shortly after midnight in a Lebanese border village. Israeli aircraft also hit Beirut’s southern suburb and an army position overlooking the capital. 
The fighting was triggered when Hizbollah, the guerrilla group which is backed by 
Syria and Iran and is part of Lebanon’s government, seized two Israeli soldiers and killed eight in a cross-border raid on northern Israel on July 12. 
"We are working with our bare hands and so far we have recovered six bodies. More are still under the rubble," Salim Mourad, head of Aytaroun’s village municipality, told Hizbollah’s al-Manar television. 

Let’s get a few things straight. 
First, Hezbollah is not a constructive influence. I mean, they’re the Party of God. But they, like Hamas, exist because of Israeli meddling in local politics. They wanted to outwit the Amal and thus Hezbollah was born. They wanted to corner the PLO,and Hamas was born. They suckered the Israelis into an attack, one they were quite ready for. 
Second: The Israelis are backing down. From destroying Hezbollah to asking them to set up a buffer zone is a major rhetorical climb down.  Why? Because Hezbollah is ready to escalate the war if Israel does.  And that came as a surprise. I think the Israelis and their US enablers believed too much of their own bullshit. So when Haifa gets rocketed, they’re stunned. 
Three: The warmongers like William Kristol and the war dodging cowards at the New Republic are no friends of Israel. They won’t be on the end of the long range rockets and they won’t be cleaning up the mess afterwards. Bombing power stations in Lebanon didn’t force the Christians to turn on Hezbollah, but made them hate Israel and even more willing to turn a blind eye to Hezbollah. It was their kids being killed, not just the Shia of South Beirut. 
Fourth: It’s called disproportionate violence because the Beirut Airport doesn’t have a Hezbollah Air Force wing there. Neither did the port of Tyre or the power station. I think the Israelis thought there would be an outcry to go after Hezbollah after they got bombed.  However, Hezbollah was playing by Lebanese rules and protesting, not  seizing the government in a gun fight. So the anger has turned towards Israel. 
Fifth: Israel cannot afford a war. Their economy hasn’t been stable in years. Calling up the reserves and going north is expensive. They thought a little shock and awe would get what they wanted, and it isn’t anything close. Sure, they can beat Syria, but at what cost to the economy? 
Sixth: Instead of weakening Hezbollah, this will strengthen them. What has happened so far? Israel has sent men to risk their lives to blow up gas stations, crater an airport and some docks and the rockets keep coming. Any mass Hezbollah casualities? No? However, Hezbollah has kidnapped two soldiers, attacked Haifa and escaped assassination. 
The problem is that war cannot solve the problem Israel has with Hezbollah. They cannot fight a two or three front war. They need a buffer zone and no more attacks and that will only come from negotiations. 
I think that’s dawning on the IDF commanders, that their force has limits, they’ve made their points, and every dead child seen on TV enhances their enemies. It may not be reflected in New York, but the EU looks aghast at this, and it doesn’t help Israel’s long term security 
In fact, one might think Hezbollah wanted this attack, knowing the Israelis would react in such a disproportionate manner. One trick in warfare is to get your enemy to act in a predictable way, They knew an ambush and kidnapping would work to do just that. 
While a lot of people are reflexively pro-Israel, they don’t get that Israel is being demographically engulfed by Arabs. If they want Israel to last, there has to be peace, meaningful, real peace.  There will come a day when the Arabs can resist the IDF and after that, Israel will have no leverage.

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Steve Gilliard

Steve Gilliard