Powered by WebAds

Sunday, July 23, 2006

No way out but all out war?

Just a short while ago, I wrote a post called The big IF, in which I picked apart what sounded like an overly optimistic assessment by the US, the UN, the EU and Israel of Hezbullah's willingness to compromise:
But what if Hezbullah doesn't accept those conditions? And what if Syria is not willing to cut off Hezbullah's arms shipments as the US is hoping it will do. What then? That question is sitting like an elephant in the negotiating room - and no one is answering it.
There is an answer to that question in today's Washington Post, but it's not an answer that the parties mentioned above are going to like.

Amal Saad-Ghorayeb is - in his own words - "a scholar who has devoted much of my career to following Hezbollah." Ghorayeb believes that Hezbullah may have underestimated Israel's reaction to its kidnapping two Israeli soldiers, but not by much. In the finest tradtion of Islamist use of human shield's, Hezbullah is - according to Ghorayeb - presenting Israel with a Hobson's choice: Hezbullah can be destroyed "only if the Israeli army is prepared to commit mass murder, genocide, ethnic cleansing -- use whatever unpalatable term you will -- against the entire Shiite community." According to Ghorayeb:
However angry the Israelis are, there must be many who won't be able to stomach that possibility, with its hideous historic implications. That's what Hezbollah was counting on 11 days ago when its fighters took Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser captive near the Lebanese border.
He's probably right.

Here's why Ghorayeb thinks that Hezbullah did it:
I've been reading this script for 11 years now, interviewing political, media and security officials from Hezbollah. And they have given me insights into the party's motives that go well beyond the prisoner exchange that it publicly claims. True, Hezbollah had dubbed 2006 "the year of retrieving the prisoners" and had warned of its intent to kidnap Israelis to secure the release of three Lebanese held in Israel. But the seizure of these two soldiers also reflects Hezbollah's broader goals -- both its domestic political agenda and its regional, strategic one.

Domestically, Hezbollah has succeeded in integrating itself into the Lebanese political system, with its two government ministers and 14 MPs. But the party has also been keen to convince others of the importance of its resistance and of its unrivaled efficacy as a deterrent to the threat posed by Israel.

And Israel's current onslaught has unwittingly provided Hezbollah with the opportunity to demonstrate both -- that Israel remains Lebanon's gravest enemy, and that Hezbollah is the only force capable of confronting it. The Lebanese government's ineptitude in handling the crisis, coupled with the army's sitting-duck status, only underscores that point.

Hezbollah has succeeded in elevating its regional importance, positioning itself alongside Iran, Syria and Hamas -- the axis of terrorism in Israel's lexicon. In this light, Hezbollah's face-off with Israel is not only a defensive war of survival (in response to the declared Israeli and U.S. objective of eliminating the organization), but also an attempt to shatter the myth of Israeli invincibility (which explains why Israel also views this conflict in existential terms).

Most of all, though, Hezbollah hopes to set a new precedent in the Arab world, as its leader Hasan Nasrallah revealed in his latest televised speech: He characterized his movement as a "spearhead of the [Islamic] umma" and declared the conflict as "surpassing Lebanon . . . it is the conflict of the umma," whose success or failure will reverberate in the entire region. In other words, Hezbollah is to serve as an inspiration, as an exemplar of bold action against Israel and, by extension, against Arab regimes that have allied themselves with the United States and Israel.

With so much at stake, it is likely that Hezbollah foresaw Israel's overreaction and laid out contingency plans. Its daily displays of its long-range missiles are more than empty exercises in psychological warfare. Echoing in my mind are the words of a Hezbollah official. He told me that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's ongoing anti-Zionism, along with Iranian supreme religious leader Ali Khamenei's affirmation that Hezbollah will never disarm, has given the movement confidence that it can "fight for months."

Hezbollah is launching missiles deeper into Israeli territory than it ever has before. It is bringing the war to Israelis' doorsteps in the hope that they will pressure their government to call for an unconditional cease-fire. And it wants to demoralize the Israeli army, one Hezbollah official told me.
So what does Israel do? In my view, our approach has to be two-pronged:

1. At the very least, we must destroy Hezbullah's military capabilities NOW, because once Iran is nuclear it will be much harder to do so. To do that, we have to take two steps:

a. Cut off Hezbullah's supply lines from Iran and Syria. There's an Iranian arms shipment for Hezbullah sitting on a tarmac in Abu Ad Duhur, Syria today. That shipment should be destroyed. It won't be enough to get the chinless wonder to risk all-out war, which he knows he would lose even with Iranian support, and even if he were to respond, he has no capability to do more damage to the IDF than Hezbullah has. That solution seems more realistic that expecting to drive a wedge between Syria and Iran, so that Syria will abandon Hezbullah. And hitting the shipment will take much less time than the diplomatic approach. For Israelis hunkering in shelters in the north, time is of the essence in disarming Hezbullah. For all Israelis, the longer this war goes on, the more our moonbat left will question it.

b. Push Hezbullah far to the north. With the longer range missiles in Hezbullah's possession even pushing them past the Litani (25 miles from the border) is not enough. Israel has to push them as far to the north as possible. But Israel cannot get involved in trying to bring about a Hezbullah-less government when the war is done. That's got to be left to the United States and any other friendly countries who may be willing to help.

2. On the domestic front, Israelis have to continue to convince each other that giving up because of 'civilian casualties' on the other side will come back to haunt us later, just as fleeing from Lebanon six years ago came back to haunt us now. It's time to abandon that ancient Jewish trait of feeling guilty. We've b een forced into this. We have no choice. Towards that end, this is also very much a propaganda war, and those of us with the ability and the inkling to fight it have to fight it on the home front in our own ways.

Already today, Knesset members (from Kadima and Labor) who are part of the coalition are starting to question whether the IDF is going too far.

For those reading this in the United States and western Europe, please keep in mind that our war with Hezbullah (and Hamas) is - in their minds - just a prelude to your war with Iran. If we succeed, you may not have to face Iran. You should be supporting us as much as possible. I realize that on this blog, I am probably preaching to the converted in that regard, but posts like this one tend to take on a life of their own on the Internet, and if I've succeeded in convincing someone who was not yet convinced, then the time I've spent writing this has been well spent.


At 3:34 AM, Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

You have made some excellent points here, and I agree with what you say about Iran.

My husband and I are coming to Israel in 2 weeks. It is our first trip there. We have had the trip planned for awhile, and believe, that although this may not be the best time to come, it is the right time.


Post a Comment

<< Home