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Friday, September 01, 2006

Hezbollah's 'Victory'

In today's Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer reminds us that Hezbullah won the propaganda war but lost the military battle on the ground. Krauthammer believes that Israel inflicted enough damage - despite Olmert's weak leadership - to prevent Hezbullah from initiating a second round, if what he calls the resolutions to disarm Hezbullah are implemented. The problem is that UN Security Council Resolution 1701 is not self-executing with respect to disarming Hezbullah, and all indications so far have been that the world does not plan on doing the job. Therefore, I cannot share Krauthammer's apparent optimism.

Even before the devastation, Hezbollah in the last election garnered only about 20 percent of the vote, hardly a mandate. Hezbollah has guns, however, and that is the source of its power. But now even that is threatened. Hence Nasrallah's admission. He knows that Lebanon, however weak its army, has a deep desire to disarm him and that the arrival of Europeans in force, however weak their mandate, will make impossible the rebuilding of the vast Maginot Line he spent six years constructing.

Which is why the expected Round Two will, in fact, not happen. Hezbollah is in no position, either militarily or politically, for another round. Nasrallah's admission that the war was a mistake is an implicit pledge not to repeat it, lest he be completely finished as a Lebanese political figure.

The Lebanese know that Israel bombed easy-to-repair airport runways when it could have destroyed the new airport terminal and set Lebanon back 10 years. The Lebanese know that Israel attacked the Hezbollah TV towers when it could have pulverized Beirut's power grid, a billion-dollar reconstruction. The Lebanese know that the next time, Israel's leadership will hardly be as hesitant and restrained. Hezbollah dares not risk that next time.

Even more important is the shift once again in the internal Lebanese balance of power. With Nasrallah weakened, the other major factions are closing in around him. Even his major Christian ally, Michel Aoun, has called for Hezbollah's disarmament. The March 14 democratic movement has regained the upper hand and, with outside help, could marginalize Hezbollah.
By the way, has anyone else read anywhere in the mainstream media that Israel was 'restrained.' Of course not! The media reaction has consistently been that Israel's reaction was disproportionate!

Read it all.


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