Powered by WebAds

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

"Better a thousand Israeli invasions..."

Michael J. Totten has some fascinating comments on the Winograd Commission report.
The Winograd report is a damning indictment of Israeli failure and incompetence during last year’s war against Hezbollah in Lebanon. I criticized the war myself from the very beginning when it became clear the Israeli Defense Forces still had no idea how to successfully deal with the Iranian-sponsored guerilla militia in the north. Now is a good time to return to this subject.

Efraim Inbar in Middle East Quarterly zeroes in on a major part of the problem.
From the first day of the campaign, [IDF Chief of Staff Dan] Halutz advocated attacking infrastructure beyond southern Lebanon to pressure the Lebanese government to counter Hezbollah.
Just about any person living in Lebanon, whether Lebanese or international and regardless of their view of Hezbollah, could have told the Israeli government that this wouldn’t work. If Dan Halutz truly believed bombing civilian infrastructure would rally Lebanese to his side, he does not have even a basic grasp of Lebanese politics.

Lebanese have rallied around Hezbollah before when they felt themselves threatened by a common enemy, not because Hezbollah is well-liked by the majority (it isn’t) but because Hezbollah is Lebanese and Israel isn’t.

The biggest reason, though, that most Lebanese won’t side with Israel against Hezbollah is because Lebanese fear civil war more than they fear anything else. They have good reasons, too. The 1975-1990 civil war wrecked far more destruction in Lebanon than any foreign invasion.

“Better a thousand Israeli invasions than another civil war,” is a refrain I heard more than once from Lebanese who detest the very existence of Hezbollah.


Syria and Iran must be contained at the least before Hezbollah can be neutralized.

Don’t be fooled by your atlas. Lebanon isn’t a country any more than Iraq is a country. Both are geographic abstractions held together only by common currencies, common passports, and a map. They aren’t nation states like France and New Zealand. Both Lebanon and Iraq have more than one government and feature private armies controlled by third governments.

The government in Beirut is the most democratic of all Arab governments. It is also the weakest. It cannot be expected to effectively resist Syria and Iran any more than Kuwait could have freed itself from Saddam Hussein or Costa Rica could pacify and stabilize Colombia. These are not jobs for small and weak countries, especially not for weak countries divided against themselves.

Israel’s first fatal flaw last July was the assumption that Lebanon’s problems are local and can be solved in Lebanon. The Hezbollah problem is a regional one. Think globally, act locally will get Israel nowhere.

Israel’s second fatal flaw was the decision to fight an asymmetric war, which is hard, instead of a conventional war, which is easy.


Let’s go back to Efraim Inbar in Middle East Quarterly.
Fear of escalation clouded Olmert's strategic judgment. On the first day of the conflict, Mossad chief Maj. Gen. Meir Dagan recommended that the Israeli air force target Syrian sites. Instead, Olmert sought to placate. Israeli leaders repeatedly said that Israel had no intention of expanding its military activities to target Syria. [Emphasis mine. CiJ]
Therefore Syria has no incentive whatever to make peace with Israel or stop arming and funding Hezbollah. Weak Arab dictatorships have finally discovered an effective way to wage wars against Israel (and the United States). Asymmetric proxy wars work.

Israelis allowed themselves to be suckered into an asymmetric war by Syria and Iran. Instead of weakening Syria and strengthening Lebanon, they weakened Lebanon and strengthened Syria. They would be well advised not to do it again.
Read the whole thing.


Post a Comment

<< Home