Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Let's declare victory and start talking

It's only now starting to occur to me how fighting terrorism has become fighting against a people's right to be free.

Herebelow is a long post, but is definitely worth the read since it is, so far, the best analysis on the Lebanon war i've read so far.


By Ze'ev Sternhell

It's a widely accepted idea that an Israeli who returns home, even after a short period of time, feels as if he has come to another country. But the opposite is the case: He returns to the same situation, the same problems, the same thought patterns and mainly, the same solutions. Apparently, we did not learn a thing from the first Lebanon War or from the American defeat in Iraq. If the definition of Israel's strategic goal given by the head of Military Intelligence at the beginning of the week reflects the government's position, we are in big trouble.

If Israel really did embark on the war in order to force Lebanon to impose its authority on the south, which is in Hezbollah's hands - or in other words, to force the Lebanese government to begin a civil war in the service of Israel - that is a sign that it is dominated by thinking even more primitive than the thinking that led Ariel Sharon to Beirut about a quarter of a century ago.

But this time, we have exacerbated the problem: At the beginning of the third week of fighting, in spite of the determination and courage of the attacking soldiers, the war seems only to be beginning. That is why we should achieve a cease-fire before the campaign gets out of control, claims victims in vain and, in the long run, even turns into a strategic failure. In the more distant future, it will be necessary to carry out a fundamental structural reform of the government's work procedures and to examine its dependence on the Israel Defense Forces' General Staff. These are truths that are not pleasant to voice at this time, but that is the reality, and we are obliged to confront it.

And in fact, considering the means that the IDF is employing and the ratio of forces in the field, any outcome less than the elimination of Hezbollah as a fighting force will be considered an Israeli failure and a great achievement for the enemy. But since it is impossible to uproot Hezbollah from among the Shiites without destroying the population itself, wisdom requires us to refrain from positing goals that are unachievable.

The inability of a major power to put an end to a guerrilla war is not a new phenomenon: From Napoleon in Spain, through his successors in Algeria, to the Americans in Vietnam and now in Iraq, well-organized armies equipped with modern technology have always failed in attempts to defeat irregular forces. The latter know how to adapt themselves to their surroundings, they are an inseparable part of the population and they serve its material, religious and emotional needs.

When there is fighting, guerrilla organizations want the entire population to be harmed. When everyone is a victim, the hatred will be directed at the enemy more forcefully. That is why bombing residential neighborhoods, power plants, bridges and highways is an act of folly, which plays into Hezbollah's hands and serves its strategic goals: An attack on the overall fabric of life creates a common fate for the fighters and those standing on the sidelines. At the same time, the greater the population's suffering, the greater its alienation from the formal ruling institutions - the government, the parliament and the various security forces that are powerless to save them.

It is an illusion to hope that the 700,000 Lebanese refugees will direct their fury at their government, or that the population that still remains in place will evict the Hezbollah members from among it. As far as the population is concerned, responsibility for its catastrophe lies entirely with Israel, and failure to cooperate with whoever fights against Israel would be considered national treason. It was foolish to assume that the Lebanese political elite would dare to confront Hezbollah and use force against it. And anyway, who was even capable of using force? The Lebanese Army, whose bases were bombed as well?

That is why Israel's interest must be to isolate Hezbollah, to strike a hard blow at its bases and camps, but to avoid harming the infrastructure of life for the general population, even when its gives refuge to those bearing arms. This is not a matter of military ethics, but of a cold practical considerations.

The goal of the war is to restrain Hezbollah, because nobody is dreaming any longer of destroying it. As things look today, at best, Israel will make do with removing it from the border. There, behind the back of an international force, which in the Arab world will in any case be seen as protecting Israel, Hezbollah will be able to reorganize, train, equip itself with more modern weapons and prepare for the next round.

There is no military solution for this situation. IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz has already implied that the solution is political. The prime minister, who bears overall responsibility and will be required to give an accounting in the future, would do well not to lag behind the person who in any case will pass him the hot potato.

And a word about the price of American support. Sometimes it seems as if U.S. President George W. Bush wants Israel both to destroy Lebanon and to sustain painful losses. That way, Israel provides him with an excellent alibi for the war in Iraq: The fight against terror is global, the blood price is the same, the methods of operation and the means are identical, and the time needed for victory is long. The Israeli vassal is serving its master no less than the master is providing for its needs.

1 comment:

JeffMichell said...

Why Hezbollah LOST the War in Lebanon!
Courtesy of

On July 12, 2006 Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers that led to Israel's war with them and, by extension, Lebanon itself. Hezbollah has been on Israel's fence since the latter's withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000. Israel always requested from the international community and from the Lebanese government to deploy its Lebanese Army there instead of Hezbollah's terror troops. Hezbollah, quite naturally, refused! Hezbollah vowed to NEVER allow any other force other than itself to occupy southern Lebanon. Even during the conflict, Hezbollah said it would never agree to allow either the Lebanese army nor international monitors to patrol southern Lebanon.

Beirut On Fire

Then finally, when two IDF (Israeli Defense Force) soldiers were kidnapped, Israel found the perfect excuse it was looking for to go into Lebanon and push Hezbollah well away from the Lebanese-Israel border. Israel pursued a limited invasion and killed over 500-600 Hezbollah members during the one month war. Additionally, Israel took over every single village in southern Lebanon. Yet when the hostilities ended, Hezbollah claimed victory! But did it really win?

Firstly, Israel agreed to a cessation of hostilities NOT because it surrendered, but because of international pressure from the European Union and the United States. During this conflict Israel endured more international pressure, than it ever did in the past 10 years. Israel put forth conditions and international agreements which the latter two accepted, such as the deployment of 15,000 Lebanese soldiers and 15,000 United Nations peace keepers into southern Lebanon. This cessation of hostilities, known as "The August Ceasefire", was initiated by the United Nations and International Community, and was put forward before both parties, Israel and Hezbollah, Hezbollah JUMPED right on the wagon to accept, because they saw it as the only way out of the mess they got themselves into. While at the same time, Israel was more stubborn on accept this ceasefire-agreement, since they were on a winning streak. Ever since then Hezbollah has not been seen or heard from in Southern Lebanon! at long last the frail Lebanese Government has finally had a degree of sovereignty over all of its state and is finally monitoring and guarding its own borders.

Not too long ago, nearly all television and print media images coming out of southern Lebanon were that of armed Hezbollah fighters with their guns, outposts, and banners. Not anymore! Hezbollah is now hiding under rocks in Southern Lebanon, its military might having received a substantial blow. In addition, Hezbollah is no longer enjoying the freedom and luxury of easily transferring Syrian/Iranian weaponry across the Lebanese-Syrian border or via the Beirut seaport. Much of this due to the combined efforts of a stronger Lebanese army and U.N. forces keeping a lid on such transferals.

But even though the International Troops and the Lebanese Army keep Hezbollah in check, isn't there still Hezbollah presence in Southern Lebanon, EVEN THOUGH they are hiding "under rocks?" The same could be said for Al Qaeda presence in the United States, who are also hiding under rocks.

Hezbollah may portray themselves as fearsome "militants" but they are in fact cowards cowering behind Lebanese civilians. Yet, through mostly pin-point targeting, the IDF dealt a heavy blow to Hezbollah. Five to six hundred Hezbollah terrorists were killed and nearly all of their bases, headquarters and tactical infrastructure destroyed.

Some might say, "But didn’t Hezbollah manage to shoot over one hundred rockets into Israel every single day? AND why, during the war, didn't the Israel army/air-force ever manage to stop the Katyusha fire?" Well the answer to that would be "What's so impressive about groups of one or two rag heads pointing and setting off an unguided Katyusha southward into Israel?" In addition to the fact that Hezbollah only needed 1% of their military might in order to shoot Katyushas from their scattered fields and caves, into Israel every day.

Israel 'BADLY' miscalculated Hezbollah, those past 6 years since it withdrew from Lebanon. Why? Because in 2004, it was estimated that if Israel was to engage in war with Hezbollah, their Katyusha arsenal would result in 100 deaths per day on the Israeli side, but instead only 2 people per day were killed by those rockets. But during the war, Israel came to the realization that 99.9% of all those rocket attacks, mostly result in a lot of noise and broken windows. Prior to the war it was also estimated that if Israel launches a ground invasion, it would result in the deaths of over 70 soldiers per day, which would have left 2000 dead on the Israeli side at the end of the 34 day conflict. But only 120 soldiers were killed in total, which makes it 3-4 soldiers per day.

The reason 120 soldiers were killed in the first place, is because what would someone expect if an army deployed 30,000 soldiers squashed together in a small, tight, open space (South Lebanon)! It was amazing that after the war, those soldier didn't all suffer from cluster phobia. But even though Israel deployed so many soldiers in the open, Hezbollah didn't manage to deliver that harsh blow as was estimated before the ground invasion. But after all Hezbollah didn't find as courageous as the Egyptians during the Suez Canal invasion, nor as the Syrians during the war in the Golan heights.

During and after the war, Hezbollah regretted starting the war in the first place, by kidnapped the two Israeli soldiers. But Israel on the other hand, didn’t regret going to war with Hezbollah, not even 1%. In fact Israel was ready to go for round two, but Hezbollah, will not dare even consider thinking about it.

During the fighting, many people (both inside and outside Lebanon) finally saw Hezbollah as they really are... a terrorist group. It's strategy had little or no military value. The rockets they launched were intended to cause terror among Israel's citizenry. They were not aimed at Israel military targets.

Israel never managed to destroy Hezbollah. As much as the IDF might have wanted to, the wiping out of Hezbollah was not Israel's goal. Now could it ever be its goal. It is against the laws of physics to destroy a guerilla/terrorist group (America is learning it the hard way with Al Qaeda) since their operatives and members are always blending in and out of the civilian populations from which they so cowardly operate. In fact NEVER in history has a guerilla group ever been destroyed.

Additionally, rescuing the kidnapped IDF soldiers without a strong intelligence as to exactly where they were hidden, would have been a nearly impossible mission.. assuming they had not already been secreted out of Lebanon into Syria or Iran!

We constantly hear phrases such "Hezbollah emerged stronger," "Hezbollah is now stronger than ever," or "Hezbollah is now seen stronger than before!" There is some truth to that. Since before the Israeli withdrawal of 2000, Hezbollah was seen as more of a small arms, home made explosive, cut and run group, but during this conflict they were able to show off their Iranian made weapons. But they were no match for the Israeli army, whom they bowed down to at the end, by feeling too threatened to attack and provoke ever again.

When the United Nations wanted to impose a 48-hour ceasefire, it was Hezbollah which rushed to accept while Israel had to be pressured. Obviously this was because Israel had the military momentum in her favor. And when the month-long conflict ended, Hezbollah leader, Nasrallah, remained in an underground buffer, no longer enjoying frequent visits to central Beirut, giving daily "Hate Israel" speeches, driving down to his home town of southern Lebanon or enjoying first class flights to Damascus and Tehran. Nasrallah even admitted that had he known that even one percent of this war would have gone as it had, he would have NEVER kidnapped the soldiers and thus started the war!

In February 2007, there was a skirmish between Israeli troops and the Lebanese army on the Israel/Lebanon border, even though this skirmish that resulted in a shoot out and was unfortunate, the ray of light from all this, was that Israel was confronted and attacked by the Lebanese army and not by Hezbollah. This was one of the first signs that showed that the Lebanese army was doing its job. This was mostly due to the fact that Hezbollah lost its kingdom in Southern Lebanon, and is NOW in constant check by UNIFL, Lebanese Army, and International Troops. At least the Lebanese army was able to stand its ground and take control, unlike BEFORE the August 11 ceasefire! At least Israel finally got its wish, after 40 years, to FINALLY have the Lebanese army in control of the border. Since August 11, 2007 when the Lebanese army began its deployment in Southern Lebanon, not a single Katuysha, let alone a singe bullet was fired toward the Israeli side of the fence by Hezbollah. Unlike after the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, when Hezbollah would on average shoot Katyushas into Israel at least once every three months, but not anymore. No longer will the Israeli citizens of Northern Israel will ever live in fear once again!

People in the Lebanese Government now hate Hezbollah, for bringing destruction to Lebanon. All of Hezbollah's southern Beirut strong posts were destroyed by Israel. Even after the cease fire, Israel stayed in Lebanon for two more months in order to destroy all remaining Hezbollah outposts and bunkers while Hezbollah stood by and did nothing. During the conflict some of the Israel/Lebanon border fence was destroyed and torn down, and Israel was in no rush to fix it, since what's the point? Hezbollah will not want to mess with the IDF again! Even until today some of that fence has not been fixed yet, since the only threat of infiltration, now, is from drug dealers smuggling Hashish across that border.

But what about the Winograd Commission, "which is an independent Israeli government-appointed commission of inquiry, chaired by retired Israeli chief judge Eliyahu Winograd, which is set out to investigate and draw lessons from the failures experienced by Israel during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. Which resulted in a war panel, and even the resignation of high figures such as the Israeli chief of staff Dan Halutz." The reason THIS is currently taking place in Israel, is it goes to show that Israel is a democratic country! If a "Lebanese-Winograd Commission" would be done to Hezbollah; for launching an illogical irresponsible attack on Israel, by kidnapping the two soldiers which led to the war and the destruction of Lebanon. And if a Lebanese Winograd Commission would be done to the Lebanese government; for not controlling its southern border by allowing thuggish armed militias (Hezbollah) to roam free there, allowing illegal weapon shipments via the Lebanese seaport, air port, and Syrian Lebanese border to those armed "non-governmental" militias, and allowing Syria and Iran to meddle in its politics, then Lebanon would crumble to dust! But after all, Lebanon is not a Democracy.

After the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, Israel continued its 'daily' over flights over Lebanese territory. But before the August 2006 ceasefire, Israel was confronted by Hezbollah artillery rounds and shoulder fired missile at them during their over flights. But since the August ceasefire Israel up until today continues its daily over flights, and Hezbollah hasn't dared shot at them once, since now, the UN peace keepers and Lebanese Army are now in control.

After the war, Hezbollah saw that it could no longer push around and bully Israel, and are therefore now trying to bully the "weak" Lebanese government by; their mass demonstration, camping out in front of the Lebanese Parliament, and political assassinations.

Israel did loose the war this summer, but not in Lebanon, but instead in Gaza. After Gilad Shalit was kidnapped, Israel began a massive military campaign in Gaza, destroying infrastructure, entering towns and cities, going after terrorists, and also trying to stop the Qassam rocket fire. But instead, all it achieved was nothing, in fact the Palestinians saw even more of a weakness in Israel. After the Israeli military campaign in Lebanon, deterrence was at least achieved, BUT unlike in Gaza, after the massive military campaign took place there (Gaza), the Israeli deterrence was lost for good. In-fact it led to an increase in rocket fire into Israel. In addition to the fact that as soon as Israel stopped its military campaign, Hamas and other groups said, "They are now even more determined than ever to kidnap another Israeli Soldier." In April of 2007, they acted on their promise, under the cover of intense rocket fire on the Israel town of Sderot, Hamas terrorists again attempted to infiltrate Israel in order to abduct another soldier, but failed. At least they weren't afraid to try!

After the war some Arab Governments claimed Hezbollah achieved a divine victory! But hey, lets not forget, that some of those Arab governments which claimed Hezbollah won that "divine victory," are some of those "same" Arab governments who "STILL" until today claim that the Syria and Egypt won the 1967 War and the 1973 War!


People from around the world, before the August cease-fire, would have never believed nor imagined that the Lebanese army would EVER be in control of its southern border. Nor, people would have never believed Lebanon would EVER be able to establish control over "illegal" arms shipments across its Lebanese/Syrian border, sea ports, and airports, and, well, it finally is!

Hezbollah will most likely never dare kidnap IDF soldiers because they saw the might and strength of the Israeli army, and they now feel threatened. Sure, some Hezbollah sympathizers may throw rocks, wave Hezbollah flags or scream "Allah Akbar" at the Lebanese-Israeli border fence but Hezbollah rank and file are laying low. Very low! And Hezbollah is no longer the imminent threat at that very same border.

Since the 'moment' the two soldiers were kidnapped and even during the war, Israel knew, they would not succeed in getting them back, in addition to the fact that destroying a guerilla group is against the laws of physics! Once people will get those two facts into their heads, then THEY will realize that, the outcomes that was achieved as a result of this conflict, were the best "REALISTIC" outcomes that Israel could have achieved.

By, Gabriel al-Amin
Beirut, Lebanon