Cheat-Seeking Missles

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Israel, Victorious

The other CSM carries a column today by Nadav Morag, PoliSci Dept. chair at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, that helps clarify the confusing aftermath of the Israel/Hezbollah war. He concludes:
On balance, despite its somewhat lackadaisical performance, Israel achieved the bulk of its goals while Hizbullah can point to few accomplishments. The degree to which one side is able to achieve long-standing goals should therefore be the ultimate barometer as to the outcome of the Israeli-Hezbullah war. The media may have been seduced by footage of physical destruction, statistics of war dead, declarations of defiance by Nasrallah, as well as spats among the political and military leaders in Israel, but these are not the true measure of victory.
Morag argues that in a guerilla war, the measure of success can be found by looking at whether initial objectives were achieved.

Hezbollah's objectives were not. It kidnapped two Israeli soldiers with the intent of fostering a prisoner exchange and gaining stature for itself and its patron states, Iran and Syria.

No prisoners were released; in fact, its forces were greatly diminished by falling rubble and exploding shells in Lebanon. As for its stature in the Arab world, despite the cock-strutting, here too Hassan Nazralla failed. In the coming months, as the dreary destruction of their homes and businesses hits home, Lebanese hatred of the cause of that destruction, one Hassan Nasrallah, will grow. And, Morag points out:
Despite being cheered by many in the Arab world for its willingness to confront Israel and its ability to make life miserable for civilians in northern Israel, Hizbullah's actions have only created greater fear among Arab leaders of Iranian attempts to create a "Shiite Arc" stretching through Iraq and ending on the Lebanese shores of the Mediterranean.
And Israel? How did it fare? Against what measure? Since the guerilla wars began, it has not had a clear victory; that's elluded them since their triumph in the 1967 war (in which my classmate Zvi Ionis died). Israel certainly didn't achieve an overwhelming military victory, and just as certainly, it failed in its initial objective of bringing Hezbollah to its knees. But:
Nevertheless, Israel had a clear interest in removing Hizbullah's presence from its border and most of southern Lebanon. Israel wanted to deprive Hizbullah of its capacity to wreak havoc on Israel by depriving it of its more powerful medium-range rocket arsenal. Israel wanted to weaken Hizbullah's political standing in Lebanon by turning Lebanese public opinion against Mr. Nasrallah's organization. Finally, Israel wanted to delegitimize Hizbullah in the region and beyond by emphasizing its ties with Iran.
Israel is clearly more secure today than it was two months ago, which is a victory, and the world certainly understands Iran's geopolitical role more clearly now. As for Nasrallah's reputation, as I stated earlier, I don't think it will fare well over time.

Despite a ceasefire many think came too soon (I don't; I think Israel can benefit much more from time to regroup than Hezbollah), despite a performance that revealed an incapable government (think President John Kerry), Israel can still chalk this one up as a victory.

But the next war's coming, and Israel had best get its military and government house in order.

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