Like I (and Others) Said, Hezbullah Lost

I posted this in August when the cease-fire began to take effect (in agreement with this excellent Tigerhawk post.) There was initially a flurry of depression from the right that Israel had lost in the world's eyes, even if it had strategically and tactically decimated Hezbullah's capabilities in Lebanon. I also caught some flak at the Jawa Report for advancing this notion.

Well, the smoke has had time to clear, and Hezbullah is now being percieved by many Arabs as the real loser.

Don't get me wrong. I deep down wish Israel was able to completey take off the gloves and pound those militant Iranian/Syrian-supported savages into the desert sands once and for all, as well as send a cruise missle or 700 into Assad's house and Akhmadinnerplate's offices. This desire for total WWII-style domination, however, shouldn't have distracted from the real physical damage Israel had done to Hezbullah's capabilities and resources in the Litani region (and the lack of real physical damage Hezbullah had done to Israeli infastructure or capability).

Propaganda is wonderful, but as we saw in Reutersgate, much of the 'victory for Hezbullah' was media-fueled smoke and mirrors from start to end. And the winds of time more often than not will blow the smoke away.

ht: Captain's Quarters
Cross-posted at Mein BlogoVault.

Posted by: Good Lt. at 09:40 AM


1 Yes, we know Israel won. But they did not win the war of images, and images count. Fresh cadres of terrorists are recruited using imagery-- imagery of Israeli civilians in flight from Arab rockets. Now Israel will have to fight at least one more generation of Arabs before this conflict is over. In that regard this was a loss.

Posted by: Jesusland Carlos at September 14, 2006 11:57 AM

2 Again with the confusion (conflation?) of tactics and strategy.

The Israeli strategic objectives were:
1) The return of their soldiers (without the necessity of freeing lebanese terrorists.)
2) The destruction of Hezbollah as a political force in Lebanon, either through material attrition in the war phase or through a multinational/lebanese force capable of and willing to complete that disarmament.
3) Increased freedom of maneuver in the coming Iran showdown.

These were their strategic goals, and they failed to achieve them. Instead, they have to bargain for their soldiers, as well as tolerate Hezbollah's continued, emboldened existence, which is in turn now shielded by useless UN human shields. (Who have already stated repeatedly that they intend to do nothing except serve as a tripwire on the border.)

They failed to achieve their strategic goals, hence, they lost the war.

Yes, they achieved great tactical success against tactical targets such as men, weapons, bridges, and even tactical-strategic ones like bridges, c3I, etc. Yes, they won the battles, but they lost the war.

Posted by: jdubious at September 14, 2006 12:42 PM

3 Let us not forget, either, the special role played in this by Jorge Arbusto and the criminal rice.

All they had to do was NOTHING.
So tack that up on the list of Israeli slaps in the face:
Being abandoned by your only ally.

Posted by: jdubious at September 14, 2006 12:46 PM

4 "Yes, they achieved great tactical success against tactical targets such as men, weapons, bridges, and even tactical-strategic ones like bridges, c3I, etc. Yes, they won the battles, but they lost the war."

That's not what the JPost article says, nor is it what an increasing "Arab street" is thinking. Israel is still a thriving, functioning democracy. Lebanon (and Hez.) were heavily damaged with the responsibility falling on Hez.'s shoulders for initiating the conflict, their capability to inflict harm severely reduced and life goes on in Israel. Not so in Hez. controlled Litani and Beiruit (and other places in Lebanon.)

I take it you didn't read the article, because it sort of contradicts a lot of what you just wrote there.

Posted by: Good Lt at September 14, 2006 02:29 PM

5 I beg to differ. I did read the articlem, first of all. And I don't necessarily disagree with all of it.
But I'm not sure the article contradicts my assertions: 1)No soldiers 2)Un acting as human shields for a hezbollah which can now rearm with impunity.

I quote from the article :"These forces will not disarm Hizbullah, which will no doubt make every effort to rearm and replenish its depleted stocks. All the same, they do serve the purpose of reasserting the sovereignty of the Lebanese state in all of its territory."

The first and the second statements are incompatible, insofar as one's sovreignty is determined in part by one's ability to disarm, say, armies of violent lunatics operating in your country. Of course the article contradicts me. It contradicts itself.

"Fortified positions, bunkers and stores in close proximity to the border with Israel have been demolished, and it is highly unlikely that Israel will allow their reconstruction under any circumstances."

What, precisely, will the Israelis do to prevent it, with the UN force in place?

"Whether the achievements of the war prove lasting or not is another question. Can the Lebanese led by Fuad Seniora's government [including Hezbollah, which informed some of its ministers,] build on the new political realities that the war has created?"

That last statement is a pretty big assumption - predicating these new realities on the basis of opinion polls, expert opinions, and "feelings on the street."

We'll see. The israelis fought bravely and well, given the limitations of their leadership. But given the black-and-white failure to achieve the decisive neutralization of hezbollah, the presence of the UN human shields, and the failure to achieve the state goal, i.e., the forcible return of the kidnapped soldiers, the fuzzy assurances the Jpost provides to me sound, honestly, like pure spin.

I wish it weren't like that, I really do. But that's how it sounds.

Posted by: jdubious at September 14, 2006 03:00 PM

6 Fair enough.

It is spin - just the opposite direction from which you are spinning. It doesn't mean that the article is wrong - just a different take, which happens to be my take. To each his own, I guess.

I don't deny that two of the stated strategic objectives going in weren't accomplished as stated, but that doesn't mean that strategies can't change or adapt, or that they can't expand over time. I wish the soldiers were returned, but I felt that was highly unlikely going in (IMHO). If they are still alive (and I pray they are), that would be somewhat of a surprise to me and a positive development. The last I heard, Is. and Leb. are negotiating a one-for-one swap or something to that effect. I dunno for sure, but I think it was naieve and set the bar a little high to expect bloodlust-filled Hezbos to surrender their 'prizes' just because Israel met them with overpowering military force. Normal states/Westernized states might do such a thing, but suicidal entities like Hez.? Less likely.

I just read something at Winds of Change in which the IDf is increasing its budget for FY 2007 and is working on increasing accountability protocol (as well as trying to chase out the weak political leadership).

So in that sense, I agree that we'll see, since the war between Israel and Hez. isn't really over. You know how many ME conflicts are - low intensity, guerilla and terrorist operations, long and drawn out, etc.

Western armies are in the process of adapting to this kind of warfare - it doesn't necessarily mean that they are "losing" by merely engaging the opponents with a traditional show of strong force while failing to find a needle in a haystack.

So again, we'll see - not a total loss, not really a decisive victory (despite what I asserted in the title and again in the post). And hopefully, Is. can increase its effectiveness in the future with a new government.

Posted by: Good Lt at September 14, 2006 03:15 PM

7 I was one of the "doom and gloom'ers" the other month, for good reason.
I worked this particular issue, up close and personal like, for a number of years, as a Middle East/Levant/North African Analyst, in the EUCOM/NAVEUR theater.
In addition, I have over 30+years in dealing with the Middle East and Arabic speaking peoples in genral.
Color me somewhat skeptical on this report, based upon my experiences with Arabs/Muslims in general.
They've been claiming "victimhood" status since the Reconquista in 1492, and they've had their collective asses kicked so many times, that they now have a type of "racial psychosis", reinforced by the victimhood "Insha'allah" elements within Isalm itself!
You can see it in everthing they say, and do; every setback, every defeat, is an immediate Conspiracy Theory, the fault of the Americans and/or the Zionist Jews, and then quickly descends into a type of fatalistic acceptance as "Allah's Will", typified by the "Ma'alesh, Bokra, Insha' Allah" (Never mind, tomorrow, God Willing!!).
So, just like Saddam determined that he was the WINNER of the Gulf War, the Egyptians determined that they were the winners of the '73 War, etc., there is no doubt, that despite the fact that the Israelis may have Militararily won the War (thought not at all in as easy or overwhelmming manner as they expected, I expected, and the Arabs expected), the Arabs/Muslims can, and do snatch "Victory" from the jaws of any Defeat!
Now, IF this report is to be believed, and as I said, I'm skeptical, but for now, without any personal evidence that it is not, I'll accept it at face value, it is really, a milestone, for Arabs/Muslims to think like this, and may just in fact be, a tremendous turning point for the region. A refershing gust of reality blowing thru the Middle East? Almost hard to believe.
That said, before I hop on the feel good bandwagon, I would read this post by Doug Farah; definitely, someone didn't get the message that Hezbollah "lost", and here, the internicine inter-Islamic feuds come into play, with Al Qaeda now, unwilling to cede any ground to the Shias/Hezbollah as having "won" a victory against the Zionists, so now Al Qaeda has to compete:
So, there are some out there, who at least still think the Islamists won, even though maybe in Lebanon, a stunning does of reality may have set in!

Posted by: Dale in Atlanta at September 14, 2006 03:30 PM

8 My gut says you're right, and my head says lets keep some of these postive developments in mind and hope so!

Posted by: Good Lt at September 14, 2006 03:43 PM

9 uh, you support this administration, huh, don't you?

Huh, hmmm, uh, er, Yep.

Posted by: Jesusland Carlos at September 15, 2006 08:22 AM

Processing 0.0, elapsed 0.0061 seconds.
15 queries taking 0.0043 seconds, 17 records returned.
Page size 17 kb.
Powered by Minx 0.7 alpha.