August 15, 2006 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - Despite brave speeches by Hezbollah's leadership, the presence of fireworks in Beirut - as if exploding 155mm howitzer projectiles, smart bombs and missiles wasn't enough over the last 30 or so days - and the tired hand puppet act of much of the nation's press, Nasrallah lost this battle, and he did so decisively.
Claims to the contrary, considering the depth of damage inflicted on the group, many more victories like this and the Hezbohs can be written off the world stage forever.
It is important to realize that this lull in the fighting...ceasefire...or whatever you might want to call it is only an interlude between the previous and the next state of belligerence. Regardless, this action accomplished many things...all of them positives for Israel except one - the obvious negative being that Israel was not successful in repatriating its two captured soldiers. The silver lining on that aspect is that now Jewish lefties will not be able to commingle their voices with Nasrallah in demanding the release of the infamous Hezbollah terrorist - and child killer - Samir Kuntar as part of a prisoner exchange.
Aside from that consideration, Hezbollah's ability to carry out further attacks has been degraded and that is really the bottom line.
To a great extent, the geo-politics of the issue overrides the legitimate but insular security concerns of Israel because Hezbollah, being totally subservient to Iran, poses a threat to more than its local neighbors and now it is less a danger.
The Iran/Hezbollah nexus has, and continues to be a source of concern to administration strategists looking forward to the time when Iran must finally be dealt with militarily. Consideration was obviously given to the mini-rampage of political assassinations - undertaken at the specific direction of Iran's mullah's - that befell France at the hands of Hezbollah in 1985 and 1986 as a possible future MO, and anything to degrade the group's reach outside of Lebanon has to be looked upon as a good thing.
Of course Iran's planners also see this only as a time to reload and rebuild, to them this is not a ceasefire but a hudna - the long employed Muslim military tactic of declaring peace while at the same time planning further aggression - but their capacity has been weakened.
Iran's purpose behind Hezbollah's attack was at least three fold...
One, anything which causes pain to Israel is a good thing, the supreme commandment in Iran's book of Jew hating. Two, to redirect world attention away from the nuclear chicken game Ahmadinejad is playing and three, to advance Shiite interests in Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain and in Saudi Arabia among the Usuli Shiites, who hail from the eastern part of the kingdom - al-Hasa, the oil-producing center of the country.
The media - and surpsingly many rightie pundits - have spun the perception, that Nasrallah and Hezbollah have won this conflict - albeit with smoke and mirrors, since much of their infrastructure is still smoldering from the pounding that was administered by the IDF - and from that have predicted increased stature for the organization across the board in the Middle East.
That conclusion is incorrect.
Truth is that Iran's moves have alarmed the more staid Arab nations and has hastened the crumbling dream of pan-Arabism. Thus Hezbollahs actions have reduced the group's reach and hampered its agenda.
Many of Hezbollah's supply lines have been cut, its resources depleted and its infrastructure decimated. It has been physically pushed north of the Litani river and will now have to contend with an amalgam of additional and outside forces [peacekeepers? - not on your life, but an impediment nonetheless operating under the rather low standards of the U.N. as well as 15,000 Lebanese soldiers.
Additionally the Bush administration stood in a steadfast manner with Israel in this conflict, mitigating the weasel influences of the Clintonistas over at the Dept. of State and defying 'world opinion' such as it is.
Both of these are excellent developments, as is the possibility of the Olmert/Kadima party falling to more hawklike forces who will prosecute the next battle in a more savage manner.
After-action assessments should allow Israel time to reconsider its poor grasp of media relations as well as hopefully killing its humanitarianism in dealing with civilians who harbor [uninentionally or with full knowledge and support, as was generally the case in Lebanon] terrorists.
The extraordinary degree to which Israel went in attempting to limit civilian casualties, even in populations which fully supported Hezbollah might well be no more - say goodbye - hopefully - to warning terror harborers via leafletting, Arab language radio broadcasts and even through courtesy telephone calls to private residences in harm's way.
To those that say Hezbollah had to be militarily defeated for this to be looked upon as a success let us look to history. Hezbollah replaced the PLO when the terrorist groups leader - Yasser Arafat - was defeated, forced out of Beirut in August of 1982 by an Israeli invasion mounted as a response to her ambassadors having been attacked in London by a faction of the group.
PLO defeated in Lebanon, Hezbolla takes over, did Israel prosper?
Hardly, so the estimation of win or loss turns on a more delicate calculation, which we believe in large part favors Israel, at this juncture. Therefore this event only looms as a defeat if one's gauge of such only accepts total defeat of Islamism in a single sortie, one in which the U.S. has played a very limited role - though not denying the cooperation that Israel got in this effort from the Pentagon as far a planning and most likely intelligence.
It's clear that this is by no means the final battle, but as these things go it could have turned out much worse and therefore the event has to be seen as a net plus.
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