Lebanon/Israel Ceasefire: Day 2

Amen to Captain Ed today. He wrote very eloquently what I’ve been thinking after reading opinion after opinion and story after story. Each item focuses on who won between Israel and Hezbollah. Um – no one. This is a ceasefire with conditions. That’s it. Yes the UN is a screwed up scam of an institution but yes also this world is changing as we look at it. There is no need to expect the exact same things to happen this time as all the other times.
Let Nasrallah crow. Big deal.
People are going on about how important it is that Israel defeat Hezbollah completely. Um – that would be for our easy benefit. Israel didn’t defeat them completely in the past, what makes them “losers” this round? The LATimes has decided that Hezbollah is now stronger. They’ve made a turn around after being in the rubble. They are now fully supported by citizens of Lebanon. Well – lets use our imagination just a bit and imagine being a Lebonese citizen. Just a regular 30something age person who had been enjoying the new Lebanese atmosphere of fun. You come back home only to find bridges etc taken out by Israel. You immediately blame Israel and tell the reporters exactly that, but then what happens? This is the attitude of Hezbollah to the citizens in Lebanon:

“There is no army that can disarm Hezbollah. These 14 of March idiots can’t do it,” Moussawi said, referring to the bloc of Lebanese politicians who led the charge that ended Syrian dominance here last year and who then turned their attention to Hezbollah’s weapons.

That’s going to go over real well in reality, don’t you think?
So back to Captain Ed. He, like me, is not all that hopeful that the ceasefire will hold, but you might as well have some hope, eh? We’re not the ones doing the fighting here. Israel is. They’ve agreed to this arrangement. The whole Knesset, not just Ohmert. Hezbollah fired rockets yesterday from north of the Litani and hit – you guessed it – Lebanon.

Lastly, let’s get a little perspective on the supposed Hezbollah victory. Many yesterday continued to bemoan the cease fire, arguing that it gave Hezbollah enhanced prestige in the Arab community. Unfortunately, any war that didn’t involve Syria would have delivered that result, because Hezbollah would survive any kind of frontal attack, no matter how prolonged, as long as the Assad regime survives in Damascus. Wars are not won or lost on prestige, or the Arab street, or the creation of martyrs and heroes. Wars are won when one side either captures territory or changes the threat level in a significant manner.

The critucs operate from a narrow context, believing that Israel has made itself vulnerable because it did not crush its enemies beneath its tank treads. However, that has rarely been the case in Israel’s wars, as evidenced by the fact that the Assad regime remains in Damascus, the Hashemites still rule Jordan, Sadat remained in power in Egypt after all the wars — until he actually made peace with Israel, when he was assassinated by his own people. Israel is still surrounded by its enemies, and they remain armed. No one would make the case that Israel therefore has lost every war it fought.

In this war, they pushed Hezbollah out of the sub-Litani, forced them to fire off a third of their missile and rocket inventory, and destroyed a number of their launchers. This all took place over two kidnapped soldiers, and Hezbollah didn’t even get the prisoner swap they wanted. After six years of relative non-action to Hezbollah provocations, Olmert changed the dynamic by launching a massive war after a relatively routine terrorist action by Hezbollah. Israel also forced Lebanon to finally address the conundrum of sovereignty and drove a wedge between Hezbollah and the rest of Lebanon’s institutions. Does anyone think that Fuad Siniora would even have discussed disarming Hezbollah before this war? They had a year after UNSCR 1559 and completely shrugged it off.

The goals for Israel have always been a Hezbollah-free sub-Litani without having to conduct another generational occupation. They got the agreement they wanted that delivers on these goals, and at the same time served notice that the era of non-response to provocations had passed. The key for Israel is to insist on full implementation of 1701 and 1559. They cannot budge on these points. If Lebanon reneges, Israel can go back to their military options until the Lebanese get the message for good.