Thursday, July 27, 2006

posted by Elon

The limits of power

We are deep in shit.

When this whole sorry business started, I was giving the Israeli government the benefit of the doubt. I did not know what I would have done in their place. The only thing I knew is that we must be very careful not to find ourselves in a land war in Lebanon. And I thought they understand that too.

Then, with every day, it turned out that they simply have not learned the basic historic lesson regarding the limits of power. Israel cannot destroy the Hizbullah. I wish it could, but it can't. Not by military means. Not alone. It cannot destroy all the rockets from the air - there too many of them, we don't know where they are and most are probably hidden underground safe from bombings. So, since they cannot destroy it from the air, they are now opting for ground forces. But we've been there before. Hizbullah has no chance stopping Israel from conquering any part of Lebanon it chooses. But it can effectively wage a guerilla war that will make us bleed until we decide to withdraw. The only question is whether this will take us two decades as it did last time.

This is all a result of the stupid, arrogant definition of the goals of the war. There were three realistic goals achievable via military operation right after the first Hizbullah attacks: physically reducing Hizbullah's military power, disproving Nasserallah's "spider web" theory about the strengths of Israel, and signaling the rest of the Lebanese population and political forces that they are expected to restrain Hizbullah to the best of their power. The first two goals would have been achieved by a massive, short, bombardment of whatever Hizbullah military targets the Israeli air force has had intel about. The third goal would have been achieved by a symbolic bombardment of, say, the Beirut airport.

But the generals of the Israeli military seem to not understand this. And the politicians are just accepting whatever the generals suggest. So they have set an unrealistic goal to the war - to destroy Hizbullah. And the asymmetry of the situation is not only in the massive difference in powers, it is also in what would be considered a victory - Hizbullah only has to survive with some military capability in order to claim victory. Which means that Israel is going to loose this war.

Now, I don't care about winning or losing. I just think that if Hizbullah is perceived as a winner, it will gain power, which is far from the interests of both the Israeli public and the Lebanese public.

Perhaps, somehow diplomacy can minimize damages to both Israel and Lebanon. Perhaps an effective international force could be deployed in southern Lebanon, and perhaps this could restrain Hizbullah and provide Israel with some years of quite and Lebanon with a chance to resurrect itself, again.

May peace come quickly.

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