The Hashmonean has a four part series on the Second Lebanon War. The first part covers essential history with links that cover the issues in more detail. Also included is a week by week summary of the fighting with maps. For those of you at least somewhat conversant with recent (last 30 to 40 years) Lebanese history, here is the key point from part one.
The threat from Hezbollah an Iranian proxy is derived mainly from their missile & rocket arsenal, and recently by the extensive bunker and strategic installations built / situated on the Lebanese Israel border. To understand who won, these factors are the critical ones.The answer to that is that the Israeli people withstood 34 days of rocket barrages and they were ready for thirty four days more. Morale was excellent. The army was still full of fight.
People are talking of perceptions and what have you, I'll address that in another post following, perception is not reality. The rockets mentioned supplied by Iran mostly, and shipped through Syria have been ramping with Hezbollah for over a decade now. This arsenal was not secret, it was in fact a key portion of Iran's strategic depth in the region, a deterrence weapon holding Israel back, not even necessarily through lethality per say, but on the grounds that any actions Israel might take could result in thousands & thousands of rockets launching at Israel's population centers in the North. The fear in Israel of the unknown result of this rocket barrage was the deterrence that Iran enjoyed.
Seven thousand sorties of aircraft, 3,500 loads of ordinance dropped. Real military powers have air forces. Every body else in this world are just wannabes.
So that is part one. In part two he discusses the win loss column and comes up with, no matter how badly beaten, Arabs never lose. Then he discusses reality.
How does one measure victory in War? Is it total surrender, or perhaps one measures it in who paid the greatest cost, is it measured in territory or KMs conquered? Perhaps the diplomacy itself after the fighting has entirely ceased determines the victor.. Maybe it involves all of the above, or none but clearly such questions are complex. He says a lot of really good stuff that is meaty and clear and worth a read and then comes to the heart of the matter.
Hezbollah is a proxy for Iran, as such it had only one main objective here, to divert attention from Iran & the growing pressure that country is facing. As posted in Part I, that effort to sideline the G8 spiraled well out of control, well beyond Iran's goals and negatively at that. (please note when I say Iran, Iran, Iran, I mean the theocracy, not nec. all the Iranians.. but plenty of them)Then he covers a lot of stuff you need for really deep understandin and comes up with this gem.
Iran in fact was calling for CEASE FIRE! within one week of the conflict exploding. Everyone is so fixated on the fact that Hezbollah was not annihilated it seems many are overlooking what this conflict is really about, and that is Iran employing its proxy in Lebanon.Then he explains the Arab street and its importance. After that he gets to:
It gets worse for Hezbollah itself.. Lebanon sustained massive damage, Hezbollah sustained massive damage, Hezbollah's standing is being portrayed by many as elevated, perhaps within the uneducated simpletons that make up the Muslim world (and for whom fireworks means victory) this sort of absurdity flies high. Perhaps also in the media (which detests Israel with such a passion it can hardly be believed) this is a convenient image to portray as well.
Hezbollah has brought ruin & disaster to Lebanon & the Lebanese people. Those same people are now absorbing the fact that their weakness in the face of this terrorist entity was a massive failure, it nearly (and may yet) cost them their freedom, freedom that itself came in the form of booting out Syria (another Hezbollah patron) after decades of occupation, freedom which cost Lebanon literally hundreds of thousands of lives in their wars this past 30 years. They want modernity, prosperity.. But Hezbollah has brought them PURE disaster. Semi free people often cannot easily speak truth, just as the whole Soviet block desired the same freedom, and we never heard it until the wall came down. The evident hatred for communism and similar oppression was so massive - it brought down one of the World's superpowers, and all the client states surrounding it. We need to wake up a little bit I think..Fortunately thee are some who are expressing their aspirations, the number of Lebanese bloggers astounds me.
There are even a number of Syrian blogs, Fares is a favorite. He and I have been having regular discussions. Here is our latest. For me the most interesting part of this war was that you could hold open conversations across borders. People got discusted with each other, flamed each other but kept talking.
When people get to talking it threatens the totolitarians. And the Iranians know it. Seductive images from the west have been banned but not eliminated. Being a totolitarian requires a lot of vigilance.
Now here comes an important part. Thugs cannot survive without enugh bodies. A given size gang can control only a certain amount of territory. Too much territory per thug and their authority breaks down.
Hezbollah has indeed been weakened militarily in a massive blow, over 500-600 out of approx 2000 core fighters killed. Out of the so called 1000 civilians claimed by Lebanon you can rest assured half if not MORE were Hezbollah fighters as well. Does one believe that in all those strikes near Baalbek, in Tyre, in the Hezbollah HQ in South Beirut, on the Syrian border etc etc - everyone killed was a civilian!?The Hashmonean lives with this culture as neighbors. The Emperor is naked. Capishe?
Are we to be taken for morons? Who was manning these facilities, weapons depots, launching sites, ghosts!? Frankly, just because Emile Lahoud says something, does not make it so. In the Arab World, illusionary massacres & victories are the order of the day. Everything is massacre, the very existence of Israel is called a massacre, a NAKBA (disaster) for the Arab World. It's all BS, and buying into this narrative is not only a mistake, it's downright criminal a travesty of truth.
Then after more interesting facts and conclusions about Lebanon he goes into Israel.
There is a disconnect going round in regards to Israel too in my opinion. Many, myself included would have liked to have seen a full on onslaught. If you read Part I you know this never happened, and in reality it was not in the cards for the current Israeli leadership in power.The Hashmonean is a war monger. A man after my own black heart. Fifteen dead men on a dead man's chest. You don't win wars without some blackness in your heart.Grim: Killing Children. The real question is "is the blackheartedness a permanent condition?" America has a pretty good record. We have screwed up some countries and helped a lot of others to get self government over time. South Korea being a prime example.
Whether this was good strategy or bad strategy is a topic for the next post (Part III), but it does not change certain realities that are now very clear, the fact that the objectives for Israel were not MEANT to be met militarily alone. The use of force was employed to enhance the main thrust which was diplomatic from day one. The goal of retrieving the soldiers would not have been met by military means, and no one in Israel was under different illusions. We must see the return of these soldiers, the passing of a resolution with some positive and many negatives not mandating this was a partial defeat that is certain. But what is equally certain is that Hezbollah by diplomatic means was not to be disarmed this week either, who propagated this myth? It's removed from reality totally, as soon as the cease fire went into effect this massive misconception floated out.
The resolution was bad, the dependency on UNIFIL worse, but this does not mean Israel has lost the war by any stretch. There must be some time to absorb, and to allow processes to hopefully progress. I am a warmonger, and even I realize the unfortunate reality of this. Such is how the deck was dealt, it appears this was the goal from the get go in fact. To parlay this into a victory for the enemy shows a phenomenal lack of comprehension of what has really gone on.
Then Hashmonean then asks is disarming Hezbollah going to happen?
The choice was clearly made right or wrong by the Israeli politicians to effectuate this through the Lebanese themselves. Will it work, it is far TOO EARLY to pass judgment. In the mean time Hezbollah says no, but we have seen Hezbollah clearly saying MANY MANY things, how many of them have turned out to be truthful? The Diplomacy was not as strong as it should have been; the stand by the West was watered (so what's new? We have the Europeans and their dreamers to contend with.) Perhaps implementation will come, perhaps partially, perhaps not at all. But the Lebanese army IS rolling for the first time in 30 years.. Hezbollah will not be re-armed so quickly, and process with all its failures or achievements is underway. Is it flawed? Surely it is, would have it been better for Israel to assault fully? Surely it may have been, but is the planet breaking up? No, it isn't. Did Hezbollah just walk away victorious? Not even in Nasrallah's own wet dreams..The Lebanese Army no matter how weak and infiltrated in his own back yard.
After elaborating on the Israel case the Hashmonean then discusses Iran.
Iran has very little going for it as far as nations go. It is a marginalized country in the West, Persian in a sea of Arab nations, power hungry yet impotent to exert that power.. Do we think Iran wants nukes because it is powerful? Quite the opposite. Does Iran emerge as the foremost supporter of terror because its ideology and might is great and winning? Quite the opposite. Iran's biggest strategic arm is Hezbollah, and the thousands upon thousands of rockets Hezbollah maintained. This sea of rockets was a major deterrent, I say was because those days are now gone.By taking all the punishment Hizbollah could deliver for 34 days and not flinching the Israels have eliminated the fear factor from the next war.
Strikes against Iran have always been tempered in some way by this sea of rockets, the fear being mass retaliation on Israel and the obvious unknown this would entail.. It seems many have simply blindly overlooked this fact which is at the heart of this conflict. Iran is yelling victory, but the reality is a loss of such monumental proportions it DRASTICALLY alters the balance of power in the region.
Even WMDs other than nuclear are not scary. They were expected but not experienced in '91. I'd hate to be the first muslim country to use a nuke on Israel, which is the only step up from fears already surmounted.
Well any way. Go read the whole thing. There is a lot to digest. Parts III an IV yet to come.
You might also like some stuff I've done along parallel lines if you haven't read it already.
Why Did Hizbollah Surrender?
Cash Flow Jihad Meets Aftermath
You Say You Want a Revolution?
The politicians in Israel are now caught up in such a war fever that not even the Shia in their wildest frenzy can produce. The Israelis want revenge, badly. They want a remach as soon as it can be arranged. Syia too. Iran is welcome to join in. Hell, encouraged. This is no time to be trifling with the Israelis. They have figured out that they will never be loved except by themselves and at this time a lot of the American people. I think they will decide that is enough. While throwing out the current crop of socialist incompetents that is, so policy can be brought in line with the will of the people. Pissed democracies are wilful, focused, and fearful. Israel has just had its most recent December 7th. Not an exact parallel except for the idea that it has welded a fractious nation. Now they are out for revenge.
Heaven have mercy on Hizbollah because the Israelis won't.
Update: 20 Aug '06 2042z
Commenter Mark brings up this very important point:
If the Hashmonean is right, and I think he is, then Iran's 'military exercises' this weekend may be less offensive and more defensive in nature. If they understand they've lost the Hezballah-gambit, they may now fear we will follow through by invading them. If so, that tells me they are much more vulernable than even we hawks thought.To which I responded [revised and extended]:
And, I'm not expert on the Iranian military, but I wonder if sending so many troops to the border regions might not leave them more vulnerable in their cities to a citizen uprising.
You are exactly correct. This is defensive. They expect an attack in 5 weeks or less.
The troops that will be sent to the border will be less reliable troops that in the past would not use violence on their own citizens. Back up and intermingled with the Republican Guard and the "religious" minders.
The cities will be guarded by Basji which I believe are special police made up of out of country Arabs. What a job. I have heard rumors of a significant Palestinian component in this force. Just another chance to make temselves unpopular.
The Basji is no longer going to have the Republican guard units in as great a number for back-up as before the manuvers started. Some of the Republican guard is needed to watch the army. So far the mullahs have had enough power to put down rebellions in several cities at once. This may no longer be the case.
Army forces that need to be stiffened by minders and backe by more reliable troops are severely lacking in manuverability and military strength. The will to resist.
Part of the force may be just itching for the chance to surrender to the Americans, who are coming.