Blogging the War: Battle with Hezbollah a “War Game” for U.S.?

by Brian on July 31, 2006

in In the News,Living Through Terror,War with Hezbollah

This article was posted on on Sunday, July 30, 2006. The link is here.Does the war in the north serve U.S. strategic goals?


Why is the U.S. giving
Israel so much leeway in its war against Hezbollah? Why hasn’t
Condoleezza Rice been pressing for a ceasefire sooner than today’s
call, which only followed the Israel Defense Forces strike on the
Lebanese town of Qana that killed 55? And why has the Bush
administration so far blocked every U.N. attempt at condemning Israel
for its “disproportionate response?”Is it simply because this
time – unlike during previous Israeli operations against terrorists
threatening its home front – America “gets” it? Or is it that
Washington’s and Israel’s interests in dealing a mortal blow to
Hezbollah are finally in line?

I think both those points are
true, but there’s something more going on here. Since 9/11, Israel has
valiantly pressed the case that its fight against terror and the global
war on jihad are one and the same. That message may finally be getting

The U.S. is watching Israel’s war with Hezbollah
under an intense magnifying glass, but it is relating to it less as a
regional struggle and more as a real-life “war game” with true
geopolitical implications.

In the book “Blink,” researcher
Malcolm Gladwell relates a detailed accounting of how the U.S. in 2002
conducted a $250 million Persian Gulf war game, two and a half years in
the planning, before actually going into Iraq. The same thing is
happening now, except the game has taken six years to plan, will cost
the Israeli economy even more, and is anything but virtual: the
casualties on both sides are very real.

Center Stage

is a dress rehearsal for the main event: the U.S. vs. Iran. There’s
little to distinguish Hezbollah from Iran other than the smaller
playing field on which it’s conducting its attacks against the Western
mini-power of Israel. Nor is Hezbollah’s arsenal dissimilar from
Iran’s; indeed, most of the now 1,600 missiles that Hezbollah has fired
into northern Israel came from Iran by way of Syria.

receives its marching orders from Iran; the raison d’etre behind the
timing of Hezbollah’s attack on the Israeli army convoy and subsequent
kidnapping of two soldiers that started this whole conflict 19 days ago
was in no small part to distract world leaders at the G-8 Summit from
censoring Iran over its nuclear ambitions.

So it is of great
interest to the U.S. to see which weapons Hezbollah (read: Iran) will
use against Israel (read: the U.S.), what explosives payload they will
be carrying, and how effective they are. The U.S. is also watching
closely to see how quickly the Israeli army can respond and take out
the threat, and how Israel synchronizes its air strikes and ground

Ha’aretz’s Avraham Tal put it succinctly last week
when he described how much of a proxy Hezbollah is for its Iranian
handlers. “Contrary to what the critics are arguing, the IDF is not
fighting a small guerrilla organization,” Tal wrote. “It is dealing
with a trained, skilled, well-organized, highly motivated infantry that
is equipped with the cream of the crop of modern weaponry from the
arsenals of Syria, Iran, Russia and China.”

There is also the
question of strategy. If Hezbollah acts like Iran (whether under direct
orders or not), it is critical to note the timing and order of missile
attacks: Are they fired one at a time against different targets or does
Hezbollah prefer a barrage against a single target all at once? At what
point will Hezbollah pull out the long-range missiles, like the ones
that hit Afula on Friday and that were rumored to be aimed at Netanya
or Hadera but that “missed?” Does Hezbollah have the gumption – and
ability – to make good on its threat to target Tel Aviv?

then there’s the issue of Jerusalem. Will Hezbollah necessarily spare
Israel’s capital because of its concentration of Muslim holy sites and
heavy Arab population?

After all, it hasn’t stopped Hezbollah
from hitting Haifa and the Galilee, both of which have high Arab
populations and have seen a large number of Arab casualties. Maybe
Hezbollah just doesn’t care. A martyr is a martyr no matter where the
shell fell from.

Stage Set?

All of this, it can be
assumed, will be repeated in some form if and when the “mother of all
battles” is conducted between Iran and the West. As a result, the U.S.
has little incentive to end the battle early. The more data this “war
game” can yield, the better prepared the U.S. will be when and if what
would surely be called World War III breaks out.

A cynical
analysis? Unquestionably. But I’m not the only one talking like this.
In an interview with the right-wing WorldNetDaily last week, Lebanon’s
Druze leader Walid Jumblatt charged that Tehran is using Hezbollah’s
confrontation with the Jewish state to test the abilities of Iranian
weapons and to observe Israeli military capabilities.

Iranians are actually experimenting with different kinds of missiles in
Lebanon by shooting them at the Israelis. Iran is using this violence
to test certain of (Israel’s) abilities,” Jumblatt said.

Jerusalem Post’s Herb Keinon writing over the weekend spun the
situation more in terms of U.S. interests in Iraq, writing that,
“Washington is watching to see how Israel does. The US wants to see
Hezbollah weakened badly; it wants to see Damascus weakened badly; it
wants to see Iran suffer the loss of a key proxy. This is in their
interest. This will help their own efforts in Iraq. A democratic
Lebanon, something impossible with a strong Hezbollah and Syrian
meddling, will enhance the American status in the region, a status that
is declining with each passing Iraqi day.”

Ha’aretz analyst
Ze’ev Sternhell was more blunt. “Sometimes, it seems as if U.S.
President George W. Bush wants Israel both to destroy Lebanon and to
sustain painful losses,” he wrote last week. “That way, Israel provides
him with an excellent alibi for the war in Iraq: The fight against
terror is global, the blood price is the same, the methods of operation
and the means are identical, and the time needed for victory is long.
The Israeli vassal is serving its master no less than the master is
providing for its needs.”

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah came
to essentially the same conclusion as Sternhell. In Nasrallah’s eyes,
Israel has already lost and it is its U.S. patron that is a true
warmonger. “The Israelis are ready to halt the aggression because they
are afraid of the unknown,” he declared. “The one pushing for the
continuation of the aggression is the U.S. administration. Israel has
been exposed as a slave of the U.S.”

Regardless of whether
Israel is being given such extraordinary latitude due to “America’s
determination to smash Iran’s strength and positions of influence
around the Middle East and the Persian Gulf,” as another commentator
put it, the support Israel is receiving also plays into its own

For Israel – as I have written before – this is
nothing short of an existential battle that will determine the
viability of Jewish settlement in the north of Israel, if not the
entire state. Israel has no alternative to win and the time to fight is
now. If that happens to serve U.S. interests, who’s complaining?

did Hezbollah invest so much time and energy in creating a network of
rockets and missiles that is the densest in the world (at least in
terms of weaponry per square kilometer)?” asked Ha’aretz’s Tal last
week. He posits a chilling explanation: “This is the basic phase that
will prepare the stage for an offensive attack on Israel, supported by
Iran, that is intended to liquidate the Jewish state.”

And if
the war hadn’t started now? “Eventually, Hezbollah (installed as
Lebanon’s formal regime), in collaboration with Iran, would have
launched a war of annihilation against Israel. Should the confrontation
with Hezbollah have been delayed until Iran had already acquired
nuclear weapons?”

Major-General Ya’akov Amidror, former head of
the IDF Intelligence Assessment Division, put it another way. Defeating
Hezbollah will cost Iran “a key strategic deterrent weapon,” he said,
“in which it has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in weaponry,
infrastructure, training, command and control in order to “light up’
the Middle East.”

And so the war goes on, now in its 19th day,
with no end in sight. Yes, the fighting is proceeding more slowly than
expected. Yes, Hezbollah is better trained and better armed than
anticipated. But Israelis remain resolute and despite the events in
Qana, it still seems that a U.S.-brokered ceasefire is days, maybe
weeks away.

“War game” or not, for Israel this is no virtual reality.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anonymous July 31, 2006 at 7:21 pm

Good article mate- Dunno though where people think that America has some alterior motives in regards to Israel's war. We don't need world opinions to be favorable for our war on terror- Bush finally said 'that's it- no more' and has stuck to it regardless of world opinion. Israel finally did the same- I think though it was a mistake to ceasefire for 48 hours- Israel has nothign to apologize for- Hizbollah is the monster- not Israel. Woudl like to invite you to check out my blog over on if you get a chance- I've written extensively on this topic-either way though, may God protect you and your family in these difficult times.

2 Anonymous August 2, 2006 at 1:56 am

This may be a game for some, but I'm ready for it to be over. But not before we win.
Good post.

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