Blogging the War: The “Next” War

by Brian on August 18, 2006

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

This article was posted on on Thursday, August 17, 2006. The link is here.Ceasefire brings temporary calm as Israel, U.S. prepare for next conflict.



With a ceasefire between
Israel and Hezbollah still holding, however tentatively, and Israelis returning to their homes in the north, the
politicians and historians are already hard at work putting their spin
on the war that was. Did Israel win? Did Hezbollah?The
Israeli public has already voted, though. According to a Globes-Smith
poll earlier this week, 58 percent of Israelis think Israel achieved
“only a small part” or “none of its goals” in the war. That’s up
considerably from just two weeks ago when only 16 percent thought
similarly. And the results don’t look much better for the ruling Kadima
or Labor parties – some 60 percent of the two parties’ supporters say
they would defect and become floating voters were elections held

Defense Minister Amir Peretz has already decided to
set up a commission of inquiry into how the war was handled (which
could presumably lead to his own downfall), and there have been calls
for IDF chief of staff Dan Halutz to step down due to ethical
improprieties – he apparently authorized a personal stock transaction
three hours after hearing of the kidnap of the two Israeli soldiers by
Hezbollah, the event that ostensibly sparked the entire war.

the post-conflict political wrangling, it’s not hard to see why
Israelis are disillusioned: a million residents across the north spent
32 days either in bomb shelters or in temporary lodgings in other parts
of the country while over 4,000 missiles rained down, devastating the
economy of one third of the nation.

And so now, Israelis are asking: At the end of the day, what have we got to show for our effort?

is no provision or timetable in the ceasefire agreement to return the
two kidnapped soldiers. Most countries have balked at sending troops to
join a beefed up UNIFIL. And while the Lebanese Army is moving into the
south of that country, a side agreement – in clear violation of the
ceasefire – will allow Hezbollah to keep its arms as long as they’re
not “publicly displayed.”

The bottom line: It looks depressingly like the region is rapidly heading back to square one.

unflattering assessment, however, depends entirely on what was really
going on in the last month of fighting. If the Israel-Hezbollah war is
perceived as simply a regional conflict – an enhanced border skirmish,
if you will – then Israel clearly came out on the sharp end of the
stick. But if seen as an integral part of the global war against
terrorism, then the past 32 days could, ironically, prove to be
extremely valuable…for the next war.

The Next War?

if you listen to Seymour Hersh, the controversial reporter for the New
Yorker magazine who wrote that the attack on Hezbollah had been planned
by Israel for some time, long before July 12 when the fighting began in
earnest, and that the Bush Administration was closely involved in the
planning of Israel’s retaliatory operations. The U.S., Hersh claims,
wanted to take out the Hezbollah threat prior to an American
pre-emptive attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear installation, which some
have speculated is scheduled for as early as this fall.

bombing campaign against Hezbollah’s heavily-fortified underground
missile and command and control complexes, moreover, was to have
provided the U.S. with invaluable data on how similarly fortified
installations in Iran would withstand U.S. bombing.

Israeli and U.S. spokespeople have strongly denied Hersh’s claims. But
it’s hard to deny the global terror connection, especially after last
week’s uncovering by British authorities of a plot to blow up airliners
traveling from the U.K. to North America.

Am I implying that
there is a direct connection between the 21 men arrested in London who
were working on a plan to smuggle liquid explosives onto planes in
sports drink bottles, and the Hezbollah organization in Lebanon? Not

But the money comes from the same patron: Iran. And
it underscores that what has been going on in Israel during the
difficult days of July and August cannot be viewed as isolated events,
but rather as part of the proverbial big picture. While I don’t mean to
denigrate the success or failures of the just-concluded operation,
whether Israel wins or loses today is ultimately less important than
whether the western powers prevail in the long term. Israel, clearly,
is playing its role with great intention, whether that’s overt or

And how is the west doing in the overall war
against terror? Not too well, says Saul Singer of the Jerusalem Post.
In an article published over the weekend, Singer writes that a
premature ceasefire that doesn’t sufficiently degrade Hezbollah “will
embolden Iran… Just as Hezbollah’s survival will be widely seen as a
defeat for Israel, it is also a defeat for the United States by Iran.”

goes on to quote historian Bernard Lewis who, in the Wall Street
Journal last week, referred to an 11th-grade Iranian school textbook
that cites the goals of jihad. In it, Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeni says
that “either we shake one another’s hands in joy at the victory of
Islam in the world, or all of us will turn to eternal life and
martyrdom. In both cases, victory and success are ours.”

other words, all casualties – including those on the Iranian home front
– are to be welcomed as this will bring about the ultimate triumph of
good (Islam) over evil (everything else).

John Podhoretz,
writing in the New York Post, takes the issue one step further,
questioning whether the West is up to confronting this kind of enemy.

if liberal democracies have now evolved to a point,” he asks, “where
they can no longer wage war effectively because they have achieved a
level of humanitarian concern for others that dwarfs any really
cold-eyed pursuit of their own national interests? Can it be that the
moral greatness of our civilization – its astonishing focus on the
value of the individual above all – is endangering the future of our
civilization as well?”

The same thought occurred to me as well
as I read about 15-year-old girls from middle America being forced to
pour out their hand lotion and toss their lipstick in the trash before
boarding a plane last week. This kind of even-handed approach might be
appropriate when dealing with a domestic matter or even a civil
disobedience, but not with world war. And make no mistake: After London, Madrid, Bali, Istanbul and New York, we are in
the midst of a world war, even if it hasn’t yet been labeled as such.
The West needs new tools and new approaches if it is to prevail.

Who Won?

leads us back to the original question. Who won in the war between
Israel-Hezbollah? Militarily in the short term, Israel bested
Hezbollah. The “state within a state” Hezbollah created is gone for
now. Hezbollah has been pushed into a corner and much of the billions
of dollars its backers in Tehran spent on fortified command centers now
lies in ruins. Hezbollah may brag about success, but it has clearly
been crippled.

In the mid- to long-term, will Hezbollah return
to southern Lebanon? Undoubtedly. Will Israel get its kidnapped
soldiers back? Unknown. Will missiles once again rain on the country’s
north? Unfortunately, probably.

But in the meantime, we now know
a whole lot more about what Hezbollah had in store for Israel, what its
technical capabilities were and, by proxy, what Iran has in store for
the U.S., when and if it comes calling.

The London plot, in
addition to bringing to public attention yet another way terrorists can
attack civilian transportation, solidifies the need to not turn a blind
eye to the key player in the what President Bush once mockingly called
the “axis of evil.”

The IDF and the western powers, we can
only hope, are now aggressively using the data they’ve amassed to begin
building new strategies and new tactics.

For the next war.



{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Anonymous March 30, 2008 at 6:55 pm

Very interesting piece on the situation, I was in Israel during the war with Hizballah (from approx. two weeks before it started to a week after the cease-fire was declared). I am personally deeply committed to the idea of peace between Israel and her neighbors, but not at the cost of Israeli security.
I would invite you to check out my blog, where I also write about Israel and the Middle East. Perhaps you would also consider writing something for the new online Jewish journal I publish,
-Daniel E. Levenson

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