Friday, August 18, 2006

A Really Bad Bargain

As I'm sure you all know, the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict has ended in what is being called a cease-fire. If you ask me, it smells more like a surrender. Per the mandate of the U.N. Israel has accepted a cease-fire that basically gives up everything that they asked for. This whole conflict started when Hezbollah captured Israeli soldiers. The cease-fire is in place, but the kidnapped soldiers are basically forgotten, and Hezbollah is still standing, claiming an "historic" victory. However, Israeli PM Olmert and President Bush call this a victory for Israel. The fact is, this is a loss, a big big one, for Israel, America, and the West.

I hate to think this way, but I can't see how Israel wins with this result. The original plan was to get the soldiers back, rout Hezbollah, and impede their ability to function as a state within a state. Hezbollah doesn't have to return the soldiers, Israel withdraws, and all that's left to disarm the terrorists is a U.N resolution and a peacekeeping force, that everyone knows won't be able to get the job done? It just looks bad. I'm not a pessimistic as Ralph Peters and others, but it looks bad. Remember, all Hezbollah (and other terror groups) need to do to win is to not lose completely. Anything short of a decisive victory becomes a Pyrrhic victory, easily turned into a defeat. Even if Hezbollah was reduced to half their strength, they could still rebuild, if not thoroughly routed. Indeed, they've lost fighters and resources, but how much was really done? Was it enough to justify the loss of Lebanese infrastructure and civilians? I'm not saying Israel shouldn't have fought this battle, or that they're somehow the villain here, but it seems like they didn't have the resolve to take it to the ground. You can't win wars like this with just air power.

The international community pushed this cease-fire. We all know that many international players aren't the biggest fans of Israel aggresively defending herself. Big Daddy Sheik Nasrallah has already said he won't disarm, and laughed off the U.N resolution. He's not impressed, and why should he be? It hasn't worked before.

I am totally pro-Israel, but I think the leadership bungled this. It appears that the leadership didn't have the stomach to do what really needed to be done. The Israeli people are pissed, and they should be. Politically, this is bad for Olmert, not that the politics really should matter. The legendary IDF has been embarrassed, Israel's name has been dragged through the mud, and Hezbollah survives, and is emboldened. The captured Israeli soldiers have yet to be returned. Hezbollah won't disarm, and the puppet masters Iran and Syria watch from the sidelines. I hope I'm just overreacting. Maybe Condi and the diplomats are right. Maybe the "birth pangs" are over. I fear though, that what has been born is a signal to the terrorists that the West doesn't have the stomach to do the heavy lifting, to endure the long twilight struggle. We've got to prove them wrong. We ought to do it now, because eventually, it will come down to our very survival.

OK. I hope I wasn't too hysterical.

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