Monday, August 21, 2006


Military strategist Edward N. Luttwak argues convincingly in the Jerusalem Post that pudits and public opinion have both exaggerated the military achievements of Hezbollah and unfairly denigrated the bravery and effectiveness of Arab soldiers in Israel's prior wars. He notes that Hezbollah failed to inflict heavy casualties on either the Israeli military or its civilian population. Indeed, he partially attributes the reluctance of the Israeli government to launch a large-scale troop operation to the fact that the nation had suffered so few civilian casualties despite the thousands of rockets launched by inexperienced and incompetent Hezbollah crews. From a strictly military perspective, he no doubt is correct. On the other hand, from a strictly military perspective, the Tet Offensive was a disaster for the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese. Thanks to Walter Cronkite and public perception, however, it turned the tide of the war.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kosher Hedgehog - It appears that quite a bit of re-analysis and reconsideration is now in progress amongst both the experts and us grass-roots types regarding the relative achievements of Israel vs. Hezbollah in the recent battle in Lebannon. I for one thought there has been way too much gloom-mongering amongst the conservative commentariat in the US, and of course, nobody can accuse the Israelis of engaging in active no-holds-barred politicking, can we? Ha! Political arguments and blame apportionment in Israel seem to be the national blood sport there - and rightly so, given the terrible consequences of military and political failure for Israelis.

I believe, as many seem now to believe, that the Israeli government did not perform especially well, but that at the end of the fight, they're measurably better off now than before. At least Hezbollah is no longer in a position to openly dig in, reinforce, rearm, and launch attacks from Irsael's northern border without tremendous on-scene international scrutiny, if not effective prevention and interference. And if the multi-national force backing up the obviously lame Lebannese Army proves utterly incapable of stopping Hezbollah's continued warfare against Israel, then Israel will have acquired all the necessary political and moral justification to slam Hezbollah mercilessly, and their Syrian and Iranian facilitators as well.

And hey, we also got to enjoy the spectacle of the French revealing themselves, yet again, to be the perfidious, pretentious, ineffective, and uttlerly unreliable worms that they are! They really can't help themselves, the poor dears - they're so ... so "French!" I really got a kick out of watching the "French landing in Lebannon" (i.e., video of a dozen or so French guys in berets riding inflatable rafts through the Mediterrannean surf) on FoxNews Channel's Special Report last evening! What a hoot!

In the meantime, reports from background sources talking with, as well as emerging published political commentary throughout the Arab media seem to suggest that the Iranians and other radical Islamists are not especially pleased with Hezbollah's recent military performance. If fact, it is said by some sources that the Iranians were quite disappointed with the ultimately minor toll in human life and property damage inflicted so ineffectively on Israel by the mass Katyusha rocket attacks. If this heroic stand was supposed to have been Hezbollah's "Finest Hour", as Nasrallah claims rather extravagently, somewhat reminiscent of Winston Churchill's salute to the RAF's magnificent stand against Hitler's war machine in the Battle of Brittain, then the Party of God seems to have come up rather short. From the perspective of a bombed-out Lebannese family, it could well be said instead that (with apologies to Churchhill) "Never have so many been screwed so badly by so few." If Hezbollah were intended to function as Iran's blitzkrieg spearpoint against Israel, thus serving as an effective bulwark and deterrent against future US and Israeli attacks upon Iran's budding nuclear weapons program, well, the Iranians had better start worrying a bit now about that strategy!

And of course, as a number of military analysts have now pointed out, the gig is up for Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran - most of the bunkers have been revealed, as well as the weapons transfer programs, the supply routes, and revised Hezbollah military tactics - all have been fully revealed as Hezbollah took a horrific beating from a self-restrained IDF. The Israelis (and the US) now have the fresh battlefield intelligence to develop new tactics to defeat Hezbollah and their Iranian masters on their own turf. This result could not have happened without the recent conflict taking place. The fact that the new Hezbollah tactics and weapons ended up embarrassing the IDF's generals a bit now provides a much stronger incentive for those guys to wake up from their apparent slumber of the past two decades.

So, while the Israeli battle against Hezbollah in Lebannon may not have given many of us the same gut-level satisfaction that a total terrorist/Syrian butt-kicking would have provided, it's clear that Israel could have done much worse - for example, where would we be today had Israel done nothing at all but complain about the kidnappings, or maybe snatched a few Hezbollah types in a tit-for-tat trade for the kidnapped IDF guys?

Israel can certainly do better next time. I expect that Israel WILL do better next time. And the next time is probably going to be a lot more pertinent to the long-term survival of Israel than the recent somewhat inconclusive battle has been.


Posted by Duane

Tuesday, August 22, 2006 10:17:00 AM  

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