January 30, 2009

Who Really Won the Second Lebanon War


Posted by Michael J. Totten at January 30, 2009 8:01 AM
Posted by: leo at January 30, 2009 7:10 pm
Posted by: Li'l Mamzer at January 30, 2009 9:14 pm
Maybe you'd consider elaborating in your reports on the idea of strength being respected and perceived weakness being exploited. It might help us non-middle easterners better appreciate the dynamics in play there.
Posted by: Paul S. at January 31, 2009 12:12 am
I have always thought that people underestimated Israel's success in the second Lebanon war. Yes, the war was badly waged on the battlefield, but, as MJT points out, Hezbollah seems to have been deterred from a repeat performance.
Unfortunately, I think there are key differences between Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. First, Lebanon has no real reason for conflict with Israel. The antagonism with Israel is an ideological contrivance by Hezbollah that I have a feeling does not resonate with most Lebanese, certainly not to the extent that they are willing to suffer the kind of death and destruction they saw in the war. The Palestinians are a different story. They eat, breath, and sleep the historical grievance with Israel, and, as MJT showed a few posts ago, propaganda is drummed into them from an early age.
Second, Hezbollah is subject to internal restraints from the other players in Lebanon - the Christians, Sunni and Druze. Hamas has no such internal restraints in Gaza. They rule the roost there.
So, I think the Gaza example will be diametrically opposite the Lebanese one. In Lebanon Israel prosecuted the war badly but succeeded in its deterrance. In Gaza, they waged the war successfully, but will fail in deterrence.
Posted by: MarkC at January 31, 2009 12:13 am
"In Gaza, they waged the war successfully, but will fail in deterrence."
Well maybe but waging the War successfully was and is by far the greater of the results. Deterrence depends upon the ability of the potentially deterred to get their collective heads out of their collective you-know-what. I have never held out much hope of the Palestinians reaching that happy stage in any future I can visualize.
But the successful war effort can be repeated elsewhere, and if Israel has indeed sharpened up the pointy end of the stick, Nasrallah will be even less willing to poke that hornet nest again. If he was deterred by 2006, he must be truly cringing at the thought of Israel doing a 2008 on him the next time around. Hope that this analysis is true.
By the by, all congrats to the Iraqi people,security forces,Government and their US 'advisors' on the great success just had in the Provincial Elections. Never thought in 2006-2007 that I would ever see this day transpire.
Thanks, George. I sort of miss you already. The 'One' looks to have a very limited shelf life.
Posted by: dougf at January 31, 2009 12:29 pm
In Gaza, they waged the war successfully, but will fail in deterrence.
I think you're right, there, MarkC. It doesn't seem (to me) that Israel has ever been able to deter Palestinians. But maybe that wasn't the point. Maybe the point was to deter Arab neighbors from becoming more actively involved in the conflict. Public perceptions count for a lot. Before 9/11 it was a commonly held belief in the Arab world that the US was only capable of fighting "push-button" wars, for instance. Don't hear much of that, anymore.
Posted by: programmmer_craig at February 1, 2009 5:34 am
Good analysis. Perhaps it was Mr. Totten, perhaps another blogger, who pointed out that the MSM seemed to deliberately omit from their reporting regarding the latest Gaza dust-up the obvious "axis" of cooperation between Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas.
By taking the shine off Iran's Hamas pawns, Israel not only reminded Hezbollah of what they can expect if they try to capture any more IDF troopers, but they also threw some mud in Ahmadenijad's eyes: What good is Iraninan sponsorship if all it gets you is flattened by the IDF (even with the IDF making warning telephone calls to innocent civilians ahead of their strikes).
Regarding Hezbollah and the aftermath of the 2006 confrontation, the person who goes down in history almost as poorly as Nasrallah and Olmert is former US SecState C. Rice, who promised the world -- while pushing Israel into a truce -- that the UN-managed truce arrangement would be "robust."
Yeah. Right.
Posted by: gunjam at February 1, 2009 7:19 pm
Declaring a victor of that war is made difficult due to the Israeli government's phobia about occupying, for any time, any part of Southern Lebanon. It has to do much with Olmert's fear over the demise of the older occupation.
Olmert was open about this in the media at the beginning of that strife. It just got little reported elsewhere.
Posted by: exmaple at February 3, 2009 5:27 pm
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