No, Hezbollah is winning
The world has changed
Analysis: Hezbollah may have the edge
By SALLY BUZBEE, Associated Press Writer Sun Jul 30, 4:41 PM ET
CAIRO, Egypt - It's hard to defeat a group of extremists who can mingle among civilian supporters and are pros at propaganda.
Israel's military faces the same conundrum the United States has encountered elsewhere — finding that airstrikes are costly in civilian deaths and public support, while ground attacks are risky for soldiers.
That does not mean Hezbollah is winning militarily. But the guerrilla group has so far avoided a knockout by Israel, even as international pressure for a cease-fire has grown. And in the war of perceptions, Hezbollah has only to look strong against Israel and make Israel look bad to win across much of the Arab world, many analysts say.
That was brought into stark focus Sunday when an Israeli airstrike flattened a house in southern Lebanon, killing at least 56 people, mostly women and children. Israel apologized for the deaths and blamed Hezbollah, accusing it of using civilians as human shields.
But the backlash against Israel and its ally America was swift: Lebanese officials reacted in fury and Beirut protesters attacked a U.N. building and burned American flags. At an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting, Secretary-General
Kofi Annan said he was "deeply dismayed" his previous calls for a cease-fire had been ignored.
The United States knows this scenario well from Iraq and elsewhere: Pictures of dead children and women killed in airstrikes can hurt support even among friends.
Yet the alternative for Israel, if it wants to push back Hezbollah, is either a full-scale ground war or a lengthy series of smaller-scale incursions to eliminate the group's positions along the Israeli-Lebanese border.
For now, Israel says it has no plans for a big land invasion, still leery from its costly occupation of south Lebanon from 1982 to 2000. But the smaller incursions have brought relatively high Israeli casualties and low apparent impact: U.N. observers in south Lebanon say Hezbollah's supply of rockets remains adequate to fight, and most of its leaders have survived.
Israel has privately told the United States it needs 10 days to two weeks to accomplish what it wants.
First, they DON'T hide among the population. They avoid the population, at least the military wing does, and the faces of the IDF grunts coming off the line indicate they are in the fight of their lives.
Qana is the result of the IDF's overreliance on air power and the refusal to get in the bunker clearing business. They were repulsed from Bin Jebail, they didn't leave it. They couldn't hold the town without taking Pacific War like losses, and the IDF cannot take heavy losses. Which Hezbollah can.
This is a massive military defeat for Israel. Not only have they been shown down by a Hezbollah Army far better trained and led than they knew, they have been surprised at every turn. From missiles to bunkers to mined roads.
The problem for Israel is that they have revealed that they cannot beat Hezbollah or control land occupied by Hezbollah without taking unacceptable casualities. When dealing with Hezbollah, victory can only come with a clear, concise defeat. Anything less is a massive defeat.
What is even worse for Israel is that their attack on Lebanon has created massive sympathy for Arabs in the West, making Israel a bad guy and discreting their legitimate security arguments, even in the United States.
Bush did a very foolish thing in not stopping the Israelis. Cheney, despite ALL evidence, wanted to take a second bite at the apple in beating down Iran and Syria and not only did it fail, it made Hezbollah stronger, and even worse, established them as the defenders of Lebanon. When the chips were down, it was the Shia of Hezbollah who faced down the IDF while the Army sat impotent.
I can't stress enough how badly this has gone. The IAF has become reknowned for blowing up hospitals. The IDF cannot take a Lebanese town without getting shot up, one with bunkers their intel and special ops never came across. One their spies never heard of.
You can only maintain that level of security when you do not have civilians around. A professional army attacking a neighboring state is surprised? Uh, what does your intelligence service do?
Now, after the inevitable errant bomb, Israel is shamed before the world. Not exactly what Olmert had planned. He thought he'd be a hero for getting rid of Hezbollah and pressuring Iran and Syria. Now he's the man who bombs women and children in hospitals. And classlessly blames Hezbollah for hiding behind women and children when they bombed and killed them.
Hezbollah has not been much better, but Israel lost the battle of equivency when they tore up gas stations and red cross convoys. Now, Hezbollah's rockets are a footnote to Israel's bombs. Why the Bushies couldn't see this coming is beyond me.
posted by Steve @ 12:48:00 AM