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Israel v. Hezbollah: Could it spark a wider war?
Posted by: McQ on Monday, July 17, 2006

Unlike the UN, who's only attempt at a resolution to date has been to condemn Israel (vetoed by the US), the G8 issued a statement which, in my opinion, does a better job of placing the problem in the real aggressor's lap:
The United States and other world leaders reached an accord Sunday on a statement faulting the militant wings of Hezbollah and Hamas for violence that threatens "to plunge the Middle East into chaos," but it also called on Israel "to exercise utmost restraint" in its retaliation.

Maintaining that the Middle East crisis stems from the efforts of "extremist forces" to destabilize the region, the leaders of the Group of Eight leading industrial nations said "these extremist elements and those that support them cannot be allowed to plunge the Middle East into chaos and provoke a wider conflict."
The statement went on to say:
While the consensus G-8 statement issued at an island summit here calls on Israel to exercise restraint and "be mindful of the strategic and humanitarian consequences of its actions," it falls short of a condemnation of Israel for fierce retaliatory attacks that some, including Russian leaders, wanted.

To create conditions for a cessation of violence, the G-8 called for the return of Israeli soldiers held captive in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, an end to rocket and missile attacks against Israeli territory, an end to Israeli military operations in Lebanon, the withdrawal of forces from Gaza and the release of arrested Palestinian ministers and parliamentarians.
In yesterday's podcast Dale remarked that the nexus for all trouble in the Middle East is in Iran. I'd agree. They are behind much of the continued trouble in Iraq and they certainly are a major contributor to Hizbollah, both financially and materially. But Syria may be the nexus for trouble against Israel. While Syria may have suffered a temporary set-back in that regard when it was forced out of Lebanon, it's proxy, Hezbollah, has since gained strength, winning seats in the Lebanese parliament and all but controlling the southern end of the country with it's militant wing.

Ralph Peters has a piece out in which he explores the relationships and dynamics of this situation. He has some interesting theories about the present situation. He opens with what I can only describe as an apt description of the situation now present throughout the Middle East, the flare-up between Hezbollah and Israel being no exception:
THE violence that scorched the Middle East this time didn't result from a sly Iranian plot. It was the product of emotion, miscalculation, impulsiveness and folly. On all sides.

Here's a sound rule in analyzing problems anywhere between Cairo and Karachi: Never ascribe to a calculated strategy what can be blamed on passionate incompetence.
He points out the Hezbollah's action probably wasn't at all calculated or approved by Iran and Syria. More likely than not it was a spur of the moment decision to piggy-back off the success Hamas had with it's capture of an IDF soldier.

Peters notes that Iran, then dragged into to the situation (just as Syria was) backed its proxy. His comparison was rather ominous:
The Iranians were blindsided, but had to back their clients (as Germany had to back Austria in 1914).
Is this the spark which lights a brush fire which then grows out of control? Again, considering Peter's premise, the possibility certainly exists. He notes that whoever in Hezbollah gave the initial operation the "go" badly miscalculated the reaction of Israel. Obviously they felt assured that it would be no more than what they'd seen in Gaza. However, Israel struck back with a vengeance (apparently long looking for an excuse to go after Hezbollah, thus the "this was an act of war" rhetoric from Israel):
Then the Israelis began to miscalculate - reacting impulsively and emotionally themselves. Attacking Hezbollah was fully justified and necessary, but Israel's frustration with the Lebanese government's toleration of terrorists boiled over into folly. Israeli aircraft attacked Beirut's international airport and other targets around the city, doing both Israel and Lebanon's fragile democracy far more harm than good.

Israel hopes to pressure the Lebanese government into taking action against Hezbollah. But Lebanon's leaders can't do that. If they ordered their work-in-progress military to attack and disarm Hezbollah, some Lebanese Armed Forces units would mutiny, others would disintegrate - and any outfits that attempted to take on Hezbollah would be badly and swiftly defeated. And the action would reignite the country's dormant civil war.
As I've mentioned, the destruction of Lebanon's nascent democracy only serves Israel's enemies, yet it continues as Israel's emotional fury hasn't yet been satisfied. But are they striking the right enemy? Peters says no:
FOR its part, Israel picked the wrong fight by striking Beirut's infrastructure while its deadly enemies sat comfortably in Damascus.

Israel should've hit Syria. It had nothing to lose and far more to gain. No matter what Israel does and no matter how many concessions Israeli governments make, its enemies prove implacable and the "global community" will condemn it.
Or, "go for it", whatever you do, you're going to be condemned so why not go for the local nexus of your trouble.

Here, I'm not so sure I agree, unless Israel is ready to deal with the consequences of such an action and deal with it immediately. Syria has a very large army and air force. Rumors have been circulating that Syria is interested in trying to provoke a border incident much like Germany/Poland 1939. Whether true or not, it could have ominous implications of wider war to come.

I'm not saying Israel, one-on-one, couldn't take them out, eventually. But my question is, would it really end up being one-on-one? And, would kicking over that anthill be the beginning of a larger conflagration which would then directly involve Iran (and others) and then spin completely out of control? I'm not so sure Israel has "nothing to lose" in the case of striking Syria.

Hezbollah, of course, remains the wild card in all of this. Everyone is talking about negotiations. With whom?

Lebanon? That government has already proven incapable of controlling Hezbollah. Israel? It takes two to negotiate and Israel isn't about to negotiate with a terror organization.

Negotiations only work if both sides do so in good faith. Nothing in Hezbollah's history points to that desire or intent. Their intent is clear - the utter destruction of Israel. With an enemy as implacable as that, only one option remains to Israel at the present - the utter destruction of Hezbollah.

My advice to Israel is to concentrate on that, concentrate on the south of Lebanon and make it clear to Syria that if it is found to be supporting Hezbollah in any way, they're next.

UPDATE: In or out? Limited incursions by IDF ground forces have been reported in southern Lebanon:
Earlier reports suggested Israeli ground forces had entered southern Lebanon, but an Israeli military source said that there is no Israeli ground operation going on at present. The source said a small Israeli military unit "destroyed one or two Hezbollah outposts just over the line in Lebanon last night."

"At the moment, there are no military ground troops in Lebanon, and we are working primarily with an air campaign," the source said.
Prelude to a full-blown ground assault in that area? If so, what will be Syria's reaction?

John at OPFOR points out that this is classic preparation of the battlefield (battlespace):
One of the lessons America, and the world, drew from the lightning campaigns of Gulf Wars I & II was the importance of battlespace preparation. That is, the conditioning of the battlefield's environment prior to initiating full scale military operations.

What we are witnessing in southern Lebanon is concurrent with actions designed to prep a battlefield for the insertion of ground forces. So far, Israel has relied on its dominance in sea and air forces to isolate Hezbollah, rather than focusing their brunt of their superior forces on actual enemy positions. By blockading the coast, neutralizing Beruit's airport, and damaging roads and bridges into and out of Lebanon, the IDF has cut off Hezbollah's supply routes by land, sea, and air, and blocked all lines of escape.

These isolation actions are eerily similiar to Coalition movements prior to Operation Hail Mary during the first Gulf War, where allied aircraft severed supply lines to foward deployed Iraqi Army units.

The end result is a battlespace that traps the now ill-equipped enemy force, the ideal environment for Israel to crush Hezbollah forces.

I think that in the coming days, we will see a sizable Israeli ground incursion into southern Lebanon, a campaign designed to exploit the favorable conditions that Israel has created for itself. I have the feeling that once that invasion comes, Hezbollah's ability to launch rocket attacks into Israel proper will be severly reduced, if not eliminated.
I agree that we're going to see exactly that in the near future.

UPDATE II: Commenter Mkultra, on another thread, has this to say about the war against Hezbollah:
Hezbollah is an idea, not an entity. You can't kill an idea thru military means. You certainly can't do it by killing civillians who have nothing really to do with Hezbollah. Hezbollah is waging Fourth Generation warfare. Israel's response is somewhere between the second and the third.
I'm not so sure what he means by "fourth generation war", but essentially he's right. However, while you certainly can't kill an idea thru military means, you can definitely badly degrade it's military ability to strike at your citizens. That is what Israel needs to concentrate on in this action as I recommended.

UPDATE III: Sometimes uscensored or, should I say, unfiltered, is best:
Bush expressed his frustration with the United Nations and his disgust with the militant Islamic group and its backers in Syria as he talked to British Prime Minister Tony Blair during the closing lunch at the Group of Eight summit.

"See the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this s—- and it's over," Bush told Blair as he chewed on a buttered roll.
The UN, along with Blair, are now pushing for international peacekeepers to get in between the Israelis and Hebollah.

As Dan McLaughlin notes:
Remember the golden rule: the function and animating purpose of the military is to defeat the enemy. That is not to say that soldiers are not capable of doing anything but fighting; certainly the U.S. military has proven adept, in Iraq and elsewhere, at the many peaceable tasks that go into nation-building. But in Iraq and Afghanistan, as tough as the job sometimes is, we know whose side we are on, which among other things enables us to go on the offensive (miliarily and otherwise) and not be bound to a purely reactive sitting-ducks stance. No identified enemy, no sides taken, no soldiers. Period.

If the international community wants to fix the problem - i.e., the inability of Lebanon's democratic government to stop Hezbollah from making war from its territory - by asking in an international force to assist the Lebanese in liquidating Hezbollah, I'm all for that. It needs to be done, by someone, and it is better done under the cover of the blue helmet and with some sharing of the burden besides just Israel or the United States. But inserting U.S. troops into Lebanon without a mandate to take the battle to the enemy was Ronald Reagan's worst mistake as president, and cost us 241 Marines, for whose lives Hezbollah has never adequately paid. Let us not repeat that tragic error.
Actually he makes a very cogent point. Peacekeeping is a "law enforcement" job. It is not what soldiers do. And whenever they're put in such a role, their performance, given an aggressor who doesn't choose to stand down, is marginal at best. I have to go with Dan here ... if we commit any troops under any auspices they should have a mission and an enemy.
 
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Our minds on this are as close as humanly possible, including your caution about any attack on Syria.

I especially like Peter’s ascribing it to folly, though my own long standing opinion is even the most careful diplomacy and use of military force floats in a sea of folly. It is part and parcel of the human condition. Our own faults and weaknesses immersed in a sea of misinformation, misleading premises and variables beyond measure. Yet another reason to move cautiously, but when you do make a move do so boldly knowing that what you think you know you probably don’t, ready to adapt.

I suggest our stance vis a vis this should keep that in mind. If we get involved at all it should be bold, with the chance to truly change the dynamic, or sit tight. Half measures just embroil you in the long slow bloodletting with no real change. Open ended is one thing, but not if it is not aimed at something worthwhile. I accept failure and defeat as part of life. I’ll accept it from my leaders. I won’t accept failure when there is no victory or success to even be had or really aimed at. Bold moves may do no better, but at least there is the possibility of success.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://
It spells, Doom, DOOOOM...A Consuming fire... the only good thing is that it will spread to Iraq and dry out the quagmire there, allowing us to come home. The wasteland that Dubya has created....remember Usama just did urban renewal on NYC, whilst Dubya is DESTROYING America-Jonathan Chait can’t be wrong.

HAH Capt. Joe, take that!
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Oh and BTW, MK is being a potato head... ANYTHING is just an idea. Communism, Fascism, Capitalism, Catholicism, THEY’RE ALL IDEAS. Using Mk’s logic NONE OF THEM could ever be defeated...I don’t know about MK but I note a dearth of Fascists and Communists these days.

"4th Generation" war is the sort of war waged in the 18th C., limited let Syria or Iran start a large Middle Estern War and all that "4th generation" crap goes out the door and it’s Clausewitz again. 4th Generation war is just a cute little word for a war that is limited in its scope because of the weakness of one side and the diplomatic requirements placed on the other side. Let the equation change in any way and suddenly 4th generation war is just like ANY other war.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Hezbollah is an idea, not an entity.
Echoing, Joe above, for being "an idea" Hezbollah seems to have quite a foothold in the material world:
Does Hezbollah play an active role in the Lebanese politics?

Yes. After the 2005 elections, Hezbollah won eight new seats, giving the group twenty-three seats in 128-member Lebanese Parliament. In addition, Hezbollah has two ministers in the government, and a third is endorsed by the group.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://
Hezbollah is waging Fourth Generation warfare.
So, in other words, an idea is waging an idea...

???

At least most fiction has a certain internal logic or consistancy.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
No, this is one of those magic and thought provoking "you can’t fight an idea" things.

It’s tragic when ideas get out of control, take prisoners and launch rockets into your country, but you just can’t fight em.

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Here is a very interesting link on Hezbollah’s provocation and Israeli’s thinking on retaliation.
 
Written By: Nuclear
URL: http://
Here’s Dubya’s unplugged thoughts on the Israeli aggression. Hard to say what’s more scary, the Israelis or Dubya’s ’handle’ on it.

http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/45C96209-FC05-4FA2-9EB4-7B8510418D04.htm
 
Written By: Tony
URL: http://
Yeah Tony, I was know I’m more frightened of the Israelis or Dubya than say of Hezbollah...Because those folks, meanng the democratically elected leaders attempting to minimize casualties, are MUCH scarier than Iran-backed militants vowing to destroy Israel and raining UNGUIDED ordnance on Israel. Mayhap we can get the Hezbollah leader, Nasrallah to take Dubya’s place. Lord knows we’d ALL sleep safer.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Here is a link to a site that provides information about 4th generation war

http://www.d-n-i.net/second_level/fourth_generation_warfare.htm

It may be that the the lack of understanding of this concept is the big difference between the pro war and anti war crowd both here and in Israel.

 
Written By: cindyb
URL: http://
Well CindyB 4th generation war still seems a neat little buzz word... I like "Armed Propaganda" myself or "Terrorism." Certainly as explained 4th Geenration War is going to DEFEAT anyone any time soon. It might PROVOKE someone and then the practioners of 4th generation war might wish they had the capacity for 3rd generation war....

As to "understanding" and the anti-war folks... I think a good understanding of Post-Modernism, Anti-Colonialism, and Marxism explains the differences between the anti-war folks in Israel and the US without much reference to "generations of war."
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
From CindyB’s link:
"Name calling, though, is not often an effective substitute for strategy."
Not shooting them is also not a substitute for strategy, hence the war.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
From cindyb’s link:
One way to tell that 4GW is truly new is that we don’t even have a name for its participants—typically dismissing them as "terrorists," "extremists," or "thugs."
"Terrorists" seems to fit just fine. And this doesn’t tell me "4GW" is "truely new".
Name calling, though, is not often an effective substitute for strategy.
Well dang, there goes our whole substitute for a strategy . . . it ain’t like we were going to use military force against them, right?
The attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center dispelled the notion that 4GW is simple "terrorism."
It did? Looked like terrorism to me.
But one can sympathize with our political and military leaders, because 4GW is a strange form of warfare, one where military force plays a smaller role than in earlier generations, supporting initiatives that are more political, diplomatic, and economic.
That’s right, polotics, diplomacy, and economics played little part in, say, WW1 or the Napolianic Wars, . . . right?
The distinction between war and peace will be blurred to the vanishing point. It will be nonlinear, possibly to the point of having no definable battlefields or fronts. The distinction between ’civilian’ and ’military’ may disappear.
Gee, just like the Indian Wars . . .
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
From one possible UN PC point of view:

Each and every missile fired by Hezbollah into Israel is a violation of UNSC resolution 1568, which demands that Hezbollah disarm. Israel is enforcing 1568 since the Lebonese Army is incapable of doing so.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Joe,

Were you at Dien Bien Phu? None of my anti war friends have ever met anyone who was either pro or anti-colonialist. Perhaps you had some intersting experiences that would explain why you have trouble relating to new ideas.

By the way Marxism is a concept currently taught in the same classes that talk about Nazism and other extremist ideologies of the last century. Its known as ancient political history. They talk about Rome too. Wars were not always popular there either.

Your opinions of the anti-war crowd seem to be based upon another war. You need to retool.


 
Written By: cindyb
URL: http://
Oh, btw

Colonel William S. Lind, the author of the piece you guys are making fun of, teaches at the Army War college.
 
Written By: cindyb
URL: http://
Were you at Dien Bien Phu? None of my anti war friends have ever met anyone who was either pro or anti-colonialist. Perhaps you had some intersting experiences that would explain why you have trouble relating to new ideas.
Gee CindyB you obviously have not read Orientalism by Said.
By the way Marxism is a concept currently taught in the same classes that talk about Nazism and other extremist ideologies of the last century. Its known as ancient political history. They talk about Rome too. Wars were not always popular there either.
Really CindyB you ought to read Foucault and Derida, then...have you missed out on Critical Theory, Critical Gender Studies, Critical Legal Theory, and the like?
Your opinions of the anti-war crowd seem to be based upon another war. You need to retool.
No CindyB you need to keep up or stop lying... Post-Modernism and "Critical" Studies are the latest variant of Marxism and QUITE the rage on campuses. Marxism re-tooled but it didn’t go away.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Colonel William S. Lind, the author of the piece you guys are making fun of, teaches at the Army War college
Is it Colonel Lind, or William Lind? If it’s Bill Lind, and it’s the one that wrote in the 1980’s and 1990’s sorry CindyB he’s a potato-head. Wrote one good piece critiquing the Army’s "Active Defense" version of FM 100-5.

Now Colonel Lind could be a different kettle of fish. I couldn’t find a by-line in that link to save my soul, BTW.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Cindyb,

I have no problem with the link, I just don’t think it has the implications you think it does. Also, I may be wrong, but I don’t think the piece was written by Colonel Lind, it just quotes from some of his work.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://
4GW - one side weak other side strong = perfect time to go to war.
 
Written By: Unaha-closp
URL: http://
Joe, I’m nodding my head in agreement with you here as regards Communists, Marxists, etc. The vast majority no longer dwell in the corridors of power in most Western countries, they now dwell within the Ivory Towers of Academia.

If cindyb, or anyone else doubts that there are active, openly Marxist, Communist, Maoist, etc. academics (in no small numbers), I will be happy to link to sites demonstrating this. Also, one cannot help but notice that probably the most left wing profession in America today (warning : sweeping generaliztion ahead), is : attorney. That’s right, most attorneys vote and contribute consistently to the Democrat and Green parties. Are there right wing lawyers? Absolutely (Antonin Scalia is one). This doesn’t change the fact that there are still very active Stalinist, Maoist, and neo-Marxist attorneys and professors in America today and that they are fighting very hard and very openly to spread their particular brand of collectivist thought.
 
Written By: The Poet Omar
URL: http://
Better commentary here than in most news papers.

A few points...

1. Israel has forces in Lebanon, namely special units that are looking for the short range missiles the Hizbullah employ. There are also forces on the border with Bulldozers taking apart Hizbullah bases. There is no excursion of ground forces – ie whole divisions into Lebanon for now.

2. Israel can take Syria apart in a few days, but then we will create a failed state like Iraq which longer term will be more harmful.

3. Hizbullah’s miscalculation this round of fighting was that there is an international confluence of interest in dismantling its military capabilities. It is rare that Israel, Sunni Arab states, Lebanon’s non Shia population, USA & France all agree. That is why there is a possibility that Hizbullah will be disarmed.

My two cents…
 
Written By: Shahar
URL: http://
It already IS a "wider" war- Iran and Syria have been at war with Israel and the west through their terror proxies for quite a long time now. The proper question is could Israel vs Hezbollah spark a larger shooting war? It certainly can, if Syria is stupid enough to send troops against an Israeli incursion into Lebannon, or if Iran’s hand is seen too clearly helping Hezbollah.

I’m firmly convinced that this may be the absolute best time we’ll ever see to destroy Iran and end them once and for all- and if boy Assad wants some he can come get some also. It may be best to get Iran now- while Israel is in rage mode with some international political leeway, and while our troops are next door.

Because it’s simply a matter of fighting a shooting war vs Iran now or being held hostage to Irans whims once they get a nuke.

Nevermind "spark" a wider war. I’m hoping Israel widens it deliberately.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
cindyb wrote:
Oh, btw

Colonel William S. Lind, the author of the piece you guys are making fun of, teaches at the Army War college.
Wow, Cindy, appeals to authority are always so impressive.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Hezzbollah gone today= new jerk-offs tomorrow.

Hey shark cmon and join the military. We need fresh meat!!Only an ass would want more war!

How can a country act with impunity and scape 70+ resolutions against it by the world?

I know , I know be the Us attack dog to keep those oil producers in line and we will say screw your collective view world we are the USA! God forbid our destiny is in the hands of Arab oil for our machines and war power would sputter and stop without the oil God put under the feet of the savages.

No one cares about the middle east if it wasnt for oil. If the arabs behaved thenselves and gas was a dollar a gallon no one would care about our pit bull Israel either.Would Cost too much to feed! To vetoe a few resolutions is one thing to veto them all is BIAS
 
Written By: x2master
URL: http://
x2master,

attacking them means less oil, not more. Israel also burns oil, believe it or not.

Oil has very little to do with either the Izzy/Pal conflict or our participation in it. If anything, oil and our and our allies need for it is why we are so indulgent of the Islamic world’s belligerence.

"No one cares about the middle east if it wasnt for oil."

Well the people living there—like the Israelis and their enemies—they might continue to care. And as I mentioned, our need for oil is part why we have put up with the Islamist inclined producer’s shennanigans. Not the other way around.

"If the arabs behaved thenselves and gas was a dollar a gallon no one would care about our pit bull Israel either."

I think we would still be preventing the Arabs from overwhelming Israel, oil or no.

" To vetoe a few resolutions is one thing to veto them all is BIAS"

Like the bias isn’t fully jusitifed?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://

 
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