Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Krauthammer's Exit Strategery for Lebanon 
Krauthammer, I believe, has it about right.

Hezbollah has jumped the shark on this one. It has isolated itself from the support even of the Arab nations. No one in the world will intervene on its behalf now. This is a win-win situation for everyone except Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran*:

Just as in Kuwait in 1991, what must follow the air campaign is a land invasion to clear the ground and expel the occupier. Israel must retake south Lebanon and expel Hezbollah. It would then declare the obvious: that it has no claim to Lebanese territory and is prepared to withdraw and hand south Lebanon over to the Lebanese army (augmented perhaps by an international force), thus finally bringing about what the world has demanded -- implementation of Resolution 1559 and restoration of south Lebanon to Lebanese sovereignty.

*And, of course, innocent women and children caught up in the middle. But all necessary violence must be applied to destroy Hezbollah. If they are not destroyed now, in detail, while they are isolated, it will be much more difficult to do so later, when any comparable pummeling carries with it the risk of a much wider and more destructive war.

Destroy them. Now.

Splash, out


Did Israel try this in 1982? That didn't end well.
Exactly--1982 didn't work well at all. Hizbullah has widespread support in the south (in some areas, it routinely wins 80% of the electoral vote). It has proven highly resistent to Israeli intelligence penetration. It has shown remarkable operational sophistication (multiple simultaneous rocket launches from dispersed locations, even under complete Israeli control of the air; Israeli special forces successfully ambushed in Lebanon within sight of the border today, coming off worse in the exchange; indeed, Israeli bombing hasn't managed to even take Hizbullah's al-Manar television station off the air for more than a few minutes). Perhaps most importantly, an invasion would rally a large part of currently anti-Hizbullah opinion in Lebanon behind the movement once again. "You see," Hizbullah would argue, "this was never about two prisoners.. this is about the aggressive, expansionist character of the Zionist state." As a side effect, it would likely bring about the collapse of the Lebanese government, and possibly the split of the Lebanese army. Oh, and did I mention that 35%+ of the army is Shiite, and would like rally to Hizbullah's side in such circumstances?

As for Hizbullah being isolated, I doubt they feel it. From their perspective, popular opinion in most of the Arab world (even the Arab Sunni world) has been supportive. That the Saudi or Egyptian regimes are critical of Hizbullah's actions will hardly come as a surprise. Iranian and Syrian backing is unwavering. The critical issue is Lebanese Shiite opinion, and here I'm hearing from Lebanese Shiite friends that the pereceived disproprtionality of Israeli's response is increasingly offsetting anger at Hizbullah and creating a rally-around-the-movement effect.

On top of all this, the sight of a US-backed Israeli counter insurgency in Lebanese Shiite villages would do wonders for the Coalitions position in southern Iraq or Baghdad.

Fortunately, while Charles Krauthammer may not have much sense of Lebanese or regional politics, the Israeli military and intelligence establishment have a rather better grasp of the dangers involved, and have effectively ruled out a "Return to 1982" strategy.
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