TCS Daily

From Hezbollah to Hezbollost

By Austin Bay - August 31, 2006 12:00 AM

Israel's and Hezbollah's War of the Rockets has entered a new phase: the War of the Wallets, the race to gain political capital by rebuilding southern Lebanon.

Diplomats and military analysts continue to debate The War of the Rockets. The conventional wisdom -- or more accurately, the wisdom of first impressions -- said Israel lost the military war and Hezbollah won by surviving.

But the emerging "big picture" suggests the War of the Rockets physically punished and politically damaged Hezbollah, despite its media touts of victory.

On the other hand, Israel cannot claim a victory -- at least, not yet.

What did Hezbollah lose? The Israel-Hezbollah war began with Lebanon as a "hijacked nation state." Hezbollah (supported by Iran and Syria) controlled southern Lebanon and Lebanon's southern border, which put the area in a geo-political limbo. Southern Lebanon was not fully sovereign Lebanese territory.

At the moment, Israel exerts more control over Lebanon's southern border than Hezbollah, U.N. peacekeepers or the Lebanese government. That may not be an Israeli win, but it is no victory laurel for Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah.

Hezbollah still dominates swaths of southern Lebanon and in those areas retains the ability to intimidate Lebanese locals and fire rockets at various current and potential adversaries -- Israel for sure, but also U.N. peacekeepers and the Lebanese Army. However, positioning Lebanese government forces and U.N. peacekeepers in south Lebanon could slowly diminish Hezbollah's military and political capacities.

Yes, peacekeepers could end up protecting Hezbollah. However, if the United Nations' military Rules of Engagement (ROE) are robust, Hezbollah's ability to act will be very circumscribed. The United Nations' 1995 failure to protect Srbrenica, Bosnia, is a huge stain that aggressive policing in south Lebanon would help remove.

If Turkish troops are part of the U.N. contingent, Hezbollah will face even stiffer political and military constraints. Turkey wants to make the case that its confrontation with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in northern Iraq is analogous to the one Israel faces with Hezbollah. A Turkish U.N. contingent would be a tough Muslim opponent for Hezbollah.

Hezbollah isn't poised to win The War of the Wallets, either. Using Iranian cash, Hezbollah has bought influence in Lebanon by funding social services. Hezbollah announced it will provide funds to rebuild homes destroyed in the war.

But the U.S. government has countered with its own "green" strategy, as in greenbacks to rebuild the whole of Lebanon.

Amir Taheri, in an August 25 Wall Street Journal essay, has made the most cogent argument that Hezbollah has actually lost the war. And and its editor, James F. Dunnigan, started making the case for Hezbollah's looming defeat in late July.

Taheri argues that Hezbollah is on the edge of a huge political defeat within Lebanon. "The leaders of the March 14 movement," Taheri writes, "which has a majority in the Lebanese Parliament and government, have demanded an investigation into the circumstances that led to the war, a roundabout way of accusing Hezbollah of having provoked the tragedy." noted Hezbollah's political and military failure as it occurred, noting on July 26:

"Hezbollah knows, however, that as long as they can launch at least one rocket a day, they can claim victory. This is because Arabs no longer expect to ... defeat Israel militarily, so that if the Arab force is still fighting, it is considered a victory. While ludicrous, this attitude has been widely accepted throughout the Middle East. However, this twisted logic is beginning to fray, and an increasing number of Arabs are questioning it. But in the short term, it still works."

And noting on July 25:

"While Hezbollah has been able to muster public support throughout Lebanon and the Arab world, they know that in the aftermath of all this, despite declaring a victory, they are already being blamed for causing a disaster, and will suffer substantial losses in the aftermath of this war."

We're in the aftermath. Hezbollah experienced a moment of media glory, but that glory has faded. For Hezbollah, the continuing aftermath is anything but promising.

Austin Bay is a syndicated columnist and TCS Daily contributing writer.



twisted logic
The author mentions the twisted logic of the hizb. to claim victory just for surviving. As a guy who has spent a lot of time in the 'Muddle-East' I can confirm that arabs in general go more for symbolism than reality, as westerners do. Remember that even Sadam claimed victory too after getting beaten in 91, just because he survived! Here's another way the hizb have been claiming a victory, after all the fighting only a few of their guys got killed becaause the israelis just killed 'civilians'. Here's another way too; now that Iran is footing the bill they can affort to put expensive ball bearings in those primitive rockets; whereas the poorer palestinians still have to use exclusively rusty nails and such.

I'm impressed the lebs have the nads to face off with hezb'allah.
They dont play fair.

chances are the Leb leaders will be shot going to work, the Lebs will freak out like last time & this time maybe ask for help throwing hezb out.

Terrorists are like liberals
They both use impossible promises, hate and intimidation to get their point across and both tend to claim victory as long as they can keep a single dog in the hunt.

Both are pathetic and both should be subject to scorn, not sympathized with.

i doubt they do, time will tell
It will be interesting to see what role the Lebanese government decides to take.

I think the conventional wisdom is dead wrong
Lebanon demonstrated it is not a real state. Israel demonstrated its policies are bankrupt and cannot control a limited number of jihaddies. The US sold Israel out and npw competes with Iran's counterfeit dollars to buy Lebannon's loyalty?

Am I missing something here or does anyone believe the bad guys will not be able to raise more funds; be able to recruit more members; have greater influence than they did before; will be back stronger than they were before?

The elephant in the room
the part of this that irritates me is the incomplete picture drawn not just by the PC MSM, but the PC soaked into every poster here too, wether they know it or not, we are ALL encouraged to forget WHO the enemy queen is at the back of the board, CHINA.

China has ITS hand up Irans ass, acting puppetmaster, Iran has ITS hand up Syria & Hezb'allahs ass acting puppetmaster.

without China backing Iran, they are a paper tiger.


Probably both nations think they are using the other
Its sort of like Hitler and Stalin.

Puts me in mind of William Tenn's SF short story "The Servant Problem"

Interesting comment
Paul-- I thought you might be interested in this article:

First we saw that most Lebanese placing principal blame for the invasion with the US, not Israel. Now we find a segment of public opinion within Israel sees things the same way.

Liberals exist everywhere
This is no surprise. To err is human, to find someone else to blame it on is devine!! ;)

It's funny to me to see in these modern times everybody putting the blame on somebody else, except the guys that are fighting, as if there were only proxy wars. But a while ago I congrated you because your side(the hizb.) won the war. But now we see Nasrallah saying that he wouldn't have really gone to war, on second thought. Isn't it also strange that a guy would not want to go to a war that he claims he won? Doesn't jibe. And those normal Lebanese people really know in their hearts that the hizb are really the ones responsible for so much damage to their contry. On another angle, I'm still wondering why western liberals, the ones who hate land mines, are not complaining about all the land mines the hizb set into in Lebanon. Oh wait, I forgot, they only don't like it when western countries sometimes use mines,like on the border of north korea.

I don't think it's strange
I find it interesting that the writers here at TCS can so easily get you to think any way they want you to think.

Hezbollah certainly had no intention of starting a war. If you look at the logic, why would anyone start a war they could not win? They were 3,000 people and a few rockets, against one of the world's more powerful and advanced armed forces.

And if you look at the evidence, their action was little more than any previous action in the vicinity of Shebaa Farms-- a minor engagement in which three IDF troops were killed. The only thing that was inordinate here was the response-- a calculated campaign of destruction against a defenseless target (Lebanon). The article I cited was an attempt to cast some light on Israel's curious decision to make this skirmish into a major incident, and the justification for an invasion.

You have inferred a nonexistent cause and effect by claiming that a resulting state-- the destabilization of Olmert's Kadima government and the humiliation, to an extent, of Israel's military, is somehow inconsonant with the notion that Hezbollah intended no escalation into full scale war. They are just two separate facts.

But of course such an observation makes no difference. The party line is that it is "strange that a guy would not want to go to a war that he claims he won". So please go on thinking that. Do not think about the curious matter of agreement among the general publics in both Israel and Lebanon, that the fracas was engineered, and the implements of death furnished, by the US.

The bottom line is there were no winners. Israel was humiliated and cast in a very bad light. Lebanon suffered terrible destruction. And Hezbollah was temporarily set back-- although I would suspect they have new recruits now waiting in lines around the block.

maybe separate realities
As usual we're on a different wavelong(perhaps because you are on the hizbolah side and i am pro israeli) But my comment was that it is inconsistant that nasralah would say that he really didn't want the war that he won. Has anyone in all of history regreted having won a war? I don't think so. It's usually that you like to win a war, but he claimed he won it, but wished it was such like.

Let's look at both World Wars
"But my comment was that it is inconsistant that nasralah would say that he really didn't want the war that he won. Has anyone in all of history regreted having won a war? I don't think so. It's usually that you like to win a war, but he claimed he won it, but wished it was such like."

Okay, let's look at both World Wars.

Did the Allies start either one? No.

Did they regret they'd won? No.

Were they glad they'd won? Yes.

In retrospect, would they have wished the wars had never happened? Yes.

An interesting parallel
Israel claims they inadvertently killed a thousand Lebanese citizens-- many by using antipersonnel weapons like cluster bombs-- because they had Hezbollah rocket launchers hiding behind them.

Saddam Hussein is currently claiming he gassed the Kurds because they were sheltering elements of the Iranian military and local pro-Iranian Kurdish militias. Thus the same reasoning should apply to both-- they were standing in the way of legitimate targets of war.

Guess that explains the mass graves with people with a bullet in the back of their head
Doesn't it Roy? Try again. I wonder what his next ploy to defend Saddam will be?

I am unaware of any politician that celebrated WWI
For any reason. Perhaps Roy can name the one who he thinks bragged about the war?

Oh, I forgot
Yeah, that's the disagreement, I also believe the allies didn't start those two wars, but you on the other hand also think the hizb. didn't start this latest war. And I don't even believe that the hizb. won the war, although the MSM does. Now that the normal Lebanese have seen what the hizb are really like, I'll bet they never allow them to take over the whole country/govn't. Normal Lebanese don't bother trying to attack israel, it's always been the palestinians, and now these iran backed hizb. terrorists. Although not totally wiped out, still very damaged.

oh boy
I read as much of that link as I could stomach.
If these are your sources, then I can see why you come up with the stuff you do.

parallel, like in surrealism?

Impeccable sources
Actually the original source for the story was a short piece in the Jerusalem Post (July 30)-- which is a source I think you would rely upon.

"Defense officials told the Post last week that they were receiving indications from the US that America would be interested in seeing Israel attack Syria."

Many second hand sources have picked up on it since. Obviously no one in the room has spoken out about it for attribution-- especially in light of what happened subsequently.

Same world, not parallel worlds
I was merely pointing out that the two defenses were identical. Israel defended her killing of a thousand Lebanese civilians by maintaining they had allowed Hezbollah soldiers to operate in their midst. And Saddam, in his current trial, has said that he killed countless thousands of Kurds in the country's north because they had allowed Iranian militants to operate in their midst. Same story.

If we weren't there, there's no way to tell for sure exactly how either one happened.

I subcribe to the JP online.

"Defense officials told the Post last week that they were receiving indications from the US that America would be interested in seeing Israel attack Syria."

This means nothing. Some kind of "defense official", and "indications" are cryptic for something. Unless you know the cypher.

thank you I am familiar with the events having happened.

now about the Israeli "rape rooms" "mass graves" etc.?

you have a dry sense of black humour.

Correction Roy, everyone would know except you
You'll always deny people like Saddam and his ilk exterminate anyone who doesn't tow the line. Sad to see your moral compass in action.

Wow they must know that same pentagon janitor
One loves those highly placed unidentified sources. Best indication of a Hershey type story.

I think I understand you
So then, all official sources are suspect? And if we read something in the US press that says "the White House says..." or "the Pentagon says..." we may safely disregard it as being just some kind of cipher?

Dark humor
Well, Israelis don't have rape rooms, it's not their style. And they don't dig mass graves, it's up to the families of the victims to clean up their messes. But they do have a long and venerable tradition of killing Lebanese civilians.

Back in 1981, Israel conducted over thirty bombing raids, that killed many hundreds of Beiruti civilians. When asked about this and whether it was official policy, then-PM Menachem Begin wrote in a letter to the Israeli press (Ha'aretz) "under the alignment government there were regular retaliatory actions against civilian Arab populations; the air force operated against them; the damage was directed against such structures as the canal, bridges and transport."

Then-Foreign Minister Abba Eban expanded on the statement by saying "The picture that emerges is of an Israel wantonly inflicting every possible measure of death and anguish on civilian populations in a mood reminiscent of regimes which neither Mr Begin nor I would dare to mention by name." Mr Eban was not a big fan of this policy. He goes on to explain that "there was a rational policy, ultimately fulfilled, that the afflicted populations would exert pressure for an end to the hostilities." (Jerusalem Post, 8/16/81) That is, that there would come a point where Israel had inflicted so much death upon them that they would give in. The policy could not be more explicitly stated.

Elsewhere both then-Chief of Staff Mordechai Gur and military analyst Zeev Schiff made similar statements. Schiff went so far as to clarify Gur's statements by saying "In South Lebanon we struck the civilian population consciously, because they deserved it... the importance of Gur's remarks is the admission that the Israeli Army has always struck civilian populations, purposely and consciously... the army, he said, has never distinguished civilian [from military] targets... [but] purposely attacked civilian targets even when Israeli settlements had not been struck." (Ha'aretz, 5/15/78)

I suppose you might find such comments humorous as well.

Actually we know he had killed approximately 200,000 Iraqi citizens over a 25 year period, and that's by a conservative estimate. One which does not include soldiers in his Iran-Iraq War.

We also know that he was given considerable logistic and material help in prosecuting his war on Iran, by the United States. And that his chemical and biological programs, used lethally in the Anfal Campaign, were assisted by imports from the United States of pathogens and precursor chemicals. So it's not as though the US was without stain in all of this.

Nonetheless, Saddam is a very bad man.

Reliable sources
When the Jerusalem Post gets something from their "defense officials" it's just like when the Washington Post gets something from our own "defense officials". It can usually be relied on. If it weren't reliable and accurate, both papers would see all their sources suddenly dry up.

no, but a nice try.
Defence officials is not the same as Defence Department Officials.

And the use of the word indication is doublespeak.

I read it this way.

If we (Israel) decide to kick Syria's Ass the US subcontractors will be "grateful".

If we should decide to go there, then buy stock.

no, again nice try.
the blending of opinion and fact makes any comment pointless.

Results 1 - 10 of about 325 for Mordechai Gur+Zeev Schiff. (0.04 seconds)

325 references? maybe there is a good reason for this.

Like it has no bearing on reality.

Considering the demographics, of Lebanon ...
Main article: Demographics of Lebanon
The population of Lebanon is composed of three predominant ethnic groups and religions: Muslims (Shi'ites, Sunnis, Alawites), Druze, and Christians (mostly Maronite Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Melkite Greek Catholics, as well as Syriac Orthodox, Armenian Catholics, Syriac Catholics, Chaldean, Latin Rite Roman Catholics, Assyrians, Copts and Protestants).

No official census has been taken since 1932, reflecting the political sensitivity in Lebanon over confessional (religious) balance. It is estimated that about 40% are Christians, 30% are Shia Muslims, 25% are Sunni Muslims and 5% are Druze[12] There used to be a small minority of Jews, mostly living in central Beirut. Also, a small community (less than 1%) of Kurds (also known as Mhallamis or Mardins) live in Lebanon. There are approximately 15 million people of Lebanese descent, mainly Christians, spread all over the world, Brazil being the country with the biggest Lebanese community abroad. Argentina, Australia, Canada, Colombia, France, Mexico, Venezuela and the US also have large Lebanese communities.

360,000 Palestinian refugees have registered in Lebanon with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) since 1948, estimates of those remaining range between 180,000 and 250,000.

The urban population, concentrated mainly in Beirut and Mount Lebanon, is noted for its commercial enterprise. A century and a half of migration and return have produced Lebanese commercial networks around the globe from North and South America to Europe, the Persian Gulf, and Africa. Lebanon has a high proportion of skilled labor comparable to most European nations.

... the single largest homogeneous group in Lebanon are Christians.

You are grasping at straws.
but one does need a lot of straw to construct and maintain a straw-man.

Ahead on points
I posted the comment to show that there are many occasions where someone doesn't intend to start a war, but ends up with the advantage.

Obviously Hez. didn't "win" this war. Nothing conclusive has yet happened. But they did find their position strengthened. Before the invasion most Lebanese didn't have much use for them. Now they do. Recruiting lines must go around the block twice by now. And Israel is so shaky a failure of the current government-- or at least a parliamentary crisis-- is not an unlikely outcome.

So Hezbollah, a tiny, inconsequential force before, has gained strength. And mighty Israel, humbled by a puny opponent, has lost much face. I'd say the advantage in this round went to the objectionable fellows in the black and green uniforms.

BTW if you blame the media for this perception, note that it's not just the opinion of the American press. The Israeli and Lebanese press, and the Arab press generally, all are in agreement.

More detail needed
I guess we'll just have to wait until the whole picture comes into sharper focus.

Here's the latest:

"In a meeting with a very senior Israeli official, [Deputy National Security Adviser Elliot] Abrams indicated that Washington would have no objection if Israel chose to extend the war beyond to its other northern neighbor, leaving the interlocutor in no doubt that the intended target was Syria," a well-informed source, who received an account of the meeting from one of its participants, told Inter Press Service.

While Abrams was discreetly urging Israel to expand the war to Syria, his neo-conservative allies, some of whom, such as former Defense Policy Board chairman Richard Perle and former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich, are regarded as close to Vice President **** Cheney, were more explicit, to the extent even of expressing disappointment over Israel's lack of aggressiveness or success in "getting the job done".

Cheney's own Middle East advisers, John Hannah and David Wurmser, have long favored "regime change" in Damascus and, according to the New York Times, argued forcefully - and successfully, with help from Abrams and pressure from the Israel lobby's leadership - against efforts by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to persuade Bush to open a channel to Syria in an effort to stop the recent fighting.

But Bush's adamant refusal to engage Damascus is precisely what has raised doubts in Israel about whether his policies are in the long-term or even in the immediate interests of the Jewish state.

Since the ceasefire, a growing number of former and current senior Israeli officials, including Olmert's defense, interior and foreign ministers, have called for talks with Damascus. And, while Olmert himself has rejected the idea for now, he has also abandoned his previous pre-condition for such talks - that Washington remove Syria from its terrorism list.

Of the officials, the two most important are both former Likud Party members - Interior Minister Avi Dichter, the former head of Israel's Shin Bet intelligence agency, and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who reportedly enjoys a strong relationship with Rice and has appointed her former chief of staff, Yaakov Dayan, to explore possible ways to engage Syria.

Meanwhile, other prominent Israelis are asking even more basic questions about the regional strategy pursued by Bush and its consequences for Israel.

you are
nuts. I'm sure all those Christian Lebanese are just dying to get themselves entangled with Syria.

Politics to Israelis is much more of a sport than a really serious commitment. The Israelis believe in Mosaic law, they believe in God. They also love to make money as much as yanks do.

But because you are a socialist you can't see what difference believing in God and making money have to do with anything.

Starting to get clearer
Here's how it looks from another angle:

‘'Bush has been convinced by self-appointed spokesmen for Israel and the Jewish community that endless war is in Israel's interest,'' asserted the lead editorial in the U.S.' most important Jewish newspaper, ‘Forward', immediately after the cease-fire took effect.

‘'(Bush) needs to hear in no uncertain terms that Israel is ready for dialogue, that the alternative -- endless jihad -- is unthinkable,'' declared the paper, which argued for Israel's participation in a regional dialogue with its Arab neighbours, including Syria, for a comprehensive peace settlement. ‘'Now is time to change the tune,'' the Forward concluded.

While such a regional negotiation is unlikely to be accepted either by Washington or Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in the short term, the question of engaging Syria is rapidly moving up the agenda both in Israel, where several Cabinet ministers have endorsed the idea, and in Washington, where the traditional foreign policy elite -- from Republican realists like former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage to Democratic internationalists such as former secretaries of state Warren Christopher and Madeleine Albright -- publicly criticized Bush for rejecting talks with Damascus, at the very least to probe its willingness to rein in Hezbollah, if not loosen its alliance with Iran, during the past month's fighting.

‘'I can't for the life of me understand why we don't (talk with) Syria,'' said James Dobbins, an analyst at the RAND Corporation who, as a senior State Department official, coordinated the Bush administration's diplomacy during and immediately after the war in Afghanistan.

more detail?

How about some detail.

leaving the interlocutor in no doubt that the intended target was Syria," a well-informed source, who received an account of the meeting from one of its participants

this is just an opinion piece, based on hearsay. Rumour generated opinion is always short of detail.

Don't hold your breath.
You and I have few enough of them left.

Does anyone still credit unknown, unidentified, sources except for Roy? This is another way of manipulating the news by throwing out false stories. We have the entire Phlame nonsense, which by the way we saw Roy leading the pack accusing the administration of outing a CIA official. Now we have the story that reveals the dangers of such sources and the manipulation by not onlyy the media but by its political allies.

For shame.

So if we knew he murdered all these people....
that he was violtaing the terms of the ceasefire; supported terrorism; was defying the world by not destroying or stopping his nuclear and biological programs how come you supported him during the war?

you mean an editorial in this paper?

English edition of the venerable Yiddish socialist newspaper from New York. - 29k - 5 Sep 2006 - Cached - Similar pages

Media Links -
News -
Past Issues -
Yiddish edition -
More results from »

Are you on drugs roy?

So what government has not targetted transportation infrastructure during war?
Si in Roy's world this equates with Dresden. Welcome to Roy's world.

really really sad.

Seymour Hersh Lives!
When it comes to quoting the dead; the reanimated and the zombiefied it takes a real wit to try and pass off political hack jobs like these as genuine. Hersh has made a living trying to get us to believe that unidientified people made up detailed statements that no one can challenge. Unfortunately, your report has all the credibility of a Hersh story. One wonders why the author didn't conjure up the spirit of Hitler urging the jews onwards to war with Syria.

Oh, that would make it parody instead of simply laughable.

A few more victories like that and Lebanon is ruined
But then again what do the jihaddies care much less Roy?

Gee talking buildings what next?
Roy's still trying to pass off his fantasies as real. He's not been quite the same since he lost that job as Baghdad Bob.

Some far out explanations
"Politics to Israelis is much more of a sport than a really serious commitment."

I see. So they don't see foreign policy or national defense as being serious matters. I never knew that.

Fortunately the Israeli belief in God (which I believe is shared by all their neighbors) and their famous love of making money will save them from all harm.

(BTW I know this will be lost on you, but the above comment is tongue in cheek.)

Facts from an encyclopedia
I am just fascinated by the way your mind works. In demolishing my point, you rely on the fact that Google has come up with 325 page refs for Gur and Schiff-- and done so in a mere 0.04 seconds!

This fact alone seems sufficient in your mind to dismiss any words either person may have ever actually said. Do you actually know who either of these gentlemen were? Or is that not germane to the discussion?

Then to hammer in your point you go off on an entirely unrelated discourse on Lebanese ethnology. Is there any link in your mind between this subject and the one we were discussing? Or does that even matter?

I expect you to come back with something else entirely unrelated, like breath control among flute players, or sugar cane cultivation.

Intelligence sources
When evaluating fragments of useful intellugence we don't always enjoy the luxury of having a camera rolling in the room where top level discussions are held. We have to go with second hand accounts-- or, in your phrase, "hearsay".

We could, if that were preferable, just stop trying to understand anything. We could then just rely on the lies of government spokespersons for our knowledge of world events. Would that be a preferable course to take?

The bottom line here is that the articles I'm sending your way contain material you don't want to think about, so your mind finds any way it can to dismiss them. Had I instead sent you pages from FrontPageMag you would have been entirely uncritical in accepting their conclusions, because they would confirm your presuppositions.

Why don't you instead try to approach ALL source material with the same critical processes?

Unnamed sources
The Plame incident points out the main pitfall of the media's reliance on unnamed administration sources. They can easily be used, and manipulated into disseminating disinformation useful to the source.

So let's use this knowledge to analyze what we're getting from inside Israel now. Hmmm... What they're saying is that they were misled by their pro-Israeli, American neocon advisers. And the one named so far is Elliot Abrams. They think they were led into a supreme act of folly, and are now considering the negotiation route instead. And they're putting that out there now because...?

Does that approach help us understand the reasons why the information was leaked? I think you're barking up the wrong tree here.

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