September 1, 2006

Rare Logical Lapse From My Favorite Blog

Hatched by Dafydd

It's well known that Big Lizards strongly disagrees with Power Line about the effect and consequences of the recent Israeli-Lebanese war: Power Line believes it was an unalloyed, ringing victory for Hezbollah and an unparalleled catastrophe for Israel; while Big Lizards believes that it was a lose-lose scenario, where both sides lost -- but Hezbollah lost worse:

This is why I say that overall, neither Hezbollah nor Israel won this war; both lost. Hezbollah lost the actual ground war worse than Israel did; but Israel lost the PR war worse than did Hezbollah. Iran/Syria and the United States both had slight wins; and Europe showed itself to be, once again, feckless and unreliable....

I agree that Israel did not do anywhere near as well as it could have, had it a different government. But it's just plain irresponsible to don sackcloth, roll in ashes, and proclaim a total and complete victory by the forces of darkness. For heaven's sake, results were mixed on all sides.

Now, belatedly, along come some others who now, upon sober reflection, proclaim agreement with the Lizard: notably Charles "the Sauerkraut" Krauthammer and Col. Austin Bay.

The former notes that:

True, under the inept and indecisive leadership of Ehud Olmert, Israel did miss the opportunity to militarily destroy Hezbollah and make it a non-factor in Israel's security, Lebanon's politics and Iran's foreign policy. Nonetheless, Hezbollah was seriously hurt. It lost hundreds of its best fighters. A deeply entrenched infrastructure on Israel's border is in ruins. The great hero has had to go so deep into hiding that Nasrallah has been called "the underground mullah.''

Most importantly, Hezbollah's political gains within Lebanon during the war have proved illusory. As the dust settles, the Lebanese are furious at Hezbollah for provoking a war that brought them nothing but devastation -- and then crowing about victory amid the ruins.

Paul of Power Line finds some logical disconnect between these two sentiments. He believes that if the latter idea is true, that Hezbollah also suffered defeat, then this casts doubt on the idea that Olmert's leadership was "inept":

If Hezbollah has suffered a major defeat and if, as Krauthammer claims, Hezbollah will not attack Israel again, then one can defend Olmert's decision not to sacrifice the lives of hundreds of additional Israeli soldiers in order to accomplish more.

I'm puzzled; typically, Paul Mirengoff is the most logical of the three (John Hinderaker is the passionate Power Liner, especially when it comes to female beauty pageants; while Scott Johnson, with his emphasis on music, is the mystic). But of course, there is no conflict between the following two statements:

  • Ehud Olmert is an inept clod who mismanaged the war;
  • Nevertheless, Hassan Nasrallah still had his butt handed to him.

What it really means is that Hezbollah was stronger than we thought but weaker than we feared. It certainly doesn't meant that, with more effort and brainpower on Israel's part, Hezbollah couldn't have been wiped out. In fact, recognition, however delayed, of Hezbollah's true weakness should fuel the idea that, if Israel had just tried a little harder, it could have obliterated that awful terrorist group.

No illogicality at all, Paul; the two ideas go together like Michael Moore and a box of jelly donuts.

(By the way, just to sharpen Big Lizards' own nosehorn, here is what Austin Bay said on Strategy Page:

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.

Heh; Col. Bay could have saved some time by simply reading our previous post!)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 1, 2006, at the time of 3:22 PM

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Tracked on September 2, 2006 11:30 PM

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Tracked on September 3, 2006 3:46 AM


The following hissed in response by: Terrye

I am not so sure that Israel could have wiped out Hezbellah completely. It would seem to me that if that were possible they would have been able to accomplish it during the years they were actually in parts of Lebanon. Hezbellah's strength also lies in part in its ability to weasel its way into the lives of the people of the region and I am afraid that might have made complete destruction difficult if not impossible.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 1, 2006 4:52 PM

The following hissed in response by: Norman Rogers

I'm with you, LizardMan.

For sure the IDF learned some sharp lessons:

1. Inadequate training of officers and men -- especially of reserves -- leads to poor battlefield performance.

2. Anti-tank missiles are a reasonable subsitute for tube artillery.

3. If you're commanding a tank, keep your head down and your hatch battened.

4. When you're ready to go, don't dither.

5. The static defenses built by the Hezbillies are no match for a mobile force.

The IDF (with the help of the US of A and a great deal of Isreal's national treasure) will apply these lessons learned.

Hezbo has learned that its rockets were far more threatening before they used them and that they cannot stand up to the IDF on any battlefield. And Hezbo won't get the fact that their few successful tactics will be nullified if they are foolish enough to try again.

The above hissed in response by: Norman Rogers [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 1, 2006 7:24 PM

The following hissed in response by: Linh_My

War almost by definition is one big SNAFU, Situation Normal All Fouled Up (Combat vets generally substitute another word for "Fouled"). Each side has a determined and intelligent opponent whose life depends on screwing things up for their opponent.

Wars are lost by those who are more fouled (that word again) up than the other guy(s). Lebanon lost the war. As for Hezbellah and Israel, it's too early to say. I did show a copy of an article in the Lebanese Daily Star where what's his name said that he would never have started the war if he knew how strongly Israel would react to a Palestine friend. Got his attention big time. Apparently the Palestine's are in a different reality than the Lebanese.

The above hissed in response by: Linh_My [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 2, 2006 4:11 AM

The following hissed in response by: Jabba the Tutt

Here's the thing, the Israeli public isn't used to losing wars. They lost over a hundred soldiers plus civilians. They're pissed.

I don't care who governs Israel during the next war, I already pity the fools (yeah, Mr T) who will be on the receiving end of the IDF. It's going to be a wipeout.

The above hissed in response by: Jabba the Tutt [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 2, 2006 6:15 AM

The following hissed in response by: Foobarista

My hope is this is seen as Israel's Grenada: a relatively painless humiliation - a painful one would result in Israel's destruction - that results in a massive overhaul of Israel's military. Many of the IDF's clusterfargs were Grenada-like "starve the military" logistical issues and silly tech integration/compatibility nonsense that will hopefully be fixed quickly.

The above hissed in response by: Foobarista [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 2, 2006 10:23 PM

The following hissed in response by: DanDaMan

Don't forget Krauthammer is a franchise and a cottage industry who has a vested interest in his positions. He can't afford to look foolish, but he backed disengagement and further unilateral withdrawals on the West Bank so, like Olmert, he has to divert attention from the disasters they've already produced in Lebanon and Gaza. Ergo, a loss is a win. Krauthammer also knows that memories are short. He's banking that Hezbollah will put at least a few hundred columns between him and their next assault on Israel. Plenty of time to lay down intellectual cover.

Like I said, memories are short. Olmert's greatest shortcoming, and a sign of depravity not ineptitude or "cloddishness," was launching the ground offensive the same day he declared acceptance of a ceasefire in another 48-hours. That goes way beyond incompetence and exposes a callous disregard for Israeli soldiers' lives.

I don't think many Americans - even friends of Israel - understand the depths to which the Israeli political class has sunk, and what a threat that constitutes to Israel's well-being.

The above hissed in response by: DanDaMan [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 3, 2006 5:23 AM

The following hissed in response by: ajacksonian

Mostly I see what went on as a training lesson for the Iranian Foreign Legion known as Hezbollah. A very painful one, at that. Dithering between being a bunch of terrorists working together or being a fighting force gets you killed in the field against a competent military force. They don't want to be the first and haven't trained well for the latter, although better than their backers in some things.

Israel has learned one thing: Hezbollah must be rolled back along its supply lines. Those do not end in Beirut, but in Damascus, locally. And finally in Tehran.

The above hissed in response by: ajacksonian [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 3, 2006 9:54 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


I also back "disengagement and further unilateral withdrawals" in both Gaza and the West Bank (but I opposed the withdrawl from Lebanon); and the former has not produced "disasters." Not because of any "peace process," nor any idea that unilateral withdrawl would cause Arabs to be kind to Israel -- but because occupation produces military paralysis: there are many kinds of military responses a civilized country simply cannot do to a territory it already occupies.

Remove the occupation, and Gaza becomes just another bordering country; the fetters are off, and Israel can use much stronger and more deadly force against them -- as they did during the side engagement there.

Also, without several thousand ready-made Israeli hostages in Gaza (and eventually the West Bank), one major avenue of easy retaliation by the "Palestinians" is removed: they cannot simply butcher the settlers, as they were doing continually during the intifadas.

The problem was not with withdrawl; under Sharon, or anyone remotely like him, the reaction to the kidnapping of the Israeli soldier would have been far more complete and devastating -- both to Gaza and Lebanon.

But since Israel was stuck with the Hamlet-like Olmert, we'll have to wait a while to test the theory.

The reason I never advocated withdrawl from Lebanon was that it was a fundamentally different military operation than the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank: Israel ruled over no captive population in Lebanon.

Rather, they held a mostly unoccupied strip at the border, simply as a buffer zone to prevent Hezbollah (and earlier, the PLO) from firing rockets into northern Israel. The Lebanese withdrawl was as absurd as it was inexplicable, except when considered as Ehud Barak kowtowing to Bill Clinton.

(Please -- no more prime ministers named "Ehud," can we agree? <g>)

If Sharon had still been around to take advantage of the military freedom he had gained in Gaza by the withdrawl, and which he would have had in Lebanon under any circumstances, to do the job proper, the advantages would be clear: Ariel Sharon knew why he withdrew, and he would not have squandered that opportunity.

But nobody could predict that he would stroke out and be replaced by a vacillating nebbish with no military command experience beyond the rank of captain, I believe.

Try not to fall into the idea that Israel could have remained a colonial power forever -- or that it would ever have had the chutzpah to annex the occupied territories and drive all the Arabs out of Gaza and the West Bank. That was never going to happen. (Just like America is never going to "round up and deport" all 11 million illegal aliens, nor is the West ever going to "nuke Mecca.")

Their only choice, which they always admitted, from 1967 on, was their plan, was at some point to withdraw. They still need to withdraw from the West Bank; not as a reward to the Arabs (which means not right this moment, obviously), but for their own military necessity.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 3, 2006 1:17 PM

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