Not as knowledgeable on matters military as other bloggers, I have been hesitant to criticize Israel’s strategy against Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon. But, for the past two weeks, I felt that, if anything, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were not being aggressive enough. They had only deployed 10,000 troops to occupy only a portion of southern Lebanon and had not committed to help the United Nations (UN) fulfill the mandate of its own Resolution 1559 by “disbanding and disarmament” of Hezbollah, a militia operating illegally in Lebanon.
There can be no peace as long as an armed organization committed to the destruction of Israel occupies land on its northern border in violation of international law.
While I am saddened by the continued loss of life, including 15 Israeli soldiers today, I am relieved that Israel’s Security Cabinet voted to expand its offensive with the goal of reaching the Litani River. I believe the president is wrong to oppose esclation of the war, as Israel has not yet succeeded in clearing southern Lebanon of Hezbollah, an outcome which would not only strengthen the American hand in the UN Security Council, but would also further the War on Terror by defeating one of the most aggressive terrorist organizations.
And since Hezbollah basically does the bidding of Iran, it would be a major defeat for that state sponsor of terror.
Until recently, I didn’t think Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Ohlmert has been as decisive in prosecuting this war as should be the leader of the nation whose existence hangs in the balance. He has not acted as aggressively as would my man Bibi (former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu). That said, not being a military man — and not aware of the inner workings of his Ohlmert’s cabinet, I fear I may judging too harshly a man leading a nation in difficult times. (Some bloggers with more military experience have been more critical of Ohlmert.)
This morning on Fox News, Netanyahu said that the expanded offensive was “late, but not too late.” I agree. And there may even be an advantage to this delay. Israel now knows something it did not know when it launched its initial offensive. It has learned that Hezbollah is better trained than it had previously assumed. It is becoming increasingly familiar with its tactics. With this knowledge, the IDF can better map out its strategy for victory.
While I wish the world could deal with Hezbollah diplomatically, that doesn’t seem possible. The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1559 two-and-one-half years ago and has done nothing to enforce it. In that same time period, Iran and Syria have repeatedly violated international law by arming Hezbollah. Sometimes, unfortunately, war is necessary.
I wish Israel every success in its latest campaign and hope for a speedy victory which will not only guarantee the security of the Jewish State, but would also help the Lebanese people complete the process they began last year and establish a democracy in that long-troubled land.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com
UPDATE: Israeli Prime Minister Olmert has decided to put the offensive on hold. In the words of Cabinet minister Raif Eitan:
There are diplomatic considerations. There is still a chance that an international force will arrive in the area. We have no interest in being in south Lebanon. We have an interest in peace on our borders.
While I doubt diplomacy will lead Hezbollah to disarm as required the Security Council Resolution 1559, we can still hope.
UP-UPDATE: Martin Sherman offers a harsh assessment of Ohlmert and his intellectual allies.
UP-UP-UPDATE: This article confirms one of my hypotheses about one advantage to a delay expanding the offensive. A senior IDF officer “stressed troops drew numerous lessons during the first month of fighting and will be able to apply them in any future operation.” And in this piece, Netanyahu expands on the points he made yesterday on Fox News, “The government’s decision comes late, very late, but not too late..” Read the whole thing!
UP-UP-UP-UPDATE: Paul at Powerline echoes my thoughts, writing:
I am generally not a fan of the second-guessing of military strategy by journalists, former military types, professors, etc. It’s not just that hindsight is 20-20; it’s also that the second-guessers almost never consider the reasons why the decisionmakers acted as they did and what the consequences of acting differently might have been. Most of them, in short, are largely oblivious to the uncertainties of war and to the concept of trade-offs.
He links this piece by Michael Wdilanski who is quite critical of Olmert.