Thursday, August 17, 2006

Even in Victory, Hezbollah Suffers Defeat?

That is what Strategy Page would have us think. While there are solid points made in their analysis, I cannot help thinking that they overlook the difference between this and past wars in terms of what can reasonably be defined as victory by Hezbollah. Hezbollah is a terrorist group, and did not set out to destroy Israel per se. The fact that Israel still stands is not a defeat for Hezbollah--but the fact that Hezbollah still stands is a defeat for Israel.

Hizbollah suffered a defeat. Their rocket attacks on Israel, while appearing spectacular (nearly 4,000 rockets launched), were unimpressive (39 Israelis killed, half of them Arabs). On the ground, Hizbollah lost nearly 600 of its own personnel, and billions of dollars worth of assets and weapons. Israeli losses were far less.

While Hizbollah can declare this a victory, because it fought Israel without being destroyed, this is no more a victory than that of any other Arab force that has faced Israeli troops and failed. Arabs have been trying to destroy Israel for over half a century, and Hizbollah is the latest to fail. But Hizbollah did more than fail, it scared most Moslems in the Middle East, because it demonstrated the power and violence of the Shia Arab minority. Sunni Arabs, and most Arabs are Sunnis, are very much afraid of Shia Moslems, mainly because most Iranians are Shia, not Arab, and intent on dominating the region, like Iran has done so many times in the past. Hizbollah's recent outburst made it clear that Iran, which subsidizes and arms Hizbollah, has armed power that reaches the Mediterranean. This scares Sunni Arabs because a Shia minority also continues to rule Syria (where most of the people are Sunni). The Shia majority in Iraq, which have not dominated Iraq for over three centuries, is now back in control.

Hizbollah did enjoy a victory in its recent war, but it was over Sunni Arabs, not Israel.
But Hezbollah will take that victory, thank you very much, and build on that with an eye to the future--theirs, not Israel's.

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