Monday, December 29, 2008

Did Someone Mention Hizbollah?

In The New York Times today, Ethan Bronner writes about one of the outcomes of the current operation:
“In the cabinet room today there was an energy, a feeling that after so long of showing restraint we had finally acted,” said Mark Regev, spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, speaking of the weekly government meeting that he attended.

Mark Heller, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, said that that energy reflected the deep feeling among average Israelis that the country had to regain its deterrent capacity.

“There has been a nagging sense of uncertainty in the last couple years of whether anyone is really afraid of Israel anymore,” he said. “The concern is that in the past — perhaps a mythical past — people didn’t mess with Israel because they were afraid of the consequences. Now the region is filled with provocative rhetoric about Israel the paper tiger. This operation is an attempt to re-establish the perception that if you provoke or attack you are going to pay a disproportionate price.”
Noah Pollak writes that Israel may indeed have regained some of that aura--and maybe did not lose as much respect as it thinks:
As a matter of fact, it’s interesting to note that since the summer 2006 war, Hezbollah has been completely quiet on Israel’s border — even after their terrorist superhero, Imad Mughniyah, was assassinated, and Syria’s nuclear reactor was bombed, and Hezbollah’s liason to Damascus had an unfortunate run-in with a rifle bullet on his balcony one afternoon. Right now, Nasrallah futilely rants from Lebanon, while Hezbollah watches its ally in Gaza get pummeled. Deterrence is a real thing, and while it’s too early to judge the outcome of the current engagement, it’s also too early to declare that Hamas’ experience of being whipped and humiliated — the first time in the group’s history — will not establish some new behavioral guidelines.
Let's not forget, Nasrallah is not only ranting futilely, he is ranting while hiding in an underground bunker.

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