Monday, July 31, 2006

In the sandtrap

It is the conventional wisdom that the Middle East is turning into a giant mess, especially in reference to the current war between Israel and Hezbollah. As it happens, I agree with this theory but have a little different spin on it. But first we have to back up a little bit to explain where we are now.

First of all, Hezbollah is a terror group. It has no legitimate existence. It's primary intent is to kill and torture it's enemies, mostly but not exclusively Israel. It also does social service work, but not in the same way a Western charity would. It uses its social work to increase and maintain it's political base for terror, with a secondary aim of indoctrination as well.

Sometimes people don't realize that terror groups are, in general, pretty weak, militarily speaking. They make a living on attacking soft targets with brutality, intending to shock the political associates of the victims into capitulation. Hezbollah has, in the present conflict, significantly stepped up in weight class. They are launching ongoing missle strikes from Lebanon into Israel, and have been made significant company-size coordinated maneuvers, and have maintained military-style command and control.

This is very very bad news. The good that could possibly come of it is that the nature of the threat is so severe as to motivate Israel to eliminate the group in toto. But that ship has sailed, or is just about ready to. Apparently, maybe Israel intends to 'weaken' or 'degrade' Hezbollah's capability, at least to the point where they are no longer the target of Hezbollah missile strikes, though they haven't done this yet. But even if Israel accomplishes this, it will still be very much the worse off. The diplomatic fallout for the tremendous damage to civilian infrastructure will be very bad, in Lebanon and elsewhere. All the while Hezbollah, even if weakened, will still be the strongest player in Lebanese society.

Frankly, at this point it's anybody's guess what Israel's strategy is. I personally don't know, and others whose opinion I respect are at a loss as well.

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