And the beat goes on. Or should I say ‘beating a dead horse’ goes on? That would be Israel’s failed Lebanon war. The logic seems to be–if we haven’t won this thing thus far let’s sink even more troops into it so that we finally can. Just the trap that John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson fell into in their escalation of U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
The NY Times writes this telling passage explaining what might be the Israeli thinking behind this latest escalation:
Israeli troops may push northward to the Litani River, 15 miles from the border, cabinet ministers said after their latest meeting, which ended in the early hours on Tuesday. But the Israeli intention now seems to be to clear a wide strip of land along the border into which an international force could deploy without itself having to fight Hezbollah, a cabinet minister said.
Now, isn’t that neat and tidy. Israel prepares a nice little nest for the international peacekeepers so they can keep their hands clean and avoid fighting Hezbollah. What this neat little scenario neglects to take into account is what good does it do to clear out a buffer zone if Hezbollah will treat it as it has Israel’s northern border? In other words, it will attack the peacekeeping force mercilessly until it withdraws as it did U.S. and French forces in 1983. The Israeli perspective seems to be: let the French get killed in southern Lebanon. Better them than our boys.
Ehud Olmert continues in his blissful ignorance of what the true facts will be once the peacekeepers are installed:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Tuesday evening, “We are at the beginning of a political process that in the end will bring a cease-fire under entirely different conditions than before.”
Speaking at the graduation ceremony at the National Security College, Mr. Olmert said, “The State of Israel is winning in this battle, and is gaining impressive achievements, perhaps unprecedented ones.”
He added, “If the military campaign would have ended today, today we could already say with certainty the face of the Middle East has changed.”
Yeah, sure. In your dreams, buddy. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss” to quote the immortal The Who. Olmert seems to have forgotten another passage from that song: “We won’t get fooled again.”
In case anyone harbors any illusions about the impact this disaster will have on Lebanese democracy, read this:
The last few weeks have essentially transformed Lebanese politics, marginalizing the democratic forces promoted by the United States and France — known as the March 14 group — and instead empowering President Émil Lahoud, a staunch ally of Syria, and above all the Shiite Muslim speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berri, who is the only official link to the Hezbollah leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah.
The AngryArab has called this process a ‘coup d’etat’ by which he means that Israel has returned Lebanon to something like it was politically before Syria withdrew. Hezbollah and the Shiites are ascendant. Democratic forces are bending the knee to the new heroes of the resistance (to Israel). Essentially, everything’s gone to shit. Here’s to you, Mr. Olmert.