Sunday, August 06, 2006

Oh what a tangled web...

The new Lebanese conflict may endure for a while; Once the ball has been pushed, it rolls downhill with little regard to why it was pushed; the path obeys simple physical rules...

This conflict also has its own rules and parameters:

1- The Israelis are forced to maintain positions in Lebanon until an international force can be assembled and sent. This would take at least a month from now, regardless of when a cease fire is agreed upon.

2- To Hezb, what matters here is not the survival of a country, but the political survival of either a confessional party, or an Iranian forward base, or both. So, with Israeli forces in Lebanon, Hezb will have no choice but to attack them. However, this would break whatever cease-fire agreement is in place.

3- Note that the talk is about "cessation of hostilities", not "cease fire". while the difference does not matter to the people who are under threat, there is one. A "cessation of hostilities" would be viewed as a step-by-step slowdown; like the 48-hour "halt" that we saw recently, which was more of a slow down. Bombing would not really stop, and some attacks could invite retatliation and therefore re-escalation.

4- Iran may consider that it cannot afford to loose its forward base. And many in Hezb may consider that giving up their weapons means their political end. We may be witnessing essentially a war by an stealth occupier, Iran via Hezb, against a visible occupier, Israel. On this parameter, only time will make it clearer; it is too soon to tell that the kidnapping was ordained from afar or was a local affair. I do not
see how Iran would sacrifice such an important card so soon in its nuclear game.

5- Another parameter is Psychological. According to Ha'retz (Saturday, August 8), some in Israel consider that "Accordingly, the second Lebanon war is different from all its predecessors. In the second Lebanon war, there is a danger that Israel will be defeated" . As a result, in a country that views its survival as linked to victory. While "a defeat is not a holocaust [nor] the end", to them, "the reality is hard, very hard". Their problem is that they are "perceived to be helpless in the face of a sub-state terrorist organization that was battering it repeatedly without being vanquished". And since they view themselves as "surrounded by actual and potential enemies", whose "strength [...] is far greater than the strength of Hezbollah", they need to remove "the impression [...] that [Israel] has become a country that is not defendable".this means "a war that will be harder and more terrible", with "a late victory at a heavy price in blood".

So, when moderates start to consider that this war is "correct and necessary", all those dynamics become hard to stop, as long as both combattants are stuck in this mode.

Recall that the Great War (1914-1918) also began in confusion. Many brave men enthusiastically went to their death...

Let's all "Praise the Lord, and Pass the Ammunition"...

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