Friday, July 28, 2006

Defining Victory Away

It's astonishing to watch Israeli sources constantly lower the bar for what the destruction of Lebanon was supposed to achieve. We've gone from "destroy Hezbollah utterly" to "control a chunk of Lebanon with no defensive value until we get tired and go home." Essentially, we've gotten to the point where the IDF is shelling Lebanese towns for just a bit longer so that they can try to preserve the illusion that this entire fiasco hasn't been a gigantic fuck-up from day one.

Steve Gilliard mentions something important:
But I think the first time I saw Hezbollah soldiers with helmets, I would have spent a half hour puking. Guerrillas don't use helmets, soldiers do. And Israel should have realized that this was a cat of a different color.

Hezbollah has studied the Japanese, the Vietnamese and the Iranians on how to fortify towns and hide bunkers. This was not just thunk up and done, this took a military mind. For all the hype about the Mossad, they didn't perform their primary function and give the IDF accurate intel on Hezbollah capabilities. When IDF commanders say they were surprised by a network of bunkers in a town they have a million pictures of, someone failed.

A Lebanese border town should hold no secrets for the IDF. The fact that it did, much less the fighting style of Hezbollah shows a fatal level of arrogance on the part of the IDF.
Ironically, the last time the Mossad had a truly unqualified success may have been the first time it was revealed publicly - with the capture of Adolph Eichmann in May of 1960. If you look at the history of the 1973 war, Mossad's failure nearly destroyed Israel. Meanwhile, the hunt for the members of Black September (most recently fictionalized in Munich) had a number of important mistakes, ending with the most embarassing failure in the Mossad's history, and Israeli agents arrested in Norway for murder.

We haven't got solid numbers on how many Israeli soldiers have died and how many Hezbollah have died, but judging from the published numbers, I'd say it's a pretty solid bet that Hezbollah has roughly held its own in terms of casualties. This is crucial - western armies are used to massively lopsided casualty figures. Five, even Ten to one ratios of enemy killed to friendly deaths is not unheard of. Israel claims that it's killed over a hundred Hezbollah fighters, but let's just say that Israel's definition of an enemy soldier hasn't been terribly rigorous lately.

If Hezbollah is holding its own, or even taking "only" 2:1 losses, it might just be the most effective Arab army Israel has ever faced. And that means Israel's security policies have entered a new and very scary place.

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