A remarkable state of war hysteria is developing in Washington. Fox News, The Weekly Standard, CNN and a multitude of partisans of the contesting parties in Lebanon are pouring fuel on the fire of war burning brightly. War Drums beating in the deep?
Otherwise sensible people are seriously suggesting that all out war to the death is the desirable "motif" of the day. In addition, neocon visionaries like Bill Kristol, Newt Gingrich and the Ledeen are howling like banshees for general war against the enemies of "freedom."
Ideas like the dispatch of Clinton (Bill) and #41 as a team to "solve" the problem are being floated around town by friends and consultant agents of interested parties. This last is not going to happen unless ’43 becomes convinced that Israeli efforts to destroy Hizballah and de-stabilize Syria are in danger of failing. If they are sent in that circumstance this would be yet another misjudgment of policy leading inevitable to yet another failure of execution.
It is pretty clear that as Putin said last night, Israel has "larger objectives" in Lebanon. It is also clear that there is agreement between the US and Israeli governments with regard to the policy being followed by Israel. President Bush places ALL responsibility on Hiszballah. The US Government is blocking adoption of a cease fire resolution requested by Lebanon. The pattern seems clear. Israel is supposed to smash Hizballah without re-wrecking Lebanese society.
Bombing and artillery fire are not going to clear the Hizballah movement’s forces out of south Lebanon. They have a widespread network of caches, underground storage and firing positions that extends far to the north and into the Biqaa Valley. Additional re-supply through Syria is a possibility. The population in the south is generally friendly to Hizballah and hostile to Israel. The rocket and missile fire into Israel will continue as long as the potential launch sites in Lebanon are within range of targets in Israel.
As that idea "soaks in" (or at least becomes plausibly discovered), then Israel will have no "choice" but to enter Lebanon with major forces and occupy ground in enough depth to make it impossible to strike targets in Israel. In the process of doing that they will of necessity by-pass Hizballah fighters hiding in and around the population or just out in the bush. Once that happens, then in the weeks, months and years that follow the now familiar war of the elephants and the ants will be re-played. A smaller and less well understood version of this "war" was fought out between the Israelis and the Shia Lebanese during the long Israeli occupation of south Lebanon. In the end, the pressure of this endless guerrilla was too much and Israel withdrew its forces. What has changed? Hizballah now knows that these methods work. They worked for them and they have seen the example of Iraq. That is what has changed.
I am filled with suspicion that US/Israeli policy has provided an opportunity for Hizballah and their Iranian friends to learn the limits of the "ants" abilities. If you listened to Hassan Nasrallah’s speech today you could hear, not boasting, but rather an attempt to provoke an Israeli advance.