It is easy right now, with revolutions going on and riots and protests raging all over the Arab world, to lose sight of the ongoing Israel-Hezbollah conflict. Yet challenges have recently been flying over and back on both sides, with Ehud Barak claiming in a speech on an IDF base that ‘we may have to go back in soon since Hezbollah seems to have forgotten the lesson we taught it in 2006 (sic)’ and Nasrallah retorting that ‘if you attack Lebanon again, we will liberate Northern Galilee’. Now both of these statements reveal nothing new. I have argued in this blog before that Israel is hidebound on a self-destructive, suicidal course. Its leaders are very akin to the Mubaraks and Ben Alis of this world: they are so used to having their every whim attended to without a whimper of criticism or protest, that they have long ago lost the ability to think clearly and see reality for what it is. In Barak’s case: despite facts on the ground and the Winograd commission’s conclusions about the dilapidated state of the IDF, he refuses to concede that the fourth strongest army in the world, with all its hi-tech gadgetry, was utterly unable to even seriously dent a group of lightly-armed but determined guerillas. All the IDF managed to do in 2006 was what it is actually good at: massacring unarmed civilians, preferably from a mile up in the sky. As soon as they were confronted with actual trained fighters, it was they who took a beating and were forced to retreat dismally licking their wounds. Even their much-vaunted Merkava tanks were no match for Hezbollah. But as some dude in the US state department once said: the Israelis are like a guy who sets fire to his hair and then bangs his head with a hammer to put out the flames. They are unlikely to actually learn from their mistakes and will continue to underestimate their enemies. On the other hand, I have long argued on this blog that the logical next step for Hezbollah – not the type of people to get conceited and overly confident to the point of being blinded to all signs of reality – in any coming conflict would be to actually invade Israel. The mere psychological effect of the zionist state actually losing land for the first time in 70 years or so would be devastating enough to bring an end to this religious colonial adventure. Having in all probability lost the support of the Egyptian dictatorship – depending on the outcome of the ongoing events – and additionally facing a situation where their other dictator friends in the Arab world, from Jordan to Saudi Arabia to Morocco, are now politically unable to be seen as even passively supporting any Israeli military adventures, the odds are in any case stacked against them much more than in 2006 or even 2008. Do not underestimate how the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions have galvanised minds both in the Arab world and in Europe in favour of the Arab ‘street’ (as opposed to its republican and monarchic dictatorships), or the importance of Bahrainis, Algerians, Libyans, Yemenis and Jordanians shedding their fear of their own regimes. With Palestinians already protesting both Fatah and Hamas – who both play a major part in protecting Israel – and Arabs in general emboldened and furious, going to war now would be the worst choice the zionist state could make – and if history isany guide, there is therefore a high likelihood that that is exactly the choice it will make. Don’t forget that Israel could have had peace for over ten years already, with all member states of the Arab League and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, not to mention the UN backing the Saudi proposal for peace within the 1967 borders. Israel has consistently refused to even discuss this perfectly sensible option, just like it has consistently refused Syrian peace offers in return for the Golan Heights, and just like it keeps legitimising and strengthening Hezbollah by occupying the Shebaa farms and Ghajjar.
As Nick Noe puts it on Mideastwire today: “[An Israeli attack on Lebanon] is precisely what Hizbullah has said it very much wants… And I am convinced that this is indeed a genuine, shared strategic approach among key figures in the Party. In this changing strategic balance, Hizbullah seems to be calculating that a large ground invasion – as is being pumped up in Israel on a daily basis, i.e. the reason they “lost” the last war is because they did not punch hard enough into lebanon in 2006 with boots on the ground – that this movement which Barak confidently bellowed today will be a gross miscalculation on the part of the IDF… and would lead to the IDF’s effective collapse.”
Nick sees three possibler scenarios: “This is one end game: Hizbullah leaderships desired endgame I would submit. The other one is that Israel and the US change their negotiating positions enough re: Syria and the Palestinians and undercut the Resistance Axis…. or the third end game where Israel realizes it cannot reasonably ATTACK, it sits back behind its walls and domes and de-legit campaigns and steadily enough people emigrate from Israel, there is enough internal decay and division, that the Jewish state of Israel demographically collapses…”
Theoretically, these are indeed all possible endgames, but I think the US and Israel are too ideologically entrenched and power mad to go for the second option, while the third is not a realistic option because Israel cannot keep its various feuding factions united without the common enemy and regular warfare. In short, I do think the Israelis are getting desperate right now, and that additionally are blind, irrational and suicidal enough to lash out wildly at the nearest enemy ignoring all consequences of their actions. I am furthermore convinced that they will not only lose that war, but will lose ‘their’ country in doing so. But then, I have also regularly argued on this blog – and even more to friends and colleagues in Beirut – that the Arab populations were about to explode and that revolution was around the corner. Nobody listened then and I am not expecting anybody to listen now…