Of course, Lebanon was not a combatant in this fight. So, that leaves a big question regarding the resolution's implementation:
"The Lebanese government has fully endorsed the resolution," said a senior State Department official. "It remains to be seen: Will Hezbollah behave as a Lebanese entity and assume a place in the political process or continue to be a proxy for foreign governments?"Assuming that the ceasefire can now be put in place relatively incident-free, there will begin a time of postmortem analysis of this conflict, something I find fascinating as a student of history. And there are any number of questions to be answered:
But U.S. officials said they believe that at least some members of Hezbollah have endorsed the ideas in the proposal because Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora won unanimous cabinet support -- including from two Hezbollah ministers -- for the deployment of an expanded U.N. force.
- What was Hezbollah thinking when it initiated this conflict?
- What was Hezbollah trying to achieve with its attack?
- Given Israel's initial stated goal of destroying Hezbollah, why did it rely so heavily on the imprecisions of air power and why did it engage in a kind of non-sequitur war that seemingly ignored that the real powers behind the Hezbollah attack were most immediately, Syria, and more remotely, Iran?
- Why, when the Arab League had condemned Hezbollah's original attack on Israel, did the Israeli government not seek to work with its Arab neighbors to put pressure on Hezbollah for the return of its kidnapped soldiers, rather than resorting immediately to war that put innocent civilians--Israeli as well as Lebanese--in the crosshairs? Why did Ehud Olmert's government botch an historic opportunity?
- What explains the massive failure of Israel's usually sterling intelligence in failing to learn either of Hezbollah's extensive battle plans or its military capacity?
The wisest stewards of massive military advantage, like Dwight Eisenhower, the greatest US President of the last half of the twentieth century when it comes to diplomatic and military strategy, have always known several things:
The first thing they've known is that the implied use of force often accomplishes more than its actual use. "Power is what people think you have," my Ohio State PoliSci prof, Jim Kweder, used to tell us. (Poli Sci 265, Winter Quarter, 1972) Had the Israeli government exercised some patience, it might have been able to exert prevailing, massive pressure on Hezbollah through Arab countries already condemning the group's actions and so, driven a wedge of disunity within the ranks of Israel's historic enemies.
Israel could have implied that it would use its military against Hezbollah or its sponsors--and actually done so, if it appeared that Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt would not maximize pressure on Hezbollah--and gained the release of its soldiers as well as the dismantling of the group's military apparatus without firing a shot.
When major military powers allow themselves to be suckered into armed conflict with inferior forces, as happened to the United States in Vietnam and to the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, they subject those forces to unexpectedly high casualties. Guerilla fighters who are underestimated going into a fight see anything other than being annihilated as victory. So does the watching world. It's what I call "the emperor has no clothes" effect. It lessens the influence and security of a great power and emboldens its enemies if it doesn't achieve its stated military goals.
The second thing which the wise stewards of military power know is that once a decision has been made to fight, nothing necessary for victory must be held back. In America, this notion is a key component of the Powell Doctrine. As summarized in a terrific Newshour resource:
...the Doctrine expresses that military action should be used only as a last resort and only if there is a clear risk to national security by the intended target; the force, when used, should be overwhelming and disproportionate to the force used by the enemy; there must be strong support for the campaign by the general public; and there must be a clear exit strategy from the conflict in which the military is engaged.The Ehud Olmert government never seemed to know exactly where to hit its enemy, relied heavily on the imprecisions of air power to go after that enemy, and had an announced exit hope without having an apparent strategy.
Donald Sensing believes that the war in Lebanon has been a disaster for the Olmert government and will lead to the Prime Minister's replacement by Benjamin Netanyahu. That would likely signal a move away from the policies of Ariel Sharon, who understood the ticking demographic time bomb that will make Israel itself an Arab state unless it divests itself of territories once seized from its enemies. Netanyahu appears to want to ignore this demographic imperative, thus guaranteeing that Israel's very existence will be a taunt and constantly in danger.
When Hezbollah attacked, Israel had every right and responsibility as a sovereign state, to protect its citizens. But the Olmert government also then had a choice about how to defend Israel. It could have employed the implied use of force, striving to isolate Hezbollah on the one hand, or gone after the terrorist group with overwhelming force, on the other. Either option could have been legitimately supported and pursued. But the government there chose neither one. Now, after enormous loss of life in both Israel and Lebanon and after giving Hezbollah a PR-windfall, the Israeli government has severely crippled Lebanon's nascent democracy and filled Lebanese of all stripes with renewed hatred for Israel.
I'm just a preacher who's a student of history, but it looks like a recipe for another war to me.
[Thanks to Annie Gottlieb of Ambivablog for linking to this piece.]
[Thanks also to Stubborn Facts for linking to this post.]
[I appreciate that Joe Gandelman of The Moderate Voice has also linked here.]