More and more people are discussing the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, and calling it a resounding victory for Hezbollah. Last night, the guys from Pundit Review had Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters (retired) on, and he discussed in detail the mistakes Israel had made in the fighting, and how Hezbollah had done far better than many had expected.
I couldn’t resist. I called in, and suggested to the Colonel that his talk of the Israeli defeat and Hezbollah’s victory was overstated — I put it that “Israel lost because they didn’t win, and Hezbollah won because they didn’t lose.”
The Colonel agreed.
No, there was no clear winner in the fighting. But by most objective standards, Israel was clearly winning. They had complete freedom of movement, they had killed far more Hezbollah than they lost soldiers, and there was little chance of Hezbollah actually standing and stopping Israel from doing whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, wherever they wanted.
In fact, had the fighting existed in a vacuum, Hezbollah was doomed. They simply aren’t up to facing a modern military fighting force.
But Nature and geopolitics abhor a vacuum. The world chose to intervene and pull Hezbollah’s chestnuts out of the fire before Israel could achieve its three goals: the return of its two kidnapped soldiers, the disarming of Hezbollah, and securing a demilitarized “buffer zone” in southern Lebanon to prevent future attacks.
Of those three goals, they had pretty much achieved the third and made a sizable dent in the second. The first was pretty much more a hope than a goal.
Hezbollah’s objective was much simpler: survival. Maybe kill as many Israelis as they could (soldiers and civilians), but mainly to preserve their existence as a paramilitary threat to Israel. And that was never really in danger.
So yeah, it’s easy to say that Hezbollah “won” and Israel “lost” this battle. But to mistake this for a decisive action is to deny reality — this settled absolutely nothing, and there will be another fight.
And that one will, in all likelihood, be far worse than this one ever would have been.
Update: Kevin from Pundit Review mails me this link to their interview with Col. Peters. To avoid my annoying voice, click the mute at around 9:25 and unclick it at 12:00.