Saturday, August 12, 2006

Who Won?

My prediction is that Hezbollah will appear the winner, because unrestricted by a sense of obligation to tell the truth, and with the ability to threaten and intimidate those journalists that are not already their supporters, they can declare victory as often as possible and create the impression of strength. Already, the crawl on al Manar TV states "We won. We defeated the invincible army." But that victory is merely having survived, and even that is something that Hezbollah did little to bring about. They were saved by the weak-heartedness of the West, and by the willingness of their enemy to stop fighting.

To their credit, Israel is doing their best to put Hezbollah into as weak a position as possible before they will stop fighting. From the New York Times:

Israel poured troops into southern Lebanon on Saturday, making its deepest push yet toward the Litani River and suffering its highest daily losses, including having a helicopter shot down by Hezbollah guerrillas for the first time in the fighting.

The problem is, Israeli losses get reported very quickly and precisely. If earlier engagements are any indication, Hezbollah losses were triple Israel's, but that will not get reported for another few days, after the notion that Israel is facing some kind of quagmire has settled in. One of the headlines at Haaretz is about a helicopter shot down by Hezbollah. The story emphasizes that 11 were killed, but left unstated is the lrger fact that helicopters don't tend to travel alone, was part of a larger assault deep in Hezbollah's territory, and the privilege of shooting it down probably cost twice as many Hezbollah lives as Israeli's.
Earlier Saturday, the Hezbollah leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, went on television to charge that "nothing had changed" since the resolution, but conditionally pledged to abide by a cease-fire once it came into effect. "The war did not end, because the aggression is still going on," he said, but added that his forces would stop fighting "when the Israeli aggression stops" and Israel's troops leave Lebanon.

As expected, the Lebanese government approved the cease-fire plan after more than five hours of debate that lasted long into the evening. Two ministers representing Hezbollah went along with the decision, though they expressed "reservations" about the resolution because it blamed Hezbollah for the war and seemed to exonerate Israel, said one of the ministers, Mohammed Fneish.

The arrogant sensitivities of some Muslims is utterly astonishing to me, and the minister's statement is a case in point.

The truth of the matter is found at the end of the NYT piece:
In Beirut, there was little celebration at the possibility that a cease-fire could come soon, the people instead expressing mostly exhaustion. "All we have is 1,000 dead and widespread destruction," said Jamal Ghosn, who runs an Internet store. "Hezbollah’s stature has grown. But the biggest losers are the people."

Both statements are equally true, but I suspect Hezbollah will continue to bring suffering. The IDF already reports that weapons still flow into south Lebanon from Syria.

Ehud Omert's government is trying to sell the cease fire as a victory for Israel, even as the U.S. tries to sell that idea to Israel.


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