Monday, July 31, 2006

The Devils In The Details

Last Friday Hezbollah, via the Lebanese government it controls, proposed terms of a cease-fire.

Wow, you may be saying, the Hezbos are sueing for peace? That must mean they're on the verge of collapse to make such a public show of weakness, right?

Well, maybe. Or maybe they're trying to pre-empt an all-out IDF invasion that really will put them out of commission for good.

The other possibility is that they're trying to capitalize on the usual anti-Israel bias of the "international community" to defeat Israel where they're always the most vulnerable - the court of "world opinion."

Certainly the terms the offer don't exactly constitute a compromise:

(1) An immediate cease fire [Advantage, Hezbollah - Their survival would be assured, and that would be a huge victory for them and defeat for Israel.]

(2) The release of Lebanese and Israeli prisoners [Advantage, Hezbollah - getting their terrorists back was one of the proclaimed reasons why they kidnapped several IDF soldiers.]

(3) Israeli withdrawal behind the border [Advantage, Hezbollah - Israel would have no direct, and therefore no reliable, way of ensuring that the Hezbos wouldn't return and start building up for the next round.]

(4) Resolution of the status of Chebaa Farms, a small piece of land held by Israel and claimed by Lebanon, in favor of Lebanon [Advantage, Hezbollah - more "land for peace"!]

(5) The "disarming" Hezbollah [By whom? The vaunted Lebanese war machine? The UN? Good Lord, how stupid do they think the Jews are?]

(6) The deployment of the Lebanese army in the south, with the strengthening and increasing of the small, lightly armed U.N. peacekeeping force currently there. [The IDF may as well put up scarecrows on the border.]

Can we be frank about this? Hezbollah IS the Lebanese army, just as Hezbollah pretty much IS the Lebanese government. Any alleged "Lebanese army" force would be completely shot through and infiltrated with Hezbo terrorists provided fresh cover by the government facade and their replenishment of blue-helmeted human shields.

These terms are a joke. Any terms that don't have the complete annihilation of Hezbollah as a prerequisite are a joke. No "peace-keeping" force will ever have any peace to keep until there is no longer anything from which to separate Israel. And that would negate the need for that function.

Small wonder, then, that the Israelis balked at the Hezbo "peace" offer. Though, perplexingly, they have agreed in principle to capitulate to Hamas in Gaza on pretty much the same deal, paying the Sunni terror gang's ransom (releasing terrorist prisoners) in exchange for the now-famed Corporal Gilad Shalit. Maybe the thinking is that Hamas is much less of a threat than Hezbollah and thus they don't lose much from making this trade, since they can take back Gaza any time they want, and they need a quiet southern front to mobilize for the big ground effort in Lebanon. Still, if this is so, one has to wonder why the IDF "incursed" into Gaza in the first place after Corporal Shalit was taken instead of just giving in three-plus weeks ago and saving a great deal of time and treasure.

Regardless, it looks like StratFor heard correctly on Israel's "major shift" in the war:

Israel must not agree to an immediate cease-fire, but rather expand and strengthen its attacks on Hizbullah, Defense Minister Amir Peretz told an emergency session of the Knesset on Monday.

"We must not agree to a ceasefire that would be implemented immediately," Peretz said at the start of the heated session. ...

Peretz's speech was widely echoed by MKs across the spectrum including Opposition Leader Binyamin Netanyahu who added that Hizbullah posed a strategic threat, and therefore required a strategic victory.

"The journey of war is like any other journey. It starts easily but midway there's a difficult junction where we must decide whether we continue to climb the mountain or stop," said Netanyahu. "I call on the government: Don't stop midway. Complete the job."

The Israelis can, in fact, do nothing else. This is why Mr. Peretz's speech was "widely echoed across the [political] spectrum," and the reason for that is because the war enjoys 90% public support. This is why the Olmert regime counter-attacked in the south AND north, this is why it is ignoring "international" demands for a pre-mature cease-fire, and this is why it dare not go limp before Hezbollah is beaten. As Cap'n Ed sagely observes, if the Kadithaites go wobbly, they'll be replaced in short order by Likud and Binyamin Netanyahu, who....won't. The stakes in this battle are too high, both for the Israelis and for the U.S., to settle for anything less.

As that endgame draws near, keep an eye out for Iran's next "little surprise." They will not voluntarily let this campaign end with an Israeli victory. They must have an escalation that forces a direct confrontation with the U.S., or they will have squandered Hezbollah for nothing.

Israel doing what it must, and yet still playing into its ultimate enemy's hands. This, truly, is the wages of "the peace process." Hopefully it's a lesson that the Jews will live to learn, even if the "international community" never will.