Ceasefire or Trojan Horse?
By Mike Whitney
|“Israel’s strategy is to establish positions as far north as
possible to implement a fighting withdrawal, meaning they will try
to take on as much of Hezbollah as they can as they work their way
south. “ Ha’aretz editorial 8-17-06
“As long as there is Israeli military movement, Israeli field
aggression and Israeli soldiers occupying our land, it is our
natural right to fight them and defend our lands, our homes, and
ourselves.” Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, head of the Lebanese armed
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Israel’s sudden push to the Litani River is a blatant act of
political desperation intended to conceal the humiliating defeat the
IDF has suffered at the hands of Hezbollah. It comes in the wake of
a UN ceasefire agreement worked out by friends of Israel in the Bush
administration who were looking for a diplomatic way for Olmert to
climb down from Israel’s greatest debacle since the Yom Kippur war.
The so-called ceasefire is tailored to stop the victim of Israeli
aggression from defending himself, but provides the IDF with the
go-ahead to continue its rampage. Such is the Kafkaesque logic of
the United Nations and their puppet-masters in Tel Aviv.
There is no longer any reasonable expectation that Israel will
accomplish any of its stated objectives. The mighty IDF has been
slapped around by a handful of tough-minded guerillas who kept
Israel pinned-down to within a 5 mile radius of the northern border
for a full month. It is, without question, one of the greatest
triumphs in the history of asymmetrical warfare.
Hezbollah will not be “disarmed” as Ehud Olmert boasted just weeks
ago. Instead, their fortunes look to be steadily improving as Israel
continues to flail about dropping bombs indiscriminately on critical
infrastructure and civilians with impunity. The conflict has simply
reinforced widely-held suspicions that the Jewish State is a
loose-cannon ready to go berserk at the slightest provocation.
Prime Minister Olmert, Defense Minister Peretz and Chief of Staff
Dan Halutz have been the brunt of withering criticism in the Israeli
press, and for good reason. They are, without question, the worst
collection of bunglers in Israeli history; the political equivalent
of the “3 Stooges”. Sharon may have been a war criminal, but he was
an astute strategist. Olmert and “wrongway” Halutz are completely
clueless. As soon as it was decided that the war could not be won
militarily, Halutz charged up to the Litani River backed by
thousands ground-troops afraid that his chances for glory were
quickly ebbing-away. In the process, another 31 soldiers were killed
in a campaign that still has no clearly defined objectives.
Meanwhile, Shaul Mofaz, the only Israeli general who could probably
transform the current disaster into something resembling “a draw”;
is left sitting on the sidelines.
What a fiasco.
Now that the ceasefire has been approved, the politicians and the
generals are stumbling over themselves trying to cobble together the
victory that has escaped them for the last 4 weeks. Olmert and co.
know that as soon as the dust settles they will face an irate
Israeli public looking for someone to hold accountable for the
debacle. Ha’aretz op-ed writer Ari Shavit summed up the public mood
“One thing should be clear: If Olmert runs away now from the war he
initiated, he will not be able to remain prime minister for even one
more day. Chutzpah has its limits. You cannot lead an entire nation
to war promising victory, produce humiliating defeat and remain in
power. You cannot bury 120 Israelis in cemeteries, keep a million
Israelis in shelters for a month, wear down deterrent power, bring
the next war very close, and then say, oooops, I made a mistake.”
Columnist Moshe Arens added to Shavit’s critique saying, “The task
facing Israel now is to restore its deterrent posture and prepare
for the attacks that are sure to come. But not with this leadership.
They have exhausted whatever little credit they had when they were
voted into office.”
The anger that is growing in Israel is narcissistic and self-serving
and has nothing to do with the vast devastation the IAF has visited
on battered Lebanon.
Lebanon is in ruins. The country’s main bridges, roads, industries,
ports, canals, telecommunications, oil depots, water facilities and
factories have been buried by a steady barrage of Israeli precision
guided munitions. George Bush can be credited with a large part of
the damage. He rushed an order of high-tech bombs to his friends in
Tel Aviv to make sure that the slaughter would continue without
interruption. He also blocked the ceasefire resolutions at the UN
which allowed Israel to continue its withering bombardment of
The UN ceasefire agreement was clearly written in close
collaboration with Israel. It allows the IDF to continue “defensive
operations” while Hezbollah is required to stop fighting. Israel
interprets this as a green light for aggressively pursuing
According to Israeli daily newspaper Ha’aretz, “The army will stop
its offensive as soon as it is ordered to do so by the political
leadership and later it will begin to retrace its steps to uncover
any pockets of resistance that may remain in the area.” With troops
presently located at the Litani River that could involve military
operations throughout the entire south, which means that hostilities
could continue for months.
Israel is at war with itself. It’s trying to produce a victory where
victory is impossible. With less than 24 hours until the ceasefire
goes into effect, they’ve unleashed a massive aerial assault bombing
more than 50 cities and towns north and south of the Litani River.
The bombing campaign drew the immediate censure of Kofi Annan who
said that the attack was not in keeping with the spirit of the
No matter. Israel will keep firing away; savaging what little is
left of Lebanon’s tattered infrastructure in the vain hope that they
might patch together something that resembles success, but to what
affect? Hezbollah may be badly damaged and its supply-lines
ruptured, but they merely need to hang on to generate a reliable
stream of new recruits and to win plaudits from around the world for
standing up to the IDF.
Prime Minister Olmert is ambivalent about the sudden military
escalation just prior to the ceasefire. Clearly, the war is
controlling Olmert; Olmert does not control the war. The uproar in
the media has left him vacillating and hesitant; searching for other
solutions besides a quick withdrawal. He looks like a man gabbing at
straws, hoping for a decisive event that will prove that Hezbollah
is weakening. Meanwhile the IDF casualties continue to mount and the
collective angst of the Israeli public becomes more palpable.
As for Sheik Nasrallah, he has resisted the usual inflammatory
rhetoric and demonstrated Hezbollah’s lethal proficiency on the
battlefield where it counts. The guerillas have matched the IDF
man-for-man and forced the world’s 4th most powerful army into a
In the early days of the war, Nasrallah described Hezbollah’s
abilities in modest terms:
“We are not a classic army extending form the sea to Mt Hermon. We
are a popular and serious resistance movement that is present in
many areas and axes. Our equation and principles are the following:
When the Israelis enter, they must pay dearly in terms of their
tanks, officers, and soldiers. That is what we pledge to do and we
will honor our pledge, God willing”.
Olmert should study this passage and commit it to memory. Nasrallah
has laid out his very limited goals in the war in lucid but powerful
language. These are realistic objectives and they are achievable,
unlike Israel’s. That’s why he will probably prevail, if he
perseveres. Nasrallah does not entertain the foolish idea that he
will overwhelm the IDF or invade Israel. He simply plans to gnaw
away day by day, hour by hour, at the occupying army forcing them
eventually to retreat. He is a shrewd student of asymmetrical
warfare and grasps how to exploit the vulnerabilities of a regular
army as well as Israeli public opinion (which is already souring on
Nasrallah has said that he will abide by the terms of the ceasefire,
but will not disarm until the Lebanese Army and the UN forces are in
place and the IDF has left Lebanese soil. In his mind, it is
pointless to talk about disarmament now when Hezbollah is the only
force capable of defending Lebanon from foreign invasion.
Will Hezbollah willingly disarm after Israel leaves?
That is what Israel wonders, but it is the wrong question. The real
question is: What are the chances that the IDF will reinvade
sometime in the future as they have 4 times before? And, who will
provide the weaponry that will create a viable deterrent to Israeli
aggression so that Lebanon can live in peace?
Nasrallah’s promises to disarm mean nothing. His primary
responsibility is to his own people, to protect their right to live
free of Israeli violence and occupation.
If Sheik Nasrallah chooses to disarm and put his faith in Israel’s
assurances of non aggression, that’s his choice. But he should pay
close attention to the treatment of the Palestinians in Gaza before
he sets his rifle down.
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