The debate raging in Israel these days around the question of who won the summer war, if at all, is pointless in my view. It's just the matter of how one defines a victory. The outcome of this war was so indecisive that it's a plain waste of time to even debate such a question.
For sure if one means by a victory a clear perception of defeat on the other side, this war was an unmitigated fiasco. And in general, when it comes to Arabs, nothing short of the crushing blitz krieg the style of 1967 can easily persuade them that they lost the battle. I remember meeting Israeli Bedouins a couple of years after the first gulf war and they insisted that Saddam fooled the Americans and won the war by escaping from Kuwait after inflicting heave casualties on the Yankees.
The Israeli leaders are clearly playing into the hands of Nasrallah by making void and ridiculous declarations of victory. After messing for a month with a guerrilla force of a few thousands fighters, unable to stop Katyusha attacks, the best tactics should be to pretend than nothing happened.
Instead Olmert compared this war to 1967 and said something in the sense that he is free but Nasrallah is still hiding in a bunker. Blowing the achievements of this military campaign out of any proportion by such comparisons just fires up the imagination of the Arabs.
Some people in the region have apparently lost their sleep these days from thinking of what could have happened if instead of 3,000 Hezbollah fighters, 30,000 or more, would have been put to the battlefield equipped with the same weapons and tactics. The Syrians are reported to have sent people already to Hezbollah for being trained in this style of warfare.
Without any doubt Olmert does not come up with these statements to impress the Arab public. They are meant for the Israelis angered by the blunders of the war. But this disregard for the consequences of his words in the interests of influencing the domestic public is just another reason to send him and his company home before they do even more damage.
Finally I hate the masochistic soul searching of the Israelis over imaginary or real defeats and shortcomings. The same way I disprove the senseless celebrations of victories the Arabs practice across the border.
There are lessons to be drawn from this war and some of them are very obvious.
1) We turned the tables on Nasrallah by going into a full scale war. Nasrallah would have to rethink his tactics of engaging Israel by military means. They worked for as long as we agreed to stick to low intensity warfare at the border. Hezbollah cannot allow itself another provocation now because there is no way they can be sure if we are back to our usual policy of limited responses or we would go deep into Lebanon again for another month of air attacks and artillery shelling.
2) We have just created the impression in the region that the IDF has lost quite a few teeth over years. Otherwise Asad wouldn't be talking like he does now and the Palestinians wouldn't get that enthusiastic about smuggling anti tank missiles into Gaza.
3) Years of neglect should be reversed in terms of our capabilities against ballistic and similar threats, be they in the form of anti tank missiles and Katyushas, or in the form of long range Iranian missiles and Syrian scuds. Ballistic warfare is the name of the game now. Even when it comes to fighting guerrilla warfare, as is the case of Hezbollah.
Now when it comes to our leftists, something happened to them or we have just never noticed how much of the mindset of our neighbors they gradually adopted over years. It can drive to madness any sane person to read articles celebrating IDF achievements and calling for negotiations with Syria in the wake of this great victory. Or to listen to Amir Peretz bragging about how impressively this war demonstrated our deterrence capability since it's not us, Israelis, who he should care to have persuaded in this. It's the Arabs, you stupid.
Labels: Amir Peretz, Hezbollah, Isra-Circus, Israel, Lebanon