Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Clausewitz defined war as "the continuation of politics by other means". The recent Israeli invasion of Lebanon was such a war: a pre-planned response to the first Hezbollah provocation that came along, whatever it happened to be, designed to weaken the political influence of Hezbollah and undermine its support both in the south and among Lebanese generally. The Americans, in turn, were interested both because they were interested in reducing the influence of an Iranian proxy, and because they are, by multiple published accounts, interested in using similar tactics against Iran itself.

Well, the returns are in:

As stunned Lebanese returned Tuesday over broken roads to shattered apartments in the south, it increasingly seemed that the beneficiary of the destruction was most likely to be Hezbollah.

A major reason — in addition to its hard-won reputation as the only Arab force that fought Israel to a standstill — is that it is already dominating the efforts to rebuild with a torrent of money from oil-rich Iran.

Oh, dear. It seems that, in this case, having Israelis drop bombs on people left them unpersuaded that the Israelis were their friends. Perhaps it was something in the explosive mix, or maybe they just weren't big enough bombs. At any rate, it seems the strategy does need some refinement. Fortunately, there are plenty of well-sourced reports that soon see it tried again, against Iran directly. Surely, if we keep on trying this for long enough, we'll finally get it right.

Also on this dirty little war, see Juan Cole, pretending to take all the relevant leaders at their word that they are sincerely trying to improve the lot of their bedgraggled flocks, and ranking them all utter failures at doing so. Ummm... he is pretending, right?