The Idiom

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Hopefully, Hizbullah Miscalculated

As Private Gomer would say: Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!
BEIRUT, Lebanon - A senior Hezbollah official said Tuesday the guerrillas did not expect Israel to react with an all-out offensive after the capture of two soldiers, the first acknowledgment by the group that it had miscalculated the consequences of the raid two weeks ago.
That's so unfair. They're fighting back!

Kid Various has been wanting to comment on this situation for two weeks now, but what really is there to say that hasn't been said?

The Kid's power's of strategic prognostication are being put to the test. In the first few days, where the world reacted with horror (horror we tell you!) that the Israelis were not only going after Hizbullah directly, but doing things like bombing the Beirut airport and bridges conecting Lebanon with the outside world. Although puzzling to the average guy who thinks that the Beirut airport is totally disconnected from Hizbullah and good only for getting a Cinnabon on the way to that meeting in Istanbul, it was quite obvious (to The Kid at least) that Israel was "prepping the battlefield."

In short, The Kid went out on a limb and made specific predictions to friends and family that the operation would look something like this:

  1. Israel would cut off all possible routes of supply and rearmament to Hizbullah. This means destroying the capacity of Syria to resupply via air (thus the airport), sea or land (destruction of roads and bridges.) More importantly, in addition to preventing resupply, the Israeli bombing of transportation infrastructure is meant to cut off Hizbullah's avenues of escape.
  2. Israel would continue to pound Hizbullah positions and degrade their defenses on the ground, as well as look to destroy as many rocket/missile installations as possible and attempt to kill as many Hizbullah commanders as possible to disorient and fragment the enemy.
  3. But, as the goal of Israel is to destroy Hizbullah as an effective force (which cannot be done from the air) this week, we would see Israeli forces roll into Lebanon like a tsunami. The goal of this invasion would not be to occupy Lebanon (for the Israelis, been there/done that) but rather to root out and destroy every bunker, every rocket and kill or capture as many Hizbullah enemy as possible. Almost as quickly, Israeli forces would roll out once they had accomplished that mission.
Obviously, most of the Hizbullah fighters will escape. Israel cannot prevent that without a massive killing operation. But because of the destruction of the roads and bridges, that means that all the Hizbullah fighters will have to make their way on foot, over the hills into Syria or into the north of Lebanon where the Israelis will not follow. But because they have no way to transport anything other than what they can carry, that means all of their strategic infrastructure will be lost.

All of the missiles, all of the rockets, all of the ammuniton supply, all of the fuel, all of the vehicles, all of the installations, bunkers, radar arrays...everything. It's all gone.

Hizbullah's great advantage, as is the advantage of all terrorist organizations, is mobility. Once they accquired technology, once they accquired infrastructure, they became vulnerable.

When the fighters return, likely leaderless and disorganized, they'll basically be a bunch of kooks running around with AK-47's. Which is a threat the Israelis can live with.

More importantly, the degradation of Hizbullah provides a unique opportunity, if they are smart enough to grab it, for the government of Lebanon. Previously, Lebanon was unable/unwilling to take control of the south and force Hizbullah to disarm, fearing a civil war (threatened by Hizbullah.) But if the Lebanese are willing to work with the Israelis, they can exert sovereign control over their entire country, facing down a weakened Hizbullah before they can be rearmed by Syria and Iran.

One hopes for this outcome. But predictions are always tricky, especially about the future. Although we have seen limited ground incursions into Lebanon by Israel, we have yet to see a build-up of the 2 to 3 divisions that would be necessary for a full scale ground invasion. Israel has claimed that it has no intention of mounting a full invasion of Lebanon. Let's hope that this is strategic misdirection. As Ralph Peters points out, in order to rout Hizbullah and destroy their infrastructure, the Israelis must commit to war on the ground. Anything else, is a Hizbullah victory.

We can't afford a Hizbullah victory.

Which is why the Israelis must crush and humilate them.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is making the rounds of talk shows and think tanks noting that the U.S. is involved in WWIII. Israel, the U.S., Iran, Iraq, Syria, North Korea, Hizbullah, Hamas - they're not involved in discrete conflicts or disagreements. It's all interconnected. It's a global ideological struggle bewteen the forces of Liberty and the forces of Islamism. One wonders why it took Newt 5 years to figure this out. It was painfully apparent to Kid Various on September 11, 2001.

Moreso, The Kid is more in favor of understanding the conflict as WWIV, as described in required reading by Norman Podhoretz, for anyone who wants a clearheaded insight into exactly what we have gotten ourselves into. READ IT!


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