Saturday, July 29, 2006

Why Hezbollah is Winning

Why Hezbollah is winning
by Donald Sensing at July 28, 2006 01:40 PM
Before Israel launched its ground campaign, retired US Army Lt. Col. and syndicated columnist Ralph Peters said that Israel is losing. His essay happened to reinforce my own observation that Israel was carrying out a spasm, not a strategy. Nothing I have learned about Israel's conduct of the war so far causes me to change my mind.
Israel's leading figures said two weeks ago, at the start of the air campaign, that the destruction of Hezbollah's military threat was Israel's objective. As Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres said, "the problem is in the air," the capability of Hezbollah to continue launching rockets into Israel at will. Remember that the 1,400-plus Hezbollah has let fly at Israel in the last 15 days were new in intensity but not in experience. Hezbollah has been launching rockets into Israel practically since Israel vacated southern Lebanon in 2000.Yesterday Israel announced it wanted to establish a two-kilometer-wide, Hezbollah-free zone, which does not much solve the problem in the air since Hezbollah has rockets ranging out to 20 kilometers and probably farther. Today the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert decided not to expand the ground offensive. Subsequent reports indicate that the IDF will not penetrate farther into Lebanon without much more extensive aerial bombing than planned. This twist may doubtless signals an intensification of the air war since,
Israel's Justice minister said world leaders, in failing to call for an immediate cease-fire during a Rome summit, gave Israel a green light to push harder to wipe out the Lebanese guerrillas.
EU foreign ministries insist the conference's result is no such thing. Israel has just shrugged them off. Last night, mere hours after the Israeli cabinet rejected sending more ground combat into Lebanon, news reports from southern Lebanon said that Israeli air strikes have much intensified. But absent a more powerful ground campaign, more bombing will not gain victory for Israel or do much more than make the rubble bounce.
Israel's armed forces have not fought a conventional war of integrated air-ground operations in more than 20 years. Prime Minister Olmert's government, including the defense ministry, is not a war experienced government. (The bio of Olmert's defense minister, Amir Peretz, does not inspire confidence.) This lack of experience is found right on down to the troop level, where pretty much no one from private through captain has combat experience, and relatively few senior officers have experience in large-scale operations. It's no wonder that the fog of war encloses them more densely compared to Israel's earlier governments and armed forces.
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