Saturday, July 22, 2006

Not the half of it: Hezbollah, Lebanon, and bombing infrastructure

Just to show that I don't always disagree with j.d., I'll say that his take on israel vs. hezbollah is fairly sound (though I question the prudence of using PJ Media as a reliable source of news). I would like to add to his accurate assessment that:
It seems to me that Israel could have enlisted the existing (and relatively improved) Lebanese government’s help in identifying Hezbollah targets. I don’t think Israel picked the most effective method to do that. Instead, that government will be weaker with the country’s wider infrastructure in tatters — perhaps it will even be toppled by a Hezbollah that is energized by finally having some Jews to fight.
Not only did Israel err in not getting Lebanon to help strike at Hezbollah targets (a dubious proposition given that the political wing has a major presence in the Lebanese parliament), but they actively undermined the ability of the Lebanese to help them identify targets or strike at them by destroying the roads and airports.

Furthermore, they drove the public right into Hezbollah's arms and weakened anti-Hezbollah groups and parties. You must remember that Hezbollah, like Hamas, is not just an armed group. To understand them as such is a fundamental and critical error that many people make. Both groups do, of course, have armed wings which carry out brutal and deplorable acts of violence, but both groups also provide a range of social services to their communities. Since neither Israel nor her neighbors show any interest in the social conditions the Palestinians live in, these transnational groups have been the only entities providing the services that a government is expected to provide. The same is true of parts of Lebanon torn by years of civil war and the occasional Israeli incursion.

Hezbollah doesn't just build rockets and bunkers. They build schools, hospitals, homes. They supply food in tough times, they provide medicine and other vital aid. That's why Hezbollah is in the Lebanese parliament, and why Hamas now controls the Palestinian government. Because they have both shown that they can actually operate as a government.

Israel bombed infrastructure and induced the sort of crisis where people turn to government. And Israel has steadfastly blocked the Lebanese government from bringing in the support the civilian population needs. That leaves only Hezbollah to provide those services.

How does that affect the power balance? How does that make Israel look good? How does it make Hezbollah's opponents look good? How does it weaken Hezbollah? How, indeed, does it fail to strengthen them? In what way has Israel promoted any positive outcome?

It's not just about Hezbollah having Jews to fight, they've been at that for a while. It's about having a public that supports them in that fight. Israel has taken disproportionate actions which have pissed off potential allies. These are just some of the reasons that various people, including yer's truly, think Israel's actions are stupid.

Add that air-only campaigns don't work, and Israel knows what follows a ground invasion, and you see that the entire exercise is hare-brained.