The Real Battle isn't with Hezbollah

Will Israel pull the rabbit out of the hat again?

We have come to expect near—miracles from the Israeli armed forces. From the hair—raising battles of the War of Independence to the destruction of Saddam's nuclear program in 1981, Israel has usually delivered more than reasonable observers expected. We will not know the outcome of the Lebanon fighting for some time to come. If it is not a clear victory for the IDF, the whole leftwing and Islamist chorus around the world will chant that Israel has finally been defeated. Regardless of the facts, the perception of weakness is dangerous.

Reality sometimes demands less—than—perfect solutions. In the Six Day War of 1967, there were no civilians to worry about in the Sinai Desert, where most of the tank battles took place. The IDF could maximize its advantages there.  That is not the case in Lebanon, where Christians and even some UN types have now public complained that Hezbollah is using them as human shields.

Like the US armed forces, Israel has a military ethic of avoiding civilians casualties if at all possible. But that puts Western soldiers at a massive disadvantage against the martyrdom cult of Hezbollah and Tehran. Nasrallah and Ahmadinejad believe they are ready to die for their twisted concept of Allah and Paradise, and by some perverse alchemy that makes them feel justified in sending others to their deaths as well. You too, can have your ticket punched to Paradise, if you just happen to be living in their neighborhood.

Today's fighting is one battle in a much longer struggle between Western powers and militant Islamism ——— men with the murderous mindset of tribal warriors, but armed with the weapons of the 21st century. Fighting Hezbollah to a draw ——— rather than destroying its capacity to fight ——— would be a setback for the West. Militarily it would not be a disaster, but the perceived victory for radicalism might swing Islamic opinion toward Tehran. A horse race is already under way between Shiite and Sunni terror groups. The result could well be more dangerous attacks on Western countries. Israel itself might be seen as vulnerable, and might have to prove its mettle again in a very public way.

Among dozens of strategic factors, the deadliest one is Tehran's rush to nukes. There is strong reason to think that Ahmadinejad represents the first suicide—murder cult in control of a major military power since Tojo's Japan. Combine nuclear weapons with a mad eagerness to use them, and the only rational defense is preemption. This administration understands that iron logic, as difficult and risky as it is.

In sum, Lebanon is a proxy war between a martyrdom—seeking Iran and a United States that is the only trustworthy and responsible major power in the world today. That is the context for the battle in Lebanon.

Under some circumstances it would be rational for Israel to accept less than a conclusive defeat of Hezbollah. For example, the US could offer to station an Aegis destroyer near Haifa to provide theater anti—missile defense against the more powerful and accurate missiles that Hezbollah has not yet launched.  Israel could ramp up the installation of THEL ground—based chemical laser systems to defend its towns and cities. In another year, Israel and the rest of the civilized world could be much better protected. Even the Democrats might be forced to support missile defense. Given effective anti—missile defenses, Israel and the rest of the civilized world would be much better equipped to cut off the Gorgon's head in Tehran.

Paradoxically, the current battle may therefore be less important than it seems. No outcome in Lebanon can defeat Tehran, the source of the problem. Delaying the final cutting—off of the Hezbollah tentacle might improve the position of the West. And even the corrupt and dangerous Syrian regime might be tempted to block the transfer of Hezbollah weapons to Lebanon.

In a few years Ahmadinejad will have a nuclear weapon. Recently a British shipment of cesium to Iran's military was stopped at the Bulgarian border  . Cesium would make a perfect dirty nuke. If Hitler or Tojo had nukes I have no doubt they would  have used them. The Tehran regime may be just as wicked and dangerous. Apparently Iran's Arab neighbors are now openly afraid of its intentions. They are right.

All of which leads to a compelling conclusion for rational people: that the sooner the Khomeini cult in Tehran can be brought down, the better.  The Lebanese proxy battle is important, but not nearly as much as cutting off the monster's head.

James Lewis is a frequent contributor.

Will Israel pull the rabbit out of the hat again?

We have come to expect near—miracles from the Israeli armed forces. From the hair—raising battles of the War of Independence to the destruction of Saddam's nuclear program in 1981, Israel has usually delivered more than reasonable observers expected. We will not know the outcome of the Lebanon fighting for some time to come. If it is not a clear victory for the IDF, the whole leftwing and Islamist chorus around the world will chant that Israel has finally been defeated. Regardless of the facts, the perception of weakness is dangerous.

Reality sometimes demands less—than—perfect solutions. In the Six Day War of 1967, there were no civilians to worry about in the Sinai Desert, where most of the tank battles took place. The IDF could maximize its advantages there.  That is not the case in Lebanon, where Christians and even some UN types have now public complained that Hezbollah is using them as human shields.

Like the US armed forces, Israel has a military ethic of avoiding civilians casualties if at all possible. But that puts Western soldiers at a massive disadvantage against the martyrdom cult of Hezbollah and Tehran. Nasrallah and Ahmadinejad believe they are ready to die for their twisted concept of Allah and Paradise, and by some perverse alchemy that makes them feel justified in sending others to their deaths as well. You too, can have your ticket punched to Paradise, if you just happen to be living in their neighborhood.

Today's fighting is one battle in a much longer struggle between Western powers and militant Islamism ——— men with the murderous mindset of tribal warriors, but armed with the weapons of the 21st century. Fighting Hezbollah to a draw ——— rather than destroying its capacity to fight ——— would be a setback for the West. Militarily it would not be a disaster, but the perceived victory for radicalism might swing Islamic opinion toward Tehran. A horse race is already under way between Shiite and Sunni terror groups. The result could well be more dangerous attacks on Western countries. Israel itself might be seen as vulnerable, and might have to prove its mettle again in a very public way.

Among dozens of strategic factors, the deadliest one is Tehran's rush to nukes. There is strong reason to think that Ahmadinejad represents the first suicide—murder cult in control of a major military power since Tojo's Japan. Combine nuclear weapons with a mad eagerness to use them, and the only rational defense is preemption. This administration understands that iron logic, as difficult and risky as it is.

In sum, Lebanon is a proxy war between a martyrdom—seeking Iran and a United States that is the only trustworthy and responsible major power in the world today. That is the context for the battle in Lebanon.

Under some circumstances it would be rational for Israel to accept less than a conclusive defeat of Hezbollah. For example, the US could offer to station an Aegis destroyer near Haifa to provide theater anti—missile defense against the more powerful and accurate missiles that Hezbollah has not yet launched.  Israel could ramp up the installation of THEL ground—based chemical laser systems to defend its towns and cities. In another year, Israel and the rest of the civilized world could be much better protected. Even the Democrats might be forced to support missile defense. Given effective anti—missile defenses, Israel and the rest of the civilized world would be much better equipped to cut off the Gorgon's head in Tehran.

Paradoxically, the current battle may therefore be less important than it seems. No outcome in Lebanon can defeat Tehran, the source of the problem. Delaying the final cutting—off of the Hezbollah tentacle might improve the position of the West. And even the corrupt and dangerous Syrian regime might be tempted to block the transfer of Hezbollah weapons to Lebanon.

In a few years Ahmadinejad will have a nuclear weapon. Recently a British shipment of cesium to Iran's military was stopped at the Bulgarian border  . Cesium would make a perfect dirty nuke. If Hitler or Tojo had nukes I have no doubt they would  have used them. The Tehran regime may be just as wicked and dangerous. Apparently Iran's Arab neighbors are now openly afraid of its intentions. They are right.

All of which leads to a compelling conclusion for rational people: that the sooner the Khomeini cult in Tehran can be brought down, the better.  The Lebanese proxy battle is important, but not nearly as much as cutting off the monster's head.

James Lewis is a frequent contributor.