Friday, July 14, 2006

Another historical analogy: 1973 Mideast War/2006 Mideast War

Billmon advances it:
Punching Above Its Weight

Three days in, and it looks like Israel is losing the war.

Not militarily, of course -- The IDF could turn Lebanon into a parking lot if it wanted to, and if it's willing to take enough casualties it can probably push Hezbollah away from the Israeli border and suppress the rocket attacks (or at least most of them.)

No, Israel is losing this war the same way it "lost" the October 1973 War -- by not crushing its enemies swiftly and completely, and then rubbing their faces in their own impotence and humilation.

Just the opposite: Today it was Israel that suffered the humilation of nearly losing one of its missile frigates to a warhead-carrying Hezbollah drone -- a threat the IDF apparently didn't even know existed.

An explosives-laden drone, apparently launched by Hezbollah, hit an Israel Navy warship off the coast of Beirut, causing serious damage to its steering capability . . . Several hours after the vessel was hit, an Israel Defense Forces spokeswoman said the damage was worse than originally thought. She added that the ship, still burning, was being towed back to Israel.
Ragtag guerrilla forces aren't supposed to be able to sink ships of the line -- just as they aren't supposed to be able to penetrate a fortified border, ambush an Israeli Army patrol and kill or capture the lot. Nor should they be able to launch ballistic missiles with a range of 40 miles or better. But the IDF now thinks they can:

Until recently, Hezbollah rockets were believed to have limited range and effectiveness. But after Haifa was hit on Wednesday, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Dan Halutz said the group's more advanced missiles could fly more than 40 miles, a range that could endanger more Israelis.
Forty miles gets you to Hadera -- about half way to Tel Aviv. "(read the rest)

I think that it's a bit too early to make such sweeping generalizations and forecasts. In any case, the Nixon Administration ended up taking advantage of what amounted to an Israeli military victory (including crossing the Suez) in 1973 to press for Egyptian-American detente, and eventually for a series of Israeli-Egyptian agreements. I see the recent events as another outcome of Bush's revolutionary agenda in the Middle East -- the toppling of Saddam and the victory of the pro-Iran Shiites in Baghdad, the election of Hamas in Palestine, the strengthening of Hizbollah in Lebanon in the aftermath of the Cedar Revolution -- which is probably going to produce more political changes and regional realignments in the Middle East. At this stage I see Iran concluding that it can shift the balance of power in the region by using its proxy in Lebanon to deliver a blow to America's proxy, Israel. To regain the upper-end a la 1973 crossing of Suez, Israel needs to deliver a major blow to Hamas by destorying all its bases and infrastructure in southern Lebanon and killing its top leaders. I agree with Billmom that that could be very costly operations (Israel seems to have lost its advantage in intelligence gathering). U.S. backing for a long and bloody campaign in Lebanon could create splits with the Europeans and endanger the strategy towards Iran. But Bush brought all of this on himself. He helped Iran to enhance its position in the Middle East and if he doesn't counter-balance Iran in one way of another, U.S. status in the Middle East will be weakened in a very dramatic way.


Billmon said...

"I think that it's a bit too early to make such sweeping generalizations and forecasts."

Ah, but isn't that what blogs are for?

Global Paradigms said...

I know, I know... I was just trying to sound pompous... Notice that went on to advance my own sweeping generalizations and forecats... Leon