Sunday, July 30, 2006
More on the same
I was talking today with a former U.S. diplomat and a Washington "insider" who made the following comment: "I'm beginning to suspect that the Israeli military has been 'Americanized.' They seem to repeating our mistakes in Iraq. Very discouraging for them and for us." This is coming from someone who is a critic of the Bush administration's policies and has been opposed to the Israeli response in Lebanon. My guess is that the Bushies and the neocons are hysterical. After all, much of what the neocons have been pushing for has been the "Israelization" of Americnan foreign policy and national security, in a sense that the Americans should adopt the tough Israeli methods in dealing with global threats, especially vis-a-vis the Arabs who supposedly "only understand force." The problem is that both in Iraq and Lebanon (now and earlier) and in the West Bank/Gaza this approach has proved to be a total failure in terms of policy (forget for a moment about moral dilemmas). There is going to be a major debate in Israel, the U.S. and elsewhere about what Lebanon means as far as Israeli military is concerned. Some would argue that it reflects the problems in responding to threats from non-state actors. Others would suggest that there has been a serious erosion in Israeli fighting capability and too much reliance on airpower and technology. Or perhaps it all has to do with the fact that the Arabs are getting better on the battle-field. Whatever the conclusions, unless the Israeli military will "surprise" everyone in the coming days, it seems to me the sense in the Middle East is going to be that Hizbollah won and Israel lost. Indeed, as I suggested in an earlier post, it's all looking more and more not like 1967 (the historical analogy being that Nasrallah will end up as a loser like Nasser) and more like 1973 when although the Sadat and the Egyptians were defeated in military terms, the perception was that they triumphed over Israel. This is the result of the "game of expectations," when one side does better than expected.