20060815 World Watch Focus: A Ceasefire with No Peace

     On 14 August 2006, Israel implemented a UN brokered ceasefire with Hezbollah, effectively bringing an end to more than an month of continuous combat between that nation and its terrorist adversary. In doing so, Israel conceded defeat to Hezbollah and, perhaps more importantly, to its state sponsors Iran and Syria. This defeat marks a turning point in the ongoing conflict between the rest of the world and fundamentalist Islam as Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and other fundamentalist Islamic actors now realize that localized asymmetric warfare can paralyze and politically defeat sovereign nations. Such a defeat represents the opening of the next chapter of the ongoing war between fundamentalist Islam and the rest of the world.

     Such analyses as the one above are viewed by many, especially on the liberal leftist side of the political spectrum, to be paranoid and overstated, yet such views themselves prove to be both ill-informed and naïve. Israel launched its campaign into southern Lebanon against Hezbollah with the stated goals of rescuing its kidnapped soldiers and breaking Hezbollah. It achieved neither. Instead, it is being forced to withdraw from Lebanon while Hezbollah will be able to regroup and rearm under the protection of first the Lebanese army and then a multi-national peacekeeping force.

     In the mean time, Iran and Syria are actively analyzing this conflict and developing long reaching strategies that can be passed on to fundamentalist Islamic insurgencies around the world that are instigated and supported by Iran and Syria. These strategies are not all military, although the military value of insurgent forces equipped with easily deployable mass casualty weapons will not be lost. The greatest strategies being developed in the wake of this conflict are of the political variety, as Iran, Syria, and even Hezbollah now know they can play the Western media and Western morals as a weapon against Western military might.

     This is a subtle victory, and that subtly will not be lost on Iran, Syria, or Hezbollah. Certainly, they understand their objectives cannot be won in a day, but piece by piece, they can be achieved. Consider that one of the most powerful militaries on the planet- Israel- was fought to a draw by a force than numbered at best six or seven thousand men, of which maybe two thousand had any real military training. This victory was achieved not by military prowess, but by an effective combination of the indiscriminate attacking of civilians combined with a constant political pressure against Israel’s government to avoid civilian casualties among a civilian population actively supporting, harboring, and hiding Israel’s enemies.

     This victory was achieved by these means because the rest world does not yet possess the will or the capacity to fight the war against fundamentalist Islam that needs to be fought. This is not a war seeking some sort of political gain or the expansion of territory. This is a war being fought by fundamentalist Islam to completely subjugate- and if not subjugated, to destroy- any group of people who does not embrace the ideals of fundamentalist Islam. This war is fought by Muslims who believe that it is their sacred religious duty to prosecute or support this war, and they believe that they will be rewarded for dying as part of it.

     So, as a result, this ceasefire is really a victory for Hezbollah and its sponsors. Israel was prevented from achieving its objectives, has been portrayed in the media as being the savage actor in the conflict, has been saddled with UN sponsored initiatives that are not in its best interest, and will be prevented for the near future from acting in its own best interest and self preservation simply because the rest of the world did not have the stomach to finish the fight that needed to be fought.

     Many will disagree with this assessment as well, but the facts remain even in disagreement. These same types of victories are being achieved across the world where the West finds itself in conflict with fundamentalist Islam- Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia as examples. In each case, the chance for victory is being eroded by the West’s unwillingness to wage total war against its adversary, not to subdue it but to destroy it. Yet, there is no other option because the enemy sees no other option. Israel’s defeat by Hezbollah will be remembered by history as the first evidence of this reality. How many more defeats will it take before the rest of the world gets the point?


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