Welcome to my parlor, says the Hezbollah spider
to the Israeli fly. The Israeli high command continues to express its faith
in the foxfire of air power to destroy Hezbollah, but, as always, it's not working.
Lebanon is taking a pounding, to be sure, but Lebanon is not Hezbollah. Slowly,
reluctantly, Israel is edging toward a ground invasion of Lebanon, for which
Hezbollah devoutly prays. When air power fails, what other choice will Israel
A story in the July 24 Cleveland Plain Dealer gives a good idea of what
awaits the IDF once it crosses the border in earnest. Israeli ground forces
have been fighting for days to take Maroun al-Ras, a small village less than
500 yards into Lebanon. The battle has not gone well. Israel has lost five or
six troops dead, with undoubtedly more wounded. It still does not control the
whole village. According to the Plain Dealer piece by Benjamin Harvey
of AP, officers at the scene confirmed there was still fighting to do.
"'They're not fighting like we thought they would,' one soldier said.
'They're fighting harder. They're good on their own ground….'
"'It will take the summer to beat them,' said [Israeli soldier] Michael
"'They're guerrillas. They're very smart.'"
"Guerrillas" may not be exactly the right term here.
As best I can determine from the wilds of Cleveland, Ohio, Hezbollah thus far
seems to be waging a conventional light infantry fight for Maroun al-Ras. The
line between guerrilla and light infantry tactics is thin, but Hezbollah seems
to be putting up a determined fight for a piece of terrain, which guerrillas
usually don't do, because they can't. The fact that Hezbollah can points to
how far this 4GW entity has evolved.
Operationally, Hezbollah's rocket attacks on Israel are the matador's cape.
That too is working. What of the strategic level? The Arab street is cheering
for Hezbollah, often across the Sunni-Shi'ite divide, while the governments
of states such as Egypt hide under the bed. The goal of Islamic fourth generation
forces is the destruction of most, if not all, Arab state governments, so Hezbollah
is winning strategically as well. One can almost watch the legitimacy drain
away from the region's decrepit states, with incalculable consequences for American
Not that Washington is doing anything to protect those interests. On the contrary,
it has rushed more bombs and aviation fuel to Israel, lest there be any unwelcome
letup in the destruction of Lebanon. In no previous Israeli-Arab war has the
United States revealed itself so nakedly as a de facto political satellite
of Israel. Perhaps the neocons have convinced President Bush that Israeli olive
oil can substitute for Arab petroleum as fuel for America's SUVs.
An interesting theoretical speculation is whether, if Hezbollah's 4GW success
continues, some Middle Eastern governments might try adopting fourth generation
techniques themselves. Lebanon's fictional government has suggested the Lebanese
army may join Hezbollah in defending southern Lebanon from an Israeli invasion.
Militarily, such an action would be meaningless, and it probably reflects a
desperate desire to keep the Lebanese Army (which is 40 percent Shi'ite) from
fracturing, along with Lebanon itself. But what if instead the government called
for a million marchers, mostly women and children, to head toward the Lebanese-Israeli
frontier, waving palm branches and singing songs? That's how Morocco took the
Spanish Sahara, and it would present Israel with a sticky wicket indeed.
Similarly, the Iraqi puppet government, whose impotence is
now almost total, may call for a complete domestic cease-fire so it could order
the "New Iraqi Army" to Lebanon. Even al-Qaeda would have trouble
saying no. The U.S. would howl bloody murder, but such an open breach with the
Americans is exactly what the Green Zone regime needs if it is to gain even
a shred of legitimacy. The possibility is far-fetched, but an emerging Hezbollah
victory over Israel will make many far-fetched possibilities real.
A Hezbollah success against the hated Israelis will give governments
throughout the Islamic world a stark choice. They can either snuggle up as close
to Hezbollah and other Islamic 4GW entities as they can get, hoping to catch
some reflected legitimacy, or they can become Vichy to their own peoples. Since
the first rule of politics is to survive, I think we can look forward to a great
deal of the former.
From that perspective, the Tea Lady, AKA U.S. Secretary of State Condi Rice,
may just have uttered the most significant words of her remarkably empty career.
Departing on her meaningless "shuttle diplomacy," meaningless because
we will only talk to one side, she said current events mark "the birth
pangs of a new Middle East, and whatever we do, we have to be certain that we
are pushing forward to the new Middle East, not going back to the old one."
Don't worry; we are, we are.