Seeing Through the Fog ofWar
KennethR. Timmerman| August 10, 2006

Jerusalem, Israel (Aug. 9, 2006) – The debate raging in Israelthese days is how far and how fast to push into Lebanon, and how todefine victory once the phase of intense military operations isover.
The government of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has alreadychanged military strategy twice in four weeks of fighting. OnTuesday, they assigned an “over-seer” from the generalstaff to second-guess Maj. Gen. Uri Adom, the operational commanderin the north. None of these are signs of a well-planned war.
The Israeli press is full of reports of disputes within the GeneralStaff, disputes within the Cabinet, poorly-planned operations, andpulled punches. Some have suggested publicly that Israel is losingthis war.
Former Mossad Chief Efraim Halevy said Tuesday that Israel willultimately emerge as the victor. "But we have to make sure that ourenemies will not be able to project the image that they are similarlysuccessful. This is very important for Israel's deterrence image. Wemust engrave in the mind of the enemy that it has suffered a serioussetback,” he said.
But even this measure of victory may be beyond Israel’s grasp.Israel’s enemies will claim victory no matter how stunningtheir defeat. If the Arab states had any understanding of militaryrealities, they would have conceded defeat in 1948 and gone on tomake their own deserts bloom. Instead, they have poured a colossalfortune down the drain – trillions and trillions of dollars inoil revenues – to pursue a doomed jihad against a Jewish statewhose existence they can never accept, even today.
So let’s step back from the depressed news coverage thatsuggests Israel is losing this war - because Israel will never winthe propaganda war: ¬Ýnot against the Arabs, theIslamo-fascists, or the Europeans.
Here is a short list of what Israel has accomplished after one monthof fighting. These are not perfect achievements. Nor are theycomplete. (There is no complete victory against terrorist forces, asAriel Sharon learned after smashing the PLO in Lebanon in 1982.) Butreal capabilities have been destroyed and these are importantvictories.
¬ The massive arsenal supplied to Hezbollah by Iran has beenalmost entirely wiped out.
While some news agencies have mis-reported that Iranian rocketscontinue to hit Haifa, in fact,
asIsraeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld toldme¬ÝafterSunday’s deadly rocket strikes that killed 15 Israelis, “onlya handful” of Iranian Fajr-3 rockets have hit Israel during theentire conflict.
What happened to those Iranian rockets? Israel took most of them outon Day One of the fighting, senior military officials say.
Through good intelligence, they managed to identify the location ofthe launchers before they could be used. “We made this our toppriority,” a military intelligence source told me.
While Hezbollah most likely has a strategic reserve – and canstill pull off surprises – this means quite simply that Iranlost in a single day of Israeli airstrikes an investment that hascost them hundreds of millions of dollars and six years to build.
The arsenal Hezbollah still retains are mostly shorter-range rockets,which Israel can take out in ground operations up to the Litaniriver.
¬ Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has been turned into afugitive.
Sure, Nasrallah may be hiding in the basement of the Iranian embassyin Damascus, and he will manage to give pre-taped interviews toHezbo-TV for the conceivable future. But his public speaking days atmass open-air rallies are over. He steps out of his bomb shelter, andan Israeli missile sends him to Allah. Welcome to life undergroundwith Osama.
¬ Iran overplayed its hand.
Guided no doubt by Nasrallah’s inflated analysis of Israeliweakness, Iran gave the operational orders to Hezbollah to launch theJuly 12 attack on Israel during face-to-face meetings in Damascus theday before,
asI have previously reported.
Iran believed that Israel would collapse under a steady barrage ofrocket-fire against its northern cities, towns and villages, and suefor peace. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his hojjatiehreligious mentors were convinced that Israel’s humiliationwould pave the way toward their avowed goal of destroying Israel andAmerica, by hastening the return of the Shiite Muslim messiah (theMahdi) and ushering in the end times. Instead, it’s their owndemise that is near.
¬ Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps has beenhumiliated.
Revolutionary Guards officers, assigned to Hezbollah missile units inLebanon, have been killed on the battlefield in Lebanon and sent backlike dogs in Syrian caskets to Iran.
To disguise the losses (and Iran’s direct involvement in thefighting), the dead Iranians were put in civilian caskets, and takento Syria in convoys of refuges. This is a humiliation and a wake-upcall the Revolutionary Guards have never endured.
¬ The Islamic Republic has failed to divert internationalattention from its nuclear weapons programs.
The timing of the war was no accident: just days before the G-8summit in St. Petersburg, Russia. Initial plans for the summit placedIran’s nuclear weapons program at the top of the agenda.
Iran’s goal in provoking this war was to divert internationalattention from its nuclear weapons program at the summit; andinitially, it appeared that Iran was successful. Iran was stunnedwhen the UN Security Council passed a resolution two weeks latergiving Tehran a hard deadline to accept the U.S.-backed take-it orleave-it offer to suspend all enrichment and reprocessing activities,in exchange for Western goodies. In response to that UN action, Iranhas thumbed its nose at the international community, and indicatedlast week that it would reject the offer. But the UN deadlineholds.
In other words, Iran’s efforts to game the internationalcommunity have failed, and failed miserably.
Each day the fighting continues, Hezbollah grows weaker.
Each day that Israel that bombs Hezbollah command and controlbunkers, and destroys Syrian and Iranian and Chinese-built rocketlaunchers, the future threat to the citizens of northern Israeldiminishes.
Israel has made clear that it will not accept a ceasefire in Lebanonuntil Hezbollah is effectively disarmed and some arrangement is madeto prevent Hezbollah from returning to southern Lebanon.
In the fog of war it is often difficult to recognize victory or thebeginnings of victory. Israel still has a ways to go to defeatHezbollah and prevent it from becoming a future threat. But it hasreached a tipping point. From here on, the losses are going to beoverwhelming one-sided, in Israel’s favor.
Most important of all, however, has been the message sent by Israel’scivilian population to the leaders of Syria and Iran.
Until this war, Iran believed it could deter any Israeli militaryaction against it – in Lebanon, or in Iran – by thethreat of massive rocket attacks, essentially using Israel’scivilian population as hostages.
By playing its hand too early, Iran has lost that deterrent. That maybe Israel’s greatest victory of all.

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