Hezbollah and the War on Terror
Charles Krauthammer argues that, aside from issues of Israeli security, the current conflagration in the Middle East will be a decisive phase of the Global War on Terror.
America finds itself at war with radical Islam, a two-churched monster: Sunni al-Qaeda is now being challenged by Shiite Iran for primacy in its epic confrontation with the infidel West. With al-Qaeda in decline, Iran is on the march. It is intervening through proxies throughout the Arab world — Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine, Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army in Iraq — to subvert modernizing, Western-oriented Arab governments and bring these territories under Iranian hegemony. Its nuclear ambitions would secure these advances and give it an overwhelming preponderance of power over the Arabs and an absolute deterrent against serious counteractions by the United States, Israel or any other rival.
Aside from the fact that Hamas is a Sunni organization funded almost entirely by Saudis and wealthy individuals in other “moderate” Arab states with only incidental support from Iran, this is undeniable.
The moderate pro-Western Arabs understand this very clearly. Which is why Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan immediately came out against Hezbollah and privately urged the United States to let Israel take down that organization. They know that Hezbollah is fighting Iran’s proxy war not only against Israel but also against them and, more generally, against the United States and the West.
Hence Israel’s rare opportunity to demonstrate what it can do for its great American patron. The defeat of Hezbollah would be a huge loss for Iran, both psychologically and strategically. Iran would lose its foothold in Lebanon. It would lose its major means to destabilize and inject itself into the heart of the Middle East. It would be shown to have vastly overreached in trying to establish itself as the regional superpower.
All true. The question is: Is Hezbollah defeatable by military means? Most would say No.
Krauthammer is right, though, that it can’t be done by air power and to say that the reluctant decision of Israeli PM Olmert to authorize ground forces is welcome. Unfortunately, he believes that a massive use of conventional force ala Desert Storm or the toppling of Saddam will work. Most likely, it will not owing to Hezbollah’s shrewd but cowardly tactic of interspersing themselves within the civilian population. Israel may simply be creating the next generation of terrorists and benefactors.