Israel-Hezbollah After Action Reviews

The reviews continue to pour in and Israel isn’t faring too well.

George Will begins his column, “The Triumph of Unrealism,” with this harsh assessment:

Five weeks have passed since the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers provoked Israel to launch its most unsatisfactory military operation in 58 years. What problem has been solved, or even ameliorated?

Hezbollah, often using World War II-vintage rockets, has demonstrated the inadequacy of Israel’s policy of unilateral disengagement — from Lebanon, Gaza, much of the West Bank — behind a fence. Hezbollah has willingly suffered (temporary) military diminution in exchange for enormous political enlargement. Hitherto Hezbollah in Lebanon was a “state within a state.” Henceforth, the Lebanese state may be an appendage of Hezbollah, as the collapsing Palestinian Authority is an appendage of the terrorist organization Hamas. Hezbollah is an army that, having frustrated the regional superpower, suddenly embodies, as no Arab state ever has, Arab valor vindicated in combat with Israel.

Haaretz correspondent Ze’ev Schiff is even tougher in his essay, “The IDF’s military victory is not enough.”

The question being asked in Israel at the end of the war is: Who won? This was also asked at the end of the Yom Kippur War and the 1982 Lebanon War, and also following the last, limited confrontation with the Palestinians.

This was not asked following the War of Independence or the Six-Day War; the latest conflict was another round of limited warfare in which there was no clear decision. It is also possible that this is only the first round.

Undoubtedly, there have been Israeli achievements, but not enough. Following the Yom Kippur War in which the IDF crossed the Suez Canal and surrounded Egyptian armies, both Israel and Egypt claimed victory. The Israelis were dispirited, and the Egyptians were proud. Following a few more battles, an interim agreement was signed followed by a peace agreement with Egypt. No peace agreement should be expected with Hezbollah, but it is possible that this war will result in substantive changes in Lebanon and in Israel’s struggle against Iran.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. legion says:

    Hmm. Maybe I have a different agenda from most pundits, but if the cease-fire actually holds, and the border quites down, and rockets stop flying back and forth, how has either Israel _or_ Palestine lost?

    More to the point, do we really need to declare either side here a “loser”? Unless both side feel they’re in better shape now, the fighting will only start back up again…

  2. James Joyner says:

    legion: A cease-fire is likely preferable to continued fighting for both sides at the moment or, as you say, one side or the other would have demurred. Still, while Hezbollah provoked it, Israel made the strategic decision to launch a full-scale war. It did not achieve the objectives that it sought.

  3. legion says:

    Well, considering your very next post, about Hezbollah retaining their weapons, I would have to agree.

  4. garhane says:

    Planet Earth calling…..well yes folks, the image of the day is now an Arab kid (we will have to call him Lebanese in a few weeks) with a weapon on his shoulder standing square in front of an Israeli tank and taking deliberate steady aim. One kid with one of those less than $500 items can take out a tank with a crew of 5? Well, seems so. And they can take out a Small patrol vessel with something similar, and a drone with a system only slightly more elaborate? Yup.
    And there is no way to stop the Berserkers, the suicide bombers who turn out to be men, women and children and who go and do the deed without fail……
    You Americans with your savagery, your bomb-them-back to-the-stone-age, and your endlessly stupid threats of nuclear bombs. You have brought the west to this, that the wretched of the earth have found a way and they are going to make us all pay dearly for watching you commit crimes against humanity.

  5. John Poleshek says:

    At first look it seems the Israeli 2ND string reservist did not do to well against a well
    entrenched enemy who had 6 years to dig in and wait for an unsuspecting army to march into their signs and then blow the Israeli army to bits.However I missed that encounter. I also missed the encounter when the Hezbollah dug into a fortress below ground was able to hold a town or village against the “super power”.What I
    did notice that Hezbollah was hiding behind women and children again when faced with the
    reservist from the superpower.I admire your
    definition of Arab Valor. I also noticed how nonchalant the Israeli soldiers were walking out
    of Lebanon almost like they were returning from a cake walk.I guess Hezbollah has achieved enormous political enlargement but without Iranian money to fund the enormous political enlargement its not worth much.I am not sure what
    the military goals were of Hezbollah no one in
    the “news”has ever even considered such a term could exist.I ask myself over and over what did
    Hezbollah gain militarily by shooting rockets at towns that the people either left or were in
    secure bomb shelters ? P.R victories are the most fleeting of all.

  6. DC Loser says:

    Where’s the UN force or the Lebanese Army the Israelis insisted on handing over to? Nowhere as far as I can see. The IDF was so eager to get out of dodge they forgot their own conditions for the ceasefire.

  7. UziMan says:


    There is something about the Arab-psyche that is a challenge to the Western mind. That is, their inclination to declare “Victory” under the most unseemly circumstances. In ’73 following their disastrous Yom Kippur sneak-attack on Israel, Egypt, even with their entire 3rd Army surrounded and defeated, declared Victory. The UN had to step-in to save Egypt. In ’82, when Arafat and his terror state-within-a-state were driven from Beirut, they celebrated their departure. When Saddam’s armed forces were decimated in Desert Storm , they proudly proclaimed their Victory. Alas, with most his troops and resources wiped-out by the IDF, Nesrallah has true to form, declared Victory.

    In their minds, simply surviving is “Victory”. It is this turning reality on its head as a means of preserving HONOR, while rewriting history that compels the Arabs to keep at their efforts to kill Jews and destroy Israel. Since their alternate-universe cites their military prowess and success, they do not learn from the actual outcome of their misbegotten forays in attacking Israel. Additionally, in view of their death-cult Jihadist martyrdom-syndrome, they embrace the glory of dying in pursuit of their goal of destroying the ” Zionist Entity”. Where they definitely succeeded is in incurring the wrath of the IDF resulting in the laying-waste to Hizbullah’s command&control centers in S. Beirut and S. Lebanon. This was quite purposeful in their minds. It is a class sic play from the terrorist game-book in radicalizing a population by putting it in harms-way as result of a strike against Israel.

    In other words, the just ended Israel/Hizbullah mini-war is being characterized in the Arab press and in the streets as another in a long line of military Victories by Arab forces. Go figure?