Real Wealth Society

Friday, August 25, 2006

I’ve been thinking about results By Fred Cederholm

Column for on/after August 20th, 2006

I’ve been thinking about results. Actually I’ve been thinking about the cease fire, objectives, Israel, Lebanon, Hezbollah, dissent, democracy, and winners/losers. The cease fire hammered out at the United Nations and imposed on the warring parties/factions is barely a week old. There have already been violations to it. The outside signatories are already hedging on who will contribute what to the peace-keeping forces/efforts and for how long.

You see this current chapter in the forever-ongoing/multiple conflicts within the Middle East is far from over. We were told this most recent saga of killing and destruction was about achieving the return of three abducted Israeli soldiers, putting to rest the Hezbollah threat, and securing a buffer zone between Israel and Lebanon to the Litani River. While these were the publicly stated objectives, who knows what wider, more nefarious strategies were at work here.

The spin-meisters on both sides are claiming a victory, but reviewing the results which are now surfacing suggests otherwise. The three “abducted” Israeli soldiers have not been not been returned. (It should be noted that two of them were actually captured in the village of Aita Al-Shaab within the territorial borders of Lebanon before the conflict began.) Hezbollah has not been destroyed, and in fact it has been invigorated/enhanced by the conflict. The buffer zone is now the objective for the multi-national peace keeping force to establish and maintain.

Israel’s military had the reputation for invincibility and readiness– note the past tense. Its reputation came from earlier records of blitzkrieg successes – particularly from the 1967, 6 day “Lightening War” from June 5, 1967 to June 10, 1967 and the 1973, 17 day “Yom Kippur War” from October 6, 1973 to October 22, 1973. In these cases, Israel had far greater justifications for action and it enjoyed a more worldwide support. In the 2006, 33 day conflict; justification was dubious at best and “worldwide support” was, well, the Bush Administration.

Lebanon had only within the last couple of years achieved status as an outwardly functioning and stand-alone democracy. Occupying military forces of Syria were gone. There was a democratically elected parliament, albeit one with an elected minority of Hezbollah members. The capitol of Beirut had been rebuilt from the devastations of the destruction of a decade ago and was dubbed the “Paris of the Middle East.” Pristine beaches made it a major tourist destination. Things were looking up; now such progress has been set back decades.

The costs and demographics of the recent Israeli-Lebanese conflict are only starting to be quantified. Israel suffered the loss of 130 Mercava tanks, 48 personnel carriers, 5 helicopters, 2 fighter/reconnaissance aircraft, 3 vessels, and the deaths of 430 military personnel. Civilian casualties due to this conflict’s rain of rockets and missiles have not been adequately segregated from what might be “callously” considered the routine (and ongoing) terrorist fatalities the Israeli populace endures because of the West Bank and Gaza occupations.

While this action involved Hezbollah on the opposing side, it was the Lebanese people who bore the brunt of the destruction and the loss of life. Some 9300 houses, 226 apartments, 163 roads and bridges, and 48 mosques and libraries were destroyed. 378 known women and 433 children were killed. The number of male casualties, specifically the number of the dead members of Hezbollah, has not been disclosed. It should be noted that within hours of the cease fire, Hezbollah affiliated “assistance” teams were the first responders - clearing the roads, assessing the damages and providing the Lebanese civilian victims with much needed living essentials. The conflict did not destroy this amorphous group, it enhanced their status.

Never before had Israel experienced such a quagmire of setbacks or stalemates. The one-two punch of their prior blitzkrieg strategy did not work this time. Never before did Israel experience the dissent/criticism by the public and their own military personnel of their commanders and their government after a conflict – much less during it. In 1967, Israel occupied and “secured” the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza strip in 6 days. In 2006, they couldn’t occupy and “secure” the 30 KM (18.6 miles) to the Litani River in 33 days. We so often hear the expression that “actions speak louder than words,” but remember that “results shout louder than both.” I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.

Copyright Questions, Inc. 2006 all right reserved.

To “audit” this column and to learn more about the subjects discussed, please check out:

Both sides claim victory

The 1967 Lightening War

The 1973 Yom Kippur War

Casualties of the 33 Day War

Israeli Troops Criticize Army, Equipment

Iran Leader Praises Hezbollah Resistance

Many Israelis Furious at How War Was Run

Reservists: Officers stopped us attending protest against war

Timeline: The 2006 Israeli-Lebanon conflict


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