Some years ago, I came across an observation about the Middle East that I’ve never forgotten. I don’t remember who wrote it, but it was to the effect that the Six Day War exploded the myth that Jews can’t fight, and gave rise to the myth that Arabs can’t fight. The truth is that the ability to fight bravely and effectively is a talent that is all too widely scattered through the human race, and is by no means confined to the virtuous.
This observation is relevant, I think, to Israel’s current offensive. For a long time now, an implicit premise of much discussion about the Middle East has been the assumption that Israel’s military far outclasses that of the Arab states, and that Israel can achieve military victory more or less at will. Sadly, that assumption may no longer be true. I may be wrong about this–I hope I am–but it appears that the fighting in Lebanon is not going particularly well. A top Israeli commander has said that the fighting will continue for several more weeks, and it seems clear that Hezbollah is putting up strong resistance in southern Lebanon.
Hezbollah is generally regarded, I think, as the best-trained and most effective armed force in the Arab world. It is lavishly funded by Iran and does not lack for munitions or other supplies. Israel enjoys total dominance in the air, of course, but air power can only do so much. Ultimately, terrorists must be killed by soldiers on the ground, and this apparently is proving a difficult task.
All the more reason, I think, why Hezbollah should be crushed now and not left to fight again another day. And I think it’s important to remember that there is no law of nature decreeing that the Muslim states of the Middle East will always be inept combatants.