Claiming Victory

At the end of a close bout, boxers are trained to raise their arms into the air and act as if they won, in hopes of influencing the judges’ scorecards. That’s pretty much what’s going on in the aftermath of the Lebanese cease-fire. President Bush:

President Bush said Monday that Hezbollah guerillas suffered a defeat at the hands of Israel in their monthlong Mideast war.

“There’s going to be a new power in the south of Lebanon,” Bush said.

The president also said the war was part of a broader struggle between freedom and terror and “we can only imagine how much more dangerous this conflict would be if Iran had the nuclear weapon it seeks.”

“Lebanon can’t be a strong democracy when there is a state within a state and that’s Hezbollah,” Bush said. “Hezbollah attacked Israel without any knowledge of the (Lebanese) government. Hezbollah attacked Israel. Hezbollah started the crisis, and Hezbollah suffered a defeat in this crisis,” the president said.

Hezbollah:

Hizbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Monday his guerrillas had achieved a strategic victory over Israel and that it was the wrong time to talk about disarming the group.

“There is a mistake in timing, both psychologically and morally,” he said, referring to comments by several Lebanese politicians that the Shi’ite Muslim group should disarm.

“We are before a strategic and historic victory, without any exaggeration,” Nasrallah said. “We emerged from the battle with our heads high, and our enemy is the one who is defeated.”

I don’t think there is any doubt who will be seen as the victor in the Arab world:

Celebratory gunfire echoed across Beirut’s heavily bombed Shi’ite southern suburbs after Nasrallah spoke on television about 12 hours after a U.N. truce halted 34 days of fighting.

The bottom line is, Hezbollah went the distance and was still standing–firing rockets–at the end. It emerges with its stature enhanced.

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