The need to be clear

The magnitude of Israel’s failure in Lebanon becomes clearer every day. Hezbollah, stating the obvious, has said it has no intention of disarming (but it may curtail public displays of its weapons). Lebanese officials have made it clear that the “government” has no intention of disarming Hezbollah. Why, asked one leader, should the Lebanese army try to do what the IDF could not accomplish (especially with Hezbollah’s popularity now at a new high)?

Meanwhile diplomats are scrambling, without much apparent success, to come up with the members of the new UNIFIL force. If that force arrives, it can hardly be expected to take on Hezbollah. French troops are still expected to take the lead, and the French foreign minister (who has proclaimed Iran a force for stability) slyly promises only to attempt to persuade Hezbollah to disarm. In short, Hezbollah, the Lebanese government, and the international community are already rubbing Israel’s nose it it, as well they might. Indeed, it would probably be better for Israel if no enlarged U.N. force appears — that way the IDF will have more freedom to attack the next time Hezbollah provokes a crisis.

Against this background, William Bennett’s comments on his radio show this morning are especially apt:

—It was said of Churchill that his greatness resided in seeing things how they really were, seeing things in their misery and seeing things in their greatness. The task is the same for us, or should be.

—Today, Condi Rice has an op-ed in the Washington Post claiming the U.N. resolution on Israel and Lebanon a success, writing among other things that the cease fire brokered, “a truly effective cease-fire, requires a decisive change from the status quo.” She claims Hezbollah has earned “the blame of the world for causing the war.”

—Someone at State forgot to give Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria the talking points.

—The status quo is changed all right, Israel is made weak, is made to look weak and Hezbollah has -—far from any blame -—new respect on the Muslim street. And the headline in the WAPO today is “Hezbollah balks at withdrawal from the South.”

—Yesterday, Sean McCormack (the spokesman for the State Department) said of the U.N. resolution and Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon: “Once this resolution is implemented, it is a strategic setback for Hezbollah, its patrons in Tehran, as well as in Damascus. You will not have Hezbollah armed, running around in southern Lebanon, free to threaten Israel immediately on its northern border.”

—Former Israeli PM Shimon Peres was in the U.S. and said the following after meeting with Sec. Rice: “We estimate that Hezbollah lost something like 600 fighters and if they lost 600 fighters, one can imagine there is another 600 that were wounded.”

—Other Israeli politicians on the news said yesterday the U.N. resolution was a defeat for Hezbollah, just as President Bush said the same thing on Monday.

—This is wrong and we need to say it. We need to say it because it is important that Israel, like the U.S., remain strong and victorious. If the terrorists can stop Israel, they can stop our ally; if they think they can defeat our ally they will think they can defeat us because wars are often fought among proxies.

—It does us no favor to declare a defeat a victory.

—Nasrallah of Hezbollah is claiming victory, Assad of Syria is claiming victory, Achmadinejad of Iran is claiming victory. True enough, the defeated in the Arab and Muslim world can always claim victory -— the question is whether those claims are plausible.

—So Israel goes into Lebanon with the goal of cleaning Hezbollah out of Southern Lebanon and having its kidnapped soldiers returned.

—The U.N. passes a resolution calling for Israel to withdraw, Israel begins withdrawals and Hezbollah’s soldiers are not disarming, they are shooting fireworks, driving around Southern Lebanon with their arms in their cars’ front seats, Israel does not get its kidnapped soldiers back, more land for peace in the form of Shebaa Farms is now on the negotiating table, Lebanon’s defense minister says the Lebanese government will not disarm Hezbollah.

—And just before Israel started withdrawing, Hezbollah fired hundreds of rockets into Israel and shot down an Israeli helicopter.

—So afraid of Israel and the West for kidnapping innocents, so full of the knowledge that concessions will not come from kidnappings and terror, Palestinians in Gaza two days ago captured American reporter Steve Centanni and his cameraman.

—We were told Hezbollah was a state within a state. Does anyone doubt that Hezbollah is actually stronger and more popular than the Lebanese army that is now to patrol South Lebanon? The main state is Hezbollah, it can fairly be said, with the Lebanese government quite possibly subordinate to it: The state within the state is Lebanon, not Hezbollah. The PM of Lebanon has said supportive things of Nasrallah, the president, and Speaker of Lebanon are Syrian puppets and the newest, most popular fighting force in the Middle East is Hezbollah.

—But fear not. The U.N. administrator for the protection of Israel is Deputy U.N. Sec. Gen. Mark Malloch Brown.

—If Israel has more victories like this, there will be no Israel. We need to be clear on this. Not because we like it, far from it, but because we hate it.

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