The war in Lebanon is generating a great many confused and mixed messages — with conflicting predictions following. This is an extraordinarily complex situation fraught with significant implications.
Some major issues:
 What is required to "dismantle" Hezbollah — how it will be determined when Hezbollah has been dismantled. There is talk of "disarmament."
 What has to be done so that neither Hezbollah nor Syria nor Iran will be convinced that they have won, or have come out OK here.
 Whether Olmert’s government has the staying power to do what needs to be done.
 Whether the international community — and in particular the U.S. — will refrain from trying to pressure Israel to either halt or cut back on its operations so that the job can be finished.
 What needs to be done to be certain Hezbollah does not rearm (with weapons coming from Iran and Syria) and start all over, putting us perpetually at risk.
Israel says that about 40-60% of Hezbollah capability has been taken out, and that at least a week more is needed to finish the job. This is apparently without ground forces, which the IDF has now declared will probably not be necessary. No one really knows how many of Hezbollah’s 11,000 to 12,000 rockets remain. "Taking out capability" refers to fuel storage areas, launching facilities, command buildings and more, as well as rockets.
In spite of this presumed reduction in capability, Hezbollah is continuing to bombard the north of Israel. Haifa was hit significantly as were several other communities; the attacks are moving further south. In Nahariya eight were injured and one man was killed. In one period of an hour some 70 plus rockets fell; in addition to Katyushas are other rockets.
A three-person UN team has been here, and has consulted with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and, briefly, with PM Olmert. They will be returning to make a report.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is pushing for a multi-national UN peace keeping force to be sent to Lebanon; it would be larger than the 2,000 person UN force in south Lebanon now — UNIFIL, UN International Forces in Lebanon — and have a different mandate.
The present force is less than worthless. Israel is not enthusiastic about more of the same and is pushing instead for positioning Lebanese forces in the south of Lebanon, as called for in UN Security Council Resolution 1559; there are 70,000 such forces.
Positioning this army at the south of Lebanon does not address the issue of the border between Lebanon and Syria, whence the weaponry flows.
FM Livni said, after the meeting with the UN team, "the time for diplomacy has arrived." She indicated that she was not suggesting a cessation of military operations but the creation of a political environment that will prevent this from happening again, after the military operation is completed. For me this has deeply unsettling overtones, for the danger exists that the move will be to "diplomatic solutions" before the military job has been completed.
PM Olmert has declared that fighting will continue until the soldiers are released, Hezbollah has pulled back from the south of Lebanon and disarmed, and the Lebanese army is at the border. This suggests something open-ended.
Olmert’s declaration not withstanding, there is the prospect of Sec. Rice coming here soon — her arrival date has not been set — and what will follow from this. Today’s Jerusalem Post states upfront that "her arrival would likely lead to a scaling down of IDF operations, as she would not want to come to the region and leave without somehow scaling down the hostilities."
She clearly has no control over what Hezbollah does, so "scaling down the hostilities" can only mean sitting on Israel to cool it a bit. And this directly addresses the issue of whether Israel will have the time and latitude to do the job right — to accomplish what Olmert has declared as our goals.
The word from YNet today is not encouraging with regard to this: Reports YNet, the IDF knows that "the diplomatic clock has begun ticking" and "is seeking to harvest the gains of the operation in Lebanon as soon as possible." There is talk about accomplishing certain military goals by Saturday.
Perhaps worst: "…it is believed Hezbollah will seek to be the side that fires the last shot in the current round, and that after the confrontation, the organization will still have the abilities to fire rockets."
If this turns out to be the case, it will be a disaster. It will mean that Israel was pushed into halting and relying on "diplomacy" before the necessary military operation was completed. And if Hezbollah fires the last shot, it will declare itself unbeaten.
Caroline Glick — who has considerable security expertise — offers some painful and significant observations with regard to the situation in her column in today’s Jerusalem Post.
Hezbollah, she says, has one purpose: the destruction of Israel in the service of the world jihad. As this is all it exists for (and it is willing to sacrifice anything towards this end), it cannot be deterred. Not in the sense that Assad of Syria, for example might be, because he has interests beyond the destruction of Israel: he wants to stay in power and keep his nation intact.
The only way to deal with Hezbollah, then, is to destroy its capacity for military destruction.
At the same time there must be an effort to deter Lebanon and Syria, who must be sent the message that they will pay an unacceptable price if they assist Hezbollah. She suggests, for starters, targeting Hamas chief Mashaal in Damascus.
Glick applauds Olmert’s goals of destroying Hezbollah as a fighting force and requiring the Lebanese army to deploy along the southern border.
The question she poses is whether the government has the capacity (or the will) to achieve its stated goals. Her conclusion is that it may not.
What concerns her first are hints (which even as I write I am picking up) of some tentative readiness by Olmert to use the UN or the EU as intermediaries in resolving this war — in setting political terms or negotiating a ceasefire. This suggests a willingness on Olmert’s part to stop before the job is done, which is precisely what YNet is also implying.
Then there is the reliance of Israel on aerial attacks only. She maintains that this war can only be won — and the dismantling of Hezbollah’s military force achieved — via a ground operation.
Her article is lengthy and very well worth reading:
With all of my being I pray that these pessimistic assessments are wrong and that Olmert will hold out until the job is done. Our future security quite literally depends upon it. This is in the nature of a nightmare.
This posting can be found at: https://arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2006/7/18/posted-july-18-2006.html