Friday, August 18, 2006

Who Won ? Israel or Hezbollah


Israel invaded Lebanon with an explicit goal to destroy Hezbollah and to retrieve two of its soldiers. After several weeks of fighting, a fragile ceasefire is in place now and Lebanese Army and International Peace Keeping force have started moving in to Southern Lebanon. After a month of death and destruction, are there any real winner?

Both Israel and Hezbollah are claiming victory. Israel, because there is now a buffer zone inspected International Peace Keeping Force and Hezbollah, because it still there. But in the real sense, it is unclear as to who gained what. Consider this, Israel had a buffer zone till year 2000 and it voluntarily withdrew as part of the overall peace initiative. And, Hezbollah may have survived this elimination attempt but at what cost?

One thing is clear though that the weeks of death and destruction is not not going to resolve the real Israeli problem which is the Palestine imbroglio. Unless and until the primary Palestine problem is resolved, these kinds of secondary issues will continue to distract Israel and the world.

The genesis of the recent conflict was the abduction of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah and there is still no sign of them. In fact, there is no sign of the third Israeli soldier abducted by Hamas in Gaza.

Israel mounted a massive land and air attack to drive Hezbollah out of Lebanon and retrieve its 2 abducted soldiers. Even after weeks of bombing and destruction, Hezbollah may have been weakened but its organizational infrastructure seems to be still in tact.

After the ceasefire, Hezbollah is back in action, spearheading relief activities in the war ravaged areas. Even though they are the reason for the war in the first place, Hezbollah seems to be gaining in stature with its relentless relief work and being the first one provide support to Lebanese as they trickle back home.

Hezbollah, with its strong support from Syria and Iran is a state in itself. As Professor Amal Saad-Ghorayeb puts it (to NYTimes) "Hezbollah is not a state within a state, but rather a state within a nonstate. By being there quickly and providing real relief, Hezbollah is filling in the vaccum left by the official state and acting as a quasi state, very much like LeT & LTTE.

And that is the challenge countries like Israel, India & Sri Lanka are facing. They are not in war with a state but with organizations that has multiple faces. How does countries fight militant organizations like Hezbollah, Hamas, LeT and LTTE that operate on several fronts. On one side they have armed wing that is brutal and goes to any extent to silence its opponents. On the other side, they have excellent grass-root level network that runs hospitals, schools and charitable organizations?

In a war where the enemy is 'faceless' and does not adhere to known battle conventions, it is impossible to totally eliminate them. From Jaffna to Kashmir, our recent history is replete with lessons.

The only recourse to these issues dialog and eventual political settlement but then, there are no takers for that at this juncture.


  1. Bush says that Israel won - you don't think that is right? :-) :-)

    I agree with you that in a war, nobody wins when so many innocent lives are taken. Diplomacy is my preferred option but nobody seems to have the patience and flair to do that these days.

  2. Ram, I can sense the genuine anguish in your tone and I don't want to sound flippant, but I am convinced that manufacturers of weapons are the ones who instigate and fan the flames of war. The LTTEs and the Hezbollas manage to access the latest weaponry with such ease, that it is inconceivable that the superpowers are not aware. Every time, the inventory of arms piles up, conducive conditions are created for a war to erupt. Each of the Iraq wars helped deplete the stock levels and rejuvenate the arms industry.

  3. Hey Ram,

    Nothing related to this article. But was just wondering if ur podcast with Crazy Mohan is already published? if yes, could u plz give me the link?
    if no, any idea when it would appear?

    Thanks and Regards,

  4. Ram,
    Could you create links specifically for the pod cast interviews in your blogs sidebar ?

  5. "America" Lost for sure.

    As an American I do not support
    our Emperor & the gang of neo-cons
    bad foreign policy. I do apologize
    on behalf of the like minded Americans.

  6. Ram,

    According to Democracy and Noam Chomsky, two civilians were abducted by Israel, which provoked the kidnapping of solidiers by Hezbullah.

    I agree with your point here...nobody really wins in a war. However, this full fledged war could have easily been prevented, provided the developed nations like the US and UK had sufficient will to do so.

  7. Nithya
    It is clear that Israel didn't achieve its stated goal.. may be that was part of the overall 'design'.. but from a Israeli perspective, their primary target should be find a lasting political solution for Palestine problem...

    These kind of military interventions have hardly achieved their target... In this 'hide and seek' game.. outright wars haven't been successful in eradicating the 'enemy'.. be it Kashmir or SriLanka or Lebanon for that matter..

    I agree with you that the armament industry is the largest in the world.. but to blame it for all our ills is to say problem lies elsewhere.. Human kind has fought even before gun powder was invented.. My focus of this post is say that war with Lebanon is futile when the primary issue is Palestine..

    I am still working with Crazy for the interview.. our schedules aren't working out..

    will attempt to do that..

    Exile from the real world
    I hear you..

    I didn't hear about the civilian abduction.. but not surprised to hear about Noam Chowsky's views..

    India fought 3 big wars with Pakistan.. What has it achieved.. Even now a low intensity war is going on.. has it delivered..
    India did create Bangladesh.. but then there is new set of problems to deal with now..
    I understand the need to be 'strong' and then negotiate.. but Israel should be doing that with Palestine..

  8. Finally someone who agrees with me.

  9. Got sick & tired of this news coverage on NPR - have started listening to a classical music station while driving! I do not watch TV and the only magazine I read is 'The New Yorker'.