Behind the U.S. refusal to support a cease-fire in the Israeli-Hezbollah war lies a stark reality. Israel needs more time to attain its strategic goal: Cleanse Lebanon, south of the Litani, of Hezbollah fighters and Katyusha rockets. A cease-fire in place means Hezbollah wins the war.
Yet, one day after Israel lost nine soldiers and 22 wounded in an ambush outside a town it claimed to have taken, its cabinet appears to have given up on sending in the army. Israel is going to rely on air power and artillery to root out Hezbollah, which means that Israel will fail.
And if the IDF is not going in, the United States should support a cease-fire now. For U.S. interests are at rising risk.
Why did Israel launch an air war against Lebanon rather than a ground war to engage and eliminate Hezbollah?
Perhaps because the Israeli chief of staff is an air force man. Perhaps to send a message that this is what happens to Arab nations that trifle with Israel. But certainly to avoid the casualties Israel knows must come from a ground war in Lebanon against a dug-in Hezbollah prepared to fight and die.
After 18 years of being bled in Lebanon, Israel gave up and went home. The Vietnam syndrome set in.
Still, how can Hezbollah and its leader Hassan Nasrallah claim to have won the war, when they have inflicted far less damage and taken many more casualties? Answer: By simply standing at war's end.
Israel apparently believes it can defeat and disarm Hezbollah with air strikes and artillery, though in 18 years of occupation it failed. It is deceiving itself. Either Israel goes in and roots Hezbollah out at a cost of hundreds of Israeli dead, or it will have to negotiate, as it did with Syria's Assad in 1973 and the PLO's Arafat in 1994. If you will not or cannot defeat your enemy, you eventually must talk to him.
All that's being accomplished by the artillery, bombing, and air strikes is the killing of civilians and the hardening of opinion against Israel. You kill the enemy best with direct contact and take and hold ground with troops, not explosions. If they're not willing or able to send troops on so obvious an infantry mission they should knock it the fuck off and start talking.
I don't agree with Buchanan very often, but when I do it scares me that we both may be right. Or wrong. Either way, it's scary.