Friday, November 03, 2006

Expect A Long, Hot Winter

A distinguished military historian thinks Israel will strike Hizbollah very soon.

John Keegan, author of many authoritative books on warfare, argues:
There will soon be another war in the Middle East, this time a renewal of the conflict between the Israel Defence Force (IDF) and Hizbollah. The conflict is inevitable and unavoidable. It will come about because Israel cannot tolerate the rebuilding of Hizbollah's fortified zone in south Lebanon, from which last year it launched its missile bombardment of northern Israel.

Hizbollah has now reconstructed the fortified zone and is replenishing its stocks of missiles there. Hamas is also creating a fortified zone in the Gaza Strip and building up its stocks of missiles. Israel, therefore, faces missile attack on two fronts.
Hizbollah's reconstruction must have been facilitated by the French-led UNIFIL force - major construction is impossible to hide - that's why the French threatened to shoot down Israeli reconnaissance planes. But the Israelis will roll over them because they have no choice (my ellipsis):
What allowed Hizbollah to appear successful (in the July war) was its occupation of the bunker-and-tunnel system that it had constructed since June 2000, when the IDF gave up its presence in south Lebanon, which it had occupied since 1982.

(When the recent war ended) Israel's plan was to destroy Hizbollah's tunnels and bunkers, but the sending of a United Nations intervention force did not allow the destruction to be completed before the IDF was forced to withdraw.

Tunnel systems have played a crucial part in many modern campaigns, without attracting much attention. That is a serious oversight. The success of the Viet Cong in sustaining its war effort in Vietnam in 1968-72 depended heavily on its use of the so-called War Zone B, a complex of deep tunnels and underground bases north of Saigon, which had been begun during the war against the French in 1946-55.

War Zone B provided the Viet Cong with a permanent base of refuge and resupply that proved effectively invulnerable even against a determined American effort to destroy it...Hizbollah, either by mimicry or on its own account, has now begun to employ a tunnel and underground base strategy against Israel. It was for that reason it was able to confront Israeli armoured forces in south Lebanon earlier this year.

Since Israel's reason for existence is to provide a secure base for the Jewish people, and that of the IDF is to act as their shield and safeguard – functions that have been carried out with high success since 1948 – it is obvious that neither can tolerate a zone of invulnerability occupied by a sworn enemy located directly on Israel's northern border.

It is therefore an easy prediction to foresee that the IDF will – at some time in the near future – reopen its offensive against Hizbollah in south Lebanon and will not cease until it has destroyed the underground system, even if, in the process, it inflicts heavy damage on the towns and villages of the region...It is likely that it will also move against the underground system being constructed in the Gaza Strip.

The big question hanging over an Israeli return to south Lebanon is whether that would provoke a war with Syria, Lebanon's Arab protector. The answer is quite possibly yes...What is certain is that – probably before the year is out – Israel will have struck at Hizbollah in south Lebanon...

The Russians seem to share this analysis - they're rushing troops to the Lebanon (my ellipsis):
Oct 27, 2006 Russia is sending a peacekeeping force to Lebanon, which will operate independently of the UNIFIL force currently stationed in the region, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said on Friday. Ivanov said that the Russian force would be sent in coordination with the Lebanese government.
The Russians and French no doubt think their contingents will deter the Israelis. But that's unrealistic - Israel will do whatever it takes to survive, and all the meddlers are doing is making a nuclear war more likely.