August 15, 2006

Complicity and Consequences

I'm currently in a quandary, trying to determine whether the United Nations cease-fire or Lebanon's implementation of it is more of a joke.

Hizbullah will not hand over its weapons to the Lebanese government but rather refrain from exhibiting them publicly, according to a new compromise that is reportedly brewing between Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Seniora and Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

The UN cease-fire resolution specifically demands the demilitarization of the area south of the Litani river. The resolution was approved by the Lebanese cabinet.

In a televised address on Monday night, Nasrallah declared that now was not the time to debate the disarmament of his guerrilla fighters, saying the issue should be done in secret sessions of the government to avoid serving Israeli interests.

"This is immoral, incorrect and inappropriate," he said. "It is wrong timing on the psychological and moral level particularly before the cease-fire," he said in reference to calls from critics for the guerrillas to disarm.

According to Lebanon's defense minister, Elias Murr, "There will be no other weapons or military presence other than the army" after Lebanese troops move south of the Litani. However, he then contradicted himself by saying the army would not ask Hizbullah to hand over its weapons.

If these reports are true, and Lebanon allows Hezbollah to retain their weaponry, they are not only in breach of the cease-fire resolution, they are choosing to side with Hezbollah. Israel should now consider Prime Minister Fuad Seniora's government as an enemy regime.

At some point in the future, maybe only hours or perhaps as long as years from now, Hezbollah with take aggressive actions against Israel that will necessitate another Israeli campaign. The next campaign must not be one of a tentative nature, but one of decisiveness.

Israel must break Hezbollah.

As an "pajama general" half a world away, with no military experience, I must turn to the history books for a solution to Israel's "Hezbollah problem," and a decisive battle in the "Forgotten War" of Korea offers a possible winning strategy.

On June 25, 1950, 135,000 North Korean troops swarmed into South Korea. Within three days they had captured South Koreas capital of Seoul. The U.S. Eighth Army came to South Korea's aid, but even then, they were driven into a small pocket called the Pusan Perimeter before the combined forces were able to establish and hold a defensive line. It was a desperate land stand against the North, and the Korean Peninsula seemed that it might fall completely into communist hands.

That changed on September 15, 1950, when General Douglas MacArthur executed a brilliant "left hook," landing 70,000 men at Inchon, well behind the front, cutting North Korean supply lines. Seoul was liberated ten days later. Half of the 70,000 North Korean troops on the Pusan Perimeter were killed or captured, and the remaining 30,000 were forced to retreat out of South Korea.

Israel may have the capability too consider a similar battle plan in a future war with Hezbollah in Lebanon. While Israel lacks the amphibious forces and manpower of MacArthur, it does have enough helicopter transport capability to perform deep insertions of elite infantry and light artillery units well into Lebanon. By airmobile insertion of these forces along transportation routes from Syria to the west and placing a blocking force to the north and west of Beirut, Israel could cut off Hezbollah from it's Syrian and Iranian suppliers far more effectively than air strikes alone did in the last campaign. It would also open up a multi-front war, keeping Hezbollah off-balance and unable to concentrate firepower in any one direction.

While these airmobile forces are inserted, Israeli strike aircraft could take out cell phone towers, central telephone exchanges, and other command-and-control targets, rendering Hezbollah largely blind and isolated except for short-range communications. At the same time, Israeli reservists and heavy armored units would bypass and cut off Hezbollah strongholds in the south, which could then be targeted and destroyed one-by-one.

This is the campaign Israel should have waged, and perhaps one they may yet fight. It is important to recognize that such a campaign might trigger a conflict with not only with Hezbollah, but the Lebanese Army as well. The conflict would not doubt result in hundreds of Lebanese civilian deaths, perhaps as many or more than this last month-long campaign. The responsibility of these deaths will not only belong to Hassan Nasrallah and Hezbollah, but with Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Seniora and the elected Lebanese government as well. A government that sides with terrorists, becomes terrorists, and Israel should now regard Lebanon as a state-sponsor of terrorism.

Fuad Seniora has signed a deal with the devil, and however and whenever the next war between Israel and Hezbollah is waged, he will bear the blame for the deaths of hundreds or thousands of Lebanese, as assuredly as if he had pulled the trigger himself.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at August 15, 2006 11:06 AM | TrackBack

Cutting off the lines of logistics and communications is a necessity in weakening Hezbollah, but when it comes down to the street fights, Hezbollah has the distinct advantage of blending into the civilian population. North Korean troops wore uniforms. They were distinguishable as enemy soldiers. Hezbollah does not/is not. It will not be an easy task to take out Hezbollah fighters. It is a task, nonetheless, that must be accomplished to provide security to the region.

Posted by: Old Soldier at August 15, 2006 12:16 PM

two points
I think israel went into this cease fire knowing it would fail because hizbollah will fire more rockets, give it a week at most. They are buying time.

So why do they need time? Because they are using armor in a tactically idiotic way. Tanks are for smashing, not taking a town brick by brick. I think they are looking for a way to defeat the AT weapons before they go back in (read that as ask the US how to do it) and are designing a blitzkrieg offensive for when the hizbo s start the war again. At least I hope.

Posted by: Ray Robison at August 15, 2006 01:39 PM

Linked at Old War Dogs >> Hezbollah to Retain, Hide Weapons. See also: Israeli F-15s downed over Lebanon

Posted by: Bill Faith at August 15, 2006 07:24 PM

It's always a joke when someone STOPS burning down your neighborhood and no longer is killing your family, friends, and neighbors.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at August 15, 2006 08:07 PM