August 12, 2006
I haven't been paying much attention to the diplomatic front in this crisis, and the haggling with France and other Security Council members only reinforces the perception that the "global community" lacks the will to confront the problem of Islamic extremism. Condoleeza Rice has not been accorded much respect from the warring parties during her efforts to mediate, it would seem. Likewise, it was clear that the U.N. Security Council would not pass a resolution until Israel had launched a full-scale invasion of
Lebanon Hezbolland, which finally came to pass in the last couple days. Israel and Hezbollah have agreed to a cease fire, which is supposed to take effect on Monday. We'll see. (BBC) Lebanon's prime minister Fouad Siniora wrote an editorial in the Washington Post demanding that "Israel must be made to respect international law," but the sad truth is that the internal chaos in Lebanon poses a mortal threat to Israel, and prioritizing respect for international law in these circumstances would be suicidal.
It has been puzzling why Israel has been so timid with the use of its ground forces even as its air forces are pulverizing large portions of Lebanon. It doesn't make much strategic sense, and the foot-dragging seems to be rooted in domestic politics. Donald Sensing has been following these developments very closely, and predicts that Ehud Olmert will resign as prime minister very soon:
The slapdash, haphazard and wholly indecisive way he has handled the Hezbollah war has doomed his chances of remaining in office past the end of this year, probably before then and maybe very soon. Olmert entered office with no national-security credentials and clearly still has none. Israeli editorialists all around are already calling for him to go.
Olmert's weak leadership in this crisis puts at risk the strong consensus among nearly all Israelis -- hawks and doves, the religious ones and secularists alike -- that Hezbollah must be decisively defeated.
On August 4 I wrote that "at least 30,000 men" were already inside Lebanon, based on the number of brigades that had been deployed there (eight). Apparently, however, there were only elements of eight Israeli brigades, because the total number of troops at that time was only about 10,000. The discrepancy may be part of deliberate disinformation, or perhaps the confusion on the part of the Israeli military command, which is apparently quite angry with Olmert. The above-cited BBC story reports that 30,000 Israeli soldiers are in Lebanon now.