Washington has urged Jerusalem to accelerate to 150 miles per hour on the road to destroying the capabilities of Hizballah, the Syria-Iran proxy, which murdered 300 Americans in Beirut in 1983 and is involved in anti-US terrorism in Iraq in 2006. However, Jerusalem does not press the pedal to the metal, and does not exceed 80 miles per hour. The pro-Israel Wall Street Journal, which generally reflects the Bush-Cheney world view, has expressed the US disappointment: “Israel has pledged not to stop without disarming Hezbollah; a defeat for Israel will mean more danger and far more casualties down the road… President Bush’s entire vision for the Middle East would suffer a severe setback if the current fighting ends with Hezbollah still a credible military force…” (August 1, 2006).
The more Israel retreats from the original goals of the war (i.e. disarming Hizballah), the more it undermines its stature as a producer of national security, which upgrades US power-projection, and the more it is perceived as a consumer of national security, which seeks US assistance.
The more Israel appears unwilling – or unable – to obliterate Hizballah’s capabilities, the more it advances Hizballah’s regional posture, adrenalizing the veins of terrorist regimes, weakening pro-US Arab regimes such as Jordan and Kuwait, exacerbating Mideast instability, undermining Israel’s and US’ posture of deterrence, planting seeds for the next and more horrific war, and lessening US interest to expand strategic cooperation with Israel.
The more Israel distances itself from its defiant tradition, which has been forged by the 1948 Declaration – and War – of Independence (in face of US military embargo!), by the 1967 Six Day War (resisting US pressure and French military embargo) and by the 1981 bombing of Iraq’s nuclear reactor (in spite of US, UN and European threats), the less committal are many of Israel’s staunch allies on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue and in the Christian community.
The more protracted is the war, the more difficult it is for President Bush to sustain his staunch support of Israel’s war on terrorism in face of pressure by Bush 41st, Jim Baker, Brent Scowcroft, Richard Haas, the State Department and the CIA bureaucracies, the multinational oil and engineering companies, Saudi Arabia, Europe and the UN.
The more Israel subordinates its military operations to diplomatic processes, to international public opinion and to extreme concern for collateral damage (unmatched by any western military!), the less effective is its military and the higher the level of Israeli fatalities. Moreover, the US defense establishment is concerned whether Israel has misconstrued the “1982 Lebanon Quagmire”. Is Israel throwing the “baby” (the necessary destruction of PLO capabilities to spray northern Israel with Katyusha missiles) out with the “bath water” (the ill-advised attempt to change the regime in Beirut)?
The more Israel engages itself with diplomatic processes – before it obliterates Hizballah capabilities – the more is the US sucked into these processes. The processes enhance the profile of the UN, Europe and Foggy Bottom (which aim at Israel’s retreat to the 1949 lines on all fronts), promote the role of the US as an even-handed mediator at the expense of its position as a unique ally of Israel, and yield undue pressure on Israel for sweeping and reckless concessions.
The more Israel calls for a multi-national force in Southern Lebanon, the more it is portrayed as a country, which ignores the flight by such forces from Lebanon (i.e. US and France in 1983), which relies on subcontractors for its own defense, even when the subcontractors constitute a human-shield for terrorists and a major hurdle for Israeli hot-pursuits of terrorists. A multi-national force in Lebanon would severely undermine the relations between Israel and the components of the multi-national force.
The longer the war lingers on, the more thoroughly will the Hizballah experience be implemented by Palestinian terrorists in Judea & Samaria and (especially) in Gaza, which is rapidly becoming Hizballistan, adding fuel to the fire of regional anti-US terrorism.
President Bush and Vice President Cheney do not consider Israel a puppet; they consider the Jewish State a unique ally with shared-values, mutual threats and joint strategic interests, a critical First Yard Line outpost in the third World War between western democracies and Middle East-based Islamic terrorism. Therefore, they have not approached Israel even-handedly. In fact, they have prodded Israel to resume the daring and the determination, which catapulted the Jewish State from being the remnant of the Holocaust in 1948 to a major non-NATO ally of the US since 1988. Israel’s resolve to devastate Hizballah to submission – and not just to win – requires a shift to a higher gear, driving at 150 miles per hour. Israel’s leaders are well-advised to study the US colloquialism: “If you can’t roll with the Dobermans on the street, stay on the porch with the Poodles.”