It all depends on how you define victory

The meme has been that Israel lost.  Hezbollah still exists, Israel had to cede control of her fight to the UN (blech), and so on and so on.  However, winning or losing is often described in terms of what the parties to the engagement sought to achieve.  Hezbollah sought to destroy Israel.  Israel sought to prevent Hezbollah from doing that and to get its soldiers back (and, as to that, it has, to date, failed).  Tigerhawk takes these facts and spins them counter to the meme:

Since Hezbollah still has weapons, Nasrallah is still in charge and alive, and Hez can still fire rockets at Israel, Hezbollah has won. In comparison, since Israel has been unable to decimate and disarm Hezbollah, kill Nasrallah and suppress Hezbollah rockets, Israel has lost. Hezbollah wins by virtue of a very low bar; Israel loses by virtue of impossibly high expectations.

[There’s some analysis here about end goals and outcomes, which you should read at the source, and then Tigerhawk comes the conclusion.]

I have to admit, I am having a hard time seeing how Israel lost here — as if anyone can actually win a war in 4 weeks. The tortured calculus of the Hezbollah victory evades me. Everybody acknowledges that Israel defeated Egypt and Jordan in 1967 and again in 1973. Why? Well all Israel really had to do was survive. That’s what everybody has forgotten. That’s all Israel needs to do to win. Survive. It’s the other guys who are trying to destroy Israel, not the other way around.

Hat tip:  Cheat-Seeking Missiles

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  • J

    If all Israel needed to do was survive, then why unleash what it appears, at least to me, such pointless carnage? If they could have killed what’s his name and/or gotten their soldiers back, it would have been worth it. But they didn’t. In fact they lost more soldiers, civilians on both sides, and now the Muslims hate Israel more than before (if that’s possible).

    If there is a solution other than the complete eradication of one of the two sides, it’s almost certainly not military in nature.

  • Mrs. Happy Housewife

    I don’t think anyone really “won”. It’s more like an unfinished job, as the first Golf War was.

  • Mrs. Happy Housewife

    Gulf, not Golf. That would be interesting, though.

  • mamapajamas

    Golf War? Hmmmm… well, we could pit Tiger Woods against the current Islamic champion… if there is one.

    Could be a nice, neat war where no one gets hurt :).

  • mamapajamas

    J–“If all Israel needed to do was survive, then why unleash what it appears, at least to me, such pointless carnage?”

    And that is the entire crux of the matter of the Green Helmet pictures that the entire blogosphere is up in arms about… the appearance of pointless carnage.

    Israel went to a great deal of trouble to fly over and drop leaflets warning the Lebonese civilians to evacuate to the north before they started their attacks. The fact that there were so many left in southern Lebanon, staying inside buildings that were targeted by Israel as missile launch sites is suspicious. WHY were they there, supposedly sheltering in buildings that had rocket launchers? It appears to me that they might well have been hostages of Hisbollah, set up to be killed by the Israelis in order to create a public outcry.

    The problem with that little act is that the Hezbos have been caught manipulating photos, staging scenes for the news photographers, and other tricks (such as possibly transporting a refrigerated truck full of bodies from a morgue in Tyre to Qana to make the body count look worse than it actually was, but this story hasn’t been substantiated yet).

    The news media has gone into “circle the wagons” mode and are trying to gab their way out of this one. But it’s going to get worse and worse. The BBC and the AP are in serious trouble here, possibly losing their credibility once and for all. The infamous “Green Helmet” was filmed by a German news team directing the layout of various scenes for the photographers to shoot.

    For a complete picture of what’s going on, check out this European site, EUReferendum

    Be forewarned that on this conversation thread alone, there are 41 pages of comments, mostly from Europeans.

    This story is NOT going to go away.

  • Ymarsakar

    Isn’t terroist propaganda apparatuses so useful and versatile? If you had a choice between having an air force like Israel’s or Hizbollah’s propaganda apparatus, which would you choose?

  • mamapajamas

    I must admit that’s a hard choice, Ymars!

  • isirota1965

    Respectfully, I believe that Israel unfortunately did not win this conflict. Clearly, it did not “lose” it either, at least not in the conventional military sense, but it had two prime goals when the war began. Those were to liberate the two kidnapped soldiers and to halt the firing of rockets into Northern Israel. It accomplished neither of these two goals. In fact, after five weeks, Hezbollah was still firing rockets into Israel at a rate that shocked most military experts.

    Now, we have a situation which is exactly what I feared would occur. Hezbollah is already rapidly restocking, and when the IDF goes in to try to do something about it, it is roundly condemned.

    Arguably, Israel is WORSE off now than it was before July 12…………….

  • jg

    My feeling remains that this is a skirmish between Iran and the West, or Israel, in the Middle East. Iran challenges the West in Iraq as well, in what is more than a skirmish.

    One doesn’t ‘win’ skirmishes. It’s what follows that is significant.
    As for that chimera of ‘world public opinion,’ Israel must see their military undertaking against terrorism as a matter of national survival. The rest of the world has no armies in that fight.

    Iran and the US do.

  • Ymarsakar

    If Israel doesn’t do anything after this ‘skirmish’ then it won’t be a skirmish anymore.

  • Don Quixote

    J — Israel would welcome a non-military solution that allowed both sides to survive. It’s Israel’s enemies who are outspoken in their determination to drive Israel into the sea. Shouldn’t anyone who seriously wants a solution other than Israel’s total destruction support any efforts, including military ones, to persuade Israel’s foes to agree to a peace that will allow Israel to continue to exist? Personally, I don’t believe those foes will be persuaded by anything short of extreme military force, so extreme military force is the only possible way to achieve a peace in which both sides continue to exist. Or, we can just give up and let Israel’s foes destroy her. Which would you personally choose, or what other option do you suggest?

  • J

    Don Quixote,

    Love the handle.

    I have no answers. It seems to me that the current course can’t end well for Israel. Maybe that’s where my thinking is flawed. I want resolution, and maybe there can’t be any. At any rate, I’ve never lived in Israel or Lebanon, so my opinion is based purely on propaganda.

    Personally, I think the price paid by the Lebonese, and certainly the Hezbollah, wasn’t nearly high enough. They’ll do it again. They’ll do it again soon. I’m for putting the proverbial fear of God in those people, or in placating them, but certainly not in provoking them.