As far as I’m concerned, if Nasrallah wants to claim this ceasefire as a victory, he’s perfectly welcome to try for another one just like it. A significant fraction of his voting base is now picking through the rubble of their former homes, a circumstance that would not feel like victory to most people. On the other hand, it is fully in keeping with a time-honored tradition in the Arab world, according to which Arabs (1) attack Israel, (2) lose the ensuing war, (3) claim victory, and (4) get angry when Israel won’t agree to pretend that it lost.
The important point is that the Hezbollah’s supporters in Lebanon were the big losers in this entire ordeal. They lost much, much more than Israelis did. Israel fought for meagre and diminishing tactical returns from the start, which is why we all thought it was losing. But Israel may have been fighting not for psychological gains rather than tactical ones — in particular, in order to establish overwhelming deterrence. Israel has demonstrated that it will destroy half of Lebanon in the blink of an eye before Hezbollah can scare Israelis into abandoning their homes. Nobody can now have any doubts what the consequences will be if Hezbollah unfurls another umbrella of missile terrorism over northern Israel.
I still think that international inspections of Syrian airports are a key long-term solution to this problem. But I see inspectors now more as a solution to Lebanon’s security problem than to that of Israel.
I disagree with yesterday’s symposium consensus that this ceasefire is bad for Israel. The situation is bad for Israel. But that situation is much better now than it was a month ago, without question. As we learned during the Cold War, few things calm the nerves better than a deterrence of assured destruction.