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David Calling

The David Pryce-Jones blog.

Some Questions in Search of an Answer



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1. Why did Hezbollah choose this moment to attack Israel? Perhaps to take the pressure off Iran as it defies the rest of the world over its nuclear program, and to show the tricks up its sleeve in the event of real confrontation. But it must have reasoned that Israel would respond as it has done. The effect is to deepen sectarian splits within Lebanon, as Christians, Druze, Sunnis and even — sometimes especially — fellow Shias are expected to pay for Hezbollah’s strategy. Hezbollah leaders, and some of the Tehran mullahs too, are now openly and angrily threatening to settle scores after the hostilities with everyone who refused to support them in one way or another. No Lebanese force, either the national army or any militia, is in a position to oppose Hezbollah. It is beginning to look as if Hezbollah calculated that the attack on Israel will prove the pretext for a coup d’état in Lebanon.  

2. How did the return to Lebanon of the miniscule area known as Shebaa Farms come to be one of the conditions of an end to the war? According to international treaties, and the ratification of the U.N., this area belongs to Syria. If Hezbollah were to succeed in effecting its transfer to Lebanon, then it would show that it had the power to redraw national boundaries in the Middle East.

3. France started its subterranean war with Hezbollah back in 1983 when a Hezbollah suicide bomber killed 58 French soldiers peacekeeping in Beirut. A tit-for-tat sequence of events then began, with French reprisals — most of them bungled — and Hezbollah murders of French diplomats and civilians in France. While authorizing these attacks, Ayatollah Khomeini had the gall to denounce France as “a terrorist state.” Why does France think it can do any better now? For its foreign minister, Philippe Douste-Blazy, to describe Iran as a “stabilizing influence” goes beyond mere appeasement and defies reality. No matter what the consequences, once again there is evidently no limit to French ambitions to cut a more important figure in the world than the United States.             

4. “Shock and awe” bombing may look impressive but it did not work in Kosovo or Iraq, and not now in Lebanon, where it has wasted two precious weeks. Hezbollah is not fully vulnerable to techno-warfare, being dug into deep bunkers, dispersed, operating in cells, and using imagination. It is said that since trucks can be spotted from the air, they transport missiles on donkeys. Late in the day, disadvantaged by the adverse propaganda ensuing from bombing, Israel is now sending in ground forces in strength, as the U.S. had to in Iraq. In a war against terrorists of this caliber, why are staff colleges still preparing for the massive set-piece battles of the past?



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