Armchair Archon’s Israel-Hizballah Prognostication

1.  The Pious Noises ™ will be largely ignored.

There’s way too much face on the line here.  Military damage aside, the political damage of giving in politically is too high a price for either Israel or Hizballah to pay — although as usual, the Israelis will be under intense European pressure.  EDIT — and if you think the Israelis are going to let Russia plant troops in Lebanon, have I got a waterfront deal in Loving County for you.

2.  Israel’s going into the Bekaa Valley.

Whether it’s an armored column or lots of special forces, I don’t know.  But the pattern of bombardment strongly suggests that Israel is going for the throat, and in terms of domestic politics, Olmert can hardly do less.  Lobbing a few more rockets and then declaring victory without the return of the kidnapees would be a political disaster.

3.  Syria is going to blink.

I still think I’m right in my assessment of this whole thing being un-premeditated by Senior Hizballah leadership — they’ve got too much to lose, and absolutely nothing to gain, by having what is one of the few Arab functional militaries smashed flat in a straight-up battlefield fight.  They’re also too obviously unprepared for it, having nothing at hand with which to reply to a deadly tactical problem except scary but ultimately piddling strategic irritants (the katyusha launches).  Whatever success HA had with either a drone or an Iranian crew-served missile have obviously not been anything HA could repeat on a regular basis.  I believe that a junior or mid-level HA guy took the initiative to run a copycat operation, and is now being flogged with concertina wire on the hour as dust falls from the cellar roof.

That said, neither Iran nor Syria can afford not to back HizbAllah… though in Iran’s case it’s mostly a matter of just egging them on while their lackeys get the popcorn ready.  Iran has relatively little to lose — they pay for a proxy, they lose a proxy, they’ll grow another one.  They could care less about the Lebanese in any way, shape, or form that cannot be described as “tool,” and if a hundred thousand Syrians die in order to give Israel a bloody nose… what does the Mullahcracy care?

Syria is different.  It has a LOT to lose.  Don’t forget, Syria is only a couple small steps away from having a full-fledged Kurdish Furball ™ in the northern half of the country.  Right now, Syria cannot afford to lose its air assets, which would most assuredly happen if it steps in to defend HA from Israeli attack.  If HA is wiped out, Syria loses influence… but to some extent, that can be bought back over time dealing with the French and other Euro powers who will come to it in order to have it exercise “its influence” over Hizballah remnants at the Demascus Office.  If Syria loses its air assets and its relatively easily-targeted armor (as we saw from GW1, unsupported armor is ridiculously vulnerable to contemporary air assets), its ability to maintain domestic tranquility is going to become questionable.  Whatever else you can say about the “Corpse in Armor,” the Syrian regime has a talent for survival, and isn’t going to cut its own throat for Tehran’s convenience.

Therefore, the money here is that there will be a regional conflict, and a serious regional dinner-table debate… but unless something in changes the basic military calculus in Damascus, it’s not going east of the Bekaa Valley.

4.  If any settlement occurs, it will be because Damascus sells Hizballah down the river.

This the logical extension of 1-3.  HA is calling no shots at the moment, and it is not likely that they will gain the power to do so — they certainly cannot simply roll over, b/c in any scenario that is not a blatant Israeli defeat, what’s left HA is going to be dismantled for good by Beirut.

On the other hand, when HA is out of military resources, their own will isn’t going to count for squat in the regional calculus… an HA with no resources is useless to Damascus.

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5 Comments

  1. blair

     /  July 18, 2006

    “Whether it’s an armored column or lots of special forces, I don’t know.”

    Isn’t that like going to Waffle House and being told you can have either eggs or hashbrowns? I think I shall have BOTH.

    Reply
  2. If the former, surely the latter. If the latter, not necessarily the former…

    Reply
  3. Mike

     /  July 18, 2006

    I dunno. It is beginning to sound like Israel is going to go for a stand off fight on this one. Which is great cover for the land op going on in Gaza still. And it could also be the Russian trick (We will only drive to the River, we are only going to secure the far bank, we are only going to go halfway to Grozny, we are only going to go to the edge of Grozny, we are oh come on you actually believe we are going to stop now?).

    Reply
  4. I think it much more likely to be the Russian trick. Notice that all of Israel’s denials don’t *actually* say they’re not going to try to beat down HA on the ground… they’re not invading, but rather engaged in actions (to ultimately shore up Lebanon, etc…)

    Reply
  1. Happycrow’s Eyeball Factory » Syria *already* selling out Hizballah

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