So the month-long war against the terrorist army Hezbollah has come to a halt. Predictably, everyone involved is declaring victory. Israel, Hezbollah, the UN, the US. They can't all be right, right?
Right. What the hell does "victory" mean, anyway? Nasrallah thinks it means surviving against Israel. He's wrong. Israel thinks it means destroying Hezbollah. They're right, but when they didn't accomplish that, they changed their tune. The UN thinks it means we stop harassing poor, innocent terrorists. I can't even begin to assess that. George Bush thinks victory means everyone hates you and people are about to die. Mission Accomplished!
Clearly, Israel did not come out of "Operation Change Direction" with a true victory. Hezbollah is still entrenched in southern Lebanon, is still being fed arms and money from Syria, Iran, and from terrorist sympathizers worldwide, and is still hell-bent on destroying Israel. However, Israel did do a lot of damage to Lebanon. And that sends a very clear message to every one of Israel's less-than-friendly neighbors. It says, "We'll do the same to you if you allow terrorists to attack us from your side of the border." It's a clear message to Egypt. It's a clear message to Jordan. And it's an especially clear message to Syria.
Almost unanimously, the media highlight Hezbollah's burgeoning public image in the Middle East and points to it as Israel's failure. Israel wasn't fighting a public affairs battle. It especially was not trying to win "hearts and minds" in Lebanon. It was trying to tell governments - governments that actually care about the well-being of its citizens - that it will not stand for their tolerance of terrorists in their midst.
The Anti-Semitic press screams about "massacres", most "proof" of which has been manufactured. But the world knows that Israel has been mightily restrained. Obviously, it really could have leveled Beirut. Obviously, instead of a few hundred casualties, there could have been a few hundred thousand. The reason there wasn't was because Israel wasn't fighting Lebanon. It was fighting a terror organization that happened to be inside Lebanon. Once Lebanon takes responsibility for its border, that won't be the case.
Israel accomplished what it meant to do. It stopped the reign of terror in the north. It disabled Hezbollah's ability to make war without authorization from a sovereign country. Is Hezbollah gone? No. But that's a job for another day, for another country to handle. Ultimately Hezbollah is Iran's expeditionary force, and only a nation willing to take on Iran can stop them.