26 July 2006
Hezbollah looks a good bet for victory against Israel
The accepted version of the events that led to the Lebano-Israeli conflict is that Hezbolah had some kind of collective seizure and mounted a raid across the border. However, another version of events has it that it started with an Israeli commando raid into Southern Lebanon that went horribly wrong.
Either way, Israel has taken the opportunity to pound Lebanon into the dust, probably intending to finish Hezbollah off as a going concern. If the Lebanese state ends up looking like Iraq after the American invasion, that is just too bad; at least that seems to be the Israeli unspoken line. The question is, have the fuckers bitten off more than they can chew?
Back in 1983 this writer found himself eating dinner with an American army officer in the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The conversation centred around the Zimbabwean war, which had only ended three years earlier, and broadened to guerrilla war in general. The officer argued that Israel looked so good as a colonial force because its enemies were so bad. He made the rather neat comment that Israel had a third-rate army that fought fifth-rate enemies.
That may still be true of the conventional Arab armies, but it looks less and less accurate as a description of Hezbollah. The force may have as many as 3,000 regular troops in Southern Lebanon, plus a further 20,000 militiamen. It is these brave men who have held off Israel for two weeks now.
The Zimbabweans were never able to do this, and neither were any of the local armies that belonged to the countries that bordered Rhodesia. Basically the rule always was that Creole states such as Rhodesia or Israel could always rely on their better educated populations to field a modern army. However, Hizbollah has proved that modern armies have their weak spots.
The Israeli weak spot is its reliance on heavy armour and high technology. The former is pretty restricted: it basically relies on the roads. The latter only serves to create more rubble in which the Hezbollah fighters can hide.
Hezbollah can hold off the Israeli incursions because they have done something that no other Third World force, with the exception of the Vietnamese, has ever been able to do: they have trained their fighters to western standards. They do not seem to go in for sophisticated tactics, but the simple tactics that they do use have been drummed into their fighters' heads by many long hours of drill. The result is that a steady stream of exhausted Israelis are trickling back across the border having known that they have been in a fight.
Secondly, Hebollah has launched an average of a 100 rockets a day into Israel since this conflict began. No other Arab force has ever been able to match this sustained level of counter attack against the western, Creole state. Of course it does not match the level of ferocity that Israel has used against Lebanon, but that is not the point. What matters is that the people of Arabia see that Hezbollah is not only holding its own, but is also hitting back. The effect on Arab morale from this cannot be calculated, but must be immense.
Conversely, two factors are at work that should undermine morale in Israel. The first is the constant, nagging fear that the next rocket might be the one that kills you. To a basically European population that has somewhere else to live, anyway, the thought that while Europe may not be so great, being dead in Palestine is even worse, should start to take its toll.
Secondly, the ferocity of Israel's attacks on Lebanon will soon start to have an effect diplomatically. Will one of the European states sever diplomatic relations with the shitty little country? The fear must always be there and once one does it the rest could quickly follow suit. Will the demands for a boycott of Israel eventually start to enter the popular consciousness? That is what happened in the case of South Africa.
Viewed from this perspective, the only possible winners from this conflict are the Hezbollah fighters. Just by remaining in place, still lobbing the odd missile at Israel, when the conflict is finally brought to an end by foreign pressure should see to that. This is a point about guerrilla warfare that the warmongers always fail to realise: our side wins by not losing - the conventional, western, capitalist side loses by not winning.