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War and Terror: Israel Has already Lost This War|
Posted on Friday, August 11 @ 20:42:23 UTC
From now on it will be difficult - and lonely - to be a moderate voice in the Middle East|
by Ghayth Armanazi, Independent UK
Israel's war in Lebanon may yet last for a while. But, for all intents and purposes, Israel has lost what the Arabic satellite station has coined the "Sixth War", in reference to the list of major conflicts involving Israel that have erupted since the First war of 1948.
Every war is won or lost not by measure of the cold statistics of hardware or lives - or even territory - lost or consumed by the protagonists at the end of hostilities. Rather, it must be seen against the overall strategic picture that emerges through the dust of battle. The Sixth War is going to leave an indelible mark on that strategic picture - and it will not make pretty viewing for the Israelis or their US backers.
Those Arabs of this or previous generations, whose lives have been overshadowed by the cumulative effects of years of being told that nothing can stand in the way of the might of Israel, are awakening to a new reality. If a few thousand, at most, of lightly armed, but steel-willed, irregulars can withstand the monster they so feared, what can stop them, with all the potential they possess, from at last slaying the dragon of their nightmares. This is an idea which will inevitably grow in strength, not only with each day the war drags on, but with the memories, legends and broken myths which this war is sowing and Israel is doomed to reap.
It is this very same reality that has dawned on the Israeli leaders as soon as they realised what they were up against. Shimon Peres, the Deputy Prime Minister, drew the correct conclusion when he said "this is a war of survival". He knows what is at stake. Moreover, he, together with past and present generations of Israeli leaders, is responsible for the fate they have sentenced their people.
Not one of those leaders ever had the honesty to tell their people, as they hauled them from one "victorious" war to another, that all these pyrrhic victories can ever subdue a people fired with the rage of injustice, who have resolved that the wrong done unto them shall be righted - whatever it takes. None of those leaders ever came to terms with their own suppressed consciences, or relayed any traces of them to their public.
Because of this entrenched state of denial, Israel had always only one answer to those who defied its brutal tyranny: even more brutality and tyranny. That is at the heart of the logic that drives its war in Lebanon. It is an old logic that Israel's leaders use to deceive their people into believing that they are safe as long as they possess an awesome killing machine.
Today that supremacy is being challenged to deadly long-term effect. The Israeli people may be rallying round their government while its promise of "victory around the corner" still may hold sway. But that promise is increasingly wearing thin and will soon turn even the most die-hard Ehud Olmert supporter to despair of his tactics.
Yet the fate of Olmert and his government will only be a footnote when historians look back at this great turning point in the long narrative of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Far more significant will be its lasting impact on the political, psychological and ultimately the military power balance in the area. The effect of the steadfast resistance of Hizbollah fighters to Israel's all-conquering army will be very powerful regardless of the details of the immediate settlement of the Lebanese conflict, which is likely to be as unstable as previous arrangements.
In the past, every foreign force that has come in to Lebanon to "keep the peace" has left with its tail between its legs - and there is no reason to believe that the putative "multinational force" will fare any better. Beyond Lebanon, however, is the feeling that is spreading like wildfire across the entire Arab and Muslim worlds. It is the feeling of empowerment created by the legend of Bint Jbeil and other battlegrounds that have already entered popular folklore.
It is an empowerment that eventually could seal the fate not only of Israel but of those governments of Arab countries who are seen by their people as having, for too long, "sold" them the false idea of Arab impotence in order to hide their own inadequacies and corruption.
Those in Washington dreaming of a new Middle East will indeed be witnessing the birth pangs of such an offspring. They will be well-advised, however, to consider the shape and nature of this new creation. If they truly believe that it will fit the image of their fantasy agenda, they are indeed inhabiting a wonderland. From today on, it will be difficult - and lonely - to be a moderate voice in the Middle East!
Ghayth Armanazi is a former Ambassador of the Arab League to London
© 2006 Independent News and Media Limited
|Average Score: 5|