By Mike Whitney
"Israel is in a state of post-war trauma. Its 34 day pounding of Lebanon has achieved none of the stated goals and has left the public furious at the incompetence of the Olmert government. 118 soldiers were killed in the conflict and Israel’s celebrated "power of deterrents" was smashed to smithereens. Nothing was gained. In the north, industry and commerce were brought to a complete standstill while the local people were shunted off to fallout shelters for weeks on end.
Hizbullah hasn’t been “disarmed” and the 2 captured Israeli soldiers haven’t been returned. The whole travesty was a dead loss. The war was abruptly called off when Olmert couldn't bear the rising death-toll, a fact that was not lost on Hizbullah's leader, Hassan Nassrullah. Nassrullah said from the very beginning that the only way to beat Israel was by “killing soldiers and destroying weapons”. Olmert’s retreat just proves that that Nassrullah was right.
So what does this firestorm of public outrage auger for Lebanon and the prospects for peace in the region?
The probability of peace “breaking out” has never looked more dismal. Public opinion is compelling Olmert to restart the war to salvage his battered career. Already, government officials have begun talking about a “second round” of hostilities, a euphemism that is being reiterated with worrisome regularity in the press. The mood in Israel is ugly and many believe that it foreshadows greater violence ahead.
Olmert is surrounded by “hawks” from the Sharon era who brush aside any plan that doesn’t involve force. That makes military action all the more likely even though the objectives are as ambiguous as they were before.
Restarting the conflict will only create greater threats to Israel’s security. It will strengthen the Lebanese resistance, weaken the already-feeble Siniora government, rouse more hatred for the United States, destabilize friendly Arab regimes, and further erode the perception of Israeli invincibility.
Israel has little to gain and everything to lose."