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Volume XLIV, No.50

Lebanon War II : Exploring its Outcome

by Dilip Kumar

Tuesday 24 April 2007


After 34 days of devastating war between Israel and Lebanon, a prominent question that crops up is: what has actually been accomplished? To put it concisely, while the Israeli aggression has achieved something, it has solved nothing. Undeniably the Israeli leaders can record this achievement: the Israelis got what they wanted-a timely provocation to annihilate the Hezbollah once and for all as well as send a warning to Iran to refrain from producing nuclear fuel or face a military invasion in the near future. But the Israeli attack has solved nothing. The Hezbollah has not evidently been defeated, nor did they sue for peace. The Hezbollah proved to be a tough military force difficult to suppress even by the America-backed Israeli military.
In fact, since the 1982 Israeli invasion, the Hezbollah had fought for “the liberation of Lebanon from occupation”; but this time its struggle reached the “second level” where the Arab people would challenge “the US and Israeli hegemony in the region”. The belligerence of Israel against the Hezbollah by brazenly rampaging through Lebanon and its egregious endorsement by the US have fostered camaraderie among the Arab countries until recently divided over the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers first by the Palestinian militants and thereafter by the Hezbollah.1 Fundamentally, Israel had undertaken a fresh military initiative in the hope of altering the ground realities in south Lebanaon.2 This explanation appears plausible in the light of the fact that Israel sought a total war to obliterate the Hezbollah and to occupy Lebanon from the border to the Litani river. Acutally the situation in the Middle East (West Asia) as a whole has become more complex and precarious as a consequence of the Israeli aggression in Lebanon. The Lebanon crisis has set off a chain reaction and threatens the stability of the whole region. Hence, a better understanding of the outcome of the Lebanon War II is to be assessed in local and regional terms. However, so mobile is the situation that analysis such as the present one can seldom aim to do more than speculate about the broad manifestations.

Doctrine of Delegated Aggression

In fact, it would be a big mistake to visualise the recent Israeli misadventure in Lebanon in merely “religious terms”. We must look for the most powerful determining factor pushing Israeli aggression, encompassing the larger picture of an imperialistic ‘world order’. And, herein comes the US factor. Israel’s actions in Lebanon were of a piece with the new US doctrine—to destroy by armed forces those organisations that oppose the US dispensation. And if these organisations have merged into the lives and labours of the civilian population, then the civilians are also legitimate targets. As Noam Chomsky has noted in Doctrines and Visions, this means that, in effect, “the right of aggression must be reserved to the United States, perhaps delegated to the chosen clients”.3 The Israeli aggression is an example of this delegation. Indeed the world order, envisaged by Bush and his cronies, will depend on both America’s right of aggression and its ability to delegate it to some cronies. Thus, with American approbation, Israel unleashed its war machine against a well-organised and highly motivated resistance group. When hostilities ceased, victory was not achieved. What is noteworthy in this context is that if Israel seems loathe to seek a political solution, this too is in line with the Bush view. The instantaneous shipment of precision guided bombs, including the US made GBU-28 bunker buster bombs, makes it evident that Israel was not alone in this operation against Lebanon. Moreover, the supply of such advanced military hardware is a forerunner to further escalation of tensions and conflicts in West Asia and a perceptible pointer towards employing such lethal bombs beyond Lebanon. On the other hand, the ever-looming nuclear threat from Iran is itself an irritant that is a rationale for this military alliance with Israel. But let us not overlook that Israel already has in its stockpile more than 200 nuclear bombs, a fact that seems to be of no anxiety to the US.4

The Wrong Way of Doing It

The Anglo-American leaders base their support for Israel on the view that their motivation lies in the promotion of peace and democracy, utterly ignoring the disproportionate retalisation by the Israeli forces in waging a full-scale war on Lebanon as reprisal for the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers first by the Palestinian militants and thereafter by the Hezbollah. This is an unashamed contravention of the laws of war. If the Palestinians or Hezbollah kidnap a couple of Israelis, it amounts to a grave provocation, notwithstanding the fact that 9000 Palestinians are languishing in Israeli jails!5 What a paradox!

Forging a National Identity

There is one particular projection which does deserve comment; that is, Hezbollah’s military capacity was dented but its fighting will and command structure remained intact. The war had begun to forge a new Lebanese national identity, with the Hezbollah-FPM combination as the nucleus. The Lebanese political establishment has remained remarkably united. Prime Minister Siniora on August 9, 2006 praised the Hezbollah and said that its resistance would help the government to negotiate with a strong hand.

Trust Deficit

The impact of failure is evident in Israel. A military enquiry on the tactics of war and a political post-mortem on the decision to initiate hostilities and its subsequent handling, is underway and will take its toll.6 Will it be sufficiently incisive and go to the root cause of this and other wars: the Israeli desire to keep settlement on land acquired by conquest and sought to be annexed on illegal and immoral pretexts?
Further, Israel’s international standing is at an all-time low. Both Human Rights Watch (New York) and Amnesty International (London) have explicitly accused it of having committed war crimes and crimes against the international humanitarian law and called for an international enquiry. 7 American reputation suffered in equal but reverse measure. Its Arab friends were embarrassed and politically handicapped.

Rhetoric Outside

Another important aspect which needs some elaboration relates to the roles played by certain neighbouring countries in the conflict. The OIC did not take a firm stand and appeared to be influenced by the US role. In contrast, the ASEAN Regional forum failed to reach a consensus. However, the ASEAN+3 had no qualms in identifying Israel as the perpetrator of the “disproportionate use of force” and calling categorically for an “immediate ceasefire.” 8 It is laudable that the Indian Parliament passed a resolution condemning Israel’s aggression, but New Delhi did not leverage its much-vaunted friendship with Tel Aviv to counsel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that the path he was taking would only make his country less secure. Olmert may have rejected any advice proffered by a high-level Indian envoy or even refused to meet the bearer of such tidings but India would have succeeded in sending a powerful signal to the region that there are more players than just the Quartet.
New Delhi did well to appoint a special envoy for West Asia last year. But it is also a fact that the government grounded the envoy for several months for fear that a visit to the region would lead to meetings with the Hamas and Hezbollah which in turn would make the legislative passage of the Indo-US nuclear agreement in Washington more difficult.

Facade of Concern

The UN and international community’s delay in acting on bringing about a ceasefire in Lebanon led to a humanitarian disaster. However, the recent ceasefire stands utterly violated in the face of the Israeli commandos’ raid deep inside Lebanon. The ceasefire is a mere facade of concern. Already there is a blockade of Lebanon which Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has refused to lift in spite of requests from the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Annan has completely failed to persuade Israel to at least allow the opening of the Beirut Airport if only for the reason that it would strengthen the democratic government in Lebanon.9 But Israel is adamant and refuses to pull out of southern Lebanon until the full implementation of the UN resolution.
Israel’s agenda of “cleaning up” the Hezbollah within the 20 km zone from the border has led to a complete pulverisation of the basic amenities of power, food and medicine. It has not only completely annihilated the civilian infrastructure but has generated more hatred than before.10 The onlooking Western powers are as guilty of war crimes as Israel.


In fact, a wide range of motives could be discerned behind the Israeli aggression in Lebanon. How much longer will the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers be allowed to justify the kidnapping of the entire nation of Lebanon? Israel is, in fact, a little more than an imperialist extension into the region, ready to trim Lebanon/Hezbollah down to size or even to annihilate it completely. And what is more important, the US involvement is so deep and pervasive that one is even led to believe that the US, in pursuance of its global and regional objectives, would have invented a conflict in the Middle East if none had existed. Hence, the world has to stir out of its slumber and denounce Israel and its allies without the fear of being labelled anti-Semitic. It has to be fully realised that such wars are not a deterrent to terrorism but a reinforcement of the recoil that it is so obviously generated, especially when international law and fundamental human rights are thrown to the winds. n

1. Subodh Kumar, ‘High Time to Challenge the US’, Mainstream, Vol XLIV No. 39, September 16, 2006, pp. 6-7.
2. Atul Aneja, ‘War and Solidarity’, Frontline, August 25, 2006, pp. 34-37.
3. Tabish Khair, ‘On Delegated Aggression’, The Hindu, September 10, 2006.
4. Shelly Walia, ‘Hands Off Lebanon’, The Hindu, September 10, 2006.
5. Ibid.
6. ‘If winner, why hide, Olmert asks Nasrallah, The Indian Express, August 30, 2006.
7. Hamid Ansari, ‘The War on Terror and West Asia Circa 2007’, The Hindu, September 2, 2006.
8. P.S. Suryanarayana, ‘Hesistant Steps’, Frontline, August 25, 2006, pp. 38-39.
9. ‘Left blockade, Annan tells Israel’, The Hindu, August 31, 2006.
10. Atul Aneja, ‘War ends but not Lebanon’s misery’, The Hindu, September 6, 2006.

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