Round One Goes To Them.
Bush and Blair call for a cease fire. Remember me writing about the possibility that at some point we’d have to play the role of the buddy who pulls you out of a bar fight and lets you save face? My guess is that’s what’s happening here. I suspect the Israelis, having waffled on dealing with Hezbollah, are grateful to us for stepping in.
This is a clear Hezbollah win. Dress it up with all the diplomacy you like, Hezbollah threw down with the IDF and walked away with heads held high. This is a watershed. Not a good one.
The Israelis beat the Arabs like a tin drum for decades. 1948, 1967, 1973. After 1967 the Jordanians decided to make peace. After 1973 the Egyptians made peace. Then in 2000 Israel was chased out of Lebanon by Hezbollah. On this go-round they blinked first and Hezbollah will claim a second Jewish scalp.
Meanwhile, on a paralell line the US in the person of Jimmy Carter caved in to the Iranians in 1979. In 1983 Ronald Reagan surrendered to Hezbollah and sent Ollie North to toady their Iranian paymasters. In 1991 president Bush the Wiser kicked Iraq out of Kuwait. In 2001 president Bush the Younger took down the Taliban, and in 2003 he invaded Iraq. Now we are facing a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan and losing the war in Iraq to a combination of Baathists, Al Qaeda and Shia militia.
One other piece of historical data: the Soviets were ejected from Afghanistan in 1989.
So, how does this look to our enemies? What conclusion can they fairly draw?
That secular Muslim nations — Egypt, Syria, Iraq — may lose to western powers and western clients, but Islamist forces, (whether Shia or Sunni) particularly unconventional or terrorist forces, win.
This will be a huge encouragement to the Taliban and to Al Qaeda, and a double shot of adrenalin to Hezbollah and Hamas. And there’s this: Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the largest Shia militia in Iraq, may fairly conclude that he needs to commit fully to driving out the Americans. The surest path to fame and fortune in the Muslim world is to brush up on your Koran and attack the west. I wonder if Ayatollah Ali Sistani will be able to keep any sort of leash on his Iraqi Shia now.
A formula is now in place: unconventional Islamist forces vs. western armies = victory.
If this is World War III as Newt would have us believe, we have lost round one.
(cross-posted from Mighty Middle.)