Fareed Zakaria speaks some painful trtuhs on ABC's This Week*:
The idea that you will be able to eliminate Hezbollah just doesn't make any sense, because what they feed on more than anything else is hatred, and intensity of emotion....
I would argue that Israel is of coure justified. Hezbollah is the bad guy here. But ask yourself a simple question: Is Hezbollah stronger than it was three weeks ago? It has some sympathy from the Maronites. It has more sympathy for the Sunnis. It has more sympathy from the Shiite and Sunni of Iraq. On a very fundemental level I would argue Hezbollah is getting stronger.
And Zakaria was saying this before he seemed to know of air strike that killed about 50 Lebanese civilians, mostly children.
Contrary to much of the chatter about how the dynamic developing--of Hezbollah essentially fighting Israel to a statement (and thus effectively winning)--that really shouldn't be a surprise. Fighting a counter-guerilla campaign has never worked well from the air, nor have efforts to bomb people into submission.
But that's all (recent) history. The question is what should Israel do now. And honestly, I'm just not sure.
I've argued for the past two weeks that Israel has made a big mistake by using such heavy force. But now that it's done so the calculation has changed. If Israel outright stops its campaign today or tomorrow, then there will be a near consensus: Israel failed. It failed to protect its soldiers at the outset, it failed to protect its citizens from rockets, and it failed to crush Hezbollah.
Israeli leaders know that, which is why I can't imagine they'll agree to a ceasefire right now. They'll lose too much strategic street cred. And honestly, that gives me pause too. But I don't know that Israel can regain that cred by fighting. In fact, time so far has been working against Israel. More pictures of Lebanese suffering, more time that Hezbollah has held out, etc. etc. So maybe the best Israel can hope is to stop the fighting, and push for international forces to form their own buffer zone and (fingers-crossed) keep Hezbollah at bay....
*No transcript is up yet. I just happened to watch--and Tivo--it.