Winning is, at its heart, achieving your objectives. There are lots of nice things that can happen or not happen at the same time, but the objectives are what matter. Right now, I see Israel’s objectives as this:
- Destroy Hezbollah as an effective terror force
- Remove the northern border as a front that has to be defended with large troop units, freeing those forces up to concentrate on Gaza and the West Bank
Winning Lebanese opinion is not an objective. It would be nice if Lebanon liked Israel, but it isn’t something that Israel needs to survive. In fact, it would probably be so expensive that it would not be worth having. Israel has written Lebanon off as an ally. They have had 15 years as a “democracy” and six years of cease-fire to do something. In that time they have done nothing. There can be no more waiting.
Stopping the rocket attacks is not an objective. In fact, I would say that Israel desperately wants to rocket attacks to continue. Everything Israel does suggests this. “Amatuers talk tactics; professionals talk logistics.” Israel has cut Hezbollah off from rocket resupply. That was the point of bombing the airport and seaport, and why Israel is destroying vehicles coming from Syria to Lebanon. No new rockets.
The problem Israel is faced with at that point, then, is the rockets that are already in Lebanon. Israel could stop the rocket attacks. It would be trivial for them to destroy all the launchers. Instead, they have destroyed some of the launchers. These things are WW2 technology that fires a missile which is easily tracked on anti-artillery radar, and the Israelis have such good radar that we base our technology on thiers. Once you have the track, it is trivial to trace it back to its ballistic origin. (That’s the whole point of anti-artillery radar.) Israel knows exactly where every launcher is as soon as it fires. They choose to destroy the ones that can hit vital Israeli infrastructure, and leave the ones that can only cause minor damage. Israel is even warning people not to go to the areas that Hezbollah can still hit from the launchers that remain.
Look at the numbers. How many Israelis have been killed by these rocket attacks? Zero. None. How many injuries do we have after over 2000 rockets? About 1700 people, mostly panic attacks? We get back to logistics. A Katshuya rocket has about 50 pounds of high explosives in the warhead. Israel thinks they have about 2000 of them left. That a half a ton of explosives. If Israel removes Hezbollah’s ability to fire them (ineffectively) into Israeli territory, Hezbollah will retask those explosives. Into roadside bombs. Into backpack bombs. Into suicide vests. Into methods of delivery that are horribly, terribly effective. Right now, Hezbollah is wasting all of those explosives, and Israel is not going to stop them.
Sun Tsu wrote:
19. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.
20. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.
Israel is no worse off than when they began. Hezbollah thinks that they are hurting Israeli, when in fact they are hitting only what Israel allows them to hit (seeming near when far away). They seem to be unable to stop the rocket attacks, when in fact they are directing them by removing the dangerous launchers and leaving the rest (using the force but seeming inactive.) They are holding out northern Israel as a bait, and when Hezbollah has run out of rockets, and when Syria and Iran are no longer willing to risk aiding them (and they are very close) Israel will crush them.