After 18 years of being bled in Lebanon, Israel gave up and went home. The Vietnam syndrome set in.
Still, how can Hezbollah and its leader Hassan Nasrallah claim to have won the war, when they have inflicted far less damage and taken many more casualties? Answer: By simply standing at war's end.
The guerrilla wins if he does not lose. There is truth in the cliche. And as of today, Nasrallah has refused to return the two Israeli soldiers Hezbollah captured. Hezbollah has fired 1,500 rockets into Israel, which no Arab army has ever done. It continues to fire 100 a day, after two weeks of massive air and artillery strikes on its positions in south Lebanon. Hezbollah is visibly accomplishing what no Arab nation has ever accomplished. Small wonder its prestige is rocketing in the Arab and Islamic world.
For Israel, the days of hope and glory are history.
In 1967, Israel defeated Egypt, Syria and Jordan in six days and seized huge slices of all three countries. In 1982, the Israelis were at the gates of Beirut within hours. Today, they are reluctant to go 15 miles in, and Olmert is talking of taking a one-mile stretch of Lebanese land and holding it. Israel is now calling for a robust international force, preferably NATO, to occupy Lebanese territory on her northern border, and, with the Lebanese army, ensure it remains clear of Hezbollah and Katyushas.
But the Lebanese army, itself heavily Shia, contains Hezbollah, and, after Israel bombed and killed a dozen of its men in their barracks, is not going to pull Israel's chestnuts out of the fire. No nation is going to do for Israel what she has failed to do for herself. No international force is going to disarm Hezbollah, unless Hezbollah agrees to be disarmed.
Israel apparently believes it can defeat and disarm Hezbollah with air strikes and artillery, though in 18 years of occupation it failed. It is deceiving itself. Either Israel goes in and roots Hezbollah out at a cost of hundreds of Israeli dead, or it will have to negotiate, as it did with Syria's Assad in 1973 and the PLO's Arafat in 1994. If you will not or cannot defeat your enemy, you eventually must talk to him.