When Israel answered the Hezbollah raid that captured two soldiers with air strikes on Lebanon's airport, runways, gas stations, lighthouses, bridges, buses, apartment houses and power plants, we who questioned the wisdom and morality of what Israel was doing were denounced as anti-Israel or anti-Semitic.
Turns out we were right. In private, even Israeli army generals were raging that Israel was fighting a stupid, losing war.
Ehud Olmert, who gave Chief of Staff Dan Halutz the green light to launch the shock-and-awe air campaign, cannot survive the moral, political and strategic disaster his country has suffered.
While the Israeli Air Force was hammering Lebanon, Hezbollah rained down 3,000 rockets on Israel and fought off pinprick raids. When the Israeli army, after a month, moved in force against the real enemy, Hezbollah, Israel had already suffered irreparable damage to its reputation as a fighting nation and a moral country.
As the war began, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Bahrain all condemned Hezbollah, as did the Beirut government, for inciting the war. But with Hezbollah's defiant resistance, as Israel smashed up Lebanon, the Arab street rallied to Nasrallah. Arab regimes followed.
Lebanon, which suffered 800 dead, thousands injured and 1 million made refugees, saw its infrastructure destroyed and nation set back 20 years. If the government falls or Lebanon becomes a failed state, it will be an even greater calamity for the Lebanese, and for Israel and the Middle East. For the mightiest political and military force in Lebanon, and likely heir apparent to power slipping away from Prime Minister Siniora, is now Hezbollah and Hassan Nasrallah.
Says Walid Jumblatt, savage critic of Hezbollah and its Syrian alliance, "Hassan Nasrallah has won militarily and politically, and has become a new leader like Nasser."
Another loser is Israel, and Olmert, who seized on the border skirmish to launch his Lebanon war. Writes Ari Shavit of Ha'aretz:
"Chutzpah has its limits. You cannot lead an entire nation to war promising victory, produce humiliating defeats and remain in power. You cannot bury 120 Israelis in cemeteries, keep a million Israelis in shelters for a month, wear down deterrent power, bring the next war very close and then say, oops, I made a mistake."
Olmert and Halutz are history. The Kadima Party regime will fall. Left and right are already tearing at its flanks.