WINEP’s Jeffrey White gets it right: Next Hezbollah-Israel war will be devastating on all sides; Still doesn’t understand Lebanese politics
After years of arguing with these types of people – folks who, in 2007-2012, laughed at the idea of Hezbollah having a substantial ability to inflict widely wrought, prolonged pain on Israel – over the last two years, these messengers and analysts have finally come around. Jeffrey White’s piece is indicative of this, and serves as a warning to all sides concerning the “climactic” final or next round of war between Hezbollah and Israel.
But – there is always a but with WINEP pieces that need to be understood usually more as polemics than as analysis – White lightly reproduces the classic Israeli-WINEP et al. error when discussing assumptions about Lebanese politics, Israeli-led violence and the position of Hezbollah. He writes:
“… [The wide Israeli assault would mean] substantially reducing the group’s military capabilities and damaging enough infrastructure to sully its reputation as defender of Lebanon, perhaps increasing public antagonism toward it in the process.”
— I am relieved that now these folks are using the word “perhaps.” That is a MAJOR change from the last 25 years of such analysis.
— The core idea, especially if Israel is seen (as it was mostly in the january events) as pre-empting, or launching hostilities, then widespread use of the IDF’s “Dahiye Doctrine” (which means intentionally targeting civilian populated areas and infrastructure and regarding civilians in those areas as legitimate targets if they stay or are caught for whatever reason in those areas) will NOT likely increase public antagonism against hezbollah.
— So White and the IDF are really back to square one – massive destruction in Lebanon will likely NOT help to undermine Hezbollah – politically or militarily (we can argue this latter point elsewhere).
Yet another reason why another conflict is a really stupid idea.