Some think Israel won because as the rockets and Reuters doctored photos are put away, the feeling in the Arab world that Hizbollah beat Israel is fading:
At the imposition of the UN Security Council cease-fire resolution, the West almost unanimously considered the war in Lebanon a disaster for Israel. Most analysts insisted that Israel's failure to destroy Hezbollah amounted to a humiliation and worried about the energizing effect Hassan Nasrallah's victory would have on radical Islam's popularity in the region. These analysts would be surprised to learn that Arabs increasingly view Hezbollah's war as a disaster as well -- but a disaster for Arabs[.]
I did say that the feeling of self esteem would be fleeting considering other boosts in the past faded. I'm impressed the ego buzz has worn off so fast, but I knew it would.
I also said that on the battlefield the Israelis certainly roughed up Hizbollah a great deal--inflicting far more pain than Israel endured. I wrote that the post-war would determine if Israel scores a lasting victory rather than just a temporary reprieve while Hizbollah rearms. Excuse me if I don't think that the UN is the best instrument to provide Israel with a victory.
It is also good that Israel saw its mobilization and strategy deficiencies in a war with Hizbollah rather than with Syria or Iran.
But I stand by my assessment that Israel screwed the pooch on this one. Hizbollah survived the war more or less intact though hurt, and so can rebuild. We provided Israel with four weeks and they dithered. Major Sunni Arab states backed Israel and Israel failed to focus on Hizbollah, losing that support. The damage Israel inflicted on Lebanon's infrastructure achieved nothing and may have made winning the post-war more difficult. Don't mistake the feelings of inferiority that are reappearing in the Arab world as a sign of Israeli victory--those feelings are the default mode given the backwardness of the Moslem world.
But if the damage done to Lebanon prevents Lebanon from really cracking down on Hizbollah, in a few years Hizbollah will learn from the fight, rearm, and be back at it in another round of fighting.
We'll just see if Israel learned more. And there will be another round, I dare say.