Taheri writes of the war and Olmert:
Olmert's half-heartedness was demonstrated with catastrophic results during the summer war against Iran's Hezbollah proxies in Lebanon two years ago.
Having assembled a massive force, Olmert didn't know what to do with it. In that conflict, Hezbollah suffered huge losses, enough to constitute total defeat in a conventional war. However, Olmert's decision to wave a big stick but settle for pinpricks enabled Tehran and its proxies to claim victory.
Indeed. I couldn't believe that some people tried to argue that Israel won that war. Early on, I judged that Olmert screwed the pooch on that war. Olmert decided to use ineffective military force. Using force ineffectively always helps an enemy. It is worse than doing nothing and at least leaving your enemies concerned that you might the next time fight them with decisive force.
After the war, I was not swayed by the claims that Israel really won:
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.
Yes, Israel inflicted more damage on Hizbollah than it endured, but the tactical victory was obviously a strategic defeat at the time. Instead of discrediting Hizbollah, Hizbollah endured. So Iran and Syria rearmed what they judged was a potent force. Hizbollah, having been bruised but not destroyed, was eager for another shot at Israel. After all, they can't actually destroy Israel on their own. So surviving just to launch another barrage of rockets is as good as it gets for those yahoos. And the Lebanese learned to fear opposing the confident and well-armed Hizbollah in its quest to call the shots in Lebanon. Will the UN peacekeepers help Lebanon? Hah! Can Israel take on Hizbollah? Clearly not.
So two years later, Hizbollah is secure in southern Lebanon and has increased its influence within Lebanon, and may be ready for another round with Olmert. While Israel's military surely learned key lessons from their defeat, they are still led by Olmert. So it could be another ineffective application of force by Israel if it comes to war again.
I suppose Iran has a dilemma. The mullahs would probably prefer to strike again after President Bush is out of office. But if the mullahs wait that long, Olmert, who they've beaten once already, may be out as well.
For Israel, much will depend on whether another round consists of a Hizbollah-Israel rematch or whether Iran and Syria join in, sensing Israeli weakness from the 2006 debacle.