It is easier to fight someone else's war than one's own.
Henry Kissinger lectures that it is necessary to define clear goals, and says that he has not heard them from Israel this time.
What about the removal of a military threat from Hezbollah? Not clear enough? I do not recall Kissinger's accomplishment in Vietnam being as impressive as promised by a chain of presidents from Kennedy through Johnson, Nixon, and Ford.
Charles Krauthheimer has expressed what is said to be a view widely felt in the Bush administration: that Israel has been disappointing in its failure to pursue a ground war more aggressively and effectively.
Perhaps the Bush record in Afghanistan and Iraq stands as a better model. If Krauthammer will volunteer himself or his son for one of the fighting units, the IDF may reconsider its policy, to date, of moving slowly and carefully.
The Russians are complaining about violations of international law. Their actions in Chechnya and elsewhere in the Caucasus are hardly more free of bloodshed. Their assertions against "terror" do not stand up well against the discovery of their high tech weapons that reached Hezbollah via Syria and/or Iran. Their representatives responded angrily to Israeli queries.
Israelis also complain. A few say that we should not have entered Lebanon at all, and a fair number say that we should be wary of entering deeply and exposing our troops and their supply lines to constant harassment. A larger number are demanding a more aggressive posture. The prime minister has come under attack for dithering, and being too concerned about the Israeli casualties likely to come from a more extensive ground war. There is also criticism of the IDF's excessive concern for collateral damage. A number of retired generals as well as some politicians are saying that Israel should play by the same rules as Hezbollah. If that occurs, the Lebanese better dig themselves some deeper cellars.
Yesterday the head of the IDF replaced the general who had commanded the ground forces in Lebanon. It is conventional to see this as signaling a different emphasis. There are as many as two more divisions waiting on a government decision to enter Lebanon. A non-representative group of 11,000 responding to an internet survey are voting 76 to 24 in favor of widening the Israeli offensive. We are tired of the Hezbollah rockets killing civilians and destroying buildings. The government is moving poor residents, unable to care for themselves, out of Kiryat Shmona.
Israel does not aspire to win this war in the same sense that the allies smashed the Germans and Japanese in World War II. It will probably end when one side signals that it has reached the limit of its desire to absorb damage, and will accept some demands of the stronger side.
As I read the Israelis, they are not likely to issue a signal like that. If Syria and Iran stay out of direct involvement, the signal may come sooner or later from Hezbollah. Yet they are religious fanatics. They show signs of fighting until the last Lebanese bridge falls, the last power station dims, and the last humanitarian organization says that it cannot reach its clients.
They are signs of Hezbollah weakening. It does not show up in a lessening of the rockets they are firing, but in the incidence of their casualties. Many of their best trained fighters may already be dead. One group, along with its rockets, fell into Israeli hands after they had fallen asleep in their bunker. It cannot be pleasant for small groups to be under the constant pressure of a sizable army that sends troops to fight around the clock.
The United Nations is trying to ring the bell. The French, Russians, Americans, and Arabs are arguing as to how much their insistence on a cease fire and what comes next must take account of Lebanese sensitivities. The Israeli government sat for 6 hours. At the end, nine ministers voted to escalate; two abstained on account of a concern for going too far; and one abstained because the decision was not aggressive enough.
We are hoping that the young men of our family and others will return home safely. I doubt that we will see them this weekend.