Saturday, July 15, 2006

What was Nasrallah Thinking?

I am not sure what the consensus on this is. Perhaps we won't know until many years from now. But I am curious what the motivations for the Hizbullah attack on Israel were. Could it be that Nasrallah simply miscalculated, or did Hizbullah in fact hope to provoke a response of the scale that we are currently witnessing? If Hizbullah's primary motivation was to free prisoners in Israeli jails, then the organization seems to have made a serious mistake. On the other hand, if the goal was to start a war that has potential to turn into a regional conflagration, we have to ask whose interests this would serve. Hizbullah has very little to gain in the long run. Sure, its occasional military successes, such as the kidnapping action, blowing up an IDF tank, the hit scored on the Israeli missile boat, and of course the barrage of rockets that have terrorized Israeli civilians, might boost the organization's approval ratings in the Muslim world. Furthermore, the tragic deaths of innocent Lebanese civilians, killed by F-16 missile strikes, as well as the population's suffering might galvanize Arabs and Muslims further against Israel. But these aims have rather high costs attached to them. In the long run, Israel will probably be able to destroy a significant part of Hizbullah's infrastructure and personnel. Furthermore, as I've said before, without Hizbullah's attack on Israel, these deaths would not have taken place. Perhaps the Lebanese and others will make Hizbullah responsible. A revision of the border is out of the question - here, Hizbullah has no legitimacy whatsoever. So what can Hizbullah actually gain?

I have left out the Syrian and Iranian factors until now. It is true that the Syrians have territorial ambitions - to regain the Golan Heights and the Sheba farms. But they also have a lot to lose in an international climate that is heavily tilted against them. What about the Iranians? Here, one possibility might have been an attempt to divert attention from their nuclear efforts. On the other hand, it is possible to ask whether for them too the motivation is ultimately ideological.


Nightstudies said...

The "Counterterrorism Blog" (you'll have to google) is speculating that it was an Iranian operative in Hezbollah who kidnapped the soldiers - and took Nasrallah by surprise.

Toby Petzold said...

I'm glad I found your blog. Stay safe. From your friend in Austin, Texas.