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The Widening War, or Recognition of a New Front in an Already Very Wide War?

Saturday, July 22, 2006  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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The Scratching Post collects key links on the question of resupply of Israel.

Bill Roggio has two posts on the military strength of Hezbollah, here and here, that should be read by everyone expecting a short war.

Rick Moran has some crucial updates on the political situation within Lebanon. (HT: Powerline.)

And Radioblogger.com has transcripts of yesterday’s interviews with Speaker Hastert and Bill Kristol.

From the Hastert interview:

HH: If there was any indication of need, do you think the House would move quickly?

DH: Well, if there’s need, then we’ll fulfill it….

HH: Last question, Mr. Speaker. If you hear from the American people that they want money going to Israel for resupply and support, and to help them weather this 1,200 rocket attacks, each one of them a separate terrorist incident, will you think the House and the Senate will be responsive?

DH: Look, we’ve always been responsive towards Israel. We’ve always been responsive towards our friends and our allies. And as we see what happens, and what the damage is, and what needs are, I’m sure that we’ll react accordingly. But that’s why I sent Pete Hoekstra over there this week to take a look.

From the Kristol interview:

BK: And then as you were saying, a few conservatives, actually, have decided to try to check out of this global war.

HH: The other thing that I think may be at work here is that the failure to find WMD in Iraq has led some conservatives, deeply erroneously, to conclude that there aren’t any WMD’s to worry about period. I still worry every morning I’m going to wake up and find that some sort of chemical weapon’s been deployed against Israel through a desperate Hezbollah, but that they are discounting that, both the isolationists, and of course, the nutter left, and also sort of the Council On Foreign Relations hand-wringers, that such weapons exist, and that they can be deployed.

BK: They do exist, and obviously, Iran’s going full bore for nuclear weapons. I mean, what I say in the editoria, and again, you’ve noticed this at times, and you link to blogs that notice this very well from the Middle East, but people don’t really…people need to read what Ahmadinejead is saying. And not just him. That what Khamenei is saying, the allegedly more moderate supreme leader, or the newspaper that’s affiliated with Khamenei, and the comments Monday about destroying…the always say they should destroy and annihilate the Zionists. That’s the…they also make clear they want to drive us from the Middle East, and ultimately, expand the Islamic ummah again, and destroy as much of liberal civilization as they can. Ahmadinejead on Tuesday explicitly talks about the crimes of liberal, Western liberal civilization, that that is the enemy, and Israel is the outpost of that enemy, but only the outpost. It’s not Israel itself that’s the problem. It’s that it’s an outpost of the liberal civilization we live in. So the people just don’t take our enemies seriously, and then you wake up one day and they could have developed some pretty terrible things. And you know, along those lines, not to go on too long, but you’re very right. I’m very struck by this. Hezbollah, it turns out, built up much more of an arsenal of missiles and arms than I think the Israelis realized, and certainly than I personally had really been aware of over the last six years. And I think all of us were a little negligent. There were a lot of other things going on in the last five years, obviously, than thinking about what was going on in the area of Southern Lebanon that Hezbollah controlled. But it’s a real lesson, another reminder, another wake-up call of what happens when a terrorist group controls an area for some period of time, and their ability to build up missiles and weapons and then do harm with that, and then be hard to remove. It’s much greater than if you nip these things in the bud.

The idea that Israel really cannot be threatened by Hezbollah seems to animate a great deal of the western media’s coverage of the battle, which is astounding given the number of missiles and rockets that have hit Israel in the first ten days of the conflict, and the sophistication of the weaponry used, and not just the missile that struck the Israeli ship. Kristol’s caution, buttressed by Roggio’s warning, is that Hezbollah has become a state within a state, and a military power very different from that of al Qaeda’s network of cells precisely because of the state sponsorship fo Iran and Syria. The very real possibility of devastating losses to IDF and Israeli civilians has to be kept at the front of any analyses done by western commentators.

Mark Steyn’s observation from Thursday about the relative silence from the Arab world concerning the Israeli counterattack against Hezbollah’s terrorists bears repeating:

MS: [T]he Europeans and the Arabs suddenly have gone very quiet, and in fact, have been supportive of Israel, because they understand…the Arabs, after indulging in this post-modern fear-mongering for 60 years, that Israel is an entire threat to the region, suddenly, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia see that there’s a real threat, not a pseudo-threat to the region, that they are going to be living per force under an Iranian-dominated region. That in fact, the last 50 years will just have been a brief interlude of Arab independence between living as subjects of the Ottoman Empire, and now being subject to a kind of de facto apocalyptic Iranian Empire.

HH: Do you think that’s clicking in, Mark Steyn?

MS: I think that’s absolutely what is prompted the extraordinary Arab League statement, and the circumspection of the European leaders. They both understand that if Tehran, in a year’s time, Tehran could have missiles that can hit any European capitol. And they don’t want to do anything about it, but if Israel wants to set back that program, they’re not going to complain.

HH: Now many people have suspected that Iran launched Hezbollah on its self-destructive mission last week as a diversion from the U.N.’s action against its program. There’s also been in this time frame over the last 60 days, a huge uptick in the slaughter in Iraq. And today, 59 people killed by a suicide bomber promising them jobs. How much of the Iraqi instability, Mark Steyn, do you put down to other Iranian adventurism?

MS: Well, I think that’s absolutely part of the equation here, that Iran exercises its powers, and looses its proxies to their full extent. That’s what they’re doing in Iraq at the moment, that’s what they’re doing in Southern Lebanon. And the question, of course, for everybody else, is if they’ve got a rifle, they’ll shoot it across the border at you. If they’ve got these rockets, they’ll lob them at Haifa. A year or two down the line, what are they going to have? And what are they going to be doing with that? That’s the question.

Does Iran understand itself as the center of opposition to the West, to Israel, to everything not under its control? Certainly President Ahmadinejad’s latest missive –this to Germany’s Chancellor– cannot give anyone comfort.  (Germany should release the text, not just denounce it: “It contains many statements that are not acceptable to us, in particular about Israel, the state of Israel’s right to exist and the Holocaust,”  German government spokesman Ultrich Wilhelm said.)

The Israel-Hezbollah battle is a front in the much wider war.  The sooner everyone understands that connection, the sooner will the possibility of isolating Iran and its proxies grow more, not less, likely. A very strong stand by Israel will be the most effective communication to Iran of world unity against its ambitions.  Attempts to restrain Israel from ending the terrorist military menace on its northern border undermine any effort to cabin Iran short of military action.

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