Hurry Up and Wait
The Israeli body-politic indeed seems to convulse between action and inaction with regards to an all-out offensive ground operation to clear south Lebanon of Hizballah. At Winds of Change, Donald Sensing notes that today's vacillation took merely 90 minutes to complete, quoting the Wall Street Journal's Middle East Crisis Tracker:
11:45 a.m.: The Israeli military will hold off on a wider ground offensive for two or three days to allow the U.N. Security Council to continue its debate for a cease-fire resolution.
10:15 a.m.: Israel's Olmert told a cabinet meeting a new diplomatic process would begin simultaneous to the military operation in southern Lebanon, a cabinet minister said. Olmert made the announcement after a telephone call with U.S. Secretary of State Rice. Olmert also said a new resolution to end the fighting would be drafted to try to address Lebanon's concerns.
This led to the following comment from Tom Holsinger:
The Olmert government and Olmert himself (Israel's Dan Quayle) just can't let go of the old paradigm about Arab-Israeli conflicts. The Israel people know full well that their existence depends on eliminating Hezbollah and are prodding their government into incremental, spasmodic, action.
So Israeli ground forces will creep incrementally into Lebanon. The MSM and almost everyone think the Olmert government is calling the shots. It isn't. The Israeli people are. No one but me and those who read my posts have considered that Israel is having its first populist revolt against clueless elites, and that this results in otherwise inexplicable inconsistent statements actions by the Israeli government.
The IDF's desire for caution and the air-power-enforced 're-supply starvation' of Hizballah plays hand-in-hand with Israeli politicians' reluctance to truly engage the fight.
Waiting "two or three days to allow the U.N. Security Council to continue its debate for a cease-fire resolution" is akin to waiting for the checkered flag to put the pedal to the metal.
Nothing good for Israel can come from the UN. In theory, the US can veto anything bad from the Security Council, but little if anything that resembles improving Israeli security will ever pass the muster of the rest.
No one wants to fight Hizballah. Better that they just magically disappear. But short of that, who besides the IDF is willing to fight Hizballah?
Has anyone noticed that Hizballah's goal is to destroy Israel? Just asking.
Perhaps if Hizballah vowed to destroy France by name, the French would not have withdrawn troop support for southern Lebanon. Perhaps, but there is - of course - no guarantee of that, either.
That Israeli politicians - even under constant rocket attack by those who seek to destroy them - cannot seem to muster "You're either with us or with the terrorists" is a troubling sign.
With Hizballah on the ropes, some even within Israel seem determined to let the terrorists come to and catch their breath for another round later.
No one can question the IDF's initial caution.
But at some point, if you are going to win, Israel needs to drop the leash and loose the dogs.
Otherwise, call a unilateral ceasefire, bring the boys home and resettle northern Israel to other parts of the country beyond Hizballah's reach, to which victory will have been ceded.
There is no nuance in the choice before Israel.
What is being executed at present is "Hurry up and wait," leaving the fight for another day, perhaps not soon and perhaps a day when Hizballah fights with a nuclear-armed Iran behind it.