The Warm Up War
It is becoming ever more clear that while Israel may be winning its war against Hizballah tactically, it is losing strategically. That is to say, it is gaining ground and inflicting more damage than it takes - the definition of a tactical victory - but due to time and operational constraints, when the firing stops, it looks like Hizballah and its sponsors in Tehran and Damascus will have won this round. Aside from the fact that Israel is always condemned more for accidentally killing civilians on the other side than its enemies are for intentionally killing Israelis, the primary problem here is timing - this war was initiated at a time of our enemies' choosing, and under the conditions they most felt conducive to the fight. When Iran instructed its proxy, Hizballah, to initiate this war, (1) Iran was facing a united front in its nuclear negotiations, (2) in Iraq the U.S. was preparing for intense operations against Sunni jihadists in Baghdad and likely the Shi'a Mahdi Army as well, and (3) Israel was in the middle of a conflict with the Palestinians in Gaza. From Tehran's point of view, it was a really good time for a Hizballah-Israeli war.
As a result, Israel has been forced to operate under constraints - temporal and otherwise - which made decisive victory impossible, yet Prime Minister Ehud Olmert went ahead and declared that this was the goal anyway. This misunderstanding of the nature of the challenge Israel faced made a difficult situation worse. And now it appears that Israel is going to accept a ceasefire which is more or less favorable to Hizballah.
This is from the always insightful Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post, "An Unmitigated Disaster":
There is a good reason that Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah has accepted UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which sets the terms for a cease-fire between his jihad army and the State of Israel.
The resolution represents a near-total victory for Hizbullah and its state sponsors Iran and Syria, and an unprecedented defeat for Israel and its ally the United States...
This is the case first of all because the resolution places responsibility for determining compliance in the hands of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Annan has distinguished himself as a man capable only of condemning Israel for its acts of self-defense while ignoring the fact that in attacking Israel, its enemies are guilty of war crimes. By empowering Annan to evaluate compliance, the resolution all but ensures that Hizbullah will not be forced to disarm and that Israel will be forced to give up the right to defend itself.The resolution makes absolutely no mention of either Syria or Iran, without whose support Hizbullah could neither exist nor wage an illegal war against Israel. In so ignoring Hizbullah's sponsors, it ignores the regional aspect of the current war and sends the message to these two states that they may continue to equip terrorist armies in Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority and Iraq with the latest weaponry without paying a price for their aggression...
...all of which ensures that we will be doing this again. This war was just a warm up. Hopefully next time it will be at a time of our choosing, and Israel's political leadership will have its wits about it a little more.