Hasan Nasrallah came out two days ago very strongly after a 32 day war with Israel. He re-emphasised an image first portrayed by the Israeli daily Maariv (or was it Yediot Ahronot) when on the 26th of May, 2000, it came out with Nasrallah's picture over its first page with the headline reading- Nasrallah, The First Victorious Arab Leader. That was the day after Israel's withdrawal from South Lebanon which ended more than a quarter of a century of occupation. During that occupation, Israel's total number of casualities was less than those casualities it admitted to have sustained in the recent 32 day war.
If wars are to be measured with achieving their objectives then Hizbullah is the sole winner so far. Israel's primary objective of eliminating Hizbullah remains unfulfilled. All the destruction, and the civilian deaths incurred by the Lebanese did not (and could not) yield to this result. The organisation of Hizbullah's militia makes it almost impossible to give the group a strong blow that would wipe it off existence. On the other hand, attacking the civilian populations and causing all this destruction to civilian infrastructure and property served only one result: enhancing Hizbullah's image in Lebanon and the Arab World as the sole entity standing in defiance of Israel.
On a different reckoning, Hizbullah's aim from the incident that caused the escalation is becomming closer to fulfillment. Hizbullah abducted the two soldiers in order to gain a bargaining chip for the Lebanese detainees in Israel, a righteous cause by all measures. Today's headlines mention an offer for a prisoners swap made by Israel.
So after 32 days of intensive fighting, more than 1000 Lebanese deaths (mostly civilians) and more than 150 Israeli deaths (mostly combatants), Israel and Hizbullah find themselves back at square 0 when Nasrallah offered the swap on the 12th of July.
So I strongly disagree with the Guardian's article today :
.. a truce took hold last night after 32 days of intense bombing that has brought Lebanon to its knees.
The only antagonist which came to its knees in this war was Israel. And this is not a proud statement of Arab nationalist but rather the only logical deduction of this re-assessment of the war. Since the 1948 war, this was Israel's second longest war (after the 88 day resistance and seige it met in Beirut in 1982). A 7000 strong organisation, has forced its conditions on the world's fifth most powerful army (forget what the UN resolutions says)- Hizbullah see no need in keeping arms if Lebanese detainees are freed and Shebaa dispute is resolved. As for the second, Anan is supposed to submit a report to the Council within a month. As for the first, it will be resolved through "indirect negotiations"just as Nasrallah said. The Italian Foreign Minister was just in Lebanon right after the war to work on this.
In Israeli terms, this war was nothing less than humiliating. The main indicator is that this is the first time Israel reponds promptly to UN resolution. If it had seen it was winning the war it would have continued. Resolution 1701 was the life jacket that saved Israel from further humiliation. It should now be largely understood, in Israel and beyond, that Israel's power is useless in unconventional warfare. Even with a very ripe plan that has been worked on since the 2000 withdrawal, Israel still failed to achieve its objectives.