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Enabling Hezbollah By: Ralph Peters
New York Post | Friday, May 16, 2008


AS Hezbollah's terror army dismantles Lebanon, the world whistles "Ain't That a Shame."

With its heavily funded proxies marching through an Arab democracy's ruins, Iran has arrived on the Mediterranean, outflanking Israel.

Syria's surrogates punish Beirut. Lebanon's crippled government cringes at the whims of Hassan Nasrullah, Hezbollah's strongman. Terror rules.

And not one civilized country lifts a finger.

This doesn't mean that war will be avoided at the "negligible" cost of Lebanese lives and freedom. It just means that the inevitable showdown with Hezbollah will be a bloodier mess when it finally comes.

When will we face reality? Hezbollah can't be appeased. Hezbollah can't be integrated into a democratic government and domesticated. And Hezbollah, whose cadres believe that death is a promotion, can't be deterred by wagging fingers and flyovers.

Hezbollah, our mortal enemy, must be destroyed. But we - Israel, the United States, Europe - lack the will. And will is one thing Hezbollah and its backers in Iran and Syria don't lack: They'll kill anyone and destroy anything to win.

We won't. We still think we can talk our way out of a hit job. Not only are we reluctant to kill those bent on killing us - we don't even want to offend them.

Hezbollah's shocking defeat of Israel in 2006 (when will Western leaders learn that you can't measure out war in teaspoons?) highlighted the key military question of our time: How can humane, law-abiding states defeat merciless postnational organizations that obey only the "laws" of bloodthirsty gods?

The answer, as Iraq and Afghanistan should have taught us, is that you have to gut the organization and kill the hardcore cadres. (Exactly how many al Qaeda members have we converted to secular humanism?).

Entranced by the military vogue of the season, we don't even get our terminology right. Defeating Hezbollah has nothing to do with counterinsurgency warfare - the situation's gone far beyond that. We're facing a new form of "non-state state" built around a fanatical killing machine that rejects all of our constraints.

No one is going to win Hezbollah's hearts and minds. Its fighters and their families have already shifted into full-speed fanaticism, and there's no reverse gear. Hezbollah has to be destroyed.

But we're not going to do it. And Israel's not going to do it. We both lack the vision, the guts, the strength of will. Hezbollah has all three. In spades.

As for Europe stepping in, it's got just enough UN peacekeepers in Lebanon to serve as hostages, but not enough to set up a convincing roadblock. (All the United Nations has done has been to direct traffic for Hezbollah arms smugglers.)

And Europeans won't fight to protect Jews. Even now, Europeans, high and low, wish they could find an excuse to pile on against Israel. The continent's shamelessly anti-Israeli media is doing all it can to give its audiences that excuse - witness the pro-Hezbollah propaganda reported as ground truth in 2006 - but Europe's still a bit too embarrassed by its recent past to actively aid in Israel's destruction.

Meanwhile, Israel's bumbling Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his government remain focused on the chaos in Gaza generated by Hamas - another Iranian tool - while trying to ignore the existential threat metastasizing on its northern border. The "world community" wrings its hands about Tehran's nuclear ambitions, but does nothing - as Iran methodically sets the stage to launch volleys of medium-range missiles into Israel when the hour of reckoning comes.

The extremists running Iran today would destroy Israel. No matter the cost. And Hezbollah's happy to help.

Until that day comes, Tehran and Damascus are convinced that no one will stand up for Lebanon. They're savvier strategically than we are.

Before Israel squandered its credibility in the 2006 war, it briefly looked as though its Sunni Arab neighbors might rouse themselves to action to help thwart Tehran's ambitions. Those hopes have dissolved. Meanwhile, Jordan's rulers seem blithely unaware that they're next: Once Lebanon is under Hezbollah's thumb, Iran and Syria's next step will be to destabilize Jordan, surrounding Israel with active enemies.

Is there a good solution? No. Is there any solution? Yes. Backed by US air and naval power, Israel must strike remorselessly, destroying Hezbollah without compromise and ignoring the global save-the-terrorists outcry.

It's not going to happen. We lack the strength of will to do this right.

Israel or even the United States may feel compelled to intervene at some point. But we'll do too little too late and stop too soon.

Hezbollah would sacrifice women and children by the thousands to win. We rely on that fatal narcotic, diplomacy, as Lebanon shatters and our enemies pick up the pieces.

We're not Hezbollah's enemies. We're its enablers.


Ralph Peters is a New York Post Opinion columnist and the author of "Looking For Trouble: Adventures in a Broken World."


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