Did Hezbollah play right into Bush's hand?

Sam T. Harper

July 15, 2006

I have written in the recent past about W's club sandwich strategy in the Mideast.

In summary, it states that with emerging democracies in Afghanistan and Iran and a stable Israel, the real troublemakers in the Mideast, Iran and Syria, are sandwiched in between the first three players. This sandwiching utilizes the most effective means to help Mideast peace be established in the long run: force (military, economic, and/or social).

Bush has realized since 9/11/01 that talks are meaningless in stabilizing the Mideast if not used from a position of power. Not just power occasionally, but unrelenting power.

Mideast turmoil is like a water balloon being held in a wide mesh net. A bulge appears through one opening and is pushed back in, only to produce another bulge at another opening. The Mideast tyrants have long understood that image and have relied on the west to fatigue from the never ending supplies of bulges.

Bush has changed the equation and Hezbollah/Iran/Syria (HIS) does not quite believe it.

Bush has backed up talking with action. Both Afghanistan and Iraq are being dealt with by force because talks (the sole strategy of previous administrations) failed.

Why the Hezbollah bulge happened right now needs to be understood within the context of the whole. First, HIS recognizes the "club sandwich" strategy. They are feeling the pressure. With the death of Zarqari, the now leaderless terrorists (supplied and supported by HIS) in Iraq are backed into a corner. They are now losing as Iraqi forces become more and more successful in self-defense.

Much the same is happening in Afghanistan. Allied forces are clearly holding the upper hand there. The HIS backed Taliban is fragmented and dispersed. Recent reports show a rapidly mounting casualty rate among the Taliban.

So HIS needs a win and has only one option: create another bulge. This one is their bulge of last resort: attack Israel. That appears to be a blunder.

Bush had well known reasons to use force in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has lesser reasons to use force on any component of HIS. Using force against Iran because of its nuclear development is an unlikely scenario because there are better ways to deal with it.

The # 1 way to deal with Iran is to completely isolate it from the Muslim world and then support its people in a push for regime change. Hezbollah has given Bush a big step forward in this strategy. Hezbollah has been a part of the Mideast problems for years but with these attacks have made themselves fair game for elimination.

Bush is not encouraging talks between Hezbollah and Israel. He supports Israeli efforts to eliminate Hezbollah military capabilities. This will succeed in eliminating one of Iran's tools to cause problems.

After the Hezbollah problem is solved, two of the major trouble makers left in the Mideast, Syria and Iran, will become more isolated.

Other Mideast countries see this coming. They are calling Hezbollah's attacks "inappropriate and irresponsible". Another clue is the deafening silence from the other Arab countries in supporting the attacks on Israel. Though the Lebanese Prime Minister has denounced any Israeli invasion of south Lebanon, I believe he will also be glad to be rid of Hezbollah from his country.

Now let's sit back and see how Syria and/or Iran next play into Bush's hand.

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