Olmert cabinet 298.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Yesterday the cabinet made the most wrenching decision a government ever has to make: to send thousands of ground troops into harm's way, into the teeth of a trained and deadly force armed with mines and missiles that has been preparing for this moment for six years. It was a difficult decision, but it was the right decision, indeed the only one that Israel could have taken under the circumstances.
About 40,000 Israeli troops are now expected to join the 7,000 soldiers already in Lebanon. The IDF says it will take about a week for these additional forces to reach the Litani River, and in some places beyond it; and a month or two to take control of the territory behind that line.
The objectives of the operation are clear. Most of the short-range rockets that Hizbullah has used to sow indiscriminate death and destruction in our cities and villages for an entire intolerable month come from the area that the IDF will seek to capture. Most of Hizbullah's forces and bunkers are also in this area. Only by taking this area can Israel substantially degrade Hizbullah's ability to terrorize the country and its ability to emerge politically strengthened from the war.
Though there is much criticism regarding the delay in launching this expansion of the operation, the time has not been completely lost. Israel's soldiers have had more time to train, and more time to learn lessons that could only have been learned by the battles of the first month of the war. We hope that this knowledge will save lives, but no one should have illusions: the cost of this war will likely become even more dear.
In this context, our soldiers should know that almost the entire nation is behind them, and in debt to them for carrying the weight of its future on their shoulders. They should know that they are not just fighting for themselves, their units, their families and their country, but for the free world, too, though much of that free world fails to appreciate the fact.
This is so because Israel is not fighting an isolated militia but, as Defense Minister Amir Peretz told the visiting German foreign minister on Wednesday, "We are fighting against the Iranian commando, which is armed with sophisticated, modern weaponry. This includes Russian-made anti-tank missiles, which in the past it was promised would not fall into the hands of Hizbullah. This weapon is being used today against IDF soldiers in Lebanon."
The IDF is fighting the terrorist arm of the megalomaniacal regime in Iran, which has openly proclaimed its ambition to commit genocide against the Jewish nation. If this were not enough, the same regime wants to dominate the Muslim world, and from that base, subdue the entire West.
Israel is fighting for its own future, but it is hard to think of another time in history when so small a nation has done such a favor for the rest of the world. And the nation, ironically, that should be most grateful is Lebanon.
As the brave Michael Behe wrote on July 30 from Beirut, "Before the Israeli attack, Lebanon no longer existed, it was no more than a hologram... Each Irano-Syrian fort that Jerusalem destroys, each Islamic fighter they eliminate, and Lebanon proportionally starts to live again!"
Hizbullah's parasitical relationship to Lebanon had become so advanced that even now the Lebanese government seems unable to separate its own interests from those of the Iranian proxy force that plunged Lebanon's people involuntarily into war. Even now the Lebanese seem powerless to free themselves of Hizbullah's yoke, but a deliberate aim of this extended operation is to change this balance of power, to give Lebanese independence a new lease on life.
Ultimately, diplomacy must concretize what the IDF achieves militarily. But the more success the IDF attains, the more straightforward the task of the diplomatic guarantors and the robust force they must coalesce. The UN and other self-declared champions of Lebanon have every interest in ensuring that diplomacy complements rather than thwarts Israel's military efforts - the very tasks that they have long since resolved must be done, and that all admit Lebanon has been unwilling or unable to do for itself.
If free nations cannot bring themselves to show gratitude or even openly acknowledge what is at stake here, as they know they should, the least they can do is to avoid making Israel's job more difficult.