Yesterday I read a 2004 article linked to from the comments at Jim Henley’s blog that explained how Hezbollah observes fairly specific rules of engagement in its war against Israel. Hezbollah’s attacks are generally responses to specific provocations, and Hezbollah does seem to understand proportionality. Indeed, yesterday Billmon noted that Hezbollah suspended its rocket attacks when Israel declared a 48 hour moratorium on its aerial bombardment of Lebanon.
I’m not eager to give Hezbollah credit, and obviously the world would be a better place if an armed militia in southern Lebanon were not attacking Israel, but I think there’s something to consider here. If there were “rules of the game” being played between Hezbollah and Israel up until the two Israeli soldiers were captured on July 12, what caused Israel to suddenly change the rules and launch an all out attack?
It occurred to me this morning that the difference is that Syria’s military no longer occupies Lebanon. Israel wasn’t willing to start a war with Lebanon if it meant starting a war with Syria as well, but now that Syria has been forced to leave, Israel can blow up Lebanon with impunity. Has Israel (backed by the US and UK) taught Lebanon that it was more secure when it was occupied by a foreign dictatorship than it is as an independent democracy? It sure looks that way to me.