September 17, 2010

The Next War: Hizballah vs. Israel

Jeff White, a 35-year veteran of the Defense Intelligence Agency and one of the smartest guys I know, has a disturbing new report on what the next war between Israel and Hizballah might look like. I write the report is "disturbing" because I think Jeff may be correct in his analysis, and I similarly suspect that a war in southern Lebanon might be orders of magnitude more destructive than the conflict in 2006. I encourage you to all read what Jeff has written. He asked me, meanwhile, to respond to his report in a public forum this afternoon at the Washington Institute, which I did. I will post the video of the event once it become available, but for now, see the below response. (Update: Audio of the event is now posted here.)

A few caveats:

1. I want to make clear that I do not believe another war in southern Lebanon is likely to serve the interests of the peoples of either Israel or Lebanon. I also do not believe the kind of war Jeff foresees will serve U.S. interests. I think peace, in other words, is in everyone's interests.

2. These remarks were written to be spoken. So there are no footnotes, and the tone is less formal than what I normally write. Also, Jeff asked me to provide critical comments, so much of what you'll read takes issue with things in the report. But do read the original, because I think Jeff gets much right. (Alas.)

Finally, Jeff feels confident that Israel would "win", operationally and tactically, in the event of another war with Hizballah. I, by contrast, think the scenario he envisions amounts to a nightmare for all parties in the region and do not think either Israel or Hizballah would end the war with a better peace than the one they enjoy now.

Ex Um 17 Sep 10