Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Rx for Olmert

Bret Stephens at WSJ has a very good prescription for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on how to conduct operations against Hezbollah. It's subscriber only but here's the key:

You will moderate air strikes against civilian infrastructure, but will continue to strike Hezbollah leadership and long-range missile facilities. It may be difficult to kill Sheikh Nasrallah, but it's within Israel's power to prevent him from ever appearing in public again.

At the same time, you will send ground forces to the Litani to destroy every Hezbollah bunker, outpost, communications facility and weapons cache. You will withdraw the bulk of those forces as soon as feasible, but you will announce that Israel will shoot on sight any Hezbollah forces that move within 10 miles of the border. That should get the Katyushas out of range of Haifa and Tiberias. As for the much deadlier Fajar and Zilzal missiles, you will publicly hold Damascus accountable for their use, since these Iranian missiles could not have reached Lebanon without Syrian connivance. This should have a clarifying effect on Bashar Assad, who will risk war with Israel only through his proxies and who, if pressed, may bring pressure to bear on Sheikh Nasrallah.

Finally, you will play the diplomatic game with apparent sincerity, entertaining every proposal provided two baseline conditions are met: Your kidnapped soldiers are returned, without preconditions, and Hezbollah is disarmed, as Security Council 1559 Resolution demands.

Neither is likely to happen, but in the meantime you will dominate southern Lebanon, secure Israel's border and humiliate Hezbollah. In a test of wills and wiles, this is your strategy to demonstrate both.

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