Today US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The press reports leading up to their meeting were full of details about how European armies wish to send their forces to Lebanon. The reports also noted that Israel will be expected to surrender the Shaba Farms on Mount Dov to Lebanon in exchange for promises of security.
For their part, Israeli leaders from Olmert to Defense Minister Amir Peretz to Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni have been demonstrating a disturbing lack of resolve. Their statements expose a consistent watering down of the goal of the IDF's mission in Lebanon – from destroying Hizbullah as a fighting force to weakening it as a fighting force and "paving the way for a diplomatic settlement" that will apparently include Hizbullah.
On the other hand, other voices make clear that despite the best wishes of the government and the Israeli left-wing intelligentsia, it is far from clear that the IDF will end its operations without victory achieved.
For instance, writing in The Sunday Times, former Conservative MP Michael Portillo told his British countrymen that their hostility for Israel and the US aside, "The bloody truth is that Israel's war is our war." Portillo went on to argue that given the threat that Iran and Hizbullah pose to Britain itself, "for us to turn against Israel and America would be perverse and potentially suicidal."
STRENGTHENING the view that opposition to war against Iran and its proxies is suicidal, it was reported Sunday that Bulgarian border guards along their border with Romania had intercepted a British truck filled with radioactive materials for building a so-called dirty bomb. The components, which included dangerous quantities of radioactive caesium 137 and americium-beryllium, were stored in 10 lead-lined boxes addressed to the Iranian Ministry of Defense.
According to the Daily Mail, this was the second time in less than a year that a British shipment of nuclear materials had been stopped by Bulgarian border guards. Last August, Bulgaria stopped a shipment of zirconium silicate, which can be used as a component of a nuclear warhead, at its border with Turkey en route to Iran.
THE CURRENT campaign in northern Israel and Lebanon has brought into sharp focus the major pathologies and strengths of the West in fighting the Iranian-led jihadist axis. The British government's push for a cease-fire, together with the enthusiasm of the UN and France for sending their own troops to Lebanon to protect the Lebanese from the "disproportionate" Israelis; the demand of Israel's radical Left that a deal be made with Syria; and the demands of leftist ideologues in the US that an artificial deadline be set for the conclusion of Israel's operations in Lebanon all point to a similar pathology.
As a group, the ideological Left rejects the notion of victory in war for Western forces (although it is fine for jihadists); rejects the notion that there are enemies that are impossible to appease; and specifically rejects the idea that Israel has a right to defend itself against its enemies, let alone vanquish its foes.
LET US BE clear. The European foreign ministers and UN envoys who are tripping over one another on their way to Jerusalem are the same European foreign ministers and UN officials who brought about the misguided American decision to throw out 27 years of US practice and officially engage the mullahs in Teheran.
That is, the same European governments now jockeying for a place in an international force that will protect Hizbullah from destruction are the ones who have been stymieing American attempts to take concerted action against Iran's nuclear weapons programs for the past three years.
This is the pathology of the West. For if one takes the ideology of appeasing unappeasable foes to its logical conclusion, appeasing states will eventually join forces with their enemies against themselves, or, as Portillo put it, they will become suicidal.
AND SO, Britain's Department of Trade and Industry can give export licenses to dirty bomb components en route to Iran. And so American columnists named Cohen can tell the world that Israel's existence is a mistake. And so, Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief, can refuse to acknowledge that Hizbullah is an Iranian-run terrorist organization dedicated to Islamic world domination even as its supporters throughout Europe hold mass demonstrations where they hold signs calling for Europe's destruction at the hands of Hizbullah and Iran in the name of Islam.
And so Yossi Beilin can say that Israel doesn't need to worry about the repercussions of standing down while a fifth of its population sits in bomb shelters, because Hizbullah is just a measly terrorist organization that poses no real threat to the country.
On the other hand, events of the past two weeks have also shown some of the West's greatest strengths in fighting the war so many of its powerful citizens and statesmen refuse to acknowledge.
First of all, the IDF has discarded its dangerous delusions that it will be possible to win this war by remote control. Today it fights like an army that knows it is both at war, and at war with an enemy that needs to be destroyed, whatever the price may be.
SEVERAL supporters of Israel were quick to write off the IDF in the wake of unsupported statements by Chief of General Staff Dan Halutz and his generals last week, in which they announced – based perhaps on the tonnage of ordnance IAF jets dropped on Lebanon – that Israel had destroyed up to fifty percent of Hizbullah's capacities.
"Israel is losing this war," these commentators moaned, not recognizing that the IDF is capable of learning from its mistakes. "Israel's intelligence services fell asleep on their watch," it was said.
But these eagerly defeatist voices do not recognize that the failure was not one of intelligence, but of politics. Mesmerized by the dovish ideologies propounded by three consecutive governments, it took the General Staff a week to understand that Israel was at war.
BUT NOW they know. And now the IDF is fighting well, boldly and effectively on the ground. Halutz initiated a rolling mobilization of the reserves, and the IAF has pulled back to its proper supportive role.
As well, it is impossible not to recognize the Bush administration's centrality in the current campaign. Not only is the US rearming the IAF with bunker buster bombs, it is making certain that its own public and the international community recognize that what is at stake here is far greater than the well-being of Israel's citizens.
As President George W. Bush has made clear, this is not just Israel's war. This is a campaign of the Iranian-led axis of jihad that seeks to dominate the entire free world. And echoing Bush are voices like Portillo's that are heard from Beirut to Sydney.
Moreover, by rising to the challenge Hizbullah, Syria and Iran have placed before it, the entire Israeli public is setting an example for its army, its government and the world to follow. Families in the North are stoically accepting the around-the-clock bombardments and standing strong in their demand for victory. Families in the rest of the country are opening their homes to thousands of refugees from Haifa and Nahariya and Tiberias.
As a friend put it the other day, "Halutz has no choice but to win. Israel is a country with five million chiefs of staff and they are all breathing down his neck."
FINALLY, the campaign in Lebanon is indeed the opening salvo of Iran's war against the free world. But this works both ways.
Iran and Hizbullah believe that the ferocity of the attacks against Israel will deter us all from taking action against Iran's nuclear faciliti
es. But by giving the West the opportunity to fight it first in Lebanon, Teheran is providing the US, Israel and others with critical intelligence about its own installations. The subterranean bunkers in south Lebanon that IDF ground forces are now conquering were built by Iranian Revolutionary Guards units and designed by Iranian engineers – the same forces that conceived and constructed Iran's nuclear installations.
IN 1982, when Israel destroyed the Syrian Soviet-made and trained air force in Lebanon, it was able to provide the US with critical information about the Soviet Air Force and its air defense systems that enabled the US to outstrip both in a manner that all but sealed the fate of the evil empire. Today, by fighting Iran's proxy, Hizbullah, Israel is amassing information that will be critical for planning a successful strike against Iran's nuclear installations.
It is impossible to know what will actually be discussed today as Olmert meets with Rice. But it must be hoped that now that the US, Israel and other Western states are acknowledging the true nature of the war against Israel, they will abandon their suicidal demons and use this campaign as a stepping stone for neutralizing its chief instigator: The Islamic Republic of Iran.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.