The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Will Israel Invade Lebanon? Will They Win If They Do?

Hezbollah’s Flag

Lots of reports coming out that an attack is imminent.

Israel is caught in a bind. The constant attacks on settlements and military targets in the north of Israel from Hezbollah in Lebanon have forced settlers to leave. There’s are at least a quarter million internal Israeli refugees, and they can’t return until Hezbollah stops firing. The ongoing war, the problems with trade, the refugees and so on are causing massive budget and economic problems.

Hezbollah won’t stop firing until Israel leaves Gaza, stops bombing it and stops the blockade.

Israel, or rather Netanyahu, needs a win in Gaza or his political career is over.

Hamas won’t give up the hostages until there is a permanent peace and all Israeli troops withdraw from Gaza, but the Israeli project is to occupy at least part of Gaza permanently.

The only way Israel can end the Hezbollah strikes is thus to, in effect, lose the war with Hamas. Such a loss isn’t just the end of Netanyahu’s career, it’s a massive strike to Israel’s legitimacy, and to the myth that Israel is powerful.

And it’s the end of the settler project in the North, since any new settlers (or old ones) will know that they’re there at the sufferance of Hezbollah, which wants them gone and will eventually try and force the issue. Settlers will leave and stop coming if the IDF can’t protect them, and protecting them means having deterrence over Hezbollah

So Israel needs to force Hezbollah to stop attacking without meeting Hezbollah’s demands. They need to prove they can still force Hezbollah to what they want. The threat of force isn’t working any more, so like a bully whose victim won’t give them what they want, they now have to go all in.

Problem is Israel can’t even win against Hamas, who are far weaker than Hezbollah. Hezbollah has 150,000 missiles, many of which can reach Tel Aviv. Israel won’t be able to defeat Hezbollah and they won’t be able to stop the missiles, so to “win” they’ll have to devastate Lebanon’s civilians: mass destruction, like in Gaza.

Problem is, again, that Hezbollah is a LOT stronger than Hamas and has enough missiles with enough range to launch absolutely massive attacks against Tel Aviv. They can take out Israel’s power, their water: everything. Anything that Israel does to Lebanon with air power, Hezbollah can do in return. And Israeli civilian morale is likely to be a lot weaker than Lebanese civilian morale.

Worse, though I don’t believe the Israelis understand this, if they lose the war on the ground, Hezbollah’s strong enough to advance into Israel and take and hold ground.

Israel’s in a bind, and unless they’re a lot stronger than I think they are (they aren’t) or Hezbollah’s a lot weaker, or the US mobilizes for war against Hezbollah, they’re marching into a war they can’t win; a war which will destroy their internal legitimacy by proving the IDF can’t protect civilians and can’t win wars, and which will badly damage and possibly even destroy the settler project and thus the “River to the Sea” for Israel.

Could happen to a country who deserves it, but only with a lot of looking.

The price of expelling Israel from Palestine will be huge, but Israel is on that road.

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The ICJ Ruling On Israeli Genocide In Gaza


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – January 28, 2024


  1. VietnamVet

    The collapse of the Western “free trade” Empire is now apparent except in the media and on Wall Street.

    The USA is simply incapable of doing what is in its best interests from closing the Southern Border to reigning in Israel. This post is true. As in all previous world wars, the Balkan and Arabian conflicts will continue to escalate. The difficulty is that the powerful get their money from stealing from their corporations or others until they can’t anymore and capitalism has always crashed into Great Depressions before. Today there are no sovereign nations left in the West just US/UK Five Eyes, NATO and the EU.

    The Houthis have disrupted western shipping through the Suez Canal but also energy and goods transport to Europe and the Americas from the Persian Gulf, India, SE Asia and Japan too. China cannot ship all its goods to sell to Europe by rail through Eurasia. The Panama Canal is not an alternative due to its climate change drought.

    Israel is triggering the Sampson Option. It will try to draw NATO into a war with Iran or threaten to blow up the world. This is the only way it can sweep clean Gaza, Southern Lebanon and the West Bank. The closure of the Strait of Hormuz to Middle East petroleum is guaranteed once Iran is drawn into WW3 along with the crash of the global economy. The inland US military bases in Iraq and Syria, hundreds of miles from the sea, that aid Israel’s destabilization of its neighbors, are untenable now and in the future.

    With the Trump Biden 2024 Presidential Campaign currently underway, Washington DC (the deep state) is stalemated and incapable of future planning. Lloyd Austin (Secretary of Defense) is an example of the malaise and ineffectiveness. The US Navy has failed to do its primary job to capture pirates and maintain freedom of the seas.

    The only way to avoid first use of nuclear weapons is restoring national sovereignty, sign armistices to end the wars, and build strong DMZs/borders between the combatants. If human beings are to continue to inhabit the earth, we must learn to live in peace and with foresight.

  2. Purple Library Guy

    Man. If all this stuff blows up a bit more and Iran closes the Strait of Hormuz, I am going to be SO glad my car is electric.

  3. Carborundum

    I don’t think things would play out quite that way. Only a small minority of the rockets that Hezbollah have can range Tel Aviv. They’re quite a lot larger than systems like the BM21 (i.e., they weigh something on the order of a tonne and a half) and are typically fielded on TELs. Anything that’s in the impact area is definitely going to have a very bad day, but it’s going to be tough to keep up significant rates of fire. The signature on these things is non-trivial (the IAF assessed the vast majority as destroyed in the 2006 conflict) and they take around 20 minutes to set up and fire. I would not be surprised to if Hezbollah were able to cut that time and to use things like firing from hidden pre-positioned launchers to enhance survivability, but concentrating on doing real (as opposed to symbolic) damage to Tel Aviv would be on odd allocation of resources. There’s about two and a half million people in Northern Israel that would be a lot easier to hold at threat, with some pretty strategic targets in the mix (e.g., Haifa, Northern Command, Ramat David), that can be reached with much, much more significant volumes of fire at much less cost.

    Similarly, Hezbollah are extremely competent at fighting on prepared battlefields, but fighting force on force inside Israel and aiming to hold ground would be quite a different kettle of fish. Not least, the terrain is a lot more open once one crosses the Blue Line. I would not want to be fighting my first large unit battle as a light infanteer going up against a combined arms force (likely with functional air supremacy) on unprepared and unfamiliar terrain and without meaningful fires on call. That is very high on my list of not fun things to do. Light infantry can definitely do some damage if employed skillfully, but it costs – and it really costs bad when support and enablers are scarce. The universe definitely favours the big brigades.

    Contextually, I would be surprised if Israel escalates to high intensity conflict in the North of their own accord. About the only circumstance that comes easily to mind would be if they think there’s going to be an imminent forced cessation of hostilities and they’re trying to get their licks in before the curtain comes down – that notion is prominent in their strategic history. That said, I don’t see clear signs that hostilities are going to cease – their messaging of late has centred around this being an extended conflict. The big escalation that I see as likely is with the Houthi. The USAF is moving additional tanker assets to al-Udeid out of usual rotation, which definitely has that CONOP smell…

  4. Curt Kastens

    “There is no reason to keep fighting because we are all going to die soon anyways. There is no reason to stop fighting because we are all going to die soon anyways. There is no reason to stop fighting because I will get pleasure out of trying, even if in vain, to make my enemies suffer, before we all die anyways”

    George Putton given to a speach of assembled Cadets at Annapolis in May of 2025.

  5. Tallifer

    If Hezbollah gets into a war with Israel, the millions of Christians, Druze and Sunnis whom Hezbollah has frightened into passivity might overcome their factional politics and kick them out.

  6. It’s not just their internal legitimacy that is at risk but their external. It is arguable that the loss of their external legitimacy would be a lot more damaging. A world where the entire Islamic community fully grasps the implications of Israel being unable to defeat a bunch of starving low tech fighters in a prison camp is one where the prospects of Israel existing in its current state is low.
    The West is still funding, and arming and using their military to assist Israel but at what point does the west decide that this sunk cost is enough? At what point does the Islamic world (not counting Yemen, Lebanon and Iran) decided to do something besides send out stern words?

  7. different clue

    Please allow me to scrape the bottom of the grubby cynicism barrel, if I may . . .

    Among all the ideological and ethnic and etc. reasons Netanyahu may have for expanding the war to Lebanon, his most grubby little personal reason could be his desire to keep himself out of prison, or at least delay his entry thereinto.

    If he can create a war situation which lasts for years, he can try to prevent elections leading to his removal because of the ” national emergency war situation”. And he can try delaying or obstructing his trial because of the “national emergency war situation”.

    If indeed that is one of his motives, how long will he keep Israel’s own current “forever war” going? As many years or decades as he can. After all, if he can arrange to die in office, he won’t have to think about dying in prison.

    What if some bitter desparate leftists were to arrange and achieve his assassination in revenge for his carefully sought and engineered Rabin assassination? On the theory that ” turnabout is fair play”? Not that I would ever condone, let alone advocate, for such a thing to happen. Oh no. Never never no. Certainly not.

  8. bruce wilder

    As a kid interested in the history of “great events” — conflicts that escalated seemingly inexorably and according to some dimly perceived logic of their own — I was fascinated by the origins of the American Revolution and Civil War, the First World War, the Second World War. I witnessed Watergate unfolding, the constitutional gears grinding. I have studied the French Revolution and the British Civil Wars.

    Like Ian I suspect, I have long anticipated the decline and fall of American Empire and the neoliberal world order. The writing of history — which a famous British historian described as remembering the future — lends itself more to inevitability than contingency in its prose. The historian labors to preserve the contingencies the surviving evidence indicates actors weighed. When you are living it, it is very hard not to scream at pundits and politicians who are oblivious to consequences staring them and us in the face. Which is not to even mention the wisdom of moral imperatives taught by prophets and philosophers for ages. I wonder if Isaac Herzog has listened to himself even once in the last weeks.

    Cheerleading for right results is a dangerous business for integrity. Netanyahu and company are playing a game they presumably think they can win at in the long run. The sheer ugliness of their thinking tells against them, as they calculate on the reluctance of those with power to oppose them. History furnishes examples of provoking better angels of human nature with extremes of rhetoric and policy. Not a sure thing though. The exceptional U.S. led by “lesser evil” Genocide Joe has put itself on the ugly side of this drama so far.

    The outlines of a larger global drama, as American Empire collapses, is emerging from the dust cloud, with Russia and China lending leadership of a sort to that part of the Global South that has lost faith in the beneficence of Anglo-American / “Western” hegemony. My cheerleading impulses are reluctant to find heroes in the authoritarianism of China or Russia.

    I suppose I am learning that these conflicts of contested narratives are subject to a narrative cycle in which one era’s fresh milk is some later times’ rotten cheese. I am sad that Israel staring into the abyss of the Holocaust narrative has become the monster they purport to despise. I know that there are Jews who see the same and mourn and protest without effect.

    I do not think there are many Americans with enough awareness of American foreign policy (and not corrupted) to pull my country back from the precipice.

  9. Mark Level

    Well, Tallifer gets it wrong once again–

    “If Hezbollah gets into a war with Israel, the millions of Christians, Druze and Sunnis whom Hezbollah has frightened into passivity might overcome their factional politics and kick them out.”

    A few weeks back, Max Blumenthal & Aaron Mate of the Grayzone covered how when (US-funded, as even State Dept. officials admitted at one point) ISIS wanted to ethnically cleanse (murder) Christians in Syria, the Assad government protected them. Iran has additionally protected Christian churches & populations in country from murderous Israeli incursions.

    How does Israel treat Christian congregations & churches? Less than 2 weeks into its savage genocide after Oct. 7, the IDF bombed the third oldest Christian Church in the world in Palestine. And a bit later, when the IDF was besieging a church in Bethlehem which the population had taken shelter in, they shot 2 Christian women from the same family to death thru the windows. Unfortunately for the hasbara narrative, there was a woman not killed in the church who contacted her family in England to report deaths, & beg for help. Her relative got news of the Israeli atrocity out both in England and to the Pope himself. Pope Francis soon after directly stated that attacking people in a church is “terrorism” and how can the Israelis do such acts and claim to be fighting “terrorism”? Oh, & an Israeli spokesman in England was called by a journalist on the church killings and her response was to shriek, “There are NO Christians in Gaza!” (Just like Golda Meirr used to claim “A Land without a people for a people without a Land” (basically “There were & are no Palestinians.”)

    Muslim & Christian people in the region (as well as most Orthodox Jews who strongly oppose the concept of “Israel” as a nation since no Messiah has returned and the government is semi-secular) know who the actual butchers are. Hint: they ain’t Hezbollah who, as Ian and others have noted are very restrained and cautious in their actions.

    I presume that Tallifer has never lived in a war zone. I have, having spent 4.5 months in Nicaragua picking coffee in 1983-84. Incidentally the only time I was ever terrified during my trip there was when my girlfriend and I were hauled off a bus by Guatemalan child soldiers with semi-automatics en route to Nicaragua. These children were kidnapped out of theaters or off the street to serve in the genocidal Guatemalan armed forces exterminating the native population in what the UN and Guatemalan government, among others, admit was a US-funded genocide of 200,000 people. The children had little interest in us (as obviously white people) but since they were barely as big as the guns they were holding and clearly untrained, it was still frightening.

    Anyway, my point is if you have ever lived under the threat of war (we heard the Blackbird jets booming above us, & in one place I picked coffee a young mother and her 8-year old daughter were murdered by Contras roughly a week before I arrived there) you quickly learn who to be frightened of and who not to. Your “sympathy” seems not to be genuine to me– I would assert that if any “Christians, Druze of Sunni” saw your words, they would have even more basis not to take them seriously.

  10. Mark Level

    Oops, 2 typos in my post– 1 serious & 1 minor (sometimes my fingers, not my mind, dictate what gets typed!)

    The serious error– it should read “Lebanon [not Iran] has additionally protected Christian churches & populations”. I’m not an expert on Western Asia but of course I know that Lebanon has had a large Christian population (both Orthodox & Catholic) since the Crusades, they have a role in the (bizarrely sect-assigned) government, etc. Iran of course being considerably to the East of Israel & Lebanon has never (to my knowledge) had a significant Christian presence.

    Also in the final paragraph, I meant to close with, “I would assert that if any ‘Christians, Druze OR Sunni’ saw your words, they would have even more basis not to take them seriously than I do.”

  11. mago

    If Israel wants to commit suicide by attacking Lebanon, I’m all for it as Israeli leadership is a toxic cancer.

    Unfortunately the shock waves and world wide repercussions will knock us all out, although some rats and cockroaches will survive to breed and start all over again.

    So shit.

  12. Feral Finster

    It should be abundantly obvious that Israel’s American thug will be doing the fighting.

    Anyway, the idea that “millions of Christians, Druze and Sunnis” will side with Israel is a pipe dream that dwarfs the fantasy predictions that the neocons made for Iraq.

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