As could be expected, on Wednesday The New York Times rushed into print with a story about the wonderful compassion Hezbollah is showing in helping those in Lebanon’s civilian population who suffered enormous damage during the hostilities between the terrorist group and the Israelis.
Under the banner line “Hezbollah Leads Work to Rebuild, Gaining Stature” the Times exuberantly described the extensive humanitarian efforts Hezbollah is exerting on behalf of the Lebanese people. Wrote the Times: “While the Israelis began their withdrawal, hundreds of Hezbollah members spread over dozens of villages across southern Lebanon began cleaning, organizing and surveying damage. Men on bulldozers were busy cutting lanes through giant piles of rubble. Roads blocked with the remnants of buildings are now, just a day after a cease-fire began, fully passable.”
It’s well known that the United States of America is the world’s number-one provider of humanitarian aid – handing out billions to victims of wars and natural disasters in every corner of the globe, but you never see the Times going into spasms of adulation over our generosity. But let a declared enemy of the United States provide a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down to those suffering collateral damage as a result of their actions and the Times gets all gooey with worshipful admiration.
Hezbollah is a humanitarian organization in the same sense as the Mafia is a dispenser of charity and compassion. Hezbollah’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, sounded like the neighborhood Mafia don, offering money for “decent and suitable furniture” and a year’s rent on a house to any Lebanese who lost his home in the month-long war. It was his way of telling the people who their real friends are. It’s not the toothless Lebanese government, he was telling them, but your friendly neighborhood hit men who have your best interests at heart
I think he may have learned the tactic from another mob boss, Al Capone, well known for handing out cash and other goodies to the folks in the neighborhood when he wasn’t beating people to death with a baseball bat or celebrating St. Valentine’s Day by having his enemies machine-gunned to death.
This “Hezbollah-the-good” business is just one aspect of a war that turned into a dark comedy, elevating the status of a group of murderous thugs while humiliating the leadership of what has always been seen as the most-feared military force in the Middle East – the IDF – the Israeli army, which nowadays parades under the politically correct description as a “Defense Force.”
Aside from the fact that the both the IDF’s intelligence capabilities and its strategy were terribly flawed, the whole thing began to assume the appearance of a sick farce when it was learned that among his preparations for the attack on Hezbollah, Israel’s army chief, General Dan Halutz, had reportedly dumped his stock holdings – something I don’t think he learned from studying Karl von Clausewitz.
Tragically, the silliest thing to emerge from the whole farce was President Bush’s comment that Israel had won the engagement with Hezbollah, which is now running freely around most of Lebanon with its fully armed guerillas patrolling the streets in some Lebanese cities, while the IDF licks its wounds after failing to be allowed to disarm the terrorists – which in less politically correct times it could have done with dispatch.
And what could be more ludicrous than a cease fire whose conditions include the stipulation that the Lebanese army, or the United Nations, or a multi-national or just about anybody else around disarm Hezbollah. The Lebanese army says it has no intention of doing so, and the planned multi-national force can’t because it doesn’t exist, and as a result Hezbollah continues to bristle with arms and is probably being supplied with more ordnance from Iran and Syria.
In the meantime, the IDF meanders around the area south of the Litani River waiting for Hezbollah to get out of the area and disarm. I have a suggestion for them: they should take a page out of the Old Testament and march around Lebanon for the next six days and then on seventh day, march around it six more times and blow a horn.
It worked at Jericho, after all.
©2006 Mike Reagan. If you’re not a paying subscriber to our service, you must contact us to print or web post this column. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc. Cari Dawson Bartley email Cari@cagle.com, (800) 696-7561.