Date: Mon, 21 Aug 2006 18:13:47 +0300
From: John Whitbeck
TO: Distinguished Recipients
FM: John Whitbeck
Transmitted below is an analysis by the former Arab League Ambassador to
the United Kingdom which, in my view, rings true.
*Israel** has already lost this war*
*/From now on it will be difficult - and lonely - to be a moderate voice
in the Middle East/*
August 11, 2006
Israel's war in Lebanon may yet last for a while. But, for all intents
and purposes, Israel has lost what the Arabic satellite station has
coined the "Sixth War", in reference to the list of major conflicts
involving Israel that have erupted since the First war of 1948.
Every war is won or lost not by measure of the cold statistics of
hardware or lives - or even territory - lost or consumed by the
protagonists at the end of hostilities. Rather, it must be seen against
the overall strategic picture that emerges through the dust of battle.
The Sixth War is going to leave an indelible mark on that strategic
picture - and it will not make pretty viewing for the Israelis or their
Those Arabs of this or previous generations, whose lives have been
overshadowed by the cumulative effects of years of being told that
nothing can stand in the way of the might of Israel, are awakening to a
new reality. If a few thousand, at most, of lightly armed, but
steel-willed, irregulars can withstand the monster they so feared, what
can stop them, with all the potential they possess, from at last slaying
the dragon of their nightmares. This is an idea which will inevitably
grow in strength, not only with each day the war drags on, but with the
memories, legends and broken myths which this war is sowing and Israel
is doomed to reap.
It is this very same reality that has dawned on the Israeli leaders as
soon as they realised what they were up against. Shimon Peres, the
Deputy Prime Minister, drew the correct conclusion when he said "this is
a war of survival". He knows what is at stake. Moreover, he, together
with past and present generations of Israeli leaders, is responsible for
the fate they have sentenced their people.
Not one of those leaders ever had the honesty to tell their people, as
they hauled them from one "victorious" war to another, that all these
pyrrhic victories can never subdue a people fired with the rage of
injustice, who have resolved that the wrong done unto them shall be
righted - whatever it takes. None of those leaders ever came to terms
with their own suppressed consciences, or relayed any traces of them to
Because of this entrenched state of denial, Israel had always only one
answer to those who defied its brutal tyranny: even more brutality and
tyranny. That is at the heart of the logic that drives its war in
Lebanon. It is an old logic that Israel's leaders use to deceive their
people into believing that they are safe as long as they possess an
awesome killing machine.
Today that supremacy is being challenged to deadly long-term effect. The
Israeli people may be rallying round their government while its promise
of "victory around the corner" still may hold sway. But that promise is
increasingly wearing thin and will soon turn even the most die-hard Ehud
Olmert supporter to despair of his tactics.
Yet the fate of Olmert and his government will only be a footnote when
historians look back at this great turning point in the long narrative
of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Far more significant will be its lasting impact on the political,
psychological and ultimately the military power balance in the area. The
effect of the steadfast resistance of Hizbollah fighters to Israel's
all-conquering army will be very powerful regardless of the details of
the immediate settlement of the Lebanese conflict, which is likely to be
as unstable as previous arrangements.
In the past, every foreign force that has come in to Lebanon to "keep
the peace" has left with its tail between its legs - and there is no
reason to believe that the putative "multinational force" will fare any
better. Beyond Lebanon, however, is the feeling that is spreading like
wildfire across the entire Arab and Muslim worlds. It is the feeling of
empowerment created by the legend of Bint Jbeil and other battlegrounds
that have already entered popular folklore.
It is an empowerment that eventually could seal the fate not only of
Israel but of those governments of Arab countries who are seen by their
people as having, for too long, "sold" them the false idea of Arab
impotence in order to hide their own inadequacies and corruption.
Those in Washington dreaming of a new Middle East will indeed be
witnessing the birth pangs of such an offspring. They will be
well-advised, however, to consider the shape and nature of this new
creation. If they truly believe that it will fit the image of their
fantasy agenda, they are indeed inhabiting a wonderland. From today on,
it will be difficult - and lonely - to be a moderate voice in the Middle