- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 19, 2006

As Israel continues its military campaign to destroy Hezbollah’s arsenal sites in Lebanon, it is coming under mounting international pressure to use “restraint” — to bring its military campaign to an early conclusion in order to give diplomats a chance to negotiate a settlement to the conflict. It sounds enlightened to talk about dispatching the American secretary of state to the region right now, but doing so would only achieve a stalemate that permits Hezbollah to project military power and remain an armed militia that dominates Lebanese politics. That would be a disaster for the war on terror — and U.S. foreign policy interests generally. If Hezbollah is not strategically degraded to ineffectiveness, it will emerge strengthened and much more dangerous.

The current fighting in Lebanon is one of the most important battles in the larger war against the virulent strain of Islamofascism that burst onto the scene in the 1979 Iranian Revolution. If Israel ultimately prevails over Hezbollah (as we expect it will), this would be seriously damaging for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — reducing the ability of Iran’s No. 1 terrorist proxy to target U.S. soldiers and interests in the event of a future conflict between Washington and Tehran. But an inconclusive outcome that permits Hezbollah to re-arm and Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah to emerge from hiding and declare victory would be a disaster for America.

While the Israeli military campaign must continue, it’s true that the war could undermine the Lebanese government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, a moderate Sunni Muslim who is locked in a struggle for power with his bitter rival, President Emile Lahoud, a Maronite Christian and longtime Syrian puppet who backs Hezbollah in its war with Israel. But any outcome that permits Hezbollah to survive as a functioning militia/terrorist organization would be immeasurably worse for Mr. Siniora and for the majority of Lebanese who against their will are plunged into war to serve the interests of Tehran and Damascus. The best way to ensure a positive outcome for the Lebanese people, as well as for the interests both of Israel and the United States, is to make sure that Hezbollah is destroyed.

Hezbollah further damages Lebanese interests with its criminal practice of maximizing civilian casualties by storing Katyusha rockets and other weapons in private homes, turning them into legitimate military targets. Hezbollah chooses to fight by hiding behind women and children.

Israel, which is fighting for its survival, must win the war with Hezbollah by destroying the weapons with which Hezbollah targets Israeli women and children. The blood of the Lebanese civilians is on the hands of Sheikh Nasrallah and his backers in Tehran and Damascus.

These pitiable deaths are on CNN and BBC, around the clock. Each tactical Hezbollah military defeat on the battlefield becomes, with a public that isn’t paying attention, a strategic Hezbollah public relations victory.

To defeat this grim and cynical Hezbollah military/public relations strategy, the public must suppress its natural sympathy for innocent civilian suffering for the higher moral purpose of saving the greatest number of lives, of both Arab and Jew.

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