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July 13, 2006
What Does The Lebanese Air Force And Hezbollah TV Have In Common?

They're both off the air:

Israeli warplanes blasted runways at the two main army air bases in eastern and northern Lebanon near Syria's border on Thursday, police said, attacks that could draw the Lebanese army into Israel's war with Hizbullah guerrillas.

Israeli jets dropped two bombs on the runway at the Rayak air base in the eastern Beka'a Valley, damaging it, police said. There were no reports of casualties or damage to aircraft. ....

Planes later attacked the Qoleiat air base near the Syrian border in the north with four missiles, police said.

The strikes on the country's two air bases virtually neutralize Lebanon's air force.

The Jerusalem Post also shows a picture of an explosion at Al-Manar, the Hezbollah television channel, in an attempt to cut off all possible means of communication, especially propaganda broadcasts.

The eradication of Lebanon's air force again calls into question the Israeli strategy. It has its benefits; by casting this as a state-on-state war, the Geneva Convention comes into effect and Hezbollah has to abide by the rules in its treatment of the Israeli soldiers. Whether the terrorists-cum-politicians actually do so will be anyone's guess. As some have pointed out, sustained surgical strikes on Hezbollah assets may help drive them out of Lebanon, giving the government in Beirut some assistance in releasing themselves from Syria's grip.

Except that isn't what Israel is doing. By kneecapping the Lebanese air force and targeting the civilian airport in Beirut, the Israelis intend on having an actual war with Lebanon, not just Hezbollah. After this war concludes, Lebanon will not have an air defense against either Israel or Syria. It seems that the likely outcome of this war will be an Israeli victory, and a weakened Lebanon that will fall back into Syrian control.

It seems like a mistake to me. Hopefully, I'm wrong, but I fail to see how destroying a nascent liberal democracy on its northern border makes Israel any more secure.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 13, 2006 9:59 AM

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