Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Everyone's a Winner! President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared victory over Hezbollah after the ceasefire went into effect. Meanwhile, thousands of Lebanese, along with Hezbollah terrorists, are dancing in the streets celebrating their victory over Israel.

So goes the War on Terrorism. Battlefield tactics have given way to PR games.

Neither side accomplished much. Hezbollah is still a threat, and Israel is still stable. Israel tried to lessen Hezbollah's ability to wage terror, to little success. Hezbollah tried to kill many innocent people and survive as a group, which they accomplished. That seems to give the edge to Hezbollah, if only because their standards are so much lower.

As silly as all this seems from afar, the ability to declare victory is important, especially in the culture of the Middle East. If you recall at the end of the first Gulf War, we never made Iraq sign a surrender or admit defeat. It was simply a ceasefire. As that was going on, Saddam Hussein was declaring victory over the U.S. and our allies -- after one of the most lopsided defeats in history.

At the time, that seemed like a moot point. We won, and the fighting was over. But the decade-plus of stonewalling by Saddam Hussein can be traced in part to allowing him to claim victory, leading to our need to finish the job with a full invasion of Iraq.


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