The victory for the resistance in Lebanon is a major blow against both Israeli aggression and George Bush’s plans for a “new Middle East”.
However there are those in both the US and Israel who are calling for the use of military force in a desperate attempt to restore their imperial prestige.
Israeli defence minister Amir Peretz told a cabinet meeting last Sunday, “Our duty is to prepare for the next round.”
The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) have continued to launch raids on villages in southern Lebanon and fighter jets have reappeared in the skies over the capital, Beirut.
On Thursday of last week, commandos launched an attack on the Bekaa Valley in the east of the country, aiming to kidnap a local resistance leader.
Ahmad Rayya, a senior Hizbollah official in the Bekaa Valley, told Socialist Worker, “After its military failure, the enemy is searching for any victory. But all the Israelis have succeeded in doing is to remind us of our right to resist their aggression.”
Israel has sought to justify its latest attacks by pointing out that the UN brokered cessation of hostilities called for an end to Hizbollah attacks and the disarming of the group’s fighters. The resolution merely called for Israel to end offensive operations - and Israel has always claimed its actions are defensive.
Meanwhile IDF attacks on the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have continued unabated. Israeli forces killed three Palestinians in an attack on Gaza on Tuesday of this week.
Last Saturday, Nasser Shaer, the Palestinian authority’s deputy prime minister, was kidnapped from the West Bank by the Israeli government. The raid was the latest episode in a crackdown on Hamas, the Islamist resistance group that controls the authority following elections in January this year. Demonstrative displays of IDF firepower are seen as crucial to convince the US that its Israeli ally is still able to perform its traditional role - punishing any Arab regime that dares to step out of line.
It is not just Lebanon and Palestine that face growing threats. Bush’s “war on terror” has an underlying tendency to escalate - bringing even greater horror and instability to the region.
The failure of the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq are a blow to US prestige, but they also lead to a powerful temptation for Washington to turn its attacks on new targets - in particular Iran and Syria.
For the Bush administration, Israel’s attack on Hizbollah was viewed as a proxy war, pitting the US’s key Middle Eastern ally against a force allied to Iran and Syria.
The IDF’s assault was planned months in advance, and the proposals were shared with US generals and politicians.
It was seen as both a blow against Iran and a dry run for a possible strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
The Pentagon, along with the Israeli Air Force, developed plans for such a strike in early spring, according to Veteran US journalist Seymour Hersh:
“President Bush and vice president Dick Cheney were convinced, current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials told me, that a successful Israeli Air Force bombing campaign against Hizbollah’s heavily fortified underground missile command and control complexes in Lebanon could ease Israel’s security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential American pre?emptive attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations, some of which are also buried deep underground.”
The White House’s rhetoric against Iran is likely to grow louder in the run up to the 31 August UN security council deadline for it to end work on its nuclear programme.
These are dangerous times, but they are also times of hope. Hizbollah’s resistance to Israel’s assault has raised the confidence of the resistance across the region.
One Egyptian activist, interviewed by Socialist Worker (see page 9), explains that the defeat for Israel is a boost to those fighting imperialism, and to those fighting against their own regimes.
This new spirit of resistance can draw together the forces that can wreck Bush and Tony Blair’s plans to construct the new Middle East they dream of.