If anybody wondered what could have gone wrong on the Israeli side during the recent war in Lebanon may take a look at this highly intersting report at DEBKAfile
(...) [Israeli prime minister Ehud] Olmert talked [US secretray of state Condoleeza] Rice into asking President George W. Bush to back the air offensive. The US president acceded – only laying down two basic conditions: Israel must confine itself to an air campaign; before embarking on a ground offensive, a further American go-ahead would be required. The second was a promise to spare Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure and only go for Hizballah’s positions and installations.
The conditions when relayed by the secretary of state were accepted by the prime minister. The first explains why Israel’s ground forces were held ready in bases for three long weeks rather than being sent into battle - up until the last stage. By then, the air force offensive had proved a long way short of fast and cheap; worse, it had been ineffectual.
The second condition accounts for another of the war’s enigmas: Israeli forces were not allowed to destroy buildings known to be occupied by Hizballah teams firing anti-tank rockets because it would have meant destroying Lebanese infrastructure.
This brought Israeli forces into extreme danger; they were forced to come back again and again to repeat cleansing operations in villages and towns close to the Israeli border, such as Maroun a-Ras, Bint Jubeil and Atia a-Chaab. This exposed them to Hizballah’s attrition tactics at the cost of painful casualties.
Only in the third week of the war, when the Bush administration saw the Israeli air force had failed to bring Hizballah to collapse, and the campaign would have to be salvaged in a hurry, did Rice give the green light for ground troops to go in en masse to try and finish off the Shiite terrorist group. Then too, an American stipulation was imposed: Israel troops must not reach the Litani River. (...)
Personnally, I am very worried about the situation which is cleary worse for Israel than it was in the beginning of July; Israel has been willing to enter into a (justified) war during which it has been completely unable to reach any of the initial goals set. Indeed, in addition to rearming Hezbollah terrorists, Israel now again faces Syria which is showing growing self-confidence and aggressiveness and Iran which could prove to be the real winner of the July/August hostilities. The Israeli government has not only shown weakness but also incompetence. The next war is thus very likely to break out some day soon and there will be more Israeli and Lebanese civilian casualties. As usual, the UN will be completely unable to prevent the conflict since its basic roots are left unharmed: The rogue states Syria and Iran who seek to gain influence in that region and who want to show to the world that they are (still) major actors capable of deciding on that region's fate.
This reminds me of the days of Ariel Sharon, who used to be capable of taking military and political risks. Nobody knows whether he would have been capable of leading the Gaza withdrawal and its aftermath to a success (which it is not) or to neutralize Hezbollah once and for all. But I can hardly imagine the man who defeated and humiliated the Egyptian Third
army to hesitate as Olmert did.