The Futility of War of Deterrence against Hezbollah

Hezbollah is politically a tool for Iran to control and incrementally take over Lebanon. In military strategic terms however is Hezbollah a tool for Iranian strategic deterrence against Israel in order to deter Israel from strategically degrading Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Israel seems to have little confidence in or even expectation that the US will attack Iran’s nuclear weapons program and seems resigned to having to do this on its own. Hezbollah’s designated military purpose vis-a-vis Israel is not to every now and then terrorize Israel as Hamas does but rather to serve as a strategic shield for Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

A war to deter Hezbollah would be quite meaningless since the growing missile threat against Metropolitan Tel Aviv must simply be eradicated. Israel could easily destroy Lebanon but what purpose would that possibly serve? Israel cannot deter Hezbollah since Hezbollah is part of the IRGC command and control structure and ultimately takes direct executive instructions from the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ali Khamenei. Hezbollah does not terrorize Israel because it is instructed by Iran to take a defensive posture to strategically shield Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Israeli air strikes against Hezbollah’s 150 000 missile underground stockpile would therefore be quite meaningless from the perspective of deterrence since Hezbollah is only activated on a strategic scale against Israel once Israel strategically degrades Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

The civilian cost in terms of the potential damage inflicted on Metropolitan Tel Aviv generally rises by the year as Hezbollah’s arsenal becomes more advanced and more sophisticated. As Netanyahu’s former Washington ambassador Ron Dermer stated in a recent interview with the Israeli daily Israel Hayom is the Iranian strategy to turn Tel Aviv into Seoul, meaning establishing a conventional deterrence against Israel’s economic capital that will make the price too high for Israel to strategically attack Iran’s nuclear weapons program. 

A war against Hezbollah is therefore necessary sooner rather than later and Hezbollah must be destroyed both in Lebanon and Syria. The alternative is to wait and wait until the price becomes ever steeper to Metropolitan Tel Aviv. What is at stake here are destroyed skyscrapers as on September 11, 2001, in New York City. This is a real terror threat and acting sooner rather than later is indeed imperative. It is important to emphasize that Hezbollah’s missiles specifically target civilians.

This terror threat cannot be eliminated without Israel occupying Lebanon for several months to root out the missile threat. To launch missiles against missiles is almost pointless, indeed an exercise in futility. While Lebanon could surely be destroyed, what would the point be? This would not deter Iran for the next round. Iran furthermore does not care about Lebanon’s well-being, but only about it being dominated and politically colonized.

A mere eradication of the missile threat would however not prevent the missile threat from re-emerging once more after the war. Keep in mind that the strategic degradation of Iran’s nuclear weapons program will probably need to be repeated every five years or so or even more frequently as Iran will rebuild its nuclear weapons program once it has been strategically degraded.

There is little choice for Israel but to occupy Lebanon for several months while rooting out Hezbollah’s 150 000 missile stockpile. Yet, this invasion and occupation would have to be repeated every five years or so unless Israel redraws the borders of Lebanon and Syria so as to establish a friendly Christian Aramean state and annexes the Alawite and Druze regions of Lebanon and Syria. The Israel-allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) of the AANES (Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria) would play a crucial role in unseating the last Ba’ath regime with Israeli air support and diplomatically settling the new borders with Israel and Aram, the continuation of the Lebanese state. Syria would remain as a state although its borders would shift as much of Lebanon would become part of Syria.

The choice for Israel is between a war of strategic victory that will permanently change the strategic environment of the region, liberate 4 million Median Jews and conclusively remove the Hezbollah missile threat against Metropolitan Tel Aviv – versus a completely meaningless Gaza-style exercise of overwhelming air power that would surely fail to achieve any strategic goal or even serve any reasonable purpose whatsoever.

Published by Daniella Bartfeld

Daniella Bartfeld is the founding director of the Aliyah Organization

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