Israel, Lebanon and Iraq
With the shooting apparently over in Lebanon, it looks safe to say that the Israeli government's decision to turn Hezbollah's latest border provocation stunt into a small to medium sized war was, in Talleyrand's words, "worse than a crime -- a mistake!"
With the exception of the 1973 war, Israel has typically chosen the time and place when endemic threats and skirmishes turn into full-scale war, rather than let its opponents choose the beginning of the war at their own convenience. Up until now, Israel has generally chosen intelligently when to start its wars, so intelligently in fact that in the wake of its many triumphs, many American pundits have come to believe that Israel has never been the one to first escalate to full-scale war, but was instead always the victim of Pearl Harbor-style sneak attacks -- a popular romantic delusion among Americans. When you win, you don't get asked hard questions because, as Gen. Patton said, "Americans love a winner."
This time, however, Israel has mostly succeeded in pounding heck out of a hornet's nest, an outcome that should have been predictable from the similar problems the American military, despite enjoying similar air supremacy, has had in putting down a more poorly organized guerilla insurgency in Iraq, but which the Israelis were too arrogant to learn from.
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