Ceasefire: One hour away (Update: It's on)

Set to take effect at 1 a.m. EST — but it’s already on on the Israeli side and has been since 7 p.m. The IDF says some of its forces will begin withdrawing immediately, with others to follow quickly as the handover to UNIFIL begins.

Lots of updates coming. While you wait, join Ralph Peters as he stares into the abyss.

Can we win “Eastern” wars with Western values? I doubt it.

This question is going to eat at our consciences for years to come – even as we learn to do what must be done.

Despite media lies about Israeli “atrocities,” the IDF has been doing all it can to spare civilians. For example, the Israelis repeatedly risked commando teams deep in hostile territory to take out Hezbollah command-and-control cells – instead of just leveling the crowded apartment buildings where the terrorists were hiding. But, ultimately, all of the special operations in the world will fall far short of delivering decisive, crushing victories. We are going to have to learn to fight by the enemy’s rules. And we aren’t going to like it.

Update: Wondering why the UN resolution didn’t mention Chapter VII?

Because Hezbollah didn’t want it to. That’s why.

On Thursday, Mr. Bolton and Mr. de la Sablière met with delegates from the Arab League who had flown to New York to protest the existing draft resolution as biased in Israel’s favor. They said the resolution was unacceptable to Lebanon as long as it contained references to Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, which gives international peacekeeping forces broad military powers.

Hezbollah, which is part of the Lebanese government, would not accept a resolution that appeared to directly empower foreign forces to disarm it.

At NRO, Michael Rubin runs down the list of Condi Rice’s diplomatic “victories” since she became Secretary of State. I’m officially off her bandwagon.

Update: Time magazine quotes Lebanese sources as confirming a weeks-old rumor — that Nasrallah is or was holed up in the Iranian embassy in Beirut. His “newfound aura as Islam’s defiant redeemer” has reportedly inspired at least 50 Palestinian couples to name their newborn children after him, a fine cultural tradition which, as I recall, also manifested itself when the IAF fired missiles up Sheikh Yassin’s and Abdel Aziz Rantisi’s respective asses a few years ago.

Update: The question of the day, courtesy of Captain Ed and Jeff Goldstein, is why Nasrallah would walk away from a UN resolution that lets him claim victory over the provision that calls on him to disarm. Why not make a pretense of disarming now to show what a standup guy he is and then let Iran and Syria furtively resupply him? Is it a ploy to try to get the UN to waver on the disarmament issue? Is he, as Debka asserts, following instructions from Iran to keep the Israelis busy for another month while the nuke-program drama drags on? Or is he simply drunk on his own press? Jed Babbin:

In every war since its independence, Israel has won decisively against Arab forces by throwing its full military weight against the enemy. None, before Hassan Nasrallah, has been able to withstand the Israelis. But now Nasrallah towers over all other terrorist leaders, even bin Laden. Nasrallah has fought the Israeli military to a standstill for a month, and his rockets still rain down on Israel. Nasrallah was, by UN action, elevated to the status of leader of a nation-state able to accept or reject the UN’s terms.

Ed and Jeff think this might all be part of some ingenious Israeli rope-a-dope where they agree to the ceasefire precisely because it puts the ball in Nasrallah’s court to disarm. If he doesn’t, the theory goes, then … what? The international community will give Israel the green light to pound the hell out of Lebanon until the last jihadi is liquidated? The only reason the resolution was passed in the first place is because the world is worried about the radicalizing effect that Arab civilian casualties might have on Muslims. That logic will still obtain if the bombing starts up again, regardless of which party to the conflict is in breach of the actual terms. Which is why you’re already seeing stuff like this:

Israel believes it will be entitled to use force to prevent Hizbollah from rearming and to clear guerrilla positions out of southern Lebanon after a U.N. truce takes effect, Israeli officials said on Sunday…

Western diplomats and U.N. officials said they feared Israel’s broad definition of “defensive” actions could lead to a resurgence in large-scale fighting, preventing the swift deployment of international troops meant to monitor a ceasefire.

Nasrallah’s already made his position clear: so long as Israeli troops remain in Lebanon, they’re engaged in an “offensive” operation that entitles Hezbollah to continue hostilities. And so long as Hezbollah is engaged in hostilities, the Lebanese army won’t deploy. And so long as the Lebanese army won’t deploy,… Israeli troops will remain in Lebanon.

If I had to bet on an outcome here, I’d bet on another two or three days of fighting while Kofi Annan wrings his hands and makes facial expressions demonstrating Deep Concern, followed by one of two outcomes: (1) a compromise by which Hezbollah agrees to disarm, but only at some point in the future, or (2) if things are going badly, some sort of face-saving gesture by the Lebanese government that lets Nasrallah preserve his victory, e.g., an agreement that Hezbollah will disarm and then be incorporated into the Lebanese army. And then, in either case, a very quick deployment of peacekeepers.

Bottom line: these guys don’t make strategic errors as big as the one Nasrallah seems to have made. Just doesn’t happen.

What if he does agree to disarm, and then Israel learns — surprise, surprise — that he’s being secretly resupplied via Syria? The JPost put that question to an IDF officer and got this answer: “This is a serious question that requires a decision by the diplomatic echelon. We need to prevent the Hizbullah from rebuilding itself. The question is how far are we willing to go to do that.” Probably not that far. Why would they? The UN will only end up screwing them again.

Update: It’s 1 a.m. as I write this, so the ceasefire, in theory, is on. Ynet has reported sirens going off in Galilee, Kiryat Shmona, and Haifa within the past hour. No rockets have landed, though.

Update: A Lebanese intelligence specialist tells WaPo that Hezbollah’s resources, fanaticism, and study of military tactics (including Vietnam) makes them “the best guerrilla force in the world.” If you skipped that Ralph Peters excerpt above, you might want to read it now.

Meanwhile, Sy Hersh accuses the Bush administration of nefariously plotting to weaken our enemies. Outrageous.