Monday, July 17, 2006

The rockets of Hezbollah: all the world's a stage, and all the civilians merely props

In line with the theme of some of my other posts today, we have this, about Hezbollah's tactics in the current conflict in Lebanon:

Hizbollah hid many of the rockets in private homes, and had teams that launched the rockets from next to these homes, forcing the Israelis to "attack civilians" if the launching effort was spotted and attacked with bombs or artillery.

This is a textbook and commonplace case of terrorist strategy.

It starts with utter contempt for the lives of civilians. It's no surprise, of course, that Hezbollah has contempt for the lives of Israeli civilians, and wishes their destruction. Katushas are not guided and "smart," they are the dumbest of dumb bombs, aimed only at a general vicinity--in this case, Israeli cities and the citizens therein.

But the contempt Hezbollah has for the lives of its own people is just as great, if not greater, because of the placement of the rocket launchers themselves. And yes, I know, it's not technically "its own people" Hezbollah is sacrificing here, because Hezbollah is Iranian in origin rather than Lebanese.

It's as though there's been a bank robbery, and the Lebanese people are being held hostage by Hezbollah, which hides behind them for protection. And, from its hiding place, Iran--hiding behind both the Lebanese people and the terrorist entity Hezbollah--commences a war both hot (the bombs themselves) and, more importantly, cold--the war for public opinion.

By hiding behind Lebanese civilians it's not even primarily protection Hezbollah craves, it's theater--as in Shakespeare's "all the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players on it.". Hezbollah is well aware that if, by taking out the missile launchers, Israel kills Lebanese civilians--which is every bit as much Hezbollah's goal as the initial killing of Israeli civilians by the rockets themselves--then, as sure as day follows night, this fact will be reported heavily by the Western media (mostly without the all-important background context), flashed around the globe, and widely condemned. Civilians are not only expendable on the part of the terrorists, they are important and vital tools--stage props. And it's ironic that civilians are used by terrorists in this way to try to make the point that it's the others--the US and Israel--who are purposely targeting civilians.

The propaganda value is immense, and may be the most important part of the exercise in rocketry, as far as Hezbollah is concerned: free publicity against Israel, courtesy of the West itself.

This sort of theater has been going on for a long time, and not just in the Middle East--for example, it was part and parcel of the tactics of the Vietcong, in a strategy known as "clutching the people to their breast."

To paraphrase Winston Churchill: "some mother, some breast."

[Big Pharaoh makes a related point.]

Powered by Blogger