Political Chiefs (Zucama) Research Paper

Pages: 10 (3246 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: History - Israel

Iran achieved its greatest success against Israel through Hezbollah in Lebanon. For years, Iran cultivated its organization as its religious, political, and military representative in that country. It transferred hundreds of millions of dollars directly to Hezbollah, and channeled, through Hezbollah, about $100 million a year to Lebanon's Shi'ites for infrastructure, education, and welfare (Cooper & Erlanger, 2011). Thousands of tons of weapons and ammunition were transferred from Iran to Lebanon, principally by air to the international airport in Damascus, from where they made their way through the Syrian Army's checkpoints to Hezbollah's warehouses in the Lebanon Valley, Beirut, and the south of the country (Mazetti & Shanker, 2012). It was Iranian equipment and training that enabled Hezbollah to fight a guerrilla war against the IDF and to strike at Israel's northern towns. Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000 without an agreement, accompanied by the collapse of the Israeli-allied South Lebanon Army, was seen by the Arab world as a victory for Hezbollah against the omnipotent IDF. It is hardly surprising that Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah brags that he is the only Arab commander to have defeated the IDF. Even if the IDF held the advantage in the field during the actual fighting, even if the decision to leave Lebanon was due to Ehud Barak's promise a year and a quarter before the withdrawal, the impression in the Arab world was of a Hezbollah-and, through it, an Iranian-victory. The IDF withdrawal strengthened the Iranians' assumption that by causing an incessant trickle of casualties they can break Israeli society's spirit. Thus, when the IDF left Lebanon, Hezbollah deployed its fighters along the border, as well as hundreds of Katyusha rockets. Iran's strategic measure was the deployment of hundreds of long-range rockets in southern Lebanon: Fajar-3 rockets with a range of 43 kilometers and Fajar-5 rockets with a range of 70 kilometers (Parton, 2007). According to a report by the Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies, Iranian Revolutionary Guards stationed permanently in Lebanon operate the Iranian missiles. This is an unparalleled provocation and threat. One in five Israelis resides within these missiles' range (Mazetti & Shanker, 2012). Since the end of the Cold War, no state has placed missiles in the territory of another state and aimed them at the civilian population of a third state (Cohen, 2013). The United States almost went to war over a similar incident in 1962, when the Soviet Union placed its missiles in Cuba and aimed them at Florida. Ultimately it did not do so because the Soviets withdrew their missiles (Cooper & Erlanger, 2011).

More than anything, Iran's deployment of strategic weapons in Lebanon indicates that Israel and Iran are on a collision course. A force such as that which Iran has deployed 1,200 kilometers from its borders will ultimately be used. The temptation for Iran to strike a stinging blow at the hated Israel is too great to withstand (Mazetti & Shanker, 2012).


Even if Israel is on a collision course with Iran, this does not mean that the collision will necessarily take place. It can be avoided by political action and by military deterrence. In the political arena, Israel must make clear the significance of such a collision for regional stability, for the global energy market, and for the states that will directly bear the consequences of such a collision: Syria and Lebanon (Cooper & Erlanger, 2011). If these countries only understood what price they will pay for being a base, providing transit, and assisting aggression against Israel's citizens, they would certainly act immediately to remove the rockets and the Katyushas, and put pressure on Hezbollah not to act. In our contacts with Europe and Russia, Israel is must continue to highlight Iran's instigation of terror, its plans for large-scale attacks on northern Israel, and its potential deployment of long-range nuclear missiles. These actions will turn Europe and Russia into targets of blackmail by Iran's obscurantist theocracy (Cohen, 2013).

It is of particular importance to bring this home to the United States. Only that country has the means of pressuring and influencing Russia to stop providing Iran with technological assistance for its military nuclear program. The cessation of this Russian assistance would bring about a significant delay in Iran's schedule for producing a nuclear bomb. To date, the U.S. government has not succeeded in persuading the Russians to cut off their nuclear assistance to Iran (Mazetti & Shanker, 2012). The concern is that Russia's closer relationship with the United States after the September 2001 attacks will remove this issue, so vital to us, from the two states' common agenda. Realistically speaking, Israel must make every effort with Washington on this subject (Myre, July 2006).

The IDF's withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000 reduced Syria's ability to employ terror and pro-Iranian guerrillas to wear Israel down. But by the same token, it left Hezbollah free to operate in the "Shaba'a Farms" on the slopes of Har Dov, a spur of Mount Hermon that lies on the Israeli-Lebanese border. Syria also allows Hezbollah to deploy long-range artillery, rockets, and guerrilla units in all of southern Lebanon, along Israel's northern border, ready to be activated (Cohen, 2013).

It is important to remember that it is clearly in Syria's interest to instigate terror from Lebanese territory. Syria will use this terror extensively and at its own convenience when the balance of deterrence created after the IDF's withdrawal from Lebanon is eroded (Parton, 2007). During the IDF's stay in the southern Lebanon security zone, Israeli governments refrained from directly pressuring Syria, so that Syria would stop allowing Hezbollah to operate there (Ellingwood, 2006). As a minister in Rabin's government, I demanded (in discussions following attacks in Lebanon that cost the lives of many Israeli soldiers) that Israel is use the means of pressure available to us not on Lebanese villagers, and not on the Lebanese puppet government, but rather on Syria, the real power in Lebanon (Ben-David, 2006). I did not demand a direct and immediate attack on Syria's military forces in Lebanon, but rather an attack on its economic interests in that country. My reasoning was that if Syria saw fit to damage the vital Israeli interest of quiet on its northern border, then Israel should pressure Syria by striking at one of Syria's own vital interests (Cohen, 2013).

Every year, Syria earns about $4 billion as a result of its rule over Lebanon and its economy. A strike at these revenues would directly hit the pockets of the Syrian elite. Israel began to strike at targets such as these only toward the end of the Netanyahu government's rule, and thus achieved a lull in attacks for a not inconsiderable time. The second option is to reach a state of direct conflict, or at least a balance of fear of conflict, with Syria (Ben-David, 2006). This would happen if Israel's response to Syria's continued use of Hezbollah as a proxy in its fight against Israel were a direct and severe Israeli strike against the Syrians themselves. By withdrawing the IDF from Lebanon, Israel in effect chose this second option (Cooper & Erlanger, 2011).

As of this writing, Israel has already twice struck Syrian military targets in Lebanon in response to Hezbollah attacks on the IDF. These Hezbollah attacks have been infrequent and limited to the "Shaba'a Farms," (Parton, 2007) because Syria partly reined in the militia. The "Shaba'a Farms" is a small piece of territory that Lebanon (under orders from Damascus) continues to claim, even though the United Nations has certified that Israel has completed its withdrawal from Lebanese territory. Israeli deterrence has been effective in neutralizing the factors that goad Hezbollah to act (Myre, July 2006).

How should Israel act toward Syria? Israel is should preserve its deterrent capability (Cohen, 2013). Their precise and devastating operations against Syrian targets in Lebanon have given the Syrians a preview of what they would suffer in an all-out war.


Since the 1980s and until now, Iran has disbursed over half a billion dollars in training and support to the Guerilla fighters -- Hezbollah (Ben-David, 2006) in Lebanon. In the past decade Hezbollah has caused more Israeli army deaths than had some of the Arab-Israeli wars. Hezbollah and their Iranian funded and delivered katyusha rockets and guerilla strategy finally succeed in making the price of engaging Lebanon so heavy that Israel unilaterally vacated from the areas it had captured in Lebanon. In the course of Hezbollah Iran has, for almost two decades, waged a war on its own conditions and has been successful in a tiny way (Ben-David, 2006) it has as a minimum regained a few of Muslim areas occupied by Israel, a task which Jordan, Syria, Egypt, and Iraq together could not accomplish. Iran has completed similar military and monetary support to Islamic jihad, which in addition has grossed a low intensity guerilla war aligned with Israel (Myre, July 2006). In 1982, a… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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