I wonder what Lebanon and the region will look like after this protracted calamity is over. How long will the IDF generals need, and how much destruction will they sow, in order to "save face?" It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who the real winner of this conflict is thus far.
On the ground Hizballah has repelled Israeli incursions. On the airwaves, they're winning the propaganda war - in Lebanon, the Arab world and almost everywhere else on this planet. At this point in time, I truly believe that Israel lies in an intractable bind: whatever it does, Hizballah will win.
If Israel cannot even claim some sort of victory on the ground (however vague such a victory may be), the IDF will suffer utter humiliation, and thus have to deal with the short and long term consequences of such a defeat. If, on the other hand, Israel continues its offensive in search of that elusive victory, Hizballah's stature will only grow in prominence both in Lebanon and the entire region.
The fact the generals simply can't swallow is that it really does not matter how much of Hizballah's military capability they eliminate. As long as Hizballah retains its legitimacy, it will merely regroup and probably grow even stronger with time. And all it takes to reinforce that legitimacy is a massacre such as the one that transpired in Qana yesterday. As I wrote earlier in this entry, the military outcome of this war no longer matters: Hizballah has won - it is not going anywhere, and its losses are merely temporary.
The exit strategy now rests on diplomatic efforts to find some sort of "comprehensive solution" that includes the Shebaa farms, prisoner exchanges, deployment of a joint UN-Lebanese Army force in the South of Lebanon, etc.... Unfortunately, it appears that the Israelis do not want to exit at this point in time. Moreover, who knows if Hizballah will even play along.
Again, I go back to the question I asked at the beginning of this entry: how will Lebanon and its environment look like when all this destruction comes to an end? Will a cease fire be reached in two days, two weeks, two months, or (god forbid) two years? I guess we'll have to ask the Israeli generals since the ball appears to be in their court.