Lessons of the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah War

The 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah War marked the third time in less than a quarter century that Israel conducted major military actions in Lebanon. As this study points out, however, it also marked the third time that Israel miscalculated the strategic consequences of intervention in Lebanon. This book assesses all aspects of Israel's goals in the war, from crippling the Iranian influence in Lebanon, to ending Hezbollah's status as a "state within a state," to liberating two captured Israeli soldiers. The tactics used to achieve those goals, explain the authors, did not serve a plausible grand strategy, and the result was to generate forces in the Arab world that would thrust Israel into a broader, four-cornered struggle with radical Arab elements.

The authors discuss major lessons regarding the conduct of the war, its tactical and technological aspects, and the lessons of the "Law of Unintended Consequences." Israel's grand strategy and strategic assumptions were fundamentally flawed, showing that conventional forces can be vulnerable to asymmetric attacks and can create political problems that offset many of their military advantages.

With asymmetric wars ongoing in Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States and its allies need to learn the lessons of the Israeli-Hezbollah War as quickly as they can—and act accordingly. This volume provides a timely assessment of flawed war planning, overreliance on high-technology conventional warfare, and a strategy that underestimated the strength of the enemy.

Anthony H. Cordesman

Anthony H. Cordesman

Former Emeritus Chair in Strategy

George Sullivan, William D. Sullivan