After four weeks of war, Israel and Hezbollah each claims to have come out on top. I thought about it a little on my drive home from work, trying to generalize about what this means. My first thought was that both sides think that PR is their strongest weapon. If there's no decisive winner or loser in a battle or in a war, then declaring you won can be just as good as actually winning. If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to witness it, then an imaginative propagandist will have everyone believing it fell because of his side's military prowess.

It doesn't matter what happened in reality. They just need to keep talking confidently, and maybe it will intimidate the other side. Bringing down one side's confident PR might comfort the enemy, or it might lower morale on your side. The truth might hurt.

Why would any government in that situation admit it's having problems? Admitting errors would just make troops mad at them, constituents mad at them, and bolster the other side. Admitting errors could get elected officials voted out, or it could get generals and officers demoted or reassigned to backwater desk jobs. That's just in the US where we have something resembling democracy. Hezbollah isn't elected, so they could get physically attacked by their own "constituents" if too many of them get mad, or if their troops and members get demoralized to the point of leaving the group.

At any point while two nations or political groups are fighting like this, as long as one side is not totally in retreat, it is in their interest to mislead, lie and deny any errors they have made or any indications that they have a chance of losing.

My second thought (which happened a lot more quickly than this, I didn't have three paragraphs of garbage and explication in between thoughts) was that Israel and Hezbollah feel like they're winning because their forces are not taking the brunt of the damage. Civilians are taking heavier losses than either Israeli Defense Forces or Hezbollah fighters. Israel and Hezbollah are both really winning because civilians are the ones who are losing!

This should serve as a lesson to those dastardly civilians. No one likes you, civilians. You are wimpy losers who always take heavier casualties in every war. Some day these vile civilians will surrender, and we can stop fighting them, and the world will be a better place for all of us who will be members of militaries or militias or gangs or whatever. Hurray.


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