Are we entering an era of Israeli military fallibility?

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Israel has long been regarded as possessing among the most competent, skilled, and capable military and intelligence forces in the world, despite its tiny population and minuscule territory. But given a week in which Israel has sustained large numbers of casualties in its campaign against Hezbollah (nine soldiers were killed and 27 wounded in intense battles with Hezbollah fighters in southern Lebanon on Tuesday) and a public relations debacle (its accidental strike on U.N. peacekeepers), the question must be posed: Are we entering an era of Israeli military fallibility?

Neoconservatives have been salivating for decades at the prospect of giving Israel an excuse to "let loose" its military on Islamic radicals. They fantasize about giving Israel a free pass to do America's dirty work in the region. Neocon king William Kristol of the Weekly Standard writes this week, "The right response is renewed strength--in supporting the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan, in standing with Israel, and in pursuing regime change in Syria and Iran."

Now neocons have their excuse to light the fuse rocketing Israel into full-bore war--Hezbollah attacks on Israel. But just as WMD was their excuse (later found to be a lie) to invade Iraq, is now the time give Israel unfettered cover to wreak havoc on Lebanese civilians? And just as the United States has found its goal of "democratizing" Iraq unattainable, is Israel's goal of destroying Hezbollah feasible? Is the cost, taking out hundreds of innocent Lebanese civilians, worth the price of turning the world against Israel in the process?