Oxford’s Avi Shlaim argues in the IHT that instead of comparisons the 1982 war:
the more instructive comparison is between the recent incursion and the strangely named Operation Grapes of Wrath, which the Labor prime minister Shimon Peres mounted in April 1996…
In both cases the main aim of the operation was to break Hezbollah – and in both cases the aim was unrealistic.
In 1996 the idea was to put pressure on the civilians of southern Lebanon, so that they would put pressure on the government of Lebanon, so that it would put pressure on the Syrian government which, finally, would curb Hezbollah and grant immunity to Israeli forces in southern Lebanon. In short, the plan was to compel Syria to act as an Israeli gendarme in Lebanon. Syria did not oblige and Hezbollah went from strength to strength.
The original aim of the present campaign was said to be to destroy Hezbollah. This aim, too, is completely unrealistic. No amount of external military pressure can bring about the forcible disarming of Hezbollah. The Lebanese government is a fragile coalition that includes two Hezbollah representatives. The writ of the Lebanese Army does not extend to the south and an attempt to disarm Hezbollah there would probably provoke a revolt from the Shiite rank and file.
He continues by paralleling the killing of 102 refugees in 1996 with the deaths of last weekend, both in Qana, (the former resulting in an immediate US arranged ceasefire), and concludes that:
As in 1982, the effect of this savage assault on the Lebanese people will be to breed a new generation of angry young men dedicated to resistance.
Again, speaking to the long term strategic costs of civilian casualties.