Juan Cole nails it:
It was such a stupid war. It was thick-as-two-blocks-of-wood strategy on all sides. It was moronic for the Israelis to plan it out last year. It was idiotic for Hizbullah to cross over into Israel, kill soldiers, and take two captive. It was brain dead for the Israeli officer corps and politicians to think they could get anything positive out of bombing Lebanon back to the stone age and making a million people homeless. It was dim-witted for Hasan Nasrallah to threaten Israelis with releasing poison gases from Haifa chemical plants on them. It was obtuse for the Israelis to confront a dug-in guerrilla movement with green conventional troops marching in straight lines. It was dull of Hizbullah to fire thousands of katyushas into open fields where they mainly damaged wild grass. The few times when the rockets managed to kill someone, it was often an Arab Israeli civilian. Stupid.
The rampant stupidity on both sides reminds me of all the talk one hears about ‘sending messages.’ For example, with the initial bombardments, Hizbollah was trying to tell Israel, “Stop or we can really hurt you.” What Israel heard, and not unsurprisingly, given of all of the generic anti-Israel spew uttered by Hizbollah, was “We intend to destroy you.”
The Cuban Missile crisis was another example of miscommunication, but in that instance, impromptu backchannels were opened. In the Israeli-Lebanon conflict, both sides need some kind of back channel for communications to prevent this kind of stupidity. If you want to send a message, write a letter or pick up the damn phone. (Of course, it helps if both sides really don’t want to fight a war.)