After almost a month of conflict, Hezbollah
maintains its ability to fire rockets at Israel, and Nasrallah is still alive.
Given the relatively limited force that was applied by the IDF - less than a
division on the ground, sent in belatedly, this result is not surprising, though
it is frankly disappointing. Given the wave of "atrocity" and "war crimes"
complaints coming from many of the same quarters who insist Israel is losing, it
is unlikely that Israel could have been allowed by those critics and "World
Opinion" to do the job that needs to be done: disarming the Hezbollah and
implementing UN Security Council Resolutions 1559 and
1680. That task will probably have to wait for a
multi-national force, if one can be formed that has the required intelligence
capabilities and motivation to do the job. Don't hold your breath waiting for
this force. Perhaps deployment of the Lebanese army will solve the problem, but
it seems unlikely. This mostly Shi'ite force has proven its worthlessness
repeatedly in the history of Lebanon. Will it have the will or the means to
stand up to Hamas? Some Israeli
commentators seem to think so. However the fact that
Hezbollah readily agreed to deployment of the Lebanese army in the south, may
indicate that they plan to either control this army or use it as a shield.
Foreign and Israeli commentators have been arguing about whether or not
Israel is losing this war. Some seem to be quite gleeful about the fact that
Hezbollah, with the generous help of "world opinion," has withstood the IDF.
Perhaps they do not understand the implications.
What is certain, is
that if Hezbollah remains intact, the people of Lebanon will have lost their
struggle to unite and rebuild their shattered country. Islamist extremism and
Iranian hegemonic ambitions will have scored a major victory in the Middle East.
Lebanese journalist Michael Young, not a friend of Israel, writes in
Slate that contrary to published opinion polls, he claims Lebanese do not
support Hezbollah. Journalist Lee Smith, recently arrived in Jerusalem from
Beirut, made the same points as Young about Lebanese attitude to Hezbollah.
Maronite Christians are hoping against hope that Israel will smash Hezbollah and
give them back their country. Other Christians and Sunnis are not enthusiastic
about the big Hezbollah "victory" either. If Hezbollah is winning such a great
victory, why was PM Seniora in tears yesterday?
...in closed meetings, Lebanese Prime
Minister Fouad Siniora has said his first priorityand fearis to avoid the
war's feeding sectarian strife. Officials won't express this openly, partly
because Hezbollah is armed and mobilized, partly because the war continues.
But such anxietiesand they permeate the political classhardly speak to broad
approval for the party.
Young warns of the dangers
for Lebanon if Hezbollah comes out of the fight more or
By any measure, Hezbollah is facing a trial
of tremendous seriousness...[I]t has also had to watch the dismantling of the
painfully constructed edifice that once bolstered its domestic legitimacy. To
play down this essentially political setback, Hezbollah has narrowly
highlighted its tactical military successes. Down the road, however, it may
try to regain the initiative through a full-fledged coup against the Lebanese
This is the essence of Lebanon's dilemma as the war nears
its fourth week. Does Hezbollah agree to integrate itself into the Lebanese
political system and disarm? Or does it exploit its substantial reserves of
men and weapons to bring all of Lebanon forcibly into line with the party's
priorities? The first means the end of Hezbollah as we know it and is a
suicide option; the second could bring Lebanon down around everybody's head in
renewed civil war. Call it Hezbollah's Samson
Rapid agreement on deployment a strong
international force is needed not just to stop Hezbollah from firing missiles on
Israel, but to prevent Hezbollah from taking over Lebanon.
running out. Young points out:
In May, Iranian Revolutionary Guards Rear
Adm. Muhammad-Ebrahim Dehqani declared, "We have announced that wherever
America does something evil, the first place that we target will be Israel."
In other words, this war was never really
about kidnapped Israeli soldiers or Sheba farms. It's about Iran, stupid.
Hezbollah's strike on July 12 was timed to coincide with the G-8 meeting
which was to consider the response to the Iranian nuclear program. Clearly,
Hezbollah are acting as puppets of Iran, as well as serving their own narrow
local political interests.
While Hezbollah still retains thousands of
rockets, mostly shorter-range Katyushas, can it even consider using them in,
let's say, the next decade? With nearly 1 million people estimated to be
displaced, a majority of them Shiites, and with Lebanon facing an economic
calamity from which it won't emerge for many years, could Hezbollahor, more
important, its base of followerswithstand the devastating impact of a new
Israeli onslaught if the party were to assist its comrades in Tehran? That's
Young seems very
optimistic in that respect. Hezbollah doesn't care if there are more people in
Lebanon. On the contrary. It recruits its following from among the poor Shiites,
and would lose nothing if wealthier Sunni and Christian segments were ruined.
Besides, it may be a mistake to assume that Nasrallah has the freedom to "just
say no" when Tehran tells him to do something.
The question may be
tested well before the "next decade." Looming before us in September is the
inevitable confrontation with Iran over sanctions to be imposed by the UN. If
Hezbollah is still in a position to make trouble then, it will. Given the
seriousness of the threat to Iran, we can gauge what Hezbollah will do if it
only it can do it.
Those who are concerned for the Lebanese people
should disregard Seniora's crocodile tears for the mostly nonexistent victims of
Houle, and insist on disarmament of the Hezbollah now.
(text of Young's
article is at the Web site)