May 31, 2006

Leave Beirut Out of It

Yesterday I wrote "The UN blames Lebanon for starting the latest round of fighting [on the Lebanese/Israeli border], which is dumb." I am slightly surprised that only two people argued with me in the comments, but I'll explain what I meant here in any case.

If the UN were somehow forced to blame either Lebanon or Israel for the recent clashes on the border, of course Lebanon should be blamed. Shots were fired from that side first. But Lebanon/Israel is a false dichotomy. Hezbollah physically exists within the borders of Lebanon. But Hezbollah's capital is Tehran. Its sidekick capital is Damascus.

Lebanon is a sort-of democracy. It is also, in some ways, a failed state. As recently as 1990 it was the Somalia of the Levant. The government existed in name only. The country was carved into de-facto cantons ruled by local warlords and foreign occupation forces. Most Lebanese militias were disarmed at the start of the 1990s. But Israeli occupation forces remained in the south until 2000. Syrian occupation forces remained until 2005. Hezbollah, forged in Lebanon by Iran during the chaos of war, has yet to be disarmed despite the fact that most Lebanese fear and loathe them. Lebanon is not yet a sovereign country. The Beirut government has no writ in Hezbollah-occupied territory, and the military is not allowed to enter those regions. One of those two regions is the Lebanese/Israeli border. (The other is in the suburbs south of Beirut.)

Lebanon cannot disarm Hezbollah alone. Any attempt to do so will restart the civil war. And Hezbollah would win. It is insanely not in Lebanon's interest to do this.

Hezbollah would win for a host of reasons. They are better armed. They are better trained. They are battle-hardened after slugging it out with the Israeli Defense Forces for years.

Lebanese army soldiers are bored conscripts who receive almost no training. Most would rather drink beer and chase girls than stand around all day at checkpoints and on street corners with machine guns trying to make Lebanon look like it's an orderly place. (It isn't.) The last thing they want to do is shoot at Lebanese and be shot at by Lebanese.

Hezbollah fighters are fanatics who can't wait to die. They are supported by governments far more powerful than the one in Beirut. And they are supported by at least one government that is violently hostile to the one in Beirut.

The UN and the US brokered a ceasefire after Israel threatened to bomb Beirut if Hezbollah's katyusha rocket attacks didn't stop. I have my doubts that Israel would actually bomb Beirut. The IDF officer I spoke to in Israel knew full well that Beirut has no control over Hezbollah. But it's not his decision, and I don't know what his higher-ups know and don't know. If the threat was an empty one designed to bring on a ceasefire, it worked. If Israel actually intended to bomb Beirut, the Middle East might get a lot more dangerous in the near future.

Most Lebanese supported Hezbollah when Israel occupied South Lebanon. They didn't appreciate Israeli occupation any more than they appreciated Syrian occupation. Now that Israel is out, Hezbollah is rightly seen as a throwback to the hated era of war. The quickest way to undo that progress is to make the Lebanese people fear Israel more than they fear Hezbollah and Syria. Neither Israel nor Lebanon would benefit from that scenario. But it would suit Syria and Iran perfectly well.

It isn't fair that Israel has to endure missile attacks because the Beirut government is too weak and divided against itself to take on Hezbollah. It isn't Israel's fault that the Lebanese army is a pipsqueaker compared with better-armed, better-trained, battle-hardened foreign agent militia. But that's how it is. And that's how it will be while the Baathists rule in Damascus and the mullahs rule in Tehran. If Israel must use military force against a foreign capital, rather than against Hezbollah directly and strictly, those are the addresses.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at May 31, 2006 01:40 AM
Comments

Great job, just like your fans asked for.

It's a little fair to blame Beirut for this: the weak army is a gov't/ political choice. I wouldn't argue that it's the wrong choice, but every choice has good and bad points. One of the bad points of a weak Lebanese army is the inability to fight and win against Hezbollah.

For myself, I wouldn't mind if Israel lobbed missiles at Damascus whenever Hezbollah fired on them; I also think if "bombing Beirut" meant some missiles in the Hezbollah controlled portions, that would be somewhat just, as well.

You don't quite make a statement about what the UN should do (blame Syria and Iran is implied), nor quite what Israel should do. And maybe it's better this way.

Thanks for listening ... but especially for writing! (Maybe the second is so good because of the first.) I'm sure Brooklyn will smile with her coffee (it's already 11:37 am here, almost Lebanon time)

Posted by: Tom Grey - Libertay Dad at May 31, 2006 02:38 AM

Israel would bomb Beirut. They target things, like infrastructure. It's not like they haven't done it before. Of course, they know the Lebanese gov is not to be blamed, but it is a bit more complicated than that. Hizballah are not just a bunch of ideologues and fanatic fighters "who can't wait to die". There is constant dialogue between Hizballah and the government (words, demonstrations, border skirmishes with Israel). Hizballah might be the stronger party force-wise, but they do not represent the majority nor can they simply hijack the country, as some people fear. Public opinion matters to them.

Taking this into consideration, for Israel, bombing Beirut would be taking part of these negotations. Pressuring Hizballah by applying pressure on Lebanese public opinion, by providing Lebanese who would like to see Hizballah disarmed with fuel for their arguments. Just like the pamphlet stunt last year.

But a classical Lebanese mistake, which you've seem to have taken on, is to do away with the Hizballah problem by relegating it to Tehran and/or Damascus. They are an integral part of Lebanon. They could not have cropped up anywhere else. They can only be understood in that context (but that is a long discussion). The Hizballah/Lebanon dichotomy insinuated by your discourse is grossly off track.

That being said, thanks for trying to understand and for writing.

Posted by: Carol at May 31, 2006 02:57 AM

The problem with Lebanon, for Israel and everyone else, is that there's no one to blame.

During the Lebanese civil war, I advocated that Syria take over. That way we could blame Damascus for anything that happened. (As it turned out, Syria managed to take over without being held responsible...)

Hizballa doesn't operate in Syria, Jordan or Egypt - there's a reason for that.

Bottom line, though, look what happened:

1. Israel threatened Beirut
2. Lebanon went to the UN/US
3. A cease-fire was achieved

It couldn't have happened any other way. It might well have happened with the cooperation of the Lebanse government.

Posted by: N'miya at May 31, 2006 03:39 AM

The UN will always blame anything and anybody, but never Arab nationalists (Syria) or Muslim fundamentalists (Iran).

This time they could find no way to blame Israel, so they blamed Lebanon.

If I recall correctly even the UN demand for Syria to leave Lebanon was worded in such a way that Syria would not be blamed for occupying Lebanon.

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at May 31, 2006 04:19 AM

Nope. Israel doesn't need to go to Tehran. Or Damascus. The ROCKETS are in Lebannon. For a while it was quite the sport, I gather, for Lebannese to go to their southern border and throw rocks.

And, IF Israel wants to STOP the rocket attacks coming out of Lebannon; they've got to hit the supplies. The routes to those supplies.

Now, two top ranking Hezbollah guys just got blown up in Lebannon. Did the Mossad do it? How should I know? But one of these guys was not only a bomb maker; he was one of those "creative types" that will be hard to replace. Since he thought of bomb deliveries that were unique.

Nice try to say Lebannon is too weak for retaliation; while the monsters hide within this country.

As a matter of fact, now that ASSAD is dead, and his son is considered weak, it was Israel, pointing out to Bush, that taking out "the eye doctor" was stupid. Right behind the eye doctor was much, much worse stuff.

Here,in America, I'd bet there's hostility to all arabs right now. There's disappointments in Iraq; where things in their parliament are not jelling into a democracy. Rather a standoff between the shi'ite mullahs; and the rest of the country. With the Kurds doing well. Here, when you visited, and wrote you couldn't even get your friends, Omar and Mohammed, from IRAQ THE MODEL, a pass to visit, I wrote this off as a new general rule. Arabs play the weak card much too often.

And, while I don't think Israel will bomb residential areas, what is sad is that the Lebannese wouldn't even know what to do with the gift of watching the Israelis wound the "martyrs." These goons are just bums.

With a Kyushka fired from Gaza, almost hitting Amir Peretz' house; I think you'll see an escalation now in terms of retaliation. True. For rockets to reach Gaza, they infiltrated through Eygpt. But all counter-attacks by Israel, ahead, will be effective.

Posted by: Carol Herman at May 31, 2006 04:21 AM

Carol, you argue that the source needs to be hit.

The source for all those rockets is Syria.
The source for all their money ($100 million/year) is Iran.
The source for their ideology is Iran & Syria.

Hit the source. And the dynamics will change.

Posted by: The Perpetual Refugee at May 31, 2006 04:30 AM

If Israel hit Hizbollah hard, couldn't the Lebanese army take out the rest?

It really depends on what the Lebanese want. Israel would certainly go for an alliance against Syria. But I think the Lebanese prefer the current situation.

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at May 31, 2006 04:53 AM

If Israel actually intended to bomb Beirut, the Middle East might get a lot more dangerous in the near future...

...that's how it will be while the Baathists rule in Damascus and the mullahs rule in Tehran. If Israel must use military force...those are the addresses.

I'm trying to grasp the logic here: bombing Beirut in a bilateral conflict might make the Middle East more dangerous, so Israel should use military force against other nations in the Middle East instead.

Posted by: Solomon2 at May 31, 2006 05:35 AM

My argument is that isolating Hezbollah from "the source" is at least as effective, from the Lebanese standpoint, as hitting "the source" directly. And doing so doesn't require much more skill on the part of the Lebanese Army than the ability to march into the field and camp out around a target village.

Will such action in and of itself re-ignite the civil war? If a militia does it, probably. If the Army does it, maybe not.

Posted by: Solomon2 at May 31, 2006 05:41 AM

Solomon2,

It's not unprecedented. A couple of years back, Israel sent a message to Syria. They hit a base not that far from Damascus.

Things were quiet for a while after that.

Posted by: The Perpetual Refugee at May 31, 2006 05:43 AM

Probably it is more "legal" for Israel to retaliate against Lebanon rather than Syria.
International law is bad at grasping situations such as that in Lebanon.

Posted by: maor at May 31, 2006 06:02 AM

I disagree with your assesment of the Lebanese Army. True, maybe they are not the strongest fighting force in the Middle East, however, you give a wrong image of them. There are many highly trained units in the Lebanese Army that are highly capable as a fighting force.

However, it is true, that if the Army were used against Hezbollah, all hell would break loose because of the fact that in Lebanon for the most part, Hezbollah is concentrated in Shia areas. Thus, it would be the Army against the Shias basically which would be a disaster. However, by the same token, eventually the patience of other Lebanese groups and communities will wear out in regards to Hezbollah not disarming, and may see that their only way of self defense against a stronger Hezbollah is to arm themselves in return, which is something that Hezbollah can't stop.

Therefore, the hope is that because Hezbollah realizes this, they WILL eventually disarm, because once all the other groups are armed again, they will become nothing more than a militia among many.

Posted by: Omega80 at May 31, 2006 06:13 AM

You speak in terms of fear and undoing progress, but progress towards what? Are there any actual indicators that Lebanon is returning to a full and sovereign country?

I find it amusing when the government of Lebanon cries to the UN that its territory is being overflown, but that territory that's overflown has been relinquished to the de facto sovereign nation of Hezbollahland (a client state of Syria and Iran).

Without one, there cannot be the other.

Posted by: Laurence Simon at May 31, 2006 06:37 AM

Nope. Like cancer, the rockets are in Lebanon. And, Lebanon knows that the Hezbollah is well funded. That the funds come from Iran? Hezbollah gets funds, too, from Europe. So what.

MORE TELLING is that the USA did NOT take out ASSAD, when it was OBVIOUS that terrorists were coming over the border from Syria, to attack in IRAQ.

You might as well argue we should have destroyed the 10,000 Saudi prince-families. Never got put on the agenda.

Now, why didn't the Americans attack Syria? Hmm?

Seems Israel pointed out to Bush it would only make the situation they're stuck in now, worse.

Iraq's turning out to be very difficult to control, when one hand is tied behind your back.

It's quite a compliment to Israel that they did in fact survive Oslo. And, prior to Oslo, all the hatred directed at them. Diplomatically, speaking, it was much more successful than anything.

Why did Arik Sharon "Disengage" from Gaza? Because when you have the "territory" all the costs and burdens are yours. (I see Bush working hard to give Iraq "back." Since we're not seeing any daylight, yet.) But the enemies are still "in retreat." But like cancer, they keep growing back. The Iraqi's, too, are "weak." It was Chalabi's idea to go in there from the outside. WIth his own BILLIONS and do what George Soros can't do. BUY THE COUNTRY. But he was stopped.

If I had to guess, Lebanon is TARGET RICH. It has some of the largest arsenals. Put there by Syria.

You might as well ask, if you heard their was buried bank loot, WHY the police might want to dig up the place they thought they'd find it in. That's why Lebanon was a target! The nasty stuff from Hezbollah has been going on for quite a while.

But Michael Totten, your trip to the Israeli side of the divide. At the "Northern" border; had you seeing family life going on. I can't forget that small, beautiful daughter. The Israelis aren't exhibiting fear.

My guess is that you're beginning to see DISGUST. And, a realization that the USA found itself in a pickle, where, with the arabs, they care to go no further.

IF Hezbollah isn't stopped one way, they'll be stopped another. Having target practice on Israel, and then claiming you're much too weak to be considered a "target" just shows ya how arabs think. And, why they fail to comprehend how others feel about them. Start with the "Religion of Peace." See how far it gets you when you ask people if they think only a small, small element is full of hate.

Then ask why the Saudis didn't get hit? They're the bankers. And, the problem's world wide.

On the other hand? Israel is not in the same "box" the UN put it in. Not since JENIN. It seems some sort of mold got broken around those lies. Not that arabs don't believe falsehoods. Rumors for them are a way to live. They don't have any collective sense of remorse. Or responsibility.

By the way, I don't think Americans want us to be "quitters." We're not in Vietnam! But if I had to guess we have to be willing to fight without tying ourselves up in PC. AND, we have to account for our troubles that we get from arabs. In Iraq. Who are hip-deep working against democracy's success. Not only don't I have answers. The answer-man is George Bush. Will there be more personnel changes ahead? Safe zones? He just can't let the Iraqis go to the dogs, either.

Posted by: Carol Herman at May 31, 2006 07:27 AM

Solomon2: I'm trying to grasp the logic here: bombing Beirut in a bilateral conflict might make the Middle East more dangerous, so Israel should use military force against other nations in the Middle East instead.

Bombing Beirut (as opposed to strictly Hezbollah) will knock a lot of Lebanese into the Syrian/Iranian axis. Who does this benefit?

Bombing Damascus and Tehran (and I'm not saying Israel should actually do this) would almost certainly convince Syria and Iran to think again before ordering Hezbollah to fight the Israelis when someone else (Lebanon) is no longer expected to absorb the counter attack.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 31, 2006 10:22 AM

Carol Herman: IF Israel wants to STOP the rocket attacks coming out of Lebannon; they've got to hit the supplies. The routes to those supplies.

That means hitting Syria and the Hezbollah region. Not Beirut. Hezbollah is not supplied through Beirut. In the real world Beirut is effectively a separate country. Only on maps is this not the case.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 31, 2006 10:26 AM

I know it has been awhile but I am continually interested in the funding and channels which exist between Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria. If you could offer some details on how the money becomes placed there it would help out a lot. I do not wish this to sound ignorant, but I am curious if it goes through trunks of cars, foreign bank accounts, charities, or all of the above. Any info would be much appreciated. Once again, Love the writing and keep up the interesting pieces and photos.

Posted by: Mantis at May 31, 2006 11:39 AM

I hope someone is training up a core of the Lebanese army. Any training should include building up the Esprit de Corps so they will fight when the chips are down.

Posted by: davod at May 31, 2006 11:40 AM

Mantis,

Sorry, I don't know the answer to that. Maybe some Lebanese readers (there are at least three posting comments right now) can help you.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 31, 2006 11:47 AM

Michael, the ammunition has already been delivered.

Israel's good at stopping supplies. Because you know about KATRINA A.

What I remember from "that" event is that ARAFAT LIED TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. At the time I read "it wasn't done." (Then Chirac did it.)

Right now nothing's "flying." There's a cease fire.

Again, WHERE THE ACTION IS, the Hezbollah has gotten some indication they don't own a free pass.

Israel's not looking for war with Syria! Heck, even the USA isn't going to go into that snake pit.

Posted by: Carol Herman at May 31, 2006 12:07 PM

Carol,

Are you saying Israel should bomb a Beirut? If not, I have no idea what your point is. You're all over the place.

You, apparently, are an American. Lebanon is friendly to the United States, and vice versa. Why do you think Condi Rice intervened on Beirut's behalf?

Ask yourself whether it would be a good idea to bomb Northern Iraqi Kurdistan because of the troubles in Fallujah and Ramadi.

The Israeli Defense Forces can bomb the crap out of Hezbollah all day long and I will not complain. Plenty of people in Beirut won't complain either. Try to understand that.

The government in Beirut needs to be strengthened. Not bombed.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 31, 2006 12:40 PM

"I'm sure Brooklyn will smile with her coffee"
Tom Grey - Libertay Dad 02:38 AM,

Tom, I am not a "her". Last I checked, the plumbing certainly does not belong to any "her". Although, come to think of it I have been accused at times of writing like a, well... "her".

Michael, I just want to point out that Perpetual Refugee does not seem to want the Israelis to hit anywhere in Lebanon, even the areas that you suggested.

Posted by: Brooklyn at May 31, 2006 02:52 PM

Michael, it's a FACT that Israel is NOT bombing Beruit! And, it's highly UNlikely that Israel will WALK INTO Lebanon. Whatever gets done, ahead, to deal with Hezbollah, will come AFTER Hezbollah makes an aggressive move. THen, the answer is "IT ALL DEPENDS."

Has Syria made Lebanon "target rich?" ONLY if there are huge hordes of unexploded ordnance. Then I'd say this stuff is either gotten rid of BY THE UN. Or some other way. The answer is the stuff is "dis-armed." Pick the best way you think it can be done. (Israel attacking Syria, right now, is NOT in the picture.)

I also said that Arik Sharon spilt his guts out in his book WARRIOR. You wouldn't go wrong to read it. Especially since he writes about Lebanon. And, what was lost. ALso, I'm willing to bet there's no other Israeli general whose gonna lead his men "in" to Lebanon. Piles of ordnance that gets destroyed gets "bombed away." What if this stuff is near schools and hospitals? Wouldn't it make more sense to move the kids and the patients out of harm's way?

I'll also say this about how, in the future, IF anything happens, again, in terroritory OUTSIDE OF ISRAEL'S BORDERS, then Israel will not be sending in conquering armies.

Doesn't mean you can't attack from the air. Or the sea. Doesn't mean Israel didn't send it's jets to buzz Damascus. But that's just a game of "chicken."

In the future, the idea that an army is victorious; and the troops march through ... the way the Allies once did when they began traveling up the boot in Sicily, (WW2) are battles from the past.

Gone now. Won't happen, again. Lebanon might have to develop some muscle to build a police force. Heck, Jordan has it. To be a country means you've got to be prepared.

Even in America, I sense a change. Yes, to the way we're fighting in Afghanistan. Supporting small sections, with Special Forces; but basically tossing the Taliban OUT. (Today, Ralph Peters said the Al-Quaeda's gone to Somalia. And, what if this is true? There are very bad places in this world. Americans aren't going to be sending in fighting forces to bring "freedom.") The last best hope was Iraq. And, instead of seeing progress; it's bleak. The Iraqis will have whatever it is they want. But it won't be an environment rich with capitalism. It won't look, any time soon, like Dubai. It is what it is. Americans won't cut-and-run, though. They'll dig in. And, build fortresses. That will secure the air, overhead. And, it will keep a lid on just how far the terrorists get to go. (I did notice Sadr's army was outgunned within 4 hours of a street fight.) So there's certain things in Iraq that are working. And, they don't have SADDAM! That's nothing to sneeze at, either.

I sure wish there were better solutions. But then, if there were better solutions wouldn't we be applying them in Mexico?

Yes. America's a light onto the world. But it takes more than a light to make a baby. Or even make an acorn grow. Within each culture there will be varying degrees of success. And, set backs. I'd bet ya that Israel will very gladly leave their neighbors alone as long as there is "quiet" at the borders. Sure. You could still throw stones. But getting Israel to attack Syria? Hardly a likely scenario, ahead. Because the rockets are coming in from Lebanon.

By the way, is it possible you don't think the cease fire will hold? Condi Rice is without a stick, after she's waved a carrot?

That Lebanon is a neighborhood where Hezbollah has decided it might fight Israel? Sure. But if Israel

Posted by: Carol Herman at May 31, 2006 03:18 PM

T complete the thought. If Israel showed you it's plans, now, you'd see its the Hezbollah that has to adhere to the cease fire.

Today's bombs are target specific. Beirut was considered a target because someplace, there, are missiles and rockets that have been stockpiled.

By the way, look at how careful Israel was when it went into JENIN. You think the country's generals don't take this into account, how to keep civilians safe? When they're planning how to respond to provocation?

Quiet brings wonderful rewards to Lebanon, ya know? Quiet is exactly the outcome Israel wants. I think you're argument that the shortest road to that destination is through Syria, is a mistaken one.

Posted by: Carol Herman at May 31, 2006 03:28 PM

I don't see what beriut has to do with it. If hezbollah is attacking you from their own territory the proper response would be to destroy it. If someone was shooting rockets at my neighborhood I would be more then happy to destroy theirs. If you really fuck them up the next idiot will think twice before they pick a fight they can't win.

Posted by: mike at May 31, 2006 04:57 PM

I find it a little dishonest to say that Beruit has nothing to do with it, so it should be left alone.
The Lebanese government is responsible for it's territory. It is a simple as that. If it is being occuppied by another group it should say so and demand assistance in regaining control of it. They really cannot be let off the hook that easily.

The fact that Lebanese soldiers would rather chase skirts does not release the government from its obligations. (Israeli soldiers would rather chase girls too).

In principle, the government has a monopoly on violence. A region occuppied by a non-governmental army is no different than one occuppied by a foreign army.

I do not know what tactic is best for Israel to pursue. However, it is clear that the Lebanese government has to be expected to try.

Government's do have responsiblities.

Posted by: steve at May 31, 2006 05:59 PM

All volunteer military...questions, anyone?

Thanks, Michael.

Posted by: DagneyT at May 31, 2006 06:22 PM

Carol Herman, you need to stop yelling at me IN ALL CAPS. Try to rehinge yourself while you're at it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 31, 2006 08:38 PM

As a lebanese, i am starting to feel that what i should do is, for once, to take my fate in my hands and go for a small visit in the streets of Tel aviv and the paths of Jerusalem and come back to beirut with a fearless will to confront imprisonment for the sake of peace...

Posted by: Lebanese guy at May 31, 2006 10:00 PM

Oh, my God! Read this

On a visit to Lebanon during the week of May 14, 2006, American linguist Prof. Noam Chomsky of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology met with Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah.Chomsky also spoke at the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Center for American Studies and Research at the American University of Beirut.

During the visit, Chomsky gave interviews to various media outlets. The following are excerpts from an interview with LBC TV, that aired on May 23, 2006.

TO VIEW THIS CLIP, VISIT: http://www.memritv.org/search.asp?ACT=S9&P1=1152.

Interviewer: "Do you consider Hizbullah to be a terrorist organization?"

Chomsky: "The United States considers Hizbullah a terrorist organization, but the term terrorism is used by the great powers simply to refer to forms of violence of which they disapprove. So the U.S. was of course supporting the Israeli invasions and occupation of southern Lebanon. Hizbullah was instrumental in driving them out, so for that reason they are a terrorist organization."

[...]

"It's an interesting dilemma. Personally, I'm very much opposed to Hamas' policies in almost every respect. However, we should recognize that the policies of Hamas are more forthcoming and more conducive to a peaceful settlement than those of the United States or Israel. So to repeat: The policies, in my view, are unacceptable, but preferable to the policies of the United States and Israel.

"So, for example, Hamas has called for a long-term indefinite truce on the international border. There is a long-standing international consensus that goes back over 30 years that there should be a two-state political settlement on the international border, the pre-June 1967 border, with minor and mutual modifications. That's the official phrase. Hamas is willing to accept that as a long-term truce. The United States and Israel are unwilling even to consider it.

"The Hamas is being... The demand on Hamas by the United States and the European Union and Israel... The demand is first that they recognize the State of Israel. Actually, that they recognize its right to exist. Well, Israel and the U.S. certainly don't recognize the right of Palestine to exist, nor recognize any state of Palestine. In fact, they have been acting consistently to undermine any such possibility.

"The second condition is that Hamas must renounce violence. Israel and the United States certainly do not renounce violence.

"The third condition is that Hamas accept international agreements. The United States and Israel reject international agreements."

Hamas's Positions are "The Least Unacceptable"

Chomsky: "So, though the policies of Hamas are, again in my view, unacceptable, they happen to be closer to the international consensus on a political peaceful settlement than those of their antagonists, and it's a reflection of the power of the imperial states - the United States and Europe - that they are able to shift the framework, so that the problem appears to be Hamas' policies, and not the more extreme policies of the United States and Israel.

"And remember... We must remember that in their case it's not just policies. It's not words - it's actions."
Posted by: Josh Scholar at May 31, 2006 10:06 PM

Michael, I'm not yelling.

I have noticed that Israel didn't bomb Beirut. Did they say they would? Did they have to do this to get someone's attention? Perhaps.

One of the things that have really changed is the attitudes people once had. So that when Israel went into Lebanon in 1982, it was AFTER the Gamalyel (sorry about the spelling), got blown to smitherines.

In other words, before the prime minister got blown up, things were very hopeful. Israel saw a friend. A man who would lead his country towards the West. But this was not true with his brother. Who came next. (Arik Sharon wrote that he thought the brother would sit in a palace. But he wouldn't control much. He was also smitten with the Reds.)

Yes, the Israelis tossed Arafat out of Lebanon.

But the learning curve came AFTER the invasion. In other words, the Jews were hated. And, they were hated more than any benefits that could be gotten by moving one's own country forward. Assad took over.

I know you wrote that you thought Beirut shouldn't be a target. And, Israel should attack Syria, instead. It's not going to happen. The Israelis have even talked Bush into holding back on the American fire. Because AFTER you attack, the mess can be greater than the benefits. (I know because I read this in the Jerusalem Post. Arik Sharon felt that Assad, though weak, was a better alternate than anybody else who'd grab power.) In other words the uncles who allowed the weak son to become "leader" didn't want to have an all-out battle of succession. But any attempts to change things in Syria would spill this out in the open.

So American forces at the Iraqi border did not persue their fire power into Damascus.

Where has anything happened to change that?

Lebanon has lots of ammunition now. Hezbollah, on the other hand is not quite ready for a full-out engagement. They've been escalating stuff, though. And, I'll guess that Israel will respond very harshly to provocation. And, not in Syria.

If we get our war ideas from old WW2 movies, the world's changed. Conflicts are not going to be done the same way. No, I don't know what will happen. But I did read Ralph Peters. And, he said IF we have to move into Iran, we'll be doing it with a display of fire power so far unseen outside of Heroshima. The military can inflict such blows to airports, arsenals, infrastructure and ports, that Iran won't be able to get back up on its legs, afterwards.

But going in and investing time and treasury to rehabilitate a nation? I think Iraq's the last outpost. (Even though pirates and terrorists will keep the USA busy; and Israel, too, will be kept busy; I don't think the conflicts ahead will be the same as the one's we've had in the past.

After Egypt lost Gaza in 1973 it didn't want it back! I think Israel may have felt that if it took territory it would have bargaining chips for a peace treaty. But, then, again, that's just another old-fashioned idea.

By the way, when it's not "war" per se, but "conflict," what do you call it? Business, otherwise, seems to go on as usual. And, as long as Nezrallah stirs things up in Southern Lebanon, the people live under handicaps. Sure. You said Israel could take its battle to Syria. But I don't think they will. And, I don't think they sit back and do nothing, either.

Sorry about the "caps." On paper sentences don't sound like speech. I'm not yelling. But there's emphasis added just the same. (Like in BEFORE and AFTER pictures. Our world's changed. There's something new in the mix. And, it's not just the Internet.)

Posted by: Carol Herman at May 31, 2006 10:10 PM

Totten,

A fool because:
You are a neo-con with a very limited understanding of how the Lebanese feel about Hizbullah because you are exposed only to rightwing Maronites who want peace with Israel at the expense of the Palestinians and Shia.

A tool because:
You are paid handsome 5-figure amounts to spout what AIPAC & co. want to hear.

First of all, Hizbullah didn't fire at Israel first. Israel carbombed a Lebanese citizen in Saida days before the escalation. A carbomb packed full of nails. And then someone, yet unidentified and unclaimed, fired a few katyusha rockets across the border (katyusha is a misnomer btw; they are the size of my arm and can be fired from the trunk of a car). That's how it came to crossborder skirmishes and Israeli missiles being dropped in the Bekaa and outside Beirut.

You and your delusional expat American-Lebanese buddies don't know anything and you will be the losers at the end of the day, because your Maronite vision and misplaced optimism for Lebanon is a pipe dream.

Posted by: diaspora mutt at June 1, 2006 05:45 AM

MJT and Lebanese people:

Sorry, but Lebanon is responsible for what happens in her territory. Someone pointed very correctly that it is Lebanon's choice to have a weak army, and it is Lebanon's choice have an army of children who want to chase girls.

But not only that. Think that at least one third (!) of Israel's budget goes to defense. I think it is the highest proportion in the world. You have been in Tel Aviv and saw that it is a nice city. Tell me what we Israelis wouldn't have done for the country with all that money lost in the army hole during all these years?

My God, Israel would have been Paradise on Earth! (and surely their neighbors would have profitted royalty too.)

So I am sorry, but Lebanon's choice not to doo anything against the Fanatics affect us (Israelis) deeply. Lebanese can choose to build a nice Beirut while we need to build tanks and outposts against Hezbollah.

They should ask the UN to intervene against Hezbollah if they cannot do the job by themselves.

You haven't think the matter through here when you said first that "the address is Damasc or Tehran" and later said "but I am not saying that the Israelis bomb those cities". Sorry, those are incompatible statements. Israel's politicians need to make choices and carry the moral burden of comitting mistakes. They need clear directives from their experts. You can't be an expert and say one thing and its contrary. (you can't provide the "solution" and then not wanting to be guilty for it). If Israel needs to bomb a residential neighborhood in Damasc so the Syrians understand and stop their support for Hezbollah, then say it. If the Israelis need to bomb a Hezbollah village (with the risk of causing a lot of collateral damage) then say it.

But please do not say one thing and then avoid the consequences.

Also, I know a lot of Israeli soldiers and they also would like to chase girls all day.

Best!
Fabian

Posted by: Fabian at June 1, 2006 07:18 AM

d.m.:

Israel carbombed a Lebanese citizen in Saida days before the escalation. A carbomb packed full of nails.

Yeah, right. Nice spin. Every news service - including virulently anti-Israel ones and Palestinian ones, concedes that Mahmoud Majzoub was Islamic Jihad.

Don't let the sad fact that you're in favor of it take away from the self-credited fact that the Islamic Jihad is in the midst of another suicide bombing campaign against Israelis.

And MJT, just as Lebanon is responsible for Hezbollah, they are also responsible for hosting offices (and training bases) of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PLFP, etc...

They might not be well-positioned to do anything about it, but it is still their responsibility to figure out a way to try. At a minimum, if confrontation with Syria and Iran is the only way to deal with the Islamist thugs, then the Lebanese government needs to a) publicly say that, b) ask for help and c) pave the way for other countries to assist on that score.

And amazingly, I actually agree with "diaspora mutt" on one score: I think you are minimizing the extent to which Hizballah is viewed in certain parts of Lebanon.

I could be wrong, I've never been there and you have and you know way more about the country than I do. But I have observed the way Hizballah is treated by the leadership of the non-Militant and mainstream Muslim/Arab community in America - and they do not view Hizballah as some throw back to the civil war and/or Islamist thugs (which obviously they are).

Muslim Public Affairs Council and Hezbollah

As an aside, I'm not going to repost my belated response in the last thread up here. You already addressed most of the issues in the main post here.

Cheers

Posted by: SoCalJustice at June 1, 2006 07:26 AM

(I forgot to mention, that Israeli soldiers do not need to go very far to chase girls. They have women soldiers next to them, and they are incredible in chasing boys).

Posted by: Fabian at June 1, 2006 07:40 AM

MJT,

By the way, I do not think the proper response to Hizballah provocation is for Israel to bomb Beirut.

I think the proper response is this:

1) no one (including the U.N., the E.U., the State Dep't, Mahmoud Abbas or propagandists like "diaspora mutt") can complain when Israel bombs PFLP, Islamic Jihad, Hamas or Hizballah targets within Lebanese territory.

2) Everyone (including the Lebanese gov't, the E.U., and the State Dep't) should proclaim loudly that since the Lebanese gov't are "incapable" of policing their own problem, that the Israelis are well within their rights to bomb PFLP, Islamic Jihad, Hamas or Hizballah targets within Lebanese territory.

Then the problem is solved. Those that are intent on doing so can continue to infantilize Arab and Muslim countries and strip them of any and all responsibility and less Israelis will die. Everyone ones.

Sorry for the cynicism, but shouldn't we be encouragine the Lebanese to adopt both a stronger and more moderate government, rather than pushing for non-Lebanese actors to overthrow Iran and Syria - which isn't going to happen anyway?

Posted by: SoCalJustice at June 1, 2006 07:40 AM

Michael,

This has been a wonderful post, including all the commentary, except for the dating spammer. You've got to have strong skin though, because the personal attacks you get are venimous. And, unnecessary.

Yes, this area of the world seems to know no peace. And, it's very expensive for Israel to protect itself. It's also been successful at doing so! Which is something of a miracle; given how the europeans, the saudis, the MSM, you name it, have lined up to cast it in terrible light. It didn't stop them from fighting back.

And, the fight's not as brutal as it could be. In other words, I really believe there's been a change in the way "wars get fought." I've placed the dividing line at WW2. Even though the world still keeps seeing wars. Especially if you live in the midst of countries having them!

I think, too, part of this is the UN. It was created after WW2 to bring a global perspective to peace. And, it's been innept. But for some reason it's also made things "less dangerous." Less dangerous, because no matter what the escalations, in today's universe no one army marches in and then keeps everything "under the guns."

I wish we had another General Douglas MacArthur. Not that he didn't run into terrible flak. But he handled Japan well! (One of his directives was to forbid AMERICANS to carry guns on the Missouri.)

MacArthur knew something about pride. And, he also knew a lot about power. He was able to shift the Japanese, whose Nippon nation was totally destroyed, onto the path of democracy. Yet, he did this and was called "AN AMERICAN CEASAR." (Again, the title of one of my favorite books. By William Manchester.) I think Truman was wrong to fire him.

I also know that MacArthur wanted to be President. He had Potomac Fever before Ike! But in 1948, the GOP decided Tom Dewey. Politically speaking, those in charge of decisions can make terrible ones.

Which is just like the UN, too.

We've been hobbled. The world's not perfect.

What I've learned from Israel is that it can maneuver even when hobbled. Especially when hobbled. And, just as we can see Iraq growing weak, not strong; so, too, the UN tends to grow weak giants. Not strong ones. And, the strong ones are back-benched.

Why? I have no idea. I don't think you can change the way the tides, flow, either. Just that it does.

Posted by: Carol Herman at June 1, 2006 09:34 AM

Diaspora Mutt: you are exposed only to rightwing Maronites who want peace with Israel at the expense of the Palestinians and Shia.

Bullshit.

A tool because: You are paid handsome 5-figure amounts to spout what AIPAC & co. want to hear.

Bullshit.

Israel carbombed a Lebanese citizen in Saida days before the escalation.

Bullshit.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 1, 2006 10:28 AM

Fabian: Sorry, but Lebanon is responsible for what happens in her territory.

Is Syria responsible for what happens in the Golan Heights?

You haven't think the matter through here when you said first that "the address is Damasc or Tehran" and later said "but I am not saying that the Israelis bomb those cities".

What I mean is that if Israel is going to bomb somebody, at least Israel needs to bomb the right target. I am not advocating an Israeli attack on those cities, but if it happened I wouldn't protest it.

If the Israelis need to bomb a Hezbollah village (with the risk of causing a lot of collateral damage) then say it.

Israel needs to bomb Hezbollah villages.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 1, 2006 10:36 AM

Michael,

What exactly is a "Hezbollah Village"? :(

Posted by: AR at June 1, 2006 11:03 AM

Michael: I see that you have balls.

I don't understand your question about the Golan Heights. What is happening there? I was there two weeks ago. I posted some pictures on my blog. (three). Is there something I don't know?

http://fabitas.blogspot.com/2006/05/otro-viaje-al-norte-another-trip-to.html

Posted by: Fabian at June 1, 2006 02:32 PM

SoCalJustice: I have observed the way Hizballah is treated by the leadership of the non-Militant and mainstream Muslim/Arab community in America - and they do not view Hizballah as some throw back to the civil war and/or Islamist thugs

Well, why would they? They don't live in Lebanon and don't have to put up with Hezbollah.

Here's the thing: the Lebanese complaints against Hezbollah only partly overlap yours and mine. They don't share some of our grievances, and they have extra ones that we don't care about.

Lebanese politics is sectarian. All religious groups are minorities and power is supposed to be shared. Yet the Shia parties (Hezbollah and Amal) outgun even the army and they are able to throw their weight around all out of proportion because of it. Arab Muslims in Detroit couldn't care less about this. It is irrelevant to them, and most are completely unaware of it being a problem at all.

Everyone else in Lebanon fears and loathes the situation. Lots of Shia do, too, because Hezbollah's weapons cause all sorts of other problems of which you are already aware.

It's easy to cheerlead Hezbollah when you don't live in Lebanon, just as it's easy to cheerlead Saddam Hussein when you live in Cairo or Yasser Arafat when you live in Jordan.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 1, 2006 03:06 PM

Fabian,

No, there is nothing going on in the Golan. But if you (Israel) did something despicable, Syria shouldn't be blamed for it just because the Golan Heights are technically Syrian. It wouldn't be right to say "Syria is responsible for what happens inside its territory." A country can only be held responsible for what happens inside territory it actually controls.

I'm not saying the government in Beirut shouldn't do more to resolve this problem. I'm saying the government in Beirut should not be bombed because of this problem. Beirut will be part of the solution whenever a solution becomes possible.

Israel has every right to retaliate against Hezbollah if Hezbollah provokes a war. That's how war works. People in Beirut understand this, as well, and it's one reason lots of people there want Hezbollah disarmed right now.

I have never heard a Lebanese Hezbollah opponent complain when the IDF whacks them. I'm not saying it doesn't happen (I'm sure it does happen) but it certainly isn't the unanimous point of view in Beirut.

This Shia blogger (who is definitely no friend of Israel) is a case in point.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 1, 2006 03:15 PM

MJT,

Everyone else in Lebanon fears and loathes the situation. Lots of Shia do, too, because Hezbollah's weapons cause all sorts of other problems of which you are already aware.

And so the only options - as of this moment in time - are to either overthrow Syria and Iran or do nothing?

The Lebanese are responsible for saying enough is enough and telling Hizballah that if they don't want IAF overflights, reprisals and bombings, then they need to at a minimum, "reform."

They are also responsible for educating the "diaspora" that the presence of Hizballah hurts Lebanon, rather than helps them, and that it makes no sense to have a "liberation movement" when there's nothing to liberate, so please stop backing them and making them out to be some kind of Arab heroes.

Besides, their annointed position as a "liberation movement" is false anyway. Absent Juan Cole, almost everyone knows that the Israelis only invaded Lebanon because of all the "militancy" present up there because of Arafat, Abu Nidal and other Palestinian gangs.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at June 1, 2006 04:23 PM

So Israel needs to bomb "Hezbollah villages", putting at risk the lives of innocent people, as opposed to the Lebanese Army surrounding them and giving the Hezbollah guys a chance to surrender, leaving the civilian population intact?

Gee whiz MJT, who will you ask the Israelis to bomb next?

That's it. Lebanon isn't a state. It isn't even a failed state. There is only Hezbollahland and its tributary dominions. Lebanon is just a dream-state of the mind.

Shavous approaches, gotta go.

Posted by: Solomon2 at June 1, 2006 04:31 PM

SoCalJustice: And so the only options - as of this moment in time - are to either overthrow Syria and Iran or do nothing?

That's not what I said. I just said don't bomb Beirut.

Solomon2: Gee whiz MJT, who will you ask the Israelis to bomb next?

I didn't ask the Israelis to bomb anybody. Just noted that Israelis, like everyone else, has a right to respond to an aggressive attack.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 1, 2006 04:38 PM

MJT,

OK, you say don't bomb Beirut, because the real targets are Syria and Iran.

How about Beirut bombs Syria and Iran, then?

Or at a minimum, come to the U.N. and ask either the U.S. or Israel or the U.K. or China (whomever) to do it for them?

Every country is responsible for organizing their military force under one authority. If Lebanon wishes to do that, but cannot, they need to say so and ask that others help them do it.

They got Syria to leave. This is the next step. There are Hizballah representatives/"elected officials" living in Beirut - if Beirut doesn't want to be a target (which it really isn't, anyway - but I'm not saying it shouldn't be), then they should either do something about that or they should work to reform/disarm Hizballah or they should ask for help.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at June 1, 2006 05:19 PM

Just to reiterate, I don't think Beirut should be bombed - nor do I want it bombed.

But I do think that the Lebanese government has many responsibilites it is not living up to and that they are not blameless.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at June 1, 2006 05:25 PM

Michael,

In the Jerusalem Post piece, where David Horovitz interviews Halutz, what Halutz SAID was: "Israel wasn't going to let Hezbollah set the size of the flame size under pot." Also, the escalation started when a sniper shot an Israeli soldier in the back. And, what you know is how Israel responded. The Jerusalem Post published Halutz' words.

Yes, there were ammunitions dumps hit. And, from Halutz' interview, he said it was Hezbollah who went to the Lebanese government to ask the UN for the cease fire. Without the cease fire, Hezbollah knew the Israelis weren't kidding around. And, they were willing to go further "in" that just the Southern encampments at the border. Here,those camps must have taken some very big hits. Without the damage, Hezbollah had no reason to want a cease fire.

And, the "Beirut" remark was to inform Hezbollah that they had no safe camps in Lebanon. ALL were targets. Including "something" in West Beirut.

WIth the Israelis in charge, I'd think the Lebanese, here, are SAFER than if Nazarllah (sp?), and his Hezbollah ilk were in charge of the flame that sits under this pot.

There have been comments here that are excellent! Bravo to SoCalJustice for exclaiming arabs and muslims aren't children; and should be treated as adults.

Now, Michael, I know it pains you to think that Beirut would see gunfire. Just as Jews hate to think that Tel Aviv is a target, let alone a target for a nuke! Writer's hyperbole I suppose?

Posted by: Carol Herman at June 1, 2006 05:35 PM

SoCalJustice: How about Beirut bombs Syria and Iran, then?

That is not physically possible.

I do think that the Lebanese government has many responsibilites it is not living up to and that they are not blameless.

I agree. It's just not a bomb-worthy offense.

They are trying to accomplish this right now in Beirut. It isn't going particularly well, but Hezbollah's weapons are on the table and the government is trying to work out some kind of internal solution. If it fails, they very well may ask for outside assistance. (Definitely not from Israel, though, at least not publicly.)

I also wouldn't be surprised if they kick the can down the road. It would be sadly typical.

I do worry, as some Lebanese do, that Christians will form their own militias and try to take care of this themselves. That's how the Lebanese civil war started in the first place, only it was the PLO not Hezbollah that had a state within a state. that the government couldn't/wouldn't eject.

There is a chance Hezbollah will stand down to prevent this from getting out of control if it reaches that point. But I would not bet my life on it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 1, 2006 05:49 PM

MJT,

I also wouldn't be surprised if they kick the can down the road. It would be sadly typical.

That's a shame, because my guess is that the average Lebanese suffers much more from the presence of Hizballah than the average Israeli.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at June 1, 2006 06:04 PM

Also, try to remember that some of Syria's stooges remain in the government. That includes Emile Lahoud and Nabih Berri, the president and speaker of parliament. They are widely detested figures (Lahoud at least won't last much longer), but there they are. The citizens of Beirut - who overwhelmingly oppose these cretins - do not deserve to be bombed because they haven't completely taken back their own government yet.

Lebanon is a failed state on the mend. It cannot snap back to health instantly after thirty years of war and occupation by the Assad crime family. It needs to be helped, not bombed. Lebanon is no friend of Israel, but it is a friend of the US and ought to be treated like one. We don't have a lot of friends in the Middle East, and I for one prefer not to have even fewer.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 1, 2006 06:10 PM

SoCalJustice: my guess is that the average Lebanese suffers much more from the presence of Hizballah than the average Israeli.

No doubt.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 1, 2006 06:14 PM

How about this. The Lebanese government starts negotiating with Israel for a peaceful resolution of whatever border dispute exists. It doesn''t even have to be a full peace deal. Israel withdrew from Suez before the rest of Sinai. The important thing is to offer an alternative to the Hizballa method without starting another civil war. This can also reassert Lebanon's idependence from Syria. This is also something the heroic Lebanese who pushed the Syrian out without violence can demonstrate for without seeming as pro-Israelis.

Abbas is trying the same thing in Palestine-Israel, but his situation is much more difficult.

Posted by: Micha at June 2, 2006 05:27 AM

Totten and SoCalJustice,

You silly tools. It is not mutually exclusive to be a member of Islamic Jihad and a Lebanese citizen. Can you wrap your little narrow minds around that?
"Mahmoud Majzoub was head of recruitment for Islamic Jihad and a member of its policymaking Shura Council. He was a Lebanese citizen."

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0605270056may27,1,1326776.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed

Suckers!
And nice try, Totten, denying that you get paid to espouse your 9/11-changed-everything, intolerant views. You are wrong about Hezbollah, simply wrong. And your defense of the cute incompetence of the central government here, as if they are more Lebanese or representative as such (they are not) then Hezbollah, just shows what a little Bush-agenda-serving vain moron you are (love your silly pics btw, you nordic stud). Did 9-11 really shake you off your former Nader-voting ass, all the way over in Portland?
Keep on telling them what they want to hear. I know it pays well.
Hope you can sleep well at night living off of funds that could and should be feeding malnourished Palestinian children.
Want to deny that last fact, too? (No, they eat organic quarterpounders for lunch every day. Not even Islamic Jihad denies that...)

Posted by: diaspora mutt at June 2, 2006 08:05 AM

Diaspora Mutt is banned for trolling.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 2, 2006 11:31 AM

LOL.

He was a Lebanese citizen.

I didn't say he wasn't. And it doesn't matter.

Your epithet aside (look in the mirror, though), you're ignoring the salient fact here - that Lebanon was housing (the capacity matters none) an individual who is in an organization engaged in a suicide bombing campaign against its neighbor.

No one can rightly complain when he gets blown up, then.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at June 2, 2006 02:48 PM

LOL.

He was a Lebanese citizen.

I didn't say he wasn't. And it doesn't matter.

Your epithet aside (look in the mirror, though), you're ignoring the salient fact here - that Lebanon was housing (the capacity matters none) an individual who is in an organization engaged in a suicide bombing campaign against its neighbor.

No one can rightly complain when he gets blown up, then.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at June 2, 2006 02:50 PM

whoops - sorry for the double post.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at June 2, 2006 02:54 PM

For all those that want to know, i'm going to tell you how it is:

Most Lebanese, I included, supported Hezbollah to a certain extent up until Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000. For a while after that we also felt that maybe Hezbollah should stay armed, just in case. However, it has been 6 years since Israel withdrew from Lebanon, at it is quite aparent that they will leave us alone as long as we leave them alone.

On top of that, with the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon more than a year ago, new forces came into play. Namely, the fact that Hezbollah is a sectarian group that is armed, the only group in Lebanon that is armed. Thus, it is not about Israel anymore, but rather, about internal Lebanese dynamics, namely, that one community armed while others aren't tips the delicate balance in Lebanon's confessional system.

Since having all groups armed is not the way to create a country, and we all have seen the effects of this, the only solution is for Hezbollah to disarm. Israel will leave us alone as long as we leave them alone, so that aspect is covered. Now mind you, that's not to say that Israel is not a threat, however, any disarmament of Hezbollah would go hand in hand with security guarantees from the U.N. and the U.S. that Israel will not bother Lebanon anymore.

The fact of the matter is that Hezbollah is going to disarm sometime down the road, sooner rather than later. The only other alternative in the long term is civil conflict in Lebanon again. Everyone is being patient now because they KNOW that Hezbollah will disarm. However, if it does become fact that Hezbollah is not going to disarm, over the long term other Lebanese groups and communities will eventually do the same to rectify the balance. Also, we all know that Syria would want nothing other than to see a civil war in Lebanon again, as a prelude to them reasserting themselves in the country.

However, even Shias in Lebanon would not be willing to have another Civil War in Lebanon just so they could stay armed, because that means more death, destruction, and poverty for them as well. To put it in basic terms, everyone in Lebanon wants Hezbollah disarmed except Syrian stooges and Hezbollah themselves. That includes right wing Maronites, left wing Maronites, socialist Druze, urban Sunni, and many Shia as well.

Posted by: Omega80 at June 3, 2006 02:21 PM

As a citizen I blame the Leb gvmnt.

From a legal perspective, Leb and international, the Leb gvmnt is responsible.

So much is simple and clear and not debatable, notwithstadning the difficulty of implementation.

From an Israeli perspective it has been clear forever that halting this behavior can come from either:

1)hitting Leb very hard, and deep, as to create a crisis and put more pressure on Leb sides to stop HA and others.

or

2)hitting Syria (and/or Iran) very hard to up the costs of support for arming HA

I think 2) would work quickly and better. The risks are low (not hitting Iran that is, only Syria).

Yes it is tried once every 10 years, if done tit-for-tat HA support from Syria would stop in 3 weeks.

Michael you're right, but question: why does not Israel do it? Usually cuz there's some crappy illusory peace process going. There's nothing now. ???????

Posted by: JoseyWales at June 4, 2006 05:45 AM

Wow, had to pore through the long list of comments to get here.

Michael, I don't think it's wrong to sympathise with the Lebanese for actually espousing peace with Israel despite Hezbollah's attacks at the border. The harsh reality is that the Lebanese government is currently being strangulated via the vise of Hezbollah's military superiority, and that the so-called negotiations are simply a guise under which Emile Lahoud desperately attempts to deflect criticism from the Lebanese that pro-Syrian influence has really been purged since Syria pulled out.

So though it's true that Lebanon is solely responsible for its country's security as well as being held accountable for the corollary of being unable to rein in Hezbollah, so are the Palestinians and their elected Hamas government for ensuring the reversal of the slide into anarchy and chaos in Gaza right now ever since Israel pulled out. It seems to prove that since parochial figures can't control the situation and ensure security for both their country and their immediate neighbours, it is in everyone's best interests that Israel be allowed to defend its borders and in this case, stop Hezbollah at all costs if the Lebanese government continues this intransigence.

Bombing Iran and/or Syria isn't going to do any good in the long run, just as bombing Beirut is an implausible quick fix in the short run. I do not believe now that a true solution exists except that Iran's regime will crack and dissolve as the impetus of defiance against the U.S. fades with time, the Syrian regime collapses due to internal opposition (or the Brotherhood somehow manages to whip up support), and Hezbollah is gradually forced to disarm due to lack of funds.

Ok, that is the ideal situation and may never happen soon enough, but perhaps is one of the realities we have to recognise.

Posted by: harrison at June 6, 2006 08:40 AM
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