August 01, 2006

Some Small Encouraging Signs

First, a huge caveat:

I don’t know what’s going to happen in Lebanon and Israel, okay? And I don’t claim to know. Just about anything could happen in the next couple of weeks. Every option I can think of is possible short of Lebanon declaring an alliance with Israel and short of Hassan Nasrallah becoming Ruler of Lebanon.

I’m already on record in opposition to Israel expanding its war against Hezbollah to the rest of the country. But that’s neither here nor there at this point. The consequences I warned about have already come to pass, more or less, so that’s that. I have no more advice. Hopefully the damage done can be rolled back somewhat in the future.

Here are a few positive nuggets:

1. Hassan Nasrallah is a free man no more. Yesterday I talked to my Lebanese friend Tony Badran (who once guest-blogged for me here and who has his own blog Across the Bay). He pointed out that "Nasrallah is stuck in his bunker – or some other undisclosed location – and may remain stuck there forever." He's right. Hezbollah’s secretary general is a marked man now, and if he comes out of hiding the Israelis will put one in his forehead. Short of some kind of miracle, Nasrallah will be reduced to releasing Jihad TV videos from exile or from the urban equivalent of a cave in Afghanistan. No more boozing and chasing girls in Gemmayze for him! The problem with an attempted Hezbollah coup d’etat is not that they might succeed, but that they could start another war trying.

2. While Lebanese public opinion is overwhelmingly hostile to both Israel and the United States right now (and believe me, it wasn’t this way a few weeks ago), the opinions of the political leadership are what matter most in the short run. If the leaders of the Christian, Sunni, and Druze communities can be brought around to the international consensus (which is where they already were before the war started, sigh) the view on the “street” will have little or no effect on ceasefire negotiations.

3. Threat of civil war is not necessarily a bad thing. Obviously a real civil war would be a disaster for Lebanon, for Israel, for the US, for everyone except Syria and Iran. But it is precisely this possibility that may convince Hezbollah to surrender before this is over. I’ve said before that the Christians, Sunni, and Druze cannot win a civil war against Hezbollah. But that cuts both ways. Hezbollah cannot take over the country unless they summon armies from abroad. Doesn’t mean they won’t try to take over (they just might be that crazy right now), but they will not succeed if they do.

4. Another thing Tony pointed out on the phone: Hassan Nasrallah has dragged Lebanon’s Shia community backward in time to where they were in the days before the cleric Moussa Sadr brought them into politics in the 1960s. The Shia have always been the poor and forgotten of Lebanon, cruelly neglected and shunted aside by the Sunni and Christian elite and middle classes. Hezbollah was the Shia’s revenge. Hezbollah bullied Lebanese as much as they bullied Israelis. Now the Shia are utterly, tragically, destitute once again. Their urban "belt of misery" south of Beirut has become the Belt of Destruction. They have a case against the other Lebanese sects and political parties, but they did not go about redressing their grievances in the right way. Their honor and pride may prohibit them from ever admitting Hezbollah’s latest attacks on Israel were a fatal mistake. But their all too terrible punishment may convince them to seek a healthier and more cautious approach to politics in the future.

UPDATE: Tony adds via email: "The development of moderate Shiite alternatives is necessary (there was a recent meeting of Shiite intellectuals, writers, and independents and they are starting to realize all of this and they called for the full integration of the Shiites into the state), and that Jumblat is fully aware of the dangers of the Shiites feeling disempowered again, which is why he is reaching out to them now, and stressing how they are "partners" and stressing how Berri (who now is the moderate alternative in comparison) is "a pillar of the Taef accords" (i.e. an integral part of the current republic), etc. Ghassan Tueni is calling for the same thing, even going to do away with the sectarian system, etc. So there is awareness on the part of the leadership of the dangers of the Shiites suffering the kind of disillusionment that the Christians did in the 90s under the Syrians."

Posted by Michael J. Totten at August 1, 2006 03:42 PM
Comments

Good points, all.

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at August 1, 2006 04:01 PM

Their honor and pride may prohibit them from ever admitting Hezbollah’s latest attacks on Israel were a fatal mistake. But their all too terrible punishment may convince them to seek a healthier and more cautious approach to politics in the future.

Somehow I think not. I don't know why exactly, apart from present history, and the well-known Arab ability to stand logic on its head and make it do tricks. But, if there were a 'market' to wager on this possibility, I think I would be betting the farm on the not a hope in hell alternative.

But that's just me.

Posted by: dougf at August 1, 2006 04:05 PM

You're on crack. If Hezbollah is allowed to remain in any kind of functional shape, they will turn their guns on the Lebanese government in order to reclaim power through fear.

Either they will be weakened to the point where the Lebanese government is able to reign them in, or they will reign in the government. Right now the government doesn't show any sign that they believe they have the upper hand.

Posted by: Ursus at August 1, 2006 04:07 PM

"Nasrallah is stuck in his bunker – or some other undisclosed location – and may remain stuck there forever. ... Nasrallah will be reduced to releasing Jihad TV videos from exile or from the urban equivalent of a cave in Afghanistan. No more boozing and chasing girls in Gemmayze for him! "

Nasrallah has been sleeping in a different houses every night for the last decade, so he won't notice any difference.

Posted by: ex-Montreal at August 1, 2006 04:10 PM

Every option I can think of is possible short of Lebanon declaring an alliance with Israel and short of Hassan Nasrallah becoming Ruler of Lebanon.

That's funny, because it looks to me like he already was, since the nominal government couldn't do anything about him and the Israelis had to.

If he had launched attacks on Israel from Lebanese soil and the Lebanese Army had moved quickly and decisively to stop those attacks, there would have been no Israeli invasion.

Posted by: John Jenkins at August 1, 2006 04:21 PM

"Nasrallah has been sleeping in a different houses..."

Nasrallah hasn't begun to feel the pressure. Israel will kill him no matter where he goes or hides. Right now, he's hiding in some friendly embassy - my bet is on Iran's. But sooner or later he will leave. And when he does...

Well, did you ever see the movie, "Sword of Gideon?" That's the true story of the Israelis tracking down and killing every person involved in the kidnapping and murder of the Israeli Olympic Team in 1972. Nasrallah is a dead man walking.

Posted by: Michael at August 1, 2006 04:24 PM

With respect to a renewal of civil war in Lebanon, a weaker force won in Afghanistan with air support, precision munitions and 300 special forces soldiers who called in the air support.

Is this relevant for Lebanon?

Posted by: rich at August 1, 2006 04:34 PM

Michael,

Did you forget to list the encouraging signs?

Lebanese public opinion is overwhelmingly hostile to both Israel and the United States...

Threat of civil war is not necessarily a bad thing...

Hassan Nasrallah has dragged Lebanon’s Shia community backward in time...

Yikes!

Posted by: monkyboy at August 1, 2006 04:34 PM

Michael, why do you keep saying it's a natural reaction for the Lebanese to support Hezbullah now? It doesn't seem natural to me, but maybe that's because I'm a Jew, not an Arab.

Try turning this logic around. If Olmert had decided to up and invade Lebanon one day when it was perfectly quiet, no shelling, no attacks, the Israelis wouldn't be supporting him at all. They would say "You moron! why did you drag us into a perfectly unnecessary war?" It wouldn't matter if Hezbullah was shelling Haifa, they still would protest. I don't have to guess about this, I only have to look at the way Israel DID behave back in 1982.

So why are Arabs so different?

Posted by: nadine at August 1, 2006 04:39 PM

> So why are Arabs so different?

Question of the century, so far.

Posted by: brett at August 1, 2006 04:44 PM

Question of the century, so far.--Brett

Ain't it the truth ? And likely to remain so, I fear.

Posted by: dougf at August 1, 2006 04:47 PM

Nadine:
Michael, why do you keep saying it's a natural reaction for the Lebanese to support Hezbullah now? It doesn't seem natural to me, but maybe that's because I'm a Jew, not an Arab.

It is natural to be angry at someone who's dropping bombs on your head (Regardless of whether they are justified or not). Believe it or not.

I can understand that you blame Hezbollah for starting this. Hell, I do too. But do you really expect people to wave and smile at someone who's dropping bombs on them (for whatever reason) ??

Human nature doesn't work that way.

The more intriguing side of this, to me, will be how the Lebanese react once the hostilities die down and the frustration and anger caused by airstrikes goes away. I believe that is when you'll really see what the different lebanese communities and sects really feel and who they blame.
But until the hostilities cease, it is kinda hard to analyze things rationally, which is why you'll see more and mroe Lebanese (and Israelis for that matter) speaking irrationally, in anger.

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at August 1, 2006 04:52 PM

John Jenkins: If he had launched attacks on Israel from Lebanese soil and the Lebanese Army had moved quickly and decisively to stop those attacks, there would have been no Israeli invasion.

And if the oceans were made of fresh water no one would ever die of thirst.

What you say is true, of course, but also impossible. Sorry, that's just how it is. So there is no point in saying in any more.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 1, 2006 04:55 PM

So why are Arabs so different?

Is that you, Mel?

Did the Israelis support their government when Israel launched an unprovoked attack on Iraq, Nadine?

Posted by: monkyboy at August 1, 2006 05:00 PM

Did you forget to list the encouraging signs?

Look what I have to work with.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 1, 2006 05:13 PM

Bill O'Reilly interviewed Condelezza Rice tonite. As much as I support this administration, it's quite evident that after spending billions of dollars on intelligence, the "Middle-Eastern Desks" in the numerous Agencies of our Government were caught "flat-footed" about the capabilities of Hezbolla. We, evidently, have no clue what is going on in that region. This is sad!

Posted by: Doug at August 1, 2006 05:21 PM

Michael,
This does sound encouraging. A couple of issues...

Your friend says essentially that the Shia have been bombed back to poverty. While TV shows massive destruction, is there any reason to believe that this extends over a wide area? There's a lot of stuff in the Shia area.

In 1985, I was a disaster worker in Mexico City after the big earthquake. On TV, it looked like the whole place was blitzed. It was days after I got there before I saw a seriously damaged building. Is it possible that your friend is being mislead by everyone's focus on the worst destruction into significantly exaggerating the damage?

You say Hezbollah might surrender if facing a civil war. I cannot imagine this happening. They are a guerilla movement, and I would think the only way to shut them down would be ethnic cleansing (which, unfortunately, is not uncommon in that part of the world). What would they gain by surrendering - especially given their dependence on Syria and Iran, who would likely want no such thing. Are they less extreme than I think - willing to be disarmed and operate just as a political entity?

Posted by: John Moore at August 1, 2006 05:25 PM

So, Doug, I take it you've never worked in a government office. Do you remember your last trip to the DMV? Now extrapolate that to the "middle east desks."

Posted by: allan at August 1, 2006 05:33 PM

So much of this commentary is ridiculous. A week ago, the narrative was that Hezbollah had grossly miscalculated. This week, it's Israel has lost.

Posted by: chip at August 1, 2006 05:43 PM

Doug: the "Middle-Eastern Desks" in the numerous Agencies of our Government were caught "flat-footed" about the capabilities of Hezbolla.

Jumping Jeebus, I could have told them that much and I'm not even an "expert." I only lived there and learned the same common knowledge that everyone else there knew well enough already. But no one listens. People here still think the Lebanese should have been able to take care of this problem even though the Israelis fought Hezbollah for years and couldn't defeat them. Sigh.

Maybe it will work out this time, but there is no alternate universe where this would be easy.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 1, 2006 05:44 PM

I'm beginning to realize that in the interests of world peace, Israel needs to simply meekly accept a certain level of terrorist deaths per year, kind of like that Star Trek episode where the civilians report quietly to the disintegration chambers in the computer wars. No civilians in Arab nations will be endangered, the overall death toll and property damage will be minimized, and Israel might be a little less hated.

Of course, that only works until the terrorists get better weapons...

Posted by: tbrosz at August 1, 2006 06:13 PM

monkyboy - "Did you forget to list the encouraging signs?"

michael - "Look what I have to work with. "

True enough, Michael. Don't forget though that for monkyboy, as long as things are grim for George Bush and his army of authoritarian Christian rightwingnuts, there's always hope for something encouraging to happen, like the utter destruction of the Republican party. After all, this is way more important than events in Lebanon anyway. If it isn't about American domestic politics, it's basically a peripheral matter.

If I understand monkyboy's take on things, if it weren't for Bush we would have seen peace in the Middle East by now. Remember how close we got when Clinton was President? I'm sure Gore or Kerry would surely have found a way to get Yasser to take the deal, right monkyboy?

"pleeeze answer, oh pleeeze..."

Posted by: mezzrow at August 1, 2006 06:34 PM

"pleeeze answer, oh pleeeze..."--mezzrow

I don't think I can ever forgive you for so blatantly encouraging the simian to do further damage to logical analysis. Have we not suffered enough ?

Shame on you sir. :-)

Posted by: dougf at August 1, 2006 06:42 PM

You Wrote: "The Shia have always been the poor and forgotten of Lebanon, cruelly neglected and shunted aside by the Sunni and Christian elite and middle classes. Hezbollah was the Shia’s revenge. Hezbollah bullied Lebanese as much as they bullied Israelis. Now the Shia are utterly, tragically, destitute once again."

I can't undertand this. Watching the news they always say the "poor and disenfranchised Shia." But they have by far the most weapons, largest army, the best secret police, an endless supply of ammunition, an infinite supply of posters of Nasrallah, plus all the talk about hospitals and schools. They bully everyone else and make the real decisions of peace and war in Lebanon. They're so powerful that even when they're losing they get to set the terms of a ceasefire. Their population expands faster than any other. How does this make them poor and disenfranchised? Maybe that meme is left over from the past?

Posted by: Doubting Thomas at August 1, 2006 06:45 PM

As I said, Doubting Thomas, Hezbollah is the Shia's revenge.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 1, 2006 06:51 PM

"I can understand that you blame Hezbollah for starting this. Hell, I do too. But do you really expect people to wave and smile at someone who's dropping bombs on them (for whatever reason) ??

Human nature doesn't work that way."

Actually...recall the Jews in concentration camps who prayed daily that the Allies would bomb them. And I have read accounts of POWs in Japanese camps who wished they'd be bombed too. They knew who the enemy was and knew that they needed to be stopped no matter what.

Are we not in the same position? Are we not all faced with devestation if the Islami-Nazis win? I do not envy any Lebonese their position. But I do support Israel in every action they must take to defend their state and defeat Hezbollah.

Posted by: Megs at August 1, 2006 07:00 PM

Beirut wasn't a concentration camp, Megs. It was/is almost exactly like Tel Aviv.

Lebanon was one of my favorite places in the world. There was nowhere else I would rather be if I weren't at home. Dropping a bomb on that place is not like dropping a bomb on a totalitarian dungeon.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 1, 2006 07:03 PM

I agree on the need for a modern Shiite alternative. However, this ain't Nabih Berri's Amal party. One of the reasons that Hizbullah even exists is because of dissatisfaction with the performance of Amal some decades ago. Maybe somebody knows something I don't, or Nabih Berri has been able to flashy-thing every Shiite older than 30 in all of Lebanon and erased their memories, but it seems that something different is needed.

Posted by: Caveman at August 1, 2006 07:10 PM

And Mike's right - Beirut is a whopping great time. And it'll be that way again, just watch.

Posted by: Caveman at August 1, 2006 07:12 PM

Shame on you sir. :-)

Acknowledged. It was not my proudest moment.

Once more, major props to Michael for the background, networking w/ friends on both sides, and the unmatched perspective and quality of writing, BTW. Here's hoping the good guys prevail, Lebanese and Israeli. Our only hope is for a world in which this can be possible. With hope and courage in times of trouble, good men can prevail over evil. They have to.

Posted by: mezzrow at August 1, 2006 07:13 PM

The perceptions are bad right now. But the reality isn’t that bad.

Taking the long view.... If Israel, as seems likely, severely degrades or destroys Hezbollah’s military capability, then the other damages will have been worthwhile -- even if Israel doesn’t get any credit -- and even if Lebanon’s physical infrastructure and current political arrangements are also badly damaged – because a Hezbollah-instigated military "distraction" will cease to be a factor when George Bush removes the Iranian regime sometime next year.

AND [insert boilerplate caveats here] once the Iranian regime is gone, Hezbollah, and Syria, become indigent orphans and relatively negligible obstacles to the democratizing, modernizing, and gradual sane-itizing of Lebanon and the entire region.

(And Yes, I do know how many confounding factors could interfere between "now" and "then". :-)

Posted by: Tom Paine at August 1, 2006 07:14 PM

"They are a guerilla movement, and I would think the only way to shut them down would be ethnic cleansing (which, unfortunately, is not uncommon in that part of the world)."

The way to shut them down is to:
1) Deal them an unequivocal military defeat so that their supporters will be too embarassed and disgusted to continue supporting them.
2) Also foreign support must be eliminated.

Posted by: gurellakiller at August 1, 2006 07:17 PM

I think that the greatest progress so far is that Lebanon now knows deep in its bones that the next time a miracle happens and you get a 1559 equivalent, you actually have to implement it and those who temporize or are fearful of trying are really just saying that they want the certainty IAF bombs in Beirut on an uncertain schedule. Not implementing 1559, not forcing the world to back up the Lebanese government with troops to implement 1559 means future disaster.

It was theoretical before. Now it is real.

Posted by: TM Lutas at August 1, 2006 07:22 PM

I disagree, Tom.

Taking the long view:

Israel's allies grow weaker each year.

Israel's enemies grow stronger each year.

Time for a new plan.

Posted by: monkyboy at August 1, 2006 07:27 PM

Michael -- It's very cool that you keep comments open and engage in them. As much as I appreciate what you write, I look forward to the dialogue even more.

Anyway, I tend to agree with you that Hizbollah is "winning" and that Israel is not exactly going about this the right way. But it's tempting to console myself with the thought that "winning" does not get you much in those sort of war; if a ceasefire is called tomorrow and Hizbollah is considered victorious, I'll be very curious to see what they actually win. But it's tragic that Lebanon appears to be the test lab for this sad experiment.

Posted by: MikeB at August 1, 2006 07:27 PM

My first time here by way of Crooks and Liars.

Just wanted to say the idiots sitting at home poking fun at suffering and war can go to hell.

I wish the best for you and your friend in Lebanon.

Posted by: xoites defends constitution at August 1, 2006 07:27 PM

One other possible encouraging sign is in the almost non-existent belligerency of the Lebanese military. If Lahoud feels that Hezballah is defending Lebanon then why hasn't he called out the army unless he fears the army might refuse to move south or even to leave its bases except for civil defense missions.

Posted by: Pat Patterson at August 1, 2006 07:31 PM

Glad you are getting some publicity via Instamegablog, you deserve it. I read your blog in April and thought of your trip to the border when the crap re-started in July. It's not like you were Einstein or anything, but it's refreshing to get some straight poop once in a while. Like you said, what you were observing was common knowledge.

In your view, will Israel target Nasrallah and all visible Hezbollah leadership as well? Would this be effective or is there a strong cell structure within Hezbollah that will not be materially degraded by popular leadership "retirement"?

I am sorry, but I don't quite believe in the hope of a moderate Shiite alternative. Is that not what BushCo are banking on and failing with in Iraq? It seems to me that moderates do not survive to maintain power in Arab and/or Muslim States.

Posted by: Horst Graben at August 1, 2006 07:34 PM

In chess, a captured piece is taken off the board and has no further impact on the game, ever. Cannot Hezbollah be taken off the board by a sufficiently resolute force? Then NATO (as opposed to the UN, with some Turks and Egyptians, maybe) can ensure that the Lebanese government has control of its territory. The Shia can be offered a place in a civilized state, and with Hezbollah smashed and Syria neutered it will be in their interest to accept. And what percentage of Lebanon has been/will be destroyed? probably not 2%; surely not 5% - regardless of what the AP wants us to believe. If we don't finish the job now, it will just take longer and cost more in death and treasure later. And what kind of warheads will those missiles have by then? Michael?

Posted by: Mahon at August 1, 2006 07:40 PM

John Moore: You say Hezbollah might surrender if facing a civil war. I cannot imagine this happening. They are a guerilla movement, and I would think the only way to shut them down would be ethnic cleansing

Don't some of you people have any shame using words like "ethnic cleansing"? The way some of you bandy around that as a "solution" is about as Hiteresque as can be. And jews all over the world should know better than to EVER bring up ethnic cleansing.

As to your actual point: Guerilla movements worldwide have often been coopted into peace processes. I'm not saying that's doable today, with Hezbollah, but to say that the only way to shutdown a guerilla movement is "cleansing" smacks of ignorance.

Rebel movements (accused of far worse atrocities than lobbing missiles, mind you) and guerilla movements in all sorts of places have sat down at the negotiating table in places as remote as Africa.

Just saying. Your comment is historically inacurate.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 1, 2006 07:54 PM

In response to what the Lebanese people are thinking, I apologize to anyone I might offend, but chasing half a country out of its homes while killing children, the infirm and the old that couldn't flee is not a way to gain a " wave and smile". Add that to the fact that the general person off the street, even in the southern suburbs was neither harrassed, oppressed, nor had any "policing" contact with Hizbolla, and you can understand a little better why they think Israel is off its rocker, and might see Nisrallah instead as a savior. He isn't the one demolishing their homes.And I'm banking on them giving the credit for fighting the Israeli army out in the last invasion to him too.

Posted by: Sue at August 1, 2006 07:57 PM

MJT: Jumping Jeebus, I could have told them that much and I'm not even an "expert." I only lived there and learned the same common knowledge that everyone else there knew well enough already. But no one listens.

Nail on the head, my friend. There are far too many folks who are so convinced they know it all, or that they have some sort of divine mandate that THEY WILL NOT LISTEN. This goes for people in the US administration, Israel, Lebanon, Hezbollah and everyone else in between.

Moderates are mocked as "weak" and "peace-loving hippies" and we are marginalized and ignored. If folks got off their high horses and LISTENED every now and again, a lot of this shit could be averted. And some of it that cannot be averted (this crisis being one such example) would at least be dealt with from a better vantage point, with more knowledge at hand.

I don't know what they're teaching kids nowadays in our schools, but I remember learning and reading various bits of wisdom to the effect of "Knowledge is the mightiest of weapons" and other such cliches. Sad to say, we don't seem to live in a world where knowledge counts for much. Everyone's convinced they are right, and the rest of the world be damned.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 1, 2006 08:00 PM

Bad Vilbel: [i]"Guerilla movements worldwide have often been coopted into peace processes. I'm not saying that's doable today, with Hezbollah, but to say that the only way to shutdown a guerilla movement is "cleansing" smacks of ignorance."[/i]

Just trying to think if any of these movements were driven by such pathological religious rhetoric... Without rational motivation, there can be no long-term rational solution.

Posted by: josh at August 1, 2006 08:04 PM

The "fragile" democracy narrative for Lebanon is appealing but seems flawed.

"Fragile" implies at least a latent possibility of viability, a robustness in some possible future world.

But knowledgeable observers (e.g. Bad Vilbel) have admitted that the current crisis was inevitable, as disarming Hezbullah was impossible.

So, "fragile"? A sadder and more accurate term might be "stillborn".

MJT and others are taken by the beauty of the infant polity Lebanon, but it is the cruelty of nature to create beautiful infants that are doomed never to draw breath.

Posted by: lewy14 at August 1, 2006 09:13 PM

Possible Scenario:
1) Israel kills a large number of civilians in an artillery targeting error.
2) As a result, Israel is forced to withdraw, leaving Hezbollah only bruised.
3) Syria and Lebanon pour massive resources into reconstituting Hezbollah. Iran contributes several battalions of Pasdaran (revolutionary guard) and takes power, assassinating key opposition politicians and seizing organs of state. With Iranian backing and unlimited funding, nobody dares stand against the Hezballah, or are crushed easily.
4) Christians flee south into Northern Israel, causing a refugee problem in Israel. Sunnis flee West into Syria, and to Jordan.
5) Lebanon becomes mostly a Iranian-client Shia theocracy.
End Geopolitical Result:
1. Israel has a huge new demographic problem and a financial drain.
2. Jordan is weakened and destabilized
3. Iran becomes regional master, with a de-facto direct land border to Israel. They also have airfields on the Med Sea, and have moved their rocket range hundreds of miles closer to European capitals. Iranian naval forces begin to plan a dual denial strategy for mining both the Northern Suez and the Strait of Hormuz.

Posted by: Strabo the Lesser at August 1, 2006 09:33 PM

We sat through the US invasion of Iraq listening and reading expert after expert who said the Coalition forces were being thrashed. I see no reason to suppose that any of these “military” experts are any better at working it out this time. What does matter however is the fact that Syria and Iran believe them. And Fisk is claiming the Israelis as losers so I am sure they are not losing.

Israel from this article from Amir Tehari Jerusalem Post has something else going for them it would seem. Unity. Of course most of Lebanon’s politicians are gutless wonders who thought that sending a convoy of weapons (12,000 longer range katyushas) on to Hizbollah was a smart idea. Israel knew, Annan knew, and said so, the Lebanese government knew, it would seem that the Lebanese population didn’t want to know.

There is more resistance to the megalomaniac within Hizbollah than from so called Lebanese politicians.

“In fact Hizbullah, in line with Iranian and Syrian propaganda, is already preparing the ground for claiming victory on the basis of the fact that it has managed to fight Israel longer than major Arab armies in four previous wars.
The state-controlled media in Teheran and Damascus have highlighted claims by several Western newspapers and magazines, including The Independent and Newsweek, that Hizbullah has already won the war. “
“Hizbullah political figures, including some of its representatives in the Lebanese parliament, make no secret of their resentment of the fact that Nasrallah never consults them on broad policies. "
"The decision to trigger the current war came as a surprise to most of Hizbullah's political figures, while the military and intelligence cadres were informed immediately after Nasrallah finalized a deal with Iranian and Syrian officials. “
"As long as Nasrallah controlled the party, thanks largely to Iranian money and political support from Teheran and Damascus, none of the above issues could be brought into the open. The current war may loosen that control, allowing other views to be expressed within the movement."

Working out how to claim victory from this mess created by Nasrallah and Iran. Doesn’t reek of confidence that Hizbollah is winning

Posted by: Ros at August 1, 2006 10:12 PM

Maybe they are losing, Ros. Hell, I don't know.

These guys, though, kept the Israelis busy for years on the ground until 2000. Never forget that. They can't be easily steamrolled the way, say, Saddam Hussein's slave army was.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 1, 2006 10:22 PM

Neo cons new fiasco, using Israel
read update#4
PEACE To Lebanon

Posted by: Fares at August 1, 2006 10:29 PM

You can call me Kurtz.

The more I read about Arab society and the things they are being told, the more I just think, "The Horror. The Horror."

It just illustrates something I heard Michael Medved say on the radio: Democracy won't work unless we first establish a system of laws. We should not allow groups with their own militias to participate in politics. It has to be made clear that, as long as the people support warlords, there can be no civil society or national government. I support the war in Iraq and the Israeli assault on Hezbollah, but at some point we have to just tell them all that if they want to continue to live in a tribal society, fine. Just don't count on aid from the West and be warned that continued terrorism will be greeted with carpet bombing. They can live in squalor if they want, but if they continue to harbor and support groups like Hezbollah, Hamas and the PLA, we can't help them and for our own protection, we'll treat those nations who supply these creeps as we would the creeps themselves.

Posted by: AST at August 1, 2006 10:41 PM

Michael Medved, the movie guy, AST? I used to watch his Sikel & Ebert-like show...when did he get into politics?

As for living in squalor, the Iraqis don't need aid from us.

There's enough oil and gas wealth under their soil that they would all be millionaires if the extraction rights were split equally among them.

You have to wonder why we didn't divvy up all that wealth in Iraq. Things certainly would be going much better there now if we had.

Wonder who is getting the $200 million a day Iraq is earning in oil revenue?

Posted by: monkyboy at August 1, 2006 11:03 PM

levy14,

Thanks for the compliment, but i'm not expert.

I do think the current situation was inevitable (as did MJT, i believe).
That does not, in and of itself, mean democracy is impossible in Lebanon.
All it means is that given a certain set of circumstances, namely what we had in the past year or so, there was NO OTHER OPTION than where we are today.

1. The Lebanese Democracy was not strong enough to take on hezbollah. (That doesn't mean it did not exist. Democracies aren't born overnight. They DEVELOP).

2. Israel was not gonna stand by and wait for Lebanon to tackle Hezbollah.

3. Hezbollah (and its masters in Iran and Syria) had no interest in seeing the Lebanese democracy develop.

Those 3 facts are irrefutable, in my mind, and lead to the inevitable conclusion that this conflict was gonna happen sooner or later.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 1, 2006 11:19 PM

I notice that nobody answered my original question, which was, why do the Lebanese say they support Hezbullah? Why aren't they mad as hell at Hezbullah, which just dragged them into a war against their interests without a by-your-leave?

I didn't ask why the Lebanese are mad at the Israelis. Certainly I expect that the Lebanese will hate the Israelis for the attack. But why aren't they just as mad at Hezbullah?

Posted by: nadine at August 1, 2006 11:24 PM

Why did Bushie win a second term after he had dragged America into two unwinnable wars, nadine?

Politics is a mystery...

Posted by: monkyboy at August 1, 2006 11:27 PM

And Israel has survived.

This is a system on the edge of chaos. Nothing is predictable other than over a very very short time.

There is this analysis by Walid Phares a few days ago.

"Hezbollah waged an Iranian War with Syrian backing. It knew how to start it, but it won’t know how it will end. The forces unleashed in this conflict have been unpredictable including Israel, Lebanon’s politics, the Arab Governments, and the international community. Hezbollah and its regional allies have spoken of “surprises” to come. In fact the latter are pretty much predictable: more rockets on and suicide attacks in Israel, coup d’Etat in Lebanon, and obviously international terrorism, including in the West. But “surprises” could also happen to Hezbollah. The “Waad al sadeq” operation may not be the only miscalculation by Secretary Hassan Nasrallah. The future of Hezbollah’s war is as uncertain as the fate of the organization."

Interesting, because it is the case that the Israelis have been doing the surprising. It seems Hizbollah as well as the shocked international community were surprised at how Israel reacted to this latest, smug, attack from Hizbollah.

And then some examples of the flexibility and constant learning that Israel is about that Caveman refers to, his and Stratfors

For example, early Sunday Israeli time, an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman was quoted as saying, "We have drawn our conclusions from battles in other areas, we have learned our lesson and are about to embark on another mission."

I"Indications: The operations to clear Maroun al-Ras and Bint Jbeil were largely tactical experiments. The Israelis were not sure what to expect, so they committed some of their best, most flexible troops to the operation, paid close attention, and took copious notes. Strategy will probably change substantially in the interests of adapting to the environment and to the enemy's tactics as Hizbullah inevitably reveals them.

And then this

After several hours of intense fighting in and around the in the eastern Lebanon town of Baalbek, which was built by Iran for the express purpose of treating Hizbullah operatives, IDF commando forces on Wednesday morning took a number of Hizbullah operatives captive.
An IAF helicopter dropped commando forces a short distance from the hospital late Tuesday night. The force was discovered as it moved towards the structure, where Hizbullah operatives were suspected of hiding. Several hours of gunfights ensued, and at least 10 Hizbullah guerrillas were reported killed.

Another force was helicoptered in to extricate the commandos and provide backup for the mission.
After inspecting the identification of everyone in the hospital, the IDF soldiers proceeded to arrest several Hizbullah officials, who were later transported back into Israel. The officials' names and positions in the organization were not revealed. The main target of the operation was Muhammad Yazbek, a senior figure in the organization. Yazbek was not in the hospital at the time of the raid.

Obviously Hizbollah had not anticipated and didn’t know how to deal.

More mistakes by Hizbollah,they have built considerable bunkers. And hard though they are to find, nevertheless I would say they have banked on this as their defence, in a sense made themselves into a traditional fixed force. Israel is hitting the bunkers and killing Hizbollah. And if Hizbollah have developed contingencies for dealing with this strategy failing they are hiding them well.

Caveman reports

“Stratfor's George Friedman reports that the IDF now operates in many villages in nearly all sectors of southern Lebanon. Hizbullah is defending in depth and numbers, he says, focusing on holding their territory and strong points and not engaging the IDF's flanks or supply lines (yet). This is a recipe for tactical suicide - any such defenders will only be speedbumps to Israel's oncoming assault”

He also reports Hizbollah are now idiotically firing rockets after dark. And to no gain.

The surprises are coming from an IDF which seems at this point to be the adpatable flexible learning organisation.

Maybe Hizbollah has grown fat and lazy, Maybe Nasrallah is exactly what he seems, a corrupt blow hard. Maybe the belief that guerrilla forces can’t be beaten by regular forces is an erroneous one. Then maybe that is not what Hizbollah is any more. Just a regular force that chooses to fight in towns and villages.

Posted by: Ros at August 1, 2006 11:28 PM

One more longwinded comment.

Is anyone familiar with this letter please, and can offer any info as to whether it is both real and accurate.

“In a letter to the editor of the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel a Lebanese Shia explains how after Israel’s withdrawal from South Lebanon, Hezbollah stored rockets in bunkers in his town and built a school and residence over it.

I lived until 2002 in a small southern village near Mardshajun that is inhabited by a majority of Shias like me. After Israel left Lebanon, it did not take long for Hezbollah to have the say in our town and all other towns. Received as successful resistance fighters, they appeared armed to the teeth and dug rocket depots in bunkers in our town as well. The social work of the Party of God consisted in building a school and a residence over these bunkers! A local sheikh explained to me laughing that the Jews would lose in any event because the rockets would either be fired at them or if they attacked the rocket depots, they would be condemned by world opinion on account of the dead civilians. These people do not care about the Lebanese population, they use them as shields, and, once dead, as propaganda. As long as they continue existing there, there will be no tranquility and peace.

Dr. Mounir Herzallah

Posted by: Ros at August 1, 2006 11:33 PM

Another encouraging sign - a shift in Israeli tactics from the bombing campaign. Anyone who is sympathetic towards Israel, but feels very uneasy about what's been going on over the past few weeks will have few problems with this:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/5237098.stm

Posted by: Dirk at August 1, 2006 11:33 PM

Sorry, didn't post the headline from that BBC story:

Israel 'takes Hezbollah fighters'

Israeli forces have seized several Hezbollah fighters in an airborne raid on Baalbek, a stronghold of the group in east Lebanon, the Israeli army says.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/5237098.stm

I'd be curious to know what the reaction of non-Hezb. supporting Lebanese is to this. Is it "finally they are going direct to the source", or has opinion become so polarised that it's seen as just another incursion by the Israeli enemy

Posted by: Dirk at August 1, 2006 11:46 PM

Sorry, and to add the headline of that BBC story:

Israel 'takes Hezbollah fighters'

Israeli forces have seized several Hezbollah fighters in an airborne raid on Baalbek, a stronghold of the group in east Lebanon, the Israeli army says.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/5237098.stm

I'd be curious to know how non-Hezb. supporting Lebanese see this. Is it a case of "finally, they are going direct to the source", or is opinion so polarised that this is now perceived as yet another incursion by the Israeli "enemy"

Posted by: Dirk at August 1, 2006 11:49 PM

Regarding your comment in Instapundit that Israel shouldn't have bombed Beirut: if Hezbollah sets up its headquarters in southern Beirut and can forbid the Lebanese government and army from going into a 12 block area, why shouldn't that area be bombed? Can't the Lebanese government exert authority in its own putative capital?

Posted by: Jim at August 1, 2006 11:51 PM

bad vilbel,

Just to clarify, I didn't mean to imply that Lebanon was incapable of democracy - only that the "March 14" movement was necessary condition, but not a sufficient condition, to create democracy.

Sufficient conditions require Hizbullah's military capacity to be reduced. Said military capacity was maintained by exogenous forces, and exogenous forces are necessary to effect the reduction.

These processes are terrible even in the best of circumstances, and these are not the best of circumstances.

Posted by: lewy14 at August 1, 2006 11:54 PM

MJT,

The idea that Lebanon (which didn't go to war with Israel - HA/Syria/Iran did) disproves or even affects the theory of democracy vs. democracy war is pretty silly.

Matthew White D vs D

Matthew White Historical Atlas with best war toll stats I have seen.

Intro
If you consider it rude to reduce human suffering to cold statistics, you don't have to. Turn away now. On the other hand, if you believe that numbers matter, then you'll probably want to know the correct numbers [n.1]. On these pages, I have collected a variety of body counts for all the major atrocities of the 20th Century and set them out for you to examine. I have tried to keep commentary to a minimum, although I would have to be a robot to avoid passing occasional judgement on the accuracy of some of these estimates. (You might want to read my introduction on the uncertainty of atrocity statistics, and my footnote on the morality of atrocity statistics, if you haven't already.)
Some of these sources inspire more confidence than others. Often the least authoritative sources (such as dilettantes like me or partisan propagandists) are the most accessible, while the most authoritative (serious scholars with no vested interest) are the most obscure, but I have generally accorded all sources equal weight.

I have crosschecked assorted numbers and trust this source.

Posted by: jdwill at August 2, 2006 04:47 AM

I have to speak out against the nonsense that it is "human nature" to dislike people who are "dropping bombs on your head."

Many Germans, like Sophie Scholl, prayed constantly for Americans to drop bombs on their cities so they could be rid of the Nazis.

It is human nature to understand when bombs are being precision guided and that you are not being aimed at. Look at the Serbians and Shiite and Kurdish Iraqis. They don't hate America now.

On D-Day, French villagers cheered and celebrated as the US and British and Canadian navies shelled the French coast where they lived.

So, please, let's bury forever the illogical idea that highly intelligent people would necessarily hate anyone for trying to free them from dictators.

Now, for low IQ people who believe propaganda and already had respect for Hezbollah, at least in terms of a Stockholm Syndrome understanding...sure, they can be thinking: why are the Israelis messing up what was a perfectly good system for me personally before.

Posted by: Jack Donaldson at August 2, 2006 04:53 AM

MJT

Re Democracy vs Democracy

The nut para:

Statistically insignificant sample: As we trim more and more dubious democracies from our list, we certainly make the statement that "democracies don't fight each other" truer, but we also make it a lot less impressive. If there are only 2 functioning democracies in the world (think, for example, the United States and Switzerland, ca. 1855), then peace between them is no big surprise. After all, how many times have two Mormon countries gone to war with one another? Or two nations led by people named Leslie?

In case you don't have time to read the links I sent.

Posted by: jdwill at August 2, 2006 05:05 AM

The Hezbollah is a democracy!?

Whether or not the Democracy versus Democracy theory holds water, its nonsense to suggest that Hezbollah is answerable to the Lebanese people.

Israel's targets in Lebanon demonstrate it's goal is to wipe out this decidedly decidedly undemocratic militia. Lebanese institutions of government have not been hit.

Jdwill, thanks for the great link. I recall another website that shows that casualties in war are dramatically lower when even one party is a democracy. Israel's attempt to minimize civilian casualties and overt regret over such deaths illustrates this point.

Posted by: hab at August 2, 2006 05:32 AM

Of course, you are going to find encouraging signs if you listen to the likes of Lebanese Right Wing Zionist Tony Badran. It's like asking a French collaborator to give you encouraging signs in German occupied Paris in 1941.
Badran has not written an single word to condemn this blooody war. He is too afraid to anger his Likudnik masters if he shows some compassion toward the victims of the Israeli Butchery in Qana.

Posted by: Victor at August 2, 2006 05:36 AM

"Their honor and pride may prohibit them from ever admitting Hezbollah’s latest attacks on Israel were a fatal mistake. But their all too terrible punishment may convince them to seek a healthier and more cautious approach to politics in the future."

I have been thinking a lot recently about the cultural concept of humiliation. The Chinese needed to save face over the spy plane incident. I was talking to a Venezuelan coworker who brought up his fear of humiliation in an otherwise unremarkable conversation.

It seems to me Americans don't understand how the rest of the world perceives humiliation. I want to say that Arabs are in a league by themselves in this regard but I'm not so sure. It may be that Americans are the outlier.

Posted by: David at August 2, 2006 07:13 AM

Best case scenario I can see:

Israel gets the reliable international force they asked for, supplemented by Lebanese forces. Hizbollah is re-armed by Iran and inevitably begins fighting with the international/Lebanese forces. This drives world opinion heavily against them and Iran -- and Lebanese opinion as well. Hizbollah is outlawed as a Lebanese political party, and moderate Shias are elected in their place. Iran is forced to stop funding them, and Hizbollah sputters and dies.

This might be one contingency Condi & Co. are planning.

Posted by: TallDave at August 2, 2006 07:31 AM

idwill,

That argument is very weak. The sample size is not small when you look at democracy-years vs. nondemocracy-years, even if you limit "democracy" to the most liberal sort. The statistical difference in warmaking between democracies and nondemocracies is huge.

You also don't have to limit the sample. You can instead build a continuum of liberal democracy form most to least, and again you find the more liberal democratic a nation is, the less likely it is to be at war with other liberal democratic nations. Rudy Rummel has done a lot of work in this regard.

I'm not sure how many people realize that the generally peaceful state of Western democracy in the recent several decades is not just a historical anomaly but an anthropological one as well: human societies have always been at war, since the dawn of mankind.

Posted by: TallDave at August 2, 2006 07:42 AM

I disagree that the Lebanese conflict does damage to the theory that democracies don't attack each other. Lebanon didn't attack Israel. An autonymous totalatarian subculture within Lebanon is attacking Israel.

Closer to your point would be the earlier Hamas attacks on Israel from Gaza. However, both Hamas and Hizbolla are understood to be proxies of Iran which is certainly NOT a democracy.

Posted by: Ed Nutter at August 2, 2006 07:48 AM

The outcome should follow the 5-point plan set out over the weekend by one wise Lebanese politician.

Israel destroys Hezbollah or as much as possible then withdraws (that's the only real way they'll be disarmed). Leb military moves into the vacuum and takes credit for restoring peace and driving out the Jews to prevent Hezbollah from regrouping around those claims. International community (mostly USA) pays big bugs to rebuild Lebanon and peacekeepers are put throughout the country to prevent foreign support from rebuilding Hezbollah.

The end result of this is peace within Lebanon and between Lebanon and Israel. There might be ill-will towards Israel but that will fade along with the growing belief that Hezbollah brought the war onto them.

At least that's the game plan I'd shoot for if I were Israel because occupation is a fools game in this situation and letting Hezbollah survive means they're back to square one a couple of years from now.

Posted by: rjschwarz at August 2, 2006 08:31 AM

PD writes:
Thank you, Michael, for trying to promote an analytical, rather than knee-jerk emotional, approach to understanding what might happen in Lebanon.
Personally, I can't be nearly as sanguine as you, especially given the exodus of so many progressive Lebanese as a result of the last three weeks. (Merely as an example) the US government originally expected about 4K of those holding American passports to leave, but over three times that number have left. How many will return?
Even if Hezbollah's capabilities of firing rockets into Israel is neutralized (at least for a time), that doesn't neuter them in Lebanese politics. The fact that so many of their ranks will have died for Lebanon (or at least against Israel)--and that a disproprortionate amount of suffering has been on the Shia (for whom H has been a patron)--will provide them a kind of "moral" authority which they are likely to capitalize on. I can't buy into the "moderate Shia" takeover (For example, who would sponsor them?).
The only genuinely positive sign that I see is the unwillingness of the Lebanese government to do what the US and Israel wants--to explicitly repudiate Hezbollah (whatever I may think of H). (Even Jumblatt knows that would be suicidal!) If they had, Lebanon would be certain to be another Iraq--and there could be nothing positive coming out of that. Better to have your infrastructure (which can be rebuilt) savaged than to acquiesce in the "divide and conquer" strategy that Israel so successfully pursued in its 18 years of occupation. So at least there is some hope. Thank heavens the Lebanese are able to learn from some of their mistakes--something I am not at all certain that Israel is capable of doing. Insanity is, indeed, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results!

Posted by: PD at August 2, 2006 08:39 AM

The notion that Lebanon is a democracy is absurd.Were this so, the govt and the military would have seen to it that Hezbollah disarmed, in keeping with the UN mandate. Just because there had been elections does not make the country a democracy. In the next election, the arabs will give much support to Hezbollah and then Lebanon will become a religious Islamic state, in keeping with Iran and its wishes to rule the fertile crescent. Nice work, Lebanese democracy!

Posted by: fred lapides at August 2, 2006 08:45 AM

TallDave,

Its jdwill (the j hides in the link underescore).

I take your point, but disagree. These questions often break down to what scope/domain you choose. I suggest the European nations after the Westphalian treaty and adjacency should be considered. The number of democracy years is quite small if you use this scope. The amount of war is quite robust. That would make the D vs D argument statistically insignificant.

The scholarly analysis is here if you are interested. I haven't had time to really dig into this set. They do take adjacency into consideration and factor smaller disputes and chains of secondary conflict from ongoing issues.

I do believe democracy helps, especially if there is a surrounding community of democracies. I am just saying the data is thin.

Posted by: jdwill at August 2, 2006 09:20 AM

TallDave,

I'm not sure how many people realize that the generally peaceful state of Western democracy in the recent several decades is not just a historical anomaly but an anthropological one as well: human societies have always been at war, since the dawn of mankind.

I didn't mean to get into a long discussion of D vs D, but have you considerd that the recent decades are due to MAD and the bipolar US/USSR world from 1950 to 1990?

You could check the Matthew White site which provides graphic representations of the quarters of the 20th century. It is amazing. The only anomaly to the pattern is China's Great Leap Forward.

Posted by: jdwill at August 2, 2006 09:36 AM

hab,

Do you have link for that site? I like to collect maven sites.

Posted by: jdwill at August 2, 2006 09:38 AM

A few thoughts.

Refering to Lebanon as a Democracy is laughable at best.

Addressing the Hezballah on the Israel border is the first step in addressing Iran's Nuclear ambitions. For "Diplomacy" to work with Iran, they have to have very little stick, so that they find that thier interests are best served by talking.

I find a bit of data dissonance regarding Lebonese attitudes,other sources such as christian Lebonese who live in America now, claim that non-muslim Lebonese are cheering the Israeli military strikes, but are living under threat of death should they display that attitude in public.

Posted by: Joel Mackey at August 2, 2006 10:05 AM

While changing hearts and minds is difficult, the war on terror itself is actually very simple. For terrorists to be truly effective, they must have the backing of an allied government. Where is an angry farmer going to get money, plastic explosives, RPGs, missiles, and training in using them? Only from a government. Destroy the governments that back terrorism, and terrorism will be gutted.
Israel is now destroying Hizballah. This is obvious, because Hizballah is standing and fighting. Smart guerillas strike and then hide from high-tech armies instead of standing and being hit by smart bombs. Any action lasting more than half an hour means that the Israelis got what they wanted--a target.
Hizballah can't be rebuilt without Iran and Syria. There is great hope for Lebanon (and Iraq) if Iran and Syria can no longer meddle in her affairs. A lot of trouble in the Middle East will subside the day we march into Teheran.

Posted by: Bigdad Bob at August 2, 2006 10:58 AM

jdwill, I found the Matt White site. It's got a ton of interesting stuff

http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/

Posted by: jt at August 2, 2006 12:23 PM

Michael, I have been repeating the same over and over and over again on this blog

The only way to neutralize the Hezbollah is to integrate the Shiite community.

Posted by: Lira at August 2, 2006 01:06 PM

jt, I have that one, thanks anyway. I was asking hab for a link to another site he alluded to, but gave no searchable specifics.

Lira,

One way or another that will have to happen. But how? Isn't it true that they were treated like dirt until Hezbollah patronized them with aid and jobs (such as building the fortifications now being destroyed)?

Aren't they deeply enmeshed with Hezbollah?

Posted by: jdwill at August 2, 2006 01:24 PM

I emailed this to "pundit@" before i realized (duh) that Michael has his own blog. So this is a dupe, at least for him.

...
Michael writes: "This war in the Middle East nearly demolishes the theory that democracies don't go to war with each other."

Does the theory actually go "democracies" -- or free societies?

Apart from the lame-duck status of Lebanon's government, it is limited-government capitalist republics, as opposed to democracies, which do not go to war with one another. What the current war shows is that democracy per se is NOT the defining characteristic of a free society.

You'd think that Socrates and Chancellor Hitler would have driven this point home by now.

"The premise behind the Bush administration's policy is the hopeless view that tyranny is reversed by the holding of elections--a premise stemming from the widespread confusion between freedom and democracy.

The typical American realizes that there ought to be limits on what government may do. He understands that each of us has rights which no law may breach, regardless of how much public support it happens to attract. An advocate of democracy, however, holds the opposite view."

-- Peter Schwartz, "Freedom vs. Democracy: How The U.S. Government Created a Crisis in the Middle East"

http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?ID=4738

Posted by: Seerak at August 2, 2006 02:26 PM

Question:
I wonder how would Jumblatt (based on the FT article cited in Instalinks) would respond to the 4 hopeful signs for Lebanon?
The view that Lebanon is becoming a part of the Syrian/Iranian axis does sound a bit ominous.
I would be curious for any links to evidence from serious analysts who think that the dynamics set in motion by this three-week + old war will actually strengthen Lebanon's democracy project.
The view here (implicit in many of the postings regarding democracy and war) seems to be that the Lebanese democracy project was only a chimera, and that we shouldn't lose any sleep over its demise or being still-born.
So maybe Lebanon is not a model as Michael's WSJ piece would suggest?
PD

Posted by: PD at August 3, 2006 04:55 AM

It's a hard thing to wish for a wider war, but sometimes defeating an enemy isn't enough -- you have to destroy him or he'll just keep coming back at you.

If Israel could buy itself 50 years of peace, that would be enough.

Posted by: slinkybender at August 3, 2006 02:49 PM

I didn't read all the comments, so forgive me if I'm repeating what's already been said. Metula WAS hit by katyushas Thurs or Fri July 13-14, so you're definitely within range. Be safe.

Posted by: Yael at August 14, 2006 10:52 AM
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