August 01, 2006

Democracies and War

I forgot something when I made my list of small encouraging signs. Perhaps I left out one that isn't so small.

This war in the Middle East nearly demolishes the theory that democracies don't go to war with each other. Lebanon, aside from Hezbollah's state-within-a-state, is a democracy. At least it's an almost-democracy. Aside from my personal affection for Lebanon, the country where I recently lived, the only country other than the US where I've ever lived, this is what anguishes me the most: The Arab world's only democracy is being torn to pieces by another democracy.

But it's telling, I think, that the Lebanese army, the fighting institution that represents democratic Lebanon and not just one totalitarian-sponsored political party, has chosen to sit this one out.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at August 1, 2006 11:56 PM
Comments

An almost-democracy is not a Democracy. You might of had a fun time in safe corridors of this country. That does not, did not, mean it was a funtioning democracy. Saying almost-democracy is like saying I am half pregnant. It does not work that way...

Posted by: Fran at August 2, 2006 12:09 AM

Lebanon did not go to war with Israel. Hizbullah did, without asking Lebanon's opinion first. Hizbullah is not a democracy.

Posted by: nadine at August 2, 2006 12:18 AM

Fran,

You haven't been to Libya. (I have.)

The distance between an almost-democracy and a totalitarian regime is galactic. See here.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 2, 2006 12:19 AM

i've been in many places that you probably haven't heard of. in my opinion, "almost democracy" is akin to "slightly pregnant girl".

it is indeed sad that it didn't get a chance to flourish, but not all is lost.

next time maybe they'll be smarter and won't let terrorists bomb israel.

Posted by: poul at August 2, 2006 12:44 AM

I'm not sure how seriously to take that truism - that democracies don't go to war with each other. In any case, it doesn't really apply here, does it. Hizbollah is a creature of two sovereign powers that are certainly not democracies, and it is these powers tht Israel is at war with. Lebanon is caught in the crossfire because it cannot maintain control over a sovereign state in it's midst. That makes it a good deal less than a democracy.

Posted by: Bernard Davidoff at August 2, 2006 12:46 AM

Michael, you mention in a previous dispatch that the official Lebanese army (controlled by the democracy part of Lebanon) is sitting this one out. They also have not been directly attacked aside from some radar sites Hiz might have been using. I put it to you then that the "democracies don't go to war with each other" theory probably still holds... for the moment.

Posted by: tptk at August 2, 2006 12:48 AM

Come on- Lebanon is a democracy? where on earth a democracy is electing its leaders by their ethnicity- by law?
Maybe a small portion of lebanon is a democracy, but more than half of it is not part of the sovereign "Lebanon", with it's democracy: the south and the beqaa are hezbollah, the chouf is Druze, etc.
If Lebanon was TRUELY a full democracy, that actually controlls all the country, I'm sure there wouldn't be any war- especially in this scale.

Posted by: Israeli at August 2, 2006 01:17 AM

You should read Electing to Fight by Mansfield. The subtitle of the book is "Why Emerging Democracies Go To War".

Mature democracies don't go to war with each other because the political actors have too much to lose.

Emerging democracies, in a well argued statistical study, do have a record of launching wars on neighbours for various reason.

I am assuming there is a McDonalds in Beirut so the other observation (rather than theory) that countries that have the golden arches in their borders don't go to war now has a its first statistical blip!

Posted by: Neil at August 2, 2006 01:19 AM

Perhaps democracies who start wars, against other democracies or not, are flawed, or even fake democracies. They are democratic in name but not in substance or spirit. True democracies respect individual freedoms and human rights. Israel shows little repect for the Arabs rights within its borders and areas under it's control (gaza, west bank). The US since 9/11 is now showing the same tendencies, with King George allowing torture, starting wars of choice (Iraq), holding himself above the laws (international and domestic), etc.

Both Israel and the post 9/11 US government use fear to justify aggression and reduction in peoples freedoms (eg in the US the Patriots Act, spying by the NSA, locking up journalists, etc) and convince the people it is necessary for their security.

One of the US founding fathers, Ben Franklin, once said, those who would give up freedom for a little bit of security deserve neither. I agree.

The Israeli invasion of a fragile secular democracy in Lebanon does not make them more secure (the Hizbollah rockets were fired only after Israel bombed civilians, and a militia kidnapping 2 soldiers is hardly a security threat worth starting a war over). The war only serves the interests of the politicians and the IDF, who have found it to be in their best interests to sustain or create conflict, and keep their people fearful so they can get elected or stay in power, and in the case of the IDF to avoid budget cuts and downsizing (imagine how small the IDF would need to be if there is ever true peace in the Middle East)

Could Lebaonon have done more to control Hizbollah, perhaps, especially after the last provocation by Hizbollah last fall, but it seems the US and Israel could have made more effort to work with the government to help them rather than rely on war as a first resort, especially in light of the relative calm after Israel pulled out of Lebanon 6 years ago (most Americans believe Israels actions are due to the fiction of a constant rain of rockets fired at Israel civilian populations, and sadly, this is the sorry state of the one sided reporting by the US television and cable news channels)

Posted by: Paul Todd at August 2, 2006 01:43 AM

michael,
excuse my sarcastic tone, but do you need some tissues? your personal attachment is controling your brain cells.
"an almost-democracy" - what kind of argument is this?
"Lebanon, aside from Hezbollah's state-within-a-state, is a democracy" - where did you get your education? boy oh boy, they have ruined your brain, or maybe they, hezbollah, control your brain. what a shame! and to read this on instapundit? unbelievable.

Posted by: Yossi at August 2, 2006 01:59 AM

Michael,

I was a UNIFIL soldier in Ebel-Es-Saqi for the Norwegian battalion in 1988. It was great to see the progress Lebanon made last year, and heart-breaking to see that it is now back to where it was in 1988 in many ways: As a war-fighting arena for other powers.

Lebanon is to a substantial degree a democracy today (certainly compared to e.g. Libya, as you point out), but Hezbollah is certainly not. And Lebanon did not star this, Hezbollah did. Lebanon is a reasonably democratic country which was taken hostage by a non-democratic, private army, Hezbollah.

Would the Lebanese parliament ever vote yes to such action as Hezbollah did against Israel? No way. But the parliament was never asked, was it?

Posted by: KH at August 2, 2006 02:25 AM

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

While I am skeptical of the theory, I don't agree that the current conflict disproves it.

Israel is at war with Hizbullah, not Lebanon. Lebanon is the place unlucky enough to be the battlefield.

Posted by: rosignol at August 2, 2006 02:54 AM

Paul,
Careful, or you'll get yourself arrested by Bush's secret police, and thrown in the same jail as John Kerry and Bill Keller. Did any of the founders have a saying about people who give up a little sanity to engage in hyperbole? Maybe we could attribute "paranoia is the second highest form of patriotism (after dissent)" to Thomas Jefferson, since he's the go-to guy for leftists interested in fake quotes.

Posted by: bgates at August 2, 2006 03:10 AM

I have to disagree with you, Michael (as many others are). Lebanon would never have initiated this war or voted to authorize it. It doesn't even have the power to surrender or call it off. If Siniora could arrest Nasrallah and - not even turn him over to Israel, but just imprison him in Lebanon-- would he?

On the one hand, I guess the Lebanese can feel good about the fact that they were making an honest attempt at having a great nation. On the other hand, the idea of any Lebanese government at all may have just been illusion.

What I can't figure out is who Hezbollah are really loyal to. They say they are 100% Lebanese, but they seem to get all of their orders and weaponry from Iran and Syria. They have a larger and more active military than just about any given country in Europe. They hold military parades. And they determine foreign policy-including who to launch wars against and when-- for all Lebanese citizens.

Are the Lebanese people okay with that? I dunno. But what are they going to do about it anyway, right?

Posted by: Peter at August 2, 2006 03:18 AM

Israel is not at war with Lebanon. It is merely pursuing the Islamic militants who reside in the country. The more moderate Lebanese are suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome and prefer hiding from reality. Anger at Israel is cost free. Hezbollah will murder anyone who dares to complain about its evil actions.

Is Israel losing the war? The answer: hell no! Israel merely needs to hang tough and victory is virtually assured. Arab culture is inherently incompetent. In other words, Arabs are born losers. Israel is a land of brilliant citizens. The odds are overwhelmingly on its side. Israel can only be defeated by paying too much attention to “world opinion.”

Posted by: David Thomson at August 2, 2006 03:21 AM

Hehe, bgates.

I doubt anyone will be quoting the sayings of Boy-Emperor Bushie in 200 years...unless, of course, its from a joke book.

Michael,

If a government doesn't control the largest army within its borders...it's not really the government, is it?

I think almost-country is a better term for Lebanon than almost-democracy.

Posted by: monkyboy at August 2, 2006 03:24 AM

Almost a democracy. Without the help of Israel lots of other almost democracies went down the drain. Africa is full of them. Indeed one of the most evils leaders in the world, Mugabe (300 a week die in Zimbabwe, as a result of his barbarism dissidents claim) started out with a democracy. So while Hizbollah prepared to destroy Israel and the democratic government of Lebanon refuses to do anything about it, Israel should have just been done in. While the Lebanese worked out whether they wanted a democracy, or to stay with the good ‘ol boys. Lebanon may be suffering great pain, but Lebanon has contributed mightily to that pain.

If Israel isn’t good at winning the PR war Lebanese are pretty hopeless as well. Australia declared Hizbollah a terrorist organisation in 2003. We had to; our law will only allow us to charge would be terrorists if the organisation were declared a terror group. So now the Lebanese, sometimes Australian, community in Australia is demanding that we undeclare them. They did not show any sign that they had considered why Australia had declared Hizbollah. Which if they had would have informed them that it is Hizbollah’s terrorist activities in SE Asia particularly, which played a big part in the decision. Our PM was pretty frosty. But Australians are listening to a group in our society who demand that we put ourselves at risk. They are not a popular mob to start with. There doesn’t seem to be any understanding that in a democratic country, one group doesn’t require the government to meet their needs in another country. And Australia is Israel’s ally, but again it didn’t seem that this was of any importance to this small vocal and demanding constituency. Still as some of them attacked the PM in his car last week maybe to be expected.

Maybe Lebanese want democracy, but they are very confused about what it is and their responsibilities, as well as rights, as citizens in a democracy. Which leaves them making stupid mistakes like doing a deal with the devil, Hizbollah. Israel didn’t make them do that deal; it was all their own choice.

It may be a good thing that the Army is staying out, I assume you mean because the Army at least understands its role and who it obeys in a democratic society.

Surely as a American you have had some smart arse point out in relation to the democracies don’t fight the Canadian US war. Some young Canadians I met recently reckoned it proved the US wasn't a democracy.

Posted by: Ros at August 2, 2006 04:03 AM

Paul Todd writes:
"the Hizbollah rockets were fired only after Israel bombed civilians, and a militia kidnapping 2 soldiers is hardly a security threat worth starting a war over"

Excuse me, Paul, but you are repeating Hezbollah propaganda here.
The truth is that the day of 12 July actually started with 122mm rocket attack on North Israel cities, 8 civilians were wounded. That was in the morning before the cross-border attack on which btw 3 more Israel soldiers were killed and 2 kidnapped.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_2006_Israel-Lebanon_conflict#July_12

Posted by: olegt at August 2, 2006 04:36 AM

The truth about Lebanon is that Israel was never going to sit back and watch Hezbollah build up its military capability indefinitely. The only question for Israel was when to go in. They may not be able to crush Hezbollah but they will settle for a significant degrading of their capacity. And they'll go in again a decade from now if they have to.

How many civilian casualties would there be in Israel if Hezbollah had the superior firepower? More, less, same?

Posted by: Joe Marino at August 2, 2006 04:45 AM

"This war in the Middle East nearly demolishes the theory that democracies don't go to war with each other. Lebanon, aside from Hezbollah's state-within-a-state, is a democracy. At least it's an almost-democracy."

Is it a democracy or isn't it?

Being of uncertain character it certainly does not come near to demolishing the theory that democracies don't go to war with each other. If the elected leadership of Lebanon staged the raid on Israel that started the war your conclusion would be valid. Hezbullah answers to Iran and Syria, not the constitutional government in Lebanon, neither Iran nor Syria are democracies and therefore it merely shows that dictatorships are capable of attacking democracies.

Clearly if the constitutional government was stronger, if Lebanon was a true democracy, Hezbullah would not have had the freedom to stage the raid. Therefore it seems that this situation gives more support to the conjecture that democracies don't war with eachother than it does to the conjecture that they do.

Posted by: zeno at August 2, 2006 04:50 AM

Michael--
Over on Instapundit (which doesn’t have a comments section) you say

This war in the Middle East nearly demolishes the theory that democracies don't go to war with each other. Lebanon, aside from Hezbollah's state-within-a-state, is a democracy.

That little “aside from” is the entire reason for the war.

As well I think that theory about democracies only has some validity when we are talking about societies with large prosperous middle classes. Historically those are the countries where democracy arose or was voluntarily adopted. With the current big push and pressure and incentives to make every country democratic (however nominally) it’s not going to hold with respect to them.

Posted by: dougjnn at August 2, 2006 05:18 AM

Hehe, bgates.

I doubt anyone will be quoting the sayings of Boy-Emperor Bushie in 200 years...unless, of course, its from a joke book.

Monky - Why must you cross troll your US political garbage into otherwise semi-cordial discussions of serious topics.

You have hundreds of other blogs devoted to that topic on which you can spew your bile.

Posted by: SirGlubb at August 2, 2006 05:29 AM

Totten, wrong again. Geez I just love your pro Arab stance Totten. No more credibility.

Posted by: Robert at August 2, 2006 05:35 AM

Micheal,

You're contradicting your earlier post where you said Lebanon and Hezbollah are essentially two different countries. Lebanon didn't commit an act of war against Israel, Hezbollah did. Lebanon holds elections. Hezbollah sends voting members to the national legislature, but does it participate democratically in local politics? I don't think this counts as two democracies fighting each other.

Posted by: Stacy at August 2, 2006 05:38 AM

Lebanon is as much a Democracy as America was during it's Civil War. Remember Lincoln and habeas corpus? Having an alt. government on your soil doesn't make you not a democracy, just a weak one.

And we were weak for many, many years at the beginning, between the British and the Native Americans -- yet America was still a democracy. Regarding the Ethnic divisions, we only allowed white guys with money to vote -- which pretty much means that only white guys with money are going to be elected. All these things have occurred in America, and we never doubt that we've been a democracy since 1776.

A Democratic institution is not measured by the strength of it's military, but by the strength of it's ballot boxes.

That said, I agree that the war-within-a-war tack doesn't track with his argument, but the argument itself is valid.

Posted by: Woodrow Jarvis Hill at August 2, 2006 05:41 AM

This is an intelligent blog with an intelligent set of commenters, so I would like to ask what is the solution is to this problem?

If Lebanon wishes to be free of these Muslim terrorists, why not declare themselves the ally of Israel, make a mutual defense pact and join Israel in destroying the Muslim terrorists. If this is farfetched or stupid, what is your solution? Feelings don't count. Just curious.

Posted by: nabal at August 2, 2006 05:58 AM

I don't think that this war "demolishes the theory that democracies don't go to war with each other" - for obvious reasons, not having to do with whether Lebanon is a democracy.

Posted by: Yafawi at August 2, 2006 06:09 AM

There is nothing in the definition of 'democracy' about respecting individual freedom. Democracy simply means rule by the people, and a mob of men can be just as dictatorial as a single man. Our Founders realized this, and they deliberately chose NOT to make this country a democracy. It is a Constitutional Republic with protection for individual rights written into the constitution.

The claim that democracies do not go to war against each other should be revised to: Countries that respect individual rights do not violate them by initiating force against other countries. With that reformulation it can be clearly seen that what Israel is doing is responding defensively to the initiation by force by people on Lebonese soil, and that, while some small percentage of Lebanonese might believe in respecting individual rights, not enough of them believe in it strongly enough to do something about Hizbollah themselves. I feel for the Lebonese who wanted something better for their country, but if they want Hizbollah gone, then they ought to encourage Israel to finish the job properly.

Posted by: Erskine Fincher at August 2, 2006 06:28 AM

My other question is 'what happens the day after?'.

By that I mean- eventually this all ends. Lebanon and Israel go back to their respective borders. Maybe Lebanon and Lebanese are pissed at Israel or whatever. But it eventually ends. Everyone hates everyone, but nobodys firing rockets are dropping bombs anymore. You know the day will come.

But what then? In the future that will be-- does Hezbollah get to still call the shots and declare war on behalf of the Lebanese people? Will the Lebanese people knowing as they do that war can come quickly and be devastating economically allow another foreign directed military entity to determine its foreign policy again?

I truly believe that Lebanon can choose it's own destiny.

Posted by: Peter at August 2, 2006 06:43 AM

nabal: "If Lebanon wishes to be free of these Muslim terrorists, why not declare themselves the ally of Israel, make a mutual defense pact and join Israel in destroying the Muslim terrorists. If this is farfetched or stupid, what is your solution? Feelings don't count. Just curious."

Actually I think feelings are probably what counts the most. Lebanon has been occupied and had its problems "solved" by other countries for their own reasons for most of its history. They want to solve their own problems by themselves. Hezbollah carries the torch of "resistance to Israeli colonization" (even though by most accounts Palestine was sparsely populated desert before 1948. Maybe that's true, maybe not) Israelis have been bombed, kidnapped, hijacked and murdered in their own shopping malls for 50 years and are at the end of their tolerance. None of these people are in a mood for accomodation, especially if it involves cold-eyed thinking like "the enemy of my enemy is my friend".

So what's the solution? In the near term there's no realistic alternative to war, but in spite of the violence, Iraq and Afghanistan (and Lebanon) have already disproved the western realists who say dictatorship is the only form of government that works in the muslim world. If the west keeps believing in muslim democrats, and avoid the false standard of instant peace as proof that democracy "works", then the terrorists will ultimately fade away and muslims can join the modern world with dignity.

Posted by: Stacy at August 2, 2006 06:54 AM

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

No, it doesn't. Because even people that love Lebanon have to acknowledge that the government of Lebanon is not in control of a major percentage of the country - including a section that while technically democratically elects people to parliament, is a separate Shia-Islamic fiefdom.

Lebanon is not a democracy in the traditional sense.

The government has no power to stop a 3,000 fighter-strong aggressive private proxy milita on its border.

Until Lebanon can control that private proxy militia - and perhaps until Lebanon stops cynically describing that private proxy militia as the "Lebanese national resistance," then, unfortunately, Lebanon does not get to be included in the conversation as a democracy in the "democracies don't go to war with eachother context."

Democracies don't have theocratic, fascist, martyrdom-seeking militias freelancing wars against neighbors while everyone all other government leaders sit back and call them the "Lebanese national resistance."

Lebanese people may vote and have representation, but they are not a democracy in the traditional sense unless the majoritarian electoral government exercises sovereignty over the whole country.

This is another example of Arab countries getting to play be a different set of rules because of the "soft bigotry of low expectations."

We cannot have a serious conversation about Lebanese democracy until this bullsh*t stops.

(My comment has nothing to do with the IDF's response to Hizballah's provacation - much of which I disagree with. But it's time to be real about the Lebanese "democracy." As much fun and as exciting as the non-Southern suburbs of Beirut can be, and as nice as some of the people are, and as good as the food must be, democracies don't have independent, khomeini-inspired well-armed martyr-militias threatening their neighbors).

Posted by: SoCalJustic at August 2, 2006 06:58 AM

olegt

I didnt see these reports at that time and do not know how credible wikipedia is after hearing about how easily facts can get altered on their site, but if this is so my apologies. I do not have any problem with Israel responding at some level, even if it were only in response to the kidnappings and killings of several IDF forces. But in either case, the response by Israel was over the top given the relative calm in the area in previous years. I am not defending Hizbollah, but like most disputes, it is not black vs white, good vs evil, there are 2 sides, and most wars can be avoided with some effort. I just do not see that Israel made any effort to avoid one. Perhaps if some effort were made to avoid an escalation I would be more sympathetic, but it looks to me as if Israel looked at Hizbollahs recent agression as an opportunity to attack Lebanon, for reasons I have already given.

Posted by: Paul Todd at August 2, 2006 07:21 AM

Michael

Hizbollah is not a democracy. Israel is not at war with a democracy, but a terrorist group.

Posted by: TD at August 2, 2006 07:39 AM

PD writes:
I seem to recall having read within the last 24 hours that about two dozen members of the Lebanese army (Or at least non-Hezbollah Lebanese forces) have been killed (presumably by the IDF) since July 12th. Quite a number of "civilian" casualties considering they have chosen to sit it out.
Actually, everyone knows that if the Lebanese political leaders had sent them to fight (as some Lebanese political leaders threatened to do if IDF forces crossed in Lebanon), it would be like leading lamb to the slaughter.

Posted by: PD at August 2, 2006 07:49 AM

bgates

Another quote for you, by a guy named FDR in 1933. "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself".

I am sure FDR would be offended by good money being spent in the war on terror in Kansas (or some other backwater state ) for bullet proof vests for their police dogs, a prime target for foreign terrorists. Get a hold of your fear guys!

I am not so worried by Bush secret police since we all know that all the neocons and Bush supporters will disappear in the coming rapture, coming soon to a theater near you. Good riddance.

As a Reagon Republican and even a Bush I Republican, I must say I am offended to be labeled a leftist. But those were the days before Republicans evolved or devolved to become Theocrats, and when Americans would never let fear rule them as they do today.

Posted by: Paul Todd at August 2, 2006 07:57 AM

Erskine Fincher said:

"The claim that democracies do not go to war against each other should be revised to: Countries that respect individual rights do not violate them by initiating force against other countries."

Exactly correct and well stated. We should be promoting the concept of governments that respect and protect individual rights. not mere "democracies". It was a democracy that gave us Hitler.

Posted by: Michael Smith at August 2, 2006 08:01 AM

But it's telling, I think, that the Lebanese army, the fighting institution that represents democratic Lebanon and not just one totalitarian-sponsored political party, has chosen to sit this one out.

As is often the case, I wish I agreed with you. But I don't. It's not a fighting institution; it's a bunch of guys with uniforms who play one on TV. As you yourself have pointed out, it's heavily Shiite/proHezbollah, and the officer corps is Syrian-infiltrated.

And it's not sat this one out -- Lebanese military forces helped Hezbollah target an Israeli warship (and, oops, an Egyptian ship, too). To the extent that it's an army at all, it's the army of Vichy Lebanon -- collaborators in green.

The response was focussed and perhaps educational.

And, now, yes, the Lebanese Army is sitting on its hands rather than getting in their buses and moving south. Is it because they collectively don't love Hezbollah and hate Israel (as you've been saying has been the main impact of the war among non-Shiites), or is it because their officers know that painting targets on their heads for the IAF is a quick way to commit suicide?

Posted by: Joel Rosenberg at August 2, 2006 08:16 AM

...I just do not see that Israel made any effort to avoid one. Perhaps if some effort were made to avoid an escalation I would be more sympathetic, but it looks to me as if Israel looked at Hizbollahs recent agression as an opportunity to attack Lebanon, for reasons I have already given.

Hizbullah didn't want an escalation.

As a general rule, in a crisis, you don't want to do what your adversary 1) wants you to do, or 2) expects you to do. As Sun Tzu said, the best thing to attack is your enemy's strategy, and that's exactly what the Israelis have done.

It looks like Hizbullah's plan was to snatch some Israelis, stage a hostage drama, and eventually have a prisoner exchange. This would enhance Hizbullah's standing in Lebanese politics, make them popular in Arab countries, and would embarass the Israelis- all good things, from Hizbullah's POV.

The problem, from Hizbullah's perspective, is that Israel didn't follow Hizbullah's script, and Hizbullah's strategy to enhance their political standing in Lebanon is now obsolete.

A lot of people have been saying that what the Israelis are doing is stupid, and in the short-term political sense, they may be correct... but in the strategic military sense, what the Israelis are doing is very smart, and I don't think this is going to be a problem at the political level in the long term, either.

As was described in one of Michael's earlier posts, Lebanese will forgive enemies when the price of continuing to hate them is too high.

Posted by: rosignol at August 2, 2006 08:27 AM

this is just a tidbit from the history of ideas.....
The claim that democracies do not go to war with each originated with those ex-Troskyists, the neocons, and in my opinion reflects much more a transference of the claim that the "people's republics" of the Communist countries would not go to war against each other because the people's interests were the same in every country.

In the history of democratic theory, there's no claim that democracies don't go to war with each other. You won't find such a statement anywhere in the Federalist papers, in the writings of John Stuart Mill, in any of the followers of Rousseau who provided the underpinings of the French revolution and the first French republic etc. (If anything, the French republic considered itself obligated to go to war against its neighbors, first and foremost of them England, a dubious logic too easily exploited by Napolean.) Britain and the ex-colonies of America were the only two democracies in the world when they went to war; both the Union and the Confederacy were democracies when they went to war; etc. The city-state of Athens was the first democracy in the world and they considered themselves free to wage war against any other Greek city state, regardless of government. The republic of Rome thought it was free to go to war against every political entity they ever encountered and in fact did so -- the big difference being that Athens lost its wars while Rome won them.

You can tell the Communist antecedants of the theory that "democracies don't go to war against each other" because whenever they do the supporters of the theory claim that one of the parties "wasn't really a democracy." This sounds all too similar to me to the claim made by supporters of Communism that Communist countries "weren't really Communist," which eventually turned out to be just about all of them because true Communism is impossible as a functioning system.

"Democracy" should hold no such talismanic value. What's truly new is this strange modern reverence for the concept. Democracy as a system of government has been known for over 2,500 years, and for the first 2,400 it was viewed with deep suspicion as "mob rule" and considered appropriate only within severe restrictions imposed by both law and custom. The idea that it is some kind of panacea for all social ills is probably also some kind of carry-over from Communist utopian theory.

The practical reality that countries with Mcdonald's don't go to war against each other problably has more to do with who makes money off war -- the backers of international war typically don't want anyone to bomb their own multinational assets. But it's got nothing to do with democracy in traditional Western intellecual history.

end of historical tidbit.

Posted by: Diana at August 2, 2006 08:29 AM

Does the war in Lebanon refute the theory that democracies do not go to war with other democracies? It's sort of irrelevant, since that theory was dead already.

To take merely the closest geographic example, Hamas was democraticly elected to power (such as it is) in the Palestine Authority -- and if they are not at war with Israel, the fact is well concealed. Note that it doesn't matter whether you believe that Hamas or Israel is responsible for that war. Both are democracies within any meaningful definition, and the war is there.

Posted by: wj at August 2, 2006 08:40 AM

nabal
If Lebanon wishes to be free of these Muslim terrorists, why not declare themselves the ally of Israel, make a mutual defense pact and join Israel in destroying the Muslim terrorists. If this is farfetched or stupid, what is your solution? Feelings don't count. Just curious.

The reason it didn’t do it up to now is that the before it could get to the signed mutual defense pact it would be in a civil war with Hezbollah and the Shi’a, with no assurance that Israel would decisively step in. And they are enormously sick of civil war, having not so long ago come out of 15 years of it. Instead they hoped that Hezbollah would peacefully disarm.

What is needed is to disarm Hezbollah. Israeli battering of them, followed by foreign peacekeepers not seen as occupiers patrolling the borders, and tying Lebanon getting back Shebba Farms (perhaps largely optics but that matters) and getting reconstruction money to Hezbollah disarming may make it possible.

Posted by: dougjnn at August 2, 2006 08:45 AM

"Democracies don't go to war with each other"

Thus far the conversation seems to ignoring the young democracy in Gaza.

I think our focus should be on more than just the form of government. It should also include the philisophical outlook of the people who do the voting.

Perhaps "Democracies where non-belligerant folks are the majority don't go to war wth each other" is a better saying.

BTW - In effect, Israel went to war with Hezbollah, not Lebanon. And in Gaza Israel is more at war with Hamas than Fatah.

Paul Todd - You really need to get your facts straight. You embarrass yourself.

You said "Ben Franklin once said, those who would give up freedom for a little bit of security deserve neither."

Actually, Franklin said "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

There is a big difference between the two quotes. Franklin would never have said something as foolishly extreme as what you quoted. BTW - your misquote is frequently found in radical leftist literature. You would do better to get your information from other sources.

Posted by: KSM at August 2, 2006 08:51 AM

Diana
>end of historical tidbit.

Brilliant essay Diana! One hell of a lot more than a tidbit.

While I’ve marshaled some of those arguments myself, I’ve never done so nearly as comprehensively. The UK vs US war in 1812 never occurred to me, probably because following the usual US practice I have a mental image of England as a monarchy at the time, but you’re right, it really was a type of democracy. Parliament had decisive purse string power and had by then even taken the lead in most areas of governance.

In all you simply demolish that absurd aphorism of the neo-cons.

In fact it’s not at all inconceivable that the US would wage war against another democracy, whether defensively or preemptively. Iran for example (God forbid). Even if one argues that Iran isn’t a “true democracy” since an un-elected counsel of Mullahs wields considerably greater review power than our Supreme Court (limiting who can be a candidate for office within certain ideological bounds for example), can one honestly maintain it would make any difference if that Mullah counsel power were removed? What would matter for us is the perceived Islamist “craziness” of the government and what we think it could do to us (or for many Israel) if (or when) it acted on it. Further, even with the Mullah counsel power removed, it’s not at all inconceivable that Iranians might elect an aggressive Islamist government -- such as the current one.

Other things being equal, a democratic form of government probably does reduce a country’s willingness to suffer great pain in war for limited gain. But other things aren’t equal. Really powerful countries such as the US taking on weak democracies may not think they will suffer much pain. And really poor and highly ideological countries may measure pain and gain quite differently than we do or than we suppose they will.

I think you’re right about the Troskyist origins of the concept too.

I’d like to see your essay get far wider circulation.

Posted by: dougjnn at August 2, 2006 09:16 AM

As someone who spent the first 22 years of his life in Lebanon, I can assure that Michael's take on this has been entirely innacurate from the beginning. I guess that's what happens when you think you know a place from spending a few months there. Michael please try to hide your boner that a place you vacationed in is now embroiled in a conflict. You add nothing to the discussion.

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

To Paul Todd and anyone with similar views please read this CIRCA 2002!

http://www.freelebanon.org/articles/a246.htm

This is from Charles Krauthammer. The Hezzies have been inflicting rocket attacks, kidnappings, etc. on the Israelis for more than 4 years. When is enough, enough? How big to the rockets have to get before Israel is allowed to take them seriously?

Posted by: AlanC at August 2, 2006 09:21 AM

There is more to a democracy than just elections. Otherwise, any country can hold an election and pretend overnight that it is a democracy (and many do now, is Azerbaijan a democracy, is Egypt a democracy? they had elections). As a rule of thumb, it is not a democracy until you've had at least two elections over a period of years (with at least one peaceful handover of power). IN ADDITION to elections, it is not a democracy unless the country has strong institutions, an independent judiciary, some of the basic freedoms etc. When you get all of these things in two adjacent countries, it is unlikely they will go to war. So is Lebanon a democracy? To begin with, it doesn't really pass the test because the parliamentary seats and key offices are parcelled out on the basis of religion. So you don't even have a free election, let alone the other stuff. It is almost a feudal system of patronage run on religious lines. It makes no sense in the 21st century and the country is now paying a heavy price for its contradictions.

Posted by: Shams at August 2, 2006 09:32 AM

AlanC
The Hezzies have been inflicting rocket attacks, kidnappings, etc. on the Israelis for more than 4 years. When is enough, enough? How big to the rockets have to get before Israel is allowed to take them seriously?

The intelligent and knowledgeable counter to that is that before Israel started bombing in this conflict the rocket attacks hadn’t killed that many and the successful kidnappings were only two in number and were calculated to simply get back three. Hence only a FAR more limited reprisal was warranted since the damage has been rather a pin prick.

But the counter to the counter is that Hezbollah’s rocket inventory has recently been growing truly alarmingly both in number and in newly capable and larger rockets, able to hit Haifa for example. Iran has rockets that can hit Tel Aviv from Lebanon. Given Hezbollah’s core ideology of tormenting the Jewish State out of the Middle East, doesn’t Israel have to act at some point – and wasn’t that point reached with the kidnappings and rocket and mortar attack on July 12?

I say yes to the counter to the counter.

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

... can one honestly maintain it would make any difference if that Mullah counsel power were removed?

Yes.

Allow me to give an example: how different would the US's policies be if only Libertarians (or NAACP members, or NRA members, or NOW members, or [insert group here]) were allowed to stand for office?

Posted by: rosignol at August 2, 2006 09:43 AM

Thanks for the praise, it's appreciated! ;-)
one posts in order to be read.

And Shams is giving everyone a taste of the "it's not really a democracy" line. Democracy just means "rule by the people," the way autocracy means rule by one person, monarchy means rule by a king, oligarchy means rule by the many, and aristocracy means "rule by the best" (o.k., so the nobility named the last one themselves). There is nothing inherent in "rule by the people" that requires an independent judiciary or strong civil institutions. Attaturk in fact designated Turkey's army as the protector of Turkey's democracy and instructed them to intervene to preserve the nascent Turkish democracy when it was threatened. The obvious risks of such a policy are plain to see, but it does represent an example of how democracies vary.

Posted by: Diana at August 2, 2006 09:54 AM

Dougjnn:

Appreciate your attempt in your last post to set the record straight. Unfortunately there is too little of that kind of intellectual honesty in postings.
I seem to have read somewhere recently that only a few (was it 4?) Israeli civilians were killed in these actions between Israeli's departure from Lebanon in 200 and July 12, 2006. Also, few kidnappings. Massive missile launchings began only after Israeli attacks on Lebanese infrastructure.
THE issue, as you have stated, relates to the threat posed by the build-up of rockets in south Lebanon. I think there is no question that Israel had grounds to act in some way proactively. Personally, though, I find the Israeli approach to problem-solving in this case entirely inappropriate. I think that in the long run it will prove very counter-productive.
Also, Israel lost its moral high ground on this issue.
I strongly suspect that regardless of the endgame over the next two weeks, Israel (besides the Lebanese people as a whole) will be the biggest loser--- even if (as I expect) they do address the issue of rocket firings from South Lebanon. That (the firing of Katushas, etc.) is just the issue du jour. There are always new technologies of destruction emerging and it makes no sense to continue to recklessly plant and harvest seeds of long-term hatred as Israel has--especially among people who could and should be your friends. Perhaps some tactical gains for Israel, but no real longer term strategic gains.
I am sure there are others who will disagree.
PD

Posted by: PD at August 2, 2006 10:07 AM

rosignol
Allow me to give an example: how different would the US's policies be if only Libertarians (or NAACP members, or NRA members, or NOW members, or [insert group here]) were allowed to stand for office?

I agree it would most likely make a big difference over time.

But notwithstanding that one can imagine that in the near term at least, and probably beyond that, that Islamic belief is deeply and widely enough rooted in that country and anti Western Islamist sentiment is prevalent enough in the international air, that it’s certainly possible that an aggressive Islamist government might be elected even without the Mullah counsel having the constitutional role they do.

Recall that a radical Islamist government was elected in Algeria. (And then driven from office by the Algerian army (with not all that covert French financial support)).

Posted by: dougjnn at August 2, 2006 10:16 AM

Lebanon, aside from Hezbollah's state-within-a-state, is a democracy.

Michael, to repeat what many have said, that's a HUGE aside.

It's like saying, Rosie O'Donnell, aside from being fat, ugly and bitter, is a super model.

And this:

Aside from my personal affection for Lebanon,

Is a HUGE aside too. You love the place. Understood.

But could the U.S. be fairly described as the world's oldest democracy if California, instead of being a State, was an autonomous region governed by a heavily armed, religiously motivated organization that hated Mexicans, held Nuremberg-syle rallies chanting "Death to Mexico," fired rockets indiscriminately at population centers like Tijuana and Cabo and plotted attacks to capture Mexican troops and police officers?

I think Mexico would be pissed.

I think they could care less that America liked to think of itself as a "democracy," were that the case.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at August 2, 2006 10:28 AM

Diana
Democracy just means "rule by the people," the way autocracy means rule by one person, monarchy means rule by a king, oligarchy means rule by the many, and aristocracy means "rule by the best" (o.k., so the nobility named the last one themselves).

I think what democracy really means to most educated people who admire it (as opposed to those trying to pretend that their own marginal or fictional version fully qualifies) is the form of government which America and the Western European countries have in common. There are different governmental structures but there are also things in common. That’s the core concept.

At a more detailed level or when trying to apply the concept in very different cultures, different theoreticians will then focus on different things as being essential and still qualifying while meeting local predilections. “Rule of law” (don’t all countries not in total chaos, and usually even there, have SOME kind of rules, however inconsistently applied? Is any country completely consistent? Aren’t we back to ‘it should be close enough to what America and Western Europe have in common?). Leaving power peacefully after losing an election. Some sort of checks and balances. Some sort of universal or at least wide franchise. One man one vote. Even minority rights or extensive civil rights. Even a lenient criminal code (disqualifying no only Sharia observing states but even the US according to some Europeans).

Formal definitions of the word aside, do you have a working definition of a “true” (or sufficient) democracy? Or do you perhaps feel that some sort of democracy isn’t necessary the best form of government?

Posted by: dougjnn at August 2, 2006 10:37 AM

SoCalJustice
Michael, to repeat what many have said, that's a HUGE aside.

The state within a state issue is a HUGE problem for both Lebanon and Israel, but it has nothing to do with whether Lebanon is a democracy. It has a lot to do with how strong a state it is, and with how much trouble it’s liable to find itself in under the sovereign state system whereby each state is responsible for military activities conducted by it’s citizens or from within it’s borders, against another state.

The core concept that won’t wash is that 1) Lebanon is a democracy so everyone should be nice to it; and 2) it can’t control Hezbollah so don’t blame it or hold it responsible.

1) May be true up to a point, but 2) can’t wash.

Posted by: dougjnn at August 2, 2006 10:44 AM

As a contrast to the liberal democracies of Europe and even America, I wonder if despite the many differences the success story of Singapore under the strong hand (dare I say quasi-benevolent dictatorship) of Lee Kuan Yew has any lessons to apply here. Despite working within the framework of a parliamentary system, here's a guy who spared no expense at twisting societal institutions in order to transform Singapore from a fledling backwater adrift from Malaysia into a stable economic powerhouse. I think ultimately you'll see Singapore relax and complete the transformation into a liberal democracy as we relate to in the west, but until that maturity kicks in I'm not convinced that a strong benevolent hand is necessarily a bad idea.

I know there are so many differences, but people are so infatuated with liberal democracy in Lebanon despite the seemingly insurmountable challenges, that I can't help but to wonder if there's a different way.

Posted by: josh at August 2, 2006 11:04 AM

"Democracies don't go to war with each other" Thus far the conversation seems to ignoring the young democracy in Gaza.

Palestine is a very illiberal democracy. One would expect them to be rather warlike.

The claim that democracies do not go to war with each originated with those ex-Troskyists, the neocons,

It originates with the observed fact they generally don't. The data is unambiguous in showing such a correlation. Again, see Rummel.

and in my opinion reflects much more a transference of the claim that the "people's republics" of the Communist countries would not go to war against each other because the people's interests were the same in every country.

That was demonstrably a lie from the start. They engaged in wars of conquest, and like all autocrats they got along only to the extent they had mutual enemies.

Posted by: TallDave at August 2, 2006 11:06 AM

I'm not convinced that a strong benevolent hand is necessarily a bad idea.

Liberal autocrats are probably often preferable to illiberal democrats, but alas are few and far between.

Democracy's advantage is that democracy itself is usually a liberalizing process.

Posted by: TallDave at August 2, 2006 11:09 AM

Michael,

When you were mainly a somewhat shallow travelogue you were at least somewhat interesting. Now that the chips are down you demonstrate your true spinelessness. I always suspected you were not really in touch with reality, that you were a leftist.

michaeltotten.com is forthwith a "tot" link in my bookmarks.

Posted by: John P. at August 2, 2006 11:12 AM

dougjnn,

The state within a state issue is a HUGE problem for both Lebanon and Israel, but it has nothing to do with whether Lebanon is a democracy.

I disagree. It has everything to do with it, unless the definition of a democracy (for purposes of the context that "democracies don't go to war against eachother") is only that citizens vote and send representatives to a legislature/government, and that's the end of the discussion as to what constitutes a democracy.

And there are (at least) two ways to look at Lebanon's "democracy" then:

1) The democratically elected government has no control over a certain part of the country (which also participated in the democratic elections) which houses an aggressive, well-armed militaristic proxy (which is represented in the Lebanese parliament and cabinet) that engages in cross border warfare which the democratically elected government does nothing to stop - and therefore the concept of Lebanon as a democracy within the context of "democracies not going to war against eachother" breaks down as a purely Lebanese problem as expressed by their inability to behave as other democracies; or

2) Since the overwhelming majority of Lebanese government officials refer to Hizballah as the "Lebanese national resistance movement," and that "Lebanese national resistance movement" happens to be an aggressive, well-armed militaristic proxy that engages in cross border warfare, then the democratically elected government of Lebanon launched a war against its democratic neighbor.

I understand that MJT and many Lebanese want to have things both ways - Lebanon as a wonderful democracy and Lebanon as a victim of foreign intervention from Syria and Iran, and is therefore a blameless beacon of hope.

But many Lebanese disagree and consider Hizballah - even before this war started - to be the "Lebanese national resistance movement."

Posted by: SoCalJustice at August 2, 2006 11:32 AM

What does it mean to say that Lebanon is an "almost-democracy," when you also say that it has been about to "fly apart" in civil war any minute? If the D word applies to ethnic/religious enemies who happen to vote in the same government despite being on the verge of killing eachother, then it doesn't mean much. It certainly doesn't mean: a government of a populace dedicated to political freedom.

I haven't been to either, but I'm pretty sure Lebanon isn't much like late-18th century Virginia.

Posted by: Brad W at August 2, 2006 11:49 AM

In U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559, the Lebanese Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Mohamad Issa, expresses the position of the Lebanese government on the legal directive to disarm Hizballah.

He says, "...that there were no militias in Lebanon. There was only the national Lebanese resistance, which appeared after the Israeli occupation and which would remain so long as Israel remained. The resistance force existed alongside the Lebanese national forces. Lebanon determined the presence and size of the force, depending on the country’s need. The authority of Lebanon extended to all parts of Lebanon except those areas occupied by Israel."

He took ownership of the problem for Lebanon's sake. Lebanon's national resistance, which according to Issa, is not a militia and does not need to be disarmed, committed an act of war against its neighbor.

For the Lebanese government to sit back and say "we had no idea it was going to happen, we do not control them, they are not us, they are not our problem" after sending a respresntative to the U.N. to express the fact that Hizballah is not a militia, should not be disarmed, but is "our national resistance movement" - well, they apparently also want to have it both ways.

Convenient.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at August 2, 2006 11:50 AM

diana and dougin: The phrase is "modern democracy" and as dougin says reflects aspects of modern Western democracies such as constitutional safeguards for minorities, a free press, civilian control of the military etc.

A bit Eurocentrc yes but thats what people are referring to.

Posted by: Joe Marino at August 2, 2006 11:51 AM

Michael and Bad Vilbel,

Michael linked to a lebanese blog on Instapundit that had a lebanese timeline on it. I was shocked when I read that the Christian leader Aoun aligned with Hezbollah in 2005 in the lebanese government. Huh? Can either of you enlighten us on why? That seems like the last thing they would want to do, so I'm missing something. Thanks.

Posted by: cb at August 2, 2006 11:57 AM

According to Al-Jazeera:

"Aoun, a Maronite Christian leader, signed an understanding with Hezbollah in February after arguing that the Islamist group should be integrated into political reforms in Lebanon."

http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/8CEC68E6-3CEF-4E1B-907B-EF4B8F4D5585.htm

It's probably a bit more complicated than that.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at August 2, 2006 12:13 PM

Israel Is Losing This War

Posted by: MM at August 2, 2006 12:17 PM

Carol Herman, you are banned, remember? Get your own blog and stay out of my comments.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 2, 2006 12:21 PM

cb,

Read Aoun's Wall Street Journal article (linked on Instapundit yesterday) where he explains himself. It was a pretty stupid thing to do, but it makes sort-of half-assed sense in a Lebanese-logic kinda way.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 2, 2006 12:23 PM

The thing to keep in mind here is that political and international relations theories, unlike scientific theories, are not rendered invalid by one or even two contrary examples. In science, the laws of nature are generally absolute, there are no vagaries. The speed of sound for instance, is scientifically measurable, and even though it is a relative value (a ratio really), we're able to predict with absolute accuracy what it will be when certain conditions are fulfilled.

But political theories attempt to rationalise and predict the actions of people, both individually and in groups, who are largely unpredictable and often irrational. Faced with a given situation a group of 10 people might act in 10 different ways, some of which will be inexplicable to outside observers. How then can any theory adequately predict the actions of each of those 10?

Put simply, none can. Instead, these theories are a general prediction of what the majority will do. So long as the theory is accurate at predicting or explaining the actions of the majority, and so long as the exceptions remain relatively small, the theory is considered a success.

This is why, even if we do see this conflict as a war between two democracies (albeit one of them imperfect), it doesn't blow the Democratic Peace Theory out of the water any more than the existence of the UN blows Hobbes out of the water. The Democratic Peace Theory does not state that two democracies will never go to war; rather its point is that two nations are far less likely to go to war with each other if they are liberal democracies.

Besides, as others have pointed out, it's not as if Lebanon truly fitted the mould of a liberal democracy. At best, it was an emerging democracy which had absolutely no control over nearly half its territory. In light of this, I'd argue that the Democratic Peace Theory doesn't even come into play, since the decision to go to war was not made by the democratic government but by an uncontrolled (and uncontrollable) non-state actor.

So you're wrong this time Michael, even though I greatly appreciate your writings otherwise. You present a perspective few others have, and that is invaluable.

Posted by: Darren at August 2, 2006 12:26 PM

From Aoun's piece, the last three points of agreement with Hezbollah:

First, the return of Lebanese prisoners in Israeli prisons. Second, the return of the Shebaa farms, a tiny piece of Lebanese territory still occupied by Israel. And third, the formulation of a comprehensive strategy to provide for Lebanon's defense, centered upon a strong national army and central state decision-making authority in which all political groups are assured a fair opportunity to participate.

Should the Israelis return this guy for soldiers that Hezbollah captured on Israeli territory?

Or at all?

Posted by: SoCalJustice at August 2, 2006 12:33 PM

josh
As a contrast to the liberal democracies of Europe and even America, I wonder if despite the many differences the success story of Singapore under the strong hand (dare I say quasi-benevolent dictatorship) of Lee Kuan Yew has any lessons to apply here.

Excellent point.

Actually, NONE of the leading “Asian Tigers” that people now admire so much and point to as development models for other countries (S. Korea, Taiwan, Singapore) have been genuine democracies for very long. All three started out as dictatorships of varying amounts of “benevolence” (especially if one measures that by treatment of the poor and working class). However although hardly free of corruption, none of them were kleptocracies. All of them took the task of actively helping their societies to develop economically as rapidly as possible very seriously. And all of them supported big business capitalism carefully monitored and regulated to meet national (elite) priorities as the way to get there. All grew very rapidly for these reasons, but also perhaps in part because all three had ethnically Chinese (or closely related) cultures and populations. Then after their middle classes had grown large, prosperous and secure, they all became true democracies sometime between the early 80’s and the late 90’s (Singapore).

Can a country have a modern democracy without first having a sizeable and relatively prosperous and secure middle class based on an at least somewhat free trading / capitalist economy? I don’t know. I can’t think of anywhere it’s occurred. Russia seems to be failing the test. The Eastern European countries are sort of doing the two simultaneously, crucially though because doing both are preconditions for getting into the EU trading block, with clear and obvious large economic advantages. Sort of democracy and fairly free trade by bribery. As well, most of the eastern European EU countries also had rising entrepreneurial middle classes before the Red Army marched in at the end of WWII. Whether Iraqi democracy will be durable will be interesting. I have my doubts.

Posted by: dougjnn at August 2, 2006 12:53 PM

LETS MARCH TO THE SOUTH!

What if 100's of thousands of Lebanese suddenly got together and peacefully marched to the south demanding a stop to the violence. Same as we did on March 14. Do you think the Israeli's would dare bomb us? Is it politically possible? ... Thinking outside the "bomb".

Posted by: Nadim at August 2, 2006 01:01 PM

Nadim,

Instead of marching for "peace" - how about marching against Hizballah's policy of political and military blackmail and demand they return the two Israeli soldiers and apologize for acting outside the scope of the government to which it is a "democratically elected" part?

Posted by: SoCalJustice at August 2, 2006 01:15 PM

PD
Appreciate your attempt in your last post to set the record straight. Unfortunately there is too little of that kind of intellectual honesty in postings.

Thanks. I’m approaching this conflict more as an analyst of the issues it raises than an advocate. Not entirely. I do care about both Israel’s and Lebanon’s survival.

I strongly suspect that regardless of the endgame over the next two weeks, Israel (besides the Lebanese people as a whole) will be the biggest loser--- even if (as I expect) they do address the issue of rocket firings from South Lebanon.

This conflict fascinates me because such a variety of things could end up happening. Small differences in immediate outcome could lead to large differences in longer term outcome. There are complex factors at play, particularly within Lebanon. I don’t claim to fully understand them but I do think I understand some things about them. This conflict could end up strengthing Israel’s security, or weakening it. It will strengthen if Hezbollah is seen as having been militarily significantly hurt and even more if a combination of pressures on Hezbollah lead to it disarming, and most of all if the international force ends up effectively policing a Lebanese agreement to not allow any more arms, particularly rockets, to cross it’s borders and go to Hezbollah.

It will somewhat (though not gravely) weaken Israeli security if Israel is seen by others and especially Hezbollah to not only have made them more popular in the Arab street and among their Shi’a followers, but also to have not significantly damaged Hezbollah militarily or in any other way it really cares that much about. I doubt this though. Israeli security WOULD be gravely damaged if over the next year say 10-20% of the population of Haifa and northern villages leaves the country. Moving south within Israel will hurt but not nearly as badly. Hezbollah’s “foreign policy” towards Israel is to bleed Israelis into giving up and leaving.

No matter how popular Hezbollah is at the moment, if they can be disarmed in a political agreement Lebanon’s security will be greatly improved. This is true not only as against another Israeli attack and invasion, but also as against a Syrian one. It would lack legitimacy. Further, so long as Hezbollah doesn’t become so popular that it wins an absolute majority in the next election, it’s popularity is likely to go down over time as it was before this war and will all the more with a peace deal with Israel. That will be good for most Lebanese and for the prosperity of the country.

Posted by: dougjnn at August 2, 2006 01:16 PM

>LETS MARCH TO THE SOUTH!

Or, how about thousands of Lebanese marching to the south and evicting the Hezbollah back to Syria instead? I guess the Hezbollah would not think twice about shooting into your peaceful march.

Posted by: jwr at August 2, 2006 01:18 PM

Michael
Aoun is a complete wanker.... can we say wanker on your site? In fact many of the leaders of the 'cedar revolution' are wankers, except for the young assassinated journalists like Tueni or Kassir. Syria didn't bother to assassinate the old warlords because it knows they're full of sh... and will be bought eventually. These are the same guys who fought the civil war, not exactly fresh meat. The only thing they have in common is they suuuure love the $$$. I venture to say the main reason they are upset about this war is they are not profiting from it, the way they did with the civil war, trading drugs and weapons.

Posted by: NoSleep at August 2, 2006 01:19 PM

Joe Marino
reflects aspects of modern Western democracies such as constitutional safeguards for minorities, a free press, civilian control of the military etc.
A bit Eurocentrc yes

Eurocentric for very good reason. That’s where modern democracy comes from, America being in origin and institutionally a European offshoot society, and England being the clear modern start of it all. Though lots of Enlightenment ideas and philosophies floating around other parts of Europe as well (esp. France) were also important. Modern democracy didn't just happen to come from Europe.

Posted by: dougjnn at August 2, 2006 01:29 PM

SoCalJustice
Should the Israelis return this guy for soldiers that Hezbollah captured on Israeli territory?

Look, if you ask me he should have been executed long ago.

But YES, if it helps get Hezbollah disarmed, he should be traded. And it will help. It removes a grievance or an excuse if you prefer for them to stay armed. As would returning Shebaa farms, whatever the legalities. Of course Syria would have to agree but that can be finessed.

Posted by: dougjnn at August 2, 2006 01:36 PM

dougjnn,

There's also Thailand to throw into the mix... not really an ethnic Chinese factor there. But the strong hand was and is (Thaksin) there. And outside the Islamist insurgency areas, there's also the unifying presence of the almost god-like King Bhumipol.

Actually, thinking about it further, Lebanon has all the factors (good and bad) that you ascribed to the SE Asian countries. Except one -- the strong hand that can create the stability needed by the industrialists in order for them to lay their foundation and operate.

Posted by: josh at August 2, 2006 01:43 PM

dougjnn,

I grant you, it is an excuse they use.

But some grievances are not worth giving into blackmail, including letting that murderous prick go home to a hero's welcome. And it is blackmail. Those soldiers weren't coming across the Lebanese border to murder civilians in their homes. It's not a fair swap and they don't deserve to get that guy back, and the "democratically elected" government of Lebanon should not consider him a political prisoner.

I do think the Israelis, even though they don't have to by virtue of a U.N. resolution, should give the Sheba Farms to Lebanon (since Syria, for convenience sake, now claims they don't want it) - but only in return for a real promise, backed up by action, from the Lebanese government that Hezbollah cannot go anywhere near the area South of the Litani river.

A promise - aside from a promise to murder - from Hizballah is worth nothing.

And releasing Kuntar will not give the Lebanese the ability or will to disarm Hizballah anyway. Nasrallah and the Mullahs will not give up their toys that easy.

Today, it's all about "the prisoners" and Sheba Farms. And it makes us all feel good to pretend that those are the only grievances.

But it's not really about that.

"Death to Israel" is about more than a few murderous prisoners and a few square acres of legally-recognized Syrian land.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at August 2, 2006 01:55 PM

josh
There's also Thailand to throw into the mix... not really an ethnic Chinese factor there.

Well, yes and no. Chinese “offshore” communites are very important to the economies of a lot of SE Asian countries even where they are small minorities. They tend to own a lot of the bigger businesses and medium businesses, although often in partnerships or with other deals with the political and military indigenous elites. That is true in Indonesia, the Phillipines, Vietnam (although not so much after America pulled out, they tended to flee or be killed) and Thailand. The difference in Thailand is they get along well with the Thais for the most part, and the Thais also seem to do well entrepreneurially and not just as a payoff to elites.

Actually, thinking about it further, Lebanon has all the factors (good and bad) that you ascribed to the SE Asian countries. Except one -- the strong hand that can create the stability needed by the industrialists in order for them to lay their foundation and operate.

The Lebanese seem to be very entrepreneurial, at least the Sunni and Christian communities there seem to. That has long historical roots, and lots of current evidence. Overseas Lebanese have often done very well, both in Third World countries (e.g. West Africa) and in First World such as Canada and the US. Look at the rebuilding of Beirut that’s gone on over the last 15 years. Look at the vibrancy and growing freedom there.

I would guess that the majority of Lebanon may be past the strong benevolent hand stage. (And I didn’t say that was always necessary, rather that it can work. What’s necessary is a secure and upwardly moving middle class, I think. Which you have. Except.

Except what? Except among the Shi’a. There’s your problem.

I don’t know enough details about the Shi’a in Lebanon. But that’s how things look form where I sit.

Can it still work, true modern democracy, peace and prosperity, in Lebanon? I don’t know. The issue though seems to me to be the Shi’a. Bringing them into having a stake in prosperity. They seem unlikely to remain (or long become) quiescent without a growing economic stake. After all, they’ve discovered something else they can dedicate themselves to. Radical Islam.

Posted by: dougjnn at August 2, 2006 02:00 PM

If I thought returning the child murdering Kuntar would help facilitate long term peace rather than just be a temporary band aid to assuage Hizballah's current set of grievances (none of which are legitimate), I would be all for it.

But unfortunately, Kuntar will probably be long dead anyway before Lebanon figures out a way to control their "national resistance movement."

Israel has been involved in lopsided prisoner swaps with Lebanon/Hezbollah before, including trading hundreds of Arab prisoners for some murdered IDF soldiers.

What did that get them? More "non-Lebanese government sanctioned" Hizballah "military adventurism" to capture more soldiers for more prisoner swaps.

Israel needed to put the breaks on that game - and I hope they're smart enough to do exactly that. They will probably make another stupid move and do it again, which, as everyone can see, only encourages Hizballah.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at August 2, 2006 02:08 PM

SoCalJustice

But some grievances are not worth giving into blackmail

The ultimate prize for Israel in this conflict is the disarming of Hezbollah, or at least the disarming of their rockets. That’s what really threatens your northern peace, tranquility and prosperity. You can’t make them disappear. Disarming them is the best you can do. You also can’t keep them from being close to the border. That’s where many of their fighters live, among the supporting Shi’a population. You can possibly keep them from training and maneuvering and carrying arms near the border. Or hopefully at all. Giving them back their terrorist cold blooded murder even of a little girl with bare hands could help achieve that.

"Death to Israel" is about more than a few murderous prisoners and a few square acres of legally-recognized Syrian land.

Yes I know. But if you take away their means of doing significant amount of death to Israel you’ve made great progress. Unlike Hamas they’ve got other fish to fry up in Lebanon. Lebanon was prospering and can again, with international rebuilding help – if they disarm. Hezbollah can have a role in Lebanese prosperity, and needs to. With no national grievances any longer outstanding with Israel, there is reason to focus more and more domestically.

Unfortunately their greatly increased popularity in the Arab street as a result of this conflict does cut strongly the other way. But getting them disarmed is the best you can possibly do with that, given where you are now.

Keeping that murder in your jails pales in comparison. Even if the disarming fails or doesn’t stick, it’s worth the shot if it’s a real possibility.

Posted by: dougjnn at August 2, 2006 02:13 PM

Israel is losing this war

I thought they were using disproportionate force?

Posted by: Joe Marino at August 2, 2006 02:20 PM

That's the thing - I don't think it's a real possibility - at least for now.

The Lebanese can't and won't disarm Hizballah.

The Israelis can only disarm Hizballah if they go medieval or Hiroshima on Lebanon, and, as bad as things have been for Lebanon since July 12th, that is not going to happen and I wouldn't want it to happen anyway.

They are smart, they are dug in and they are well funded and armed.

I don't think they're going to give up their fight if they get back the Sheba Farms or Kuntar or anyone else.

The only thing that might change is the direction they point their guns, which is one reason why many non-Shia Lebanese refer to them as the "national Lebanese resistance."

I think there are no good options in the present, unfortunately.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at August 2, 2006 02:20 PM

SoCalJustice
What did that get them? More "non-Lebanese government sanctioned" Hizballah "military adventurism" to capture more soldiers for more prisoner swaps.

Look, I grant you Hezbollah is a difficult problem. But railing about them, or simply refusing to give them anything they want in return for what you want isn’t necessarily going to work. You have to think about the dynamics of the Lebanese internal political situation, their situation and the international situation.

Deterrence may work. You’re doing all you can do to recreate that and I support that. I wasn’t so supportive of your initial ground efforts. I think Olmert originally wimped out. But now it’s stepped up, late, but better than not at all. Actually, and the level undertaken before yesterday I was thinking you should have quite 10 days or more ago. The air campaign was painful and the ground indicated you had some willingness and if you then got the Americans to appear to force you to stop Hezbollah would wonder what you might have done to them on the ground and so be deterred from more rocket lobbing and more raiding. As it was you were looking like you either couldn’t or wouldn’t inflict much ground pain on them. So it had become long since counter productive. Now with this stepped up level it’s sort of like resetting the clock to the early days of the ground efforts. IF you can hurt a lot more with another week, do it. If not, stop by the weekend. Same logic.

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

Just to add, giving Hizballah what they want - it does not make them more moderate.

It emboldens them.

Giving them what they want will make it even harder for the anti-Hizballah (during normal times of sectarian non-unity, not war time v. Israel) forces within Lebanon to disarm them.

That stuff could have been negotiated - with the "democratically elected" Lebanese government - before Hizballah went and captured these soldiers on Israeli land to use as shiny new bargaining chips.

But now, it's blackmail. And giving in to blackmail emboldens Hizballah. And an emboldened Hizballah is bad for Lebanon - and Israel.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at August 2, 2006 02:27 PM

"This little country that is so important" -- Metternich (19th century Austrian Statesman)

To see the future, maybe we should start with the past. Why is there a country called Lebanon? It started with a mountain called 'The Lebanon' (the northern and western quarter of the country) that offered a haven for Christians, Druze and other minorities in a sea of muslims. The mountain dwellers (Christians and Druze) achieved a certain degree of autonomy in the 19th century under the Turks, during the Ottoman empire's presence in Lebanon.

When this empire dissolved at the end of WW1, France took over the area now known as Lebanon (as well as Syria) and created "Le Grand Liban", thus named not because it is large (it is in fact smaller than Connecticut) but because it incorporated other areas that were not part of the Lebanon mountain. These newly affixed areas were the South and the Bekaa plain west of the Lebanon mountain. The main motive of France was to create a home for the Christian Maronites with whom it had a friendship dating back to the age of Louis IX, king of France in the 13th century.

After WW1, the majority of the population within the new borders was still Christian. To be fair however, the Christians did not have a solid claim to the south or the Bekaa which were predominantly muslim but France at the time wanted to create a country that was economically viable, which meant in those days a need for some arable land. And what better arable land than the Bekaa, arguably the most fertile soil in the mideast?

It got complicated after WW2 with the creation of Israel and with the demographic change within Lebanon. Due to emigration and a lower birth rate than muslims, the Christians in Lebanon are now 40% or perhaps even less. This somewhat hollows out the initial reason for having created the country. But not completely because other minorities are pleased not to live under Syrian control.

This brings us to today. The South and the Bekaa arguably should have never been part of Lebanon, and the main inhabitants of these areas today, the Chiites and their Hezbollah, certainly haven't demonstrated a great allegiance to the concept of a Lebanese nation in the past year. This is perhaps understandable as they have been treated for decades as second class citizens by all other Lebanese. They have been poorer and less educated.

But the chickens are coming home to roost. Hezbollah gave the Chiites identity and pride, and a means of exacting revenge (or at least blackmail) from their fellow Lebanese. Shame that the dispossessed have latched on to a terrorist organization to improve their lot.

Posted by: NoSleep at August 2, 2006 02:29 PM

I'm American, not Israeli.

And I did not want the Israelis to go to war - let alone a full blown one - over these two soldiers.

I would have prefered the Israelis to ignore Hizballah until they could get an agent or assets on the ground to find Nasrallah, Fadllalla, Muniyeh, etc.... and "make it look like an accident."

Absent that, I guess I would have supported limited strikes on known and obvious Hizballah targets.

Look, I grant you Hezbollah is a difficult problem. But railing about them, or simply refusing to give them anything they want in return for what you want isn’t necessarily going to work. You have to think about the dynamics of the Lebanese internal political situation, their situation and the international situation.

I just don't think giving them what they want will give Israel what it wants, regardless of the Lebanese internal political sitaution.

It very well could make things worse.

Aoun proposed that if Lebanon got back the Sheba Farms and the prisoners that Hizballah would "integrate" into the Lebanese gov't/military, etc...

I don't think they'll go that easy. Why would Nasrallah let "the infidels" and kuffars have his missiles, rockets and men?

It's a nice thought. It's just not a likely one.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at August 2, 2006 02:34 PM

Joe Marino
Someone else: Israel is losing this war
Joe: I thought they were using disproportionate force?
Both couldbe true at the same time you know.

I.e. disproportionate air and artillery bombardment of areas with civilians in them. But not enough ground forces slugging it out solider to guerilla to actually beat Hezbollah.

I don’t buy that myself, or at least the first, too much bombardment part myself. (Although I do think a few of Israel’s targets sound pretty hard to justify on their face at least – e.g. milk factory?) I understand bombing bridges over which rockets and other military hardware can be resupplied perfectly well. If civilians want to use them too, well that’s just too bad in war, and under the Geneva Conventions as well, no matter how Human Rights Watch likes to spin it.

But until the last couple of days I do think Olmert and his cabinet were sending in too few ground forces to be seen by Hezbollah or the world to be truly winning.

Posted by: dougjnn at August 2, 2006 02:40 PM

Maybe a Lebanese commenter can tell me otherwise, but I don't think Nasrallah is motivated by notions of (a normal definition of) "Lebanese unity" unless by Lebanese unity he means that all of Lebanon fully supports him and his Party of God to do what Allah wills him to do.

And I don't think Allah's going to ask him to disarm.

I hope I'm wrong.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at August 2, 2006 02:49 PM

NoSleep

This is perhaps understandable as they have been treated for decades as second class citizens by all other Lebanese. They have been poorer and less educated.

How treated as second class citizens? Have they been particularly discriminated against, or does each sectarian group pretty much just hire and do business deals of any importance with it’s own sectarian group? Or is it that they have few international contacts of any worth, other than the Iranian government subsidy? Whereas in contrast the Maronites have a network of overseas family business connections in Europe and N.America (and Africa) and the Sunni can attract Saudi investment and tourism, and so on?

Posted by: dougjnn at August 2, 2006 02:54 PM

Someone else: Israel is losing this war
Joe: I thought they were using disproportionate force?
Both could be true at the same time you know.
- Douginn

Agree. Also agree with rest of your points.

Notice the low number of Israeli civilian casualties is indirectly considered evidence of Hezbollah humanity (b/c Lebonese casualties are evidence of Israeli inhumanity) and not evidence of sophisticated Israeli civil defense? How many Israeli civilian casualties would there be if Hezbollah had the firepower advantage?

Posted by: Joe Marino at August 2, 2006 03:04 PM

SoCalJustice

And I don't think Allah's going to ask him to disarm.

Even if Israel can’t get Lebanese society to get him to disarm Israel is still better off removing all the currently offered excuses between Nasrallah and the rest of the Lebanese political structure for conducting raids into Israel and firing occasional rockets at it.

And they are in order of importance to Hezbollah and the Lebanese i) getting ‘back’ Shebaa Farms and ii) the Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails.

Yes I know he has pan Arab or pan Muslim ideological reasons for wanting to drive Israel out of the middle east. He also has a lot to answer to domestically if he starts something like this war up again. So he might just decide to wait and wait and wait, other than fulminating and sending money to West Bank terror groups. By the time he’s done waiting the passion may be down.

Hell, miracle of miracles, maybe Israel will even do a deal with the Palestinians by then which over time really cools things down.

Or maybe Iran and a rearmed Hezbollah start raining so many big missiles into Israel that Israel decides it either needs to go nuclear against a then nuclear Iran, or start packing up, family by family for the US and Canada etc.

And no, the US will never be able to keep Iran from going nuclear I don’t believe. Slow it down at most.

So Israel had better do a deal with the Palestinians that a large majority of them at least grudgingly feel is reasonably fair and they can live with.

I mean Israelis really better do it and their US Jewish supporters (the only ones they might listen to on this) really better push them to do it. For their own survival. Regardless of what the radicals are saying now. It’s the only way of taking the fire out of most of their bellies over time.

And no, it still might not work. But it probably will. It will probably work well enough to keep the big rocket attacks from occurring anyway. Iran has things to loose too.

Posted by: dougjnn at August 2, 2006 03:12 PM

Joe Marino
How many Israeli civilian casualties would there be if Hezbollah had the firepower advantage?

Very good point. I shudder to think.

Posted by: dougjnn at August 2, 2006 03:19 PM

dougjnn--and, of course, others:

I appreciate your comments in response--the first I have received (to various comments postings on multiple sites) in several postings.

There is nothing you say that I genuinely disagree with. Also, most I agree with wholeheartedly. Let me clarify where I am coming from!

My concern is that the current developments are playing into H's hands by allowing them (H) to create a new "STORY" (and there is a lot being written now on the real power of stories==see the work of Denning and others)(for the sixth Arab-Israeli war) that will function to empower not just them (H) but the overall resistance movements (including, importantly, those within Israel). I think their story will genuinely work to compare the successes, of this War, to the previous five in terms of length, number of Israelis killed, etc. Thus, the comparison of
Nasralla to Nasser, etc. And the myth of Israel invincibility will be exploded (at least to Arab street public)!
Also, there has been relative care by H in terms of spin (no gross exaggerations--and statement follow through on commitments such as missile lanchings)--despite a few "errors" (Second ship off Tyre hit and captures of Baalbek (despite the fact that it is not clear about the value of the five individuals captured.))

Like you, I don't think there is a conflict between analysis and commitment to a "cause." (In fact, I would argue that the two commitments converge.) At the same time, I think that 85% (probably understatement)of postings to many of these comments sections, by virtue of the clear message ("I know where I stand and I have no genuine interest in listening to what others have to say; my responsibility is to speak the truth that is being revealed through me") being sent, have no impact (other than irrelevance) except than to further cement the "parallel universes" that make any conflict resolution not just unlikely, but impossible.
Thanks much!!!

Posted by: PD at August 2, 2006 03:29 PM

Douginn

They have been mistreated because they were discriminated against, not just by Christians but also by Sunnis. Part of the reason is they were not as educated or urbanized, living as they were in more rural areas. But part of it is old fashioned bigotry as well. Many Sunnis consider Chiites as heretic.

The Chiites do have brethren outside of Lebanon. There are many successful Chiites all over Africa and Latin America. Christians have tended to emigrate to Europe and North America, Chiites to Africa and Latin America, but in smaller numbers than Christians. There is a Hezbollah presence in Argentina which was responsible for some attacks on jewish sites in recent years.

Posted by: NoSleep at August 2, 2006 04:54 PM

Do the Shiites prize material wealth as much as the other sects of Lebanon?

Posted by: monkyboy at August 2, 2006 05:09 PM

NoSleep--

Chiites to Africa and Latin America

Interesting. So the entreprenurial middleman Lebanese I read about in West Africa are primarily Shi'a? (Why do you spell it Chiites in English? Haven't seen it before.)

Anyway if the problem is primarily clear and obvious discrimination by other sectarian groups in Lebanon there is a clear way forward to national progress that reduces the danger of future explosions.

Pass and enforce laws against that discrimination. Maybe even consider a period of years of affirmative action. Like 25 or something. (Well that's me. I think the open ended US version is a mistake. It wasn't thought it was going to be when passed, but it wasn't sunsetted either.)

The point is to refocus Shi'a towards economic progress away from Islamicist routes to supremacy, which are likely to lead to violence and destruction of prosperity either because of a newly provoked Israeli war, or Syrian and Iranian supported efforts for a Shi'a military takeover of Lebanon, and the like.

PS. I urge you to get at least some. Sleep, that is. :-) Tough days for Lebanese, I know.

You know something. This crisis and the way Lebanese have reacted to it (from what I've seen doing a whole lot of remote looking) makes me really like them, or most of them. I had a vaguely favorable view before, but a much more strongly favorable one now.

Posted by: dougjnn at August 2, 2006 06:06 PM

Michael.
I know the saying, but I think its more accurate if its changed to:
"LIBERAL democracies do not go to war with each other"

(Liberal in the classical sense, not in the American sense)

The Palestinians elected Hamas legitimately and democratically. But a theocratic, fundamentalist and terrorist government is hardly liberal.

Whats also interesting to note is the famous quote has a built-in assumption. It assumes that the two democracies being referred to are fully functioning states. Lebanon, alas, despite its many promising signs and diverse groups, doesn't meet one of the key standards of statehood - a monopoly on violence.

The Lebanese government do not have a monopoly on violence, and cannot stop Hezbollah from ruling over areas within Lebanon's sovereign borders, and even waging war against external states and conducting in its own foreign policy alliances with Iran and Syria.

Posted by: Jono at August 2, 2006 08:42 PM

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

So it is your claim that the attacks on Israeli civilians are the Will of the Lebanon democracy instead of Hezzbolah, Syria and Iran?

" At least it's an almost-democracy"

Is that like "almost pregnant"?

Posted by: Dan Kauffman at August 2, 2006 09:16 PM

It breaks my heart the way the war has poisoned the promising dialogue between Arab and Israeli bloggers.

After Qana--and the continued bombardment of Beirut the defacto capital of "liberal Arabia"--many of these Arab bloggers have embraced the "Israelis are murderers with whom no just peace can be established" rhetoric.

Posted by: Peter S at August 3, 2006 07:16 AM

"Lebanon, aside from Hezbollah's state-within-a-state, is a democracy."

That's ridiculous. The fact that Lebanon has another state within it disqualifies it as a democracy. Period.

If Lebanon really wanted to become a democracy then the Lebanese army would join with Israel in the fight against Hezbollah. "Sitting it out", not to mention praising Hezbollah's efforts during this conflict, puts them on the side of the terrorists. It's a damned shame.

Posted by: ncb at August 3, 2006 07:46 AM

Michael, I was going to give you a hearty spanking for your comment about two democracies...but having come to the game late, I think your readers have already said all I could have said. I'll just tell you to continue to report with your brain, not your heart. Your heart is welcome, but not at the cost of your brain.

Posted by: DagneyT at August 3, 2006 04:14 PM

Michael,

I'm still confused as to why the Lebanese Army, with 70,000 soldiers, was unable to disarm and neutralize Hizbollah over the past 6 years.

No doubt this would have been a painful national event. But painful national decisions are exactly what legitimate nations need to make at times. This is what the nascent Israeli government did in June 1948 in the Atelena affair (took up arms against Irgun fighters rather than allow an separate, independent military force other than the IDF) and again last year in its withdrawl from Gaza.

The Lebanese were faced with a pay-me-now-or-pay-me-later situation. And "later" is now.

In any event, thanks so much for your blog - you're doing a great job and I admire you mightily.

Posted by: Steve Rosenbach at August 3, 2006 04:15 PM

Look at these morph videos lieberbush and bush succcessor.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJpq0KlmLRk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHcFPYbIa_Q

Posted by: ntothep at August 15, 2006 05:26 PM

What does it matter that this has nothing to do with the democratic peace.

Sure Lebanon is not a real democracy, but their democratic inroads are did not do much to illicit a proportionate response from Israel. Likwise, Israel is a democracy, but that did little to prevent them from escallating the conflict to involve the whole of the state of Lebanon.

All we can really conclude is that Lebanon is not enough of a democracy to keep Hizbollah under control. At the same time, Israel is pleanty democratic by our standards, but it looks like it has a pretty hard time keeping its military from going hog wild, or at the very least is incredibly trigger happy.

The mysterious dyadic relations between democracies although lawlike (say it enough times and it might be true) most of the time informs of nothing (this might have something to do with the fact that the dpp involves the study of something not happening, but I digress). Accordingly, I propose that we stop trying to use that which we don't understand, nor refute something that in this case is trivial.

This is a war, Israel is powerful, Lebanon is not and Hizbollah has a few rockets, take a wild guess at who wins and why.

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