July 30, 2006

Hezbollah’s Coup d'État

The fog of war makes it impossible for me or anyone else to determine whether or not Israel’s war against Hezbollah is succeeding of failing militarily. But it’s painfully obvious that Israel’s attempt to influence Lebanese politics in its favor is an absolute catastrophe right now.

The (second in a decade) attack on Qana that killed scores of civilians has all but cemented the Lebanese public and Hezbollah together.

Cable news reports that 82 percent of Lebanese now support Hezbollah. Prime Minister Fouad Seniora – whatever his real opinion in private – is now closer to openly supporting Hezbollah in public than he has ever been.

The March 14 Movement (the Cedar Revolution) is, at best, in a coma if not outright dead.

Hezbollah was popular while Israel occupied South Lebanon. When Israel left Lebanon it finally became possible for Hezbollah's power to be strictly relegated to it own little corner because support for the organization evaporated.

Now that Israel is back, Hezbollah's support is back.

It doesn't matter if this support is reasonable or not. (It isn't reasonable. Israel wouldn't even be in Lebanon if it weren't for Hezbollah.) But it was entirely predictable.

Support for Hezbollah will drop again after Israel leaves. But Israel can't (or won't) leave until some kind of arrangement is hammered out. And Israel will now have to deal with a manifestly more hostile Lebanese public while working out that arrangement.

This is a disaster for Lebanon, a disaster for Israel, and a disaster for the United States. It is a tremendous boon to Syria and Iran.

I wish I knew what a possible solution might be, but I don’t. I’m pretty sure, though, that “more of the same” isn’t it.

UPDATE: Tony Badran says “Hezbollah's plan all along was a classic coup d'etat, very similar, as Pierre Akel recently wrote, to the fascisti's takeover in Italy.” Seems to be working very well for them right about now.

I'm sorry for not being my usual more-optimistic self. What can I say? It is not always warranted.

When I first arrived in Beirut a British expat friend who lived there for nine years said “Do not underestimate them” when I told him I was going to meet and interview Hezbollah.

Please allow me to second that.

UPDATE: Mary at Exit Zero (no peacenik, she) wrote in my comments:
Asymetric warfare makes the military branch of a terrorist organization hard to hit - but it leaves the supporters of terrorism in a relatively vulnerable position. If the world were an intelligent place, we'd be fighting the strategy of asymetric warfare, not its army or its cities.

The state leaders, bureaucrats and bankers who support Hez would be our targets. As Sun Tsu said:

Thus, what is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy's strategy;

Next best is to disrupt his alliances;

The next best is to attack his army.

The worst policy is to attack cities. Attack cities only when there is no alternative.

The world in general seems to have read that advice backwards.
Posted by Michael J. Totten at July 30, 2006 3:44 PM
Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Pajamas Media BlogRoll Member



Testimonials

"I'm flattered such an excellent writer links to my stuff"
Johann Hari
Author of God Save the Queen?

"Terrific"
Andrew Sullivan
Author of Virtually Normal

"Brisk, bracing, sharp and thoughtful"
James Lileks
Author of The Gallery of Regrettable Food

"A hard-headed liberal who thinks and writes superbly"
Roger L. Simon
Author of Director's Cut

"Lively, vivid, and smart"
James Howard Kunstler
Author of The Geography of Nowhere


Contact Me

Send email to michaeltotten001 at gmail dot com


News Feeds




toysforiraq.gif



Link to Michael J. Totten with the logo button

totten_button.jpg


Tip Jar





Essays

Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

The Men Who Would Be Orwell
Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

Looking the World in the Eye
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

In the Eigth Circle of Thieves
E.L. Doctorow, The Nation

Against Rationalization
Christopher Hitchens, The Nation

The Wall
Yossi Klein Halevi, The New Republic

Jihad Versus McWorld
Benjamin Barber, The Atlantic Monthly

The Sunshine Warrior
Bill Keller, The New York Times Magazine

Power and Weakness
Robert Kagan, Policy Review

The Coming Anarchy
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

England Your England
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn