June 28, 2008

The Iraqification of Lebanon

Hezbollah is alarming its Lebanese opponents by expanding its territory through the purchase of property outside Shia areas in Lebanon. Former civil war-era President Amin Gemayel went on television Thursday and said what many Lebanese have feared for months now while this has unfolded.

“There is some sort of military preparation starting from Niha in Jezzine all the way across the entire Western mountain range with military surveillance posts set up from Jezzine to Sannine all the way up to Laqlouq,” he said.

If he weren’t talking about an army that really does build massive and sophisticated military infrastructure – including deep tunnels and a high-tech surveillance system in Beirut’s international airport, of all places – I might suspect he was paranoid or exaggerating.

Amin’s Phalange Party is a vehicle for mostly parochial and sectarian Christians, and it has a dark past, as do most parties in Lebanon. His concerns, however, are echoed at the more broad-based and mainstream online magazine NOW Lebanon. “These are preparations for war,” says an editorial earlier this week, “or rather preparations to ensure that if there is a war, Hezbollah’s adversaries won’t be able to fight one. The party knows better than to enter Christian, Druze or Sunni areas. So it has opted for control of the high ground – high ground overlooking the territories of its foes but also controlling lines of communication between mainly Shia areas in the northern Bekaa Valley, the southern Bekaa, South Lebanon, and Beirut’s southern suburbs . . . [W]hat is taking place today has so transgressed the red lines of all communities that what we will almost certainly see in the near future is a dangerous logic of communal self-defense taking over.”

Even if these moves by Hezbollah are being misinterpreted by the overly anxious, NOW Lebanon is correct to point out the danger for the simple reason that they are perceived as threatening. Everyone in Lebanon knows all too well why the “logic of communal self-defense” is an ominous development.

Communal self-defense means sectarian self-defense, and sectarian self-defense means exactly the same thing in Lebanon that it means in Iraq: militias. If the police and the army cannot or will not disarm Hezbollah – and they cannot and will not – then the only self-defense options remaining are personal and communal. Robert Heinlein famously wrote that an armed society is a polite society, but he didn’t know the Middle East very well.

Read the rest in COMMENTARY Magazine.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at June 28, 2008 12:52 PM
Comments

The fact remains that Hezbollah no longer has the ability to maintain kinetic contact with the Isrealis along the border like they did before 2006 because of the UNIFIL buffer zone created after the July War.

So naturally they are turning their attention to where their militia can be effectively used.

Unless Hezbollah is in a state of crisis they cant maintain their militant stance or justify bearing arms.

They will blame the U.S. and Israel for "meddling" in Lebanese affairs to justify their aggression against their fellow Lebanese.

Until our civilization educates itself on the tactics of media-saavy totalitarians these sort of tactics will continue to be rewarded over and over.

Posted by: Freedom Now Author Profile Page at June 29, 2008 10:38 AM

Robert Heinlein famously wrote that an armed society is a polite society, but he didn’t know the Middle East very well.

Dunno about that! Seems like everyone has been very polite to Hezbollah the last 4 or 5 years, no? Is it because they are so charming and well liked? lol.

When societal structures have broken down (or when they never existed in the first place) then you have to expect it to be the law of the gun. Same thing happened in the US during the westward expansion a couple centuries ago. I don't think the middle east is unique. Lebanon and Palestine haven't had any functional societal structures in decades, and it shows. It shows in Iraq, too. If my community here in Los Angeles found itself without effective policing and other governmental agencies, I guarantee it would be gangland in a matter of weeks. Maybe less :)

Posted by: programmmer_craig Author Profile Page at June 29, 2008 2:14 PM

When societal structures have broken down (or when they never existed in the first place) then you have to expect it to be the law of the gun.....Palestine haven't had any functional societal structures in decades, and it shows

So why is it that the Palestinian Arabs haven't established stable, functional, or, more importantly, positive and constructive societal and governmental institutions? Enough EU, American, and UNRWA money has been thrown their way for decades, and the only viable "political" parties are different flavours of Jew-hating genocidal extremist ideology.

Posted by: Li'l Mamzer Author Profile Page at June 29, 2008 2:43 PM

Robert Heinlein famously wrote that an armed society is a polite society, but he didn’t know the Middle East very well.

Funny you should say that. Here in DC the restriction on gun ownership was overturned by the Supreme Court, as I'm sure you've heard. Law-abiding citizens have been without (legal) weapons for years, and the city is famous for and suffers from its share of violent crime. It will be interesting to see how the statistics play out in the next few years with the repeal of the gun ban.

Posted by: Li'l Mamzer Author Profile Page at June 29, 2008 3:00 PM
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