Why I’m Nervous

Blogged in Hezbollah,Islamofascism,Lebanon War by Gloria Salt Wednesday August 16, 2006

As has been pointed out by several commenters and emailers, there’s quite a bit of positive spin out there about the cease-fire, and it all may turn out to be well-grounded. Lots of people view the fact that a Hezbollah violation of the cease-fire will put them, not us, in the hot seat as an important step forward.

The problem is that the responsibility for evaluating non-compliance lies with Kofi Annan, who is — now here’s a surprise — already waffling. He stated to Israeli television last night that “dismantling Hizbullah is not the direct mandate of the UN,” notwithstanding that pesky UN resolution that was just passed. Just to hammer home the urgency, in Annan’s mind, of the protection of Israelis from Hezbollah, he went on to comment that the deployment of the UN-mandated international force on the border will take “weeks or months” rather than days, as was originally expected.

So we have a situation in which we are expected to rely for the implementation of the resolution on a blatantly biased UN Secretary General (as the Israeli prime minister’s office pointed out, his insistence on morally equating a genocidal aggressor who deliberately targeted our civilian population inside its own border with our defensive response clearly reveals whose side he’s on); UNIFIL, which, despite some big talk, will apparently continue to be toothless (their hoped-for use of mysterious, unspecified “strong measures” appears to exclude actual engagement of weapons-wielding Hezbollah terrorists); and the Lebanese government, which has already agreed to throw that awkward “disarm Hezbollah” clause of the cease-fire agreement into the garbage. The Lebanese Army is hopelessly ill-equipped to overcome Hezbollah resistance, and we shouldn’t be asking them to do so anyway, since Hezbollah is represented in the democratically elected Lebanese government. So much for the disarming of Hezbollah.

There are reasons why Nasrallah is loudly proclaiming the trouncing of his “militia”, the destruction of great swaths of South Lebanon and the new international focus (however short-lived that interest will be) on his own aggressions a “blessed, huge victory“. Essentially, Nasrallah seems to feel that his not being dead is enough to characterize his folly as a victory, and in the historically warped view of the Arab world toward its wars with Israel, it is (see also Nasser’s self-described “victory” over Israel in 1967). But there’s more going on than grandstanding. Nasrallah’s Hezbollah is Iran’s spearhead, and I believe that one of Iran’s objectives is the takeover by Hezbollah of Lebanon as an opening salvo in the sharia-zation of the Middle East. (Hit the democracies first; they’re a soft target.) Hezbollah will apparently continue to be armed by Iran via Syria, and no one will do anything about it — the IDF will not engage the convoys, and the Lebanese army obviously won’t go near them either. Meanwhile, Nasrallah is busy touting Hezbollah as the great humanitarian organization that will reconstruct the shattered lives of the south Lebanese. It remains to be seen whether it will occur to most Lebanese to inquire who was responsible for that devastation, but if the thinking of the Hamas-electing Palestinian majority is anything to go by, I can’t feel too optimistic.

6 Responses to “Why I’m Nervous”

  1. Bernard says:

    Again, I wonder if there isn’t more going on than we realize. I simply cannot believe that our leaders–political and military–do not know the score. My best case for the present situation is that Hezbollah is now in the short term not nearly the threat it was before the war started, which perhaps gives the US greater latitude in dealing with Iran.

    Think about it. Before this conflict we (and by “we” I mean the US) might well have been constrained by considerations of what Iran would have done via proxy to Israel in response to any action taken to address the gathering threat of Iranian nukes. Hezbollah in the short term cannot now be unleashed upon Israel, which means that Israel may well stay insulated from–and remain uninvolved in–whatever action might come, which simplifies things immensely.

    Of course, there is still the complicating factor of al Sadr’s forces in Iraq, which I believe must be dealt with before any serious effort is taken to confront Iran. I think you will see a counter to as Sadr that play out in the weeks ahead while increasing diplomatic pressure is brought to bear upon Iran.

    Of course, diplomacy here will come to nothing. It has as much chance of working as Lebanon or UNIFIL have of disarming and dismantling Hezbollah. (Has the world already forgotten that, according to 1559, Hezbollah is to be not only disarmed but dismantled?) But those are the rules the civilized world is forced to play by even as its most vicious enemies are given a pass.

    Cheer up, Gloria. Remember, it is not just the Lebanese nor UNIFIL nor Kofi himself who have guaranteed the terms of this ceasefire. It is our Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice who has pledged to it. I dare say she means what she says, and intends not to be played for a fool. Hezbollah may one day look back only to find Damascus and Tehran have suddenly discovered other priorities that need attending.

  2. I’m not as confident as I once was. Perhaps there were grand plans for bringing this to a satisfactory end; if so, they have failed miserably.

    Personally, I think that ethe West’s priorities could not be clearer. Iran and its terrorist spearheads must be dealt with, and it may be necessary to deal with them both simultaneously. (Think about it. What orders would Iran give Hizballah, in the case of an American invasion? And we’ve already seen what Iran does when only Hizballah is engaged.)

    In an ideal world, America would take on Iran and Israel would clean up the viper’s nest that Lebanon has become. But America doesn’t seem to have the will… and right now, Israel seems to have lost its nerve as well.

    Will it take another 9/11? Or an 8/22, perhaps? I sure hope not.

    Daniel in Brookline

  3. Chaim says:

    I think it’s not just a question of will, though will’s important enough. There’s also a question of skill. After Iraq & Lebanon, I’m skeptical..not about whether Israel and the US would be _justified_ in taking care of these problems more vigorously, and not about the skill of soldiers on the ground..but about the command level, both military and political, in both the US and Israel. I think there’ll be a quicker process in Israel of learning from mistakes made in Lebanon because there’s less room for error than in the US given that Israel’s enemies are right in its backyard..
    In the US, on the other hand, the problem’s precisely that there’s not been skill in execution to match will to change the Middle East..whereas the next administration, whether Dem or Repub, even if it is more skilled, is likely to be less ambitious, unless there’s some massive provocation. ..Which I hope won’t come, but that’s what it would take.
    I’m not a reflexive Bush basher by any means (supported the Iraq War; glad Saddam’s gone) but given how abysmally Iraq’s gone, just how high are the odds of a successful US military operation in Iran..even if there _were_ the will for that?
    ..Not that I have a good alternative solution. ..Mainly I’m just venting about the lousy cards we’ve been dealt.

  4. Bernard says:

    I find it interesting that the US media continue to convey the impression that dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq springs from anit-war sentiment, while ignoring the numbers of people who are simply dissatisfied that the enemy has not been engaged more fully or effectively.

    That seems to me to be a vital difference, and tells me that in many ways we have not yet even begun to fight.

    We should be encouraged, I think. The dark days of this war look nothing like the dark days of WW II when it seemed even to Churchill that England might fall. I recall hearing estimates of expected Coalition deaths for the first weeks of OFI numbering 10,000 or more–back when even CBS News believed there were WMD waiting for (as they claimed) our inadquately protected soldiers.

    We should all cheer up and consider what this inept and bumbling Administration has accomplished in five years. Remember when Afghanistan was impenetrable and forboding–the graveyard of armies throughout history? Now there are fledgling democracies established in both Afghanistan and Iraq, something that would have sounded absurd to our ears in the days just after 9/11.

    We are making progress, but it won’t come without setbacks and failures. Perhaps that was Churchill’s most valuable trait, the ability to say as much–not sounding defeatist, but determined to fight on regardless of the challenge and cost, and by doing so instilling that same determination to others.

    This has already been a long war, and yet it is not anywhere near being over. Impatience is perhaps our greatest weakness here. Our enemies know this, count on it. We need to remember that fact lest we get discouraged, quit the battle, and simply cede victory.

  5. Bernard:

    Thanks for reminding us about Churchill. We don’t have one right now, in either Israel or America… and we need one.

    It was Churchill who said: “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” But he also said: “Still, if you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed, and still yet if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not so costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you, and only a precarious chance for survival. – There may be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no chance of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.”

    And, of course, this speech is much remembered: “The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’ “

    We have not yet faced the terrible spectre of entire countries falling to our mortal enemies, as he did. Is that what it will take to arouse the Churchills in our midst?

    Daniel in Brookline

  6. Bernard says:

    Daniel, those are stirring words. You are so right; we need a Churchill, and certainly will the more our present bunch prove timorous and ineffectual.

    I remember well the speech President Bush gave right after 9/11, which was widely described as “Churchillian”.

    But of course that was during a time when we all wanted, indeed prayed, for such a leader. I suspect certain of our elites are retrospectively embarrassed and have resolved ever since to amend that indiscretion.

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