Israeli-Hezbollah ceasefire: more than meets the eye?

August 17, 2006 at 7:30 pm (Arab society, Arabs, Blogs, International community, Iran, Islamism, Israel, Middle East, Military, The United Nations, The United States, US Government, War)

According to a post (““The Real Winner in Lebanon””) by the inimitable Jeff Goldstein of protein wisdom, it may be possible that there is more than meets the eye regarding the Lebanon issue. More may be going on, more may have been planned, and more may be intended than what we can see on the surface.

It just may be possible that Israel (and The United States) permitted this ceasefire to come into effect, with all of its provisions, to set the stage for a larger campaign against Hezbollah. In effect, it may be Israel’s way of letting the international community (Lebanon, The United Nations, other contributing states) solve the problem; if the international community fails to do so, Israel would then be more than justified in going in and doing the job itself. The international community would be robbed of moral authority to criticize or oppose Israel’s efforts, as the international community failed or refused to honor its commitments. It may also be that Israel and The United States are confident the resolution will not be enforced. Indeed, if this is true then they have been correct: both Hezbollah and the Lebanese government are already refusing to enforce the resolution’s critical demand that Hezbollah be disarmed. What remains to be seen is whether the international force will be willing to disarm Hezbollah. If not, Israel will be justified in condemning the international community for its impotence (further weakening the relevance of international regimes such as The United Nations) and in seeking to disarm Hezbollah itself.

However, such a tactic does not come without its risks. There is no doubt that Syria and Iran will seek to rearm Hezbollah. It is possible that now Hezbollah–having proven its ability to survive an onslaught by the Israeli armed forces–will be given more sophisticated and advanced weaponry. This would put more of Israeli in danger. It is also possible that measures would be put into place to assist Hezbollah’s rearmament from and even strategic retreat to Syria should either be necessary.

Israel and The United States are also depending on a decrease of support, public and otherwise, for Hezbollah. Shiites would undoubtedly continue to support Hezbollah. But would Lebanon’s Shiites, so adversely affected by Israel’s attacks, continue to support Hezbollah? Who would support Hezbollah and to what extent is an issue to which there is no immediate answer or indication. On the one hand, Hezbollah’s actions caused many Arabs (Muslim and otherwise) to suffer. Hezbollah’s actions undid decades of progress in Lebanon. But on the other hand, Hezbollah survived Israel’s attacks. Hezbollah restored some pride amongst Muslims; Hezbollah provided a Muslim victory (of sorts). Only time will tell who will support Hezbollah, how they will support it and to what extent. Israel’s resumption of efforts to eradicate/disarm Hezbollah will find greater or lesser acceptance in the Arab and Muslim worlds. (I remain pessimistic, however.)

Furthermore, I do not see when Israel can resume its operations against Hezbollah. Will it wait for Hezbollah to clearly violate the ceasefire? What if Hezbollah does not violate the ceasefire or if it intends to honor the ceasefire until it is properly armed and prepared (which could be a matter of months or even years)?

I hope Israel and The United States know something we cannot see at all, because from what I can see, this ceasefire and resolution were very bad ideas. Diplomacy will never assist anti-terrorism efforts. Only force can help. But I will remain open to those who may know more than I do, or who are better aware of the real circumstances on all sides.

As it is, Jeff Goldstein ends his post by writing: “My gut tells me there is something more happening here than meets the eye. So for the time being, I won’t let my cautious optimism of the other day wither and die.” (Link in original: links to his post “On the UN Israel / Hizballah cease fire, cont.”.) I will yield to his obviously greater wisdom. For now.

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