August 17, 2006


From the dust of war, a more potent Hezbollah? (Rick Jervis and Andrea Stone, 8/17/06, USA TODAY)

"Hezbollah has demonstrated that total Arab defeat is not inevitable. ... Israel has lost its tremendous psychological advantage," says George Friedman, an intelligence analyst and CEO of Stratfor, a private intelligence firm in Austin.

That could embolden Israel's old adversaries, especially Syria, which wants the Golan Heights that Israel captured in 1967 and later annexed. "Israel will be perceived by its enemies as weak, constrained and dysfunctional," says Aaron David Miller, a former U.S. Middle East negotiator now at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington.

The conflict also has dealt a blow to Bush's campaign to bring democracy to the region. It bolstered Iran, Hezbollah's main patron, and Shiites elsewhere — including in Iraq, where, "having first experienced the limits of American power, (the Shiites) are now seeing the expanding boundaries of Iranian power," Friedman says.

As for U.S. and Israeli hopes that the conflict would create a strong Lebanese government capable of neutralizing Hezbollah and dousing Syrian and Iranian influence here, the opposite appears to be unfolding. On Monday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah vowed that his group would not be disarmed by "intimidation or pressure" — a reference to the U.N. resolution passed last week that demanded Hezbollah give up its weapons.

Over the years, Hezbollah has defied international and local pressure to disarm, claiming it was protecting the country from Israel, says Misbah Ahdab, a Sunni Muslim lawmaker close to Lebanon's prime minister. The recent conflict will increase that defiance, he says.

"Not even the battle is over yet, let alone the war," says Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a leading Lebanese expert on Hezbollah. "Hezbollah is going to stick to its guns, literally."

There are multiple levels of confusion here. First, the Ba'athists of Syria have nothing like Hezbollah's competence and it is precisely because Syria is a sovereign state that it is so easily defeated--all structures of the state are legitimate targets. More importantly, the triumph of the Shi'a is necessary for the spread of democracy in the Middle East. They were, after all, an oppressed majority in Iraq and plurality in the Lebanon.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 17, 2006 11:50 AM

"all structures of the state are legitimate targets"

Morally, in my opinion, the same can be said for state structures in Lebanon also. But as you present the facts, why, if Hezbollah has a gripe with other Arabs regarding their minority status, are they attacking Israel? It would seem that explicit alliance with Israel would accomplish what you say they want.

Posted by: h-man at August 17, 2006 1:31 PM

Lebanon is not a sovereign state by definition--it can't control Hezbollah.

Yes, Israel has an easy jujitsu move here (Jewjitsu?).

Posted by: oj at August 17, 2006 2:04 PM