December 6, 2006


With Street Protests, Hezbollah Gambles in Quest for Dominance (Anthony Shadid, 12/06/06, Washington Post)

[B]y mobilizing its rank and file and pouring them into downtown Beirut to topple the government, the movement has framed that pursuit for political power in the same martial language of this summer's war with Israel.

The imagery is often blunt: "Just as I promised you victory in the past, I promise you victory once again," goes a recording by Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah played over and over, igniting cheers each time. Banners on tents, housing thousands of supporters camped out in front of the government headquarters, display the slogan: "As with victory, change is coming, coming, coming."

"Everything is at stake for Hezbollah," said Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, an analyst on Hezbollah and a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment Middle East Center in Beirut. "There is no way that Hezbollah would back down."

"They're putting this political struggle on a par with the military struggle to show how significant it is strategically," she added. "It's basically an existential struggle for Hezbollah. It's an extension of its war with Israel."

This shouldn't be such a hard lesson to learn: any people that thinks of themselves as a nation is one.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 6, 2006 8:35 AM

So, if Hezbollah is able to toss out Siniora and pretty much set the tune in Lebanon, then when they start launching rockets into Israel (or snatching IDF soldiers), Israel would be surely justified in attacking all of Lebanon and annexing everything south of the Litani River?

Is that what majority rule (although in this case, it is only a plurality) means?

Posted by: ratbert at December 6, 2006 11:04 AM

I'm with OJ on the idea that any people that think of themselves as a nation are a nation, but quebec has shown a disfunctional version; not leaving to form a nation but staying as an undigestiable minority and calling the shots. It will be interesting to see how this falls out.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at December 6, 2006 11:40 AM

In the last election Hezbollah got like 14% of the vote, and Hezbollah allies another 10%. Most Shia voted against them.

You can complain about the constitutional structure of Lebanon, but you can't seriously argue that Hezbollah represents the majority.

Nor can you argue that their goal is independence for "South Lebanon." When have they ever asked for that? They've been explicit that their goal is expansion of an Iran-led dictatorship to encompass all of Lebanon and Israel.

Posted by: pj at December 6, 2006 11:42 AM


Israel is already morally justified in overtaking all of Lebanon, if there is continueing attacks from that country. Unless there is a good faith effort from the Lebanese governing authority to stop those attacks.

Posted by: h-man at December 6, 2006 12:01 PM

Israel's justification is unimportant--the fact is they're incapable and unwilling. All they're doing is drawing out their own surrender.

Posted by: oj at December 6, 2006 12:19 PM

I'll agree with the unwilling part - my guess is that Olmert was hoping that the US would 'step in' and deal with Iran and/or Syria last summer, and that part of the Hezbo 'war' was just a hoped-for catalyst.

pj's point is important - if Hezbollah 'represents' only 25% of the Shi'a (and therefore only about 10% of all Lebanese), then the only way to achieve solidarity in any part of Lebanon is through relocation or cleansing.

We know where that leads.

Our best move is (and has been) to kill Assad and 5000 Syrian Ba'athists.

Posted by: ratbert at December 6, 2006 12:59 PM

The Israelis still think South Lebanon and Palestine are military problems. They're just political questions and the answer to both is statehood.

Posted by: oj at December 6, 2006 1:10 PM

If Israel invaded right now, that demonstration would stop nearly immediately.

Posted by: Joseph Hertzlinger at December 6, 2006 1:51 PM

And the Israeli government would fall along with the Lebanese.

Posted by: oj at December 6, 2006 1:54 PM

Just saying that "every people that thinks themselves a nation is one" is ok; but what does this imply? Nothing that I can see.
The solution for Lebanon and Palestine is statehood? For who?
I think as long as Israel is kept standing by the billions of dollars of aid that sustain it, and they are given free reign to exercise whatever violence they see fit, it will be a military issue for the Israelis. The problem is that everyone expects it to be a political problem for the Lebanese and Palestinians.

Posted by: Macduff at December 6, 2006 2:09 PM

It implies that the best way for the Israelis to thwart the extremists is to give their people what they want: states.

Posted by: oj at December 6, 2006 2:17 PM

"they are given free reign to exercise whatever violence they see fit"

To defend themselves.

Posted by: h-man at December 6, 2006 2:28 PM

Do you really think Israel will ever willingly do that?

Posted by: Macduff at December 6, 2006 5:20 PM

Not just ever, but soon. We've always said there'd be a state of Palestine recognized by the US, Israel & at least several Anglospheric allies by the time W leaves office.

Posted by: oj at December 6, 2006 5:52 PM

I am no expert on the particulars but have often heard that Syria has 'legitimate' historical interests in Lebanon. It also has a minority Alawite government in what is a majority Sunni country. It is also my understanding that the Lebanese constitution purposely keeps Shiite representation in the government below what it would be naturally.

Given these factors, perhaps we could encourage the formation of Hezbollahland as a separate country in S. Leb while Syria takes over the rest of the country after we have deposed Assad and replaced him with a military man who will step aside after elections? Is Beirut just too hard to partition? Do the Christian/Druze Lebanese think themselves too separate from the Syrians?

I'd appreciate your thought as I have yet to read "Beirut to Jersusalem" or any other book on Lebanon.

If S. Lebanon was run by Hez they would talk a lot of smack but not go to war with Israel, which would be stronger and have a larger population. Sovereignty brings responsibility. Israel has rockets too. We'll know they recognize Gaza as a Palestinian state when they give it the respect that only counterbattery fire can convey instead of 'targeted' killings of Hamas leaders.

Posted by: JAB at December 6, 2006 8:09 PM

Yes, they hate Syria. But there's no reason not to divide the artificial Lebanon into two real nations.

Posted by: oj at December 6, 2006 8:52 PM

Don't forget: it is in the UN's interest to keep Lebanon an open sore, to be used by all of Israel's enemies to ooze southwards. Other than the Ba'athists themselves and the cliques in Tehran, no one has more to lose by regime change in Syria than the UN. Even a "partition" in Lebanon will bite the Alawites in the medium-to-long run.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 6, 2006 11:50 PM

Syria's too. The folks whose interest it isn't in is the Israelis and the South Lebanese.

Posted by: oj at December 7, 2006 12:04 AM

And the Israeli government would fall along with the Lebanese.

Is there a downside?

Posted by: Joseph Hertzlinger at December 7, 2006 1:38 AM

Only for the hawks.

Posted by: oj at December 7, 2006 7:48 AM