Nicholas Noe is the co-founder of Mideastwire.com and the editor of Voice of Hezbollah: The Statements of Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. He’s also the author of “Re-Imagining the Lebanon Track” (a Century Foundation white paper [pdf]) and a frequent commentator on Hizbullah and Lebanese political affairs.
Despite the fact that he has made his views clear in a variety of publications (from The New York Times to Tablet Magazine), he kindly agreed to rehash them with the QN readership in an exclusive interview.
This topic always tends to generate lots of debate, and I hope you won’t hold back this time either with your remarks, observations, and criticisms in the comment section. Perhaps Nick will sign up to address some of them in a second installment next week.
PS: If you haven’t yet checked out the Mideastwire blog, I highly recommend that you subscribe to the RSS feed, as it provides lots of translated content from various Arab news outlets on a daily basis for free.
QN: On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely would you say it is that there will be another Israel-Lebanon war within the next two years? What would precipitate such a development?
NN: Two years is a very long time so I would say we are at the higher edge of probability of another war in that time frame (I personally think it will be hard for Israel to go to war before the Iron Dome is fully operational by the end of this year, thanks to the Obama emergency appropriation of $200 million last month). The only thing I see stopping this is some bold moves by the Obama administration in the next year because absent that, the other actors seem far less able and/or willing to take the necessary risks to prevent conflict.
What could spark it off? Its not worth speculating on specifics simply because there are, right now, so many different ways another conflict could be sparked off. The key danger is that for both Israel and Hizbullah specifically (the latter being but one part of the Resistance Axis), there are just so many ways by which they could get into another conflict with the relatively supportive national consensus both need. (If you believe Hizbullah would want to get involved should Israel hit the Iranian nuclear program, then Hizbullah only needs to shoot down one of the many manned overflights by the IAF in violation of UNSCR 1701 and international law generally – as but one of several scenarios – and M14 and other opponents domestically would not be able to say much after the heavy Israeli response and the full commitment by Hizbullah.)
QN: In a variety of publications, you’ve argued that the West needs to approach Hizbullah differently than it currently does. In brief, what are the outlines of this approach? (Imagine you were stuck in an elevator with Defense Secretary Robert Gates for one minute, and he asked you to tell him whether and how the U.S. should engage with Hizbullah. What would you say?)
NN: A new approach – it would probably look a lot like the “Team Red” exercise revealed yesterday by Mark Perry at Foreign Policy magazine! The contours are known: Only the Lebanese generally and the Shia specifically can integrate Hizbullah fully under the control of the Lebanese state. This would take as a first step:
1) removing the immediate possible flashpoints that ANYONE could use to spark a war – get the Israelis to shove the Shebba and Ghajar and Kfar Shouba hills over to the Syrian Ledger and off the OCCUPATION Ledger;
2) Stop these ridiculous manned overflights and replace them immediately with drones – recognizing that a) we now know from leaked documents to Haaretz that the overflights are mostly to scare the Europeans and Lebanese government into restraining Hizbullah and are not mainly about intel gathering and b) Israel now has one of the best spy satellites in the sky and could be enhanced further in its gathering capabilities by US cooperation etc.
3) Begin a UNIFIL/UN inspired process to expand and publicize the Tripartite Committee arrangement that already exists (i.e. Hizbullah and Israel are actually in proximity talks already on the border every time an incident happens!) This could look like another public commitement by Hizbullah (with a credible monitoring process – perhaps by expanding Tripartite to include Qatar? Turkey? Egypt? Germany?) to the terms of the April Understanding of 1996 that proved, even according to Israeli accounts, so successful in mitigating conflict. Remember – on the first day of the July 2006 war, Nasrallah called for returning to the terms of the April Understanding! I.e. let’s have both sides get into a process where the Dahiye Doctrine AND the Tel Aviv Doctrine are publicly walked away from.
Then – convening a Doha Two conference that would have Arab states funding a credible Lebanese army that could credibly defend Lebanese population centers etc. i.e. having the US accept a new QME between Israel and the actual STATE of Lebanon or, in other words, not vetoing arms transfers for SAMs, as but one example, that are deployed to defend the major Lebanese cities. (This is very hard because, of course, last year the US congress in all its wisdom mandated that there can be NO alteration in the QME between Israel and its Arab neighbors!)
Then – the US and EU and Arab allies fully supporting and pushing for a re-jiggering of the confessional system that integrates the Shiites more fully into the “legit” Lebanese state. This means working on the Grand Lebanese bargain which is now fairly clear: the Shiites cannot have their own private army, but the other sects cannot have exclusive hold to power positions in the state (army head, PM etc). What really needs to happen here is simple: expand on the FPM’s original 2006 deal with Hizbullah which for the first time set a horizon and terms on the weapons of the resistance. This needs to be laid out as part of a domestic grand bargain.
That all said – the problem with these steps is that I don’t think they ALONE will convince the Israelis or DC anymore that this is all worth the risks (although I would argue the risks of the current “non” approach are still far greater) – they could have worked and been convincing in 2005 when the Bush folks were on the cusp of gradually and peacefully integrating Hizbullah into the state, and perhaps in 2008 when Obama took office – if the actors had had the ability to see beyond their ideological constructs.
But now, with Hizbullah and the Resistance Axis so strong (or, with them at least believing they are so much stronger now) it would certainly take a peace deal with Israel and Syria to make this Lebanon track process credible in the Beltway(s) I think…. Remember in 2000 the Lebanon and Syrian tracks were one – but the US and Israel missed the boat.
The US and Israel seem to be hewing towards the maximalist position as always, though – which means, obtusely, that since there is clearly not 100% certainty that a peace deal between Syria and Israel would immediately disarm Hizbullah, then it’s a non starter.
QN: Can we speak of a common agenda behind the Resistance Axis, or is this just a convenient label that unites very different players?
NN: There is a common agenda – but of course it masks all the wedges and difference that really do exist. One sees that even in the simple exchanges that one has with the Resistance Axis actors themselves; i.e. this is not something that is very well concealed.
BUT the key problem is that these differences (these potential “wedges” to use US electoral-speak) have all been and are still being sublimated as a result of action and non actions by the opposed actors who just keep on delivering more reasons for the Resistance Axis to gel and strengthen. What is happening with Turkey is only one particularly glaring example of this ridiculous situation where “great” powers keep on shooting themselves in the foot.
Of course, the US has mostly been doing that for 60 plus years in the Middle East – the problem is that the bill is starting to come due and we don’t seem to have the credit to keep the party going much longer.
QN: Suppose Israel were to offer to withdraw from Ghajar and Shebaa and end its overflights over Lebanon in exchange for a peace treaty (provided that Hizbullah recognized Israel and agreed to turn over its arms to the Lebanese Army.) Do you think Hizbullah would agree to such a Lebanon-specific deal? Or is a larger agreement over the Golan a prerequisite?
NN: The way you sketched out the terms of the deal means that Hizbullah SAYS no and, far more importantly, is NOT compelled to say YES by its own constituency or the Lebanese in general.
I would argue that the real balance of power has shifted to such a degree that at this point that we (the US, Israel and its allies) would have to probably give up more now to fatally undermine the Resistance Axis’s rationale, desire and ability to exercise violence against our interests.
The bet that Nasrallah is making though – and I think he is right (though I wish he was not) is that as a Settlement Axis, we are probably not capabable of making such conessions – even though I think there are many convincing reasons why a policy of preemptive concessions would work to our interests, broadly defined.
For some time the US and Israel have been the preponderant powers in the region and, for us, the world. Have we learned the lessons of the decline of historic powers? That an enormously preponderant state can and should use its power sometimes to strategically concede to lesser powers – and that this action might be a sign of strength rather than, as the neocons still argue, weakness?
Nice that he mentions the Red Team article by Foreign Policy. Required reading for everybody interested in the Middle East IMO.
The good answer to the last question is the starting point. It is the prerequisite to ending the Arab Israeli conflict.
Unfortunately the bad answer is the real answer. Israel and the US are still determined to destroy, isolate or humiliate any actor that fails to obey their wishes.
Even if Presidents Obama and Carter did not seem to suffer from the arrogance of Israel’s current foreign minister/star thug, the complex system that produces America’s foreign policy will ensure that the United States will always punish or at the very least constrain those who don’t follow instructions.
If America did not have a huge ego problem, you would have heard from President elect Obama an admission that Bashar Assad was right in warning the US not to start the Iraq war.
But America and Israel will continue to try to squeeze and demonize Syria, dismantle or destroy Hezbollah and Hamas, and dream of weakening Iran through military strikes.
We don’t need to discuss any details … Israel can easily find an excuse to start the next war. They can claim Syria sent SCUDs to Hezbollah, they can claim Iran sent a new radar that can, as the WSJ warned, “THREATEN Israel’s ability to launch a surprise attack”! .. and this was a front page story on the WSJ by the way.
If Isralis are alarmed when their ability to launch a surprise attack is “threatened” and on the other hand, those who are the probable targets of those Israeli attacked are demonized, on the front page of a respected American journal, for trying to defend themselves from those frequent Israeli attacks, don’t bother looking at any other details.
The mentality in Israel is that of killing the fly that bothers you. And the obsessive frequency with which Israel’s friends in the US issue those reassuring statements about their total commitment to Israel’s security, reinforce the fly-human scenario.
Israel will try to kill the fly again.
Thankfuly there is a Blue Team to counter this crap about integrating Hizballa or engaging the Thugs of Damascus and Tehran. The end of this conflict will be when such regimes are destroyed and not rewarded.
The end of this conflict and the likes of you along with every Zionist are thrown in the dustbin of history.
I am not surprised that Nicholas Noe keeps using the word “we” as if he is a warrior in the US-Zionist camp. And I bet he is despite the fact he is trying to feign objectivity. I can assure Mr. Noe that his fantasy scenario will not never ever materialize not because Zionist Christians and Jews will not relinquish anything, but because of the people of this region will never accept this shitty colonial state to remain in our midst. And many hope that the next time war comes, that Lebanon will be cleaned once and for all from Zionist collaborators whether civilians or religious.
Your strident tone, tolerance and openness are going to win you lots of converts:-)
You seem to have a very clear idea of who should be allowed to stay in the region and who shouldn’t. Can you tell us what are these guidelines?
I keep wondering, when people like Jihad say stuff like
“And many hope that the next time war comes, that Lebanon will be cleaned once and for all from Zionist collaborators whether civilians or religious.”
Why is it that every time one of these wars come, only Lebanon is involved (and destroyed)? If the people of the region are so tired of this “colonial state in the region” (to quote Jihad). Why are the Syrians/Egyptians/Iranians/Jordanians/Sudanese/Lybians/whoever else not invading the hell out of Israel every time it bombs Lebanon into the stone age?
(Arguing with deluded guys like Jihad is fun)
For the past 60 years we have been hearing such deluded idiots like Jihad and now more so their fancy is tickled by a bearded fatso sitting in dahyeh making threats from underground, they really think victory is near.
“Ya msha7ar ya jihad masheftsh saddam kif tala3ni bil kalsouwn min el joora.. haik bana ntal3o lal seeyaid bel kalsouwn” 🙂
Facts on the ground:
1) In the last 4 years the Lebanese Israeli border has never been more quiet
2) When Israel attacked the Syrian reactor, HA did nothing
3) During the Gaza operation Hizballah did nothing
4) HA did nothing on the border after Mugniyeh was relieved of his miserable life. And what they tried abroad, did not succeed.
5) If HA could have shot down a manned Israeli flight they would have done it by now. If such a flight is shoot over Lebanon that is not a reason Israel can go to war since the Lebanese would be exercising their right of defense. Israel can only go to war if HA violates the blue line.
As Bad Vilbel alludes, the biggest loser from a war would be Lebanon. HA have understood that. I believe that chances of a war a very low except in case Iran is attacked. I think that will lead to a real problem in the HA camp but in the end they will follow their Iranian pay masters.
One thing I would ask Nick next time, and perhaps someone else has some insight into this, is: what interest does either side have in going to war?
The Israelis, it seems to me, are happy enough to have a quiet border. Sure, it would be nice for them to liquidate a top target in Hizbullah’s leadership, but IDF decisions are not motivated by gut-level “let’s get revenge” type calculations. If they can deter operations like the one that kicked off the July War and keep the border quiet, then they’ll settle for that any day of the week.
Meanwhile, Hizbullah will not survive, politically, from any war that is not perceived by a majority of Lebanese as being instigated by Israel rather than provoked by Hizbullah. Christian support for Aoun is down since 2005, and factions are emerging within the party itself. Hizbullah is, like Israel, happy with the status quo. The longer there is no war, the more credible their claims become for providing a deterrence against Israel.
Maybe this mutually convenient status quo will be short-lived. But for now, it seems to me, no one is itching for a fight.
Agreed with your assessment and rationale.
At the moment, neither side has any incentive to start anything.
However, these things change (and most likely will change). And you have to look past Israel-HA specifically for actual causes to a potential conflict.
If/When things change, it will have a lot more to do with other regional actors needing to make a move or score a point.
The Iranian nuclear issue is one (was it coincidence that the July 06 war came about right around the time the UN was starting to look closely at Iran’s nuke program?). You also have any potential Syrian posturing vis a vis the US (i.e. we still hold the South Lebanon card and we can prove it by abducting some IDF guys or lobbing some missiles).
The West will have no choice but to accept a nuclear Iran.That might not be so bad because I do not believe that the global community will pussy foot with the next country that wants to go nuclear. But would Israel accept a nuclear Iran? Not under the current circumstances.
A devastating war is an inevitability under the current geopolitical structure and Hezbollah is an loyal footsoldier of Qom.
Israel will not feel at ease with all these misiles North of the border. Israel will create an excuse to eliminate them. Talk of peace in the region is wishful thinking.
Let’s assume that if we take the Iranian issue out of the picture, Israel and Lebanon are not likely to go to war with each other (for the reasons outlined above).
Then the question of war boils down to whether Hizbullah would attack Israel in the event of an Israeli strike on Iran.
Interestingly enough, if you believe that Hizbullah is “a loyal footsoldier” of Iran, that means that war is MORE likely (as Ghassan says above).
If you think that Hizbullah does not take orders from Iran on these issues and would NOT attack Israel in the event of an Israel strike on Iran, then that presumably means that the likelihood of war under any circumstances is very low.
This decision tree is somewhat counter-intuitive, no? It’s usually the pro-resistance folks who believe that Hizbullah is indepedent AND that war is imminent, while the anti-resistance folks argue that Hizbullah is a pawn and that war is unlikely.
I have to disagree with you on this. The Syrians had more and better missiles than HA for many years and Israel could live with that.
Israel has zero interest in initiating a war. It is not as if after the next war the Syrians or Iranians will not be around to smuggle weapons to HA or some other organization.
I agree with your analysis except the fact that HA is building credibility to the claim it deters Israel. They already proved in 2000 that they can make occupation of Lebanon difficult for Israel. Israel having left, what exactly is Israel being deterred from doing? Coming back? Isn’t clear Israel does not want to do that?
In fact, the longer the border is quiet the faster HA will lose its resistance cred. “Deterrence” is not “resistance”. It does not get you to Jerusalem and even not to Sheba. At most, it is a face saving argument. In 5 years time, if there is no war or incidents, how will Nasrallah be different from the other “half men” that have not gone to war with Israel in ages?
“Israel having left, what exactly is Israel being deterred from doing? Coming back? Isn’t clear Israel does not want to do that?”
No, it is not clear to many (if not most) people in Lebanon that Israel does not have malicious, aggressive, and otherwise predatory intentions towards Lebanon. These are the folks who support Hizbullah.
“In fact, the longer the border is quiet the faster HA will lose its resistance cred. “Deterrence” is not “resistance”.
True, but some believe that this is the direction that Hizbullah has chosen anyway. The agreement with the FPM clearly stipulated that resistance would end once certain conditions were met; nothing was said about recovering Jerusalem.
One more thing I think is worth explaining. The longer the time between wars, the more time Israel has to collect intel about the location of the larger missiles and be able to take them out early in the next war, just as it took out most of HA long range missiles at the beginning of the 2006 war.
I’m curious to hear you address Nick’s broader strategy about dealing with Hizbullah by addressing the “bleeding wounds”.
In other words, why not withdraw from Ghajar, Shebaa, and Kfar Shouba, and end the overflights? This, presumably, would undercut Hizbullah’s justifications for maintaining a resistance posture by a significant degree, no?
Why would Israel leave Lebanon in 2000 and have the UN bless the blue line if it wanted to return? Oh well.
If HA has chosen “deterrence” and not “resistance”, and I hope they did, they will lose much of their cred over time. After all, Syria, Egypt and Jordan have been “deterring” Israel for many more years and have earned many accolades such as “half men”, “puppets” etc. What will stop HA falling into the same category? Plus, HA are not deterring the overflights and the occasional Israeli small incursions.
Here’s the argument, from Nick’s article in the New York Times a few years ago:
“Since its official founding in 1985, Hezbollah has seen its argument, not to mention its capacity, for violence repeatedly buoyed by what the group calls the “open wars” waged by Israel against it (and invariably against the rest of Lebanon, too) in 1993, 1996 and again in 2006.
In contrast, when the confrontational approach has receded — most notably after Israel ended its 22-year occupation of Lebanon in 2000 — Hezbollah’s ability and desire to use violence receded as well.
And therein lies an alternative strategy available to Israel and the United States: gradually and peacefully containing Hezbollah violence by undermining public support for resistance operations.
For without widespread public support from Lebanese of all religious persuasions, Muslim and Christian alike — especially now that the Syrian enforcers have ostensibly left Lebanon — violent operations would not only be extremely difficult, Hezbollah leaders acknowledge, but also domestically hazardous for their Shiite base.
This is precisely the reason that Hezbollah, since the 2000 Israeli withdrawal, has reduced its overt military presence and taken part in Lebanese politics in ways that it once would have avoided as corrupting or unnecessary, including a cabinet portfolio in 2005 and a surprisingly sturdy alliance in 2006 with the main Christian leader, Gen. Michel Aoun. This may be also why Hezbollah has been so uncharacteristically quiet in the confrontation between the Lebanese Army, which is enjoying a surge of public support at the moment, and Qaeda-inspired militants at the Palestinian refugee camp Nahr al Bared in northern Lebanon.
Undermine the rationale for violence directed at Israel — a rationale which, like it or not, is accepted by a great many Lebanese — and you have gone a long way toward reducing Hezbollah’s ability to act violently both along the border and even farther afield (that is if the American assertions of Hezbollah involvement in Iraq are to be believed).
In the meantime, you will have also pushed Hezbollah further into the muck of “normal” Lebanese politicking — an unflattering arena in which the Party of God is already uncharacteristically flip-flopping a- round, hurling accusations of “collaboration” at one moment while at the next suggesting the formation of a “national unity” government with some of those same “collaborators.”
For this oblique form of containment to work, however, the United States must first address what Hezbollah’s leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, has long termed the “four bleeding wounds” that engender public support for his party’s use of violence against Israel.
These are the handing over of maps of the land mines the Israelis left in South Lebanon during the occupation; the return of all Lebanese prisoners; an end to Israeli overflights of Lebanon (which are arguably unnecessary in any case); and, finally, Israel’s relinquishing of the disputed Shebaa Farms area, which, according to a report last week in the Israeli daily Haaretz, the United Nations may declare as Lebanese by the end of the month.
As Mr. Nasrallah put it shortly after the last successful prisoner exchange with Israel in 2004, “These fools do not learn from their past mistakes: when they withdrew from Lebanon, they continued to occupy the Shebaa Farms and kept our brothers in custody.” By doing that, Mr. Nasrallah said of the Israelis, “they opened the door for us.”
Of course, one could argue that even if these “bleeding wounds” were removed, Hezbollah would simply invent other excuses to justify attacks. That’s certainly plausible, given that the Party of God views “resistance” as a fundamental principle, but the point is that these new excuses would undoubtedly be viewed as such: as false choices presented by one party bent on accomplishing its own narrow, even non-Lebanese interests.
And that possibility is one that would only further restrict Hezbollah’s actions, just as it finds itself already restricted by its ever-expanding web of political alliances.
By heeding Mr. Nasrallah’s advice and removing the “bleeding wounds,” the United States and its allies in Europe could then help to unleash exactly the kind of broad-based political, economic and military reform that would further convince Hezbollah and its supporters that the use of violence has become both unnecessary and, ultimately, counterproductive.
In the process, Israel and the United States too might also finally begin to learn some of the lessons of their past and present mistakes in Lebanon.
Please, don’t ask Israel to solve Lebanon’s problems. Solve them yourself. What you are describing should have happened after Israel left Lebanon in 2000. Instead, HA invented new excuses for their “resistance”. We were fooled once and it is enough. Obviously, once Israel agrees to the issues you raise, HA will remind us all of the “seven villages” in the Galilee that are still “under occupation”.
Also May 8 proves that public opinion in Lebanon counts for nothing. HA can terrorize anybody they want and Lebanese public opinion will accept that because you are all scared shitless from a civil war. So until the Lebanese prove big time that public opinion can strategically change HA, don’t ask Israel to help you in this futile effort.
Just now I have read your post of what Noe wrote.
I really don’t think he himself believes that HA’s followers will not buy any new excuse or “opening” for resistance that the party will provide. As for the rest of the Lebanese, they already don’t support HA but they FEAR it. The solutions that Noe suggests are useless. We know that HA is not afraid to use its forces INSIDE Lebanon and having done that they lost almost all Sunni support. Yet, that did not stop them. They really do not care about Lebanese public opinion because they are the strongest military force in Lebanon and are not afraid to use their force.
Therefore, any Israeli moves to change public opinion in Lebanon are a waste of time.
Israeli overflights are a Lebanese problem? 🙂
I don’t have a problem with them. Neither do most Israelis. But, it seems that most Lebanese have a problem with them. Therefore, they are a Lebanese problem. I am not joking. They are a Lebanese problem caused by the conflict between HA and Israel.
I knew that you would bring up this popint. I happen to think that you are wrong on this . There is a big difference between missiles under the control of a government of a state and misiles that are not under the control of the country in which they are located but under the control of a third party. Does the chain of command get to be more uncertain and ambiguous than this? Who is to be held responsible for a missile out of Lebanon? Lebanon, Hezbollah, Iran a combination of all? In Syria on the other hand it is clear that the Syrian regime is not in a position to wage war, they have missiles but they are well controlled and they cannot afford to allow any of them be fired in anger.
The extremes on both sides have always needed each other. The logic of their existense depends and is validated by the extreme on the opposite side. I honestly believe that the Israeli right needs a Hezbollah in order to rally its supporters in the same way that the Hezb needs Israeli transgressions. Holding to these pieces of land serves only one logic, prevent the situation from moving towards stability. This is not the only place in the world where such apparent contradictions exist. The established power structure develops an internal logic of its own that prevents taking logical meaningful steps. President Eisenhower saw this sixty years ago when he gave his speech about the military industrial complex.
Hezbollah/Hamas need the Israeli Likud as much as the Israeli Likud needs them.
We are now hearing that the “resistance weapons” are necessary to protect the newly discovered offshore oil and gas fields
Seriously, does anyone believe if Israel withdrew from Shebaa farms and Ghajar and stopped the over flights Hizballa will fold and become like the Hare Krishna folks?
Most of the “liberal intellectual” analysis here ignores the ideology behind hizballa, has anyone ever spoken to a member of this religious party? They will never give up their weapons until the Mahdi comes they truly believe they are the Mahdi’s soldiers and they are preparing for Armageddon.
I think it is clear after 2006 who is responsible for a missile out of Lebanon. It is Lebanon. Israel was able to dissolve the ambiguity very much limiting HA’s actions.
As for the Likud needing HA, come on. You want to convince Israel to leave Sheba for example, tell us what HA or Lebanon will do in return. If it is all wishful thinking and maybe this or that will happen, that will not cut it. We left Lebanon and HA did not change one bit. Why don’t the Lebanese say explicitly what is the quid pro quo instead of trying to fool Israel again?
If these issues are all Lebanese problems, then why do we hear so much anxiety out of your politicians and newspapers about Hizbullah’s missiles? Clearly, someone in Israel has a problem with Hizbullah.
Who said the HA missiles were not an Israeli problem? That is why there are over flights. To make sure we have good intel about the missiles.
Are you alluding that ANYTHING Israel does will make HA give up its missiles? If yes what? Otherwise, why is what you are saying relevant?
What is the quid pro quo? How is Lebanon willing to help Israel solve its problems if Israel helps Lebanon solve its problems? Of course it would be nice to reduce even more the chances of war erupting, but what can Lebanon deliver except wishful utopian thinking?
These discussions always remind me of the two partners that decided to found a trading venture. One brought a ship and the other brought the sea. Please stop proposing these kind of deals and get serious.
Why is this crap not garnering any more attention? Why isn’t anyone calling HA on this?
Seriously? These bozos want to talk about OTHERS getting funds from abroad?
I’m pretty surprised this isn’t a bigger deal, to be honest. Not ONE voice in Lebanon to say “Hypocrites!” or “Show us YOUR funding sources too!” ???
Why would an organization designed to ‘deter’ show their funding sources? Lebanon in general supports HA, as HA does plenty of good things. That is why the source of the money doesn’t matter to the Lebanese.
Funding from abroad is not always a bad thing, but when it is from the US, to the media, and designed to manipulate public opinion, it certainly is.
Lebanon supports HA NOW because HA and the Syrians killed anyone who tried to oppose them.
Please try not to include half or more of the Lebanese population in your false assumptions about supporting HA or not caring about their funding sources.
Many Lebanese prefer not to be in the Iranian pawn shop.
Oh yes, poor you… always showing up to the table, looking to start an honest trading venture, only to be disappointed by your deceitful Arab partner. Is that what happened with Assad and Barak in 2000? Give me a break.
But back to the present. I’m trying to play Nick’s advocate, since he is not here. You said: “Are you alluding that ANYTHING Israel does will make HA give up its missiles? If yes what? Otherwise, why is what you are saying relevant?”
Nick argues that YES, if Israel makes concessions on the issues that Nasrallah has expressly identified (the border villages, cluster mine maps, and overflights), the risk of war can be further mitigated because Hizbullah will face tremendous pressure from within Lebanon to integrate into the Lebanese army.
I’m simply asking you to engage this particular point. You obviously think that it is BS, but I’d like you to provide a clear argument, so that Nick can then respond to it.
That logic of yours (or lack thereof) simply just blew my mind, Nasser.
So, it’s ok for a secretive organization to receive funds used for weapons, training, and propaganda (which does indeed influence public opinion)? But it’s not ok to fund other propaganda against said secretive organization.
In pretty much ANY respectable country in the world, funding a non-state armed group is considered subversion (and even treason).
The hypocrisy blows my mind. I’m utterly speechless.
This is such an important issue that it deserves a more detailed response. I might do that in the near future but for the time being let me just say : Do not delude yourself for a second that Hezbollah will be satisfied with any of the small give backs that you have mentioned. Hezbollah was named as such for a reason, a religious reason. Its members do believe that they are doing the work of God and that it is their moral obligation to rid the region of the Zionist virus in its entirety. They will not be satisfied with anything less. Hezbollah can’t remain true to its principles by accepting Israel. Everything else Shebaa, Ghajar … is just a distraction. they will always find another excuse and they have stated so. Yet I believe , as I stated in an earlier post, that a rational response by the Israelis shoul;d have been a long time agio to give back these tiony slices of land even if they get nothing in return because that will force Hezbollah or at least some of the so called objective observers tio come clean. Hezbollah is not going away by giving Lebanon a village here and a pasture there. Hezbollah was created by non Lebanese and it will cease to exist only once its source of weapons, funds, training is cut off. The solution of the Hezbollah problem is not to be sought from within Lebanon.
I’m just trying to argue on Nick’s behalf, so as to allow the arguments to crystallize fully.
Nobody knows what Hizbullah’s future is. First of all, the party is not a monolith. There are elements within it that would have zero objection to a peace agreement with Lebanon/Syria one day… I know, because I’ve met some of these people and they are not fire-and-brimstone jihadi types. They’re pragmatists who are riding the wave. Then you’ve got others who will never recognize Israel no matter what.
But again, I’m just trying to play devil’s advocate (not that Nick is a devil.) 😉
The Lebanese army just isn’t doing it BV. I believe there is a need for a secretive organization to combat a secretive military-state. I don’t want HA to release their sources because it could undermine them.
I also believe that HA acts on behalf of the Lebanese people, not Iran. I don’t believe HA would do something as stupid as starting another war because Israel attacked Iran.
I detest US intervention in Lebanon and maybe that is why you find me so illogical. The US should not be trying to manipulate public opinion.
How do weapons influence public opinion? It all depends how they are used, sir.
I think I already explained why Noe is mistaken. HA will not feel any pressure to join the Lebanese army whatever Israel does. If they cared about Lebanese public opinion or were influenced by it, would they have used their weapons on fellow Lebanese? HA know that some Lebanese will support them whatever they do and the others will do nothing because they fear HA.
So basically Noe is suggesting Israel take unilateral steps in the HOPE that Lebanese public opinion will work on HA. Very funny. I agree that Israel leave Sheba if HA integrates into the Lebanese army. Can Lebanon deliver on this deal? No.
HA will only bow to pressure from their own public, the Shia of Lebanon. And they will never pressure HA to integrate into the Lebanese army for which they have zero trust that it can protect them. In fact, they would not even pressure HA to allow the Lebanese Army into the Jnoub pre 2006! So these are the people that are going to pressure HA to integrate with the Army? What will they gain from this except of additional years of neglect from the Lebanese government? We all know that the Shia see HA as a way of preserving their rights in Lebanon after decades and centuries of abuse by the other sects. Neither Sheba or any other piece of land is going to solve that problem. There is no solving the problem of HA without guaranteeing Shia rights in Lebanon.
Furthermore, HA integrating into the Lebanese army will make HA useless. In this the HA supporters are right. It cannot remain a secret clandestine operation if this happens and much of its effectiveness will be gone. The Lebanese government and its army are heavily infiltrated by Israel and HA is of course aware of this. Not to mention that currently it is the US that is the chief provider of the Lebanese army and would be reluctant to continue if HA becomes part of the army.
In the end, HA and its weapons are mostly an internal Lebanese issue that Israel cannot help much with. Of course it is easier to make demands of Israel and the US instead of HA, so why not try extreme long shots at the expense of others?
Let’s see if Nick responds.
Oh dear, Hizballah is mentioned and every cliche come out. Suddenly everyone’s and expert, even people who have never been to the Dahyieh or South Lebanon.
Ghassan you are entitled to your opinion but keep it as such; Don’t spout such rubbish as “Hezbollah was created by non Lebanese and it will cease to exist only once its source of weapons, funds, training is cut off.” It only makes you sound like you are buying the kool aid America and Israel are selling.
Hizballah is very Lebanese and Iran could disappear off the face of the planet and guess what, it will still get funds and weapons. Try watching one of their money raising campaign as see how far a car can go before it has to stop and empty its donation box (which by the way is huge and placed on the bonnet of a car) – and that Sir is in central Beirut, not the suburbs.
BV, you ask why only Lebanon is involved in these wars? Well aside from the fact that there is little matter of the Gazans as well, the reason is simple, we are the only ones left that pose a danger to Israel – Everyone else has given up. To some that is a source of sadness, to others a source of pride. I’m sure there was a similar mix of emotions for the French resistance.
But “In pretty much ANY respectable country in the world, funding a non-state armed group is considered subversion (and even treason)”….erm which countries would that be? The US? The UK? France? Do we list the number of non-state armed actors these nations have helped?
Anf I wish you guys would make up your minds. One second Nasrallah is Ahmadinijads errand boy, taking orders at whim the next you are suggesting we dissolve the Presidency as Nasrallah is now representing Lebanon at state functions (not to mention deciding Lebanons entire foreign policy). Which is it?
But here’s the questions I always ask and no-one answers:
Does the state not have a responsibility and duty to protect me from a foreign aggressor?
If the state cannot, do I not have a right and a duty (enshrined in international law) to protect myself from that aggressor?
By what right do you, who will not be at the forefront of that aggression and who will most likely not suffer from have his home destroyed or family killed by that aggression, have in demanding I not be able to defend my family and my land?
And if you take my weapons and the enemy comes, are you willing to come die to protect my family?
THAT’S the question you’ve been waiting for someone to answer?
Let me give it a shot.
You have the right to protect yourself from an aggressor if the state can’t do it. What does that mean? Buy yourself a hand gun and stick it in the drawer of your bedside table? Buy an AK-47 and put it in the titkheeteh where the kids won’t find it? Or build an army that receives $1 billion USD from a foreign state each year, possesses 40,000 rockets, and routinely announces to the world that no one can influence its decisions?
If your problem is that you don’t want your house to be destroyed or family killed, then surely you’d be best off trying to end the state of war between you and your neighbor, no? How are you, your house, and your family best served by deputizing Hizbullah to protect you, when this is a group that has insisted that it will NEVER recognize Israel and that it believes that Israel’s destruction is around the corner?
Admit it: you support Hizbullah because of its “resistance” credentials, not because of the defense it provides to Lebanon.
In reference to the actual post, Noe is one of the few Westerners who report on Hizballah and pretty much “gets it”.
I would only say that the “Team Red” report is 5 years out of date now and is as ignorable by the Resistance as any “Team blue” report
If I had a question for him it would be:
“Do you know how annoying it is that there is no comments section on your blog since you are not just reporting the news but commentating on it as well?”:)
mo, If you are saying that there is local support then you are emphasizing the obvious. Of course there is. But my point is that the ideology of Wilayat Al Faqih did not even exist 40 years ago and it is a fact that all the major arms, training and funding is from Iran Hezbollah do not deny that so why is that a cool aid. You think that Hezbollah will go on without UIranian support and I say that they won’t. This does not mean that they will dissolve over night but Hezbollah will lose a lot of its moral appeal and the source of funds and materiel will become less available. They will try to substitute but in most such cases the efforts will fall flat.
I have been sayingthis for years. One cannot or rather should not expect Hezbollah to accept Israel under any set of circumstances. It could happen but then that would not be Hezbollah ; essentially a group on a religious mission to create a region in its image.
You see the problem is in your response you show that even as even minded, well educated Lebanese who knows Lebanon and isn’t commenting from a foreign country he has lived in all his life, even with all that you don’t get them ( or me)
I really dont get your first point. So I have a right to defend myself but you get to define how well I can do it? or do I get to do it to the best of my abilities? And if my neighbors are equally threatened can we , by your rules not band together to better defend ourselves? Can we not get help from those that defend our right to defend ourselves?
And your second question, let me answer in two parts.
First, my neighbor is a crook, a thief and a murderer and quite frankly ruined the neighborhood. I want as little to do with him as possible. But, your argument is a tad simplistic. I should let evil have its way so I do not suffer? Well the answer to that lies in answering the second part of the question.
Deputizing Hizbullah to protect the South? Et tu Qifa? Surely, we can establish that Hizballah is the South and that you cannot deputize to yourself. When the majority in the South want to sign a peace treaty with them, then thats what will happen.
Its not the group that insists that it will NEVER recognize Israel, it is its people.
However, saying all that, it is not up to Hizballah or the Shia to make peace with Lebanon. Its up to the state. I do not have to recognise Israel and I don’t have to be civil to any Israeli that may be foolish enough to come to Lebanon after a peace treaty but that its the state that decides.
But the last point you make really is baffling:
What is the difference to you between defense and resistance credentials?
And I only support them because of what they do on the battlefield? I guess their social services, honesty, lack of corruption, good graces and civility just go right over my head then. Seriously, that’s quite patronising Qifa.
Wilayat Al Faqih again, whats your point? Does a Maronite who follows Papal Edicts suddenly become a tool of the Vatican? And do you believe that all of Hizballah is one homogeneous equally believein in the Wailayat?
Its is a fact that all the major arms, training and funding is from Iran?
A lot of funding come from Iran, but here’s a clue, its not from the Iranian govt. And Iran is not the only source of funding.
A lot of arms come from Iran, but you may want to look up at how Hizballah was able to damage the Merkava IV so well in 2006 – You the tank with the so called impenetrable armor.
Hezbollah will lose a lot of its moral appeal if it loses Iran? Why?
“They will try to substitute but in most such cases the efforts will fall flat”
Yes, others have predicted the fall of Hizballah before you.
You are right, Hizballah and its supporters will never accept or recognize the rewarding of crime and criminals. I guess its just a bad habit we have. Why don’t you head on down to the closes penitentiary and give the biggest murderer there your home. That is what you are asking us to do after all.
“You know, the tank with the so called impenetrable armor.”
So I have a right to defend myself but you get to define how well I can do it?
Give me a break, Mo. You have no say in the way that HA defends Lebanon. Not you, not your father or uncle or grandfather or next door neighbor. Not your mayor or local governor. Not even the defense minister of Lebanon. Ok? 🙂
You’re trying to portray HA as some kind of honest-to-goodness, down-home citizens’ neighborhood watch. That’s sweet, but it’s a bit too naive for my taste.
My basic point is that it makes very little sense to me to support HA on the grounds of national defense. Support them because you believe Israel is evil, etc. etc. But the national defense argument doesn’t make sense to me, I’m sorry.
When wilayat al faqih gives the order to attack Israel Nasralla will tell him no ?
Are you just arguing for the sake of arguing or do you really believe yourself when you say the funds HA receive is from Iran but isn’t from the Iranian Government?!
Sure the good graces and civility of HA in Beirut was so evident towards their fellow Lebanese we were overwhelmed really!!
If you are so puritanical and idealist enough to stand against evil doers, how do you justify your friendship with the murderous Syrian regime? Have you forgotten how many sides they played during the Lebanese civil war? And how many Lebanese they killed? Or that isn’t relevant because those who died weren’t killed by your eternal enemy the Jews?
You know some of us cool aid drinkers aren’t European leftist hippies that you can fool with your oversold tear jerking victimized by the Jews life story , some of us are Lebanese from south Lebanon and we know how all this began during the PLO days and how at some point we ended up welcoming the Merkavas with flowers and rice. so go sell your lies to someone else, Kafaka nifaqan Mr Mo !!
You should quit reading Talal Salman and his boy Sate3 Nooreldine, that is some nasty wicked drink they have slipped you over the years.
The I in that statement refers to the people that do have a say (irrespective of what say I personally or my relatives have). And it is their houses, their families that are destroyed. Or is your point that are we going back to the tried and tested Iran theory?
No, they aren’t a neighborhood watch as no neighborhood watch was born in fire but they are citizens and they are honest.
But lets stick to your basic point – It makes little sense to support them on grounds of national defense why? Your argument would make sense if you suspected that if Israel were to attack Keseraoun, Broumannah or Kaslik, that Hizballah would not react. But you and I know they would. So how are they not a national defense? Im not being rhetorical, I would like to know your take.
If you disagree with Noe that the empowering of the Lebanese Army is a major part of disarming Hizballah, why did you not say so to him?
Ive said it before, I cant match your eloquence.
Your such a victim of your own obvious anger that you don’t even see the contradictions in your own words – “My friends, the Syrian regime” were from 83 to 91 Hizballahs biggest enemy in case you forgot.
Oh I can tell you are no European leftist hippy but if you are from South Lebanon, it was a very long time ago; All this began with the PLO? lol, try again, perhaps a little earlier in the history books.
First of all, what time zone are you in? Is this blog so captivating that keeps you up until dawn, responding from your beleaguered village in South Lebanon, or are you in the same position as the rest of us shmucks, pronouncing grandly from abroad? 😉
Secondly, the reason I believe that the national defense argument is bogus is because recent history has proven that Hizbullah does not only act defensively ya habibi.
The operation that triggered the July War was not a defensive operation. The goal of the operation was to retrieve Samir Qantar from an Israeli prison. And for his sake, over 1000 Lebanese civilians had to die and billions of dollars of damage were sustained. What kind of national defense is that?
But let’s take Nasrallah at his word and accept that HA would never have launched the operation had they known the human and material costs.
So now they know the costs. Where do we go from here? One option would be to say: “Let’s try to avoid a war by signing a peace deal and integrating Hizbullah into the Lebanese Army.” Another option would be to say: “Let’s try to avoid a war by re-arming Hizbullah to the teeth and periodically threatening to bomb Tel Aviv.”
The reality is that there are no two options. There is only option, because Hizbullah is not answerable to the state when it comes to its weapons. You are trying to convince me that it is the democratic will of the citizens of the South that is somehow procuring billions of dollars in military aid from Iran, but this is tremendously naive. Was it the democratic will of the people of Beirut that produced Solidere or Beirut Airport or the national debt or was it Rafiq al-Hariri and his connections? Was it the democratic will of “the Maronites” that led to Sabra and Shatila, or was it the Kata’eb?
As for “social services, honesty, lack of corruption, good graces and civility,” who is saying that you have to forego all of that? By all means, enjoy it! I have no problem with social services, etc. What I am questioning is the efficacy of a “defense strategy” designed expressly to start another war.
?I bet you that if we can spend a long afternoon spping coffee you and I will find out that we agree on many things. But since we have to use the internet then allow me to make three observations that I think often come up: (1) No man/woman of the cloth holds a special place in my vision of the world. As I have indicated before I have no use for any of them whether it is the Pope, the Patriarch, the Imam, The Mufti… I do understand that some define themselves in terms of religion but for what it is worth even Tariq Ramadan urges Moslems not to have only one identity. So yes I object vehemently to Wilayat Al Faqih or anybody else who has a special channel to God and who believes in the religious myths.
(2) I have always made a distinction between Hezbollah as a political group and the Hezbollah mil;itia. My disagreement with the beliefs of the Political group are major but I will do whatever is in my power to support their right to voice their ideas and to be an active part of the political system. I do not however think that the militia has the right to exist within the system That is an affront to freedom and democracy.
(3) You oftem imply that you have the right to protect yourself when the authorities do not. Again I think that we have been through this before. If you have complaints about the performance of government then you have only two options (a) change the policies through the existing political structure i.e. through the ballot box or (b) if you think that the current system is so bankrupt that you need to revolt against then then you should. But you do not have the right to set up your own fiefdom within the current existing structure and have it both ways. That is unprincipled , that is what crime syndicates do that is vigilantism.
And finally the way I see it the option of Lebanonizing Hezbollah will not work for the simple reason; Hezbollah would have to renounce the principles on which it is founded. That is why I said that the eventual solution, and there will be one, will come from outside the Lebanese borders. Hezbollah as we know it is dependent on outsiders and its whole mo will change if that special connection to Iran/Syria changes.
LOL, I’m not in Lebanon but it is dawn, working (or trying to but you guys keep interrupting). Sadly wont be back in my beleaguered village until the end of the month.
Since you are accepting Nasrallah’s word we need not get into what kind of national defense that was (although I think you would agree that most nations would mount some sort of operation to rescue people no?)
Part one of option one does not interest me nor does it interest a lot of Lebanese. If the state wishes it, let it hold a referendum on the subject.
Part two of option one is great in theory. But once they are part of the army, they will not be allowed to be supplied anything by Iran, so will the US be providing the missiles? And since there is only one answer to that, the question is whats the point? Give up a decent defense for what in return? More defenselessness? You want to go try sell that in my beleaguered village? I’ll keep the engine running for the quick get away 🙂
Option two on the other hand, as your hasbara friend likes to point out, has kept the border quiet for a while now.
I am not trying to convince you that it is the democratic will of the citizens of the South that is somehow procuring billions of dollars in military aid from Iran; I Am saying that the people of the South want the Resistance. If the existence of that Resistance leads to other nations helping who is going to say no? It is naive to expect them to respond otherwise.
Hariri won elections and people knew what he was up to so in a sense yes, it was the democratic will that led to those things. People fell for his charm as much people do for Nasrallah. The cult of personality is probably the Arabs greatest failing.
As for Sabra and Chatila, this was an act of pure barbarism. It cannot be hidden behind democratic will (if there was any) any more than what Berri did to the Palestinians. You are not exactly comparing like for like.
I am talking about people defending their own land not using their power to massacre innocents. There is a gulf in difference.
I didn’t claim you were saying I had to forego anything. You were claiming my support for Hizballah was based entirely on my hate of Israel. I was pointing out there were a coupe of other things I admire.
I believe the Resistance is our only major disagreement but I’m sure, if we did spend an afternoon drinking coffee that I could fix that 🙂
1. I didn’t mean to imply you personally. I was referring to Christians who look to the Pope as the head of the Church. And I do not object to your objection to the Wilyat, I was pointing out that they are no different to Papal Edicts. But I understand that you have no time for either (and by the way, neither do I).
Let me answer 2 and 3 together. I believe if you are going to use the word “fiefdom” you need to provide evidence. Hizballah has no fiefdom and does more to make its supporters follow the laws of the land than most political parties from what I have seen. But the two options you give are not appropriate to the situation.
A change in govt. at the ballot box will not lead to a change in the ability of the state to provide defense if in arming itself the state loses more in retaliation. And there is no point deposing a govt. that is unable to provide a defense through no fault of its own but because it is blocked from doing so.
What is your solution given the above scenarios and not the two you presented to one defending his land?
As for Hizballahs dependency on outsiders, well time will tell. You would be surprised.
Angry yes I am. I am angry at people like you who cheer and encourage more wars and more suffering because they are blinded by hate.
i am angry at hipocrits who are supposedly educated and well off, who travel and or live abroad who take advantage of everything the west has to offer yet they make sure they keep the simple and poor villagers of south lebanon as cannon foder to serve their hate instead of working for peace and easing the suffering of those you claim to love. But no your pride and hate for the Jews is much more important.
for the past 60 years and now, you and your likes all you have done is pawned us southern lebanese to one player after the other. First it was Arab nationalism, Syrian Baath, PLO and revolutionary left and now Allah Nasrallah and his faqin faqih. ofcourse who else but the Shi3a are willing to die and sacrifice more.
Labayka ya Nasrollah
Very Illuminating Discussion Gentleman, a lot of good points! I wont add anymore to it, other than too say that D-Day for Lebanon is really the Iranian nuclear break out!
QN- My question to you , and you are a lot more in tune with this:” you mentioned that Aoun’s alliance with the Hezb wont survive”
Personally I always had misgivings about this “unnatural order”, what are the issues here, that is creating factions within Aouns party? And what would tip them to break with the Hezb?
Enlighten me ( I havent been watching the news for a good 12 months now, what have I missed here? )
“Part one of option one does not interest me nor does it interest a lot of Lebanese. If the state wishes it, let it hold a referendum on the subject.”
The State effectively did hold a referendum on this subject. The elections. Hezbollah lost those, on a national level, but behaves as though it didn’t.
Therin lies the problem. Hezbollah and its partisans talk a lot about the ‘peoples’ will’ but when that will is actually expressed and it doesn’t suit their purposes, suddenly we’re back to ‘we’ll do as we please’.
A few thoughts:
1. I’m surprised that after Ezzedine, we’re still hearing such impassioned claims of Hezbollah’s incorruptibility. Have any of you guys been to Dahiyeh lately and seen all the brand new range-rovers being driven by the wives of the party? The bling on display these days is pretty overwhelming and nearly ubiquitous.
2. Mo: the language you use betrays your larger worldview. When you start talking about the “evil” that needs to be rooted out, then it’s pretty clear that you’ve decided on a maximalist (and Manichean) stand. That’s your prerogative, but don’t try to tell me that it’s Hezbollah’s medical clinics or defense potential that have won your heart, when it’s clearly the idea of destroying ash-shar mutlaq that appeals to you. Social services (do you use them often?) and deterrence still belong to the field of the pragmatic, whereas it’s clear from your comments that your support is primarily ideological in nature, not pragmatic. And to be clear here, I don’t necessarily mean religiously ideological in your case, although I know plenty whose ideological support takes more of a religious tint than yours seems to.
3. If AIG isn’t willing to give up a few tactically worthless things, like Ghajar and overflights, in order to reduce the tension and chances for war (a positive sum for both Lebanon and Israel) without the disbanding of Hezbollah, then Lebanon and Israel don’t really have anything to talk about. And if we’re looking at it through the lens of “not my problem,” then the only way that Lebanon has to make any of these things Israel’s problem is to make sure that AIG knows that Hezbollah’s missiles are pointed at Tel Aviv and Dimona. Sure, Israeli missiles and bombs are also pointed at all of Lebanon, but that’s nothing new, I suppose. And history has shown that for all of AIG’s tough talk (from New Jersey, is it?) the Lebanese are able to take more of a pummeling than the Israeli public is, so the standards of success (or non-defeat) are very asymmetrical, to the disadvantage of Israel.
4. AIG keeps talking about x or y is a “Lebanese issue” or “Lebanese problem,” but it seems like those things fall within the range of what he thinks Israel wants from Lebanon. So to put a finer point on it, what does Israel want from Lebanon that isn’t about “a Lebanese problem”? Because from where we’re standing, QN’s right: for a country that doesn’t care about or want anything from Lebanon, the Israeli press and political class sure seem to get worked up about this side of the border.
Wow – woke up here in the Beirut time zone to a slew of interesting comments. Not sure if its too late, and there would be a lot to be said on all the points. But just two comments.
1)The most critical point that I think needs to be accepted if a non-war approach to Hizbullah can be crafted and supported (if you want a smash them up strategy ONLY then go right ahead because it hasn’t worked in the past and will only “work” if one spreads massive violence widely…) is this: Hizbullah relies on a complicated dialectic between reason and unreason;instrumental rationality mixed with pragmatism and, on the other side, unrelenting messianism and a deep conviction of supremacy and righteousness.
The operation between these two sides is what is critical to grasp if you want to find a non war approach to the issue of Hizbullah’s ability and desire to exercise violence. This is the key point that Qassim and Nasrallah keep making over and over again – you cant have resistance without “broad public support for the resistance.” It is a two leg structure that would not last long without the public support side. Now in various eras Hizbullah leaders have acknowledged that the exact terms of “broad” vary. The point is after 2005, but before the Military balance started decisively shifting in Hizbullah’s favor post 2008 – the party needed a really broad “broad.” My argument is that they still need to hold onto rationality and reason – hold onto broad public support for all the reasons they themselves have outlined. May 2008 was actually a case supporting this point – since the rump government stupidly went so far in laying their questionably legal hands directly on the main resistance weapon such that the violent reaction seemed “reasonable” to more than half the country! (Look at the popular vote as but one score one year on). Several different Hizbullah figures, MPs, officials etc have told me that if the government had just done the airport decision they would not have been able to take to the streets – since it would have seemed too “unreasonable” a reaction.
But look, if one thinks as Mike Young and a lot of others do that Hizbullah ONLY relies on fear, is ONLY a totalitarian, fascist organization AT ITS CORE (forget the dissimulation aspect) – then none of this makes sense.
My argument is then you are left with some really bad options ONLY – ones which are far from certain to bring anything resembling a “victory,” or something that most humans in this day and age could live with morally.
A second point which is on the war game thoughts – QN, my point is that there are deeply embedded, internal reasons on both sides of the border militating towards war – both sides “crave” war but “dont want it.” Dont underestimate this aspect where small, determined believers on either side can get their organizations involved in the war which they really really believe will be “the last.”
Second – the main idea I think is that I am convinced Israel cannot live with a declining QME vis a vis Hizbullah – and Hizbullah thinks this… As the power of Hizbullah increases in these coming months and crosses “Red lines” of yore, the Israelis will be confronted with what top leaders and thinkers view as an existential choice – and add the Iran side to this, whew!…One person made the comment about Syria – This actually helps to make my point. Israel could live with a state actor like syria with WMDs and missiles etc for several reasons that it cannot live with Hizbullah similarly advancing along in its QME drive. 1) Syria is a state 2) Syria is not religiously messianic 3) It was in peace negotiations for the better part of the last 16 years 4) Its Military edge is perhaps less of a threat than Hizbullah’s asymmetric capabilities 5) and, to make the peace talks point again somewhat differently, it is ultimately not committed to and “craving” the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel
dashed off – nn
I am not Lebanese, but I do live in Lebanon, and I am replying from there at 13:00 3 July 2010. Living here, I feel comfortable with HA weapons for one simple reason: in July 2006 the Lebanese army lost a few soldiers (if I recall correctly it was 11) while said soldiers were sitting (or sleeping) in their barracks. HA lost many times that many almost all of them defending the southern border. I agree with mo: When the state cannot or will not rise to its responsibility to offer services, including defense, the people are justified in doing so. There are, of course, many complicating considerations, one of those being that once the state does decide to assume its responsibility, when and how do the self-help organizations relinquish their role (and how quickly)? What is more, I have just become even more anxious and yet even more comfortable with the idea that someone stands against Israeli aggression because my step daughter and step son, who are also not Lebanese but they are citizens of a nearby Arab state, have just now come to live with me. I would sorely regret seeing them die under our collapsed apartment building. If there is someone just to the south of our building with enough weaponry to scare the aggressors I fear and cause them to reconsider an attack on my children, they would have my vote, if I could vote for them, and they certainly have gained my approbation.
I’ll have to pick the thread up later. Going to the beach.
Guys it took me a long time to try to absorb all this! We are all missing the elephant in the room: Lebanon is not a nation alas. It is a patchwork of communities that are governed by their warlords and Zaims. HA rather likes this irrespective of the hypocritical announcement of backing non sectarian state. Off course this is coming from a party that is 1000% Shia and on numerous times its leader Hassan Nassrallah has pledged to sacrifice our collective lives at the alter of Khaneini.
How to disarm a militia that is an extension of Pasdaran? All the talk of integrating or harmonizing is just wishful thinking. The HA will be marginalized when its benefactor regime has been ousted. there can be no other scenario…period.
All the talk of engaging HA is nonsense; the same with the MOU (aka Toilet paper).
If the end game is peace then we have to sit down and talk about demands and counters between two STATES!
Unfortunately we have people like Jihad(i) who are racists and fanatics and people like mo who although articulate impressively will constantly try to put the carriage in front of the horse…
Mo all your arguments in support of HA’s alleged popularity are dust in the wind because you constantly refuse to acknowledge that all that alleged support is at the point of the GUN amigo!!
The over flights are very useful. The planes fly much lower than the satellites and therefore can pick up even more accurate intel. They are not a trivial matter and neither is Ghajar or Sheba.
As for your point that the Lebanese can suffer more, it was proved wrong in 2006. The war hardly influenced Israel’s robust economy while causing major harm to Lebanon’s economy. The next war could very possibly bankrupt Lebanon and disintegrate its government institutions. Furthermore, most Israelis have access to shelters and the Lebanese do not. Bottom line, Lebanon cannot afford another war and you know it very well.
Of course the Hizballah missiles are pointed at us. But the fact is that they have not been used for quite a long time. So how much of a problem are they?
Instead of complaining about Israel, why don’t you ask yourself, what you as a Lebanese can do to lessen the chances of war? Of course the usual response is nothing at all. You have zero influence of HA. I would be happy for Lebanon and Israel to negotiate about reducing tensions. But the problem is that there is nothing the Lebanese state can deliver. When it comes to this issue, HA holds all the cards.
Enlightened, you really think that everyone who voted M14 wants peace with Israel and for that matter everyone who voted for the opposition doesn’t? You need to look up the difference between an election and a referendum.
Ezzedine? What now they are corrupt because they truseted someone who was? Is corruption by association indicative?
I am maximalist when it comes to Israel yes, and I make no apology about it. But you think because I may not use their services that aspect of their work doesn’t influence me? I don’t know anything about you, but I dont base my allegiances on what someone can do for me personally.
But hey, if trying to portray me as some 2d caricature, who is only capable of holding one political view at a time floats your boat who am i to stop you.
I suppose the story begins in 2009, when the election results showed that Aoun no longer commanded as much support among Christians. He was still the single most popular Christian leader, but his support had fallen a good 10-15 points or so, if I recall.
Then there was the flap about Issam Abu Jamra, which has since been followed by a lot of disaffection within the FPM itself, as people are beginning to suspect that Aoun is trying to eliminate political opposition to Bassil’s succession as head of the party.
The alliances with the LF, Kataeb and Michel Murr in the municipal elections didn’t help either. Many FPMers are now disillusioned… it seems that the party has lost its fervor for reform, and they’re trying to figure out where the mojo is going to come from.
You say that the South wants the Resistance. I think it’s much more complicated than that.
Most people are not ideologically-committed. They follow leaders, not ideas. The FPM is a perfect example. Before Aoun returned to Lebanon, 99% of FPMers believed that Syria was the devil and that Hizbullah was a fascist terrorist organization. After Aoun signed the Memorandum of Understanding, he lost some support among Christians, but I’d say that at least 80% of FPMers stuck with him and started to think differently about HA.
Were they convinced by his arguments? Maybe. But I tend to think that they were convinced because they trusted him. Tomorrow, if he decides that the deal with HA is off, I think they’ll still trust him.
This is a phenomenon that is not unique to the FPM. Every single party in Lebanon operates this way. Look at Jumblatt. He’s made a living out of flip-flopping, and it hasn’t hurt his ratings among the Druze.
So too with Hizbullah. People will support them not because they are desperately committed to a military resistance that will never recognize Israel; the relationship is far more complicated than that. As you said yourself, there are social services on offer, there is the “no corruption” mystique, there is Nasrallah (the most charismatic and successful Arab leader since Nasser), and there is the simple fact of identity politics — just like all of the other parties in Lebanon.
I guarantee you that Nasrallah would need all of 15 minutes to figure out how to sell a dramatic change in the party’s defense strategy to his constituents. This is not because they are blind followers. It’s because they trust him and they feel that he knows best, just like FPMers think that Aoun knows best, even when he does a complete 180 degree turn.
So it’s not the South that wants the Resistance, or the Sunnis that want vengeance against Syria, or the Druzes that want Jumblatt to go to Damascus, etc.
You’re putting the cart before the horse, in my humble opinion.
Mo: It’s not that they trusted Ezzedine, it’s that Hezbollah cadres were greedy enough to blindly dump money off with a guy promising such unreasonably high return rates and that they had so much money to invest int he first place. Where did Raad and al-Hajj et al. get so much money to invest in the first place?
As for the 2D Manichean worldview, I’m just going by what you say. When your rhetoric mirrors neocon talk of “evil,” it’s hard not to take you at your word.
AIG: If I recall, the number of Israeli displaced was in the hundreds of thousands, so it’s hard to imagine that that didn’t drastically effect the economy. Lebanon lived through 15 years of civil war and manages through a war with Israel every several years. I don’t want to see another war, but I have a feeling that if Hezbollah extended its campaign throughout most of Israel, those Israelis who live in the country would actually be very much affected. But this isn’t a pissing contest. Your point that I don’t have any influence with Hezbollah is neither here nor there, since you don’t have any influence with the Israeli gov’t either. While not transparent at all, Hezbollah is accountable to an extent to its grassroots constituency.
That being said, I agree with QN that there is a big amount of cult of personality here in Lebanon so that it’s fairly easy for one Zaim or another to get his community behind almost whatever policy he decides on. But the case of Junblatt is interesting, because some changes in course are more difficult than others, and it takes some pushing sometimes for him to get the people to toe the line. A good example is not using their real weapons in 2008. So in the end, it’s a little more complicated than an intrinsic desire for violent resistance in the south or a blind following of Nasrallah, although the latter seems to command trust more than most other Zu’ama.
Sorry about writing so late, but let me highlight the most important element that is missing from this conversation. HA’s first priority is to empower and defend a large section of the Lebanese Shi’a population. This is currently the main issue that the HA leadership is concerned with–and not the “Iranian” issue. The issue of weapons and of the resistance is secondary, however, and aims at guaranteeing some kind of political power.
So in order to address the issue of the weapons/resistance, HA needs to have some alternative guarantees about its role in the political and social empowerment of the Shi’a population at large–including those who feel that they are most represented by Amal. What kind of guarantees can be negotiated may be related to a change in the overall political infrastructure of Lebanon. Just integrating HA batallions in the army would not solve the issue; nor would institutionalizing the veto power in ministry appointments in the future–or increasing the powers of the leader of parliament. A reimagining of both Taeif and Doha agreements, giving equal powers to Sunni, Maronites, and Shi’a may be the most desirable path, but it it is the most difficult one to follow. Political secularization may be one approach to achieve this–although, overall, both HA and Amal are paradoxically opposed to this solution. Another solution would be following the British and German models of electioneering and forming “coalition” governments where “parties” would start by representing religious groups (a de facto reality, today) and, with democratic experience and social conditioning (accompanied by revamping state institutions) eventually allowing said parties to move away from a religious or sectarian representation to a social and political representation aiming at social equality and a fair distribution of ressources.
This may not happen anytime soon; alternative scenarios may emerge, of course. But in the meanwhile, I see no reason why HA would relinquish its weapons. Why should it give up the only “power” it has to influence the political agenda? I understand that this is not fair, but how is the situation of the Shi’a in Lebanon “fair”? I think we take it for granted that a shift from Maronite to Sunni dominance in politics (Taeif) is an overall improvement of the old system, but we need to start imagining another shift where it is not the Shi’a that would dominate politics, nor the Maronite or the Sunni; but the lebanese electorate in a truly pluralistic system built on secular foundations (even though it may start with a guarantee of sectarian representation/rights and equilibrium).
Maybe I am completely off in my analyses. But politics in the Lebanon (and the Middle East) has been dominated by “realpolitik” and no substantial changes have resulted from the HA/Aoun alliance–even though such an alli9ance could have succesfully undermined sectarianism and feodalism if someone smarter and more insightful and less nepotistic and corrupt than Aoun may have been the HA partner!!
My two cents!
I would like to add an element to this very interesting debate. I suggest you make a distinction between the “possibility of war” and the creation of a “state of war”. War can happen without there being a “state of war” as we have seen many times. The “State of War” benefits Nick’s Resistance Axis as they become the main if not the only interlocutor in such situations – as Nick clearly demonstrates in his arguments. The “Settlement Axis”, to use the terminology, becomes totally irrelevant in a “state of war” and is not the interlocutor. I think the whole thing is a trap Nick’s “we” should not fall into: by accepting the rules of the game set by those who benefit from the state of war, “we” set ourselves to play into their agenda. The alternative is to continue working on the agenda that you believe is best for the future of the region, with those who work for the same aims and not to fall for silly mental acrobatics sprinkled with a bit of extortion.
At first it was thought that the 2006 war would hurt Israel’s economy but after the numbers were compiled everyone was surprised to find that the war had little influence because the high tech sector continued working at full speed. For example take Intel’s R&D center in Haifa. They continued working as if there were no war.
And your claim that Israelis cannot influence their countries is really strange. Barak was elected in 98 on the platform of leaving Lebanon. Of course the Israeli public influences our government’s policy towards Lebanon.
It look like the more the settlement camp wins the more the resistant camp loses and the the more the settlement camp losses the more the resistant camp wins , Israel has the key , the question is to all of you , are the Israeli leaders smart enough to cause the loss of the resistant camp by having a settlement with settlement camp ,
I doubt it , !
Perhaps when the “settlement camp” confront the so called “resistance camp”, fully denounce and stop playing both sides and make true gestures of peace (even on personal levels among both people) maybe then the Israelis will have more courage to trust that there is truly a “settlement camp”
If I was an Israeli now and can read and understand Arabic, I would never trust the Arabs want real peace!
Happy Forth of July to all compatriots!
“…silly mental acrobatics sprinkled with a bit of extortion.” Aren’t those who excell in such things -like al-Qa’ida incubator- Turki al-Faisal- are regular dwellers at Chatham House? And the British newspaper, the Independent, presented Turki al-Faisal as a “Reform-minded prince from al-Faisal branch who has encouraged the media to act as a public watchdog.” Oh yes!
Don’t you love those Brits who seem to despise “…silly mental acrobatics sprinkled with a bit of extortion.”
Thanks for the heads up!
“Enlightened, you really think that everyone who voted M14 wants peace with Israel and for that matter everyone who voted for the opposition doesn’t? You need to look up the difference between an election and a referendum.”
lol you made me fall out my chair, since when in Lebanon does anybody respect the law, or for that matter elections or election principles?
I think the last few years has certainly proved that lebanon is in some serious need of reform!
Semantics: ( a definition for you )
“The meaning or the interpretation of a word, sentence, or other language form: We’re basically agreed; let’s not quibble over semantics.”
If I look at my own family they are equally divided between M14, and M8 (and they are Sunnis) My Inlaws are pro M8 (they being Shiite), but they don’t want war with Israel!
My personal point of view : All the politicians in Lebanon belong in the dust bin, Unless you are of the same opinion, then you certainly are part of the problem and not the solution as I see it, no matter how you sugar coat it!
So enlightened, you agree that the elections were not a referendum on peace with Israel which makes your earlier statement null and void. Making statements that are factualy crap is what makes you part of the problem and not the solution no matter how much you backtrack.
Sean, if you don’t think that Israeli actions in Qana in 96 were evil, the Israeli actions in Gaza are evil and the multiple targetting of children is evil then your definition is very different to mine.
Qifa, maybe I don’t put my point across as well as I thin I can. I did not say the “the South wants the Resistance” and I did say it was more complicated than that. In fact, I have had you and Sean accuse me of effectively lying when I said it was more than just the Resistance. Furthermore, somewhere along the line, I have said that one of the Arab worlds major issues is its love of the “cult of personality”. So now I am being accused of not thinking the very things I have been arguing?!
Having said that, making the statement that the people will just follow what their respective leaders say and do is true anywhere in the world. The example of the FPM is right. People continue to follow Aoun because they trust him and believe he does what he does in their best interests. And if Nasrallah was to come on our screens and proclaim that peace with Israel will be beneficial, a good many people will agree and support him. That is politics. Some peoples opposition to Israel is ideological some is political. But as it stands, when I say the “the South wants the Resistance”, it is apopros of any deal that may happen or in fact of the ability of the Lebanese Army to take over that function.
Anyway, what this debate I think has shown to me is that between us there is a lot of knowledge but there is a huge gulf in understanding. It unfortunately makes further debate pretty much futile as our respective positions are so polarised and positions so unlikely to be bridged.
I always contended that every war between Lebanon and Israel is one based on the Israeli need for our waters. However, it is starting to look like the next part of this grand drama is going to be over gas and oil after all. So lets see how the Resistance-less State is able to secure its natural rights over more Israeli greed and arrogance through what is laughably called diplomacy (but is in effect, the very futile act of begging the US to stop Israel from doing something it wants to do or stealing something it wants to steal).
Until we meet again, goodbye and good luck.
Mo #76: “I did not say the “the South wants the Resistance”
Mo #54: “I Am saying that the people of the South want the Resistance.”
As for our “further debate [being] pretty much futile as our respective positions are so polarized and… unlikely to be bridged” who said anything about using debate to bridge positions? I’m using debate to demonstrate that you’re wrong. 😉
But seriously, I don’t understand your argument anymore. You agree with me that people support the resistance because they trust Nasrallah and because of a larger complicated relationship with the Hizb, rather than straight ideology. So if this is the case, then the populist argument for maintaining a state of war fails. You have yet to provide a coherent answer to the question of how the people of the South are better served by the current “Defense Strategy” than they would be by a strategy that includes a peace agreement.
As for the argument about “the Israeli need for our waters”, this is an old chestnut that has no basis in reality when you consider that Lebanon is a net IMPORTER of water. We are so backward that we can’t even harness our natural resources. Meanwhile, as AIG mentioned, the Israelis are making advances in desalination. Maybe the argument for the resistance should be that we need it to take over Israel and seize their desalination plants. 😉
And with regard to oil and gas… how is the resistance going to protect those resources? Is Iran going to build Hizbullah a navy?
@ Parrhesia #69
Once upon a time, I was more persuaded by that line of argument than I am today.
The reality on the ground is that Hizbullah has shown very little interest in getting involved in day-to-day politics. The quid pro quo is largely intact: “the rest of you can take care of politics, as long as you keep your hands off of the resistance and our social service network.”
If the leaders of Hizbullah really were interested in pushing the other Lebanese parties to reform the political system, they would be a formidable force (particularly if they were willing to begin a process of military integration, in return). But they have shown absolutely no interest in this.
Every time a government is formed, Hizbullah looks for the exits, or tries to find a piece of furniture to hide behind. They give all of their ministers to Berri, and never make a noise about revisiting Taif. When it comes to major political issues, they are largely a one-trick pony.
I would greatly welcome the kind of contract that you’re alluding to (increased political participation in exchange for giving up their weapons), but this deal is not even close.
Is it already established that Israel is stealing oil and gas from Lebanon?
What is the evidence for that?
If Israel develops the fields in its international waters faster than Lebanon, that is not stealing by any measure.
Furthermore, the Lebanese have a lot of chutzpah to piggyback on years of Israeli exploration in order to make ridiculous claims.
I’m not an expert on maritime law, but isn’t it an oxymoron to say: “If Israel develops the fields in its international waters faster than Lebanon, that is not stealing by any measure.”
I would actually like to know a bit more about this issue. Has anyone read anything sensible in the press about it? I keep waiting for Matt Nash to write something for NOW Lebanon (since he’s one of the only people on staff there who actually produces real investigative stuff).
I’m sure there’s some kind of relevant expert that I could interview for the blog. Suggestions would be welcome. (No, AIG, you may not nominate yourself.)
July 3, 2010 at 2:11 am
Very Illuminating Discussion Gentleman, a lot of good points! I wont add anymore to it, other than too say that D-Day for Lebanon is really the Iranian nuclear break out!
QN- My question to you , and you are a lot more in tune with this:” you mentioned that Aoun’s alliance with the Hezb wont survive”
Personally I always had misgivings about this “unnatural order”, what are the issues here, that is creating factions within Aouns party? And what would tip them to break with the Hezb?
Enlighten me ( I havent been watching the news for a good 12 months now, what have I missed here?
Thats what I said!
July 5, 2010 at 4:54 am
So enlightened, you agree that the elections were not a referendum on peace with Israel which makes your earlier statement null and void. Making statements that are factualy crap is what makes you part of the problem and not the solution no matter how much you backtrack.
Where did I mention elections??????????
This is fair in my opinion:
OK, I will make one final attempt at getting you to see my point of view:
“You agree with me that people support the resistance because they trust Nasrallah and because of a larger complicated relationship with the Hizb, rather than straight ideology.”
NO. I agree with you that SOME people do so while for others it is irrelevant what Nasrallah says.
For example, ME. I will always hate and not recognise Israel for as long as I live, irrespective of what any leader trys to sell me.
You after all are always chiding people for treating groups as one enitity.
For pitys sake tell me how to make that more obvious.
“So if this is the case,
AS stated above, it is not.
then the populist argument for maintaining a state of war fails. You have yet to provide a coherent answer …..how the people of the South are better served by the current “Defense Strategy” than …a peace agreement.
OK, again one last try.
At the last count, irrespective of whether the people of the South do so because Nasrallah tells them to or not, the majority of people do not want a peace treaty. Therefore the current defense strategy works for them.
One does not get rid of the smell of paint on his hands by dipping it in shit.
As for the argument about “the Israeli need for our waters”, this is an old chestnut that has no basis in reality when you consider that Lebanon is a net IMPORTER of water. We are so backward that we can’t even harness our natural resources.
Your argument is flawed. Just because we cannot manage our waters does not mean the Israelis would not like to manage it for us.
“Meanwhile, as AIG mentioned, the Israelis are making advances in desalination.”
Wohoo….of course they are. But it is expensive and desalination plants can be taken out. Rivers, not so much. One day, they may reach levels of desalination excellence that will remove the threat, but current levels of technology and current and expected output in the next decade will barely make up for the water they are going to lose from the Lake of Galililee.
“And with regard to oil and gas… how is the resistance going to protect those resources?Is Iran going to build Hizbullah a navy?”
At least the Resistance has a detterance factor that is accepted across the political spectrum except perhaps by certain hasbara types and the V, the Son of the South? What esle have you got that will stop them? International law? the Lebanese navy? the UN? Please, instead of disparaging, pls advice what Lebanon should do, if it under international law, Israel is found to be stealing from Lebanese waters?
Anyway, like you say, the point of debate was to prove me wrong, so I will consider myself proven so. I will head down South at the end of the month and tell everyone, its ok the solution is to make friends with the killers of your children and get rid of your weapons because these are people that can be trusted to not attack (you know, like they werent supposed to in 96 when there were rules of engagement, and they werent supposed to in 06 when there was a US brokered ceasefire) and when they look at me like increduously I will say its ok, all the people who live up north and abroad say its ok, theres no danger.
Its been fun posting on here, but we now are just going circles every time this subject comes up.
So again, definitely this time, Cya guys around (hasbara types and V excepted of course).
My humble apologies. It was Ed’s post not yours. My mistake and I apologise. His post was right after yours and I must have conflated the two. Ignore everythign I said, as it was aimed at ED.
Lol. A good final post, an apology. That should cheer QN up!
Like many people I have been interested about the ramifications of the natural gas issue for over a year. My interest is purely non emotional.
I have contacted many of the people that I know both in the oil business and specialists in the law of the sea.
So far I do not have either permission to share what I was told or anything very material thus far except for the obvious.
If it can be shown that a field straddles the Israeli and the Lebanese exclusive economic zones then it is not a first come first serve. There are international arbitration schemes that have been put in placeto resolve this issue. I imagine that the country that is doing the exploration can always claim that it is only lifting its portion and it is for the other country to lift its portion. There is also an advantage to the country that goes first because then it would be able to charge the other country a portion of the exploratory cost or at least deduct said cost from any settlement.
Allow me to repeat here an earlier warning: “Lebanon must not count its natural gas chickens until they hatch.” This resource, unless used efficiently, transparently and for the common good might turn out to be a curse, a “Resource Curse” that will prevent us for adopting the right policies to bring the sovereign debt under control and that will exasperate the issue of development and income distribution in the country.
OIl fields that lie at the border of economic territorial waters is nothing knew so why all the accusations about stealing each others bounty ?
Note how many of the fields in this map of the north sea appear to lie exactly at the mid point between Norway and the UK.
thanks, i appreciated being able to follow this exchange.
You may be long gone by the time I finish writing this, but in case not, here is my response to your last comment.
You wrote: “I will always hate and not recognise Israel for as long as I live, irrespective of what any leader trys to sell me… For pitys sake tell me how to make that more obvious.”
No, that’s perfectly clear. My simple point is that I don’t think most people in Lebanon share your perspective. While it’s obvious that most Lebanese feel antipathy towards Israel (ranging from mere distaste and suspicion to outright hatred), I do believe that, given the choice between peace/stability or war/instability, most Lebanese would elect the former, despite whatever negative feelings they have towards Israel.
Based on what I’ve read from your comments over the past couple of years, it seems that you are unequivocally opposed to a peace agreement on both moral and practical grounds. That is, you think that settling with Israel is morally unacceptable even if it were to bring increased stability and prosperity to Lebanon and the inhabitants of the South, but you also believe that those who do not share your moral sentiments should reject the settlement option on a practical basis, because history has shown that Israel does not respect international agreements.
Again, as far as your moral position is concerned, I don’t think most Lebanese are so ideologically committed as you are. Michel Aoun has found a way to justify an alliance with Syria to his followers, despite the fact that he was exiled for fifteen years on order of Damascus, and his movement was put into the political wilderness. Similarly, I think that if stability came to Lebanon as a result of a peace agreement, and the South witnessed the creation of more jobs, higher per capita income, and improving living conditions all around, I think very few people would be signing up to launch resistance missions.
As for the practical argument, I’m not sure that your examples (1996 and 2006) are so valid, given that Lebanon was in a state of war with Israel. “Rules of engagement” are very different than a peace agreement. If the various open files are closed, what is left to fight about? Sure, there will be the odd dispute about natural resources, but my suspicion is that there will be little appetite for war as an option to settle these grievances.
Anyway, I think I’m probably talking to a void right now, since you’ve decided to leave us all, but just in case, that’s my response.
From Foreign Policy
By Barbara Slavin
Just days before a scheduled fence-mending visit to Washington by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, I received an email from the Jerusalem Post that invited me to move to territory that most of the world considers occupied Arab land.
The email, titled “Enhanced financial assistance for Aliyah to Israel’s North in 2010,” promised up to $14,000 in cash and numerous other benefits (“aliyah” is the term for when Diaspora Jews move to Israel). The email showed a smiling young mother and daughter looking out over a vista of red tile-roofed houses, rolling green hills, and a large lake.
A few clicks revealed that the Golan Heights — which Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 war — is among the “northern” communities seeking prospective immigrants.
Elsewhere on the site of Nefesh B’Nefesh — which means “Soul-to-Soul” and is the Israeli organization promoting the initiative — was a map that linked to numerous settlements in the West Bank that are also available for newcomers. Rather like old Palestinian maps that did not acknowledge the state of Israel, the Nefesh B’Nefesh illustration omits Israel’s pre-1967 “Green Line” border and any reference to the Golan Heights, West Bank, or Gaza.
Settlements were the cause of the Obama administration’s last big blowup with the Netanyahu government, during Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to Israel in February, and are likely to remain the biggest obstacle to restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Netanyahu, due to meet with President Barack Obama July 6 to make up for a session canceled after the May 31 Gaza-bound flotilla fiasco, announced a 10-month moratorium on new settlement construction last November in large part due to U.S. pressure. But the moratorium permits completion of projects already started as of Nov. 25 and excludes the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, both of which Israel has annexed but whose status in international law remains that of land occupied during a war. According to a report by Peace Now and its American sister organization, Americans for Peace Now, there was a “33% spike in building starts” in occupied territories on the eve of the moratorium, “effectively inoculating the settlers in advance so that they would feel little or no effect.”
Unless the moratorium is extended beyond its scheduled expiration on Sept. 26, Peace Now states, “these past 10 months will have had no significance on the ground — either in terms of settlement construction (which never stopped) or political impact…. Worse still, the moratorium may actually end up having laid the groundwork for a major increase in settlement construction, with settlers working hard, in advance of the expiration, to gain approval for new projects to be implemented as soon as the moratorium ends.”
Michael Herzog, a retiring brigadier general in the Israel Defense Forces, says Netanyahu will not extend the moratorium — even with all its loopholes — unless the Palestinians agree to move to direct negotiations from the proximity talks begun in May by U.S. envoy George Mitchell.
A veteran of failed negotiations in 2000 and at Annapolis in 2007, Herzog wants new talks to begin and succeed. “We cannot afford a third failure,” he told an audience at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on July 1.
Palestinian leaders say they have little incentive to begin direct negotiations while Israel continues to subsidize settlement growth. Given the choppy pattern of U.S.-Israel relations under Obama and the dynamics of Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Israel announced some new housing activity just before, during, or after the Obama-Netanyahu meeting: perhaps some digging around the old Shepherd Hotel in East Jerusalem. Plans to demolish the hotel and build Jewish housing in its place are particularly controversial because it would be the first time since 1967 that such construction would occur in Sheikh Jarrah, a predominantly Arab neighborhood north of the Old City.
“It seems as though Bibi [Netanyahu] believes it is easier and less costly to fight with Obama than his [Netanyahu’s] interior minister or the mayor of Jerusalem,” says Lara Friedman, director of policy and government relations for Americans for Peace Now.
Stephen Hadley, a former national security advisor under George W. Bush and now part of a Middle East study group at the U.S. Institute of Peace, says he thinks the Obama-Netanyahu summit will go relatively smoothly after months of friction.
“This visit is doomed to succeed,” Hadley told the Washington Institute crowd. But that doesn’t mean all is roses. “The crunch time will come in September” when the settlement moratorium and Arab League approval for proximity talks both expire, he said.
Meanwhile, a host of benefits beckons for American Jews who decide to move to Israel at a time of high unemployment in the United States.
Nefesh B’Nefesh, which receives one-third of its aliyah budget from the Israeli Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, promises employment coaching and white-collar job opportunities. In the “North,” its website says, “there is demand for grant writers, fundraisers, marketing and communications professionals and international sales people. The North is also ripe for entrepreneurship, and there are resources available to assist those who are interested in opening a business in the area.”
As to the possibility that these homes and businesses might someday have to be relinquished in the cause of peace, the website has nothing to say. The Israeli Embassy in Washington declined comment on the issue.
Is it a technical reason that makes it difficult for you to post from wherever you are going?
No, Ghassan. Mo has decided he’s too cool for us. 🙂
A good number of Lebanese will calculate which situation is more rewarding financially. They will sell their mothers if it is worth it. In 1990, the Canadian Government hosted a conference on Lebanon. Nasser Saidy, a Lebanese Muslim Shiite who was working at a bank in London and later became the 1st vice-president at the central bank in Beirut and then “advisor” in Lebanon to the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, said enthusiastically that Lebanon, Jordan and the Zionist entity should form an economic union due to the resemblance among their economic structures in order to profit from Western investments pouring to consolidate this colonial state. Saidy is among those who crunched his numbers and concluded long ago which option is more profitable to him thinking that he might eventually become the governor of a tripartite bank! Others are dreaming of a far less pompous title yet lucrative nonetheless as the kings of falafel for peace!
Two additions to the thread regarding natural gas:
(1)I have been researching the Naharnet claim that “Israel Aims to Draft Law to Control Lebanese Offshore Natural Gas Fields” without any luck. Since the Naharnet story ran without any attribution I am forced to conclude that it is a wrong item I am not suggesting that it was fabricated from scratch but probably it is based on misinterpretations. The Knesset had to vote on establishing an Israel Gas Company in order to have a government entity start working on a natural gas pipeline but that is a purely bureaucratis procedure that is not related to gas field that extend into Lebanese territorial waters.
(2) The Tamar1 field , according to the diagrams and descriptions on the Noble web site is quite far from the Lebanese exclusive economic zone.The Noble diagram , if accurate, shows that Tamar is adjacent to another bloc which extends to the Lebanese boundary.
(3) it appears that there are two possible interpretations of the law whenever an oil/natural gas field extends across boundaries.
In Right of Capture each party drills and produces as they wish on their side of the boundary. This is the law in Texas as well as the boundary between the US and Mexico in the GOM. The other approach is an arbitrated pooling of the production with each party getting a prorated share of the production. This is the law in Louisiana.
To conclude I am know ready to conclude that Tamar1 is far away from the Lebanese territorial waters but if it is true that a natural gas/oil field stradlles the boundaries then Lebanon s best chance is to auction these blocs ASAP in order to determine conclusively that the natural resources do exist and are ripe for extraction. The process is very capital intensive, the Israeli Junior partner in the Tamar1 had to raise $430 million last week and time consuming. Israel is scheduled to start production by 2012.
I think HA set the precedent for the Right of Capture in 2006…
Well, it looks like we are going to suck all the gas from your territory by drilling in ours. Another benefit for Lebanon from the continued hostilities with Israel.
Without getting into this whole discussion (and trust me, i would like to, but i have been busy lately), i just want to make two points:
1) you said, “The operation that triggered the July War was not a defensive operation. The goal of the operation was to retrieve Samir Qantar from an Israeli prison.”
Just to clarify, this view is incorrect. While one end result was to retrieve Samir Qantar, I don’t think it was “the goal”. at the very least, the timing of the operation was to help defend the Palestinians of Gaza, who were under massive attack at the time.
2) I realize that you are not philosophically an Arab nationalist in the mold of Nasser (at least Nasser’s rhetoric), but my biggest problem with the arguments of “Arab liberals” like you and Ghassan is that it underestimates the threat to the region that is posed by Israel. Whether you explicitly or implicitly state it (i can’t remember if you say it explicitly), you seem to fundamentally argue that if Lebanon just signs a “peace” deal with Israel (say, like Jordan), then Lebanon would just be able to work on its domestic problems… and over time, all would be well… (again, i am just paraphrasing your implicit argument)
Without stating the obvious, it’s clear that even under the best of circumstances “peace” with Israel poses significant problems. Even if you are right that people like myself and Mo are in the minority in lebanon or the Arab world (who will never accept the existence of a zionist cancer that continues to occupy and destroy the region), we still make up a significant minority. And Israel militancy, maximalist violence/brutality, and simple incompatibility with peace in the region mean that those like myself and Mo will continue to be forced by zionist violence to fight for freedom and against oppression.
I think, even if your ideal scenario were to happen (hizbullah integrated into the Lebanese army, armistice agreements all around, limited zionist concessions), Zionist violence would continue to provoke the need for a resistance option.
So i don’t really see what your point is. I mean, do you actually believe that a comprehensive “peace” is possible now? If so, you’re clearly delusional. If not, I don’t see what you are so hostile to Mo’s views. The Lebanon/Hizbullah model provides the alternative to Jordan/Egyptian/Syrian (though, Syria is really in a different situation) security state. And the Hizbullah model is stronger and has more potential for success now than it has ever had. And that excludes the domestic gains that Hizbullah has provided to 45% of Lebanon’s population.
I guess I just don’t see your macro view here. (anyone can find micro issues to criticize and quibble with, but that’s not my point now).
July 5, 2010 at 11:13 am
My humble apologies. It was Ed’s post not yours. My mistake and I apologise. His post was right after yours and I must have conflated the two. Ignore everythign I said, as it was aimed at ED.
Lol. A good final post, an apology. That should cheer QN up!
Mo: In the spirit of Goodwill, Lebanese ineterfaith relations, Bridge Building, Dialogue, Non Sectarian Hullaballoo etc etc etc
” I humbly accept your apology”, but with one reservation ! Don’t run like a coward just when the conversation and dialogue was getting interesting! I have been absent for almost 1 year and not commenting or reading. While I dont agree with everything that you write, your contribution is non the less appreciated ( apart from the hatred bit, I just dont understand the blind hate bit).
Joe M: Very articulate, while I am not a “total Liberal” I can tell you one thing most Lebanese are fed up. That apart from the Palestinians who have suffered much more than us, our native country seems since 1973 suffered the excesses of this conflict, most of our generation just want it solved- we are simply over it! There has to be a way forward!
1. On the “defensive” character of the July 2006 operation: to my mind, your rationale does not qualify as “defense”, and I think it’s obvious why.
2. As for your second critique, it is more or less what I described in my conversation with Mo as the “practical” critique of the settlement option. You are saying that even if settling with Israel were not morally reprehensible, it is for all practical purposes a ridiculous idea, since Israeli militancy, violence, etc. will dash any chances of a real and lasting peace, and compel a return to war.
My argument is that pursuing a comprehensive peace is the best of all available options, if the goal is to produce stability and improve the lives of the region’s inhabitants. To me, the option that you and Mo advocate is incoherent in its objectives, unlikely to succeed, and more likely to lead to more misery for the Lebanese and the Palestinians.
When you say, for example:
“The Lebanon/Hizbullah model provides the alternative to Jordan/Egyptian/Syrian… security state. And the Hizbullah model is stronger and has more potential for success now than it has ever had.”
What would this “success” look like, to you? Are you arguing that the Hizbullah model is the best to achieve a negotiated settlement? Or that it is the best one to achieve the eradication of Israel? What exactly are your objectives?
I am tempted to join mo , at least in abstaining from saying the same things every fortnight or so.No one seems to pay any attention to the points made by others and so round and round we go.
You cannot have it both ways. If you are interested in a resolution to what has arguably become the longest armed conflict in history you cannot be serious by suggesting that the only solution is the elimination of the Zionist state. That is not a solution.
It is time that we seek a real , meaningful and comprehensive solution. And yes this means that no party gets all what it wants and it does mean trust. If I am not willing to consider trust then I am not willing to contemplate a solution either.
Peace is the goal. We have to agree on the goal in order to negotiate a means of getting there. If you do not , and it seems that you do not, share this goal then all what you are interested in is to be a spoiler.
I on the other hand want peace, a comprehensive peace, one that is mutually acceptable to both parties. In the case of Lebanonit is so clear that peace is not arrived at through arms. conflict and tension. If you can put aside for a moment the purely emotional rhetoric and the empty cliches you must admit that if a problem has only one solution then there is nothing to negotiate or discuss. But there are a number of paths that would lead to the “promised land” if you will excuse the expression.
If we agree that in principle an end can be achieved through a number of different “means” then it is incumbent on the parties to choose the best, the least costly and the most efficient path.
Given that peace is the goal it is clear to me that one way to achieve it is to build a huge well equipped army, to create a Sparta. But if there are other ways of getting there that are less costly
and more efficient then it would be wrong to choose the former. What are some other ways? How about a mutual defense treaty between Lebanon and say Turkey or NATO or any other credible entity. If that can be done then it would be rather silly not to do it.
You are free to reject such a scenario but if we are to have an effective discussion you cannot just reject the scenario based on emotion. Do not just say the Egyptian accommodation has not worked. Tell me why it has not. Are the Egyptians better off than what would have been the case? … Let us discuss the matter with facts, empirical facts in this case instead of statements based on emotion . Arguments that cannot be backed up with evidence wind up sounding hollow. They become similar to the arguments used by the “flat earth society”.
QN and GK,
You have forgotten to factor in “dignity”. As we all know: “Melior morior bellator, quam ago profugus”. Or something to that effect. At least you see that the sentiment is not new.
1) I never said Hizbullah’s actions were “defensive” for Lebanon, but that they were primarily in defense of the Palestinians. You and I may disagree on the necessity of such actions, but I was clarifying your point about Samir Qantar. And I think it’s an important point because it’s representative of why people like myself and Mo have so much respect for Hizbullah. Even though Nasrallah admits that the action was miscalculated, it was still taken to protect the people of Gaza, which is highly commendable.
As for your point about the comprehensive peace, even ignoring Hizbullah and the other non-Palestinian resistance forces, im still confused by how your “comprehensive peace” will occur without an effective threat of force to balance the demands for “peace”? Israel hasn’t even been close to even considering the Thomas Friedman plan (ie. the Arab League plan from the 2002 at the Beirut Summit), the negotiations with Syria broke down so badly that the negotiator (Turkey) has apparently joined the resistance forces, and as Sean pointed out (and AIG confirmed) the zionists can’t even agree to the most minor concessions… Do you think zionist maximilism will change in the absence of Hizbullah’s military capability? I don’t. I’ve never seen Israel make concessions out of compassion or from negotiations on paper. Unless you consider Oslo a success…
My point isn’t to advocate my own position now, but just to say that it surprises me that you are so hostile to alternatives when your view seems pretty unrealistic.
As for comprehensive peace, as you know, my view is that there can’t be one unless Israel becomes a democratic state. But that there will not be a democratic solution unless multiple tracks of resistance are advocated (including violent, political, economic and nonviolent methods).
The Egyptian people have suffered greatly for their “stability.” More so than the Syrian people (except those from Golan), for example. But, in my opinion, the Egyptian/Jordanian model the most likely outcome of the type of “comprehensive peace” that you and QN advocate.
1. Regardless of whether the July 2006 operation was launched to retrieve Samir Qantar or in defense of the Gazans, you’ve still proven my point: it was not an act that can be characterized as being part of a “national defense strategy” for Lebanon. This is the point I was making to Mo, and to anyone else who is trying to claim that the operation was in Lebanon’s defensive interests.
2. You said: “im still confused by how your “comprehensive peace” will occur without an effective threat of force to balance the demands for “peace”?”
I see you’ve fallen into my trap. 🙂
Here you’re effectively arguing that I should support Hizbullah as a means of pressuring Israel to concede to a peace settlement (which is more or less the view of most of my Syrian friends.) Great! I have no problem with this.
But this brings us back to the original question: if signing a peace agreement is the goal, then why all of the cloak and dagger rejectionist BS? If I’m going to subscribe to your strategy, why am I not allowed to ask that Hizbullah do the same?
You either have to convince me that my objective is flawed or that my means are flawed. If you’re conceding — for the sake of argument — that my objective is not necessarily flawed, then what is so problematic about the means I am proposing? You told me that I should include Hizbullah as part of my peace arsenal. Fine. I’ve got no problem with that. But for your strategy to work, you have to find a way to convince the party to accept a peace agreement, and to not provoke another war.
Joe said: “The Egyptian people have suffered greatly for their “stability.” More so than the Syrian people (except those from Golan), for example. But, in my opinion, the Egyptian/Jordanian model the most likely outcome of the type of “comprehensive peace” that you and QN advocate.”
This is comically naive. You really believe that the Syrians are so much better off than the Egyptians, and this is a direct result of the fact that Egypt signed a peace agreement with Israel?
What about Turkey? (Until recently, a staunch ally of Israel). Are the Turkish people suffering under the yoke of their peace settlement?
You beat me to the response regarding Joe m’s laughable statement 🙂
Joem , that is exactly what I find very frustrating about these discussions , as per my above post. You are entitled to your opinion but back it up with something. Don’t just make completely unsubstantiated statements.
In this regard there isn’t much that will allow you to offer any evidence to support your assertion. Whether it is GDP per capita on PPP basis or whether it is level of economicgrowth, openess, index of freedom or any other measure you will find out that both do not fare wellbut that Egypt in one sense at least, is better of than Syria.
What I also found to be fascinating is that all of a sudden you have dropped the references to Jordan because again by all metrics Jordan is heads and shoulders above Syria including the Arab index of democracy. So here we are two countries that have made peace and one that has not and the one that has insisted on passing itself as the leader of the resistance, as long as resistance is not on its border has fared the least. Actually Syria is a basket case. It is a badly managed , centrally planned dictatorship. Is that the model that you want us to follow? You cannot be serious.
How effective was the help provided by HA to Gaza by causing the devastating 06 war on Lebanon? Did it deter Israel from launching operation Cast Lead? And where were God’s Men in 08 to help the Gazan’s?
You know what that’s it! I am joining Mo in exile 🙂
I’m enjoying sitting back and reading the completely ridiculous statements made above…
There really is no sense debating such random claims. Might as well say things like “In Syria, pigs can fly!” or “I was once abducted by aliens!”
Try and prove me wrong…..
The ultimate goal is always peace and the question is always how. I was making a minimalist argument in saying that you should, at least, support Hizbullah as a negotiating tactic. That argument seems the most clearly obvious and easy to agree with. You even seem to endorse this view. (“Great! I have no problem with this.”) I think we differ when you then assume that that flows directly to your conclusion that “signing a peace agreement is the goal”…
The “rejectionist BS” differs from your view in that we fundamentally believe that zionism is incompatible with justice for the Palestinians (at least) and the region as a whole. While you would be satisfied with an Egypt/Jordan/Oslo treaty, we could not accept this. I don’t find it impossible for an Egypt/Jordan/Oslo treaty to more or less hold with every state expect Palestine (im not implying that occupied palestine is a state), but I see almost no evidence that zionism is compatible with even the most basic justice, self-determination and safety for Palestinians.
I think it is easy for the Arab liberal to scream “WHAT ABOUT GDP, WHAT ABOUT GDP!!!” as Ghassan wants to, but even an infinite GDP did not stop Bin Laden from sympathizing with the plight of the Palestinians. Even if there were a signed “peace agreement” with Israel and Lebanon, and even if there was “stability” in Lebanon, it is a testament to Arabism that there would still be enough sympathy for the suffering of the Palestinians that extreme repression (whether by the Israeli military or the Lebanese internal security) will be required to maintain the “peace”.
My point is that if Hizbullah didn’t exist, we would have to invent them. Hizbullah is a product of the situation.
It seems to me that your concern is more with your lack of control of Hizbullah than with the concept of Hizbullah itself, but Hizbullah was formed of it’s environment. An environment with lots of war, religious sensibilities, poverty, extreme hostility from various state based actors (both lebanese and Israeli), a need for secrecy…. And even in this hostile environment, Hizbullah has been one of the most successful socio-political movements in world history (and probably the most successful non-state actor in the world today).
My point is just that even though i disagree with your interpretation, I’m not unsympathetic with your concerns. Hizbullah raises serious practical and philosophical questions about political power. In the end, regarding Israel and Zionism, I agree with the “rejectionist BS” and think that you can’t negotiate with Israel until it abandons zionism. But even if you disagree with that, of all the flawed options available, Hizbullah seems to me to be first among equals. There are no good options, but I will support their success and continue to do so into the future.
Also, as to my point about the differences between Egypt and Syria, I just returned from Egypt and may be biased by the violence I saw. I have not been to Syria in quite some time. But the brutality of Egyptian society has few equals, in my opinion. government violence against the people is extreme (ask Khaled Said), and the interEgyptian violence is also quite bad. A lot of it is probably the result of economics, but a lot is a reflection is politics and general frustration. Anyway, maybe i was overstating it by saying it is worse than Syria, but you and Ghassan were clearly overstating your points as well in claiming there is no difference.
Oh, and Ghassan, Jordan’s GDP can **** itself.
Joe m says
“Oh, and Ghassan, Jordan’s GDP can **** itself.”
That is nothing short of a pathetic response. You are the one who claimed that Syria is a better example than Jordan and I am saying that when countries are compared there are actual reliable empirical metrics that can be used. Jordan happens to be way above Syria in every one of them including the Human Development Index , the Human Poverty Index and the Arab Democracy Index just to name a few. (Just in case you are not familiar with the HDI, it has become the single most popular Index world wide to measure the quality of life. It is compiled by the UN and is essentially the brainchild of Mahbub Al Haq and Amartya Sen.
Polemics have never won an argument but they sure sooth the soul of those that utter them lol. Here is what Focault had to say about what appears your favourite style of “discourse”:
“If I open a book and see that the author is accusing an adversary of “infantile leftism” I shut it again right away… The polemicist , on the other hand, proceeds encased in privileges that he possesses in advance and will never agree to question. On principle, he possesses rights authorizing him to wage war and making that struggle a just undertaking; the person he confronts is not a partner in search for the truth but an adversary, an enemy who is wrong, who is armful, and whose very existence constitutes a threat”. Does that remind you of someone you know?
We can split hairs about varieties of state repression all day, but the main point still stands: there is no necessary correlation between signing a peace agreement and oppressing your citizens. Yes, I agree with you that plenty of people in Lebanon would continue to sympathize with the plight of the Palestinians, no matter what the GDP of the country is. But I seriously doubt that “severe repression” would be the likely outcome. Again, the repression that exists in Egypt and Jordan is not a function of the fact that they have signed peace treaties, so let’s leave this distracting and simplistic argument aside.
I hear what you’re saying about using Hizbullah as a tool to exert pressure on Israel to accept a comprehensive peace deal, but the key element that you’re neglecting (even though you recognize it elsewhere) is the element of control. If you can’t control your tool, how does it serve your purposes?
I don’t understand how you can say, in the same sentence, mind you: “The ultimate goal is peace” and “…While you would be satisfied with an Egypt/Jordan/Oslo treaty, we could not accept this….”
If I understand you correctly, you want peace, but you still want to kill/eliminate/wipe out Israel. How is this peace?
Peace means both sides get to live in peace (at least by my understanding of the word peace). Your version of peace sounds a lot like “One side gets to live in peace after it’s wiped the other side off the planet”.
That’s not really peace.
Those who think that the Zionist “Peace is the goal” and describe someone who opposes it as “a spoiler” are either polemicists, spoiled brats (who believe sleeping with Zionism is their ultimate achievement) or both.
As for the different indexes put forward, they mean nothing. Syria on a regular basis gives Jordan water (because the plucky little dead “king” and then his non-stop flying son agreed to let their people drink Zionist sewage in accordance with the 1994 Wadi ‘Arba agreement. You can read about it regularly in Jordanian newspapers not affiliated with the government. Even official ones cannot hide it anymore), wheat, etc.
And before parroting uselessly different indexes, you better for example read what Galal Amin wrote critically about in عصر التشهير بالعرب والمسلمين. نحن والعالم بعد ١١ سبتمبر ٢٠٠١، دار الشروق، الطبعات الأولى، ٢٠٠٤م، ٨٨-١٢٩.
Syria also help on a daily basis thousands of Lebanese (neglected by the racists in Beirut) in the North and in the Hermel regions who study, work and receive medical help from Syrian institutions in Homs, Tartous, etc.
Certainly, those who blinded by Zionism and trying to please the Bushama crowd cannot and do not want top see such facts. And they dare call others polemicists.
Yes indeed Jihad. God knows where we’d all be without Syrian largesse.
Above I said, “As for comprehensive peace, as you know, my view is that there can’t be one unless Israel becomes a democratic state.” that should help clarify your misunderstanding.
The problem with the control argument is that it’s hard to argue that the people “control” the state, even when elections are held (then, of course, there are lebanese “elections” which make the state even less controlled). As a result, Im hardly sympathetic of that argument Hizbullah acts outside the power of institutions, or that it’s decisions can hurt lebanese christians who have no role in the decision making… for example.
We’ve had the discussion before, but id be more sympathetic (though not wholly sympathetic) of your control argument if the lebanese state was a more democratic. But to argue in favor of the lebanese state and against Hizbullah is a rather silly exercise. I think a strong argument can be made that Hizbullah is more democratic than the lebanese state, it’s just that it’s constituency is smaller.
But the more relevant question is why you think a “peace” agreement will actually produce peace? That always confuses me about the Arab liberal. At best, it’s like an attempt to hold back the water of a river with a weak dam, it may hold some back for some time, but eventually it is bound to crumble.
Also, you said, “there is no necessary correlation between signing a peace agreement and oppressing your citizens.”
I think this is clearly false. Without going into too much detail, for the sake of time, i think the differences between Egypt and Syria are enlightening. That the Syrian government is generally respected and liked by its people (though, not without criticism), while the Egyptian is universally hated and despised. As a result, Egypt has to use much more violence to keep the people under submission. And it is more than obvious that the key ingredient in that dynamic is the relationship with Israel. Anyway, since I was criticized before for being too brief with my explanations, I recognize that this is not as detailed as it should be. but i don’t have the time to look up the statistics on repression, such as number in prison, number of monthly demonstrations, use of torture, killings, brutality, or opinion polls and such…
Sorry, I must have missed that line while reading your post. Point taken.
Let’s agree to disagree on Egypt vs. Syria. (Although, I notice that you didn’t address the question of how Turkey managed to reconcile democracy with peace…)
As for why I believe that a peace agreement will actually produce peace… it’s true, there’s no guarantee. The whole thing could collapse. But what are the alternatives? You’re trying to sell me on supporting “multiple tracks of resistance” to turn Israel into a democracy. How does that work?
I’m sure you will agree that some strategies, no matter how well-intentioned, are short-sighted and counter-productive. It’s not enough to be sincere in your support for the Palestinian cause for your ideas and strategies to be wise and effective.
Instead of arguing about strategies, why don’t we try to reach an agreement on the objective? Because if we have different objectives, then what’s the point of chasing our tails on the ways and means?
Now it’s my turn to ask you a question: If you are so convinced that Israel is doomed, why don’t you advocate simply waiting it out? Smart commentators like John Mearsheimer have argued persuasively that Israel is heading towards becoming an unsustainable apartheid state, followed by a democratic binational state (spelling the end of the Zionist experiment). If this is the case, then doesn’t military resistance only delay the inevitable?
Joe M said:
“the negotiations with Syria broke down so badly that the negotiator (Turkey) has apparently joined the resistance forces”…
most arguments and spins are intriguing. Joe kindly let me know how did you come to this amazing conclusion? By hearing the false bravado of the Turkish PM or FM? Please enlighten me if Turkey has canceled any of the 16 military treaties and agreements that it has with Israel! Please advise me how is your amazing comment justified?
Yes, all those Phallangists and LForces thank God privately day and night for sending Syrian troops into Lebanon in 1976.
On the other hand, the Syrian help to Jordan is not new:
Detailing the agreements, Hadidi said Jordan has requested its northern neighbour to continue supplying it with 50,000 tonnes of wheat a year in implementation of an existing protocol.
Syria to Provide Yemen, Jordan and Egypt with Wheat
Syria to supply 3 million cubic meters of water to Jordan
And to the Lebanese neglected by the racist wannabe white class in Beirut:
وليس غريبا عندما تسمع من أهالي الطفيل( نحن لا نستطيع أن نعيش من دون سوريا) فسوريا تؤمن لقرية الطفيل اللبنانية الدواء والسلع الغذائية وحاجات أخري بأسعار رخيصة وجميع الخدمات الطبية وإسعاف المرضي يتم من الطفيل إلي سوريا والكهرباء, حيث تصل الشبكة الكهربائية السورية إلي داخل الطفيل والهواتف تصل إلي داخل الطفيل عبر تغطية خليوية وأخري سلكية وطلاب الجامعات يدرسون في دمشق ويتم تقديم المواد المدعومة للقرية من خبز و مازوت ومواد وأيام الشتاء وعند قطع الطرقات ووصول سماكة الثلج إلي حد عزل القرية تقوم الجرافات التابعة لبلدية عسال الورد بفتح الطريق مباشرة وعلي عدة مرات وقبل أن تفتح طرق القرية السورية.
You can delete my comment for all I care. I always answered the US-Zionist posts, including yours, with facts. Your reaction is indicative of many things. As the plucky little king of Jordan says: shalom!
I wasn’t speaking technically. Thus, my use of “apparently” is meant to imply that turkey is in the process of choosing confrontation of Israel, rather than alliance. And, there is plenty of false bravado to go around. if false bravado made it impossible to be part of the resistance, then Syria would already have a peace treaty with Israel.
Regarding Turkey, i simply don’t think the situation is the same. Turkey accepted the existence of the zionist state in 1949 (i believe), is not arab, and explicitly tried to deny its relationship with the muslim world. thus, regarding israel, until recently, turkey was in a position no different than, say, bolivia. I don’t understand your view that Turkey is similar to Egypt. Did Israel ever occupy Anatolia like it did the Sinai?
Regarding your more important point, why i don’t just sit back and wait like Mearsheimer… well, the reason is because i think the resistance is a substantial reason Mearsheimer’s argument is at all valid. without the resistance, im sure the zionists would have a more solid hold on the region. But the resistance, and particularly Hizbullah and their last war with the zionists, caused great pride among everyone, and weakened the zionists will. Just read the work of avraham burg to see th effects of the constant state of war on the zionist people. he even goes so far to imply that most israeli jews will migrate to europe soon.
but too, I think Mearsheimer is in the right track, but misunderstands the situation. Like current Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin (who’s a hawk) said, he’d prefer one-state to a failed two-state project.
I think that the resistance (and Israel’s arrogance) is largely the reason that the palestinians managed to prevent a Jordan/Egyptian capitulation. The resistance makes a false peace impossible. It makes the zionists feel that a real peace is a necessity (rather than the Palestinians feeling all the suffering). I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Israel, but the first time i was there, i was absolutely shocked by how little the jews even know there are palestinians or that there is an occupation.
there are numerous examples and reasons. but it simply boils down to the fact that the resistance makes mearsheimer’s apartheid theory (as if there isn’t apartheid now) less sustainable.
I’ve got a question here for QN to clarify something that may or may not have already been clarified: what sort of settlement are we talking about here? Just Lebanon and Israel? Lebanon-Syria and Israel? Or are we talking about Lebanon joining a comprehensive Arab League peace agreement with Israel?
I think these are very different propositions. And the first seems impossible and also a bad idea to me, while the latter just doesn’t seem very likely these days. Which leaves the Syrian-Lebanese deal, which would be the easiest, I suppose, but which also puts the Palestinians in the awkward position of being the only frontline (or behind lines as it were) group left, making their task of ending the occupation all the more difficult.
So if we’re talking about that, what do you think the ramifications of such a peace deal would be for the Palestinians, be they in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon or elsewhere?
Smart commentators like John Mearsheimer have argued persuasively that Israel is heading towards becoming an unsustainable apartheid state…
“Smart commentators like John Mearsheimer” would be a whole lot smarter if they didn’t let their personal hatred interfere with their scientific study. He makes the anti-Zionist happy with his constant critcism of Israel, but I’m sorry to break it to you and Mr. M., but Israel is sustainable for a LONG time.
Israel’s jewish population is growing and now about 5.6 million.
John Mearsheimer’s miscalculation
UAE wants attack on Iran’s nuclear sites:
It’s not just Mearsheimer who believes that if Israel remains on the path it’s on now (with settlement activity undermining the possibility of a viable Palestinian state in the West Bank), the two-state solution will soon no longer be an option. Many academics and analysts have made this same argument, including plenty of Israelis as well. I guess these are all haters and self-haters, right?
Let’s see. In 1948 the two state solution based on the 67 lines was not “viable”. In 67 that solution was still not “viable”. Maybe in 1991 it became “viable”. Now some people are telling us that because what Israel is doing the solution is not “viable” anymore? Who decides what is viable? Why is Andorra viable and the West Bank isn’t? Why was a “viable” solution for the Palestinians in 1948 only getting all of Israel?
I suspect that “viable” has become code for the minimum that the Palestinians will accept. It is just a negotiation tactic and what “viable” means changes with how the Palestinians feel. I will pose to you the challenge that you posed to the “resistance”, if you really believe that Israel is hurting itself with the settlements, why are you against them?
I am very much for a two state solution based on small changes to the 67 line. However, I am not worried at all of Israel becoming an “apartheid state” and suffering from sanctions. That would take huge changes in US public opinion that would take decades. And remember, Israel always has the option of unilateral withdrawal while leaving behind a well armed contingent of settlers for the Palestinians to take care of or vice versa.
My view is that you have got it all wrong. Instead of asking Israel to stop settlements, you should be asking the Palestinians to negotiate faster for a solution. Bibi has agreed to direct talks. Or, you should be telling the Palestinians not to negotiate and wait Israel out.
And please, no complaints about Israel’s sincerity or the fact we are negotiating from a position of strength. We are negotiating with our interests in mind and these interests are determined by elections in Israel. If we think Bibi is doing a bad job, we will kick him out next election like we did last time he was PM.
Just to clarify, Mearsheimer doesn’t believe “that IF Israel remains on the path it’s on now (with settlement activity undermining the possibility of a viable Palestinian state in the West Bank), the two-state solution WILL soon no longer be an option.”
He believes that the two state solution already is no longer an option. he might go back sometime in the future, but right now, he says ” the two-state solution is now a fantasy.”
Though, i don’t think he has particularly sharp insight. But it is a good lagging indicator regarding what has been obvious since the Wye River agreements. At least the mainstream “serious” people are finally seeing the obvious too.
Many academics and analysts have made this same argument, including plenty of Israelis as well.
Mearsheimer’s Doomsday Farce
And the fact of the matter is, there is already is a 2 state solution.
It’s really the formality of a signed peace treaty, economic progress and the additional Palestinian sovereignty that we’re discussing.
We’re already 70% there.
Joe m/ QN,
Both of you have spoken of Mearsheimer’s personal assessment and that is fine. He has earned his credentials and must be taken seriously but it is important to keep in mind that this is nothing else but a personal assessment. If the two state solution is a “fantasy” then I am certain that you do not mean a binational state is more realistic at this time. If a two state solution is a fantasy the the only way to describe a binational solution is that it is a fantasy’s fantasy.
Israel cannot keep the occupation. That is almost agreed upon by most including the Israelis. Some , and I have taken this position before on this very space, believe that the ultimate solution is a binational state a la Buber. But the road to a binational state is lengthy , tortuous and has no option but to pass through a two state phase.
I strongly believe that eventually all nation states will fade away but that does not mean this will happen tomorrow or next month or next year. Rejectionists are in love of hanging on to such ideas that they know or at least ought to know are nothing short of delusional thinking. Note Joe m’s argument that peace with Israel will become possible only once Israel becomes democratic. And who is his model for bringing on such a democracy ? but why it is Syria of course helped by Ahmadinajjad . Hamas and Hezbollah. What logic. Where is it written that no two states can be at peace unless one of them, the other side is democratic. Israel is not a democracy and will never be one but the same is true of each and every Arab country, none has ever known democracy and none is likely to practice it any time soon. So please let us get real and stop imposing these ridiculous conditions on what it takes for peace. Peace can be had in a short period of time given good will and the ability to recognize that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Negotiations is about a trade off. No one gets all what they are asking for. If one is to insist on just taking then there is no way that negotiations will make any advances.
I honestly am worried because more people are claiming that the principle of a two state solution is dead without offering an alternative. There is a difference between an unacceptable offer for a two state and between saying that the idea of a two state is dead. If the idea of a two state is dead then I am afraid that we have a potential calamity that is starring us in the face.
The Hebrew version has more detailed graphics:
I’ll try to rejoin the discussion later. Too busy today.
Actually, can I just recuse myself from this converation and let you guys go at each other instead of ganging up on me?
Al Khiam was once a beautiful town.. too bad this next coming round will be the third time Al Khiam gets destroyed 😦
By the way, what the IDF has done in publishing the intel is very stabilizing and reduces the chances of war. This very accurate intel will force Hizballah to reconsider its vulnerability to air attacks. The problem for the IDF was never the attack itself but finding out what to attack.
I think that Israel sharing the fact that it has good intel is a concession to Lebanon for the sake of stability.
One point that I raised in my recent post on my personal blog and on Yalibnan.com that did not illicit any response to my surprise:-) 😉 is what I thought at the time was a clever insight regarding a repurcussion of natural gas discovery in Israel.
Put aside the potential conflict with Lebanon over natural gas and also put aside the economics. If the Israel find is as large as some are making it be then Israel will become a major exporter of natural gas. Many of its neighbours are exporters themselves and so Europe becomes the most logical market. But Europe is dependent on Russia and so a hugely important result of this find will be to free Europe from the dependence on Russia. Consequently Russia might suffer economically as well. Would Israel use this “weapon” to distablize Russia and how would the Russians react? What do you think and more importantly is anyone in Israel thinking along these lines? I would appreciate a response .
You are too shy. Don’t be afraid to point people to your blog when you post something you would like a response to. QN did this for quite a while on Syria Comment, so I am sure he will understand 🙂
The last thing Israel wants is a fight with Russia. First, in recent years the Russian middle class has taken a liking to Israel and about 500,000 Russian tourists are expected this year.
The flight is short and everyone (almost) speaks the language.
Second, Israel and Russia are both leading arm exporters. Israel does not want Russia to sell sophisticated weapons to its periphery and vice versa. Following the Georgian war a silent agreement was reached. One aspect of that is that the Russians have not delivered the S-300 to Iran. And don’t expect Syria to get anything state of the art from the Russians without covert Israeli agreement.
Third, it is an American company that has the license for the gas and they will establish agreements with whomever they like.
Last and most importantly, you have to understand that Israel, unlike Syria or Egypt or Turkey, views itself as a small state whose ambitions are purely economical. We want to be like Denmark in Europe. We have no dreams of grandeur like the Syrians or Turks. We want peace and quiet to pursue economic development. The last thing Israel would do is try to alienate or destabilize Russia. We have enough enemies.
I try to get Ghassan to post links to his blog, but he is far too self-effacing.
We youngsters are much more brusque. 😉
AIG said: “We want to be like Denmark in Europe. We have no dreams of grandeur like the Syrians or Turks. We want peace and quiet to pursue economic development. The last thing Israel would do is try to alienate or destabilize Russia. We have enough enemies.
This is more or less the same thing that Rafiq Hariri wanted for Lebanon, i.e. to be “a bastion of liberal capitalism and ecumenical permissiveness,” as Michael Young has put it. Clearly something of a naive vision, but there was a lot of optimism back in the early 90’s when he launched his rebuilding campaign. The Madrid talks and subsequent Oslo process made it seem like the region was heading toward peace, etc.
Alas, economic development requires much effort as well as certain freedoms and openness. Spoiling is so much easier.
I have been part of several startups and being a little naive is essential to success. I never tell unexperienced entrepreneurs how difficult the road will be. I just tell them to persevere and not give up.
He has earned his credentials and must be taken seriously…
Just because someone has “credentials”, doesn’t mean every opinion they have “must be taken seriously”. I find well-intentioned “mavens”, with credentials from “here-to-the-roof”, OFTEN make mistakes and bad predictions. I can think of Henry Kissenger, Fareed Zackaria, Mr. M. and a multitude of others.
Although all these pundits were against the Iraq War, I would dare say what would have today if we had Saddam Hussein sitting in power today along with the “new” Turkey and Iran. Instead, Iraq is our defacto forward base just in cast Iran and “chosen” feel “frisky”.
… but it is important to keep in mind that this is nothing else but a personal assessment. If the two state solution is a “fantasy” then I am certain that you do not mean a binational state is more realistic at this time.
I see it hasn’t sunk in yet. I’ll repeat again, the PA controls the West Bank. We have a “2 state solution”, and we’ve had it for years.
If a two state solution is a fantasy the the only way to describe a binational solution is that it is a fantasy’s fantasy.
It’s a fantasy to say there isn’t a 2 state solution. The PA controls Palestinian life 100% in Palestinian-controlled territory.
Israel cannot keep the occupation.
Israel keeps Palestinians living in Palestinian-controlled territory out of Israeli life every day, and quite successfully.
This Mearsheimer Approved™ false warning is what AIG and I are referring to and also what we can’t seem to convince you and the anti-Zionist crowd.
I have no idea where to begin picking up the thread again with Joe, so I’m going to respond to Sean instead. (I’m sure Joe will have plenty to criticize there anyway 😉 )
I’m going to be perfectly honest with you. My primary concern is the security of Lebanon and the welfare of its people, and I believe that most Lebanese feel the same way, even if some pay lip service to broader allegiances (Arabism, Islamism, etc.)
The problem is that there is no way to isolate Lebanon from the rest of the conflict, as we are frequently reminded. So, at the very least, I’m talking about a Lebanon-Syria-Israel deal.
But even that is problematic, because it leaves the Palestinians high and dry, which is bound to end up impacting Lebanese security and stability in adverse ways (if I’m thinking purely cynically, here). So the ideal solution, in my opinion, is something like the Arab Peace Initiative.
The problem with the Arab Peace Initiative, as AIG always wants to remind us, is that it is ambiguous on the issue of the right of return. As long as that fundamental issue is not clarified, the API is a non-starter as far as the Israelis are concerned. And that’s where we find ourselves today.
The question that Joe and I have been arguing about is: where do we go from here?
I have no clue what you are complaining about or is it that you just want to complain
I have said in essence the same things that you have said but used different words. I disagreed with Mersheimer totally but said that because of his “stature” we ought not to dismiss his ideas outright.
And why are you worked up when I go as far as to say that a two state solution is not a fantasy???
Was facinating to follow this thread.
I don’t think the gas reserves found in the area are significant enough to change the Russian, or Iranian position as leading exporters. Those countries proven reserves are one, if not two, order of magnitudes larger than the total (estimated!) Gas findings by Israel.
The real significance for the region is the impact on Israel, Lebanon and Palestine’s economies.
If I were the Palestinian Authority, I wouldn’t wait but negotiate an agreement with the Israeli gas finders now, giving them a right to future gas finds in the Gazq waters in exchange for a nice percentage.
Even considering all you posted about drilling rights and gas fields across borders, I think Israel would be glad to reach a settlement on that front and the Palestinians sure need the financial independece this could offer now(provided they put it to good use).
But like the Lebanese, I am afraid the PA may prefer to keep fantasizing about extracting it themselves without the means to do so while Israel will keep pumping the fields dry from its side of the border…
My replies have been to QN. So I guess we mostly agree. Although I’m not one who thinks John Mearsheimer or Stephen Walt have much “stature”. There are plenty of pundits out there who continually “get it wrong” especially when it comes to ME issues.
since security resolution 1701 would still be a basic framework through which a conflict would viewed, and contested ideologically, how do view that resolution now? and how do you see the way things are now through the lens of that resolution and its aim of creating a permanent ceasefire?
I think 1701 is durable, or as durable as one can hope for in Lebanon. The fact that both sides frequently appeal to it means that it’s taken seriously as a standard, even if both sides are guilty of violating it.
What does your gut feeling tell you as an answer to the question you posed in comment no. 13?
I would be very surprised if Hizbullah attacked Israel in response to an attack on Iran.
Maybe some kind of causus belli would be manufactured, or maybe they would launch some kind of attack that they didn’t take credit for… but I would be very, very surprised if they attacked expressly in retaliation for an attack on Iran.
They didn’t attack when Gazan civilians were getting bombed; they’re going to attack when Iranian nuclear plants are bombed? I doubt it.
I would love to accept you theory but I think it is not supported by the evidence which is that Iran invests huge amounts of money in HA per year. What is the investment for if there would be no retaliation against Israel in such circumstances? It doesn’t make sense.
In this case one or two katyushas fired at Nahariya or Kiryat Shemona are not going to cut it. The Iranians would want to hurt Israel. A massive attack and longer range rockets will be used. There is no way for HA to launch such an attack and blame someone else. And what credible excuse can they give for such a large “disproportionate” attack on Israel? That Israel has captured one shepherd too much? Or that it overflow once too many? Nobody is going to find these claims credible if the attacks very closely follow an Israeli attack on Iran.
I just don’t see it.
The fact that no one would find such claims credible means that the party would be loathe to launch such attack.
You’re arguing that they would have no choice, which means that the decision would be entirely Iranian. In that case, it would be a poor decision, as it would significantly devalue the worth of its “investment” in Hizbullah.
I may be missing something here. What do you think Iran is getting for its support of HA? I think it is a forward base against Israel, but you think something else which you need to articulate. So my point is that a forward base is useless if in case Israel attacks Iran it can’t be uses. It is not even a credible deterrent then.
Let me ask you something. If Israel attacks Iran and Hizbullah does not attack Israel, would you cease to believe that Hizbullah is a forward base for Iran?
What would you conclude it is?
Let me jump in. The value of HA in Lebanon is a longer term investment.
In the grander scheme of things, Iran has a lot more going on than JUST their nuclear program. The nuke program is one pawn in their game, not the only one. HA is another pawn.
The question here is, do you sacrifice the HA pawn just to “retaliate”? (It won’t bring your nuke installations back).
Make no mistake, if HA attacks Israel in retaliation over a strike in Iran, it would lose all support it has in Lebanon now. Thus, HA, as a pawn/tool/forward base, would be lost (in addition to the nuke program being lost).
Revenge sounds good in soundbites, but the Iranians are not that stupid. In fact, I would argue that having one of their pawns intact (for future use) becomes even MORE crucial if they lose the nuke program. They’re not gonna throw HA away just to lob a few missiles at Tel Aviv and score some revenge points.
And make no mistake, an HA “attack” on Israel will not wipe out Israel or anything like that. In other words, it won’t accomplish anything for Iran other than scoring “revenge points”. It won’t gain Iran any territory, or their nukes back, or added influence, or any other tangible long term benefit.
You guys are looking at this in an overly simplistic way when you talk about forward bases and useless attacks. That is NOT how strategic politics/military thinking goes.
Let me put it this way. HA did not retaliate when Israel bombed the Syrian installations or buzz Bashar’s palace. Why?
Because Bashar is still here today and still has HA at his disposal, despite losing his nuke installation.
The same thinking would apply to Iran, if not more so. The mullahs will still be around after their nuke installations are destroyed, and they’re going to want to continue having a thorn in Israel’s side (or north, in this case), not to mention all the other benefits they get from cultivating HA (HA has become a lot more than just directed at Israel, considering its international reach these days).
“They didn’t attack when Gazan civilians were getting bombed; they’re going to attack when Iranian nuclear plants are bombed? I doubt it.
This is obviously the realm of speculation for all of us but this question , at least the answer to it, reveals the basic prism through which the responder views the reality in question.
I have no doubt that Hezbollah will play a major role in the defense of Qom. It was created and has been nurtured for that function. If it is not going to be used when Iran is under attack then when is it going to be used and for what?
Hezbollah does not owe Hamas a thing but it does owe Iran everything. That is why it did noty move in support of one but has no choice but to go all the way in support of the other. Ultimately time will tell.
See my comment above yours. Striking Iran’s nukes does not equal “attacking Qom”.
It is not an existential threat for the mullahs. Any HA retaliation would be a waste of all their investment in Lebanon.
The smarter strategist would save that weapon/pawn for another day.
First, I would stop believing that HA is a forward base for Iran if they don’t attack Israel after Israel attacks Iran.
Now QN you still need to explain why the Iranians are funding HA. What do they expect to get from that?
I can’t agree with you. Israel was never an existential threat to Iran. They want to use HA as a bargaining chip, spoiler and deterrent against Israeli attacks. In 2007 when Israel attacked Syria’s reactor, HA were not ready for another war, especially their followers in the Jnoub would not accept another war so soon after 2006. Plus, it is Iran that pays the bills, not Syria.
If Israel attacks Iran and HA does not respond, it will become almost useless as a foreign policy tool for the Iranians. It will cease to be a deterrent of any sort. Also, it will put Nasrallah squarely in the camp of “half men” that are not willing to fight Israel for the sake of their brothers. In this case, not only brothers but also main benefactors. It would be a huge admittance of weakness if HA will not hit Israel after an attack on Iran.
I understand your point and it is an attractive proposition but I don’t agree withit for the simple reason that contrary to the conventional wisdom, I do not think that the Iranian Revolution has been successful. Yes they have been in power in Iran for 32 years and they have managedto establish a small Iranian Ghetto on the Med. But that is about it. It is a revolution that is devouring its own children, a revolution that is not sure that it can trust its own people.
What does all of this have to do with your statement? A lot , from my perspective. When you are not in control you look for a distraction. That is what the Nuclear option has becometo the Mullahs. It is one way to garner support by accusing the rest of the world of picking on you. That was an easier sell when only the US was on the other side. The picture became more difficult when the EU took the side of the US, and complexity increased even more when Russia and China sided against Tehran. So now it is Tehran/Syria and N. Korea against the world. In order not to go into a very lengthy analysis I am saying that an attack of any sort on Iran will make life for Qom much more difficult and possibly spell the end of the current regime. The bankrupt Iranian revolution (bankrupt ideologically) is going to have a very rough time in holding to power and so they will have call in all their loans , so to speak including Hezbollah.
AIG / Ghassan,
Both your arguments actually support my point.
I never said Israel was an existential threat to Iran. That was my very point. The Iranian regime is not JUST about fighting Israel. The primary goal there is to maintain their regime at all costs. HA is a lot more than a ‘deterrent’. You look at HA is simply a military advance regiment of the Iranian RG at your borders. It is MUCH more than that. HA is a means for Iran to sink roots in a shia population outside of Iran. Which in turn strengthens the regime (the more followers you have, the more you keep em distracted with foreign scare stories, the less they are likely to overthrow you at home).
What you misinterpreted as me saying Israel was an existential threat was actually the opposite. If Israel strikes the nukes in Iran, that regime will NOT FALL. It will be no different than when you struck Bashar’s nuke installation. Iran will have to lick its wounds, and start over. But that’s about it. They’ll still have their hold on the Iranian government, and they’ll still have their hold on their proxies in Lebanon and Iraq. It will be a setback, but nothing more. They’ll still continue to attempt extending their reach in the ME, nukes or no nukes. That is why I don’t think they would sacrifice HA so easily. It serves a larger purpose.
You can probably see how I’m going to answer you, from what i just wrote. You contradicted yourself. An attack on Iran will pretty much strengthen the mullahs argument that they are getting picked on by the US/Israel and it will put most of the muslim world behind them. I think your analysis here is dead wrong. I think the Iranian people – who are very nationalistic – will rally around the mullah in the face of any external attack. Not to mention the rest of the muslim street (dictators not withstanding). Look no further than hassan Nassrallah’s popularity after the July 2006 war…
Iran funds Hizbullah for many reasons. The party is the most successful example of an attempt to export the ideals of the Islamic Revolution abroad. Every victory for Hizbullah, every piece of good press in the Arab world, every admiring constituent in Lebanon and beyond is chalked up as a victory for the Revolution itself, and reflects well on the regime in Tehran.
But more important than all of this is the simple fact that, in my opinion, Iran does not have the last word on Hizbullah’s actions anymore. Once upon a time, they (along with Syria) had the party on a tight leash. Today, Hizbullah is the most powerful and influential non-state actor in the entire region, and one of the most powerful in the world. Nasrallah is the single most popular Arab leader in the Middle East, and many analysts believe that the party would almost certainly continue to thrive even without Iran’s help (which probably, according to the most sensible estimates, does not amount to more than $30 million or so per year).
In other words, Hizbullah has become so big that they actually cannot serve as a forward base for Iran anymore. That would almost be like asking Syria to serve as a forward base for Iran: clearly a ridiculous idea, given that the Syrian regime is not dependent upon Iran for its survival, and its decision to attack Israel would be an invitation to catastrophe.
The same goes for Hizbullah. It has grown to such proportions that it cannot move as nimbly as it once did, stinging here and there and suffering a few casualties here and there. Now, if Hizbullah is going to act, it means we’re going to see a major escalation. As such, it needs to calculate accordingly, and its calculations go far beyond the question of how its relationship with Iran will be impacted.
One more thing: the efficacy of a deterrent is not measured by what actually happens once the red lines are violated. Its efficacy is determined by how long it keeps the red lines from being violated.
As long as Israelis believe that Hizbullah will attack if Iran is attacked, then the deterrent remains operational even if Hizbullah privately has no intention of attacking. Were Israel to receive intelligence that Hizbullah would 100% not attack if Iran were attacked, the deterrent would collapse.
So, in a way, you are doing your part to perpetuate the deterrence. 😉
AP: “I see it hasn’t sunk in yet. I’ll repeat again, the PA controls the West Bank. We have a “2 state solution”, and we’ve had it for years.”
So by this logic the PA can stop settlement activity since they ‘control’ the West Bank. If they have that control why don’t they exercise it?
AIG said: “We want to be like Denmark in Europe. We have no dreams of grandeur like the Syrians or Turks. We want peace and quiet to pursue economic development.”
So how does this logic fit in with the continued settlement building in occupied territories in contravention of international laws? I guess Israel is past the ‘dreams’ of grandeur. You are implementing grandeur by unilaterally expanding borders in the WB.
AIG Said: “I am not worried at all of Israel becoming an “apartheid state” and suffering from sanctions. That would take huge changes in US public opinion that would take decades.”
In essence then AIG agrees that Israel is an apartheid state, but will not be treated as such until the Israeli PR machines loses control of US public opinion.
Wow, silence from AIG and everyone else as well.
I either put you all to sleep with that last comment, or else have confounded you with the brilliance of my logic. Probably the former.
Stay tuned for the next interview: Josh Landis! Later today.
Now I can’t wait for the spinnarama of Landis!
How is the HA deterrence effective? Israel is still in Sheba and we perform overflights. It will not stop Israel from attacking Iran especially after you convinced everybody that HA will do nothing in that case 🙂 .
You want also to argue that HA is less “nimble” than it used to be without giving Israel credit for the fact that it was able to change the rules of the game in 2006. How “nimble” can you be if any attack would put you entire country at peril?
I think the problem boils down to how independent HA really is. You seem to believe that HA is mostly self funded. I think the evidence shows otherwise. Maybe you should try talking to some people inside HA to figure this out.
Please ask Landis if you can, how a HA that does not attack Israel unless being first attacked helps Syria at all? If the Lebanese border is quiet like it has been for the last 4 years, how does HA help the Syrian position? If there is already peace and quiet, what can the Syrians bring to the table?
I don’t put much stock in the deterrence argument. I was just following the argument through to its logical conclusion.
“You want also to argue that HA is less “nimble” than it used to be without giving Israel credit for the fact that it was able to change the rules of the game in 2006. How “nimble” can you be if any attack would put you entire country at peril?”
But that was my point. They are not so nimble anymore, and you should know by now that I do believe that Israel effectively changed the rules of the game in 2006. I don’t consider that war to have been a victory for Hizbullah. Time has shown that they’ve been somewhat snookered as a result of it.
“I think the problem boils down to how independent HA really is. You seem to believe that HA is mostly self funded. I think the evidence shows otherwise. Maybe you should try talking to some people inside HA to figure this out.”
Yeah, maybe I’ll get on the phone after I finish responding to your comment, and ring up the Sayyed himself. I’m sure he’d be happy to fax me over the latest numbers.
So by this logic the PA can stop settlement activity since they ‘control’ the West Bank. If they have that control why don’t they exercise it?
The PA DOES control their own territory. Israeli law FORBIDS any Israeli (Arab or Jew) from entering PA-controlled territory. Bethlehem is a perfect example. Ramallah, most of Hebron, Jenin, Jericho, etc., same thing.
During my last trip to Israel, I found you had to drive through Jerusalem and around Jericho to visit Masada. In the past, you would cut straight through the West Bank. This cannot be done anymore.
Granted, the PA controls much less than 100% of the West Bank, but in terms of a 2 state solution, it is ALREADY IN PLACE.
I did not comment on your post about deterrence because I have made my point clear many times before. Very briefly and without rehashing my rationale:
(1) Hezbollah is NOTY a deterrence except in their own PR machine. Hezbollah has not stopped a single Israeli action and never would. Actually Hezbollah make the likely Israeli counter action much more damaging and severe.
(2) There was no such thing as a ‘Divine Victory” in 2006. The declaration of that victory reminds me of my shock a few years ago while on a visit to Egypt to find out that the Egyptians believe that they won the 1973 war. They have even built a museum to showcase that victory. Is there any person in the world besides the Egyptians who believes in that victory?
Point taken about HA’s transparency. But really, is it not possible by the people of Lebanon to make an educated guess whether HA receives 30 million per year or 1 billion? It should be a number most Lebanese would be interested in.
A few replies, all bunched into one.
Nice argument, but I disagree on your “HA is a lot more independent of Iran” assessment. I do not think this is the case. And I do not buy the $30M funding. $30M does not buy shit these days. The guesstimates I’ve seen out there (no way to verify) are more in the $500M to $1B a year range. Without Iran, HA would suffer over time. In the end, one thing the cold war showed us is that no matter the ideology, you need money to keep the revolution wheels (or resistance wheels) spinning. $30M does not buy you all those missiles, pay off all your cadres, not to mention all the social services (which is how HA really keeps their appeal among the populace).
I still stand by my above argument as being the soundest: HA will not retaliate simply because Iran cannot afford to lose what it has invested in HA. I argue that HA is a more valuable chip to the mullahs than a nuke program.
In the discussion about how HA will respond to an Israeli attack on Iran, Iran’s own response has been ignored.
I think that is the real pivot point: If Iran itself will respond to an Israeli attack by directly showering missiles on Israeli cities and strategic targets, HA will be much more compelled to respond and will find it much easier to do so under the “umbrella” of a regional conflict, which involves more than just Lebanon.
HA will perhaps believe than in this case Iran will be the focus of the Israeli response anyway…which can push the balance in favor of a coordinated missile strike with the Iranians.