Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Last Word on Lebanon

Gregory Djerejian at The Belgravia Dispatch has offered some of the best Lebanon commentary since the conflict started (I quoted one of his posts at the top of the month). Last week he wrote the definitive summary of the conflict. A teaser:
First, let me stress that no comprehensive, lasting settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict can be achieved by force of arms. So while Israel certainly has a right to self-defense, it should not labor under the misconception that it can eradicate or totally defang or otherwise defeat her foes militarily in some maximal fashion. This is simply not possible, short of a series of nuclear holocausts, perhaps, and so it was surprising to see so many rabid commentators, both here and in Israel, chanting on about Israel not having the will to win, to win totally, that is. This is claptrap, chimerical, absurd—although it appears to provide varied commentators here in New York City and down in Washington with a frisson of macho-thrill—that is, before they abscond back to their think-tank cubicles feeling manlier about having called for a good, old-fashioned bombs-away Armageddon in the Holy Land.

Let’s be clear. Beating Hezbollah ultimately must rely more on what might be described as counter-insurgency tactics, not some Dresden redux. To beat back Hezbollah one must moderate the 40% of Lebanese who are Shi’a, by over time having them pledge their primary allegiance to a strong central government, one that is sharing the economic fruits of Lebanon’s revival with all ethnic groups, so as to ultimately render the social welfare arm of Hezbollah largely irrelevant. Given this, it is manifestly clear that Israel’s reaction to Hezbollah’s provocation should have always been limited to targets south of the Litani River (save the very exceptional target to the north of truly imperative strategic value). This is so that the greatest pain would have been inflicted solely on the perpetrators of the rocket attacks and kidnapping themselves, rather than Lebanon writ large.

This piece is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the conflict and what must be done to effectively address the problem of Hezbollah in Lebanon. Is it too much to ask that we have someone like Djerejian running our State Department or the National Security Council? We need grown-ups in DC instead of kids on Big Wheels (Suskind quoting a "senior White House official").

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