Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Why Supporters of Israel Should NOT Be Depressed?

On the one hand, there is Glick and Bayefsky.

On the other hand, there is Rich Lowry at The Corner, who asked an Israeli official why American supporters of Israel should not be depressed by the cease-fire agreement and came back with this list:

—"The resolution as a resolution is favorable to this country," and creates a solution in southern Lebanon that is in Israel's interest. Provided it is implemented.

—"I don't know how Nasrallah can now pretend it's a victory. The resolution says south of the Litani is a Hebollah-free zone. That means that its state-within-a-state is going to disappear."

—"Before Nasrallah was on the border, able to lob missiles and rockets and kidnap soldiers. We have pushed him north of the Litani. That is an amazing achievement. It's what we've been demanding for years."

—There is still the problem of long-range rockets, but there is an embargo and if Syria violates it, it will be open to all sorts of sanctions and punishments. Granted, those would require another U.N. resolution, but the threat is there. And the international force is going to police border crossings. They should at least be able to stop missiles coming in on semi-trailers.

—"Kofi has to report back in 30 days with a plan" about how the things in the resolution are going to happen.

—"The sense has always been that we are good at winning wars and losing the diplomacy." Now, there's lots of argument about the conduct of the war, "but there's no doubt that we won the diplomacy. The question is whether it will be implemented. As a platform it's good—it's a positive platform."

—"In Lebanon, until Qana, a lot of people were willing to be critical of Hezbollah. The cease-fire has allowed those voices to surface again. The political dynamic in Lebanon is returning to the pre-Qana dynamic."

—When people ask when Israel is going to leave southern Lebanon, the Israelis can say as soon as the international force arrives. It creates an incentive for the international force actually to materialize. Until then, the resolution legitimizes the Israeli presence in Lebanon.

—There's lot of ferment in Lebanon. The chief of staff of the Lebanese army has been quoted saying that the army won't go down to the south unless Hezbollah agrees to pull out because it doesn't want to fight Hezbollah.

—If Hezbollah decides not to honor the ceasefire, Israel is in a stronger position both politically/diplomatically and militarily to respond. It will hold its positions on the Litani River.

—But again, it all depends on the implementation.
Ummm, isn't that last point a good reason for us to get depressed?

More to the point is this National Review editorial:

In the final tussling over the resolution, Israel insisted that there be no “vacuum” between the exit of its forces and the arrival of an international force, as such a vacuum could be exploited by Hezbollah to return to the south. But since Hezbollah was never fully pushed from the area, it is going to be there, vacuum or not. The Lebanese army, a pathetic rust-bucket riven by sectarian tensions, isn’t going to seriously challenge Hezbollah. It’s not clear at the moment whether it even has the capability to transport itself to the south, and in recent weeks it has been evident that Hezbollah is in a position to dictate to the Lebanese government, not the other way around. Nor will the international force threaten Hezbollah, even if its mandate is exceedingly ambitious by milquetoast U.N. standards. Over time, as the sense of urgency behind its mission declines, it will surely begin to look more and more like the old accommodationist UNIFIL force.

Hezbollah has a crucial advantage over any competitors for ultimate control of the south — not just the legitimacy that comes with the support of the Shia population, but the sheer will that motivates it to fight and die for its cause. Are French and Italian troops willing to die for the enforcement of Resolution 1559, calling for the disarming of Hezbollah? To ask the question is to answer it. In theory, an international force could police Lebanon, but that would require a tough-mindedness and a willingness to sacrifice that aren’t on offer.
The editorial concludes with a point that shows the above list of Israeli accomplishments for what it is and warns of what the future will bring if the West continues upon its current half-hearted path:
If current trends continue, the Bush administration’s project in the Middle East will require the same sort of expedient we have just seen in the Israel–Lebanon conflict: a papering over of what is essentially a failure.

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