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Understanding Inevitability in Lebanon

To begin to understand Lebanon is to begin to appreciate the latest from Michael Totten, the consummate inside outsider.

If one is not inclined to read Lebanon’s Premature Liberalism in its entirety, the last paragraph excerpted here is key (preceding four for at least minimal context).

Another Lebanese blogger quotes a radical Christian war criminal from the bad old days who says the civil war will resume a month after Israel cools its guns: "Christians, Sunnis and Druze will fight the '****er Shia', with arms from the US and France."

Israeli partisans may think this is terrific. The Lebanese may take care of Hezbollah at last! But democratic Lebanon cannot win a war against Hezbollah, not even after Hezbollah is weakened by IAF raids. Hezbollah is the most effective Arab fighting force in the world, and the Lebanese army is the weakest and most divided. The Israelis beat three Arab armies in six days in 1967, but a decade was not enough for the IDF to take down Hezbollah.

The majority of Lebanon’s people were wise and civilized enough to take the gun out of politics after the fifteen year war. Lebanon was the only Arab country to do this, the only Arab country that preferred dialogue, elections, compromise, and debate to the rule of the boot and the rifle. But Hezbollah remained outside that mainstream consensus and did everything it could, with backing from the Syrian Baath and the Iranian Jihad, to strangle Lebanon’s democracy in its cradle.

Disarming Hezbollah through persuasion and consensus was not possible in the first year of Lebanon’s independence. Disarming Hezbollah by force wasn’t possible either. The Lebanese people have been called irresponsible and cowardly by some of their friends in America for refusing to resume the civil war. Unlike Hezbollah, though, most Lebanese know better than to start unwinnable wars. This is wisdom, not cowardice, and it's sadly rare in the Arab world now. They are being punished entirely too much for what they have done and for what they can't do.

Israel and Lebanon (especially Lebanon) will continue to burn as long as Hezbollah exists as a terror miltia freed from the leash of the state. The punishment for taking on Hezbollah is war. The punishment for not taking on Hezbollah is war. Lebanese were doomed to suffer war no matter what. Their liberal democratic project could not withstand the threat from within and the assaults from the east, and it could not stave off another assault from the south. War, as it turned out, was inevitable even if the actual shape of it wasn’t. Peace was not in the cards for Lebanon. Its democracy turned out to be neither a strength nor a weakness. It was irrelevant.

For those who continue to deride Lebanon, pause once more to consider that "Hizballah is the most effective Arab fighting force in the world, and the Lebanese army is the weakest and most divided."

Divided is key, thanks to the religious segregation at the scheming hand of occupying Syria. Consider this important fact when reading news of the IAF bombing the "Lebanese Army." The Shia units of the Lebanese army are rife with Hizballah collaborators and surely host to more than a few full fledged members.

The IDF/IAF are almost certainly following a trail of crumbs from the battlefield...a trail that democratic Lebanon beyond Hizballistan has been left largely incapable of dealing with.

War, to be sure, was inevitable inside Lebanon's borders, though the Cedar Revolution gave a comforting verneer of hope.

The exit of Hizballah's power will be the real entrance of hope. Ya Libnan.