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Democracy Will Fail in Lebanon

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While the provocation of hostilities falls squarely on the shoulders of Hezbollah (and in the case of Gaza, Hamas), Israel misprosecuted the war. That was bad enough. Worse is the "diplomatic" efforts to achieve peace that apparently the world isn't really behind. The United Nations comes in, promises peace, and then doesn't meet the basic troop levels it commits to. It has taken weeks to muster only about half the troops they agreed to have. The result is that Hezbollah wins.

There was much discussion about the Hezbollah declaration of victory against Israel. While on its face it appears absurd, on deeper inspection, they are absolutely correct. Hezbollah did win.

If one's definition of victory is simply hammering an adversary into submission, neither side could claim victory. If the definition is inflicting damage, surely Israel won. Hezbollah, using dumb-fire rockets, couldn't manage to inflict any real discernible damage on Israel (well, except they did hit a few cemeteries). However, if you define victory as achieving military objectives, Israel certainly failed and Hezbollah certainly was victorious.

Israel's objective was to crush Hezbollah, or at least move them far enough north to be no real military threat. By any assessment, Israel inflicted little lasting damage on Hezbollah except to make them waste a bunch of rockets that Iran will replenish at their earliest convenience. Israel certainly did not respond in any meaningful way to the actual sources of Hezbollah aggression, namely Syria and Iran.

Hezbollah, on the other hand, didn't appear to have any illusions of defeating Israel militarily. They seem to know full well that Israel will not be wiped off the map with tanks and bombs. They wage their war in the media and the chambers of the United Nations and wield the weapon of diplomacy with great success. Their objective was to not be defeated and gain political clout. They wanted to project an image that they could not be defeated militarily and need to be negotiated with. They achieved these objectives with resounding success.

Despite the media being fully aware and fully informed that most of the information coming from Hezbollah was doctored for effect, the media willingly complied. The embedded reporters with Hezbollah produced puff piece after puff piece about Hezbollah social workers. One can whine about media bias all they want. When it comes to war, one needs to deal effectively with the tools of the enemy. Bitching never won a battle.

Hezbollah mounted an army of public relations specialists who were more powerful than any weapon in their arsenal. Put simply, they won the hearts and minds in Lebanon, in the Arab World, and much of the West (particular those left-leaning). Hezbollah's clout increased dramatically as a result.

Now, theoretically, if the UN managed to deliver what is promised, if they could get 15,000 additional troops on the southern border with Lebanon, if they can deal with the Syrian border, if they can halt arms transfers from Iran, if they can effectively displace Hezbollah, then Israel and Lebanon will both be better off and democracy will thrive in Lebanon. If… if… if…

From the looks of the international community, it doesn't appear likely that the UN will even be able to muster those troops needed, which certainly calls into question whether they will succeed. Independent of troop levels, UNIFIL in Lebanon has never been successful and it is questionable that simply more warm bodies will do anything to help. As usual, the United Nations and the international community's bloviation on peace never quite matches up to what they actually end up doing. In a perfect world, the United Nations might be able to do something. However, in this world, the United Nations is more talk and no walk. That is, when they aren't being generally corrupt.

The result? If the UN fails, and it appears that it will, Hezbollah will not only be more powerful on the foreign scene, they will be more powerful domestically. Lebanon recently threw off the shackles of Syrian oppression and was rightly highlighted as a beacon of democratic hope in the Middle East.

Hezbollah is nothing more than Syrian power projection in Lebanon. If Lebanon could have dealt with them, they would have done so long before rockets started falling on Israel. Increasing Hezbollah's domestic power will result in the democratic advances made in Lebanon being turned back. In short, Lebanon will go the route of Palestine and put Hezbollah in power. Syria will be back in control of Lebanon and Lebanon will descend firmly into anti-Semitic fascism.

This descent was put into motion by Israel not fighting the war the way it should have been fought and it was solidified by the United Nations promising what it never could deliver. Israel had good cause to act militarily. However, by not engaging their enemy as they should have, they leave Lebanon on the road to democratic collapse.

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About John Doe

A political activist and security expert.
  • dee

    Unfortunately I completely agree with this. Lebanon was a bright spot in a region of darkness but thanks to Israel and the lack of foreign policy from king bush now lebanon will fall into extreme hands. Instead of bombing the shit out of them why didn’t the US or UN or Isreal attempt to help the feeble lebanese government gain control of the southern border? When the US had its revolution we had help from other countries. Add that to a more and more Iranian influenced Iraq and the middle east is becoming more and more unstable and who do we have to blame? The US of course for Iraq and her allies, mainly Isreal, for Lebanon. The complete opposite of what we would like to happen is happening over there. What’s disturbing is the balls that the gop has in saying they and our allies have made us safer. More disturbing then that is I think some Americans actually beleive them too. Impeach him.

  • I agree that the war was badly waged in a way that will be horribly detrimental for Lebanese democracy. I think you’re under-estimating the Lebanese will to democracy, though, as well as Lebanese nationalism. And that’s not at all fair.

    That country went through worse crises than this and still showed a fierce independence and drive towards being a functioning democracy that participates fully with other functioning democracies. This is despite years of civil war and even longer years of oppressive foreign occupations.

    Hezbollah is far more than a projection of Syrian power and interest. (If you want a sponsor country, look to Iran.) Syria is Ba’athist and Hezbollah is definitely not; both know their long term interests aren’t the same. They’re playing chicken by helping each other. Syria knows a strong Hezbollah destabilizes Lebanon, Hezbollah wants a friendly Syrian border to import the weapons it needs, but both are like vultures circling Lebanon and hoping it dies so they can fight to the death over the corpse.

    The United States and Israel have blundered at every turn in this matter. It isn’t too late to stop blundering, though. UNIFIL has more than more warm bodies now – it has a MUCH stronger mandate – and if it gets the international support it needs the Lebanese people will have the room to pursue their drive towards a strong, if diverse, democratic nation instead of thinking the violence of an organization like Hezbollah is the only thing that will keep them free from international aggression.

  • Bliffle

    Israel bungled this one. Probably under orders from BushCo.

  • Dean

    It’s our foreign policy, stupid.

    No one wants to stop, take a few steps back and take a strategic view of what it will take to end what has been going on for decades in the Middle East.

    Our foreign policy is content to go from one crisis to another crisis, and things only get worse.

    One definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Most of what you write here is more or less on target, but the damage that HizbAllah succeeded in inflicting upon this country was tremendous. The entire northern third of the country was under attack, the economy there collapsed, the government ceased to function.

    Olmert followed a made-in-Washington strategy, using air power wrongly and not making the kinds of lightning strikes that would have destroyed HizbAllah. In addition, Israel did not attack either Syria or Iran. Finally, Israel attacked HizbAllah along the expected line of approach, a strategy guaranteed to produce little progress and many casualties.

    He deserves to be hung for being an American toady. And there will be another war over these issues in not too long – and it is liable to be a lot bloodier for us.

    But if Lebanese democracy fails, the blame is at the door of the Bush White House.

  • There is one thing I take exception to…

    Why is it exactly a matter of US foreign policy when some Lebanese pick a fight with Israel and Israel obliges?

    Are we all neocons now?

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem


    HizbAllah attacked the country and Olmert called his commanders together. They presented a plausible war-plan which Olmert brought to the Americans for approval. The Americans approved part of the plan, vetoing others. This Olmert then did himself, following a war plan guaranteed to lose him the war AND poduce high casualties.

    That is what happened. Go check all the additional articles I stuck on a piece I wrote early in the month about Mr. Olmert’s Little War.

  • That’s all fine and good, but that doesn’t answer the question.

    I’m not saying the US doesn’t influence and that people do call for that influence…

    I’m asking why should it be there in the first place? Why should the US be “vetoing” Israeli war planes in a country that doesn’t involve us?

    Why is it always the US people look to every time Israel gets in a fight?

    I ask again, are we all neocons now?

  • Dean

    Why is it a matter of US foreign policy when some Lebanese pick a fight with Israel and Israel obliges?

    No one is obliged.

    The US is not obliged to provide weapons to Israel that are used in the manner they were used in Lebanon. By law, what we provide to Israel is only to be used in a defensive manner, not to take revenge on an entire country because two soldiers were captured to negotiate the release of Lebanese civilians who were captured and held in Israeli jails.

    Israel was not obliged to illegally use munitions made in this country to kill hundreds of Lebanese women and children, killed or maimed either in their homes or while trying to flee the area. Israel was not obliged to destroy the infrastructure of an entire country.

    Suppose the IRA based in Ireland captured two British soldiers in Northern Ireland. Would the British be obliged to launch an all-out war against the civilian population of Ireland using F-16’s, and 2,000 pound bombs intermixed with cluster bombs, all of which are clearly marked, “Made in the U.S.A“.

    Suppose the Basques captured two Spanish soldiers in Northern Spain. Would the Spanish be obliged to launch an all-out war against the Basque civilian population, using F-16’s and 2,000 pound bombs intermixed with cluster bombs, all of which are clearly marked, “Made in the U.S.A“.

    I could list more examples, but you get the message.

    And if the US was then perceived to be behind massacres of civilians and supporting the killing, how would that be helpful to us?

    The point here is nothing happens in the Middle East without the US being in the middle and it only gets worse for America.

    Our Middle East policy hasn’t worked for 40 years.

    Step back and take a strategic view.

    Are we all neocons now?

    No, hopefully it’s only a small percent and getting smaller.

  • Why are we so quick to exonerate Hezbollah? Nothing spawned their activities, Israel wasn’t doing anything in Lebanon when they started kidnapping people.

    Is it really necessary to find one side, and only one side, completely to blame for every conflict? And does that side always have to be Israel?

    Are we all terrorist sympathizers now?

  • Dean

    John, you can’t be serious.

    Who is kidnapping people?

    How many thousands of Arabs are in Israeli jails?

    What is a “terrorist”?

    You or I could cause a helluva lot more “terror” with a squadron of F-16’s carrying 2,000 pound bombs than we could with a couple of IED’s.

    In case you haven’t seen this… Watch it.

    As they say, “it’s the occupation, stupid”.

    Time to wake up.

  • Clavos


    Since you insist on injecting your socialist propaganda video into every thread you post in, would you at least learn how to link it?


    Thank you.

  • pleasexcusetheinterruption12

    Wow Dean #9..a coherent argument! The best Dean-post of all time! .. right up until that final neocon line again.

  • Dean

    Clavos, I’m surprised to learn I’m a socialist. I never knew it.

    I always thought I was a humanist.

    Since you lile to peg people, can tell me who you are?

  • Dean

    PETI, I was responding to John’s question in #8.

  • Dean-

    Ummm, Hezbollah kidnapped two soldiers, that’s what started the fighting.

    Israel wasn’t occupying Lebanon when they did that.

    And terrorist has a technical definition… look it up.

  • Clavos


    again you misread my comment

    i did not call you a socialist

    i called your video socialist

    i have now watched the entire video (i had only watched a portion previously)

    i retract that characterization

    the video is not socialist (despite the appearance of raving [and i do mean raving] socialist noam chomsky)

    the video is anti Israel

    you asked who I am

    you have repeatedly called me a neocon

    let’s just leave it at that

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem


    In the final anlysis, you muct direct your question “why should it (US influence, power and control) be there in the first place? Why should the US be “vetoing” Israeli war planes in a country that doesn’t involve us?” to the CFR, the think tank to which almost every influential member of the US government belongs to or has links to.

    There is a specicic American government policy towards Israel – it is this: creating Israel was a strategic error that must be corrected or ameliorated somehow. That simple sentence is the grand strategy of American foreign policy here.

    If you look carefully, without listening to all the distracting background noise of all the “Palestine groupies,” you will see that this hass been American policy since 1948.

  • Here’s a plan Ruvy would surely LO-O-OVE:

    – The US cuts off all aid to Israel, both military and financial. (This amounts to billions of US dollars in savings to the American taxpayer, annually…)

    – The next time Israel gets involved in a “conflict” with a neighbor, the US declares from the start that it is “neutral” and will neither support nor veto any UN Security Council resolution(s) pertaining to that matter. (Of course, it will also not “interfere” in Israel’s political process or military strategy either…)

    – The US will not ship “emergency” military hardware (through its European allies) to Israel during a time of crisis for the Jewish State. (Hey, we’re non-interfering neutrals!)

    – Israelis then complain that the US is no longer supporting a “close ally” and call us appeasers and then mention the Holocaust 500 times…

    Sound about right?

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    If the US were to follow the policy you suggested, I’d be shocked and surprised, but if they do what they did in 1948 and refused to supply anybody with arms (whether on loan or for sale), that would be fine with me.

    If it came to that, we would have to nuke our enemies. That would be a conversation stopper in the region.

    But with the toadies in power now, they would whine and cry like the stuck pigs they are and yammer on and on about the holocaust. To them, your policy would be betrayal – something like what the Americans did to Saddam Hussein.

    If the Americans chose to arm our enemies through third countries, I guess we would wind up at war with the United States, wouldn’t we?

  • Josh

    “If it came to that, we would have to nuke our enemies”

    You say it with such nonchalance. Do you honestly believe Israel will survive Iran’s nuclear response? And maybe you think you’d wipe them all out — launch all your bombs at the same time and annihilate all your enemies at once. Do you really think that no one will survive long enough to detonate some at Israel? Without US support, Israel will crumble.

    “If the Americans chose to arm our enemies through third countries, I guess we would wind up at war with the United States, wouldn’t we?”

    Maybe I missed it, but I think you were the only one to suggest this happening. Amusingly, you say it like the US should be afraid. Yea. OK.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem


    I’ve given a lot of thought to the strategy of survival, particularly surviving a war. Think of it this way. Remember this is just an analogy.

    I’m assuming that you know a little about playing spades or hearts, or better yet pinochle.

    You are forced to play a hand of pinochle, say. You play with the cards dealt you You have your aces tens and kings, the nukes air force and submarines…, you queens, jacks and nines, the infantry and tank forces and navy.

    YOu play your jacks, the tank forces. When they run out of fuel, you need to rely on your queens, the infantry. You play the tens, your air force, and the nines, your navy. But at some point, both will run out of fuel. At some point you have to play your aces, the nukes. You don’t really want to play them, but if you can’t get more fuel or bombs (asssuming the US is supplying fuel or bombs), you do need to play your aces.

    In other words, you play the cards you have and make the best of it.

    Obviously it is more complicated than this analogy, bu this gives you some simple idea of the fact that when the interests of the US go counter to ours , we simply cannot roll over and play dead or cry uncle, which is what most of this country’s leaders have done…

    If Israeli leaders believe that they cannot survive for a day without the US, they are condemning us to that fate. For that, they deserve to be taken out to the garden and shot in the head.

  • Dean

    Ruvy, you sound like a little boy playing with his toy soldiers.

    Bang! Bang! You’re dead!

    How old are you?

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Dean, this is a simple analogy to make a simple point.

    Reality is far more hairy than what i’ve described…

    But the point is that if Israeli leaders believe that they cannot survive for a day without the US, they are condemning us to that fate.

  • Dean

    Ruvy, explain to them that welfare reform can work even when it’s called foreign aid.

  • Martin Lav

    War Games
    “there are no winners”

  • Ruvy…again plays the role of the Victim…

    On Olmert – “He deserves to be hung for being an American toady.” If I remember hes not a self imposed dictator—he was elected by citzens of Israel!.

    “But if Lebanese democracy fails, the blame is at the door of the Bush White House.”

    You guys elect your offficials but blame the US and everyone else for their failed decisions and policies.

    Keep up the good work! You are bringing “your” culture and “industry” of victimization to a new low!

    Just my opinion of course 😉

  • Dawn

    I can’t say that I am objective in this argument, but I am curious about something. If Hezbollah started this altercation and Israel in essence was defending itself, then why have all the mainstream media outlets acted as though Israel as a whole are some kind of bloodthirsty monsters?

    Since when does a country not have the right to defend its citizens? When did it become a crime to have a superior and efficient military?

    Maybe I am naive, but I found the media’s reaction really offensive and onesided – although I must say this post was pretty even-handed.

  • The theory is, because Israel shouldn’t exist any attacks against Israel are self-defense and any tactic, no matter how illegal if the US or Israel did it, would be justified…

    Intellectual bankruptcy like “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” or other idiocy like that from people too lazy to learn what the words they are using mean.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Dawn, the answer to your question is to “follow the money” – who owns major blocks of stock in the media. When you start seeing Arab names all over the place, it eventually dawns on you (sorry for the pun) that all those Jews in the media who allegedly run it, according to some, are just the hired help.

    That is why the mainstream media tends to make Israel out to be monstrous.

  • Dawn, the real answer is that from even a basically militarily educated point of view, the strategy Israel used in the last war – a heavy reliance on air power – was obviously never going to really hurt a guerilla force like Hezbollah. That means Israel’s effort was, politically, all noise and bombast, meant to illustrate to the countries around it how tough it is. The fact is nothing in the history of modern warfare would have indicated the air tactics they used would be effective against Hezbollah.

    They couldn’t even do that right, though. They dropped a lot of bombs, which killed a lot of civilians, and then sent in an unprepared and too-small ground force to get slaughtered in the dozens when Hezbollah and friends weren’t suitably impressed.

    So not only were more than a thousand Lebanese killed during the exercise of an Israeli P.R. campaign; Israel was made LESS secure, instead of more, in the long run. It didn’t really tackle Hezbollah; instead, it increased Hezbollah’s domestic and international support. It showed its air force wasn’t effective against guerilla enemies, and it showed how shy it’s become about using ground troops.

    More than a thousand civilians being killed and a democratic country being shaken to the core for stupid fucking reasons looks monstrous to me, no matter which ethnic group does or doesn’t own the media.