Politics aside, let us focus on policy today.
What are the most contentious policy issues in Lebanon today? In other words, what is the essense of the political tension that Lebanon is experiening today?
's "contribution" to the Palestinian cause Lebanon 's defensive posture against "Israeli aggression" Lebanon
I highlight these two policy issues because they should be dominating political discourse in Lebanon today
My take on those two policy issues is different. Moreover, whereas some on my side of the aisle are shamed into silence by the other side's incessant call to do “whatever it takes” to help Palestinians, and prevent Israeli aggression, I say no! There are better ways to protect
Unfortunately, it does not appear that Hizballah's arms are meant solely to further those two policy objectives. Fellow blogger Anton at Across the Bay, Hani G. (who writes in this blog), and others have argued that Hizballah's arms have as much to do with local politics (inter-sectarian politics) as it does with national defense issues and the Palestine-Israeli conflict. I concur with that argument and with Hani's claim that Hizballah appears to want something in return for giving up its weapons. I also believe that Hizballah has a role to play in Iran's regional designs and that its weapons are an essential component of those designs.
Let's go back to policy though. Lets go back there because it is important that an effective and valid counter-argument to Hizballah's claims about the necessity of its weapons exists. For
1. Are Hizballah’s weapons helping the Palestinian cause?
Hizballah's argument is that
Hizballah's arguement concerning the utility of violence
First we need to tackle whether military operations in general actually help the Palestinian cause before we deal with the type of military operations that are most suitable. In my opinion, violence does not help. It no longer helps, because there already is an international consensus for Palestinian statehood as well as some formula of joint-sovereignty over
I do not want to go into the details of the Oslo Accords and Palestinian-Israeli negotiations because a ton of literature already exists about them (from all perspectives). What I do want to get across is that there is no more need for violence. The entire world has come to an agreement that the Palestinians will get their state, which will share sovereignty over
Hizballah's argument concerning the means of conducting warfare.
Remember, Hizballah claims that its guerilla operations to assist Palestinians will spare the Lebanese state and people from violent retaliation by the Israelis. I also beg to differ in this regard. Any military activity conducted from or on Lebanese soil, no matter how limited, is damaging to all Lebanese becausem, at the very least, it scares away business activity from
Recent history has also shown us that even though Hizballah suffers the burden of most Israeli retaliations, the Israelis do retaliate directly against the Lebanese state, and other Lebanese entities. I need say no more than point to Operation Grapes of Wrath, during which more than a hundred civilians were murdered in a UN compound, and power infrastructure throughout the country was targeted and destroyed by Israeli aircraft.
In conclusion, it appears that both of Hizballah's arguments for maintaining its own military capability and autonomy
2. Do Hizballah's Weapons Enhance Lebanese National Security?
One of Hizballah's relatively new arguments for maintaining its weapons is that they deter the Israeli state from violating Lebanese sovereignty and from acting belligerently towards
Hizballah makes a stronger argument here than it does in its Palestine-Israeli argument. However, it crumbles in the face of demands that Hizballah merge with the Lebanese Armed Forces. The only difference between then and now is that there will be one chain of command that will ultimately lead up to the President of the Republic of Lebanon. Furthermore, unlike operations intended to “help the Palestinian cause," all states have the inherent right to protect their sovereignty, and consequently, the Lebanese Armed Forces will have the obligation to retaliate against any violent assault on Lebanese sovereignty to the best of its abilities.
Let me take this argument one step further. The Lebanese Armed Forces must also defend
- Hizballah should join the Lebanese Armed Forces
- Once that process is completed, the Armed Forces should redeploy some of the short range missiles targeted at Tel Aviv to the Bekaa and redirect them at Damascus.
I have attempted to rationally debunk the three or four arguments Hizballah articulates for maitaining the status quo with regards to its weapons. Let us all assume that Lebanese policy is concocted only after rational deliberation. Therefore, let us debate the issue rationally as Lebanese, without emotions and sectarian prejudices. We would all be better off if politics in our country was conducted under such conditions. At least under these conditions Hizballah would have either already disarmed or convinced the majority of Lebanese of the necessity of maintaining its military capabilities.