A Chance for Peace …

SO, the Government of Lebanon may be on the verge of deploying some 18,000 troops to the South. Initially, I reacted in horror, fearing that such a move would render Lebanese soldiers lambs for the slaughter at the hands of the Israeli Defense Forces … That the annoucement came on the heels of Arab League meet only heightened my suspicions …

But I have since reversed course after remembering something Michel Aoun said recently: in war, you must provide your enemy with an exit strategy (or something like that) … I don’t want to suggest that Aoun is some sort of Sun Tzu, but Hizbullah’s succes in resisting the Israelis has had me quite concerned for Lebanon, because I felt that it would increase the pressure on Israel’s political and military leaders to do something drastic and unspeakable in order to sell a victory over terrorism back on the home front and in corridors of power back in Washington …

A deployment of the Lebanese Army may save Lebanon from that fate and for that reason deserves the attention of all parties … To be sure, the Lebanese Army cannot deploy to the South with express guarantees from the Israelis that they will not be attacked. It also requires tacit approval from Hizbullah… If by some miracle, the United States has engaged in actual diplomacy and has provided the GOL with such guarantees from the Israelis and Hizbullah has consented (I would like to hear this from Nasrallah himself to be sure), deploying the Army to the south just might provide everyone with enough on their plate that they would be willing to lay down their arms and spare Lebanon anymore of this horrendous bloodshed …

The GOL would get the cease-fire it has so desperately been seeking as well as increased legitmacy and leverage in the conflict. The Israelis would get one their long-standing demands — the deployment of the LAF to the South — as well as a return address (the LAF positions and by extension, Baabda) for any rocket far into Northern Israel … Hizbullah would be able to continue to bask in the glory of its victory, reap the political rewards of its successful resistance, and keep the bulk of its remaining arms … The Americans and the Saudis could tell their friends, if they have any left, that progress continues toward a free and independent Lebanon and implementation of UNSC 1559 … Nabih Berri could see the deployment as a way to stem his increasing irrelevancy by priming the government money pump into previously neglected areas … And Syria and Iran could continue to bark empty slogans without fear of inviting World War III …

To be sure, deploying the army to the south requires that all relinquish their maximilist goals in this conflict, but such is the nature of compromise … Of course, it would be a fragile cease-fire and a dangerously precarious one as any fighting between Hizbullah and the IDF could halt and reverse any progress and place the LAF and the GOL in a truly horrifying position …

I am still unsure where the move to deploy comes from … Is it possibly a bold gesture by the GOL to assert its initiative, relevance and legitimacy (that seems hard to believe, but possible) … Was it an Israeli-sponsored move spurred by the IDF’s strugges in the field and the political leadership’s need for an exit strategy … Hard to say … Washington has called the proposal “significant” and Bush has suggested yesterday that activity at the UNSC was mainly an effort to “strengthen the Lebanese government” so maybe this idea was hatched in Jerusalem or Washington, hard to say …

Easier to say is that even if the plan is an Israeli one, they will not admit as much … Olmert today called the plan “interesting” but said Israel will still insist on disarming Hizbullah and a multinational force … More than likely, this is diplomatic bluster as the Israelis know the goal of disarming Hizbullah is not possible and I cannot believe the Israelis would accept a multinational force in southern Lebanon… Not only would such a force constitute a sea change in traditional Israeli policy, it would also create a very difficult situation of the Israelis. For example, if fighting between Israel and Hizbullah occurs over the heads of a multinational force, it will inevitably result in casualties for the multinational force … The Israelis can accept a dead Pakistani from UNIFIL every once and a while, but a Frenchman or American killed by Israeli fire would be a political disaster for the Israelis …

Similarly, even though I would like to hear from Nasrallah on this issue, I imagine that is probably unrealistic for the same reasons that it would be for the Israelis to act like they want the plan to succeed …

So what to expect: lots and lots of bluster, tough words and lots of artillery as the parties move toward closer toward implementing the proposal … The Israelis will likely have to score some tactical victory so that they can withdraw from the Shebaa … What this would look like, I have no idea, but I am sure it will be necessary for Olmert on the domestic political front … Let’s hope for the best, because the less than the best is the worst …

And yes for the record, if this proposal succeeds, we have a return to the status quo, albeit differently adorned and with slight modifications … That 1,000 Lebanese and 100 Israelis had to die for this, I will leave to the moral philosophers and ethicists across the globe …

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2 Replies to “A Chance for Peace …”

  1. Hizbullah from the beginning said:

    1) it did not want an escalation

    2) it would respond to offensive Israei operations

    3) the prisoners would be released only under third party negotiations

    4) Hizbullah will resist as long as Israel occupies and/or threatens Lebanon …

    As for why they did not agree to this from the start, there was nothing to agree to … The GOL has long refused to deploy to the south on the grounds that they had no reason to provide Israel with security on their nothern border … The GOL has changed its position and HIZB has compromised its position … So I hope I answered your question … d

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