For Any Paranoid Types Like Myself …

Let me offer the following.

For now, I take the USM airlift to be largely a symbolic act, but make no mistake this is all about Hizbullah such that support for the GOL (and M14) is merely functional toward other ends. It is not difficult to get small arms into Lebanon, so don’t lose your breath over the ammo shipment, because there are easier ways. That being said, this will be a real test for Hizbullah’s intelligence operations both within the LAF and at the points of entry, especially if the care package from the US includes unenumerated goodies.

I am still of the position that the US, the Saudis and their Lebanese allies do not intend to go for broke, but REAL danger lurks where their interests diverge. So expect some amount of the military aid to be diverted to the most obvious sources. That being said, Hizbullah (and its allies) would be wise not to make fuss over that, as they would only be playing the Americans’ game of baiting them. For now, this is a just pyschological operation (a kind of trial balloon) and should be treated as such.

I believe the Americans are aware that Hizbullah cannot be defeated in any military sense, so they will be attempting the lesser strategy of boxing them in, while at the same time trying to keep Lebanon from slipping into the abyss. Most likely, this strategy will target HA’s strengths (the national legitimacy of its weapons) through its weaknesses (the security, political and financial needs of its current domestic allies). Here, I would add that the Israeli bombing pattern last summer may be worth a rethink — it was senseless in terms of military objectives, but if viewed in light of certain political objectives, it might have been all too clever (how do they just always know how to whet the appetites of Lebanon’s cannibals?).

As it is impossible to know American intentions toward Iran, it is equally impossible to know how hard the Americans will push, i.e. they may well let developments on the ground determine their course of action and a political defeat that neuters their military threat may be enough (keep your eyes on Geagea and Aoun, as there once again will be the rub).

Regardless, it is a highly dangerous course of action due to the schizophrenic nature of Lebanon’s dueling coalitions, the country’s worsening economic miseries and the very serious policy battles occuring in Washington. All should hope for the best.


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