Walid's Wanderings

Reflections on life, good-and-evil, family, humanity, and anything else that occurs to me, usually when I travel. Right now I am on a 6-year trip through Lebanon, the homeland I had never really lived in before.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Battle Ahead

Pretty much back where we started, give or take a few billion dollars. Damages here, damages there, lives lost, higher oil revenues. Now is the time to recall what I wrote two weeks ago, about how Hezballah can cease to be a renegade force while continuing to be the qualitatively superior backbone of resistance against real or perceived threats by Israel. I will not repeat my own words, since you are free to browse back to them yourselves, but here are some words from the highly regarded Orthdox Metropolit Khodor of Mount Lebanon, or for those seeking an American-sounding name, "Archbishop George". (I could not find an English translation on the web, so I translated it myself from the Arabic):

My topic today is the Islamic resitance and the rationale for keeping it separate from the armed forces. I base my interpretation on the heroic actions of this resistance, its mastery of advanced technologies, its sizeable arsenal, and its ability to continue operating in demonstarion of the inadequacy of the foe's intelligence capabilities, debunking the myth of this foe's great superiority.

The first question posed now is why the resistance cannot be merged with the armed forces. The intuitive answer is that this would end its capacity for guerilla warfare. The aremd forces would not gain any strength from being reinforced by the existing resistance. We would lose a force that is superior in tactics and in fighting spirit, without gaining any additionl strength in rerurn. It is evident that Lebanon cannot block a persistent foe if we give up partisan war. Symbolic of our perception that Israel is a persitent enemy is the absense of demarked boundaries in Israel's constitution. We are therefore at the mercy of Israel's self-imposed morality, of which we need more proof.

The second question is: why a specifically "Islamic" resistence. This relates to the ideology that inspires these resistence fighters. They believe that they are fighting for the glory of God. Their popular constituency belives the same thing, except for a minority within the sect. But who is to stop non-shiite Lebanese from fighting in the name of their nation rather than in the name of God? Unless we accept an international force in Southern Lebanon forever, the need to defend Lebanon remains. Except perhaps if we arrive at some Arab or International format for Lebanon's defense. The Arabs do not wish to call out their armies in our defense, especially since some are allied with the Americans and others have diplomatic relatins with Israel. There will be no Arabs on our battlefield. The most we can expect is diplomatic support. Until Syria first signs a peace treaty with Israel, and then Lebanon, Israel will continue to threaten us. Israel will not threaten Syria, since Syria is not a threat to Israel, and no one in the world would support a threat to Syria.

So if it is granted that guerilla warfare must be waged whenever Israel tackles our country, then this resisting force must be allowed to draw strength where it may.

I therefore say that disarming Hezballah is poointless if we do not have a guarantee of peace. It is not enough to say that freeing the Shebaa farms removes the alibi for Hezballah's arms. Some Lebanese politicans say that this is a militia and arms must belong to the state. This may be true in theory, but it is unrealistically legalistic. Give us an internationally guaranteed peace with Israel, one by which we can safely believe that international allies will rush to block any attack on us on lightning wings. No existing text gives us that guarantee.

Nevertheless, what is the basic principle of the relationship between the armes forces an the resitance? In principle, all resistance movements in Europe were in contact with their armed forces despite their operational independence. In other words, the resistance has no political role in initiating hostilities. Only this would demonstrate that a resistance has no regional (i.e. non-national)alleigence. There is, in the view of all civilized peoples, a basic contradiction when a single party possesses both political and military decision making power. The political rulers decide war and peace. In the words of Georges Celmenceau, "War is too important to leave to the generals." Meaning the generals ought not to decide when to start or end a state of war.
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I have a problem with the ideology of Hezballah, not, as I clarified above, with the resitance as such. This means that, as long as Hezballah remains, which will be a long time, the Lebanese will, after the war is over and peace returns, have to confront this ideology as we have confronted all other ideologies.

No one denies that a "state withinh a state" is not acceptable. The principle should be applied when our state has a degree of immunity. But to ask the resitance to dissolve itself in anticipation of a strong state coming into being is to ask for a demonstrably effective force to yiled to the expectation of the arrival of a state that is not sufficiently able to protect itself. One cannot compare a reality to a dream. Given an enemy that you cannot trust, one must constantly invent a means of protection.


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