Friday, July 14, 2006

The Return of Sovereignity

Here is the problem with Lebanon (and Iraq and the Palestinian Authority):

It has been said before, but it needs to be said again: Part of being a sovereign state means having a monopoly on the use of force. This is the lesson that represents the chastisement of the democracy hawks. It is the lesson of power and stability that outsider democrats like to ignore and dictators love to apply. States which cannot establish a monopoly on the use of force cannot bring real stability to their polities. If they bring stability to themselves, they will bring instability to others.

This prerequisite of state sovereignty makes the decision of the coalition of the willing to dismantle the Iraqi army all the more baffling. Stabilizing Iraq was going to difficult enough. Without the army, it became impossible. All the elections and constitutions in the world cannot bring stability to a divided country where every mullah has a militia and/or a private army and the government has neither the power nor the will to put these opponents of state power down.

This is why, though I strongly support Israel's right to take action in Lebanon, I question the tactics. What is the end game? Destroying Hezbollah's military capability is a band-aid solution. Doing it while causing mass civilian casualties, though I don't doubt that Israel is taking every precaution to avoid these casualties, risks sending the rest of Lebanon in Hezbollah's arms. We are not out for territory here. We will not make it much easier for the Lebanese government to do the job we're doing now. It seems to me that sooner or later, we will have to go after Syria and Iran in some fashion. They are the real culprits here. We have to have an idea of what Lebanon is going to look like when we finish with it.

On a troubling note, the New York Times has featured some poor reportage lately that betrays something of an editorial bias. I am usually not a proponent of the bash-the-Times crowd, but after seeing Steven Erlanger mention in an article that some people accuse Ariel Sharon of war crimes when it clearly wasn't necessary, reading Patrick Healy's article on a pro-Israel rally in New York at which Senator Clinton spoke and writing that she failed to "mention of civilians in Lebanon and Gaza who have been injured in the fighting" accompanied by a Clyde Haberman column in the same section decrying the fact that no one is talking about peace, it's hard not to conclude that some journalists are letting their personal opinions get in the way of their reportage. Healy shows contempt for the intelligence of his readers when he mentions something like this in an article that is about a pro-Israel rally. Erlanger is giving voice to unwarranted speculation by mentioning that some accuse Ariel Sharon of war crimes.

7 Comments:

At 12:03 AM, Blogger Irina Tsukerman said...

Wait a second. The rally was on the 17th. How could you write the post before the article was published?!

 
At 12:12 AM, Blogger Yury Puzis said...

Bravo. Nothing to argue with this time.

 
At 12:31 AM, Blogger Michael Brenner said...

I started writing this a few days ago, which is why the date is messed up.

 
At 1:48 PM, Blogger amanouz said...

Well;
its really a bad news for us in arabic world when we hear that peoples in USA support Israel against Lebanon & Palestine,cause this creat bad feeling toward all what related to USA and all who support Israel, this feeling you as USA peoples pay for it in many diffrent countries,
You may say that Israel have the right to defend her self against Hizb Allh, or you may say that Israel peoples want to leave in peace, but the pictures which are transmisted by all world wide news confirm that Israel army suported by usa ,is the worsth amry in the world, no mutter what you or your country gov try to explain to the world, no body trust on USA or beleive what Rais say.
Also I can not understand under which right you say that Usa will run after Iran & Syria, who are you and who give you the authorisation to do what you said? Under which reason!!

 
At 7:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well here is my view

They say all politics is local and Israel is first and foremost trying affecting Lebanese local politics. What? Isn't this strengthening HA? Isn't this creating more terrorists? I don't buy that argument.

The Sunnis and the Christians are no pushovers. There may be solidarity against Israel now, but when it's over, there is going to be hell to pay for Hezbollah. The Sunnis and Christians aren't going to let Hezbollah get them into another situation like the current one again for the sake of Hezbollah's pride.

There won't be another civil war, but the Lebanese will not be able to go back to the "let Hezbollah do whatever they want as long as they leave us alone" attitude of the last six years because they know that is just going to lead to another war with Israel when HA does something stupid again.

Israel's goal is not to occupy permanently Lebanon (why would they have left if it was?). It is to temporarily create a buffer zone, and wait for NATO troops/Lebanese army troops to take over the South. The Lebanese won't have any love for Israel, but most non Shiite's hate HA and once the fighting has ended HA will lose a lot of popular support.

 
At 6:34 PM, Anonymous amanouz said...

Well Dear please note below,
The immediate aim of Israel’s brutal campaign is to destroy the Lebanese resistance movement Hizballah and kill its leader, Shaikh Hasan Nasrallah.

If the total destruction of Hizballah proves impossible, then the aim is to disarm it, to drive it out of a substantial slice of southern Lebanon, and replace its presence there with that of an international force, in conjunction with the Lebanese army, so as to form in a new ‘security zone’ on Israel’s northern border.

Beyond that, the still more ambitious aim is to redraw Lebanon’s political map, bringing to power in Beirut a government ready to conclude a separate peace with Israel under American auspices. In other words, the aim is to draw a broken and submissive Lebanon into Israel’s sphere of influence.

This was the aim of Israel’s 1982 invasion, and remains its aim today. Nothing else can explain the wholesale and systematic destruction of Lebanon’s national infrastructure. We are witnessing an attempt, abetted by the United States, to break Lebanon’s will to resist.

Much the same thing is happening on the Palestinian front where, with U.S. support and encouragement, Israel is seeking to destroy the Islamic resistance movement Hamas, the victor of last January’s democratic elections.

By smashing the Palestinians’ national infrastructure in both Gaza and the West Bank, Israel intends to put in place a broken and submissive Palestinian administration that will accept its unilateral terms. On both fronts, Israel will refuse all negotiation until it has established a position of overwhelming strength.

Beyond these assaults on Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, the evident aim is to isolate and weaken Syria and Iran, the only local powers who actively support Hizballah and Hamas, and who still resist American and Israeli hegemony over the region.

These local states and their supporters will inevitably fight back. They have vital interests at stake. Syria will not easily allow hostile powers, such as Israel and the United States, to establish their supremacy in Lebanon, as this would pose a grave threat to Syria’s national security. Iran, in turn, will not easily abandon its role as the protector of Lebanon’s Shi‘ite community in the face of Israel’s savage attack. Whether or not it intended to do so in the first place, Iran will now almost certainly redouble its efforts to acquire a nuclear capability so as to deter the U.S. and Israel from further aggressions and seek to establish a regional balance of power.

In puzzling over these developments, future historians may well conclude that the trauma of al-Qaida’s attacks of 11 September 2001 caused the United States to lose its mind. Obsessed with the ‘terrorist threat’, raging to hit back – and profoundly influenced by pro-Israeli advisers who seized the opportunity to preach the identity of U.S. and Israeli interests – Bush embarked on a disastrous course which resulted in America smashing Iraq, and allowing, even encouraging, Israel to smash Lebanon and what remains of Palestine.

This destructive rampage, and its irreparable damage to three Arab societies, is liable to haunt the U.S. and Israel for years to come. By promoting international anarchy, the U.S. and Israel will inevitably reap a harvest of resistance, terrorism and death on an even grander scale than in the past, as the victims seek revenge.

Condoleeza Rice has spoken of the need for an international conference on Lebanon. But her vision seems limited to protecting Israel and destroying its enemies. She needs to persuade her boss, President Bush, to raise his sights and tackle not just what he considers ‘terrorism’, but its real roots.

What is urgently required is an international peace conference, under a revitalised United Nations, dedicated to resolving the festering problems of the region. These are Israel’s cruel 39-year occupation of Palestinian territories, its refusal to countenance the creation of an independent Palestinian state, its continuing land-grab on the West Bank, its occupation of the Syrian Golan and Lebanon’s Shebaa Farms, its refusal to face up to the unresolved problem of Palestinian refugees living in wretched camps on its borders, its incarceration in deplorable conditions of some 10,000 Palestinian prisoners, and its insane tendency to lash out with indiscriminate violence whenever its victims dare to hit back.

If Israel wants to live in peace and security, it needs to give up bullying, intimidating and destroying its neighbours, and adopt instead a policy of good sense and good neighbourliness.

If Bush and Blair wish to rescue their deeply tarnished reputations, this should be their goal. But it is almost certainly too late.

 
At 12:15 AM, Blogger Michael Brenner said...

"
What is urgently required is an international peace conference, under a revitalised United Nations, dedicated to resolving the festering problems of the region. These are Israel’s cruel 39-year occupation of Palestinian territories, its refusal to countenance the creation of an independent Palestinian state, its continuing land-grab on the West Bank, its occupation of the Syrian Golan and Lebanon’s Shebaa Farms, its refusal to face up to the unresolved problem of Palestinian refugees living in wretched camps on its borders, its incarceration in deplorable conditions of some 10,000 Palestinian prisoners, and its insane tendency to lash out with indiscriminate violence whenever its victims dare to hit back."

I think we have more than enough Israel-bashing in the international community.

Israel wants quiet borders. That's it. It is not going to sit by and allow rockets to be lobbed over sovereign borders. There is no occupation in the North and no occupation in the Gaza Strip. There is thus no excuse for rockets. All the rockets are doing is undermining any possible peace movement in Israel.

 

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