Thursday, July 20, 2006

The situation in Lebanon

I am somewhat conflicted by what is happening in Israel and Lebanon, as I feel terrible about the civilian casualties on both sides, while at the same time I see the necessity and justification for the Israeli response. At any rate I think this Washington Post column by Charles Krauthammer describes why this is a unique opportunity:
Hence the golden, unprecedented opportunity. Hezbollah makes a fatal mistake. It crosses the U.N.-delineated international frontier to attack Israel, kill soldiers and take hostages. This aggression is so naked that even Russia joins in the Group of Eight summit communique blaming Hezbollah for the violence and calling for the restoration of Lebanese sovereignty in the south.
But only one country has the capacity to do the job. That is Israel, now recognized by the world as forced into this fight by Hezbollah's aggression.
The road to a solution is therefore clear: Israel liberates south Lebanon and gives it back to the Lebanese.
Emphasis mine. I think the Israeli government should be more strenuous in asserting this last aspect. It should repeatedly call on the Lebanese government to cooperate with Israel, as Israel intends to pull back as soon as its very reasonable objectives are fulfilled, and collaborating will minimize civilian casualties, disarm Hezbollah more effectively and protect the Lebanese infrastructure. Obviously the Lebanese government would probably not accede to these sincere demands (as Hezbollah is even part of the governing coalition), but if so they would at least undermine the claim that Lebanon is stuck between two warring parties.
Naturally, the military straregy is of essence as well:
It starts by preparing the ground with air power, just as the Persian Gulf War began with a 40-day air campaign. But if all that happens is the air campaign, the result will be failure. Hezbollah will remain in place, Israel will remain under the gun, Lebanon will remain divided and unfree. And this war will start again at a time of Hezbollah and Iran's choosing.
Just as in Kuwait in 1991, what must follow the air campaign is a land invasion to clear the ground and expel the occupier. Israel must retake south Lebanon and expel Hezbollah. It would then declare the obvious: that it has no claim to Lebanese territory and is prepared to withdraw and hand south Lebanon over to the Lebanese army (augmented perhaps by an international force), thus finally bringing about what the world has demanded -- implementation of Resolution 1559 and restoration of south Lebanon to Lebanese sovereignty.
Do read the whole thing. And to keep abreast of the latest news and commentary an excellent source is Pajamas Media, whose latest roundup can be found here.

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