Friday, August 04, 2006

End Days of of Hezbollah

From Global Politician [Thanks, John for the tip], 4/8/06, by Nicholas M. Guariglia ...

...There is no doubt that, thus far, this season has not been kind to rogues and fascists, which seem to have overplayed their cards. .....But none ... can compare to that of Tehran’s premature proxy wars. It is unclear how much the Iranian mullahcracy knew about the recent escapades of Hamas and Hezbollah. But what remains clear is that (if the world responds appropriately) the ruling clerics in Iran have the most to lose. Their swan song began a few months ago, starting with the new Iraqi premier, Mr. Maliki, who, contrary to what the mullahs had hoped, is more Iraqi than Shi’ite, more nationalist than theologian. All militias within Iraq – especially the Iranian-backed Mahdi militia – will be dismantled, through peace or violence, during Maliki’s tenure.

Iran is slowly but surely losing strategic access to its clientele. In this most recent flare-up of violence, the usual international condemnations of Israel have of course occurred, but so has denunciation of Hezbollah from the Jordanian, Egyptian, Saudi, and Iraqi governments. Whether it is Arab fears of Persian expansionism or Sunni trepidations over Khomeinist pathology, the usual orthodoxy no longer applies. Ahmadinejad’s instrumentalities, specifically Hezbollah, are rapidly entering the days of their impotence – if not the twilight of their existence, altogether.

In many ways, Hezbollah emir Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah will end up a tragic figure. Much like Yamamoto’s post facto admission that Imperial Japan had made a fateful error at Pearl Harbor – “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve” – it is relatively unsurprising to hear Hezbollah leaders claim they miscalculated Israeli retaliation to the kidnapping of their soldiers.

Mahmoud Komati, a deputy chief in Hezbollah, recently mumbled to the Associated Press, “The truth is… we didn’t even expect (this) response.” He went on to explain that he and his Hezbollah masters expected “the usual, limited response” from Israel –– perhaps sending in commandos to try and rescue the kidnapped Israelis, or using a third-party like Germany as a mediator for a prisoner exchange.

How mind-numbingly stupid. So often we hear analysts reminding us that, for the jihadists, a defeat is really a victory (and a victory is a victory, too, of course). We’re told we misunderstand the ideological domain with which “the other” wages war: kill a terrorist and you create a martyr, fail to kill him and you create a mythical legend. But what are we to make of the persistent misunderstanding, and misjudging, from Eastern adversaries of our sacred Western way of war? ....

Whatever their excuse, the fact remains Hezbollah has utterly failed the people of Lebanon. Not only have they not delivered on fulfilling their bogus promise of Islamist ecstasy, but now they have plunged a relatively benign population into a war in a manner that showcases their scorn for their own people. There was no parliamentary approval in Lebanon for this conflict. The prime minister did not extend his support. The people were not informed. Attacking the Israelis was not up for a referendum.

What we saw a few weeks ago was unilateralism – a morally neutral concept, in and of itself – at its worst. No one in Beirut could have predicted the wrath from above that would rain down upon them. They were in the dark, unknowing of what the armed jihadist enclave in the Bekaa Valley was scheming. And now they are knowledgeable, and however much they oppose Israeli airstrikes over their heads – and however much they claim to support “the resistance” Hezbollah – it will be they, the Lebanese, who will put this hooligan fascist movement out of business once and for all.

You see, unlike the rather unintelligent and historically ignorant Hezbollah superiors, we in the West – and the Israelis above all – are well informed on the Eastern, and far less lethal, way of war. However scary black pajama-wearing jihadists are as they saw off someone’s neck, their decapitation movie productions are not as devastating as an enraged democracy at war. Some ninety-percent of the Israelis support the bombardment of Lebanon –– and are unimpressed with the lack of efficiency in Hezbollah’s rocket launches. Time and again nasty autocrats and terrorists believe they can play this silly gambit. ....

In the end, Hamas – unable to do much of anything for the Palestinians – will most likely crumble on their own. They have bitten the hand that feeds them one too many times, and those evil Jews may no longer give them the chemotherapy, dialyses, prenatal care, electricity, paychecks, and foreign direct investment that makes their Gaza slums a little less slummy.

Hezbollah, on the other hand, will have a lack of bases to assemble at, a lack of camps to train in, a lack of fortifications to operate from, and a lack of leaders to lead. Much like the de-Nazification and de-Ba’athification processes that occurred in postwar Germany and postbellum Iraq, there must be a period of de-Hezbollahization in Lebanon. No terrorist group ought to be allowed to have a political wing – or an armed militia operating outside of the control of a sovereign parliament.

We do not yet know how this Lebanese conflict will play out in the end. But one thing is clear: Hezbollah will change, for the worse, far more than Israel. And that will be a detriment to Iran more than anyone else. Doing this, however, will not primarily be an Israeli mission. The current air offensive in Lebanon is the equivalent – both strategically and in terms of timetables – of the American assault over Afghanistan in late 2001. We should think of Lebanon, and the world’s goals for it, as a trumpeted-down version of the Afghan war: initial airstrikes by a foreign power, establishment and empowerment of a sovereign parliament, a NATO stabilization force that not only “peace-keeps” but also actively hunts down jihadist insurrectionists, and the training and arming of an indigenous, humane Lebanese security force – that will combat, and crush, Hezbollah on their own.

Nicholas M. Guariglia writes on the issues of national defense and counterterrorism, specifically regarding Middle East geopolitics. He is a student at the John C. Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University, where he is studying American foreign policy. He can be contacted at

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