Monday, August 14, 2006

Lebanese army receives its marching orders: from Hezbollah

The Lebanese army received its marching orders today.

Actually, it received two sets of marching orders: one from its own commanders, and then another from Hezbollah, superceding the original command.

Though we hardly needed any more clarity on the impotence of the Lebanese government, we've gotten it. Hezbollah has pulled rank on the Lebanese.

The Lebanese army was ready to head south to form a large force in a buffer zone south of the Litani River, but the two Hezbollah Cabinet ministers took control of a Cabinet meeting and made it clear to the de jure (but not de facto) Lebanese government that the troop movement just wasn't going to be happening.

The result? Humiliation of the Lebanese government and its armed forces. Its lack of power cannot be denied in any sort of face-saving move. And humiliation is an especially negative and intolerable emotion in the Arab world's shame-based culture.

Captain Ed believes this dynamic will work to force a civil war in Lebanon (another one; the country has had more than its share of civil wars, I'm afraid):

The humiliation traveled from the generals to the troops, as everyone understood exactly why their orders to move out got countermanded. Government officials finally gave voice to the conundrum that all of us knew existed during this entire conflict, complaining that the Hezbollah "political party" would not abide by government decisions.

Hezbollah is a shadow ruler in control of Lebanon, and it's coming out of the shadows, emboldened. Heretofore it had a great deal of support among many Lebanese, but has that changed? I've written about this possibility before, here, based on Michael Totten's predictions that the Hezbollah/Israeli war would be followed by a Lebanese civil war against Hezbollah.

I question whether this ceasefire will hold and, if it does hold, whether it will further the cause of a probably illusory "peace process," or merely serve to give Hezbollah more cover to burrow ever deeper into Lebanon.

If one studies the rise to power of Hitler in Germany, it becomes clear that his ascendance was far from inevitable. There were many forces arrayed against him; unfortunately, they were all incompetent, miscalculating, double-dealing, or just plain unlucky.

But it's clear that when Hitler came to power he did not have the support of the majority of Germans. Nevertheless, come to power he did--and the rest, as they say, is history. And if you read the linked article, please note the role of paramilitary groups such as the Storm Troopers in his rise, as well as the fatal flaw of an extremely weak central government in Germany.

The combination of the paramilitary Hezbollah troops taking the ascendance in Lebanon and the weakness of the Lebanese government bodes ill for the future of Lebanon and the world. Like our parents and grandparents before us, who watched the events of the 1930's unfold, we do indeed live in "interesting times."


The [Lebanese] army's equipment is poor, and no match for the Israelis. Lebanon has no air force or navy. One soldier said Hezbollah was better armed and organised, and that he was reluctant to confront "the resistance fighters". Another soldier said his brother and a cousin were fighting for Hezbollah. "I can't turn a gun on the resistance, because they are family," he said.

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