Friday, August 18, 2006

What will happen to Lebanon?

That's the big question now.
Everywhere I look are different assessments and predictions, but there is a big space between speculations on the part of pundits and coming to terms with the aftermath on the ground. Here are some links to consider...

John Robb's Global Guerrillas says

It's clear that Hezbollah has advanced in more than the violence of 4GW, it is also demonstrating an ability to solidify its position by providing sys-admin like functionality (ala Barnett's "Blueprint for Action" and my "State Failure 101"). There is an important cycle that inverts legitimacy at work here:

--In order to fight a non-state enemy, other states hollowed out a state. Whether Hezbollah is at fault or not is a non-issue.
--The non-state enemy proves (through 4GW) it is the only force capable of defending the people.
--the non-state builds alliances with other non-states and states to gather essential support.
--The non-state provides services (political goods) at a higher level of efficiency and value than the state (sys-admin).
In short, Hezbollah gains legitimacy at the expense of the state. Expect to see this cycle again and again from 4GW groups (in contrast, networked non-states like al Qaeda operate in a different way entirely -- although many conflate the two approaches).

Realpolitick at it's most disagreeable. Nevertheless...

This paragraph from M. Simon keeps drumming in my head.

The problem for the Shia is that those neighborhoods are gone. Israel's tactic of avoiding death and sticking to destruction has created a logistical nightmare for Hizbollah. They now have a vast Army of walking wounded to deal with. The dead are low maintenance, the wounded are high maintenance. This is a very expensive problem. Food, shelter, and housing must be provided to all those supporters and their families. The tall apartment complexes that housed so many are rubble. So people used to living in Beirut must now be housed in the country side in tents. To these tents must be delivered food, water, blankets, and sanitary facilities. They have to deliver all this over a road net that has numerous blocks. This is not Hezbollah's area of expertise.

"This is not Hezbolla's area of expertise." Indeed. Maybe the understatement of the week. Seems to me that was one of teh PLO's principal weaknesses. We will see if Nasrallah, unlike Arafat, can keep his trembling macho impulses under control long enough to take out the garbage and make provisions for sorting out criminals from patriots. All at once he has a lot on his plate. Unless, of course, he can get another war up and running to keep people's attention off everyday problems. (That seems to be how politics is done in America these days.)

Others are also waiting and watching...

Today, Hizballah needs to weigh two contradictory imperatives. On the one hand, its leadership feel that it is an integral part of the Syrian-Iranian-Hizballahi coalition, and that if it drops out, it will leave its allies weaker and more vulnerable. Let me add that Hizballah is especially crucial to that alliance because it is the only member that (prior to July 12, at least) could physically launch attacks on Israel, and “stir things up” whenever the alliance felt the time was right. On the other hand, Hizballah is also being made to feel that nothing less than the fate of Lebanon as a state and a country is at stake here.

Will this political maneuver work? Will Hizballah respond positively? We cannot but wait and see.

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