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« Primary Morning After | Main | Senate Independents »

Post-War Occupation

Honestly, I don't see any good options here aside from depopulating the place. (No, that's not really an option.)

The Lebanese Army has almost certainly been compromised by Hezbollah infiltration. Even assuming that's a minor inconvenience, this isn't exactly the Third ID we're talking about (from today's WSJ):

But Lebanese commanders such as Maj. Gen. Achraf Rifi, who leads the nation's police force, believe the task could prove difficult. Lebanon's military is poorly equipped and fragmented along ethnic and religious lines. Its police force has 20,000 members, but fewer than half have guns or ammunition. Some of the weapons they use are World War II-era rifles.

An international force would seem to be the worst alternative of all, as it would almost inevitably morph into a Hezbollah Protection Force. It will be composed of countries with virtually no stake in Israel's safety, but a great investment and sense of mission in a continued "cease-fire." It will become a coalition, hostage to its slowest, least-aggressive members.

Since it will derive its legitimacy from its broadness, countries that are less interested in diarming Hezbollah than in sticking their fingers into the pie will be able to prevent any effective action merely by threatening to pull out. (There is no symmetry here. One could see Australia, for instance, getting disgusted with inaction and withdrawing, only to be condemned and ignored because it didn't know how to play well with others.)

At this point, the force becomes passive, and assumes a defensive posture. The goal of its individual soldiers becomes to survive, and the most immediate threat to its survival comes not from Israel, but from Hezbollah. ("Nice little tent you got there; shame if anything happened to it.") Count on Hezbollah to establish that fact quickly and decisively by breaking whatever cease-fire agreement gets passed.

In fact, military necessity dictates that this is true. Expecting troops speaking different languages, with no history of joint operations, to conduct offensive operations on foreign and hostile ground is expecting too much. Expecting them to be willing to take the casualties necessary to learn how to do this under fire leads back to the same political conclusion.

Israel would be left with no real options to reverse such a failure. If the Lebanese Army were to fail to control and disarm the Hezbos, Israel could hold it responsible for its failure, militarily if necessary. Such an option doesn't exist with a UN-sponsored force.

Israel itself really doesn't want a repeat of its 1982-2000 occupation of the place. That occupation was justifiable for the same reason this one would be, which earned Israel not one bit of sympathy or support. Eventually, the will to continue in Lebanon collapsed from within.

In this case, Israel is already noisily looking for a way out of Lebanon, and it hasn't even occupied the place yet. It's going to be a long, hard, slog to persuade the world that it's willing to stay there as long as is necessary to be able to leave on its own terms.


Israel gave up all that in return for peace(?) Maybe they should just reoccupy and let Syria pout.

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