Saturday, July 22, 2006

A Solution for Lebanon?

Oh, it's probably ultimately unworkable, but so is every other solution.

The context: Israel (and most of the rest of the world, apparently including most Arab states) wants to see Hezbollah disarmed. It could not achieve disarmament through eighteen years of occupation of southern Lebanon, and is now attempting to achieve disarmament through an air campaign which will, in all likelihood, destroy much of Hezbollah's arsenal while increasing Lebanese and Arab enmity toward Israel and sympathies with Hezbollah - like the occupation, a recipe for short-term gain and long-term pain. Israel has never wanted any significant international military force on its borders (and after the last time it was attempted not many foreign militaries have much interest in trying to act as peacekeepers). Israel distrusts the United Nations, and no UN force would be of sufficient size and strength to disarm Hezbollah.

So... How about trying something completely different? Bring in a UN force to monitor Lebanon's borders with Syria. Bring in a sufficient foreign miltary and police force to maintain order and stability in those areas of Lebanon north of the Litani River while the Lebanese military responds to Hezbollah. And make Lebanon and its military, supported by contributions of foreign training and military hardware, responsible for policing and controlling areas controlled by Hezbollah, including Lebanon's border with Israel. (Ideally, subject to practical limitations and security issues, the Arab states which oppose Hezbollah could be enticed to contribute manpower to any police force required as part of this effort, such that under most day-to-day circumstances the man on the street in Lebanon would encounter the face of an Arab policeman rather than a foreign soldier.) The people of Lebanon will see for themselves in Hezbollah is willing to kill Lebanese soldiers in order to maintain its military operations - something that should bring some sense of sobriety to the notion of Hezbollah as fighting for Lebanese independence and freedom from foreign occupation. And it keeps western forces off of the front lines.

If this plan were to work you should end up with a well-trained, well-disciplined Lebanese army which can ultimately maintain control of the entire nation, reducing the likelihood that Hezbollah will again be able to develop a significant militia. Perhaps a Lebanon that looks something like Jordan - but with an elected government instead of a monarchy.

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