In this period when Israel seems to be about to submerge itself in a profoundly deep and bitter national funk about “Who Lost Lebanon,” it’s instructive to read Lebanese bloggers who are entering a similar, and hopefully more constructive contemplative period regarding their attitudes toward Hezbollah in the post-war (God, let’s hope so anyway) period. It is not a love fest by any means.
Beirut Spring does an excellent job of linking to a good number of blogs highly critical of Hezbollah. One of these is Beirut to the Beltway, written by a Lebanese expat living in Washington, DC. One of the things that struck me in his post analyzing today’s speech by Nasrallah is that the latter used very similar terms, in attacking his internal Lebanese political opponents, to those used by Israelis to shut down dissent against this war and any previous war. And for those who detested the way Joe Lieberman bad-mouthed anti-war Democrats for criticizing the president over Iraq; and the way that Bush himself terror-baited John Kerry during the presidential campaign for doubting his Iraq policy–you’ll hear a distinct echo here. Listen to how Nasrallah couches his attack:
The most dangerous aspect of his speech, by far the most frightening of all, is his reference to Lebanese politicians who spoke out against him during the battle. He played on sectarian sensitivities highlighting the fact that most of the casualties and destruction were in Shia territories. He stressed that these politicians made a “mistake” by publicizing the internal debate in time of conflict, affecting the psychology of civilians being slaughtered and of the fighters. He made a direct reference to Jumblatt without naming him.
Moving on in the list of dangerously inflammatory statements the decapitator flung in our faces. He addressed the issue of HA [Hezbollah] weapons, reminding (read threatening) that HA came out victorious and that not even Israel has gone so far as to expect HA’s disarming. He asked those who want HA disarmed whether or not they brought back the Shebaa farms or the prisoners, and whether they are capable of protecting Lebanon. He dismissed the concept of disarming HA as too hasty and simplistic. He agreed to spreading the sovereignty of the state, which he said they were part of, but said that he wants a strong and just state to spread its sovereignty. He the asked if this state fulfills those requirements…
In other words, the Decapitator is in attack mode, his threats and his bullying continue at all but an accelerated pace. He has declared “victory” on both the frontlines and domestically and is acting as such. He will unabashedly compete with the state for reconstruction, he will not disarm, he has threatened the politicians of Lebanon demanding “unity”. The man is talking like a representative of a state, his growing power becoming a threat to a sovereign Lebanon.
We are back to where we started before this war, except that we have a more emboldened HA maneuvering for the upper hand in Lebanon. It is time for democratic Lebanon to act, the initiative cannot be left in the hands of these thugs.
I wouldn’t want any neocons reading this to take succor that their grand strategy to let the Israelis destroy Lebanon in order to somehow turn all Lebanese against Hezbollah has worked. It’s a lot more complicated than that. These Lebanese bloggers hate Hezbollah, but they hate Israel just as much if not more. They just hate the two in different ways and for different reasons. They hate Israel for physically destroying their nation. But they hate Hezbollah for potentially destroying their infant democracy. I would say that Lebanon would’ve eventually found a way to reign in Hezbollah and subject it to the bounds of democracy. But Israel has made this process infinitely more complex, laborious and perhaps distant.