The brilliant scholar and author Fouad Ajami has an excellent piece on the situation in Lebanon:
In an earlier time, three decades ago, Lebanon was made to pay for the legends of Arabism, and for the false glamour of the Palestinian “revolutionary” experiment. The country lost well over a quarter-century of its history–its best people quit it, and its modernist inheritance was brutally and steadily undermined.
Now comes this new push by Damascus and Tehran. It promises nothing save sterility and ruin. It will throw the Lebanese back onto a history whose terrible harvest is well known to them. The military performance of Hezbollah, it should be apparent by now, is not a performance of a militia; nor are unmanned drones and missiles of long range the weapons of boys of the alleyways. A formidable military structure has been put together by the Iranians in Lebanon. In a small, densely populated country that keeps and knows no secrets, Hezbollah and its Iranian handlers have been at work on this military undertaking for quite some time, under the gaze of Lebanese authorities too frightened to raise questions.
Lebanon has been held hostage to nearly every extremist movement in the Middle East at one point or another. The beautiful streets of Beirut are once again filled with war, and despite all the great advancements made by Lebanon since last year’s Cedar Revolution, the situation there is now fraught with peril. Hizb’Allah’s actions in Lebanon have hurt the nascent Lebanese pro-democracy movement that began in reaction to the assassination of Rafik Hariri by Syrian agents. Once again, Syria is trying to plunge Lebanon back into anarchy.
Hopefully the Israelis will weaken Hizb’Allah to the point where they no longer threaten either Israel or Lebanon. However, so long as the regimes in Damascus and Tehran continue to supply Hizb’Allah, that may prove to be futile. The only long-term solution to this war is to ensure that Hizb’Allah cannot rearm themselves once Israel has forcibly disarmed them. That will require a commitment from the governments of Israel and Lebanon and the international community to ensure that Lebanon is not held hostage again.
Lebanon has suffered greatly, but it has also shown the promise of being a stable, functional, and tolerant oasis of peace in a turbulent region. Allowing the thugs in Damascus and the theocrats in Tehran to destroy that dream is not acceptable. The world must ensure that Hizb’Allah is disarmed, the Lebanese Army is capable of defending all of Lebanon’s borders, and that Lebanon not be turned into a hostage state by foreign-backed thugs. Even when this conflict ends, the job of restoring Lebanese democracy will have only begun.