A Transitory Peace

Michael Totten has a poignant and chilling piece on the future of Lebanon. Understandably, he worries that the country could once again fly apart into sectarian war once the Israeli attacks against Hizb’Allah end:

“What will become of us?” is the question on everyone’s mind. No one can know what will happen after Israel lifts its siege and the temporary national unity flies apart into pieces. And it will fly apart into pieces. The only question is how far the pieces will fly and how hard they’ll land.

Lebanon had been the greatest success story in the Arab world just a few months ago. But behind that success, the existence of Hizb’Allah ensured that the newfound democracy in Lebanon was constantly threatened. The eviction of the Syrians was only one step, but as long as Hizb’Allah had their state-within-a-state at the same time they corrupted Lebanese government, Lebanon would always be an occupied nation.

I hope Israel crushes Hizb’Allah so that they can never harm anyone again. But Hizb’Allah is a more formidable foe than anything Israel has ever faced. They are not like the other Arab forces that have threatened Israel, and I fear the cost in lives and treasure necessary to win this war will be higher than we had all expected.

Lebanon may indeed fall back into civil war, taking the hope of Lebanese democracy with it. I would hope that the memories of what had happened the last time would prevent that from happening, but the way things are playing out now, the ancient animosities just under the surface of Lebanon’s brittle civil society are now once again overwhelming all else.

Lebanon was briefly the model for a new Middle East, a place where Christian, Druze, Shi’a, and everyone else could live in peace and tolerance. Even if Lebanon falls into civil war, it is critical that dream not die.

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