The Corner

Hezbollah the winner?

Also of note in yesterday’s Journal was Bret Stephens speculating that Hezbollah might come out on top:

You’re [Hassan Nasrallah] also thinking about what all this might mean for Hezbollah’s political future. Here’s a fact about Lebanon that many people would rather forget: The birth rate among Shiites averages between eight and nine per household. By contrast, Sunni households produce about five children, while Christians and Druze average two. Yet Lebanon’s antiquated “confessional” political system, based in part on a 1932 census, gives Christians half the seats in parliament (as well as the presidency), while Shiites, who may already be a majority, are allotted only 27 seats. Is this “democratic”? You think not.

 

For years, your political strategy has been to consolidate Hezbollah’s position among Shiites and co-opt the ever-weakening Christians in a common alliance against the Sunnis. Hezbollah has also consciously soft-pedaled its position in parliament, figuring it can bide its time before it claims its rightful place.

 

Now you’re thinking of accelerating that timetable. If the security situation really gets out of hand in the next few weeks, you might assert military control in the Bekaa Valley and around Beirut. The Sunnis and Christians will denounce you, but they no longer have militias of their own to fight you. Besides, current Lebanese President Emile Lahoud — an ally of Syria and therefore an ally of yours — still exerts influence with the army, which happens to be about 35% Shiite.

 

What worries you? Not the “international community,” which dependably finds more to fault in Israel’s actions than in yours. Not an enlarged U.N. peacekeeping force; the U.N. has been in southern Lebanon for ages, without ever obstructing your designs. The Americans tilt toward Israel, but there’s no chance of them intervening: They learned their lesson after you bombed their Marines’ barracks in 1983.

 

As for the Israelis, so far they have not meaningfully degraded your capacity to fight…

     

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