Michael Oren (behind wall) and John O’Sullivan both have fascinating columns today, both getting at the same thing: if there is to be a successful settlement in Lebanon it will depend on the will of the international community, enforcing order there.
If successful, the international intervention in Lebanon will serve as a model for future efforts at conflict-management in the Middle East. The U.N. is finally recognizing that certain governments in the region are either powerless or unwilling to reign in terrorist groups within their borders.
Acting on this realization may give rise to charges of neocolonialism: France, Turkey and Egypt, which have volunteered troops to the international force, have all occupied Lebanon in the past. But while the imperialist powers of previous centuries were spurred by the desire for prestige and profit, today’s peacemakers aspire only to save a sovereign nation and safeguard their own security. At stake, they know, is not only Lebanon’s integrity but also global peace.
O’Sullivan (striking an appropriate note of skepticism at the end):
And would Hezbollah agree to be disarmed even as part of a general disarmament agreement in Lebanese politics? Such an agreement would mean that Lebanon was becoming a stable country — prosperous, at peace with its neighbors, and linked with the West — in which democratic politics had replaced civil war.
That is not exactly utopian; Lebanon used to be exactly that. But it is not what Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria and Iran want. They launched the anti-Israel offensive — and devised the tactic of using Lebanese civilians as “human shields” — to unite the Islamic and Arab worlds in a global anti-Western jihad on their terms. It has worked well for them. They are unlikely to sign onto a U.N. peace plan that reverses this success.
If the negotiations at the U.N. produce such a plan, therefore, it will draw a new line of dispute in international politics. It will set the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas radical alliance against “the international community” represented by the U.N., the United States, France, Italy, other European countries, and (quietly concealed in burkas) most Middle Eastern governments.
The radical alliance may pretend to go along with such a deal and to cooperate with any U.N. force. But it will seek over time to subvert and undermine both. And the time will come when it decides to confront and drive out the U.N. force as Hezbollah confronted and drove out France and the United States in 1982.
That is the moment when we will discover if the “international community” is worthy of its name. Or merely a squabbling cabal of paper tigers and weak horses.