From Martin Indyk in Haaretz:
…the only real American leverage is through Israel’s use of force. But that is a blunt instrument. Hezbollah hides behind civilians which means that the more force Israel uses to attack Hezbollah targets, the more Lebanese civilians die. And the longer Israel’s bombardments go on, the more Lebanese become angry with Israel rather than Hezbollah. And at a certain point in the not too distant future, the international outcry may become so great that the Bush Administration is forced to abandon the effort and to insist instead that Israel stop.
Therefore, the Bush Administration needs to lay the groundwork now for a diplomatic initiative that will kick in when Israel has succeeded in denting Hezbollah’s capabilities. That initiative would need to have the following elements:
· An end to rocket attacks on Israel
· An end to Israeli attacks on Lebanon
· The removal of Hezbollah forces from the South
· Their replacement with the Lebanese Armed Forces backed by a capable international force
· Implementation of UNSC Resolution 1559
· The return of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers.
This list probably sounds familiar. That’s because most of it was enunciated by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in the Knesset on Monday.
However, most of those points were also enunciated by the G-8 leaders in their statement on Sunday.
Interestingly, they were also enunciated in a little-noticed speech by Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora on Saturday. However, the Lebanese Prime Minister added another point which Israelis should pay attention to. He offered:
· A return to the Israel-Lebanon Armistice Agreement of 1949.
What Siniora appeared to be saying by referencing that agreement is that he is prepared to deal directly with Israel and enter into what would be tantamount to a non-belligerency pact.
In other words, even now, as the conflict escalates, the foundations of a diplomatic solution are being laid by responsible players on all sides.
One question remains, however. How to get Hezbollah to acquiesce in the deal?
It is a reasonable point that Indyk makes, and you are right as well to raise attention to the possibility that Israel’s response runs the risk of driving the Lebanese people closer to Hezbollah and Syria, rather than provoking them to reject Hezbollah and Syria. But the question at the end – how to make Hezbollah take part – is just ridiculous. As a terrorist organization committed to the destruction of Israel, they will not take part, and to the extent they pretend to, cannot be trusted to do anything other than hold out, rearm, and attack again when the opportunity presents itself. All the “responsible” parties are cloaking the really hard part of their so-called solution under the rubric of “implementation UN Resolution 1559.” But it seems to me that because Resolution 1559 calls for Hezbollah to be disarmed, the only effort made since its passage to implement it has been the Israeli offensive of the last week.
Hezbollah clearly won’t lay down their arms themselves in any verifiable fashion, a UN force won’t disarm them (instead it will end up providing cover for their rearmament by essentially providing a shield against future Israeli strikes), and the Lebanese army probably can’t disarm them (because if the Lebanese army were that strong, Hezbollah wouldn’t be there, as installed by Syria/Iran, in the first place). So that means the Israelis (because the US certainly isn’t going to do it) either need to destroy Hezbollah (which means (1) continuing the offensive for another week, or however long they feel is necessary, and (2) potentially striking Syria in order to deliver the message (to Iran as well as Syria) that Hezbollah is not to be rearmed once the dust settles) or go back to the status quo ante, with a mildly weakened Hezbollah and an angry Lebanese populace potentially more willing to help it. Clearly, they need to do the former.
What do people think the expulsion of Hezbollah from South Lebanon is going to look like, anyway, if done by the Lebanese army or an UN force? Do they expect the Hezbollah partisans to come out of their bunkers, throw up their hands and say, “Oh, you guys aren’t the Israelis! Why didn’t you say so? Sure we’ll leave! Oh, and please take these 9000 remaining rockets because they’re sorta difficult to carry and we don’t really need them while we slink back to Damascus/Tehran/the Bekaa Valley.” A ceasefire that occurs because of any agreement – as opposed to Hezbollah being destroyed and hence ceasing to fire on Israel – will only serve to delay the confrontation until Hezbollah is in a stronger position (and when Iran has a nuclear weapon, they will be in a much stronger position)….