Thursday, August 17, 2006

Lebanon, Post Bellum

Following Monday's UN-imposed ceasefire, Israel and Hezbollah have largely ceased hostilities within Lebanon. It is important, however, to view this not as an end, but as a beginning. A beginning of what, you ask? That is precisely the question.

Will we see a strengthening of the Lebanese democracy as the government exerts control over all of its territory or will extremists capitalize on civilian losses to consolidate power politically and socially? The U.S. and Israel have a great deal of say in this matter, depending on their commitment to rebuilding Lebanese infrastructure and their continuing support for democracy in country (and as we have learned, democracy is not always convenient to the U.S. national interest - consider Hamas's win in Palestine or the existence of democracies in Europe that would not support our misadventures in Iraq).

What lessons will be taken from this conflict? Has Hezbollah learned that it cannot continue to assault Israeli military outposts without fear of retaliation? Has Israel learned that it cannot engage in the destruction of a country's infrastructure without facing determined opposition? What opinions of Israel have been created or cemented in the minds of the Lebanese people? These are questions to which answers do not you exist, but answers to them will be critical in determining what this ceasefire is the beginning of.

One lesson I, as an American, have learned, is that the American government will actively support Israeli military actions (through munitions, etc.) regardless of civilian deaths. We should not support any nation in such manner, not Israel, not Saudi Arabia, not Great Britain, no one. Civilian lives matter, and when we supply the bombs, we share in the complicity, something we must actively resist.

And when I say this is not an ending, I mean both in Lebanon and Gaza, where incursions continue (that link is a damn good article, btw), and the West Bank, where the number of those illegally settling on Palestinian lands has grown.

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