Cease-Fire Now Ensures Catastrophic Outcomes
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
The most baffling thing about the Lebanon war is that anyone believes a lame United Nations resolution could mitigate its momentous consequences. Stopping the fighting now ensures a new Middle East not at all like the peaceful pro-Western one President Bush and Secretary of State Rice have in mind.
What looms are four catastrophic outcomes:
• Hezbollah, with its masters in Iran and Syria, will be closer than ever to controlling Lebanon’s destiny — as well as the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, close to Iraq and the energy-rich Gulf region.
• Israel’s existence will be challenged repeatedly. Its borders have proved vulnerable, its army has been permanently defanged in the Muslim mind, and its political establishment has been ridiculed as recriminations over its incompetence commence.
• Secularists, moderates, and heads of client states in the Muslim world will be emasculated in the face of a rising tide of jihadist challengers fashioned after Hezbollah, demanding theocratic anti-Western governments.
• The Western world, stymied in an existential quest to eradicate jihadist Islamic fundamentalism, will sink deeper into in a true war of civilizations that in its ferocity will rival the war on communism. Even before the beginning of the official cease-fire, the thuggish leader of Hezbollah, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, made it clear that another reality has begun. A week ago on Al-Jazeera, he vowed revenge against “those [read: Arab governments] who let us down and those [read: Christians, Druze, and Sunni] who conspired against us” — which includes the 3 million unarmed non-Shiite Lebanese, out of a total of 4 million citizens in that country. That is tantamount to announcing another civil war. The July 12 decision by Hezbollah, a minority partner in Lebanon’s kaleidoscopic society, to confiscate the country’s right to declare war was a sign of its unwillingness to tolerate dissent.
A few days ago, Sheik Nasrallah took things further, telling Hezbollah’s Al Manar TV that the day after the war ends is “the day we settle accounts.” Even the Mafia, in its heyday, was not that brazen. But who’s to stop the Nasrallah Islamic Republic of Lebanon from emerging, with its superbly armed militia that “defeated” Israel and a long arm that can assassinate any Lebanese?
Israel is now perceived as fair game to jihadists. Prime Minister Olmert’s and the Israeli army’s conduct of this war has been at the very least amateur, and in all probability a criminal offense, as I hope the Knesset’s investigation will show.
It is bad enough that Israel’s aura of invincibility has evaporated and its borders have been shown to be porous. What’s calamitous is that its army has empirically proved it has no staying power; it also lacks enough war tools to fight anything greater than disheveled Palestinian Arab militias in Gaza or dysfunctional Arab armies.
In Hezbollah, it met an enemy Israeli generals truly feared. In the all-important macho world of Middle East hubris, the Israelis blinked. No one in the Arab, or Muslim, world missed that.
Within the Muslim world, one need look no further than the demands for jihad everywhere and the outcry against “impotent” governments. The entire network of mosques, madrassas, Islamic fundamentalist institutions, charities, Islamic parties, and hangers-on are now in an energized frenzy, from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia. A new dawn is breaking for them and their many allies within the armed forces of even the friendliest states to the West, including Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, and of course Pakistan.
In the West, liberalism, democracy, and freedom have been dealt a massive blow. The British Muslim conspiracy to bring down airplanes flying to America from Britain was hatched before the Lebanon war, but copycats can only believe the bells also are tolling for them to do what they can to bring down the infidels of the West.
Liberals may not want to accept that a war of civilization beckons, but Muslims have and do. Westerners can choose to lull themselves into believing that a grand majority of the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims are moderates, but the Lebanon war has shown that the minority can prevail.