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A sentence I never thought Charles Krauthammer would write

“A strong European presence in the south [of Lebanon], serious U.S. training and equipment for the Lebanese army, and relentless pressure at the U.N. can tip the balance” in south Lebanon against Hezbollah. Yes, and the balance can tip if Nasrallah and his troops convert to Christianity and become pacifists. That won’t happen, and neither, in all likelihood, will the key elements of Krauthammer’s hoped for scenario. Instead, Hezbollah will recruit fighers to replace the estimated 500 who were killed, retain its weapons, and receive new ones from its state sponsors. The forces that might prevent the latter two events have already said they don’t intend to do so.

Krauthammer suggests that even if it remains armed, Hezbollah won’t stir up another conflict with Israel because of the damage this one caused to its political position. I agree that Hezbollah probably won’t renew hostilities in the near future, mostly because it will want to rebuild first. However, Hezbollah has never depended for its power on being liked by a majority of the Lebanese or being a major player in the official government. It has depended instead on armaments, and for those it depends on Syria and Iran. Thus, Hezbollah can be expected to engage militarily with Israel when Iran calls upon it do so.

UPDATE: Krauthammer’s analysis of the situation in Lebanon also casts doubt on his claim that Olmert’s leadership during the war was “inept.” If Hezbollah has suffered a major defeat and if, as Krauthammer claims, Hezbollah will not attack Israel again, then one can defend Olmert’s decision not to sacrifice the lives of hundreds of additional Israeli soldiers in order to accomplish more.

FURTHER UPDATE: This piece in the Financial Times by Sheri Berman and Gideon Rose suggests that post-war politics in Lebanon will not work out well for Israel and the U.S. Via Andrew Stuttaford and NRO’s Corner.

FINAL UPDATE (by me anyway): Our friend Austin Bay sees the situation in south Lebanon in much the same way as Krauthammer, for the reasons he presents at Stategy Page.

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