What is happening in Lebanon? What is the object of Hezbollah’s current offensive? Why now? Among the most clarifying items I have found addressing these questions are “Lebanon’s third civil war” by Michael Totten and “The question of power” by Jonathan Spyer. Totten writes:
As long as Hezbollah gets what it wants, taking over all of Lebanon is unnecessary, as well as most likely impossible. But this is still a coup d’etat of a sort. What happened is, literally, a blow against the state. Until this week, Hezbollah existed both inside and beside the state. Hezbollah now exists above the state, the parliament, the police, and the army. No member of Hezbollah will be arrested or prosecuted as they would in a normal and properly sovereign country.
Spyer more or less concurs:
[T]he government of Fuad Saniora and Saad Hariri is to be permitted to hold the formal reins of administration – on condition that they well understand the inherent limits of their position. Most important, any attempt to interfere with the Iranian-created and Iranian- and Syrian-sponsored military infrastructure in the country will result in a swift, disproportionate and bloody response.
Spyer adds that the objective of Hezbollah and its masters is to preserve Hezbollah as an instrument to be activated against Israel by Iran at “the appropriate moment.” I take it by “the appropriate moment” that Spyer means the moment of Iran’s choosing.