Hezbollah may have won the war in Lebanon after all. The New York Times reports this morning that they are already dominating the rebuilding efforts, using money from Iran.
The Times observes:
Hezbollah's reputation as an efficient grass-roots social service network -- as opposed to the Lebanese government, regarded by many here as sleek men in suits doing well -- was in evidence everywhere. Young men with walkie-talkies and clipboards were in the battered Shiite neighborhoods on the southern edge of Bint Jbail, taking notes on the extent of the damage.So Hezbollah will get credit for rebuilding and Iran's reputation will be solidified, even among Sunnis and Lebanese Christians. The US can't block Iranian aid without looking even more like the bad guy than it does right now.
It's amazing how everyone plays into the hands of a group like Hezbollah. Despite their ability to provide good social services in Lebanon, they are certainly not the good guys. They are religious fundamentalists and they are committed to getting rid of Israel. Their very presence undermines the current government of Lebanon, and I imagine that they make other Lebanese religious groups -- different sects of Muslims as well as Christians -- very nervous indeed.
But Israel is so frightened of them that it rose to their bait and attacked. Hezbollah couldn't have asked for anything better.
I said before and I'll say again: Violence won't solve the conflicts in the Middle East. I notice that David Ignatius of The Washington Post agrees with me:
The Lebanon war was damaging for Israel, the United States and, most of all, Lebanon itself. But it may have taught everyone a lesson that will be immensely important to the future of the Middle East: The solutions to the big problems that afflict the region are not military but political.His column is headlined "After the Bombs, Politics." But it should have been titled "Instead of Bombs, Politics." The bombs should have been avoided in the first place.
Juan Cole, as usual, has an excellent analysis of just how stupid this war was on today's Informed Comment.
The wars in Lebanon and Iraq are both prime examples of how trying to resolve complex problems with brute force is bad strategy. Unfortunately, such mistakes are not only unsuccessful, but the repercussions from them will haunt us all for years to come.