Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

“A ‘defence policy’, for what?”

Posted by worriedlebanese on 18/10/2006

Following the blue lineFady Noun wrote an article this morning in the Orient-Le Jour entitled “Une ‘stratégie de défense’, pour quoi faire ?”.

He argues that Lebanon should not have a ‘defence strategy’ but a ‘defence policy’. The term ‘defence strategy’ is used by Hezbollah to justify its weapons and its right to keep them even after the complete withdrawal of Israel from Lebanese land and the liberation of all Lebanese detainees. Hezbollah and the Lebanese government consider the Shebaa farms to be Lebanese not Syrian and there were three Lebanese prisoners held in Israel (one of whom is serving a term because of the brutal murder of an Israeli family some thirty years ago). The count might be up again because of the last war; the Israeli army kidnapped in July some Lebanese people but I think most of them have been liberated.

Hezbollah insists that it’s not enough to fight for the liberation of the land and its people. The true mission of a resistance is to ensure that the land is never occupied again. In their view, Israel in its very existence is a threat to Lebanon and the integrity of its land because of its expansionist policies (illustrated by its annexation of the Golan Heights and the colonisation of the West Bank).

In this perspective, they have the right to cling to their weaponry indefinitely. In their defence strategy, they believe that through their arms and training they are creating an equilibrium of terror between Lebanon and Israel, and Israel wouldn’t venture into Lebanon for fear of Hezbollah’s missiles reaching deep down into the Jewish State (During the war, Nasrallah had vowed that his missiles would reach farther south from Haifa…).

Many politicians and political analysts have been criticizing Hezbollah’s defence doctrine. They claim that it did not prevent Israel from occupying Lebanese land again, kidnapping Lebanese citizens from places as far from the Israeli border as the region of Baalbek and destroying a large part of the Lebanese infrastructure. In his article Fady Noun doesn’t follow this argument, he goes further, arguing that a ‘defence strategy’ is not enough and Lebanon should have a ‘defence policy’. He distinguishes between the two, saying that a defence policy is much larger it includes a military dimension and a cultural and economical dimension. He says that the Lebanese army should have anti-aircraft missiles that would really constitute a defence against Israeli incursion (but does it really? What about the Israeli fleet?). Furthermore Lebanon he claims should arm itself economically and culturally against Israel and its other enemies that are intolerance, extremism… and from hereon, Fady Noun shifts his argumentation to other points not directly related to Israel but going on the lines of consensualism and moral conservatism.  

What I find most troublesome in this article is the way Fady Noun defines Israel as the enemy, as Lebanon’s first enemy without stating the reasons for this. What makes Israel Lebanon’s enemy? Is it congenital? Can anything be done about it? When and how can it end if ever it should? Why does he say that the Arabs do not have a unified strategy to counter Israel? Why this negative approach? Should the Arabs be anti-Israeli or pro-Palestinian? Does helping and support the Palestinians necessarily mean combat and defeat Israel? Is there no other way to achieve this aim? I think there is, and it’s through Peace not War, and that Peace talks are an emergency? 

4 Responses to ““A ‘defence policy’, for what?””

  1. tearsforlebanon said

    Israel has never left Lebanon they are still there and have been there for years. There was a town that was half for Lebanon and half for Israel this town has now been taken by Israel after the war.

  2. Cool blog you’ve got there tearsforlebanon.
    You are absolutely right, the Israeli still occupy the Lebanese part of Ghajar (which is a Syrian town by the way). There is an interesting article in the Haaretz on this odd village (I wish we had the same quality of reporting in Lebanon):http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=652645
    And then there are the infamous Shebaa farms and Kfarshiba (also occupied by Israel as part of the Syrian Golan). Not to say anything about at least a dozen other villages and undemarcated areas disputed between Lebanon and Syria.
    But I do not see how this is relevant to the issue I discuss in the preceding post.

  3. flipp3r said

    First, I would like to say that I enjoy this blog very much – it is my first reading, and I will be spending more time here. I am an American, and have never been to Lebanon, although it is a dream of mine. I have been interested in Lebanese culture for years: the people, history, countryside, food, music, diversity – what an amazing nation. A good friend of mine’s family left Tibnin in 1982 (she was born in the US), Shia Muslims, and looking at that date it is obvious why they fled. You raised the point whether or not enmity of Israel is congenital for Lebanon. I don’t know if it is that ingrained, but I can say this. The year now is 2007. The Israelis came in force 25 years ago, in 1982, yet that was after several years of tragic communal violence in Lebanon. That being said, the Israelis proved themselves ruthless and indiscriminate killers. They finally left the majority of the South they occupied in 2000. It’s only 7 years later, and the memories will not die easily. I am 40 years old, and I remember the scenes of mayhem and murder and destruction, and granted the younger generation will remember little to nothing of that time. But it has scarred Lebanon permanently. I am not a member of Hezbollah, but I am very sympathetic to the situation of the Shia of Lebanon. What Hezbollah’s motives were in the summer of 2006 I don’t know, but I do know they are the ones on the frontier, and face Israeli military activity on a daily basis. I do know that Israel’s reaction to Hezbollah’s provocation provided a quick lesson to the generation which has lived in relative peace, that the neighbor to the south is less a neighbor than a fearsome threat. The Shia population of South Lebanon has been marginalized and excluded by the majority of the Sunni and Christian population for decades, and have borne the brunt of all Israeli assaults. So is that congenital? Perhaps not yet, yet I suspect that it is not outside the realm of possibilty. That being said, the non-Shia population eventually will have to get past its pathological, if not congenital, hatred of the Shia with whom they share Lebanon. Now would be a very good time for that eventuality to occur. I would say that the Lebanese need to heal their internal wounds before coming to terms with Israel, but I am afraid those objectives need to be addressed concurrently. Time is running out. The Israel issue, however, is not Lebanon’s problem alone, and a regional, comprehensive settlement will be the only way to have a chance for a future free of the sickening bloodshed and hatred which are the order of the day at the moment. Additionally, there is an imminent and extremely dangerous deterioration in Sunni-Shia relations region-wide, one with catastophic potential, and we can see this all too well in Lebanon at this very moment (not to mention in Iraq). And no, I do not think that support for the Palestinian cause necessarily means combating and defeating Israel. On the other hand, I am fully in favor of robust development of Lebanon’s air defenses. Even the French who were deployed as part of the cease-fire agreement with Israel were on the verge of firing on an Israeli warplane, as it deliberately menaced their position. But it isn’t France, it’s Lebanon, and those warplanes, each of them, should have forcibly removed from the Lebanese skies, by Lebanese forces equipped to accomlish the task. It may be possible to be pro-Palestinian without being anti-Israeli, but I wonder: is it possible to be pro-Lebanese, without being anti-Israeli? I had re-evaluated my position regarding Israel to be much more tolerant and interested in a peaceful settlement prior to July 2006. Ten years and 3 months after the Zionists struck Qana, they did it again. It was at that point that I realized how ignorant I was in my naivete. STILL – I won’t give up hope for a peaceful solution. Many, many people, however, have done just that. I do not blame them one bit.

  4. Thank you very much for your comment. Memories are an odd thing you know. They have a life of their own.
    You say you “remember the scenes of mayhem and murder and destruction” when refering to the Israeli invasion in 1982. Interestingly enough, even though Sunni West Beirut was the region that suffered the most from the invasion, it seems it is one of the most pro-peace muslim regions in Lebanon… So I wouldn’t be so fatalistic. After all, even the French and Germans have settled their past grievences…

    I do agree with many of the things you said. and you’ve certainly got a point there, but there are two things you said that I totally disagree with, eventhough they seem to be commonly accepted.
    You say – “The Shia population of South Lebanon has been marginalized and excluded by the majority of the Sunni and Christian population for decades” and that “the non-Shia population eventually will have to get past its pathological, if not congenital, hatred of the Shia”. I think this is a sectarian misconception, but I’ll discuss this in further details shortly in an independent post, if that’s ok with you.

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