Dafydd at Big Lizards has what I think is the best analysis I have seen regarding the recent cease fire between Israel and Hezbellah. He makes some interesting points not only about the cease fire, but its critics.
Side excursion over; we're back to Lebanon. The Israelis find themselves in the same position: after driving to the Litani River and "winning the war," what do they do next?
Simply put, the population of southern Lebanon is not a captive one; they strongly support Hezbollah, and not out of fear; I suspect they see themselves as the same "tribe."
This is not just a Shia vs. Sunni distinction; Hezbollah in the South has made itself into "part of the family." Unemployment is rampant, as is true in most socialist states; and the Lebanese government is incapable of financially aiding the poor in the southern area, especially south of the Litani.
And truth be told, Beirut is probably somewhat reluctant to aid them since regaining control of the northern part of Lebanon, following the withdrawl of Syria's military. It's a vicious circle: the Shiite south buddies up with Hezbollah and Iran and Syria, leading the Sunni/Druze north to suspect their loyalty and neglect them; the neglect drives the Shia into tighter reliance upon Hezbollah and Iran/Syria.
So what could Israel do, once it had driven Hezbollah north of the river?
* If the Israelis themselves were to hold that area against Hezbollah reoccupation (once part of the ummah, always part of the ummah), they would need a massive and permanent occupation force -- which they don't have -- and which would be virtually identical to the endgame of the 1982 Lebanese invasion, something the Israeli public is not prepared to accept.
* Contrariwise, if they were simply to depopulate southern Lebanon, with trainloads of ethnic cleansing and the concommitent civilian deaths (that would be depicted as massacres, and not without some justice), the problems they would have with their Arab neighbors, with Iran, the international community -- and even America -- would reduce any previous disagreements to mere squabbles.
In theory, they could expand the fight -- say by attacking Syria directly, cutting off Iran's conduit of arms, men, and materiel into Lebanon's Hezbollah. But the Israelis (government and citizenry) made it very clear early on and throughout the war that they had absolutely no intention of doing so.
This closed off the last escape from the box; but it's awfully hard for those of us who don't live there, in the crosshairs, to criticize their decision. It amounts to what my grandfather called playing "let's you and him fight."
* But if the Israelis simply withdrew after the fight, Hezbollah would just flow back... and the whole campaign would end up an exercise in utter futility.
The only solution that I can think of, at least, is some international force... something like UNIFIL with teeth and more of a committment to actually fulfill its duty, rather than being "neutral" between Israel and Hezbollah, or even tacitly supporting the latter.
The UN is very untrustworthy... but for all that, I would trust them more than the Lebanese Army under the control of Fuad Siniora!
Thus, Israel -- and the United States -- are put into the position by the facts on the ground of supporting an international force to stiffen the spine (and fix the moral compass) of the Lebanese Army. If this analysis is accurate, then contrary to Paul's position, we really do need a "ceasefire agreement" of some sort... if for no other reason to establish the size of the force, starting positions of the players, and the rules of engagement.
Read it all.
It seems to me that every since Harriet Miers there has been a tendency among certain people on the right to accuse Bush of treason. These accusations are often tinged with hysteria. Perhaps they have figured out that even with a Republican in the White House they don't get everything they want. But for conservative critics of Bush to worry over his poll numbers while they undermine him at every oppurtunity and demand he take policy stands that are not supported by the majority of the American people, not now and then but time and time again...leads me to wonder if the problem might be that some conservatives are having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that they are not the majority. They are not the majority anymore than the Lamont supporters are.
No, why deal with that, it is far better to attack Bush and Bolton and Rice.