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Sat Feb 25, 2012, 02:03 PM

National waste of time



There is no longer a need for a Resistance, and we must remove the myth and the paranoia surrounding calls for its disarmament. Ask the person in the street if Lebanon needs a private army to biff the Israelis and many will say yes simply because there is a perception that without it the country would be swept away by the combined tsunami of Israel’s military ambitions and the long-standing dream of annexing Lebanon into a bigger Zionist empire. Others will see the Hezbollah’s disarmament as a bid to disembowel Shia dignity.

Both are knee-jerk reactions. There is no evidence of Israeli expansionist desires, save for the bogus “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a work that has been debunked but which many in Lebanon cling to as proof that they live on the edge of the abyss, while the threat of military action is actually higher as long as Hezbollah remains armed, belligerent and threatening Israel’s northern border. As for it being a slap in the face to the Shia, well this is clearly nonsense. Those who see Hezbollah’s weapons as an expression of confessional pride should remember that no sect should be above the state. Period.

A third, more moderate, school would argue that having an armed militia running the show is not a perfect arrangement, but until the army is strong enough to defend Lebanon’s borders, there is no alternative. It is a position that many feel comfortable with because it does not fully endorse Hezbollah and at the same time makes an implicit call to strengthen the army.

The reality is that they are simply kicking the proverbial can further down the road. There will never be a concerted move to strengthen the army as long as Hezbollah holds the reins of power in Lebanon. The party has never accepted American offers of military aid for all the usual reasons, and now the Americans are reluctant to give aid to a country run by what it sees, rightly or wrongly, as a terror group. The only recent offer of aid has been from Iran, the country that finances Hezbollah, which it sees as an extension of its armed forces. So not much progress will be made there, one feels.

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