The Prime Minister and Defense Minister of Lebanon are now both on record saying that their nation will resist any Israeli incursion (I couldn't find a link for the Prime Minister though his speech was shown on Fox News). Just by saying that they are doing a great disservice to their country whether or not they actually intend to follow through with their statements. I should first say that no one expects them to welcome an Israeli invasion with open arms. They certainly should say they oppose the Israeli invasion, say it is wrong, call for a U.N. cease fire, and say other such inanities for public consumption. The problem with their statements is that it locks them into the suicidal position of either challenging the Israelis directly or looking fatally weak to the Lebanese people.
The Israeli counterstrike against Hezbollah is not just a golden opportunity for Israel to destroy a major threat and Iranian/Syrian proxy, but it is also an opportunity for Lebanon to rid herself of the last foreign occupiers on her soil. It is true that Lebanon cannot deal with Hezbollah alone. The Lebanese military is capable of little more than running border checkpoints. That means for Hezbollah to be eliminated as a power in Lebanon someone else is going to have to do it for Lebanon. Syria won’t since they support Hezbollah. No international force will since dismantling Hezbollah requires a level of casualties and effort that none of the few countries capable of doing it will deem worth paying. The only country willing and able to do the job is Israel. She is doing it. It is in Lebanon’s best interest that she successfully finishes it.
The best course of action for Lebanon’s future would have been to say the absolute minimum an angry public demands while meeting with the Israelis secretly to plan for the post-Hezbollah south. Of course, we don’t know if they are meeting with the Israelis secretly. Though I would guess they are not since their statements are very strong and leave little room for backing down later. If they continue on their current path they are setting up Lebanon for a prolonged period of suffering. Until the Tehran-Damascus Axis is dealt with, Hezbollah will simply reconstitute at some point in the future. If Lebanon does not work with Israel to plan for what happens after Hezbollah is crushed, they will easily reoccupy their old positions in southern Lebanon. We will be right back where we are today only with the terror axis possibly nuclear armed. Should Hezbollah attempt any sort of WMD attack on Israel there is little doubt their response will be nuclear. Our time is running out to deal with terror axis before such nightmare scenarios are possible. So long as Hezbollah is in southern Lebanon, the Lebanese are an almost certain recipient of an Israeli retaliatory nuclear strike. It is in Lebanon’s best interest to do everything they can to preclude such a possibility, including working with the Israelis.
Aside from Hezbollah, there are other reasons for the Lebanese leadership to not behave rashly in this situation. The operation to destroy Hezbollah necessarily requires the destruction of Lebanon’s infrastructure. However, there has to be a Lebanese government after this to rebuild the country with the almost guaranteed American assistance. How will the country be rebuilt if the army, assuming it’s as suicidal as Hezbollah, is annihilated by the Israelis? The country will most assuredly fall into chaos in such an event. On the other hand, who will disburse the aid when the country is gripped by chaos because her leaders didn’t stand up to Israel as they promised? Just as Lebanon’s future requires Hezbollah to be eliminated, it also requires the current government to survive. If they were rational men they would be doing everything possible to achieve the first while not threatening the second.
There are also rather glaring problems with their statements. Why were they not as vigilant about seeing to it that Hezbollah and Iran stop infringing on Lebanon’s territory? If they had shown any interest in protecting Lebanon’s sovereignty in that case they wouldn’t be in the situation they are in today. They expect Israel to be concerned about the safety of the Lebanese people but they are not concerned about Hezbollah’s attacks into Israel. They are willing to commit their army to battle against the Israelis (again whether the army will do so is open to question) and yet they will not send it into a slightly less suicidal fight against Hezbollah. They will not risk chaos in their country to deal with Hezbollah when it’s only killing Israelis, but they will risk chaos to fight the Israelis when they finally do something about Hezbollah. They played a dangerous game with Israel and have come up short. Rather than try to make the best they can of the situation they have chosen to raise the stakes. Although sad, I suppose it shouldn’t be unexpected. As we have seen first-hand with the Palestinians, the Iraqis, and now with the Lebanese, it is true what they say, Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.