In the past 24 hours, I have heard a number of commentators refer to the need for a new "strategic framework." This has meant, among other things, holding the state of Lebanon responsible for the actions of Hizbullah, an organization which has ministers in the cabinet and controls the south of the country. The bombing of non-Hizbullah targets in Lebanon is supposed to exert pressure on the Lebanese to finally implement UN Security Council Resolution 1559 and disarm the terrorist organization. Unfortunately, I am not sure this is a realistic goal.
I think it is fair, at this point, to call Lebanon a failed state. Is it really possible for Lebanon to disarm Hizbullah? Perhaps the military force exists to do this, but the problem is political. It seems very unlikely that such an operation could take place under the current political constellation. Thus, I don't think it's realistic to see the de-militarization of Hizbullah as an operational goal. However, we should not forget that not too long ago a much more formidable political and military force operated in Lebanon - the Syrian army, and its intelligence network. Unless I am badly misinformed, it was widespread popular opposition to the Syrian presence, which erupted in mass demonstrations after the assassination of Hariri, combined with international pressure, which ultimately forced the Syrians out. It seems highly doubtful to me, however, that Israeli air strikes will convince the majority of Lebanese to kick Hizbullah out. The Shia and the Palestinians feel as triumphant as ever and are rejoicing at Nasrallah's latest coup. The remaining groups are either too fanatical in their hatred of Israel or too divided to act against the terrorist group, despite all the suffering it has brought upon their country. Nevertheless, I don't think Israel has a choice - the current strikes against Hizbullah and Lebanese targets must continue if Israel wants to protect its citizens. However, the goal of the current operation should be clarified and the bar should not be set too high. The IDF should focus on removing Hizbullah from the border. Israel has waited far too long since its withdrawal from Lebanon to do this. And if forcing the Lebanese government to disarm Hizbullah is an unrealistic goal, it is perhaps slightly more realistic to push back Hizbullah so that its rockets are (at least for now) unable to strike Israeli targets. Once this is accomplished, the Lebanese government must be made responsible for preventing Hizbullah from assuming its previous positions. This is an achievable goal - politically and militarily - even if it does not accomplish the complete disarmament stipulated by the UN resolution. I think that the Lebanese people grasp far better than the Palestinians that their real interests do not lie in supporting terrorist acts against Israeli civilians.