The Future of Lebanon

Op-Ed Foreign Affairs
Recent electoral successes by Islamist parties throughout the Arab world have shown those movements to be viable political opposition to many undemocratic regimes. Most analyses examine those movements only within their individual domestic political environments. Yet equally important is the impact of broader, regional issues on domestic politics and the resulting tensions with ruling regimes. But wars rarely proceed as expected, and no participant in this war got what it had bargained for.
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Blind Into Beirut

Hezbollah's July 12 raid into Israel, backed by Iran, was intended to entangle Israel in a limited skirmish on its northern border and a drawn-out prisoner exchange at a time when Iran was facing mounting pressure over its nuclear program. Israel, backed by the United States, responded with a large-scale war meant to deliver a knockout blow to Hezbollah and thereby remove the missile threat to northern Israel, weaken Iran in any upcoming showdown, and eliminate what the United States considers a major opponent in the war on terrorism. Washington also hoped to give a boost to the Lebanese government, which it considered a potential democratic success story.

But wars rarely proceed as expected, and no participant in this war got what it had bargained for. Hezbollah ended up in a full-scale war, in which it won some battlefield victories and popularity in the Arab and Muslim world but which devastated its Lebanese Shiite constituency and narrowed its tactical and political options. Israel, despite unleashing massive airpower on Hezbollah strongholds, failed to knock out the organization or even to stop its missile attacks, while the setbacks suffered by Israel's ground invasion had the effect of puncturing the aura of invincibility long projected by the Israel Defense Forces. Tehran reaped some benefit from Hezbollah's increased popularity and perhaps can point to the organization's robust performance as a warning to those considering military action against Iran, but this war wasted much of the deterrent power that it had vested in Hezbollah for its own hour of need. Meanwhile, the United States looked on helplessly as the crisis drove Arab and Muslim public opinion further against it and weakened an already fragile Lebanon. As is the case with most proxy wars, the highest price was paid by the host country, Lebanon, which found itself the arena of regional and international war. The terrible toll on civilian life, housing, and infrastructure made this one of the most devastating wars in Lebanon's recent history.

Significantly, the crisis was resolved diplomatically rather than militarily, with the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 -- a transformative resolution that provides a meaningful basis for moving forward and a framework for new political and security realities in Lebanon and the region. The deployment of the Lebanese army to southern Lebanon with UN troop support has put an end to four decades of control by nonstate actors. Resolution 1701 is an important step toward a stable and sovereign Lebanon. It deserves sustained support and beckons the international community to make renewed efforts to find multilateral diplomatic solutions to other conflicts in the area.

To read full article click on PDF icon above.

Reprinted by permission of FOREIGN AFFAIRS, November/December 2006. Copyright 2006 by the Council on Foreign Relations, Inc.

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In Fact



of Brazilian protesters

learned about a massive rally via Facebook or Twitter.


million cases pending

in India’s judicial system.

1 in 3


now needs urgent assistance.


political parties

contested India’s last national elections.


of Egypt's labor force

works in the private sector.


years ago

Carnegie began an internship program. Notable alumni include Samantha Power.


of oil consumed in the United States

is for the transportation sector.


of Chechnya’s pre-1994 population

has fled to different parts of the world.


of oil consumed in China

was from foreign sources in 2012.


of Syria’s population

is expected to be displaced by the end of 2013.


million people killed

in Cold War conflicts.


of the U.S. economy

is consumed by healthcare.


billion in goods and services

traded between the United States and China in 2012.


billion in foreign investment and oil revenue

have been lost by Iran because of its nuclear program.


increase in China’s GDP per capita

between 1972 and today.


billion have been spent

to complete the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran.


of Iran’s electricity needs

is all the Bushehr nuclear reactor provides.


new airports

are set to be built in China by 2015.



were imprisoned in Turkey as of August 2012 according to the OSCE.


of the world's population

will reside in cities by 2050.


million Russian citizens

are considered “ethnic Muslims.”

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