18 Jul 2006

Exploiting the Gaps in the Westphalian System

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Austin Bay notes the way in which Iran and Syria take advantage of illusory concepts of nation-state sovereignty to hide behind “Lebanon” while using surrogates to make war on Israel.

When fired from positions in southern Lebanon or Gaza, the extended-range Katyushas place roughly sixty percent of Israel’s population in range. (That’s my estimate.) All of Israel’s major cities and towns may soon be a bull’s eye— Hezbollah leaders boast of striking beyond Haifa and “beyond beyond Haifa.” Indeed, there are indications that longer range rockets are being employed. These rockets are “FROG-type” — free rocket over ground. They lack guidance systems but have more reach. They may be able to carry chemical warheads (the Russian series of FROGs could carry chemical warheads).

But now for the layer complexity: Hezbollah hides these weapons among apartment houses and in villages— other words, nests of rockets in neighborhoods.

These neighborhoods and villages are controlled by Hezbollah, not the Lebanese government.

Israel is being fired upon from a Lebanon that “is not quite Lebanon” in a truly sovereign sense.The rockets, of course, come from “somewhere,” but Hezbollah’s “somewhere” is a political limbo in terms of maps with definitive geo-political boundaries. Lebanon is a “failed state”— a peculiar failed state (its not Somalia), but nevertheless failed. It will continue to fail so long as the Lebanese government cannot control Hezbollah—and control means disarm.

So Hezbollah attacks Israel with ever more-powerful, longer-range rockets, then hides behind the diplomatic facade of the greater Lebanese nation state.

Thus terrorists and terror-empowering nations, like Iran and Syria, abuse the nation-state system— or exploit a “dangerous hole” in the system..

Iran and Syria then appeal to the United Nations (a product of the Westphalian “nation state” system) to condemn Israel for attacking Lebanon— when Israel is attacking Hezbollah, which “is and is not Lebanon.”

H/t to Glenn Reynolds.

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The defining characteristic of the nation state is legitimacy. A key requirement for legitimacy is monopoly on the legitimate use of force within the national territory.

Lebanon does NOT have such a monopoly on the use of force, and has not had it for at least 30 years. It will not have it so long as extra national forces such as Hezbollah – supported and supplied by other nation states like Syria and Iran, and by the un-policed nationals of yet other nation states like Saudi Arabia – remain in place.

Israel is right in their belief and contention that Hezbollah (and Hamas in the Palestinian “administered” territories, which are not a nation-state either) must be destroyed. They have no choice if the state of Israel is to meet the other cardinal test of legitimacy – protection of their own citizens and territorial assets from outside aggression.

What has changed is that the United States will not – this time – intervene to stop them short of a satisfactory solution. We should, moreover, be prepared to provide them with critical supplies, weapons and intelligence support when, inevitably, crushing Hezbollah and Hamas requires Israel to punish Syria and (hopefully) destroy the world’s one remaining Baathist regime.

Iran is a problem beyond Israel’s ability to handle alone – barring resort to their nuclear arsenal. Iran is our problem also, since it’s current regime not only supports global terrorism and the running sore of the Iraq insurgency, but they are also going to be the source of the “Islamic Bomb” that WILL be used should it ever be developed.

The day of reckoning with Iran, too, is coming. The Ahmadinejad regime will be frustrated if it has no base in the territory surrounding Israel from which to pursue it’s felonious little plans. Thus, it will look to other means, and these will inevitably be even more disruptive to the world than their current program.

Those who do not yet think that another epochal war has begun should think again.


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