Dr. Demarche, at Austin Bay, identifies the problems attendant upon responses by states to attacks by non-state entities.
Israel is not at war with the state of Lebanon; it is at war with a “non-state actor” in the parlance (Hezbollah), which happens to be in Lebanon. This is a fairly new concept in the era of the modern state. Barbarians, for example, may have besieged ancient Rome, but at the time the “state” was a minority. Today the state system is firmly entrenched, and the “barbarians” are largely within. My question is this, now what?
Groups such as al Qaeda, Hezbollah and others cross borders at will, their memberships are ideologically homogeneous, but diverse in nationality. Efforts to destroy these organizations are bound to cross multiple borders, as we have already seen, something for which international law and the so-called international community (which supported Israel’s withdrawal from the very territories that are now the launch points for cross border attacks by terrorists) are woefully unprepared. Should you have any doubt of this I offer the talks in Rome this week as proof. Those engaged in finding a solution to the current state of affairs should keep one thought in the back of their minds: this will not be the last time the world will have to face such an event.
Traditional methods of sanction appear to be non-applicable to entities such as these- how do states sanction organizations that transcend borders and are privately funded? No mechanism exists to hold non-state actors accountable for their actions, even though they now have the potential to cause the same, or even greater, level of destruction than do many states.
Global policy maker must shift their thinking. Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and the like are not organizations that can be “contained”, they do not field armies that can be squared off against and defeated. In a way they are reminiscent of Mao’s idea that “the people are like water and the army is like fish”, but these fish swim in every sea. The current battle may rage in Lebanon between Israel and Hezbollah, but the bottom line is that this is a battle between a state and a non-state actor, and the world is not prepared to deal with this new reality, even today. Let’s hope those working to settle the current battle keep their eyes on this bigger picture, too.