THE NEED TO COPE. In this post, Martin Peretz notes that having Hezbollah de-militarize by being absorbed into the Lebanese Army would be unsatisfactory from an Israeli point of view. He also says that "it would even be terrible if the Lebanese army didn't absorb but simply occupied the southern part of the country." And here, he says he doesn't like the idea of a UN force either. This, however, leaves only the possibility of Israel re-occupying southern Lebanon, which didn't work out well at all, or else a return to the status quo ante.
The hard truth is that there simply isn't an appealing solution to Israel's Hezbollah problem, which has its roots in public opinion dynamics among Lebanese Shiites that military force can't improve and that, realistically, can only change fairly gradually over time. The good news from the Israeli point of view is that the pre-war status quo, while certainly sub-optimal, wasn't so terrible either. The low-intensity border conflict that had been going on for the past six years wasn't very deadly and posed no fundamental threat to Israeli security. It was a not-good, not-intolerable situation that didn't -- and doesn't -- offer any obvious remedies. At the end of the day, the Israelis are almost certainly just going to need to live with an unsatisfactory situation unless and until they someday manage to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians -- that's the only thing that holds out hope of dramatically transforming the situation.
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