- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 20, 2006

How do you stop rockets fired from a hijacked state? That’s a complex question, but Israel must answer it, or risk suffering the most drastic consequence — its own demise.

Appreciating the thorny, multidimensional difficulties Israel confronts — from bitter house-to-house battles to the highest levels of international diplomacy — begins with a basic understanding of the Katyusha rocket Hezbollah fires at Haifa and other Israeli cities.

I should say Katyusha-type, for the rocket Hezbollah employs out-ranges Russia’s World War II Katyushas and the improved models Moscow later aimed at NATO ground units in Western Europe. Even the updated versions are “dumb” — unguided “barrage” or “area weapons.” The dumb-but-deadly rockets are not fired at specific targets, unless “Haifa” and “Tel Aviv” are considered specific targets.

When fired from positions in southern Lebanon or Gaza, extended-range Katyushas threaten anywhere from 60 percent to 70 percent of Israel’s population. Every Israeli citizen may soon be a bull’s-eye — Hezbollah leaders boast of striking “beyond, beyond Haifa.” Indeed, there are indications longer-range rockets are employed. NATO handbooks once referred to these rockets as “FROG-type” — Free Rocket Over Ground. Some can carry chemical warheads.

As range increases, these unguided rockets “scatter” over a wider and wider surface area. In northern Israel, Hezbollah is clearly targeting predominantly civilian zones. If a rocket hits a hospital in the civilian area, it hits a hospital. Hezbollah’s attacks on Haifa — especially compared to Israeli attacks in Gaza and Lebanon, which typically utilize modern precision weapons — are quite indiscriminate. But then Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, and the mad mullahs of Iran who arm, finance and guide him, believe the whole of Israel is a target, one Iran indicates it will hit some day with another area weapon: a city-busting nuclear warhead.

In the last week, 1,400 rockets have hit Israeli cities, most from within Lebanon. But now for the layer of complexity: Hezbollah hides these weapons among apartment houses and in villages, nesting rockets in Lebanese neighborhoods. Hezbollah — not the Lebanese government — controls these neighborhoods.

In other words, Israel suffers rocket attacks 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 geopolitical boundaries. Lebanon is a peculiar form of failed state. It’s not the madhouse of Somalia or the impoverished dreg of Zimbabwe. Rather, Lebanon is a hijacked state and will continue as such so long as the Lebanese government cannot control Hezbollah. Control means disarm and demobilize.

So Hezbollah attacks Israel with ever-more-powerful, longer-range rockets, then hides behind the diplomatic facade of the greater Lebanese nation-state. Iran and Syria — the powers behind Hezbollah — 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.” Thus terrorists and terror-empowering nations, like Iran and Syria, abuse the nation-state system — or exploit a “dangerous hole” in the system.

Everybody has to be somewhere, but maps and U.N. seats and press bureaus don’t make an effective nation-state; they are the trappings of statedom. Weaknesses in the Westphalian system exist, partly because the system has never been complete. (The Westphalian system evolved from the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) and the series of peace settlements that ended the Thirty Years’ War in Europe.) Westphalia’s “nation-state” system has always faced “gaps” (anarchic regions) and “failed states” (which are often collapsing tribal empires with the trappings of modernity, not the institutions).

Israel says disarming Hezbollah is one of its objectives. But to truly achieve that goal — to stop the rockets, in any permanent way — means ending Iran’s and Syria’s ability to hijack Lebanese neighborhoods.

That means holding Iran and Syria responsible for hijacking Lebanon and supporting Hezbollah’s rain of rocket terror. Holding Iran and Syria responsible may well mean taking the war to Tehran and Damascus.

Austin Bay is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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