Multiethnic armies like the Lebanese, Iraqi, and Afghan national forces face enormous challenges as they attempt to become viable forces. Historically, successes in unifying a military force often have a huge impact on a nation’s larger society.
David Makovsky, an expert on Israeli politics, says in the aftermath of the month-long Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, questions are being raised about the viability of the government of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Michael Young, a veteran political observer in Lebanon, disputes the polls showing wide support for Hezbollah in its conflict with Israel. Young says Lebanese Christians, Sunnis, and Druze were all unhappy with the surprise Hezbollah attack on Israel.
Lee Feinstein, an expert on U.S. foreign policy and the United Nations, says the current cease-fire between Hezbollah and Israel, while a "positive" development, is unlikely to last unless regional powers like Syria and Iran are brought into a dialogue on ways to maintain it.
Dennis B. Ross, former chief Middle East negotiator for Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, says the Israeli Cabinet’s decision to authorize a widening ground offensive in Lebanon might hasten diplomats at the UN Security Council to come up with a new resolution acceptable to the various parties.
Vali R. Nasr, a leading expert on Iran and Shiites, sees the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah as a way for Iran to demonstrate its ability to hold off any Israeli or U.S. military moves and pressure Washington to open wide-ranging normalization talks.
As the fighting between Israel and Lebanon escalates into its third week, each side has its own definition of victory and its own plan for emerging from the crisis. Some experts say Hezbollah already has accomplished its goals, while Israel faces an uphill battle to reassert its military primacy in the region.
Julia Choucair, an expert on Lebanon, says even though many Lebanese people and several Arab governments criticized Hezbollah for instigating the crisis with Israel, the Israeli air attacks, including the killing of many civilians, have worsened the already poor standing of the United States in the Arab world.
Martin S. Indyk, a former top U.S.policymaker on the Middle East, says it would be wrong to invite Iran and Syria, the major backers of Hezbollah, into negotiations to end the current fighting between Hezbollah and Israel.