Today, over at Belmont Club, Richard Fernandez (a/k/a Wretchard) discusses the political evolution of Lebanon in directions that the United States and, more immediately, Israel, are going to find increasingly uncomfortable. On Wednesday of last week, the Lebanese government coalition collapsed, when Hezbollah withdrew its support, and directed its ministers to resign from the cabinet. Now, Walid Jumblatt, the most prominent Druze leader and a part of the political opposition -- has changed sides. throwing his political weight behind Hezbollah. Like those of his father before him (assassinated at Syrian instigation), Mr. Jumblatt's changes of faction have long been a reliable indicator of which way the Lebanese wind is blowing:
When Walid Jumblatt’s father was assassinated by the Syrians, the leader of the Druze threw his political support behind the murderers of his father for reasons of state. Then following the 2005 car-bomb killing of Rafik Hariri, he switched. The reason was simple. The tide had turned against the Syrians and, with US troops poised on the Iraqi border across from Damascus, it seem as if the Assads would not survive. After flirting with the Syrians again, Jumblatt until recently said he would support the Saudi plan that would avert a direct confrontation over the indictments expected from the special tribunal, indictments which are expected to implicate Hezbollah in the murder of Rafik Hariri. Now, he has switched again.
Wretchard condemns Mr. Jumblatt's move as "cynical," which it is of course, and writes that his move is "setting the the stage for. . . [Hezbollah's] political domination of Lebanon."
I normally agree with Wretchard, but characterizing this move as "cynical" is perhaps a little hard on Walid Jumblatt and the Druze. The stage is long past set -- the play is, in fact, over. Hezbollah's (and by extension Iran's and Syria) domination of Lebanon was virtually assured following the July-August 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War, and certain following Obama's election as US president and his wish to try a more conciliatory tone towards both the Iranians and Palestinians. Paradoxically, the Stuxnet-produced delay in the Iranian nuclear program has made Hezbollah even more secure: unilateral Israeli military action against Hezbollah's Iranian masters is for the moment less likely, and the chances of a general Middle Eastern war thus somewhat lessened.
In this context, Mr. Jumblatt's latest change of side is quite rational and a matter of survival, because life in Lebanon is going to get harder for enemies of Hezbollah. Tergiversators such as Mr. Jumblatt reflect the realty that already exists -- they are lagging indicators, not leading ones. Peace breaking-out means that Hezbollah rules Lebanon for the foreseeable future.