Not all negotiation is appeasement. But some is.
According to the terms of the deal, Hezbollah will be given 11 seats in a 30-member cabinet — enough to exercise an effective veto over government policies, as the group had demanded. Army leader Gen. Michael Suleiman will be installed as president, a step the parties had agreed to months ago but which had been delayed by the dispute over cabinet seats and other issues…
“We’ve won. We have got what we wanted,” said Ali Badran, a 47-year-old Hezbollah supporter who had joined a tent city erected in protest more than a year ago near the Lebanese parliament as the political crisis deepened. Though the protest encampment had dwindled to a symbolic few, it stood as a sign of Hezbollah’s support in the country’s large Shiite community.
“We were victorious over the American and Zionist project.”
So they were, although WaPo allows for the (unlikely) possibility that the U.S. and Saudi governments will queer the deal. This issue of cabinet ministers sounds mundane but go all the way back to this post from December 2006 about Hezbollah’s attempt to protect Syria by blocking government ratification of the Hariri tribunal and you’ll see why it’s so hugely significant. Without two-thirds approval, the cabinet can’t do anything — like, say, demand that Hezbollah finally disarm, just like that nice UN resolution asked them to. In fact, the summit that led to this capitulation was supposed to resolve the issue of Hezbollah’s weapons. The solution: The issue has been postponed indefinitely, although it doesn’t matter since any effort by the government to enforce a disarmament deal would simply be vetoed anyway. As Time puts it, “The new agreement broadly gives Hizballah what it wants: legitimacy as an armed state-within-a-state.” Even the new president the various factions agreed on, Michel Suleiman, is notorious for being soft on them.
Read Andrew Cochran’s post at the Counterterrorism Blog to grasp the enormity of all of it; as always with appeasement, the compromise was aimed at preserving peace but will lead inevitably to more war, not only between Hezbollah and an increasingly anxious Israel but between Lebanese Shiites and the increasingly anxious Sunnis, who’ll react to the sectarian threat on a national scale the same way Sunnis are reacting to it on a regional one. Exit quotation from Lebanese prime minister Fuad Siniora, via WaPo: “We should accept each other and hold dialogue to solve the problems. We want to live together and we will continue that. We have no other choice.” Wait and see.
Update: Look on the bright side. At this point, Obama can’t be any worse.