News recently broke that Iran and Syria have been providing Hezbollah with significant weaponry. Of deepest concern to Israel, Hezbollah is believed to be acquiring rockets with the capability to hit deep inside of Israeli territory. While initially this may first appear to be another negative development for a troubled region, a systemic analysis of shows that while this will have a detrimental effect on Israeli power in the region it will likely boost regional security making future conflict less likely.
The rockets which Hezbollah are acquiring are believed to have an intermediate range but are technically relatively unsophisticated. Essentially, these rockets are fired in a direction not necessarily at a target. This means that they would be useless on a conventional battlefield as they are incapable of strategically striking targets. These rockets were designed to be fired at cities, but how could the acquisition of weapons to kill civilians by a terrorist organization be a good thing?
Currently the balance of power is heavily in favor of Israel, to the extent to which no regional power holds a credible deterrent of any capacity. Israel is generally free to do as it will, be it blockade Gaza, settle East Jerusalem, or perhaps most notably, put troops on the ground in Lebanon in an attempt to disarm Hezbollah. If a power gains the capability of causing significant damage to Israeli cities deterrence may emerge providing an icy cold cease fire to the region.
Consider the example of the Koreas. For the last several decades North Korea’s enormous arsenal of missiles and artillery aimed at Seoul has prevented war from occurring on the peninsula. South Korea’s military, with United States assistance could relatively easily overthrow the North Korean regime, but the potential casualties in Seoul, literally millions, has deterred the military option. Certainly nobody is smiling about the situation, but further conflict has been averted.
This model is a good one for considering the potential effect of an armed Hezbollah on regional security. With the ability to cause immense damage to Israel, but knowing that militarily it is still inferior to the Israeli Defense Forces and that Israel possess nuclear capabilities, a situation in which the cost of conflict would be unbearably high could emerge, essentially mutual deterrence. However, it is not quite so simple as two problems are yet to be resolved; rational actor theory, and the closing window of opportunity.
Rational actor theory maintains that all actors are rational and will not seek conflict in which the costs are known to outweigh the benefits. In this instance it means that Israel must believe that Hezbollah will act in a manner which seeks to avoid its own destruction, in order for deterrence to work. This has traditionally been a given, but with the rising prominence of suicide bombers, many are questioning whether the traditional rules of deterrence hold true with individuals and non-state actors. Afterall, how does one deter a suicide bomber? Questions over deterrence continue, but I believe that the more involved a non-state actor is within a state, the more likely deterrence is to work. In the case of Hezbollah the organization has assumed a state-like role in many territories leading me to believe that deterrence could be effective in preventing future conflict.
The second issue at hand is that of the window of opportunity. If and/or when Hezbollah becomes armed with an arsenal that can credibly threaten the security of Israel, Israel’s power relative to Lebanon will decrease. This provides a strong incentive for Israel to prevent the arming of Hezbollah. The moment from ...
I have begun a new blog, "Bana Ne?", in the Turkish language as a means of continuing Turkish once I return to the States. I will be posting thoughts on life, past homework assignments, and commentary on the news all in Turkish. It is meant to provide practice, as well as perhaps keeping in touch with a few of my Turkish speaking friends...
If you speak Turkish feel free to check it out! Comments are certainly welcome, as are corrections.
Recently, an article ran in the Turkish News about a conscientious objector, Enver Aydemir, who has been working his way through the military court system for refusing to fulfill his mandatory military service obligation. Because Turkey does not accept the existence of conscientious objectors, or provide alternatives to military service, he was charged with desertion and given given a prison sentence for his refusal to serve. Upon completion of his prison sentence for desertion, he was again sent back to his unit for completion of his military service, whereupon he again refused to serve. He is now again facing trial for desertion.
This provides an excellent example of a possible approach to diversity. In Turkey, Kurds encompass roughly 18% of the Turkish population but have long been neglected. This is in part because for a long time they officially did not exist. The constitution defines Turks as those who live within the borders of Turkey, and so despite the fact that Kurds have a distinct language, culture, and history, the Turkish state refused to acknowledge that they exist.
This is a disturbing trend, and one that is ot exclusive to Turkey. By denying the very existence of a minority, one is not required to even begin the conversation regarding equal treatment. Now that the concept of equality and democracy is becoming a prerequisite for international legitimacy, these things are being denied from the base of the logic rather than the top. Instead of arguing why a minority doesn’t deserve equal rights simply argue that the minority doesn’t exist.
Dear Kurds, if you existed you would have a legitimate claim to political and cultural equality, but you don’t. Your Turks!
Dear Enver Aydemir, if there were such a thing as a conscientious objector you would not be forced to serve in the military… but there isn’t. Your just lazy!
If states are able to deny the existence of minorities within their societies they are able to treat them unfairly while still holding on to the “democracy” moniker. A disturbing trend indeed, but I suppose it is all in what you deem to be a fair definition of democracy...
I recently went on my final visa run of my Turkish adventures. I took a ferry from Turkey to Chios, Greece. Chios was interesting. Borders continue to amaze me. 8 km of Mediterranean between Çeşme and Chios result in an overwhelming Christian majority, double prices, and switch to an entirely different language/alphabet. While at one point borders may have been arbitrary, they often have created cultural and social boundaries over time.
Getting to Chios was incredibly easy, requiring only a short ferry ride from Çeşme, Turkey. I spent the day in Chios wandering around. A beautiful island where mopeds are not only accepted but the norm. I would definitely like to return to Greece at some point and see more of the country, but that is a journey for another time.
Although the process of visa runs is technically legal and may make economic sense, I have found it to be a stressful process. Next time I go abroad I will make the effort to get a residency permit.
|From Çeşme and Chios|