Lebanon’s choice is between civil war and a putsch. Hezbollah won’t betray its reason for existence and submit to the Lebanese government. The Lebanese army, if paid very well with US aid, could oppose Hezbollah and start a civil war. Hezbollah, prompted by Iran and Syria, could overturn the Lebanese government and establish a sharia state.

So far, Hezbollah pushes for a peaceful takeover of the Lebanese state. They attract Lebanese Christians with reconstruction aid. Hezbollah procured a Christian screen for itself, the presidential candidate Aoun. Lebanese Christians dislike the American-installed anti-Syrian government and will submit to strong but secure Islamic rule. Iran is pumping money in Lebanon to create a shiite axis or rather an Iranian-dominated empire. Syria prefers any Lebanese government to an anti-Syrian nationalist democracy. With Hezbollah in power, Iran will de facto border Israel and influence the Mediterranean. Iran and Syria will all but encircle Israel.

Hezbollah attracts voters with money, glory, and security. Israel must discredit those claims: destroy the hospitals and other institutions in Hezbolah’s social services network, bomb neighborhoods rebuilt with Hezbollah money, and target villages with Hezbollah presence. Israel cannot feasibly destroy Hezbollah, so she must humiliate it and destroy its public credibility. Israel must show the Lebanese that Hezbollah bears no fruit. Short of that, Lebanon will become a radical Islamic state in the image of Iran.

The Lebanese publicly support Hezbollah but privately criticize it. The Lebanese are very extraverted, even compared to generally extravert Arabs. For them, show is everything. That attitude promotes glorious guerillas but also makes them vulnerable; a crack in that credibility would extinguish the support.