By: Karim Ghaoui
Special to Ya Libnan
Beirut - Lebanon has always faced a world of complex challenges and great opportunities. Lebanon has faced continuous terrorist attacks throughout its modern history,
as well as the perennial assault from its southern neighbor, whether provoked or not. How does a country attempting to ease the memories of a scarring civil war repeatedly continue to reunite in the face of the enemies of its freedom and prosperity, assist those in greatest need, and lay the foundation for a better tomorrow?
Tackling our common challenges requires a clear assessment of Lebanon’s evolving strategic environment and the tools available to construct a meaningful, durable, flexible, and dynamic strategy. How will Lebanon’s strategy contribute to the better of the people? Who will be tasked to identify Lebanon’s objectives? What are Lebanon’s objectives? Who will be the strategy makers? Does the constitution also suggest a recommended religion for that position? Who are Lebanon’s enemies? Have they infiltrated its defense strategy makers as they have many public institutions? Will this strategy build on lessons learnt and insights from previous experiences and operations, including the Nahr El-Bared relative success?
Any strategy that is to work must represent the distillation of valuable experience across the spectrum of conflict and within the strategic environment. Will this include experience gained in the battlefield by Lebanon’s best trained armed group outside of the LAF? Or is it simply focused on stripping one bunker from weapons while stockpiling someone else’s ? Have those parties and individuals challenging for Lebanon’s best future ever contemplated brainstorming for Lebanon’s military solution? Or is this simply another topic to attract a bigger voter turn out? If history has anything to say with any matter of similar importance, it appears that the expected will simply be verbal provocation, and maybe Lebanon won’t need a defense strategy on June 9th once the ballots are in! Lebanon may soon have a new government, maybe democratically elected, but Lebanon’s complex issues will remain. Let’s not hasten into talking a defense strategy when so many policies and strategies need addressing. Let’s make this a blueprint to succeed in years to come.
More importantly, let’s tackle the pressing issues; Let’s supply Lebanese homes with power and water! Let’s assess the size of this defense budget, our potential defense contractors, what local industry we could create and develop from it! What hardware do we require? Or will we simply wait for what the cold-war powers can make part with every other decade, and forever remain unemployed while acquiring Russian fighters with chronic airworthiness failures. Hypothetically, can there not be a government that can systematically examine how it could implement a defense system without political or religious bias.
When will we see that the key is to emphasize unity around the people as a whole, not around leaders. When will we move to network communication technologies, and learn to downgrade the mass media focus on individuals at the top?
Will this strategy involve participatory planning, in which citizens are brought together and supported in developing ideas and implementing measures for defense? If people help design their own defense system, they are much more likely to understand, participate in and support it. The idea of participatory planning is a reminder that social defense need not be a government or a militia-led initiative, but can develop from grassroots action.
For the counter-offensive, will there be an analysis of the centre of gravity of the aggressor, whoever that may be. This is a wide topic, and depends considerably on whom the aggressor is and the method of attack.
If participatory planning is a good way to strengthen the centre of gravity of our defense system, it becomes obvious that all the dimensions of the defense strategy cannot be spelled out in advance by a few experts or officials. The defense system, including its technological aspects, will reflect the understandings and priorities of the people who must act to make it work. Experts and others can, of course, make analyses and recommendations, but not determine the process. Participatory defense strategic planning is a dramatic contrast to military strategic planning, which is far from participatory, and highlights a fundamental difference between national defense and military methods.
Just as militaries carry out research, development and testing of technologies to see which ones can be created or adapted for their purposes, so defense systems will need means for selecting, researching, developing and testing technologies appropriate for their purposes. The concept of appropriate technology thus can be applied to our defense: the question is, which technologies are most appropriate for supporting Lebanon’s challenges?
Although it is conceivable that our defense might be implemented by whoever is in government as a rational choice, another possibility is that Lebanon’s defense will never be implemented but will gradually become a reality as a result of the national struggles that will build the capacity for either violent or non-violent defense against aggression. Yes I did say non-violent; there will always be a choice! In reality, the move towards Lebanon’s industrialization and technology for defense must exist and will also be a gradual one.
Campaigns for technologies that create the capacity for adequate control, such as mass communication systems and centralized energy systems, can be seen as part of the struggle for a nationalized defense system, as can efforts to promote technologies fostering self-reliance. Since technological infrastructure is expensive and difficult to replace, it tends to freeze in associated relationships. Building infrastructure to sustain our defense is thus a long-term project, in which decisions now may be important for many decades to come. If our armed forces are truly what hold our country together, let’s make this work! Let us not simply look to borrow useless hardware, but seek opportunities to develop our own, employ, and unite Lebanon’s young minds. That in itself is the beginning of a formidable defense strategy.
Tags: Army, Defense, Lebanon, Weapons, Ya Libnan