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10/25/2009
WILL WE MAKE HEZBALLAH ANOTHER ‘PARTNER FOR PEACE?’

I can’t believe that failing to name the perpetrators of the Marine Barracks bombing from 26 years ago in a White House statement on the anniversary of that attack can be dismissed as an oversight.

First, the White House statement on the anniversary:

“On the anniversary of the attack on the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, we remember today the 241 American Marines, soldiers, and sailors who lost their lives 26 years ago as the result of a horrific terrorist attack that destroyed the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. The military personnel serving in Beirut were there to bring peace and stability to Lebanon after years of internal strife and conflict. The murder of our soldiers, sailors, and Marines on this day on 1983 remains a senseless tragedy….In remembering this terrible day of loss, we are at the same time hopeful that a new government in Lebanon will soon be formed. We look forward to working with a Lebanese government that works actively to promote stability in the region and prosperity for its people.”

Barry Rubin notes the absence of any named cultprits:

All of these forces, however, are left anonymous. No one is named for involvement in that “horrific terrorist attack.” And, of course the attack was not “senseless” but part of an Iranian-Syrian-Hizballah campaign to take over Lebanon and drive U.S. influence out of the region. In fact, it was counted as a great victory for these forces since it showed America’s vulnerability to being hit by terrorism–an inspiration for September 11?–and did succeed in paralyzing the U.S. effort in Lebanon. Ultimately, this lead to the withdrawal of the peace-keeping forces altogether, paving the way for Syria’s turning Lebanon into a satellite state for two decades at a great financial and strategic profit. .

None of these attacks were perpetrated by al-Qaida, the only group that remains a target of this administration’s version of a war on terrorism, a phrase which is no longer used.

It is bad enough the administration doesn’t say any of this. Is it aware of these factors at all?

Indeed, the president’s advisor on terrorism is on record as saying that Hizballah is no longer a terrorist group, which opens the door for U.S. contacts in future.

This raises the question of the declaration’s final sentence.

The evidence is pretty solid. We have COMINT linking known Hezballah members to the planning for the bombing. We have reports from informers, and defectors regarding the Palestinian’s participation, and other intel pointing the finger directly at the Iranian and Syrian governments who offered material support for the attack.

I would argue that failing to name the guilty dishonors the memory of those Marines, and others who have been murdered by Hezballah. And as Rubin points out, the very description of the attack is whitewashed.

I think this is a clear sign that the administration plans on making Hezballah a “partner for peace” in negotiations with Israel. By bending over backward not to give offense to Hezballah, the administration continues it’s unilateral “foreign policy by gesture” in hopes that the Shia terrorist group will magically lose its fanatical hatred of Israel - and us - and join in some kind of grand bargain that would banish war from the Levant forever.

In this case, as in their outreach to Iran and Syria, the administration is banking on the idea that speaking softly (or virtually ignoring events like the Iranian uprising, and naming Hezballah guilty of mass murdering Americans) will woo the radical fundamentalists that run Hezballah into a marriage with Israel that will allow them to live side by side in peace.

For in truth, Hezballah is not going anywhere. They will not disband. They will not give up their weapons. They will not abide by UN resolutions that require them to disarm. They will not stop until they control Lebanon. They don’t hide this goal from anyone - least of all the Lebanese people. And everyone knows that if Hezballah controls Lebanon, then Syria and Iran control Lebanon. In case you think otherwise, this would not be in the interest of the United States.

But…and it’s something of a big “but:” Despite being on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations, Hezballah - for better or worse (and it’s definitely worse) is also a political party in Lebanon that controls what has come to be known as “March 13th” coalition who oppose the ruling Sunni/Christian majority. The confessional arrangement of power sharing in Lebanon gives these opposition forces a considerable say in the Lebanese cabinet.

And of course, they have the guns and have proven they are not shy in using them if the situation calls for it. That reality is the real governing force in Lebanon and the Sunnis and Christians ignore it at their peril. The “March 14th” governing coalition knows it can only go so far on some issues before Hezballah will put the hammer down and use their militia as they did last year in almost starting another civil war when the government threatened to remove a Syrian communications nexus from the airport. That incident led to the “Doha Accords” that shifted the balance in the cabinet toward the opposition, while establishing a framework to change the election laws in Hezballah’s favor.

So perhaps the point isn’t so much will the US talk to Hezballah but rather what role they will play in US talks with Lebanon? They are a legitimate part of the democratically elected Lebanese government. We could no more refuse to include them in talks than we could if we were to talk to any other divided government in the world.

Therefore, it makes sense (from the administration’s point of view) that we remove them from the terror list and allow US representatives to negotiate with them - as long as it occurs within the framework of talks with the Lebanese government.

Several European countries have already removed them from their own list of terrorist organizations. So the question is what might be gained from keeping them on the list?

It strengthens the hand of the Sunnis, for one thing. We have been careful in our relationship with the majority in Lebanon, wisely using King Abdullah as a proxy for many of our dealings with them. Too close a relationship with either France or the US would damage the Sunni’s in the eyes of many Lebanese, while undercutting the argument that Hezballah is little more than a catspaw for Syria and/or Iran. The Lebanese Sunnis have a traditionally close relationship with the Saudis and Abdullah has done quite well for us over the last few years.

Also, by keeping Hezballah on the terror list, we can maintain the idea that if they were to attack Israel again, we could hold the Lebanese government relatively blameless. By acknowledging them as an entity separate from the government, any rocket attacks or invasion of Israel would allow us to maintain connections to the Sunnis and their Christian allies. Eventually, even the Sunnis had to side with Hezballah in the 2006 Israeli war because of the enormous damage to Lebanese infrastructure imposed by the Israeli air force. But isolating Hezballah if they were to attack again would help the Sunnis in the post war political environment - as it did in the last election.

But it appears that the Obama administration is laying the groundwork to remove the terror group from the State Department’s list. That would be a mistake in my opinion and might cause significant problems for the Sunni/Christian majority.

And just how it would advance the cause of peace in the Middle East isn’t clear either - unless you believe a leopard can change its spots or the sun can be commanded to rise in the west. Then you may very well believe that Hezballah has something positive to offer to the peace process. Until they obey security council resolutions demanding that they disarm, their status as a terrorist group should not change. They are now fully resupplied with 40,000 rockets aimed at Israel and have the ideological justification to attack their Jewish neighbor anytime they see an advantage to be gained.

This is not a peace partner. And legitimizing them - even though they may be a legitimate political organzation - may make another war more likely.

By: Rick Moran at 10:44 am
17 Responses to “WILL WE MAKE HEZBALLAH ANOTHER ‘PARTNER FOR PEACE?’”
  1. 1
    michael reynolds Said:
    12:21 pm 

    You know what other name is missing both from your post and Mr. Rubin’s? Can anyone guess?

    Who was the president who responded to that terrorist attack by cutting and running?

    And then made a back door deal with the Iranians who at very least helped to pull the trigger on those 241 Marines?

    Who was the president who established that pattern of cravenness that encouraged future terrorism?

    Anyone remember?

  2. 2
    busboy33 Said:
    2:22 pm 

    “or virtually ignoring events like the Iranian uprising”

    Odd . . . I could have sworn you ran a post saying you thought Obama handled the election crisis with a deft touch. Must have just been my silly imagination.

  3. 3
    John Galt Said:
    3:13 pm 

    @Michael Reynolds

    That would be Reagan. And yes, that was a mistake on his part. So, does that make it right to ignore who did it? Does that make it right to bow before the Muslims today? Should it be totally forgotten since the greatest President in over 100 years made a mistake?

    I’m surprised Rick is surprised that Bambi didn’t mention Hezbollah in his speech. Its par for the course. No one is at fault except the mean ole USA.

  4. 4
    michael reynolds Said:
    3:36 pm 

    John:

    The fact that conservatives studiously avoid admitting that Ronald Reagan was the first president to kowtow to terrorists — terrorists whose attack on the Marines was the worst terror attack against the US up to that point, and the greatest one day loss of Marines since WW2 — does not speak to current events.

    But it speaks to the unearned arrogance and swagger of a party whose leadership not only rolled over for Hezbollah then, but failed to prevent 911, failed to capture Osama Bin Laden, botched the longer term war in Afghanistan and then failed on an epic scale in Iraq.

    The assumption that Republicans have anything useful to say on war or on foreign policy did not survive the failures of 8 years of Republican rule.

    This is typical manufactured outrage.

    The GOP badly needs to distract from the fact that it has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory on health care. And from the fact that while Obama’s numbers climb, the GOP Congress is polling at roughly half what the Democrats score.

    So now Rick faithfully trots out the latest weary nonsense intended to prove that Barack Obama is weak, naive, anti-American, and the rest of the usual slanders from the party that failed, despite dragging this nation into the loathsome swamp of torture, to deliver Osama, or to win in Iraq, or to stabilize Afghanistan, or to stop North Korea from going nuclear, or to interrupt Iran’s nuclear plans, or to stop genocide in Sudan, or indeed to accomplish a single foreign policy goal unless you wish to count agreeing to guarantee job security for Moamar Qaddafi in exchange for his promise not to develop weapons he had no capacity to make.

    Manufactured outrage. No doubt it will set the GOP’s intellectual leader, Glen Beck, to weeping.

    Barack Obama is not anti-American. I have never said that and have defended him from that charge.

    You obviously have no knowledge of Lebanon, the internal politics of that country, or anything I wrote about. I say obviously because you have failed to address any of it intelligently. Reagan made a mistake in sending those Marines to Lebanon. The military was criminally negligent to house them in a single structure, guarded by two men, so that a suicide truck bomb was able to drive right into the hotel lobby.

    But why bring it up anyway? Because you don’t have the knowledge to defend Obama intelligently. So you fling feces against the wall, demonstrating your towering ignorance.

    Why comment at all? I try to logically, coherently lay out our options with regard to Hezballah and all you can talk about is Reagan. That’s moronic. And partisan.

    Yes, Obama is demonstrably naive to anyone who knows anything about Hezballah. If he intends to take them off the terrorist group list he risks severely undercutting the Sunnis whose hold on power is precarious at best. Everyone who knows anything about Lebanon is aware of this. Why isn’t Obama? Why aren’t you?

    ed.

  5. 5
    busboy33 Said:
    3:36 pm 

    “Does that make it right to bow before the Muslims today?”

    I don’t that means what you think it means.

  6. 6
    kray Said:
    4:10 pm 

    “The evidence is pretty solid.”

    Is this relevant? Rubin goes on to claim in the same article that Iran is attempting to sponsor the same kind of attacks in Afghanistan. A claim supported by the same amount of evidence/logic that would suggest I am too. Albeit that I haven’t been supporting NATO strategy to the tune that Iran has.

    The French, who were hit on the same day as our Marine barracks, are totally convinced of the provenance of the attacks. It was a Hez op, planned in Tehran, with logistical support from Syria, carried out by Pali suicide bombers. They have the Hez planners cold on intercepts in ordering the attacks to go forward.

    It’s as solid as any evidence we have that al-Qaeda carried out 9/11.

    ed.

  7. 7
    John Galt Said:
    7:45 pm 

    Michael,

    Do you honestly believe that Al Qaeda did all their planning and training for 9/11 during the first 8 months of the Bush administration? Please answer honestly. I’m guessing WTC bombing #1, the Khobar Towers, and The Cole had nothing to do with terrorists ambitions either. I’m sure all of that was due to George Bush and the evil Republicans stupidity on foreign policy as well.

    As for the Republicans “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory” on “healthcare”…GOD I HOPE SO!!! Pretty amazing feat since not a single Republican is necessary for passage.

    I’m as conservative, libertarian, Constitutionalist, Federalist, and any other “right-wing” name that you could possibly give. But yet, I can see the faults that the greatest President in a century has and will admit to them. Maybe because I’m not a Republican. Never have been, probably never will be. What’s your excuse for kissing and wiping the ass of the Democrats?

  8. 8
    John Galt Said:
    8:20 pm 

    Busboy,

    You’re right, I probably should’ve said “Arabs” instead of “Muslims”.

  9. 9
    michael reynolds Said:
    9:48 pm 

    John:

    Of course it wasn’t all planned during the Bush administration. I was reminding you of the repeated, massive foreign policy failure of the GOP, and of our unwillingness to be lectured by people who brought nothing but damage to this country.

  10. 10
    michael reynolds Said:
    10:10 pm 

    Rick:

    Neither you nor I know why Obama may be taking it easy on Hezbollah in some irrelevant statement that literally no one cares about.

    Either of us could come up with theories. Let’s start with the possibility that we are trying to reach out to Hezbollah. Or maybe we’re sending a veiled message to Israel. Or maybe there are hostage or other type of negotiations going on and taking an easy shot would be a bad idea right at this moment. You don’t know, and neither do I.

    As for understanding the ins and outs of Lebanese politics please don’t try to tell me that anyone — including the Lebanese themselves — know who is playing which game at which moment. All we know for sure is what Israel wants us to do, and despite the uncritical Likud-love of the Right wing, the desires of the current Israeli government are not synonymous with our interests.

    Obama calling out Hezbollah would do precisely nothing to advance US interests. Nothing. And failing to do so likewise has no impact. This game does not rise or fall on some boilerplate commemorative message issued in Washington. Christ, if it was that easy we’d be able to save the world with press releases.

    So this is again manufactured outrage. The Right wing noise machine will use Bibi’s displeasure to gin up another disingenuous attack on Obama. Limbaugh will rant, Beck will slobber, Hannity and the rest will have yet another excuse to lie and slander and avoid talking about issues.

  11. 11
    busboy33 Said:
    2:07 am 

    @John Galt:

    Let me rephrase — how does not mentioning Hezballah equal “bowing down”? Obama also didn’t mention Vladimir Putin . . . is he bowing down to Russians?

  12. 12
    Joe Said:
    5:17 am 

    When will this country get it thru its thick head that we can’t micromanage the internal politics of other countries? We’ve got tons of problems here at home, but our political parties would rather bicker about Lebanon’s power struggle, than take care of health care and jobs at home.Instead of nation building abroad, lets start here. Michaels right, this is more manufactured outrage from the party of no.

  13. 13
    John Galt Said:
    6:35 am 

    Busboy,

    The bowing down was a bit of a joke relating to Bambi’s bowing down to the Saudi King. Sorry, I thought that would have been obvious.

  14. 14
    michael reynolds Said:
    7:56 am 

    John:

    Yes, and so very different from Mr. Bush actually holding his hand and tra-la-la-ing down the lane.

  15. 15
    B.Poster Said:
    1:49 pm 

    Why are we involved in this at all? Ronald Regaen made a mistake by getting us involved in this in the first place. Everyone knows about the mistakes Mr. Regaen made here and I’m not aware of anyone trying to cover for him on either the Republican or Democrat side.

    Again, why are we involved in this at all? We have enormous problems right here at home. Our economy is cratering horribly. We have massive national debt, and our military is worn so thin that even basic national defense could prove to be a major challenge. In other words, it going to be virtually impossible for us to compete militarily with the major world powers such as Russia and China in any military confrontation for the foreseeable future.

    We can begin addressing this by pulling all of our forces and personnel out of the Middle East. This means ALL of them and it should began and it should be completed as quickly as our transport ships and planes can extract them. The situation in Lebanon should be left to the folks in these countries to decide. If they interfere in our affairs, it should be made known to them that we will meet such interference forcefully. The nuclear arsenal needs to be upgraded to handle contingencies like this. Again, we are not able to match up with the major powers or a number of others in any conventional conflict. Therefore the nuclear arsenal becomes even more important.

    We can begin to fix the economy by slashing the maximum corporate income tax rate from its current 35% to 15%. This would result in more money being invested back in the economy. We should begin to develop all of our own oil, gas, and coal reserves. This means ALL of them and build more refineries. This will have the added benefit of less money going to people who don’t like us.

    Finally, for our national security interests we should secure the borders and place a moratorium on all immigration for a minimum of ten years. The moratorium on immigration from Middle Eastern countries should be indefinite. This will give the immigrants who are already here ample time to become assimilated into our society and it will give us breathing space to fix the immirgration system.

    In order to get talent from other countries that we may need, we could institute some type of a guest worker program. Ohter countries use things like this. Perhaps this can work for us as well.

  16. 16
    kray Said:
    6:20 am 

    “The French, who were hit on the same day as our Marine barracks, are totally convinced of the provenance of the attacks. It was a Hez op, planned in Tehran, with logistical support from Syria, carried out by Pali suicide bombers. They have the Hez planners cold on intercepts in ordering the attacks to go forward.

    It’s as solid as any evidence we have that al-Qaeda carried out 9/11.

    ed.”

    Right. Now all you need is some evidence that 1980s Lebanon is in future-tense Afghanistan. Seriously, read what is written.

  17. 17
    kray Said:
    6:30 am 

    Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough.
    I didn’t suggest the evidence of Iranian involvement in Lebanon was unclear. I questioned how it was relevant, considering that the same article contains a completely BS fantasy scenario devoid of any fact or even basic informed opinon.

    The US *did* land on the moon. This is not evidence to suggest they’ve landed on Venus too. It is however the reason I’d be citing someone else come time for the moon landing anniversary. Yhe many, varied not-liars who could also recount a historical event without discrediting themselves.

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