Obama's Administration wants to engage "Moderate" Hizballah / Prof.B.Rubin

For the last year I’ve been following the efforts of the Obama Administration to find someone to engage in Hizballah, the Lebanese terrorist group which is a client of Syria and Iran, deeply involved in terrorism, seeks to take over Lebanon, and wants to wipe Israel off the map.
What’s not to like?

The spearhead here has been John Brennan, assistant to the president for homeland security and Counterterrorism. That’s President Barack Obama, who would seem to bear some responsibility for what Brennan says.

Here’s how Reuters quotes him:

"Hizballah is a very interesting organization"…citing its evolution from "purely a terrorist organization" to a militia to an organization that now has members within the parliament and the cabinet.

"There is certainly the elements of Hizballah that are truly a concern to us what they're doing. And what we need to do is to find ways to diminish their influence within the organization and to try to build up the more moderate elements."

In what framework was this put? Here’s how Reuters reported it:

“U.S. wants to build up Hizballah moderates: adviser

“The Obama administration is looking for ways to build up `moderate elements’ within the Lebanese Hizballah guerrilla movement and to diminish the influence of hard-liners, a top White House official said on Tuesday.”

Note that says “Obama administration” and not just some “assistant.” The last time I reported about such activities, quoting a letter saying these same things, it was explained away as a mistake by some research assistant. Brennan is also an “assistant” but he happens to be that of Obama.

What turns this from farce to tragedy is that Brennan said these things to a visiting delegation of Lebanese leaders. Can you imagine—well, to do so you have to know something about the Middle East so that leaves a lot of administration officials out—the effect of this statement on the Lebanese?

They fall into two broad groups.

One says: “Oh no! The U.S. government is selling us out to turn toward an alliance with Hizballah. We better get in good with Hizballah, Syria, and Iran or they will kill us. They’ve won!”

The other ‘says: Oh yes! The U.S. government is admitting that it is defeated and is going to accept the hegemony in Lebanon of Iran, Syria, and Hizballah. We better step up our aggressive efforts to seize power and fight Israel. We’ve won!”

It is probable that the Obama Administration has done more harm to Lebanon than to any other country in the world. Either Brennan should be fired or the Obama Administration should admit that he is accurately representing its policy, in which case the Obama Administration should be fired.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). His new edited books include Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict and Crisis; Guide to Islamist Movements; Conflict and Insurgency in the Middle East; The West and the Middle East (four volumes); and The Muslim Brotherhood. To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books. To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports.

Unacceptable: A U.S. President Joining with a Foreign Leader to Denounce an American Law that He Has Not Even Read

Posted: 19 May 2010 02:08 PM PDT

Please be subscriber 16,294. Just put your email address in the box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.

We depend on your contributions. To make a tax-deductible donation through PayPal or credit card, click the Donate button in the upper-right hand corner of this page. To donate via check, make it out to “American Friends of IDC,” with “for GLORIA Center” in the memo line. Mail to: American Friends of IDC, 116 East 16th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10003.

By Barry Rubin

Every day President Barack Obama seems to set some new record, and not a positive one. Now he has joined with Mexico's president in denouncing a law passed by an American state within the framework of federalism.

When last heard from, neither the president nor his attorney-general had read the law. Indeed, the president has mischaracterized what the law says on a number of occasions. This by itself is an act of irresponsibility of shocking proportions

This might be the first time in American history that a president has joined a foreign head of state in attacking a legitimately passed law applying within the United States. It is a completely inappropriate action, inconceivable coming from anyone with a sense of national pride. Can one imagine how the president of Mexico would respond to an equivalent action? Indeed, by putting the blame solely on his own country the president tries to avoid giving offense to a foreign leader--and thus any hope of solving the real problem--by giving what should be offense to his own.

But that's not all. A very major reason for the problem of illegal immigration is due to the Mexican government. After all, Mexico is the only country from which large numbers of illegal aliens are entering the United States. It does not stop them and there is evidence that the Mexican government actually encourages them.

It is strange that I've never ever seen anyone raise the question of how the Mexican government should better guard its own border to prevent tens of thousands of people effortlessly cross it in violation of Mexican law.

Yet it is due to the Mexican government's combination of weakness, incompetence, and deliberate behavior that this problem has developed in the first place. Now the problem is becoming far worse and more dangerous due to violent drug gangs from Mexico that seem to have become a state within a state.

Here's what Obama, indeed any American president should have said: If you don't like the Arizona law then control your side of the border so that people there won't feel a need for such measures.

Yet rather than demand cooperation or show his own ability to protect the border, Obama has attacked Arizona acting in desperation trying to do so. In effect, he walks around with a giant "kick me"--or rather "kick America and I won't do anything about it--sign.

These points hold true no matter what one thinks of the specific law in question. Having actually read it, however, I think it sounds quite balanced and sensible. Don't disagree unless you have read it, too.

On the broader issue of international relationships, can one imagine any truly liberal--not radical--Democratic president in U.S. history behaving this way?

If Obama won't stand up to Mexico how is he going to stand up to Iran or any other country threatening U.S. interests?

And what does it convey when Miss Oklahoma at the Miss USA contest gives a better response on this issue than the attorney-general or the president of the United States? Indeed, she showed more political courage, too, since she might well have known that her response could cost her victory in the contest.

The law, she explained, is an example of the federalism at work. States have the right to pass their own legislation and this is one of the strengths of the U.S. political system.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal.

Post new comment

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters (without spaces) shown in the image.