Sunday, May 24, 2009

Here Comes Joe, There Goes Lebanon

By Barry Rubin
It's really nice that Vice-President Joe Biden went to Lebanon in order to, in the words of the White House statement, "reinforce the United States's support for an independent and sovereign Lebanon" prior to the June 7 elections there.

That and whatever is the current prevailing price will get you a cup of coffee.

Of course, Hizballah said that the visits by Biden following that of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was a terrible "interference in Lebanon's affairs."

Strangely enough, I'm not aware of any U.S. statement complaining about Iranian and Syrian interference in Lebanon's affairs. This is connected to the current policy that basically amounts to, if you can't say something nice don't say anything at all. Since the current administration won't admit to being in conflict with anyone, except perhaps al-Qaida, it cannot fight back effectively.

Moreover, while the State Department's own report on terrorism was devastating when it came to Hizballah's activities--including direct involvement in the killing of Americans in Iraq--no high-level official has been going out of the way to condemn the group.

As for the media, the New York Times investigated the elections and did find a country whose interference in Lebanon should be criticized...Saudi Arabia. 

One tough message was sent, though. The United States will review its foreign aid program to Lebanon after the election. Since most of the money goes to the Lebanese military, I'll predict that even if a government takes power that's a Syrian-Iranian client continued aid will be justified on the increasingly shake (though not completely false) pretext that the army remains independent of such control.

Here's the problem: if your adversaries wage a struggle using all their assets plus a great deal of dissimulation and trickery and you don't, well, guess who's going to win?

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