Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Here We Go Again: Obama Administration Wants to Engage “Moderate” Hizballah

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By Barry 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 the Lebanese pay attention to this kind of thing and are deeply affected by it. Their reaction falls into two broad types.

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.

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