Monday, May 12, 2008

LEBANON TO WEST: WAKE UP FAST!

Here is a redacted take on Dr. Barry Rubin’s opinion piece regarding the current situation in Lebanon.

I removed all references to Barry Hussein Obama since the latter’s grasp of history, national security, and the Middle East is shaky at best. Mr. Obama starts out so wobbly that there is no point in discussing his strange notions of statecraft. Frankly, Margaret Thatcher needs to be here to take him out with one short, lady-like punch.

[Emphases in Dr. Rubin's essay are mine - Dympha]

While America’s secretary of state devotes her time to doomed Israel-Palestinian talks and America goes ga-ga over a candidate whose main foreign policy strategy is to talk to dictators, still another crisis strengthens radical Islamists and endangers Western friends and interests.

William Butler Yeats said it best:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

[From “The Second Coming”, 1920]

The “best” are often too innocent indeed, sunk in constant self-criticism, persuading themselves they must atone for having done too much in the past by doing nothing in the present, trying to convince the other side of their niceness and sensitivity. Their priority is to ensure no one will accuse them of being imperialistic. And to prove it they will let another country fall into the enemy camp.

The Lebanese logjam has broken at last as Hizballah seized west Beirut and inflicted a big defeat on the pro-government side.

While Iran and Syria provide guns and strong backing to their friends, the West responds with words backed by nothing. Who can blame Hizballah and Damascus and Tehran for laughing with contempt, believing they are the tide of the future, assuming their “passionate intensity” will inevitably triumph over the weak-willed West?

The historic great powers act as pitiful, helpless giants but their enemies will take no pity on them. In short, Hizballah is pulling a two-stage version of Hamas’s Gaza strategy in Lebanon and no one does anything effective about that either.

What Spain was in 1936; Lebanon is today.

Does anyone remember the Spanish Civil War? Briefly, a fascist revolt took place against the democratic government. The rebels were motivated by several factors, including anger that their religion had not been given enough respect and regional grievances, but essentially, they sought to put their ideology and themselves into power. Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy backed the rebels with money and guns. The Western democracies stood by and did nothing.

Guess who won? And guess whether that outcome led to peace or world war?

Funny, I thought September 11 changed everything.

Why should Lebanese Sunni, Druze, and Christians risk their lives when the West doesn’t help them? Every Israeli speaking nonsense about Syria making peace; every American claiming Damascus might split from Tehran; every European preaching appeasement has in fact been engaged in confidence-breaking measures.

Hizballah doesn’t need to win a military victory but only to show it can win one, using that position of strength to try to force its demands on the moderate government…
- - - - - - - - -
…The government has already accepted Michel Suleiman, Syria’s candidate for president. But Hizballah and the rest say this is not enough: they want veto power over everything.

The goal of Hizballah, and its Syrian and Iranian backers at present is not the full conquest of Lebanon-something beyond their means-but to control the government so it does nothing they dislike: no strong relations with the West, no ability to stop war against Israel, no disarming Hizballah’s militias or countering that group’s control over large parts of the country, and certainly no investigation of Syrian involvement in terrorism there.

Government supporters don’t have to surrender. Hizballah took west Beirut in large part because local Sunni Muslims lacked their own militia. Once Hizballah tried to keep going into Druze-controlled areas it got a bloody nose. With its Shia Muslim constituency only about one-third of the population, Hizballah is not capable of conquering Lebanon militarily.

Still, the West often acts as if it would like to lose the struggle in the Middle East. There are all too many examples of how this is true:

Why, three years after Damascus ordered the murder of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri do investigators dawdle, having edited out the names of top Syrian officials they blamed for the killing in their initial report?

Israel bombed a nuclear reactor being built in Syria. Rice reportedly opposed the action. The world yawned.

Iran drives for nuclear weapons. There is some effort but too little, too slow.

Whether or not the war in Iraq was a mistake, when terrorists murdered Iraqi civilians, much of the West blamed America; all too many Americans agreed.

Far too much of Western media, intellectual, and sometimes political life, reviles Israel. But Israel is no threat to them; other forces are.

And events in Lebanon are one more proof that the Israel-Palestinian conflict is only a portion, say one-fifth, of the wider Middle East crisis.

Many in the West think Israel will pay the price for their follies. But Israel is ready to do what it needs for its self-defense. If anything, the mistakes of the last round in Lebanon reinforced this determination.

Instead, the main victims will be Arabs, mostly Muslims, in Afghanistan, Gaza, Iraq, and Lebanon, killed by the various Jihad groups, or ruled by them where they take power or dominate through intimidation. And second they will be Western interests, which would not fare well in a region dominated by a combination of Islamists and those who feel they have no choice but to appease them.

[…]

The Syrian and Iranian regimes know that while they may walk through the valley of the shadow of sanctions they need fear nothing because there are all too many who comfort them. After all, if the UN human rights committee is run by Libya, if UNIFIL forces in Lebanon tread lightly so Hizballah won’t be angry with them, if Westerners tremble and repeal freedom of speech lest some Muslims be offended, why should the “bad guys” worry?

Yet the West doesn’t have to play it stupid forever. Now is the time for energetic action on Lebanon to wipe that confident sneer off their faces. To contain Iran and Syria, to buck up the Lebanese government side and all those Arabs who, whatever their faults, don’t want to live in an Islamist caliphate.

The battle isn’t over, which is all the more reason for real-not just verbal-international action. Hizballah has made its point for the moment that it is the most powerful and to it every knee must bend. Yet without serious political and diplomatic support for Lebanon’s government and real costs inflicted on Syria and Iran, the battle will be lost eventually.

For all those in the West who don’t like Israel, then at least help the people you pretend to like. Back the Lebanese government with real power and aid, covertly or overtly, those battling the radical forces in Lebanon.

Rick: “Sam, if it’s December 1941 in Casablanca, what time is it in New York?”
Sam: “Um, my watch stopped.”
Rick: “I bet they’re asleep in New York. I’ll bet they’re asleep all over America.”

11 comments:

Dymphna said...

Please note the several areas of subject matter in this post.

Comments should be germane to what is on offer in this particular post.

Comments of 500 words or less are courteous to readers and other commenters.

Diamed said...

Yeats' poem was prophecy, it strikes me every time as never being more true than now.

However I see no way to constructively meddle with internal arab affairs. You pretty much have two choices: Ignore them, or obliterate them. The idea of sending troops and money all over the middle east in the hope of gaining 'influence' etc just sounds like yet another trillion dollar boondoggle that will achieve nothing.

Darrin Hodges said...

And what rough beast slouches toward Bethlehem to be born.

Dymphna said...

I agree, Diamed. Thought I would assert that we need to finish what we started where we are at the moment. And we need to loosen up the Rules of Engagement.

I don't think Dr. Rubin is calling for intervention. I think he is saying that criticism of Israel is inherently out of order if the bombs start coming from Lebanon.

Israel has to do what it must to survive this pincer movement by Hamas and Hezbollah.

Findalis said...

Hezbollah doesn't have to physically control Lebanon to have power, they just have to get hold of the military in Lebanon. Already reports are surfacing of Hezbollah infiltrating major Army units. Once they have control of the army, they will have control of Lebanon.

xlbrl said...

I regret to say that your analogy to the Spanish Civil War is terrible, and so it becomes discordant to your post.
Because two sides are in a fight we may tend to assume, erroneously,that one is good. Let us remember that it was on the losing side that some, like Orwell, discovered there was something worse than fascism, and he was fighting for it.
I see non-Jihad Lebanon as something distinctly more worthy than their opposition.

Robohobo said...

D, you say:

"Israel has to do what it must to survive this pincer movement by Hamas and Hezbollah."

But per the post previous, "Counterjihad Vienna 2008" and the speech by Trifkovic, the source of this chess move is NOT two distinct groups, Hamas and Hezbollah, but one, Iran. Israel is surrounded and this latest move by the proxies of the Iranian mullahs may be the precursor to the summer war I think is coming or the reason for preemptive Israeli action. They have to force the hand of the West to engage the radical jihadis soon or chance extermination at the hands of a nuclear Iran.

Dymphna said...

robohobo --

I should have spoken more clearly: the pincer move by Hezbollah on the one hand and Hamas on the other both originate in Iranian funding.

Since Iran's power plans drive conditions in the Middle East, and the money and arms flow from there, Syria and Lebanon are merely puppets.

In the long run, the fact that we are in Iraq may serve as a brake on Iran's plans. That is if we aren't dragged out by the short-sighted stupdity of our politicians, none of whom are famous for being able to plan long term strategy and then carry it out.

Zeke said...

"Why should Lebanese Sunni, Druze, and Christians risk their lives when the West doesn’t help them?"

Why does Western help even enter into it? Surely these groups, living in a militarized nation, have understood for decades that they need to be armed and organized to assert their will.

Why are they allowing Hisb Allah to run things when they are only 25% of the country. If, for instance, the 25% of the USA that was Hispanic took over much of Portland, Oregon openly, ala Hisb Allah, we would not be waiting on the EU to tell us what to do.

America is a lot more likely to support a group we see putting up a fight than one that is acquiesing to thugish terrorists.

Where is the resistance? Where is the unifed push to destroy Hisb Allah in Lebanon. Where was the majority of the population when Israel was trying to do this job a few years ago? Siding with the Hisb Allah as I recall.

No wonder we don't want to get involved.

Afonso Henriques said...

That's right Zeke.

Nobody wants to fight their wars anymore.

Only allmighty America...

Muslims are the majority in Lebanon. The Christians have to make a land to their own, if not, they are doomed.

Are you expecting Americans to love your land more than you do?

BrianFH said...

Alphonso, Zeke, et al;
your analyses are painfully superficial. These are global forces at play in Lebanon, and the Iranian proxies are continuously and heavily armed for free. If America wants Iran checked, it is going to have to depend on itself, not the Druze.

And Israel will not expire quietly to keep the "peace". The US should not over-estimate how much restraint it can impose there.