Friday, December 22, 2006

A Christmas message 

Perhaps a bit grave for AmCop...but why not notice when someone passes through the blizzard of schlock and kitsch, and actually says something meaningful about "the holidays"? So here are the words of Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, addressed to the people and civic leaders of occupied Bethlehem in Palestine. Williams, along with other British church leaders, is on a Christmas pilgrimage in solidarity with the people who live in the town of Christ's birth.

Hopefully the thoughts and sentiments below will appeal to those of diverse religious or non-religious sensibilities. It is the final meaning of Williams' gesture that I find particularly admirable. I've fixed up some rough spots in the transcript from the Archbishop's website.)


Your excellencies, dear brothers and sisters, we are I think a little overwhelmed by the welcome that we have received here. And although we have visited here before to be welcomed with generosity, today has been exceptional.

We are indeed here to say to the people of Bethlehem they are not forgotten. We are here to say that what affects you affects us. We are here to say that your suffering is ours also--in prayer and in thought and in hope. We are here to say, in this so troubled, complex land, that justice and security is never something which one person claims at the expense of another or one community at the expense of another. We are here to say that security for one is security for all.

For one to live under threat, whether of occupation, or of terror, is a problem for all, and a pain for all.

The wall which we walked through a little while ago is a sign not simply of a passing problem in the politics of one region; it is sign of some of the things that are most deeply wrong in the human heart itself--that terrible fear of the other and the stranger which keeps all of us in one or another kind of prison.

In one of the hymns which we sing in English during the Advent season, we sing about Jesus Christ as the One who comes "the prison bars to break." And it is our prayer and our hope for all of you that the prison of poverty and disadvantage, and the prison of fear and anxiety, will alike be broken. We are here on pilgrimage because we trust that 2000 years ago an event took place here which assured us that these prisons could be broken, broken by the act of a God in whose sight all are equally precious: Palestinian, Israeli, Jewish, Christian and Moslem. A God for whom all lives are so equally precious that the death of any one is an affront to all. That is why we are here.

We are not here to visit an ancient and interesting site. We are not here to visit a museum, and we are not here to visit a theme park. We are here to visit a place and people whose very existence speaks of the freedom of God to set human beings free. That is a truth which remains day after day, year after year, millennium after millennium. It is that good news that has driven us here. It is that good news which teaches us not to despair even in the terrible circumstances in which so many of you now live.

Thank you once again for what you have done to make us feel at home here--we who are now fellow citizens with you here in this place. Pray for us in the western world, for us in England, that our faith may be strengthened by yours. That you are a gift--remember--to us. Unlike the wise men who came from the East 2000 years ago, we not very wise men from the West have not come to pour out our gifts. We have come to receive the witness of your faith, your endurance and your hope--to receive the gifts of God from you. So pray for us. Pray that we may be strong. Pray that we may be loyal friends to you and to all the peoples of this land, and we shall pray for you also.

A narcissist’s Christmas 

Despite his leaving office in the wake of his party’s trampling last month, former US Senator Bill Frist, author of Good People Beget Good People: A Genealogy of the Frist Family, seems to think his supporters give a shit about what he and his family are doing. The latest dispatch (“Frist Family Sends Holiday Greetings”) from Bill Frist, M.D. (VOLPAC), billfrist@volpac.org.

Karyn and I and our three boys wish you a blessed holiday season. We join you in celebrating family, friends, and faith.

We just today got back to Nashville, and are tonight decorating the tree that we bought on the way home from the airport. Karyn and I enjoyed sharing our very last holiday season in our home in Washington over the last week, buying our "Washington tree" and decorating it and the house extra early this year so we'd have plenty of time to enjoy it with friends as we said our goodbyes. 12 years of memories in that house!!

Over the next couple of weeks, Karyn and I and the boys will be on the go; traveling and visiting with family and friends.

Tomorrow I'm off to South Texas with Harrison and Jonathan for a father-son hunt with Steve Smith and his sons Stephen and Matt. Karyn, the boys and I will then spend the 23rd with Karyn's Mother and sister Trisha and their extended family (45 McLaughlins! at their biannual McLaughlin family Christmas) in Austin. And then back to Nashville for Christmas Day to join the Frist clan. We're rehabing the home I grew up in, but it's not ready so we are living in the backyard in a garage apartment (now beautifully decorated by Karyn!).

Another hunt with the family on the 26th to replicate the traditional southern hunt (at night) that we did exactly four years ago on the night that I became majority leader. And during all of this, Bryan is going to New York to see some of his college friends, Jonathan is welcoming home his girlfriend Ashton who has been studying abroad, and Harrison is slipping off to Houston to see his girlfriend Ashley after our Texas hunt.

The final sojourn for us to Washington will be to particpate in the swearing in of Bob Corker. We are so proud of him and Elizabeth and look forward to lending our support over the coming months and years.

I’ll spend early January talking with and listening to folk around the country on the new focus for my leadership committee Volunteer PAC (VOLPAC) and promise to send along information before the end of the month. In February I’m off on my annual medical mission trip delivering care, doing surgery, and treating AIDS patients in Kenya and Sudan and am so excited that Karyn will join me this year. My work in Africa has always served to center me and ground me in the oneness of humanity. Like everyone, I have read with real concern about Al Qaeda's expanded presence in the Horn of Africa and the spread of radical Islam and fighting in Somalia. And the genocide continues in Darfur where I was last year. Expect a report from me on this and more notes from my trip.

I am convinced that we can use medicine as a currency for peace in this part of the world and elsewhere. I've personally lived it on the ground in Sudan. I’ll share with you a great deal more about this in months to come.

In this season our thoughts and prayers are especially with the troops overseas who are serving away from home during this sacred time of the year. God bless them and God bless their families. Our freedom rests with their sacrifices.

Karyn and I send you and your family warm wishes for a blessed and healthy holiday season!

Bill Frist, M.D.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Feliz Navidad 

At the airport in Mexico City your bags get searched before you check them. Between the line of people waiting to check in and the checkout counters there are folding tables manned by security guards. As you are called you put your luggage on the tables and they rummage through them.

Before I left for Mexico, I asked my friend who lives in Chiapas if he wanted anything from New York. As a matter of fact he did. Apparently in Mexico, being Catholic and all, good condoms are particularly hard to find. The seed shall not be spilt. So my friend asked if I could bring him a few boxes of a particular brand that is impossible to get there. It was an odd request, but I granted it nonetheless.

So of course, the cosmos being what it is, on my holiday season trip to the poorest state in the union, I was going to draw two women security guards and they were going to find several boxes of condoms in my bag when I put it on the table in front of the entire check-in staff and a long long line of holiday travelers. Clearly I´d come to their home to savagely exploit their most vulnerable women on the holiest day of their savior Jesus Christ.

What I didn´t expect was that they wouldn´t know or be able to discern what was in the boxes. So a great deal of confusion followed as I tried to explain it in my terrible Spanish. "Condom...condomas...condomos? Es por...el sexo?¨" Nothing worked. Meanwhile they're turning over the boxes in their hands, holding them up to the light, scrutinizing them from every possible angle.

Finally the guards decided to give up and ask a male coworker at the next table. As she was in motion, turning around and about to wave the box high over her head and yell something, I snatched one of the boxes out of her hand. I turned it over and pointed to the diagram depicting the unrolled condom on the back of the box. Somehow they´d missed it. "Mira!" I said. At which point they looked at the diagram and promptly collapsed into gales of laughter.

"Esta OK?" I asked, wanting to move on.

They nodded. I repacked my bag as quickly as possible, smiled, shrugged and parted with a very feeble, "Feliz Navidad."

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

It's All About 'W' 

Fixin's passes along this forward...

I'd like to pass along this precious story as we enter into the final days leading up to Christmas Day...the birthday of our Lord & Savior - Jesus Christ!

My son, Nicholas, was in Kindergarten. It was an exciting season for a six-year old. For weeks, he'd been memorizing songs for his school's "Winter Pageant.

I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd be working the night of the performance. But, unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She assured me that I could attend the dress rehearsal the morning of the performance. All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then. Fortunately, Nicholas was happy with the compromise.

So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early, found a seat in the school auditorium and sat down. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats. As we waited, the students were accompanied by their teachers and they sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to the platform to perform their song.

Because our public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as 'Christmas' I didn't expect anything other than commercial entertainment - songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes, and good cheer. So, when my son's class rose to sing, "Christmas Love," I was slightly taken aback by it's bold title.

Nicholas was aglow, as were all his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads. Those in the front row-center stage - -held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song. As the class would sing "C is for Christmas", a child would hold up the letter 'C'. Then "H is for Happy", and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, Christmas Love."

The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her...a small quiet girl in the front row holding the letter "M"...but it was upside-down. She seemed totally unaware that her letter "M" appeared as a "W".

The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one's mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her "W".

Although the teachers tried to shush the children, the giggling continued until the last letter was raised, and then...we all saw it together! A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen. In that instant, we understood the reason why we celebrated the holiday in the first place. Why that, even in the chaos, there was indeed a purpose for all the festivities.

For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear:



Amazed in His presence and humbled by His love...I pray that you will have a very Merry Christmas as you reflect on His amazing love for YOU!

Now get out there and buy shit!!!

Worse than apartheid 

Chris Hedges--formerly of the New York Times and now at the Colubmia School of Journalism, veteran war-reporter who has covered virtually every war since 1980, and who wrote the bestseller "War is a Force that Gives us Meaning"--lays things out:

Israel has spent the last five months unleashing missiles, attack helicopters and jet fighters over the densely packed concrete hovels in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli army has made numerous deadly incursions, and some 500 people, nearly all civilians, have been killed and 1,600 more wounded. Israel has rounded up hundreds of Palestinians, destroyed Gaza’s infrastructure, including its electrical power system and key roads and bridges, carried out huge land confiscations, demolished homes and plunged families into a crisis that has caused widespread poverty and malnutrition....

The stark reality of Gaza, however, has failed to penetrate the consciousness of most Americans, who, when they notice the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, prefer to debate the merits of the word “apartheid” in former President Jimmy Carter’s new book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.” It is a sad commentary on the gutlessness of the U.S. press and the timidity of the Democratic opposition that most Americans are not aware of the catastrophic humanitarian crisis they bear so much responsibility in creating....

Palestinians in Gaza live encased in a squalid, overcrowded ghetto, surrounded by the Israeli military and a massive electric fence, unable to leave or enter the strip and under daily assault. The word “apartheid,” given the wanton violence employed against the Palestinians, is tepid. This is more than apartheid. The concerted Israeli attempts to orchestrate a breakdown in law and order, to foster chaos and rampant deprivation, are on public display in the streets of Gaza City, where Palestinians walk past the rubble of the Palestinian Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of National Economy, the office of the Palestinian prime minister and a number of educational institutions that have been bombed by Israeli jets. The electricity generation plant, providing 45 percent of the electricity of the Gaza Strip, has been wiped out, and even the primitive electricity networks and transmitters that remain have been repeatedly bombed. Six bridges linking Gaza City with the central Gaza Strip have been blown up and main arteries cratered into obliteration. And the West Bank is rapidly descending into a crisis of Gaza proportions. The juxtaposition of what is happening in Gaza and what is being debated on the U.S. airwaves about a book that is little more than a basic primer on the conflict reinforces the impression most outside our gates have of Americans living in a distorted, bizarre reality of our own creation.

What do Israel and Washington believe they will gain by turning Gaza and the West Bank into a miniature version of Iraq? How do they think people who are desperate, deprived of hope, dignity and a way to make a living, under attack from one of the most technologically advanced armies on the planet, will respond? Do they believe that creating a Hobbesian nightmare for the Palestinians will blunt terrorism, curb suicide attacks and foster peace?....

Israel, with no restraints from Washington, despite the Iraq Study Group report recommendations that the peace process be resurrected from the dead, has been given the moral license by the Bush administration to carry out what is euphemistically in Israel called “transfer” and what in other parts of the world is called ethnic cleansing. Faced with a demographic time bomb, knowing that by 2020 Jews will make up only 40 to 46 percent of the overall population of Israel, the architects of transfer, who once held the equivalent status in Israeli society of the Ku Klux Klan, have wormed their way into positions of power in the Israeli government....

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has installed in his Cabinet a politician who openly calls for the expulsion of the some 1.3 million Israeli Arabs who live inside Israel. Avigdor Lieberman’s “Israel Is Our Home” Party, part of Olmert’s governing coalition, proposes involuntary transfer in a region populated mostly by Arab citizens of Israel, shifting those people to a future Palestinian state that would include Gaza, parts of the West Bank and a small slice of northern Israel. All Israeli Arabs who continued to reside in the territory of transfer would automatically lose their Israeli citizenship unless they took a loyalty oath to the state and its Jewish symbols. The inclusion of Lieberman, the David Duke of Israel, into the Cabinet is an indication to most Palestinians that the worst is yet to come.

The debate over Jimmy Carter’s book, one that dishes up a fair number of Israeli myths about itself and states a reality that is acknowledged even by most Israelis, misses the point. The question is not whether Israel practices apartheid. Apartheid is a fond dream for most Palestinians. The awful question is rather will Israel be able to unleash a policy so draconian and cruel that it will obliterate a community that has lived on this land for centuries. There are other, far more loaded words for what is happening to the Palestinians. One shudders to repeat them. But unchecked, unstopped, the current wave of violence and abuse meted out to the Palestinians will echo down the corridors of history as one of the greatest moral and tactical blunders of the early part of this century, one that will boomerang on Israel and on us, bringing to our own doorsteps the evil we have allowed to be delivered to the narrow alleys and refugee camps in Gaza. When it was only apartheid, we had some hope.

This horror is unprecedented in the miserable history of the Palestinians. And the U.S. is responsible. The U.S is not responsible for the horror in Darfur. And while of course it is responsible for the horror in Iraq, it is not the U.S. soldiers that are themselves driving car-bombs into crowds of civilians in Baghdad.

But it is an adjunct of the U.S. army that is daily killing Palestinians for sport. For sport. Picking off bystanders, blowing up houses, at random. There is no exaggeration whatsoever in what I am saying. The same thing is confirmed in new stories every day. The Israeli violence is random and demented, when it is not focused on particularly important targets of civilian infrastructure.

Both Palestine and Iraq have fallen into the abyss. When millions of people who live together are systematically deprived of all means of civil organization and government, it is absolutely inevitable, by simple logic, that violent anarchy will reign. Even if most people don't want it (and they never do), a few murderers will seize the opportunity and take over, provoking other murderers (and also regular people) to take up arms. Society splinters into fighting gangs, because with no civil government the violent few reign. And of course when the U.S. starts to give weapons and money to one of the gangs--the most corrupt and least legitimate of all--as the U.S. is doing now with Abbas' Fatah--then things dive downward even more quickly and irreversibly.

There will not be peace in Iraq or Palestine until the U.S. admits total defeat and apologizes for all policies of the last 50 years in the Middle East. This will not happen without catastophic violence and national humiliation. And even that will not bring peace. For there will still have to be murderous chaos for generations in the Middle East, even after America leaves or is destroyed.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

and now for something completely different 

As some of you know I recently spent some time in Mexico video documenting the radical social movements there. I was reluctant to blog about it at the time for two reasons. The first being that I had a very minimal idea of what was going on. The second was that it seemed that to say anything comprehensible would require a prodigious amount of background information.

Well, now I'm back and it seems like time to at least try to put some thoughts in order. So in the interests of providing some context for future posts:

I arrived in Oaxaca on September 24th when the popular uprising was in full swing. In May of this year the teacher's union went on strike as they have done for the last 25 years. Striking in this case means, partly, setting up plantons or encampments in the center of town. Usually this happens until the government agrees to negotiate and eventually some sort of settlement is reached. This year was relatively unremarkable in terms of the teacher's demands: more pay, better funding for the schools, slowing of the privatization process.

However all was not well in the land. The newly 'elected' (read: massive election fraud) governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, decided that he wasn't having any of it. He ordered the state police to remove the strikers from the zocalo (central plaza). So the police came and attacked the protesters, but this time the protesters fought back. Even though the police managed to kill five people the protesters eventually won. The police and government were ejected from the capital city of the State of Oaxaca.

At this point several grassroots groups, left political activists, small business owners, NGO's and others aligned behind the teachers and formed a coalition they called APPO (Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca). APPO is horizontally organized and directly democratic, making their decisions by consensus. APPO pretty much immediately consensed upon getting Ortiz, or URO, out of office. URO's resignation became their one and only non-negotiable demand to the Mexican government.

For various reasons they remained in a stalemate with the government for months. In September APPO declared itslef the legitimate government of the State of Oaxaca, and the movement went from being reformist to revolutionary. Anticipating the eventual ouster of Ortiz, they began to create directly democratic governance structures that could take over the functions of the state. This is primarily the reason for Left's fascination with Oaxaca. Some are calling it a second Paris Commune, or comparing it to the Spanish Revolution.

During this period of stalemate the government decided that, a direct attack having failed, the best strategy for them was "counterinsurgency warfare" or less euphemistically: state terror or "dirty war" as they call it here. They ordered ruling party loyalists to attack, harass, murder, rape, and kidnap people in Oaxaca on a sporadic basis. The idea being to spread fear in the movement and create disunity. This went on until late October.

With the national presidency about to change hands various political pressures became acute. In late October an acquaintance of mine who was there reporting for Indymedia NYC was shot and killed by paramilitaries who attacked the APPO barricade that he was photographing. This happened a few days after I got back to New York.

In New York some smart dedicated and organized activists formed a group, Friends of Brad Will, and began planning actions and solidarity events with the people of Oaxaca. They work closely with another New York based activist who runs the website El Enemigo Comun, which is the best repository of links and info about the situation.

Back in Oaxaca, the Federal government seized on the pretext and declared that Brad getting killed was the last straw and that it was imperative to invade to "restore law and order". Thus the Federal police were sent in and a month long battle for the city ensued.

The Police eventually won after killing several people and imprisoning several hundred others in prison camps far from Oaxaca. The "leaders" of the APPO have been arrested. The organization has gone somewhat underground although they are still organizing marches and protests. The State of Oaxaca is basically under martial law at this point with human rights violations proliferating and stories of torture and disappearance quite common.

The story is far from over. Due to the actions of the APPO and others well before them, the popular resistance movement is spreading. The nearby State of Guerrero formed an APPO clone organization, and the Zapatistas have been touring the country during the last year building a network of all the resistance movements.

In the next posts I'll go through a basic description of the Other Campaign launched by the Zapatistas, and try to put all of this in the context of "official" Mexican politics. If you're interested, you can always get good updates at Narco News.

(If you'd rather skip the background and just hear about what's going on right now, let me know.)

"Surge" into Iran 

I assume many of you have seen the news about the defeat suffered by Ahmadinejad's party in the recent Iranian elections. Apparently, kids at a university booed and heckled Ahmadinejad during a recent appearance, causing him obvious embarassment and discomfort. Now the hecklers are rumored to be in hiding from Ahmadinejad's thugs.

Well, what should "we" do in relation to the complex situation in Iran?

The answer is obvious: bomb Iran!

It's important to remember, during seemingly "slow" days in the coverage of the Iranian "crisis," that Cheney and Bush are not letting up, and are in fact doing everything in their power to start a war with Iran.

It doesn't matter that Ahmadinejad has no control over Iranian foreign policy, and never has, and never will--that, like the reformist Khatami before him, he must in the end bow to the authority of the supreme religious authorities. (Iran is not a real democracy, as Bush himself might like to point out; so the once-popular Ahmadinejad, an effective mayor of Tehran, did not ascend to power when he won the national elections.)

It doesn't matter that Ahmadinejad lacks true power and that young Iranians are courageously expressing sigificant discontent with the religious right of Iran. What matters is the "Holocaust" conference, which John Bolton and Elie Wiesel are using as an occasion to file formal legal charges against Ahmadinejad (for "incitement to genocide," which presumably justifies pre-emptive genocide in "return").

What matters to Bush is more war, anyhow and anywhere, as long as it precipitates more chaos and staves off the inevitable moment of formal and unanimous judgment on his war and his "presidency."

Thus, Cheney et al. are conspiring with Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia to murder Iran.

And at the same time, Cheney et al. are desperately trying to get Israel to step in and attack Iran and/or Syria. Again: the attack can come, as far as Cheney is concerned, anyhow and anywhere, as long is it is war, chaos, dead Arabs, etc.

I'll conclude with an extended passage from a recent interview with Mrs. Meyrav Wurmser, a neoconservative "intellectual" and the "wife" of David Wurmser, high-level Cheney retainer:

Many of Wurmser's friends believe the disaster is not only in Iraq, but in the entire region. They are also very frustrated over the way in which Israel embarked on the war against Hizbullah this summer, and on the way it returned from it.

"Hizbullah defeated Israel in the war. This is the first war Israel lost."

Is this a popular stance in the administration, that Israel lost the war?

"Yes, there is no doubt. It's not something one can argue about it. There is a lot of anger at Israel."

What caused the anger?

"I know this will annoy many of your readers… But the anger is over the fact that Israel did not fight against the Syrians. Instead of Israel fighting against Hizbullah, many parts of the American administration believe that Israel should have fought against the real enemy, which is Syria and not Hizbullah."

Did the administration expect Israel to attack Syria?

"They hoped Israel would do it. You cannot come to another country and order it to launch a war, but there was hope, and more than hope, that Israel would do the right thing. It would have served both the American and Israeli interests.

"The neocons are responsible for the fact that Israel got a lot of time and space… They believed that Israel should be allowed to win. A great part of it was the thought that Israel should fight against the real enemy, the one backing Hizbullah. It was obvious that it is impossible to fight directly against Iran, but the thought was that its strategic and important ally should be hit."

"It is difficult for Iran to export its Shiite revolution without joining Syria, which is the last nationalistic Arab country. If Israel had hit Syria, it would have been such a harsh blow for Iran, that it would have weakened it and changes the strategic map in the Middle East.

"The final outcome is that Israel did not do it. It fought the wrong war and lost. Instead of a strategic war that would serve Israel's objectives, as well as the US objectives in Iraq. If Syria had been defeated, the rebellion in Iraq would have ended."

Wurmser says that what most frustrates her is hearing people close to decision makers in Israel asking her if the US would have let Israel attack Syria.

"No one would have stopped you. It was an American interest. They would have applauded you. Think why you received so much time and space to operate. Rice was in the region and Israel embarrassed her with Qana, and still Israel got more time. Why aren't they reading the map correctly in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem?"

This is the kind of "thinking" that underlies the "surge" proposal. More dead, more chaos, as soon as possible, hopefully leading to direct engagement with Iran-backed forces, thereby justifying an "all-or-nothing," "once-and-for-all" reckoning with Islamo-fascism, the desired result of which is anarchy throughout the Middle East.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Ravings of an anti-semite 

Robert Grenier, former director of CIA counter-intelligence:

Tacitly encouraging civil war is seldom wise, and particularly when the side with which one is affiliated cannot win. It should be obvious that American — and Israeli — interests are best served by a unified Lebanese state that has clear control over its people and its territory. We now know that Hezbollah is not going to be eradicated, nor its influence reduced.

So the only way of making the Lebanese government accountable is to encourage the progressive, moderating integration of Hezbollah into the political, social and military fabric of the state.

How could Washington help this happen? Well, for one thing, we should give up talk of greatly enlarging the multinational force in southern Lebanon, and convince the Europeans to do likewise. Fortunately, the plan to insert such a force this fall foundered when the French (wisely) decided they were not up to the task of disarming Hezbollah, although smaller numbers of European troops are apparently headed there soon. It is folly, particularly with lightly armed foreign forces, to try to get regional actors to do things that they see as fundamentally against their interests.

Second is to end the proxy battles between foreign powers. I don’t know what the Americans are telling the Lebanese government privately, but the public statements are disappointing. Last month the White House issued an official statement citing “attempts by Syria, Iran, and their allies within Lebanon to foment instability and violence” and insisting the United States would “continue its efforts with allied nations and democratic forces in Lebanon to resist these efforts.” In other words, we’re still trying to rile Lebanese sentiment as a wedge against our enemies in the region.

A far more genuine American commitment to Lebanon would focus on helping the parties to come up with a reasonable formula to redress the under-representation of Shiites in the power structure while getting greater government control over Hezbollah’s war-making capacity.

Make no mistake: Hezbollah is no friend to America. As a former United States intelligence officer, I know there are a few accounts yet to be settled with that organization. But Washington will never achieve its objectives in the Middle East — including its obligation to ensure Israel’s long-term security — unless it puts emotions aside and deals realistically with facts on the ground. Like it or not, Hezbollah is one of those facts. A less-than-pliable but strong government in Lebanon would be far preferable to no real government at all, which is what we have now.



This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?