In today's Jerusalem Post, columnist Barry Rubin notes how the naivete evident in Senator Barack Obama's recent remarks about the crisis in Lebanon can only encourage Hezbollah, Syria and Iran to continue their present provocative course of action. Rubin writes in part:
NOW THEY have a new, albeit unwitting, ally: Senator Barack Obama, who does not understand the damage he does. His May 10 statement on Lebanon tried to sound tough, talking of "Hizbullah's power grab in Beirut... This effort to undermine Lebanon's elected government needs to stop, and all those who have influence with Hizbullah must press them to stand down immediately." Obama said he supports the Lebanese government, wants to "strengthen the Lebanese army," and "insist[s] on disarming Hizbullah."
How? By "working with the international community and the private sector to rebuild Lebanon and get its economy back on its feet."
According to the Obama world view, it's a development problem. But he doesn't understand that bombs trump business. Prime Minister Rafik Hariri followed that economic strategy; the Syrians blew him up. The only way to gain social peace is to appease Hizbullah, Syria and Iran, whose disruption blocks prosperity.
One hopes that the McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee are reading Mr. Rubin's column.
The rest of Rubin's column is equally scathing of the apparent Democratic party nominee for the U.S. Presidency, although in addition to his criticism of Senator Obama, he does not spare the present governments of the United States and Israel for their inaction while Hezbollah was rearmed by Iran and Syria, in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701:
Iran and Syria back their friends with weapons and help; the West responds with words backed by nothing. Who can blame Hizbullah and Damascus and Teheran for laughing in contempt?
Why should the Lebanese Sunni, Druze, and Christian majority 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 Teheran, and every European preaching appeasement is engaging in confidence-breaking measures.
In the 1950s, U.S. foreign policy circles debated, "Who Lost China?" If the U.S., Europe, and the U.N. continue to stand by and watch as Hezbollah takes over Lebanon, the debate of the 2010s may be "Who Lost Lebanon?" Or more seriously, "Who Lost the Middle East?" However, one fears that if that becomes the debate topic, there will be no one left to participate in the discussion.