- As I mentioned earlier , the Bush administration’s obstruction of peace talks between Israel and Syria has helped Hezbollah and Iran push for control of Lebanon. My new piece on the subject is now up at the American Prospect :
The time, according to Hilal Khashan, was ten minutes past the ceasefire. That was another way of saying ten minutes after another Hezbollah victory, Khashan explained. I phoned Khashan — head of the political science department at Beirut’s American University — several days into Lebanon’s latest armed upheaval. He spoke in a strangely dispassionate tone I’ve heard before in Jerusalem and Ramallah, the voice of a man taking refuge from chaos in careful analysis.
So far, Khashan said on Sunday night, the crisis that erupted last week has yielded “a major achievement” for Hezbollah. Iran, Hezbollah’s patron, has extended its influence in Lebanon. The obvious loser is the pro-Western government of Lebanon’s Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. From Beirut, U.S. support appears to be a phantom; Bush unwilling or incapable of supporting its Lebanese allies.
From the slightly greater distance of Jerusalem, I’d add, there’s another implication of the fire burning anew in Lebanon: The Bush administration’s Middle East policy of confrontation, of trying to isolate opponents, is in tatters. In particular, the administration’s resistance to peace talks between Israel and Syria has only served to strengthen Iran. And time is working in Teheran’s favor. …
- Even for those practiced at believing six impossible things before breakfast , it can be hard to accept that Barack Obama is a Muslim, a follower of a controversial black pastor , and a Marxist too. Edward Luttwak proposed this neat solution : Obama is really an apostate Muslim, subject to the death penalty in Islam. So he will actually be more hated in the Muslim world, and in more danger, than the president who invaded Iraq for no purpose that has withstood historical scrutiny.Ali Ateraz provides a valuable guide to why this thesis contradicts Islamic law and Islamic social realities in a half-dozen different ways.But don’t expect the Obama-as-Muslim smear to vanish; it will merely change shape, as the phantasmagoric fears produced by bigotry always do. For precedents, see under Jewish communist-banker-Zionist-cosmopolitans.
- Trying to dispell the idea that he’s somehow anti-Israel, Obama gave this interview to Jeffrey Goldberg. I realize he has to do this, but my late mom, who introduced me to the line, “Senator, do you still beat your wife” would have warned that Obama is letting himself be baited in a similar way. He should, and could, have responded more forcefully: His opponents’ policies are dangerous to Israel. It’s true, and would put the burden of defense on those who need to defend outdated views.