by Barry Rubin
Two Mistakes That
People are aware—at least those people who don’t get all their news from certain sources—that the Obama Administration is messing up a lot on foreign policy, especially in the
So here’s a wonderful example of what happens due to two seemingly small errors, shown during Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s appearance on the Charlie Rose interview show.
“The Iranians not only worry us because of their nuclear program, they worry us because of their support for terrorism, their support for the military wing of Hezbollah, their support for Hamas, their interference in the internal affairs of their neighbors, trying to destabilize gulf countries and other countries throughout the greater region.”
This was in the context of a relatively tough statement, right? But note two things: a tiny detail in the paragraph above and later on in this article (patience, please, it will be worth it) the explanation of
Can you find the error? Ok, I’ll tell you: the words “military wing of Hezbollah.” This is a gimmick used by Hizballah [my transliteration] and Hamas, too, to fool people in the West. It is used by advocates of engagement with these radical Islamist terrorist groups in places like
Sure, they say, there is a military wing and a political wing. The latter is moderate or becoming so and thus you can negotiate with them separately. This is rubbish. There is no such differentiation except for normal administrative purposes. The same leadership and doctrine runs both.
So one could interpret this slip—and I do believe it was a slip—as a change in
The public manifestation of this came from Sami Moubayed, who may have the distinction of being the smartest of the Syrian intellectuals who serve as a flak for the regime. In an article, he wrote:
“Clinton's statement on the Charlie Rose show came only 24 hours after Sa'ad Hariri had formed a cabinet of national unity [in Lebanon], which includes two members of Hezbollah. “
“Never since the
In other words, this shows that the Syrian regime is using the statement to reinforce Hizballah’s power, and thus its own and that of
But what choice do they have? The West didn’t help them; the
What the Syrians and their Lebanese allies are saying is sort of the equivalent, so to speak, of what Japanese soldiers yelled at Americans across the trenches in World War Two:
“GI Joe! Give up! You can’t win! Hillary is with us! Surrender and we’ll give you a nice bed, a hot meal, and a ticket out of this war.”
When you make friends with dictators, you sell out their victims, thus strengthening the dictators. So now Hizballah and
But that’s not all. Here’s Clinton’s analysis of U.S. policy toward Iran:
“Iran has given us many reasons to worry about their motivation and their action, but I think what President Obama has tried to do since becoming president, is to create a dynamic where, look, we don't have to trust or love each other to understand that it is in our interest to try to stabilize the world. It is not in
Let’s consider her argument. It is in Iran’s interest to have nuclear arms when others don’t have them, believing that there won’t be a “nuclear arms race in the Gulf” since it’s doubtful the Saudis will obtain them and certain that Iraq and the smaller states won’t. So she’s wrong there.
It is in
And by being so weak it is the Obama Administration itself that signals
The interviewer then says to her: “They'll have to deal with the consequences.”
But is that the way the world works with Obama’s policy? No. Indeed, the interviewer then states:
“Is there anything that we can do to say to them, `We understand your fear. We understand your paranoia. We ask you what…can we do to convince you that nuclear weapons are not in your interest?’”
And, of course and correctly,
But here’s what the interviewer does not ask her, I made this up:
“Is there anything that we can do to say to them, `We are going to increase your fear. We are going to play on your paranoia. We are going to make life really miserable for you with constant verbal attacks, applying very big sanctions right away, help the opposition subvert you, and have credible power to make you tremble that we might attack in order to convince you that nuclear weapons are not in your interest?”
See the difference? This, to quote
“If this were a confident leadership, they would accept the
Say what? If they are confident they’d give up but if they are really scared then they’ll defy the world? She has it backward: It is because they are so confident that they can say to
But do you see what’s wrong with this formulation of
But if the reason
And on the failure to understand that distinction, Obama’s foreign policy is going down big-time.
PS: Back in in August, the Obama Administration issued a statement saying it had not changed its policy on Hizballah after John Brennan, the president's terrorism advisor (see here and here) strongly implied that Hizballah had a peaceful political wing.
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.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.