Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Blowing Lebanon

Just like Neville Chamberlain's kissing up to Hitler sealed the fate of Czechoslovakia, Obama's insistence on kissing up to the Iranian mullahs may have sealed the fate of Lebanon, and the normally low-key Saudis, nominally our second-best allies in the region, are furious:
Once a key U.S. partner in the Middle East, the Saudis are unhappy with the Obama administration, and thus the United States. They are angry that the White House never consulted them about helping to bring down the Mubarak regime in Egypt. But their greatest wrath is reserved for the U.S. government’s failure to oppose the Iranian regime’s expansionism and subversion.
In one Wikileaks-leaked State Department document after another, Riyadh’s anger is apparent. The “traditionally confrontation-averse” Saudis — as a phrase in one of the reports calls them — also make clear that the threat of force as well as words is necessary to stop Iran. A recently released secret 2009 U.S. State Department memo written for General Petraeus discussed this Saudi view of Iran and U.S. policy toward Iran at length:
The Saudis see a dangerous Shia power bent on destabilizing the region. … They remain concerned that we might be prepared to accept an enhanced role for Iran in the region in exchange for concessions on its nuclear program.
In other words, the Saudis thought the United States might sell them out. The king correctly predicted that the Obama engagement policy toward Iran would fail.
The king wasn't the only one.  Pretty much anyone with common sense predicted that.  But with the possible exception of Huillary Clinton, common sense has been consistently lacking in Obama's foreign policy circles.

The story of Lebanon is ugly.  Straight appeasement.  Mind-numbingly stupid appeasement.  Short story long:
In Lebanon, the government was ruled by the pro-Western, pro-Saudi March 14 alliance. That Sunni Muslims, Christian, and Druze coalition was a bulwark against the heavily armed, pro-Iranian Hizballah, and to Iranian and Syrian influence. The Saudis early on appreciated the danger of a takeover by radical forces and the need to do something about it. In 2007, Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Abdulaziz Khoja told then-U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman that he doubted “whether the GOL [Government of Lebanon] and the March 14 forces had the strength to sustain the fight over the long term” without significant outside help.
He urged that Washington support a covert program of arming the moderates, telling Feltman: “We must help [March 14 leaders] Saad (Hariri), Walid (Jumblatt), and even (Samir) Geagea with money and arms.” While some Christian and Druze militias trained, they lacked arms. They were in no way as strong as the immensely equipped Hizballah. There is no real trained and equipped Sunni Muslim armed force at all. Apparently, the U.S. government did nothing.
A little over a year later, Hizballah defied the government’s demand to shut down its fiber optic network that some Lebanese leaders claimed was being used to spy on the government and others. In response, Hizballah mobilized its military forces, briefly seized half of Beirut — an easy task since there were few organized Sunni Muslim, pro-government defenders — and attacked the Druze-inhabited Shouf region with artillery and armed units. The martial Druze stopped the advance.
[T]he U.S. government again did nothing. Faisal’s warnings proved precisely correct. By a mixture of intimidation, bribery, and electoral success that offered some debt to the first two methods, Hizballah toppled the government, placed a friendly prime minister in power, and continued to arm itself with ever more advanced weapons.
The Saudi readiness to respond to Tehran’s moves in the region and willingness to use their money and even armed forces against Iran and its allies provided an example for U.S. policy. When an often quiescent Arab state known for preferring low-profile and checkbook diplomacy sounds the call to put up a fight and take risks because the danger is so tremendous, maybe it knows more than the Obama administration officials in Washington about what needs to be done.
Kissing up to enemies and disrespecting friends is a great way to end up friendless.  Alone.  And thanks to Obama and his foreign policy team, America is on a straight shot towards alone.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this on Lebanon Political environment :)