November 15, 2006

Iran Wants Lebanon Now

If you have any doubt that Iran and Syria are bound and determined to seize Lebanon and yank it into their axis, take a look at what Ayatollah Khamenei has to say about it. From Lebanon's Naharnet:

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said the United States and Israel would be defeated in Lebanon, in talks with speaker Nabih Berri, Iranian media reported Wednesday.

Khamenei praised Berri for his "excellent role" in the July-August war between Hizbullah and Israel, and for the "victory" against the Jewish state, in their meeting on Tuesday.

"What led to this great victory was the unity and harmony between Hizbullah and Amal brothers which must go on in future more strongly than before," said Khamenei.

Berri is the head of the Amal movement that is allied with Hizbullah.

Lebanon "will be the defeat point for Israel and America," the two-arch enemies of the Islamic republic, Khamenei said.

Iran, along with Syria, is accused of arming and financing Hizbullah. Tehran denies the allegation, insisting it only gives "moral" support to the Shiite group.

"Today it is (America's) policies in the world and the region that are bound to fail. These opportunities must be exploited with determination and action," said Khamenei.
Lebanon, tragically, is resuming its historic role as a proxy war battleground for countries more powerful than itself. Just about every group in the country allows itself to be used as a proxy by some nation or other, and so it continues.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at November 15, 2006 02:18 PM


Khamenei pretty much comes out and says, in the open, that Lebanon is a proxy battleground, yet idiots continue to pretend they're acting in the best interests of Lebanon (and this includes Berri himself).

Patriotism? Not so much.

Posted by: bad vilbel at November 15, 2006 03:17 PM

allo totten,

why blame the outside, its our fault for not recognizing the trends and continuing the drug high from abroad (wether US, Syrian Israelie, Iranian and Venezuelan too :),

We dont establish an interface for them to interact with that institutional and national, we just take the opportunity to do it ourselves, fuck institutions. Franjieh goes to Syria (officially), Jumblatt goes to the States (wtf), Hariri goes to France (???) and Nasralla to Iran. Lovely!

Its not the international communities fault, its squarely ours and we keep voting in these bastard and their nonexistent programs (what programs), finally, we continue to reinforce this cycle and every other division cycle ourselves by not recognizing that the problem in lebanon is foundational, the CONSTITUTION needs to be changed

till then, its merry go round lebanon, tribalism and fuedalism, and clientalism, did i leave any other oxfords words out

Posted by: bodhi at November 15, 2006 03:48 PM

It's everybody's fault, Bodhi. Like I said, "Just about every group in the country allows itself to be used as a proxy by some nation or other."

I'm pretty sure, though, that if Syria and Iran were to leave you alone, the US and Israel wouldn't feel they have a big stake in Lebanon either.

Lebanon could be normal if everyone would stay out. The trouble is getting everybody to stay out all at the same time.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 15, 2006 03:53 PM

Bullies continue to bully, and even increase their bullying, when they get away with it.

The Lebanese people need to be willing to fight, with guns not just words, for their own freedom. It's really hard (I know it's so easy to say).

They are IN a "civil war", but the pro-democracy Lebanese forces aren't willing to fight (and lose to) Hezbollah. Which is understandable.

But they don't seem to be preparing to defend themselves, which is less understandable.

Perhaps the March 14 folk ARE preparing, and I'm just not hearing about it?

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at November 15, 2006 03:55 PM

I typed Ezekiel 38 into google and read what is predicted to happen and it sure relates. I heard some Jewish clerics on the radio just after the first time we went into iraq and they commented that these nations would come back in a rage, stay for a while and walk away. Once and a while words are spoken and I wonder if they could be true? Seems that is happening and so Ezekiel 38 says that Israel will win against Iran and Syria, would it be good to explore this further

Posted by: chuck at November 15, 2006 06:04 PM

I'm pretty sure, though, that if Syria and Iran were to leave you alone, the US and Israel wouldn't feel they have a big stake in Lebanon either.


The US's main interest in Lebanon is to keep other governments from using it as a base from which to launch attacks. If other governments weren't there, to us it'd basically be Bahamas-on-the-Med.

Lebanon could be normal if everyone would stay out. The trouble is getting everybody to stay out all at the same time.

Dunno. Lebanon has a weak national identity, a political system that rewards sectarianism, a history of ethnic violence, and no one group strong enough to enforce the rule of law.

I suspect Lebanon would be a chaotic mess no matter what- but it could be a chaotic mess comparable to, say, italian politics instead of, say, northern ireland.

Posted by: rosignol at November 16, 2006 02:04 AM

it could be a chaotic mess comparable to, say, italian politics instead of, say, northern ireland.

Or Iraq.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 16, 2006 02:15 AM

I'd wait until the factions start killing each other before making that comparison.

Right now, NI seems to be most appropriate- the various factions are armed and don't trust each other, but aren't shooting at each other.... pretty much like Lebanon.

Posted by: rosignol at November 16, 2006 03:03 AM

I don't understand any of this talk about "Iran" seizing anything. Look, Lebanon has no border with Iran and Hizbullah has national ambitions. If they takeover they will have their own interests, their own demands, often very different to Iran's.

Any "influence" the Iranians can buy in Lebanon will be dependent on how much aid/arms their willing to give to the Lebanonese government, in which case, we have the same opportunities and infinitely more resources. (to use a Cold War analogy, it's like all those Communist but NONE-SOVIET regimes like Yugoslavia, PRC, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Vietnam etc... so long as the foreign power can't directly militarily subjugate the country (and Iran itself can't in Lebanon), then it will be an effectively independent regime.

Posted by: Craig at November 16, 2006 03:54 AM

(to use a Cold War analogy...

But is the situation in the mid-east really analogous to the Cold War? My impression is that Islam has a unifying potential far greater than that of communism.

Posted by: Michael Smith at November 16, 2006 04:49 AM

"Historic role as a proxy war battleground" is true. Don't just stop at the 75-90 Civil War, by the way, just look at Lebanese history through-out the ages: from the end of the 19th century Ottoman Empire all the way back to when it was a bunch of loosely allied city-states called Phoenecia - the Lebanese have always been ready pawns for outsiders for the right amount of money, glory, strategies, etc...

Is it something in the water?

Posted by: Boomaxer at November 16, 2006 07:32 AM


You have, perhaps, forgotten the Hungarian uprising in 1956 or th Berlin airlift? Counter examples to your theory to say the least.

Posted by: JBP at November 16, 2006 08:12 AM

My impression is that Islam has a unifying potential far greater than that of communism.

I don't think that's true at all. If people in Lebanon start killing each other (again) it will be Muslim-on-Muslim violence. See Iraq. There is absolutely no way in hell even Lebanon could be united under Islam. (Let's forget the Christians and Druze exist for the moment.) And Lebanon is only about the same physical size as Los Angeles.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 16, 2006 11:09 AM

Craig: I don't understand any of this talk about "Iran" seizing anything.

They do it through Syria and Hezbollah. Syria is a client state of Iran, and Hezbollah is a client militia of both.

The Syrian/Iranian/Hezbollah axis already dictates when and with whom Lebanon fights its wars.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 16, 2006 11:12 AM

Lebanon is doomed to become an Iranian vassel possession unless the USA turns the military assets of Syria and Iran into a pile of smoking rubble...soon.

Posted by: R'in Boulder at November 16, 2006 05:40 PM

"The place where the Gods go to play, laughing despite the desolation their toys leave as they frolic."

Seems more and more that Iran is positioning itself into a new axis of power to oppose the United States and Israel. Since they can't gain notoriety in an alliance with the United States, they'll gain notoriety as the enemy of the United States.

"Better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven."

Posted by: Berkeley Non-Conformist at November 16, 2006 07:24 PM

Hi Michael,

In October I wrote the following to a friend in response to a misguided petition by the Wiesenthal Foundation to declare suicide bombing a crime against humanity. It's not that I'm against the sentiment but am doubtful as to its usefulness and worse, it misses that whole point of the recent round of wars. I think I'm right but tell me where you think my reasoning is wrong. I got a lot of criticism for saying it:

I wonder why Wiesenthal is so zeroed in on suicide terrorism and not just terrorism as a whole, which is a crime against... humanity, yes, but, more importantly the political structures that make "humanity" (if what we mean by that is civilization) possible. It’s crime against the concept of the nation state which is our only means to make agreements between different peoples while allowing each the freedoms of their own cultures within their own lands. Under the nation-state model, nations can arrange any kind of trade or other business, each respecting the others' sovereignty. We may not respect what they do within their boundaries but we live and let live so long as they do the same. And this is the crime of terrorism: that non-state actors try, with violence and its threat, to bend the wills of sovereign states without any legitimate right to do so; not legitimate because they are unaccountable.

The people of Canada, for example, and only they, should determine their policies: all of them, without threat from outside parties. Terrorism is comparable to rape with a knife to the throat of a nation. This is no way to influence policy.

The real villains in this charade are the state actors who harbor these terrorists. They do so knowingly and pretend to abhor them. President Bush started out on the right foot: to paraphrase: the enemy is anyone who uses force or threats of force and all those who give them aid to influence the policies of sovereign nations. Somehow he has tragically forgotten that and so has Wiesenthal. The recent war in Lebanon was not between Israel and Hiz'b'allah but Israel and Lebanon. We do not recognize Hiz'b'allah as a sovereign state: as such it is not covered by treaty or convention, all of which pertain to nation states because nation-states can be held responsible for their actions.

That is why Lebanon was responsible for the actions of Hiz’b’allah: because only it can be held accountable for what transpires within its boundaries. That Lebanon is split along religious lines makes it very hard for them to uproot their armed rivals, I know. Sovereignty isn’t easy: if one wants it, one has to fight for it. A nation cannot have two armies and two commanders. For Lebanese politicians to blame Israel for their lack of sovereignty is absurd. For the rest of the nations to buy it is to destroy the whole structure upon which their sovereignty rests. What is the United Nations if there are no nations, each having their own sovereign laws and responsibilities to the international community? A petition to repeal UNSCR 1701 would make more sense.

Terrorism is a crime against the political order under which peace, if fugitive, is at least possible. When that possibility disappears terrorism becomes a crime against humanity. Why this should only be true of blowing up oneself with others in a hotel or bus but not just blowing up an embassy without being killed oneself I can't imagine. What the heck's the difference?

This is one of those petitions I’d love to sign, if only they could get it right.

Posted by: Abu Nudnik at November 16, 2006 09:12 PM

When that possibility disappears terrorism becomes a crime against humanity.

The problem is that no government prosecutes crimes against 'humanity'- governments prosecute crimes against themselves or their citizens.

I concur that governments need to be held accountable for what their proxies do, but the only body capable of doing so at this time is a government stronger and (to be frank) meaner than the government that is using proxies to commit atrocities.

The US may try to be the world's policeman- and I think the world is a better place for it than it would be otherwise- but even the US can only do so much.

Posted by: rosignol at November 16, 2006 10:09 PM


I think you make a good point and have a fundamental insight to offer. Nonetheless, I think your are a bit off base. Simply put, an action can be a crime against many people on many levels. Condemning an action for being a crime against humanity does not imply that it is not a crime against the state. An action can logically be both to an equal extent. You mention rape. Saying that rape is a sexual crime does not imply that it is not a violent crime.

Your point would be more logical and better received if you change your focus from "suicide bombing is mostly not a crime against humanity" to "suicide bombing is both a crime against humanity and a crime against the state."

Take care.

Posted by: JBP at November 17, 2006 08:36 AM

"Since they can't gain notoriety in an alliance with the United States..."

Is it a question of cannot or will not? You may find this hard to believe, but many a state does not burn with desire to be our clients. As you so aptly put it, "Better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven."

Posted by: JBP at November 17, 2006 08:42 AM

Churchill wrote a paper early 1900s where he clearly detailed that a religion based upon the chopping off of hands and heads is mean and wrong. Not to be encouraged.

Today the clear truth is often confused with political incorrectness.

Blair and Bush failed mainly in the area of communications. They failed to get a clear picture across with the dots joined.

The Miscreant Spin Media is a sewer pipe jumble of news, fluff and curious entertainment.

I can provide a better thumbnail sketch right here.

Ahmadinejad and the mullahs of Iran can not resist bullying the Western free world because of their amassed wealth, weapons from Belarus, loyalty from Putin, and the multi-Billion$ pipelines across Pakistan that are lifelines for China.

Iran is able to strike out at the West using Hezballah against Israel and Muqtada Al Sadr Blackshirts against troops and Sunni in Iraq.

Iran sees no reason that their borders could not extend to include Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and even Israel.

Due to losses in the midterm elections, it seems that Bush and the Pubs are about to withdraw from Iraq with Maliki*s assurances. Wonder if Muqtada can resist killing a few thousand on their way out.

Not a moral or noble move because of all the potential bloodletting of innocents, including those who risked their lives and purple fingers for peace and democracy.

The label * Paper Tiger *, is now permanently fixed to the USA.

This tradition of pulling our punches, more or less began with the bombing of 241 marines in Lebanon in 1983. Reagan ordered a counter-hit on Hizballah and Secretary wineberger foolishly cancelled the hit.

Pulling punches was USA modus operandi through Carter and Clinton to this very day.

Taliban, Al Qaeda, and the Muslim terrorists like Muqtada were inspired when Russia Backed out of Afghanistan. I can imagine how inspired they will be with the latest retreat.

While the Sunni are a minority in Iraq, there are many Sunni and others in surrounding countries who understand the suffocating oppression Iranian mullahs will impose.

They, at least, will deliver some spirited resistance to Ahmadinejad. = TG

PS, This is how it looks to a late arrival. Adjust this snapshot with fact please; not just emotion.

Posted by: TG at November 17, 2006 10:44 AM

I don't think that's true at all. If people in Lebanon start killing each other (again) it will be Muslim-on-Muslim violence. See Iraq. There is absolutely no way in hell even Lebanon could be united under Islam. (Let's forget the Christians and Druze exist for the moment.) And Lebanon is only about the same physical size as Los Angeles.

Fair enough, I grant that there is plenty of Muslim-on-Muslim violence.

However, I wasn't referring to the unity of a nation's population. Rather, the question is what happens if Hizbullah succeeds in toppling the Lebanese government. Will they be an independent regime with their own agenda, as were the various communist regimes that sprung up around the world back when the USSR was around? Or will they be beholden to Iran?

Posted by: Michael Smith at November 17, 2006 12:15 PM

Part of the Iranosphere, certainly. = TG

Posted by: TG at November 17, 2006 12:45 PM

Dear Rosignol,

I agree wholeheartedly with you. Perhaps I should have included more context but I don't want to bore: my missive came out of Wiesenthal's obsession with suicide bombings, crimes against humanity, etc. When I say "crime against humanity" (which is a clunky term at best) what I mean to say is that the formal structures of diplomatic relations (including war) are all we have to go on to make an effort to provide peaceful freely chosen relationships between groups of people who manage to maintain some form of autonomy. This requires mutual respect and a self-cleaning state.

We agree that only states can be responsible for their territories and therefore they must be made to be so, by force, if necessary. Certainly the US is not superman and cannot do everything. What needs to happen is that many states need to step up and pitch in more. Tony Blair went out on a limb, Stephen Harper slightly less so (since the Liberals preceded him into Afghanistan) and John Howard less so. In Canada, where I live, the Minister of Defence makes frequent pleas to NATO powers to please help. These help insulate Harper from an unpopular decision while bringing, I would hope, some necessary soul-searching amongst our putative Western allies.

Dear JBP: I see no disagreement between us at all, at least none of substance: everything can be thought of in many different modes simultaneously and it annoys me frankly to be be drafted into a contest that belongs behind the pissoire. Just as Lebanon must police its own sovereignty, so must we here, if we are seriously going to cooperate toward what common goals we find here. I regret the need to say this but must. Many blogs go off haywire and some elitist journalists who wish to demonstrate their bona fides to "keep the gate" of the news love to point to this kind of rancor. Indeed, it is the very same war, and the pride that brings monsters to power in far off lands to butcher to taste are within every one of us here, myself included. In this, teh Muslims are not wrong: there is an internal jihad to be fought and won.

Posted by: Abu Nudnik at November 17, 2006 08:59 PM

The Iranians should visit Nahr el-Kalb. At its outlet to the sea, you can find the old traces of all the armies that passed through Lebanon. Egyptian, Assyrians, Turcs, ... even as far as French, New Zealand and Australia. Not one stayed.

Some did not even leave a trace; aside the from teh enduring sleaze, the Syrians left nothing. At this rate, hey are lucky if they leave much in Syria.

Iran is in no better shape; in its confrontation with the West, it is wasting precious dollars tha tit needs for its development...

Posted by: Jeha at November 19, 2006 12:46 AM

Read over at Iraq the Model Mohammed is saying that Iran is trying to take Iraq as well:

The mass abduction that shocked Baghdad yesterday was intended to be a clear message from Tehran-through its surrogates in Baghdad-to anyone who thinks productive dialogue with the Islamic republic over Iraq and Middle East peace is a possible option.

The operation was a show of victory and it was so smooth and perfect that neither the MNF nor the Iraqi military could do a thing to stop it.
And today the show continues with the assassination of the colonel who's in charge of internal investigation in the department of national police, also known as the police commandos, one day after an investigation was ordered.

Did Iran misunderstand the American democracy?
Absolutely yes and Tehran is planning and working according to this faulty impression.

Iran now considers itself the victor and it will not negotiate for peace but instead will try to impose conditions to accept America's surrender.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 20, 2006 12:51 PM
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