December 10, 2009

Hezbollah's Delusions

Jonathan Spyer has posted a warning at the Global Research in International Affairs Web site for anyone who cares to pay attention. Read the whole thing, but here's the bottom line.

Hezbollah's new manifesto condemns the United States as the "root of all terror," and a "danger that threatens the whole world." The document also reiterates the call for the destruction of Israel, describing the need to "liberate Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa" as a "religious duty" for all Muslims. There is not a shred of evidence to suggest that these sentiments are intended for the printed page only. Indeed, recent visitors to Lebanon speak of a high, almost delusional state of morale among circles affiliated with Hezbollah. In the closed world around the movement, it is sincerely believed that the next war between Israel and Hezbollah will be part of a greater conflict in which Israel will be destroyed.

The true balance of power is rather different, of course. And as Hezbollah slowly swallows other elements of the Lebanese system, the conclusion being reached in Israel is that any differentiation between the movement and the nest it has taken over is increasingly artificial - and will not be maintained in a future conflict.

The history of the region shows that anti-Western ideological waves can indeed eventually be accommodated and dealt with pragmatically - but this cannot be achieved at the moment of their rise. The examples of pan-Arabism and Palestinian nationalism suggest that only following military defeat and socioeconomic failure are flexibility and pragmatism likely to make an appearance. Political Islam has not yet reached this stage. Current events in Lebanon show its local Shi'ite manifestation to be in a state of rude health. It is brushing aside local foes, marching through the institutions, as tactically agile as it is strategically deluded. Yet its latest manifesto suggests that it remains the prisoner of its ideological perceptions. The recent history of the Middle East, meanwhile, indicates that gaps between reality and perception tend to be decided - eventually - in favor of the former.
Posted by Michael J. Totten at December 10, 2009 11:28 PM
Comments

Islam is not noted for being grounded in reality. Following the sack of Baghdad in 1258 by the Mongols, Arab civilization declined. The Age of Translation was over and the Seljuk Turks reached their peak with the fall of Constantinople. The last Muslim astronomical observatory, that was comparable to what existed in the West, was built in 1577. Shortly after that, it was demolished by Janissaries after Taqi al Din, the astronomer, made a prediction for the Sultan that was wrong. Astrology was the undoing of science in the world of Islam and progress ended. The Turks were unaware of the fact that the infidels were progressing far beyond them until the invasion of Egypt by Napoleon in 1798.

Ataturk's attempt at bringing his country into the modern world seems to be failing with the rise of militant Islam again.

Posted by: Mike K Author Profile Page at December 11, 2009 8:42 AM

"Islam is not noted for being grounded in reality." Mike K, Look at Turkey, Dubai, Malaysia, Indonesia, India's 160 million muslims, and China's 60 million muslims. Look at the Sufis. There are many successful muslims. The problem isn't Islam, but extremists.

"Ataturk's attempt at bringing his country into the modern world seems to be failing with the rise of militant Islam again." Prove it. Turkey is more free market now than ever before.

Posted by: anand Author Profile Page at December 11, 2009 9:36 AM

It certainly seems like Iran is on a collision course with the West and definitely Israel. Were open conflict to break out between Israel and Iran, it is likely that Hezbollah will join the fray, especially if they believe they are on the ascendant and that Israel's days are numbered. Naturally, Iran expects Syria to back it in any conflict, but it remains to be seen if the Syrians will be foolish enough to join in. Although they are radical, they are also cautious. Hamas in Gaza will likely shoot missiles, but they aren't game changers.

Despite Goldstone Reports and the like, which argue that Israel has used too much force, Israel's enemies don't realize that Israel hasn't come close to unleashing its full military potential. While Israel has shown restraint in recent conflicts thus far, a multi-front war against it will likely be met with a punishing Israelis response.

I believe that the Iranian regime's days are numbered. Iran is not a police state as Iraq under Saddam was or as Syria is. Young Iranians are sophisticated and connected to the outside world. If and when the masses of the working class join them (and sanctions with teeth will hopefully push them in that direction), I don't see how the regime can stem the tide against it. And Iran is the key to regional stability. Other than financing from wealthy Gulf Arab individuals, what state is going to militarily back Hamas and Hezbollah? And once Hezbollah's patron is out of the picture, they will slowly lose their power and influence.

Unfortunately, this might take years. We don't know how much havoc will be wrecked in the meantime.

Posted by: Semite5000 Author Profile Page at December 11, 2009 11:45 AM

Anand, the problem with the Islamic world is Islam, or more to the point, the example Muhammad set. There can be no such thing as an "extremist" Muslim, only a more devoutly obedient one... and this is why the Islamic world has remained much the same for 1400 years.

In addition, you really ought to think twice before citing city-states that run on what is essentially slave labor, or nations where massacres of kafirs still take place, as examples of modernism and civility.

Posted by: Squires Author Profile Page at December 11, 2009 9:38 PM

I love Turkey but Erdogan is taking it down the road to tyranny. Here is a piece from last year.

The people I have met in Turkey were very pro-west but they are from Istanbul and not the Islamist south. Turkey is throwing its lot in with Iran and Syria although I would take our host's opinion on that topic.

Posted by: Mike K Author Profile Page at December 12, 2009 12:34 PM

"The problem isn't Islam, but extremists."

Mmm, not quite. The problem is that moderate Muslims lack the will to defeat their own extremists with anything other than tyrannical force, which only sets the stage for yet another extremist explosion. For any greater improvement, it seems the West's help is needed.

Posted by: Solomon2 Author Profile Page at December 12, 2009 7:18 PM

"The examples of pan-Arabism and Palestinian nationalism suggest that only following military defeat and socioeconomic failure are flexibility and pragmatism likely to make an appearance."

I am not sure there can be a greater endorsement of Israeli policy and actions than this. I wanted the Israelis to toss Hamas out and set up a liberating regime; MJT prefers to have Gazans twist their own noose.

The next logical step, then, is to advocate the cession of all military and economic aid to Lebanon and Gaza, so they can experience "failure" that much faster.

Posted by: Solomon2 Author Profile Page at December 12, 2009 7:23 PM
Post a comment









Remember personal info?




Winner, The 2008 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Read my blog on Kindle



blogads-blog-button.png


Recommended Reading




Warning: include(): http:// wrapper is disabled in the server configuration by allow_url_include=0 in /home/mjt001/public_html/archives/2009/12/hezbollahs-delu-1.php on line 271

Warning: include(http://michaeltotten.com/mt_essays.php): failed to open stream: no suitable wrapper could be found in /home/mjt001/public_html/archives/2009/12/hezbollahs-delu-1.php on line 271

Warning: include(): Failed opening 'http://michaeltotten.com/mt_essays.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/lib/php:/usr/local/lib/php') in /home/mjt001/public_html/archives/2009/12/hezbollahs-delu-1.php on line 271