Barry Rubin's got that right. The reaction of the United States and other western countries to this coup by Hezb'allah is far too sanguine. A mild threat to cut off aid (by an unnamed diplomat) plus Secretary Clinton's low key, almost ho hum response yesterday to the ascension of a Hezb'allah/Syrian/Iranian proxy to the prime ministership just doesn't cut it.
These are gangsters we are dealing with. There simply is no other way to describe their modus operandi. Dr. Barry Rubin of the Gloria Center explains:
Fareed Zakaria, the wildly overrated American pundit, has invented a new term, referring to Hizballah as "a quasi-terrorist group." What does this mean? It means that Hizballah runs in elections but then if it doesn't get its way it kills people.This is exactly what happened. The March 14th forces friendly to the west clearly won the parliamentary elections last summer, winning a clear majority of seats. But through threats and intimidation, Hezb'allah was able to 1) engineer a scenario where they were able to dictate to the majority the number of ministers they should have in the cabinet (enough to bring the government down whenever they felt like it), and 2) carry out a coup by threatening the lives of just enough members of the majority coalition to force them to go along with their choice for new prime minister.
Classic gangsterism, worthy of Capone, Lansky, or Gotti. Rubin goes on:
Of course, Hizballah is not going to convert Lebanon into an Islamist republic. Why start a civil war with the Christians and Sunni Muslims. Just leave them alone in their territorial enclaves. But the Islamists and their partners will control the apparatus of state, foreign policy, and all the key decisions.
How did the leading Arab newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat describe the situation? By saying that Iran will now control Lebanon.
The French government has accepted, even endorsed, this outcome.
What do you think the rest of the region is going to take away from this? America cannot or will not protect you.Islamism and Iran are the wave of the future. Submit or die. And that's even before Tehran gets nuclear weapons. The way things are going, maybe Iran doesn't even need them.
And where is the United States? Asleep. Determined to prove that it doesn't throw its weight around, rationalizing a terrible defeat as insignificant, it hasn't even taken a stance. Now it's too late.
Last year, the United States and Europe accepted the secure establishment of a revolutionary Islamist state that is a client of Iran and Syria on the Mediterranean. This may be the year of seeing a second such state come into existence. Of course, the situation in Lebanon will be far more subtle and nuanced but in strategic terms it amounts to something very similar.
An interesting discussion of Lebanon on my radio show last night with AT's Rich Baehr, Tony Badran of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and Tom Harb, Secretary General of the World Council of the Cedar Revolution.