China and its Discontents

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Astonishing Die Welt Interview with Netanyahu

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This Die Welt interview with Netanyahu conducted on Holocaust Memorial Day (of all days) is astounding for various reasons:

  • Netanyahu compares Günter Grass to a “teenager in a Neo-Nazi party” for calling for inspections of Israel’s nuclear weapons in the poem “What Must Be Said.”
  • Netanyahu cements the Nazi-Iran analogy in front of a German audience.
  • Netanyahu misses any sense of perspective as he makes the jump from the Jewish people in WWII to the nuclear-armed Jewish state, speaking of the “power inversions” Grass makes in his poem when he supposedly conflates aggressors with victims, while completely ignoring the power inversion Netanyahu himself has just made in the analogy with the Holocaust.
  • And finally Netanyahu quotes Bernard Lewis, saying he thinks that in Iran’s mind, “mutually assured destruction is not deterrence but an inducement.” Netanyahu also exclaims, “This is not true!” when the interview begins a question saying, “Iran might be a vile regime but it hasn’t proven to be a suicidal regime…”

I can accept some arguments in favor of the hypothetical of striking Iran’s nuclear weapons program (for example, that Iran’s mere possession of nuclear weapons will remove constraints on Iran, which will respond by increasing its support of and the violence perpetrated by Hamas, Hezbollah, and terrorist and US interests-undermining and state-subverting activities in Iraq and Afghanistan).

But Netanyahu is not making those arguments. Netanyahu is making bad arguments that push the “jihad” mindset onto a nation-state that is interested in expanding its power and influence and preserving its existence like any other state.

Written by Will

April 22nd, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Hezbollah Can’t Claim Victory

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The New York Times’ recent article on the nature of Hezbollah’s current existential predicament was extremely instructive – mainly because many people don’t view Hezbollah’s problems as an issue over its very existence (but it is). The best quote, unfortunately, was wedged toward the bottom:

“Hezbollah doesn’t want to control the government or country, even though they could if they wanted,” said Anis Nakkash, director of the Aman Research Center here in Beirut.

The article identified the problem; that is, Hezbollah can’t consolidate power. But this quote says why: Hezbollah doesn’t want to claim total power. The real reason behind this being, Hezbollah is a militant group, and ruling governments by definition cannot fill the same role as a militancy. An institutionalized Hezbollah is no longer the same Hezbollah that once existed, and the leaders of the group don’t want to lose sight of their original goal: vengeance and destruction upon Israel. Now this is not to say that states that employ terror do not exist. They do. But they generally operate dysfunctionally and are rejected by the global community (Iran, North Korea, China at its worst, etc.).

Hezbollah is on a very shaky path right now. It simply does not have the requisite credibility among the international community to act as a real, normalized stakeholder in any Lebanese government. But it’s also true that we need Hezbollah to become legitimate more than anything – to shake off some of its radical roots, cut off ties with Iran (which might already have happened), and take over some responsibility in representing Lebanese’ interests on the world stage. This outcome is possible, but it will require a careful dance by US diplomats. As for Hamas – well, Hamas is another story. They’re really off the deep end.

Written by Will

January 14th, 2011 at 4:55 am