Part of Hilary Clinton’s Middle East policy is apparently ready to be implemented once she is inaugurated president in January 2017. While the final details have yet to be coordinated with Israel, NATO and the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), they are, however, being advocated and pushed by AIPAC (American Israeli Political Action Committee) on Capitol Hill and among Clinton operatives on the Democratic National Committee.
The policy details how the Clinton administration “will destroy Hezbollah and cut off Tehran’s anti-Arab, anti-Sunni and anti-Christian hegemonic lifeline for its rapidly escalating domination of the Middle East.”
Who/what is Hezbollah? The conservative Wall Street Journal accurately defined it as a home-grown resistance movement born out of a twenty-two year illegal Israeli occupation of south Lebanon. Why, so many years later, this obsession with Hezbollah? As I explain in Tragedy in South Lebanon Israel calls Hezbollah a terrorist group because it wants a reason to destroy it. Remember George W’s war on terrorism—‘you’re either with us or against us’—when he declared that any group the U.S. didn’t like was a terrorist organization? Israel got in on the act and demanded the U.S. declare Hezbollah a terrorist group and insisted it give up its arms. This has not happened because the majority of Lebanese consider a well armed Hezbollah their only deterrent against a future Israeli attack.
Hezbollah is also Israel’s sworn enemy because they succeeded in throwing Israel out of south Lebanon in May 2000, forcing an end to its illegal occupation. No Arab force before had ever dealt Israel such a humiliating blow. However, as with all things in the Middle East, this is only part of the equation.
Geopolitically, there’s a much bigger issue at play—the proxy war between the U.S. and Iran. Using Israel to attack Hezbollah, as it did in the July 2006 war, was an indirect attack on Hezbollah’s backer, Iran. Syria, however, was then and is still the real target because it is the linchpin between Iran and Hezbollah.
During the 2006 war in south Lebanon, the Bush regime wanted Israel to expand the war into Syria. The neocons believed that Israel should have fought directly against the real enemy, the one backing Hezbollah. Since that was impossible, it was decided that Iran’s strategic and important ally, Syria, should be hit. This didn’t happen, however, because Israel got bogged down in Lebanon fighting Hezbollah and was ultimately defeated.
Fast forward to 2016 where Team Clinton thinks Obama’s Middle East policy, particularly with respect to Syria and Hezbollah, is weak and wrongheaded, and it intends to correct this strategic mistake. History will soon decide whether the Clinton administration will be able to “reshape the region” by destroying both Hezbollah and Iran, as Israel’s Netanyahu is insisting she do. Condoleezza Rice, then Bush’s U.S. Secretary of State, didn’t succeed when she declared that the 2006 war in south Lebanon marked the “birth pangs of a new Middle East.”
Destroying or severely crippling Hezbollah is also being advocated as a cheap throw-away, ‘crowd-pleaser,’ for the upcoming Clinton administration, both in Congress where the two sides of the aisle would very likely applaud attacks on Hezbollah as part of a rejuvenated expansion of the US-led War on Terrorism. The Israel lobby is expressing confidence on Capitol Hill that relentlessly targeting Hezbollah militarily and economically will please and embolden Washington’s friends who remain chagrined by Obama’s containment policy in Syria.
It is also being argued that the six GCC monarchies will welcome the Clinton administration’s action. As a result,they are expected to redouble their funding to shore up the Syrian opposition, the so-called “moderate” jihadists. One of Clinton’s advisers, Amos Yadlin, Israel’s former Military Intelligence chief, argues that Israel and the U.S. need to intervene in Syria more actively with a policy that leads to the defeat of “our most bitter enemies: Iran and Hezbollah.” Yadlin makes no secret of the fact that Israel will destroy Hezbollah “next time” it attacks Lebanon.
As an intense anti-Hezbollah campaign gets organized in Washington, the Israeli government already considers itself the winner because it expects to have not only more influence in the Clinton administration but also the green-light to destroy Hezbollah.
Whatever success the Clinton team will have with its perpetual wars and specifically its targeting of Hezbollah and Iran, the region, and Lebanon in particular, appears headed for yet more violence and tragic loss of life.
Tragedy in South Lebanon is available for purchase here: