Thursday, August 17, 2006

Reading Between The Lines

Many conclusions could be drawn from Shepard Smith's interview with Lebanese President Emile Lahoud yesterday. Any conclusion would have to include the facts of what he actually said. And, what he said basically parroted statements that were made by Hezbollah Field Marshall Hassan Nasrallah. Notable were these statements by Lahoud that matched, word for word, those made by Nasrallah:
"Israel planned the attack on Lebanon, because Lebanon was gaining wealth and becoming a financial power in the world...the kidnapped soldiers were just an excuse to attack Lebanon."
"Hezbollah saved Lebanon from being conquered by Israel."
"Hezbollah is not a terror group. It is a security militia for Lebanon."
"All the Arab nations are behind Hezbollah now, because of its victory over Israel."

Keep in mind, as you read these quotes, that Lahoud is a Lebanese Christian. This is very important in understanding the argument I will present shortly.
39% of the Lebanese population is Christian. Historically, Hezbollah, while being a beneficiary to low income Lebanese Shia, has not been kind to the Christians. During the long civil war, since 1982, Hezbollah has been guilty of massacres and other acts of terrorism against the Christian population. It is highly unlikely that Lahoud would speak highly of the organization out of his own convictions. His intensity, judging by his body language, seemed to be the product of anxiety, rather than conviction.
Already, pundits are speculating that the Lebanese government is reacting in the manner it is with the intention of avoiding civil war. This is a legitimate point--the majority of the Shiite population openly and fully supports Hezbollah, as do a large portion of the Lebanese military forces. For the Lebanese government to disarm Hezbollah in accordance with UN Resolution 1559, would obviously react violently against the government, with enough popular support among the Shiites to overthrow the government. There is also the anger, justifiable to every Lebanese citizen, as they see the destruction and carnage caused by the Israeli retaliation.
There were, however, many red flags raised in the interview , which pointed to an even deeper and more diabolical influence, by Hezbollah upon the government. First of all, Lahoud's body language seemed to say "I am being forced to say these things."
In the Middle East, it is common in nearly everybody to have the tendency to "talk with his or her hands." Though President Lahoud's hands could not be seen on camera, from the way his arms were tight against his ribs, and the way he was leaning forward, it was obvious that he was purposefully avoiding hand movement, perhaps literally sitting on them, or, more likely, holding them clasped between his knees. This is a sign of anxiety, not conviction, and that he may have been under duress.
Hezbollah's state within a state has created a fear society within Lebanon. There is a practice within fear society which Natan Sharansky, in his book The Case For Democracy, calls "doublethink." Unable to speak his or her mind, for fear of retaliation and penalty, the speaker says one thing while sending signals to "read between the lines." As Sharansky, a political prisoner for nine years in the Soviet Union, put it, "I say these words with my mouth, but I am speaking the truth with my eyes."
Take, for instance, Lahoud's statement, "Israel cannot use the depleted uranium weapons, the bunker busting bombs, or the smart bombs sent to them by the United States against Hezbollah. These weapons kill only Lebanese women and children."
On the surface, this statement does have truth to it, and the manner in which it was said was to praise Hezbollah in avoiding casualties due to their tactics. But between the lines--and this was one of the easiest statements to read--Lahoud was acknowledging that Hezbollah was using Lebanese civilians as human shields.
When Shep Smith pressed the Lebanese President on the issue of Hezbollah's Katyusha rockets targeting Israeli civilians, including Israeli Arabs, Lahoud refused to answer the question, instead reiterating that the IDF had "massacred" Lebanese women and children. However, as he said this, he was clearly under stress, his body rocking back and forth, his hands still clenched between his knees. Between the lines, he was saying, I cannot acknowledge that Hezbollah attacked Israeli civilians. Hezbollah won't let me answer that.
Perhaps the most shocking of Lahoud's statements was that he did not know what Hezbollah did in their military operations against Israel. He claimed that the terrorist group was in fact the "Security force" for Lebanon. "If we know what Hezbollah is doing," he said, "then it would just be like another military unit, and would be weaker. By nobody knowing what Hezbollah is doing, they are stronger."
It would be unthinkable that the President--the Commander In Chief of the military forces--would not know what a military unit is doing. What Lahoud was actually saying here is Hezbollah is out of our control.
It is obvious what is going on here. Hezbollah holds the government hostage. Lebanese politicians have to be careful of what they say, for fear for their own lives and the lives of their families. Assassinations and kidnappings could come at any moment. I have written in an earlier post that the Lebanese government cannot be considered a democracy as long as there is an armed terrorist militia influencing that government, and the current situation clearly illustrates my point.
Nasrallah controls the government through fear. In spite of his statement that he didn't think that Israel's reaction would be so strong, he knew very well that it would be, for it is clear that Israel's deterrent against attack is that they would respond with force tenfold that which is initiated against them. He knew that the collateral damage in Lebanon would be large, in spite of IDF's practice of warning civilians to leave the area before they attacked. Hezbollah's initial incursion against Israel was actually a calculated attack against Lebanon, so that Rasemallah could gain control. And, he certainly is in control now.
What does this mean to the United States? In the name of diplomacy--God, how I hate what we have to do in the name of diplomacy--our government is planning on throwing more money at the problem. The Administration and the State Department feel the need to compete with Hezbollah (Iran) in funding humanitarian aid and to help rebuild Lebanon from the war damage. What the US, and every other free nation, should be doing is to tie humanitarian aid to ways the Lebanese government could put Hezbollah at bay. All the talking has been done, and, in this case, talk isn't cheap, it's expensive. The free world should be giving Iran notice that there will be no refined gasoline, no technology, no trade, no financial aid until Iran stops supporting Hezbollah. The UN should demand, as General Sada suggests in his book Saddam's Secrets, that Syria immediately turn over all the Iraqi missiles and weapons of mass destruction it has been holding since March of 2003, lest these weapons be obtained by Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations Syria supports. Only then, will we see a light at the end of the tunnel.

2 comments:

yellowdog granny said...

instead of getting angrier about this war..i just keep getting sadder..

RevJim said...

It is sad--Lebanon, trying to make a new democracy work, is losing to outside interests and influences, Israel has been fighting for its right to exist for nearly 50 years, and does not need to create new enemies. The two countries should not be at war with each other.