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By Barry Rubin

The New York Times has an editorial that says this:

“Lebanon’s next prime minister, Najib Mikati, owes his job to Hezbollah. That is regrettable and dangerous. It will heighten Lebanon’s divisions, antagonize Western donors (including the United States) and complicate the work of the international tribunal set up to try the killers of Rafik Hariri, a former prime minister. …We hope he can still find ways to put Lebanon’s interests first and dare Hezbollah to challenge him.”

Where has the Times been for the last three years as this crisis has been building?

Why did its correspondent say a few days earlier that this wasn’t going to happen?

As for the newspaper’s hope that a prime minister handpicked by Hizballah, in power at their pleasure, facing the country’s strongest militia, and knowing that this group kills people who “dare” it “to challenge him,” this is the very definition of wishful thinking.

At least the Times calls Hizballah an Iranian-backed terrorist group, or rather it began that way, leaving the door open that it might have changed. It also says that if the new government doesn’t pursue the investigation of assassinations in Lebanon the United States should cut off military aid.

When it comes to pressuring Israel, the Times wants the U.S. government to act decisively. When it comes to revolutionary Islamist terrorists who are clients of Iran and Syria it just mainly hopes things will turn out ok.

After all, the issue is not just the investigation, but the fact that a long-time U.S. ally is now ruled by revolutionary Islamist terrorists in the Iran-Syria orbit.

Might that be a serious strategic challenge?

Might it call for reevaluating past failed policies?

Might it suggest that the United States should support Israel more to defend itself from this new challenge?

Could there be some admission that five years after the United States and UN promised Israel to keep Hizballah out of southern Lebanon, block arms smuggling to it from Syria, and even help disarm it that all of these promises to Israel have been broken?

Might the Times call for a new U.S. strategy to block the spread of Islamist revolution?

No answer; no serious consideration is given.

Is this what the once-superpower United States is reduced to being? Waiting until everything is lost and then hoping that its enemies will act directly contrary to their own interests and views?

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict, and Crisis (Palgrave Macmillan), Conflict and Insurgency in the Contemporary Middle Eastand editor of the (seventh edition) (Viking-Penguin), The Israel-Arab Reader the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria(Palgrave-Macmillan), A Chronological History of Terrorism (Sharpe), and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). 

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