Last week, premier left-blogger James Wolcott declared that it was hip to back Hezbollah, the fanatic Shiite terrorist organization that thinks it’s just grand for Lebanon to be under the foot of Syria. The Wolcott party line was that the Hezzies might blow up people and other stuff in Israel, which is a Good Thing thing because Israel is a Bad Thing, but they pose no threat to us. If you bring up the fact that Hezbollah was almost certainly behind the 1983 barracks bombing that killed 200 U.S. Marines–why you’re just indulging in Hez-teria. Here’s what Wolcott wrote:
“So what we have here is another well-financed neocon operation, gearing up post-Iraq to frighten Americans about Hezbollah and to push for US premptive intervention. Hezbollah–‘Iran-backed shock troops,’…will be equated with the Taliban, and just as Afghanistan had to be attacked for harboring the Taliban, countries that harbor, finance, and otherwise support Hezbollah must Face the Consequences.”
Now, of course there’s a nascent democracy movement in Lebanon, and the Lebanese, resembling the Americans in 1776, want to get rid of the Syrian occupation that has turned their country, once one of the most prosperous and enterprising on the Levant, into yet another rundown, strife-torn Mideast backwater. So the new liberal meme is that the Hezbollah-heads are democrats, too, just democrats of a different kind who want Lebanon to be a little less…democratic. So, when the party called out a demonstration on Tuesday of 500,000 guys screaming anti-Bush slogans and waving signs reading “We (Heart) Bashar Assad,” the left-bloggers interpreted that as a sign that progress and freedom were alive and well in Beiruit. Rather like the way liberals interpret the Million Mom March as a sign that most Americans support draconian bans on guns.
Here’s Matthew Yglesias:
“I don’t really think the anti-Hezbollah paranoia so often on display in America is warranted, but there you have it. As I’ve been saying, it’s never really been clear to me why people thought they could blithely conflate Lebanese democracy with Syrian pullback from Lebanon. These are just different things. Interrelated, yes, but still different.”
And here’s Talk Left:
“President Bush says Democracy is coming to the Middle East, while 500,000 answered the Hezbollah call and protested in Lebanon today.”
Any enemy of Bush is a friend of Talk Left.
My favorite analysis comes from the New York Times’s Thomas Friedman, who thinks the Hezbollah folks aren’t bad people, just conflicted:
“[S]omething tells me that those Hezbollah demonstrators who were waving the picture of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, were uncomfortable. And this is Hezbollah’s weak spot: deep down, it and its supporters know that when they raise the pictures of Syria’s president, they are raising the question of whose interests they have at heart.
“If democracy in Lebanon is going to re-emerge in a reasonably stable way, Lebanese democratic forces have to constantly be inviting Hezbollah to join them. After all, Hezbollah represents an important and powerful trend among Lebanon’s Shiites, most of whom are patriots eager to see Lebanon independent and united. At the same time, though, the Lebanese democrats need to constantly and loudly ask Hezbollah – and get the U.N. and the European Union to constantly and loudly ask Hezbollah — ‘Why are you waving the picture of the Syrian president? Whose side are you on?'”
I can answer that question, even if Tom can’t. And I won’t even get into parsing that bit about the “U.N. and the European Union.”