Hezbollah and the Afghan War

January 13, 2011

Hezbollah and the Afghan War

Now that Hezbollah has brought down Lebanon's government (the militant group held ten of thirty positions in Prime Minister Saad Hariri's cabinet) what should be done? The Hezbollah ministers resigned over the forthcoming results of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (more coverage here and here), set up to investigate who killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (Saad's father). Writing in the New York Times, author Thanassis Cambanis says that the move is intended to force Lebanon to reject the tribunal, as Hezbollah "cannot afford the blow to its popular legitimacy that would occur if it is pinned with the Hariri killing." Cambanis urges the current prime minister to "stand firm in Hezbollah's game of chicken" because rejecting the tribunal would completely strip him of whatever authority he has left. But the problem, the author acknowledges, is that the militant movement "is willing to sacrifice the Lebanese state" for its own ends, and therefore is likely to win the latest political standoff.

Andrew Exum says that's unfortunately probably true and takes issue with some of the Times's reporting on the government's collapse. And he thinks Hezbollah's following is so strong that it won't even matter if some of its members are indicted for the Hariri assassination.

But the blogosphere is really buzzing about the Afghanistan Study Group's new poll on what conservatives think about the war. Or rather, bloggers are talking about what one conservative in particular is saying about the poll and the war. Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, according to James Joyner, "believes fiscal conservatives, desperate to slash the massive budget deficit, yearn to join together with the center-left and end the war." As the Huffington Post reports, Norquist is calling for "an honest conversation on the right," which he believes "would inevitably lead to [the] conclusion" that America should withdraw from Afghanistan." Max Boot calls Norquist's effort "laughable" and says he ignores "the rather substantial costs of defeat." Josh Mull frames Boot's argument like this (and he's not far off): "If you want to end the war in Afghanistan, you want Hitler to win World War II!" Matt Lewis has more on the conservative split over the war that has reared its head in recent years.

And finally, the op-ed pages are full of other foreign-policy commentary. On China, check out TNI contributor and Pew President Andrew Kohut in the Wall Street Journal, and German Marshall Fund fellow Daniel Twining in the Washington Post. Here's retired Army Brigadier General Steven Anderson in the Times on how the U.S. military can protect troops by conserving energy. And Vets for Freedom directors Peter Hegseth and Wade Zirkle stump for a fifth star on General David Petraeus's lapel.