Via this Volokh Conspiracy post, I found this interview with Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah. Starting with Mohammed himself, Muslim leaders have a long history of lying when it suits their purposes, so I think his claims must viewed with some skepticism.
Nasrallah claims widespread but quiet support from Arab rulers and people:
[Nasrallah] … Today, I do not expect anything from certain Arab rulers. Now if you ask me about what I expect from the nation, I know that if you examine the hearts of all people in the Arab and Muslim nations, they are with us. They may sit in front of television screens, cry, and show emotions. If they hear good news, they may stand up, clap, and show joy; if they hear sad news, they may cry and feel sad; and if they have the chance to show genuine emotions, they would do so. I have no doubt about this. I am even certain that some sons, daughters, and wives of some Arab rulers are with us. But I tell the Arab rulers, I do not want your swords and I do not even want your hearts. To say it in Lebanese slang, the only thing I want from you is leave us alone. Sit on the fence and have nothing to do with us. You have said what you said, thank you, go and rest. Today, there is a war that was imposed on Lebanon whose aim is to liquidate everything called resistance and resistance men in Lebanon and punish Lebanon for the defeat it inflicted on Israel. In fact, the war on Lebanon aims at liquidating the Palestinian cause. Everybody knows that the wide-scale uprising in Palestine erupted following the victory in Lebanon. …
Unlike our appeasing politicians and intellectuals, Nasrallah knows that the failure of the Arabs to speak out against Hezbollah is a victory for Hezbollah. Evil does not require widespread enthusiastic support to flourish, but only a lack of opposition. That’s why the refusal to speak out against evil is to support it. As Ayn Rand said in “How Does One Lead a Rational Life in an Irrational Society?” (in the The Virtue of Selfishness):
Nothing can corrupt and disintegrate a culture or a man’s character as thoroughly as does the precept of moral agnosticism, the idea that one must never pass moral judgment on others, that one must be morally tolerant of anything, that the good consists of never distinguishing good from evil.
It is obvious who profits and who loses by such a precept. It is not justice or equal treatment that you grant to men when you abstain equally from praising men’s virtues and from condemning men’s vices. When your impartial attitude declares, in effect, that neither the good nor the evil may expect anything from you–whom do you betray and whom do you encourage?
Even more startling were Nasrallah’s claims about the willing complicity of the Lebanese government:
[Nasrallah] … Let me go back to your question about not telling them [the Lebanese Government] or asking them. First, the government statement, on the basis of which we participated in the government, talks about the Lebanese Government’s endorsement of resistance and its national right to liberate the land and the prisoners. How could a resistance liberate prisoners? Go to George Bush for example? I cannot and will not go to George Bush. When you talk about the resistance’s right, you are not talking about the Foreign Ministry’s right. You talk about an armed resistance, and you establish in the government statement its right to liberate the land and the prisoners. So, I represent a resistance and I have weapons. This was the government statement according to which the government won the vote of confidence from the Chamber of deputies. That was the first point. …
So the current government is not opposed to aggression against Israel. I’m not surprised. And:
[Nasrallah] … However, there are two issues that can stand no postponement. The first is the prisoners’ issue, for this involves humanitarian suffering. The second is any attack on civilians. I told them on more than one occasion that we are serious about the prisoners issue and that this can only solved through the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. Of course, I used to make hints in that respect. Of course I would not be expected to tell them on the table I was going to kidnap Israeli soldiers in July. That could not be.
[Al-Jazeera] You told them that you would kidnap Israeli soldiers?
[Nasrallah] I used to tell them that the prisoners’ issue, which we must solve, can only be solved through the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers.
[Nasrallah] Clearly. Nobody told me: no, you are not allowed to kidnap Israeli soldiers. I was not waiting for such a thing. Even if they told me no you are not allowed [nothing would change]. I am not being defensive. I said that we would kidnap Israeli soldiers in meetings with some of the key political leaders in the country. I do not want to mention names. When the time comes for accountability I will mention names. They asked whether this would resolve the prisoners issue if this happens. My answer was that it was logical for such an act to solve the prisoners’ issue. I assure you that our assessment was not wrong. I am not being stubborn. In the entire world, tell me about any state, any army, or any war that was waged because some people kidnapped two soldiers, or even took hostages, not military soldiers. Tell me about a war that was waged against a state because of two soldiers. This has never happened in history. Nor has Israel done it anytime before. However, what is happening today is not a reaction to the kidnapping of two soldiers. I repeat that this is an international decision and an Arab cover. It is a decision that has to do with…[changes thought]. I stress to you that had we not captured two soldiers in July, which could have happened in August, September, or some other time, the Israelis would come to this battle and would create for it any pretext and any excuse. The issue of disarming and finishing the resistance could not be achieved domestically, regionally, nor at the negotiating table. The Americans were well aware that this issue cannot be addressed domestically. Therefore, the Lebanese were told to step back and to let Israel terminate and disarm Hezbollah. But a cover was needed. So they provided an international and an Arab cover. This is what the issue is about. Finally, I will tell you how any resistance in the world operates. If I want to kidnap or capture two Israeli soldiers, the political leadership would make the decision and hand it to me, but even my brothers [in the leadership] should not know that this would happen at such a time and such a place. If 60 to 70 people know such details, would a capturing operation be successful? No, no such operation would be successful, let alone when informing a government of 24 ministers, three key leaders, political forces, and political blocs. On the table of dialogue, we hold discussions, and only one hour later the minutes of the sessions become available to [foreign] embassies. So do you expect me to tell the world I am going to capture [soldiers]?
That’s something of a muddle, but the gist seems to be that the Lebanese government supported armed resistance against Israel and knew of general plans to kidnap Israeli soldiers, but didn’t know of the particular plans that ignited this conflict. If that’s true, then the Lebanese government is even more guilty than I thought. While I wouldn’t be shocked by that, Nasrallah’s claims might be self-serving lies. (That too has a long tradition in Muslim politics, starting with Mohammed.) He might wish to spread some of the blame for the current conflict to the Lebanese government, so as to deflect criticism from Hezbollah. Or he might be trying to more closely connect Lebanese government with Hezbollah, so that the Lebanese government will defend Hezbollah against Israel.
In any case, the Lebanese government has been in bed with Hezbollah for quite some time now, as this ARI letter to the editor observes:
President Bush is urging Israel to preserve the fragile government of Lebanon, which was recently chosen in democratic elections supported by Bush himself. But Israel should do exactly the opposite.
Hezbollah, the Iran-sponsored Islamic terror group now under attack by Israel in Lebanon, is part of the Lebanese government. Twenty-three of Hezbollah’s members were elected to parliament, and two of its members were given cabinet positions.
A government that tolerates the operations of a terror group within its country, that does nothing to stop it from launching rockets on its neighbor’s cities, and that further allows its presence in the parliament and cabinet, has no legitimacy at all.
If the Lebanese are ever to have a legitimate government and lasting peace with Israel, they will have to show that they, like Israel, will not tolerate Hezbollah any longer.
Copyright (c) 2006 Ayn Rand(R) Institute. All rights reserved.
To put the point bluntly: Any government that includes leaders of a terrorist organization in its cabinet is definite on the “against us” rather than the “with us” side of this conflict.