Yesterday Barack Obama released a statement about the crisis in Lebanon that surely must be cause for celebration in Tehran, Damascus, and Bint Jbeil. First of all, there is the alternate-reality feel to it:
This effort to undermine Lebanon’s elected government needs to stop, and all those who have influence with Hezbollah must press them to stand down immediately.
Does Obama understand that the people who “have influence with Hezbollah” happen to be the same people on whose behalf Hezbollah is rampaging through Lebanon?
Then there is the absurd prescription:
It’s time to engage in diplomatic efforts to help build a new Lebanese consensus that focuses on electoral reform, an end to the current corrupt patronage system, and the development of the economy that provides for a fair distribution of services, opportunities and employment.
So that’s the problem in Lebanon? Economics and the electoral system? As Lee Smith points out in a scathing post,
Obama’s language is derived from those corners of the left that claim Hezbollah is only interested in winning the Shia a larger share of the political process. Never mind the guns, it’s essentially a social welfare movement, with schools and clinics! — and its own foreign policy, intelligence services and terror apparatus, used at the regional, international and now domestic level. But the solution, says, Obama, channeling the man he fired for talking to Hamas, is diplomacy.
In the Lebanon crisis, Obama is rhetorically cornered. Since his only prescription for the Middle East is diplomatic engagement, every disease gets re-diagnosed as something curable through talking.