Does John McCain really understand Lebanon?

13Sep09

McCain_Lebanon_Israel-1U.S. Senator John McCain expressed pessimism over the political crisis in Lebanon and called Hizbullah a “cruel militia” that “badly wants to retain control over telecommunications and surveillance” in the country.

“In recent days we’ve seen the portents of new political crisis in Lebanon and, while all of us must hope that it will be resolved easily and peacefully, we know from the history of that country that it very well may not be,” McCain said in a speech on the floor of the Senate to commemorate the 9/11 attacks on Friday.

“Hizbullah has been intent on thwarting these efforts to form a cabinet,” McCain said about MP Saad Hariri’s attempts to form a government.

Cabinet “talks have broken down over the demand by a Hizbullah-allied party that it retain the telecommunications ministry,” McCain said in his speech about the Free Patriotic Movement’s demand to keep the telecommunications ministry with Minister Gebran Bassil.

“This may appear to be a small and insignificant point of contention, and surely not one that would prompt an incoming prime minister to abandon his post, until we consider that Hizbullah badly wants to retain control over telecommunications and surveillance in Lebanon,” the senator said.

He said Hizbullah not only possesses a surveillance capacity and an independent communications and broadcasting system, “but also retains vast weaponry befitting its status as an independent militia.”

He also accused the Shiite group of inviting foreign meddling in Lebanon’s local affairs and added that Washington “should take a strong stand in favor of respecting the outcome of the June democratic elections, and urge the parties in Lebanon to form a government in a manner that respects the constitutional process.”

McCain warned in his speech that there can be no durable peace in the country “as long as Hizbullah continues to act freely as an armed, independent militia.”

“According to some reports, Hizbullah remains today the best armed force in the country – better armed, indeed, than even the Lebanese Armed Forces. Such a situation invites further fighting at some point between Hizbullah and Israel,” he said.

McCain believed the U.S. should make clear to Syria that better ties with Washington “will require an end to its malign interference in its neighbor’s affairs.”

“Some Americans might reasonably ask why. Why should we care about the freedom and democratic aspirations of the Lebanese people?” McCain said.

“In Lebanon, as in so many other places around the world, the population aspires to something better than to be pulled from side to side by a thuggish and cruel militia,” he said.”As Americans, we must demonstrate that we stand beside them in this hope.”

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5 Responses to “Does John McCain really understand Lebanon?”

  1. 1 Ted

    This article poses a question and then fails to answer it. I don’t see how anything Senator McCain said points to the fact that he doesn’t understand Lebanon. Does he gloss over the details? Sure. There is no doubt that the intricacies of Lebanese politics are dumbed down in Stat Dept reports and what not. But in general I agree with his point of view… a state within a state is the inevitable result that will come from Hizbollah’s greater influence in the country…. and the telecommunications system issue is just a step along this path…

  2. 2 Ibrahim

    This all sounds nice.But, if ever the U.S. had to serve a side in a war between Lebanon and Israel (not too far fetched?) – who would you suppose the U.S. will listen to?

    2006.

    Mc Cain ‘ain’t’ on our side eitherway.

  3. I never thought about it the way mccain put it. I assumed the communications thing was an FPM issue, and that Hizballa wouldn’t care because either way they would have their interests and links no matter who the minister is. I think it has more to do with the issue that it is a huge money-making ministry, I don’t think the choice of minister will affect “surveillance” capabilities.

    On another note the army is still waiting for the funding to come through from the US government and it seems it won’t come through till a government is formed,

    The US has a strategic interest to support Israel(whether it pays off or not is another issue) and that’s why it is interested in Hizballa. Free people’s of the world my foot, political prisoners are being detained in Iran, the US backs the status quo in Saudi Arabia and other allies, and he feeds us freedom loving crap.

    Anyway I was wondering about how Bush would’ve reacted to the Iran thing, Would’ve been more interesting and bloody or maybe not.

    I don’t know how deep Mccain’s understanding goes, maybe just as far as his closest advisor on the issue, but I do know this speech is not about us, it’s about him making a statement and playing the American political field, which is dangerous for us.

  4. Does it matter if he does? Honestly, if Hezbollah ceased to exist, would Lebanon suddenly become an utopia? We have a political system in shambles since the 1970s and instead of working on empowering people (as a democracy should), we hide behind pathetic statements from pathetic leaders. Honestly, I’m sick of the entire “self-pity” act.

  5. 5 Skyward Wolf

    Yes, I believe according to his and the neo-realist republican view of the situation, he does understand Lebanon. The majority of Lebanese aspire for a better country, after it has been ruled and influenced for so many years. According to McCain, the US is ready to feed our hope and stand beside us. Now of course, we all know they have an agenda and nothing is free! But, thinking about the advancement of my country, or even the betterment of myself, I can cautiously give some ground for US to help in our cause…


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