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Obama's Outreach to Hezbollah "Moderates"

10:40 AM, Jun 16, 2010 • By DANIEL HALPER
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A thoughtful, interesting, and depressing piece on Obama and his approach to the Muslim world, written by Lee Smith:

Obama’s point-man for his latest approach to the Muslim world is John Brennan, the White House’s counterterrorism czar, recently described by the Washington Post as one of the president’s most trusted advisers. Two weeks ago Brennan explained to a Washington audience that “we need to try to build up the more moderate elements” within Hezbollah, Lebanon’s Shia militia. The State Department rushed in to explain that there was no change in U.S. policy toward a group it has designated a terrorist organization—however, this was the second time Brennan had spoken of reaching out to Hezbollah “moderates” (and the second time he was corrected by the State Department), which means he has the President’s approval.

In reality, there is no such thing as Hezbollah moderates. The party itself claims there is no difference between what the British incorrectly describe as Hezbollah’s political and military wing. And so identifying Hezbollah “moderates” is just political cover for the real work, which as Brennan, a longtime CIA hand, surely knows, is speaking to the hard men, the extremists, since they are the only people worth speaking to.

This is news: moderate Muslims, the darlings of the George W. Bush administration’s foreign policy, don’t matter, or so Obama has concluded. Ever since he was on the campaign trail Obama has promised to reach out to Iran and Syria, state sponsors of terror and Hezbollah’s patrons, and now the reason why is clear: because he believes that it’s Middle East extremists who call the shots. Someday soon, the Obama administration is going to reach out to Hezbollah, as well as other terrorist organizations, in Afghanistan, Gaza, and elsewhere in the Muslim world.

Indeed, the Middle East’s savviest rulers have already read the writing on the wall. Look at Turkey. The Bush administration believed that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erodgan’s AKP government represented the model of a moderate and democratic Islamic state that would influence its neighbors, especially Iraq. Now, under the Obama administration, Turkey will still serve its traditional role as a bridge to the Muslim world—not to the moderates but to the extremists. As if to polish up his resume for this new direction, Erdogan stacked the Mavi Marmara with activists from the IHH, as if to prove that he has relationships with Hamas. Now, when Washington wants something from the armed gang that runs Gaza, they can use Ankara as a mediator.

Obama, it seems, doesn’t care about moderate Muslims for the same reason that he doesn’t make much noise about human rights and democracy promotion in the Middle East: For all his talk of hope and change, he takes a much more pessimistic—and more realistic—view of the region’s political culture than the Bush administration did.

Read it here

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