6:12 PM, Aug 25, 2015 • By LEE SMITH
Over the weekend, thousands of Lebanese took to the streets to protest against their country’s corrupt political culture. The immediate cause of their concern, and anger, is that the country’s garbage has not been collected for a month and has come to pose, as Lebanon’s health minister warned, a “health disaster.” More generally then, the protests were directed at Lebanon’s political class and most of the country’s leadership, including Prime Minister Tammam Salam. Even after the violence that killed one demonstrator and injured many more, some observers are now hopeful that this growing protest movement (aptly named “You Stink”) might kick off a genuine revolution against the Lebanese political system and bring real democracy to the jewel of the Levant.
Tragically, this is not the case. In reality, the “You Stink” movement is conclusive evidence that for the majority of Lebanese, law-abiding and freedom-loving, their situation is hopeless.
The protests against Lebanon’s political class began in earnest and were quickly overtaken by proxy forces acting on behalf of a few very prominent members of that political class. Photographs show the political affiliations of the thugs sent to the streets to cause mayhem—tattoos and other markers identify them as members or allies of Hezbollah and Amal, the party of God’s sometime Shiite partner and frequent rival for communal favor. Some are saying that followers of Hezbollah’s Christian ally Michel Aoun joined Hezbollah and Amal to attack the army and security forces, who then escalated by opening fire—rubber bullets and also it seems live ammunition—on unarmed civilians. Hence the protest organizers, fearing more bloodshed, have decided to postpone future demonstrations, at least for the time being.
In the aftermath, it’s hard to piece together exactly what happened. Why for instance would Hezbollah send its followers to the streets to attack an army that it controls and has enlisted in its sectarian war against Sunni fighters? Some speculate that Hezbollah wants to topple the government, or that it wants to block certain political appointments. Other interpretations are even more elaborate: some are saying, for instance, that Aoun is mad at Amal chief Nabih Berri because he openly rejected Aoun’s presidential bid. Then Aoun went after the army because the commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces hates him, and he hates him in exchange. Hezbollah lent some token support to Aoun because—well, why not? It costs them nothing because they know that it’s irrelevant.
In other words, it doesn’t really matter why thugs were sent because, well, that’s Lebanese politics—petty and pathetic. Which is to say that the premise of “You Stink” is right on the mark: Lebanon’s political class is venal and corrupt and that’s why they regularly put innocent Lebanese in the middle of their mafia feuds.
But the other reason that it doesn’t really matter is because the premise of the “You Stink” movement is missing the point entirely, because the real problem with Lebanon isn’t the country’s craven politicians. Indeed, it was the 800-lb. gorilla himself who reminded everyone last weekend that the real problem with the country is the well-armed terrorist organization that serves as Iran’s praetorian guard on the eastern Mediterranean. The problem is Hezbollah. Everything else pales in comparison.
When critics of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action explain that Iran will use the cash windfall from its multi-billion dollar signing bonus to assist its allies, we tend to emphasize that the money will buy more weapons for Iran’s regional proxies. That’s of course true, but in the case of Hezbollah, the money will also be lavished on a Shiite constituency that is very anxious about its central role in the Syrian conflict.
7:19 AM, Aug 25, 2015 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Rob Portman of Ohio may have one of the toughest Senate reelection campaigns in the country next year, and the Republican isn't wasting time hitting his likely Democratic opponent, former governor Ted Strickland. The Portman campaign has launched a new set of online ads targeting Strickland's support for the proposed nuclear deal with Iran.
The ads ask readers questions like "Who do you stand with on the Iran deal?" and "Do you agree with Rob Portman that the Iran deal is bad for Ohio and for America?" See the ads below:
9:42 AM, Aug 24, 2015 • By MICHAEL WARREN
New Jersey governor Chris Christie says America needs a "strong law enforcer as president" in a new 30-second TV ad. In the spot, Christie, a Republican, lists off examples of "lawlessness in America and around the world under Barack Obama," including the terror of ISIS, sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants, drug problems, and "Iranian radicals with nuclear weapons. Christie adds in leading Democratic candidate for president into the mix.
"Now, Hillary Clinton thinks the law doesn't apply to her," he says with an image of a computer server on screen. "Really?"
8:06 AM, Aug 21, 2015 • By OMRI CEREN
The Obama administration spent the last two years telling lawmakers and reporters that any deal with Iran would require the Iranians to provide International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors robust access to the Parchin military base, where the Iranians conducted hydrodynamic experiments relevant to the detonation of nuclear warheads.
1:33 PM, Aug 19, 2015 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The Associated Press reports that under the provisions of the deal, the Iranian government will be allowed to use its own inspectors on one site thought to have been used to develop nuclear weapons. Here's more from the AP:
"If Iran is to acquire a nuclear bomb, it will not have my name on it."5:14 PM, Aug 18, 2015 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Bob Menendez, the Democratic senator from New Jersey and one of the leading voices for tougher sanctions on the Iranian regime, delivered an address Tuesday at Seton Hall University in which he declared he would oppose the nuclear deal with Iran.
5:32 PM, Aug 14, 2015 • By KELLY JANE TORRANCE
President Obama claims, as Bill Kristol noted in his editorial in the latest issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD, that no country in the world has expressed opposition to his deal with Iran, with the exception of Israel. But that's not accurate. Canada, the United States' biggest trading partner—and, traditionally, its closest ally—has made it clear it wants no part of an agreement normalizing relations between Iran and the West.
5:17 PM, Aug 14, 2015 • By LEE SMITH
A new Gallup poll shows that 55% of Americans disapprove of President Obama’s handling of Iran compared to 33% who approve.
3:21 PM, Aug 14, 2015 • By MICHAEL WARREN
A new ad from Veterans Against the Deal features the father of U.S. Army specialist Clay Farr, who was killed by an Iranian bomb in Iraq in 2006. In the 60-second spot, Patrick Farr describes the day he learned of his son's death and expresses his opposition to a deal that will reward the regime that killed him.
Aug 24, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 47 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
“Because this is such a strong deal, every nation in the world that has commented publicly, with the exception of the Israeli government, has expressed support. The United Nations Security Council has unanimously supported it. The majority of arms control and nonproliferation experts support it. Over 100 former ambassadors who served under Republican and Democratic presidents support it.”
President Barack Obama, August 5, 2015
3:05 PM, Aug 12, 2015 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
The New York Post reports that Senator Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has expanded on his rationale for opposing the White House's Iran Deal:
In his most extensive comments since announcing his opposition to the agreement last week, Schumer questioned whether the inspections could be effective, and laid out a litany of reasons why he thinks the deal won’t hold.
“There are parts to bomb making that don’t involve nuclear isotopes. Even if you find nuclear isotopes [through inspections], you don’t know exactly what they are doing,” he said.
They're tacitly coordinating around the Middle East4:35 PM, Aug 10, 2015 • By LEE SMITH
President Obama has decided to double down on his claim that Iranian hardliners “are making common cause with the Republican caucus.” In an interview with Fareed Zakaria that aired on Sunday, Obama