The Hezbollah Proxy
Is the war an Iranian diversion?
Updated Friday, July 21, 2006, at 3:28 PM
New Republic, July 31 A piece posits that the conflict in Lebanon is a deliberate push by Iran to throw the region into chaos, drum up sympathy for the Islamist cause, and divert the uproar over its nuclear program. Using Hezbollah as a proxy, the writer says, "the Iranians believe they can mobilize the Arab world against the United States by playing on the sense of grievance that is so deeply embedded among many against Israel." But the move could backfire because the Arab world isn't taking the bait, the writer finds. ... An article contends that Sen. Rick Santorum and Rep. Pete Hoekstra are on a crusade to brand intelligence officials "Al Qaida sympathizers" for refuting the existence of WMDs in Iraq. Santorum announced in June that WMDs had been found near the Iran border, but it was soon revealed that the chemical-munitions shells were leftovers from the '80s Iraq/Iran conflict. Still, the pair continues its quest to prove the Iraq war worthwhile by vilifying lefty Bush-bashers in the intelligence community.—M.M.
Economist, July 22-28 A holier-than-thou article scolds the American government for its hypocrisy in supporting some forms of online gambling while demonizing others. Recent arrests and legislation suggest a crackdown, but horse-racing and state lotteries remain exempt. The British policy of taxation and regulation of gaming "does not yet appear to have led to any great moral decay," notes the author.... After weighing the international agendas fueling the Lebanon crisis, the cover story reaches pessimistic conclusions. Hezbollah's mounting arsenal and audacity prompted Israel's departure from a policy of containment, but the new goal of complete elimination may prove ambitious in light of dogged resistance. Iran's hope to filibuster international censure for its nuclear program, combined with a feeble United Nations and a compliant United States, portends a protracted campaign, according to the author.—N.R.
New York, July 24 The recent dismissal by the New York Court of Appeals of gay marriage might not be such a bad thing *: "[T]he more that appointed judges rather than elected legislatures reform existing marriage laws, the more galvanized the right-wing hot-button backlash will become, and the greater the support for a national constitutional amendment." Growing public support in liberal states should encourage activists, even if no national consensus is upcoming: "[I]f liberals want blue states to be able to pass their own enlightened laws concerning gay marriage ... [then] we really have to be willing to let red states enact laws with which we strongly disagree." … An article profiles Dmitriy Salita, the seventh-ranked super lightweight boxer in the world and an Orthodox Jew. After struggling recently, Salita will fight a match on July 20 that's considered crucial to his future: "What's at stake in the match Thursday night isn't just Salita's personal ambition or possible climb out of poverty. There's also the issue of whether the next great Jewish hope is mostly hype."—B.C.
New York Times Magazine, July 23 How does the state decide who's unfit to parent? The cover article delves into the case of Marie—recovering addict, former foster child, and accused neglectful mother of five with one on the way. Marie wonders why officials are revoking custody of her boys just as she's cleaning up her life. A social worker presents a thick case file full of reasons. Meanwhile, experts debate the efficacy of a system that disproportionately removes minority children from their homes. … Koreans are manufacturing American money, not because Treasury jobs are being outsourced, but because of counterfeiting, according to an article. In fact, experts insist that high-quality American currency, or "supernotes," are commissioned by the North Korean government, a charge the Koreans deny. "The counterfeiting of American currency by North Korea might seem, to some, to be a minor provocation by that country's standards," the writer notes. But, according to a government official, "counterfeits, by creating mistrust in the American currency, posed a 'threat to the American people.' "— M.M.
Time and Newsweek, July 24 The newsmagazines highlight the historical underpinnings of Hezbollah's rise to prominence in Lebanon, where heavy fighting with Israel continues to batter the country's infrastructure. Time's cover article mines Israel's constantly rocky relations with its neighbors and the roles played by Hezbollah and Hamas in the attempt to push Jews out of the area. The piece points out that the U.S. has not renounced Israel's hard-line response, as it may have in the past, because America is embroiled in its own fight against terror. The article contends that U.S. intervention, possibly in the form of peace talks involving Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, is a risky but necessary proposition. Newsweek looks at how Lebanon is being used as a pawn in a conflict between more powerful nations. Funded by Iran and Syria, Hezbollah maintains a love-hate relationship with the Lebanese people, a piece contends. The group contributes vital health and educational services, and its military forces have taken on Israel in the past. But the instability engendered by this sparring also causes resentment. "The trouble is, anger against the Israelis is almost certain to grow even faster than against Hizbullah," according to the Newsweek piece. Meanwhile, Iran and Syria may be puppet-masters of the conflict. Israeli officials contend that Iran launched the missiles that struck the Israeli city of Haifa. "There's no more potent issue in the Muslim world than the fate of the Holy Land, and Iran has been looking for a piece of that righteous action since the early days of the Khomeini revolution."
A Time editorial recommends that the U.S. abandon its policy of not negotiating with terrorists in the interest helping to resolve the Middle East's many conflicts. Negotiating ceasefires, prisoner releases, and withdrawal from disputed territory will be fruitless without Hezbollah and Hamas at the table, the writer contends. A Newsweek piece notes that the president has not appointed a special envoy to travel to the region in hopes of quelling the violence—possibly a crucial failure in international diplomacy.— M.M.
Weekly Standard, July 24 A piece assesses the escalation of violence in the Middle East from the perspectives of Israel's primary antagonists—Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas. This group, the author argues, is linked not by religion, but by politics, and constitutes "a better oiled, more cohesive unit than the diplomatic quartet of the United States, the U.N., the E.U., and Russia." The article prescribes a mix of military and nonmilitary measures directed at each power, including "organizing transatlantic consensus on economic and political pressure on Syria, devising a fast-executing international mechanism to disarm Hezbollah, and expediting the Security Council process on Iran."… An article gauges public reaction to Israel's bombing in Beirut and finds sympathy for Hezbollah. The author speculates that the current violence may be "the Spanish Civil War phase of the global war on terror, in which all the significant ideological and military alliances of the next decade can be discerned."–C.B.
The New Yorker, July 24 An article points to Sen. Joseph Lieberman's blatant self-interest, compounded by his intransigence on Iraq, as the main reason for the target placed on his back by enraged liberals. It cites his decision to run for both vice president and Senate in 2000 (despite the fact that a vice presidential victory would allow the Republican Connecticut governor to appoint a new—presumably Republican—senator in his place) and his more recent decision to run as an Independent as examples, but concludes "these irritations wouldn't much matter without Iraq."… The lead story profiles Bertram Fields, "the most feared lawyer in Hollywood," and a potential indictee in the ongoing Anthony Pellicano investigation, which "may turn out to be the biggest, and dirtiest, scandal in Hollywood's history." The federal indictment of Pellicano, which accuses him of illegal wiretapping, refers to six cases in which he was hired by Fields.— B.C.
Correction, July 19, 2006: The write-up for New York magazine originally called the New York Court of Appeals the New York Supreme Court. Return to the corrected item.
Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.
Ben Crair is an associate editor at the Daily Beast.
Noam Rudnick is a Slate intern.