Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

June 8, 2009

Give Obama–and Chicago Politics…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 3:46 pm

…a little credit for the Lebanese election outcome. I realize many of you whose reading is, shall we say, circumscribed, may be unaware of just how important Hezbollah’s failure (at least so far) to take over Lebanon is in making a nuclear war less likely in the Middle East, but take my word for it. Sure they’re still a power, but–as of Sunday’s election results–they don’t rule the way they expected to: it’s a game changing psychological blow. It means, for one thing, Israel can be marginally a little less trigger happy over Iran (Hezbolllah’s sponsor) , it won’t have to feel surrounded on three sides, and though not much, that could make the difference between a nuclear war and none.

And why did Hezbollah, a murdering terrorist bunch who blew up the American Marine barracks in Lebanon in the ’80s and haven’t stopped murdering and assassinating people of all faiths since and heavily favored just a week ago to win power in Lebanon, fail?

Let’s ask that Obama-worshipping paper the Wall Street Journal why::

“A number of factors could have impacted the vote, including higher than expected turnout. Mr. Obama’s speech in Cairo last week may have made a difference. Hezbollah official were quick to dismiss the speech, but many Muslims said it struck a chord for moderation.” And the election was close so it had to be a factor.

Can’t you see: it’s Chicago politics! When to schedule the Cairo speech? Hey how about a week before Lebanon votes. Game changer in the Middle East.

I have some problems with the speech, but this is what I figured Obama would be able to do, so why not let him do it. He’s just chalked up one win for the good guys at the expense of some anodyne words you can nitpick to death, but which got results. The guy’s a player, don’t underestimate him. Or the genius of Chicago — even on the world stage.



  1. So his trip to Europe should share some credit for the success of the fascist parties like the BNP in the weekend EU voting, too, no?

    Comment by Rob — June 8, 2009 @ 7:02 pm | Reply

  2. “And the election was close so it had to be a factor.”

    It’s admittedly a plausible theory. Is there any hard evidence to support it? Any well respected polls? Iran’s mullahs, however, are not likely to reverse course. They still run the country regardless of what occurs outside of it. And they seem committed to destroying Israel, the alleged nation of Satan’s followers. This challenging existential crisis will continue to require hard policy responses. Obama’s soft policy approaches can only be occasionally successful.

    Comment by David Thomson — June 8, 2009 @ 11:02 pm | Reply

  3. […] Read the entire piece here. […]

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  4. Frankly, a poll in the Middle East would be (as far as I’m concerned) even less reliable than those taken here in the U.S. But Ron’s theory is interesting, and I will give it credence. Whatever else you say about Barack Obama, he definitely gives a brilliant speech, is very eloquent, and obviously took a conciliatory stance. I don’t know if I think the stance itself wise, in the long run. I’ve always been of the view that no one beats up on the toughest guy in the neighborhood; this view is especially valuable (in my view) in the Mid East, where bullies abound. But even if it wasn’t that smart from other points of view, this is a worthwhile thing. I applaud Hezbollah’s defeat, regardless of the cause.

    Comment by DavidN — June 9, 2009 @ 2:42 am | Reply

  5. Could it more be Hariri’s assassination, followed by the Cedar Revolution, then a few armed altercations, then the Syrians exiting Lebanon … shall I go on? Let us not forget Hezbollah’s inability to do much more than beat on their chests and foment hate for Israel. This was the culmination of a long series of events. Obama’s speech may or may not have been a tipping point, but don’t ignore recent history whilst hoisting him upon one’s shoulders.

    Comment by J Milam — June 9, 2009 @ 3:25 am | Reply

  6. It’s just as likely that Obama’s implicit support for the jihadis stirred more people to come out and vote, knowing they were completely on their own now.

    Comment by Gary Ogletree — June 9, 2009 @ 4:37 am | Reply

  7. This analysis MAY be right somewhere FAR on the margins of Lebanese politics but only on those very very very small margins. To believe in this theory as someone has already said, one could as easily believe that “his trip to Europe should share some credit for the success of the fascist parties like the BNP in the weekend EU voting, too”.

    Lebanon is Lebanon. The results in Lebanon were due to Michael Aoun failing to win in the Christian areas. Primarily because he’s a GIANT TOOL, and despite his alliance with Hezbollah(which gives his reflected influence), most of his potential voters couldn’t stomach voting for him. Hezbollah did just dandy in its heartland, thank you very much, and is as powerful today as it was yesterday. When the ‘new’ but not at all ‘improved’ Lebanese Government proves itself to be as corrupt and useless as the ‘old’ Government(sometime in the next months, at a guess) we shall see how things shake out in that country.

    If ‘words’ were going to get the job done, the Region would not be what it is. But it IS what it is.

    OK speech.
    Better than nothing, I suppose.
    No real cause for complaint, all things considered.
    Not a factor in Lebanaon.

    Comment by Dougf — June 9, 2009 @ 5:03 am | Reply

  8. I think this is exactly right and would like to caution my conservative friends on how they criticize his approach. I too think he sold out israel in that speach but we should never underestimate the machinations of a chicago machinist. How surprised would you really be if Obama didn’t actually run this speach by Bebe first? I think it’s possible we’re seeing some “good cop, bad cop” work being done here.

    Put another way, Obama’s foreign policy cred is every bit as important to him as his domestic cred. If he was willing and able to roll wall street, detroit and health providers using strong arm tactics (wasnt it referred to as the “Madman in the Whitehouse” strategy), do you think it impossible to employ the same tactics internationally?

    This could be a combination of conspiracy and wishful thinking on my part but my point isn’t that it’s scary or wrong or even that it’s happening, it’s that what ever he is doing just might work (for whatever reason) and we need to be prepared to win on domestic issues.

    Comment by Lloyd — June 9, 2009 @ 7:05 am | Reply

  9. I doubt Obama can take credit. Firstly, he never mentioned the elections, and mentioned Lebanon only in the context of religious tolerance. Biden went to Beirut, and you can connect that to the speech if you want to, but it’s a tenuous link (and who really listened to Biden anyway?).

    More importantly, let’s not forget that the movement that won the election, the “March 14 movement,” was named for the protests that kicked Syria out of Lebanon, an act that was partly encouraged by the Iraq War and the toppling of Saddam Hussein. Obama opposed that one, yet the movement that Bush’s war inspired has retained power in Lebanon. If you’re going to give credit to Obama, you have to give far more to his predecessor–and wouldn’t it be ironic that Obama’s speech ended up supporting Bush’s legacy (again, if it had any effect at all).

    Some reports suggested a deep-seated fear among Christian groups of Shia rule. So the voters may have been moved by sentiments of fear and mistrust precisely opposite to those voiced by Obama in Cairo.

    I would think that if Obama’s speech had any effect at all, it was to remind Lebanese voters that there’s a world out there that has an interest in them, if they show some interest in return, and keep fundamentalism at bay. Only in the most abstract sense would it have helped. Perhaps in boosting turnout, but not in changing minds, is my guess. If at all.

    Comment by Joel Pollak — June 9, 2009 @ 8:16 am | Reply

  10. With Obama, crucially, it is what he IS, not what he says or does, that is the engine of world transformation. Such an existential platform underscores him constantly as a martyr in the making and makes his appearances fundamental acts of courage. His is a martyrdom of life and light that, with luck ,will also cheat death: that is what scares the legions of darkness who would defile Islam as a creed of shame and neverending cruelty

    Comment by charlie finch — June 9, 2009 @ 8:31 am | Reply

  11. I’m sorry Ron I can’t agree with your argument without supporting data. The simple statistical axiom applies, ‘Correlation does not Prove Causation’. That said, I’m not a supporter of BHO’s economic policy but I am cautiously optimistic of his foreign policy actions to date.

    Comment by MCMJR — June 9, 2009 @ 8:44 am | Reply

  12. I’d attribute the results more to Hezbollah triggering the last military confrontation with Israel. The Lebanese probably don’t appreciate Hezbollah loose cannons bringing that sort of destruction down on them. Hezbollah assassination hits haven’t gone over very well either.

    Obama has about 0% to do with it. Zero percent.

    Comment by RE — June 9, 2009 @ 9:21 am | Reply

  13. I really doubt he (or anyone else) knew what effect his visit to Egypt could have had in Lebanon before the fact; ascribing to him the success of democracy in a country in roughly the same region may be a little … hum. What’s the word I’m looking for?

    Presumptuous, perhaps?

    Two things may occur at the same time or roughly the same time as is the case here, but be causally unrelated, caused by the same thing—or the later even may be caused by the former event, and I really don’t see any reason why the latter two would apply.

    I suppose next he’ll be credited with the student protests in Iran.

    Comment by S. Allen — June 9, 2009 @ 11:09 am | Reply

  14. Obama should bring Chicago politics to the Middle East, after all that is where three hundred million of his campaign funds came from.

    The danger is that Muslims are collectively delusional. The pre-Islamic societies of the Middle East were much more successful than any of the post-Islamic societies. The belief that they are entitled to take what they can together with their extreme poverty kept attention from being drawn to them for centuries.

    In today’s much smaller world, they could tilt the world into war and find themselves in the target zone of even a mid-size power. Obama in catering to their delusions did not do them a favor.

    Comment by Avitar — June 9, 2009 @ 11:51 am | Reply

  15. The ‘Party of Tehran’ has brought the Lebanese misery since getting an Israeli reminder that attacking the Jewish state will only lead to decades of economic & social setbacks. They voted in the March 14 party just as they had done in the past. Both administrations endorsed the pro-western party during current and past elections. Obama has taken it a step further authorizing the sale of advanced weaponry to the nation whose entire infrastructure including the military is still controlled by Hezbollah.

    Comment by David P — June 9, 2009 @ 2:00 pm | Reply

  16. Rahm, you magnificent bastard!


    Comment by Self-hating Boomer — June 9, 2009 @ 3:09 pm | Reply

  17. By losing, Hisb’Allah has won. It is the outcome it wanted. Think not otherwise. It is now has no visible responsibility for Lebanon’s governance, but will pull the strings from behind the curtain. It will not disarm, but will gain access to American arms which will be used to pay for the “victory.” Again, the majority of the Lebanese will suffer from the hatred their Shia captors. As far as I can tell from comments elsewhere, this “victory” has cost United States taxpayers between $400 million to $1 billion dollars. It is a good thing the dollar is not worth much anymore.

    Comment by Jerry — June 9, 2009 @ 7:08 pm | Reply

  18. Ron, let’s give the Lebanese some credit.
    I agree with RE:’s take above. The Lebanese saw what Hizbullah brought them a few years ago, in the shape of an Israeli counter-attack. And they know that Hizbullah means a more Syrian and Iranian interference in Lebanon.
    The Harari coalition was strong before Obama spoke.
    But Dougf makes wisely reminds us of how well Hizbullah did do, and the fact that they remain a thorn in the side of Lebanese democracy.

    Comment by Stuart — June 9, 2009 @ 7:48 pm | Reply

  19. Is this still up? I used to read everything Ron wrote, and then, one fine day, he became a preacher for the First Church of Obama. I felt unchurched and have not partaken of the Word since then. I hope to find Ron recovering, but apparently not. Much of his earlier work remains untainted and actually interesting.

    Preaching is such a fine art. So few can master it. Fewer yet are those who can endure it.

    Comment by MarkO — June 9, 2009 @ 8:47 pm | Reply

  20. “That speech and the reaction might be worth quite a bit in blood and treasure. Was just reading ‘Stalin and his Hangmen.’ If the last Nicholas could have given such a speech at his coronation, Russia (and the rest of the world) wouldn’t have suffered so.” I agreed with you June 4th.

    Comment by Michael — June 9, 2009 @ 9:40 pm | Reply

  21. […] Obama Brings Chicago Politics to the Middle Eastby Ron Rosenbaum […]

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  22. Ron, we all make mistakes, it’s all about integrating the lessons learned from your experience. So I’m asking you honestly, in your experience, is the rhetoric and tone towards our people not horrifyingly familiar to you? Are you finding it hard to reference events in history where Jews are being accused of being the barrier to world harmony? It’s never to late to renounce your position as an apologist and take up the cause of a disgruntled constituent. You can start typing now.

    Comment by David P — June 10, 2009 @ 8:14 pm | Reply

  23. Smooth move. Obama is the man. That’s how you get things done. You don’t have to go around blowing up stuff like the Republicans. You first try diplomacy, dialogue, and persuasion. If that doesn’t work, then you blow shit up.

    Comment by JackT — June 10, 2009 @ 8:30 pm | Reply

  24. Totally JackT. Bush would have done that too but being a Republican he had go through that whole UN world community coalition crap. When your a Democrat you get to skip that step and go right to strong arming.

    Comment by Lloyd — June 11, 2009 @ 5:12 pm | Reply

  25. Well, that speech sure worked wonders in Iran.

    Comment by Evil Pundit — June 14, 2009 @ 11:46 am | Reply

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