General Petraeus' Disturbing Statement About Hezbollah
But what if these explanations aren't the case? What if Gen. Petraeus literally believes the alleviation of the Palestinian grievance is the key to regional counterterrorism?
Just because Gen. Petraeus is a brilliant military mastermind does not automatically make his views on Middle Eastern geopolitics beyond question. Hezbollah is an Iranian-backed, Iranian-financed, Iranian-armed jihadist organization that was created by the Islamic Republic in the early 1980s and sent to Lebanon to kill and intimidate those in Lebanon who oppose theocracy and fascism. Hezbollah terrorists have killed more Americans than any other terrorist group in the world, save al-Qaeda one Tuesday morning eight years ago. They have conducted attacks on innocents and civilian targets in the Middle East, in Latin America, in Asia; they have bases all over the world. They answer to the supreme leader of Iran and constitute the elite of the elite of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.
To suggest Hezbollah's primary motivations are minimalist and nationalist -- indeed, not even their nation -- is baloney. The rationale for Hezbollah's existence is to overtake and ransack Lebanon and make it a satrapy state for Iran, to Islamize secular Lebanese polity, to kill Westerners wherever and whenever possible, and, more significantly, to strive for the end of Israel's existence. To say Hezbollah's "justifications" would run dry, should a non-related event occur, operates from the false premise that Hezbollah feels compelled to offer justifications for their actions in the first place. They don't.
Analogously, this would be like Gen. Eisenhower or Gen. Patton making the case that the existence of the Waffen-SS would effectively end the moment the British ended their colonialism of India -- completely unrelated, unproven, untrue, and inconsequential even if true.
You can tell a lot about a person's views (and values) by the way he answers the following question: "Would a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict solve the problems of the Middle East, or would solving the problems of the broader Middle East -- namely, Iran -- one day bring about a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?"
The James Baker and Brent Scowcroft crowd insist the former: that by addressing Palestine's small real estate quandaries on the West Bank, the United States could solve the transcendent geopolitical, military, ideological, and theological problems of a nuclearized Iran, a radicalized Pakistan, a Hezbollahized Lebanon, an insurrectionized Iraq, and rabid Wahhabi-Salafist indoctrination across the Islamic world. This is, of course, total fantasy and totally backwards.
Before Republicans rush to nominate David Petraeus as their presidential candidate in 2012 or 2016, we should first find out if Petraeus agrees with this erroneous and perilous view of the Middle East.