My colleague and friend Nir Rosen has been working his way through some of the more interesting sites and scenes in Lebanon — and trailing along with many Nasrallah groupies to get a fix on the Hezbollah leader’s rise and on the evolving shape of Lebanese politics and identity.
Nir Rosen has just published this provocative and provocative essay, “Hizballah, Party of God.”
I have to say that I find myself standing across the aisle on this one. While I think that everything that Rosen writes about Nasrallah’s popularity and big-tent approach to power-building is accurate, I am worried about it — and Rosen is not.
Nasrallah and Hezbollah are key players now in regional dynamics and can’t be wished away. In Condi’s roster of extremists and moderates, Hezbollah is on the extremist tally. Rosen writes about them as if Nasrallah’s enablers and followers are moderates.
I think that Hezbollah can be moderated and brought into legitimate civil society — and that Israeli occupation of disputed territories complicates and blurs the picture.
However, Rosen’s piece doesn’t really address the central issue at hand. Will Nasrallah’s big tent approach to building a power base accomodate Israel in a dependable, long-term peace — particularly if the grievances over disputed territories in Northern Israel are finally resolved?
Establishing popular, competent, representative government in Southern Lebanon is important, and it seems clearer by the day that Hezbollah must be a major part of that equation — but the real issues about an accomodation with Israel can’t be ducked.
— Steve Clemons