Talking to Hezbollah

The Obama administration seems to have ushered in a welcome wind of change (well, for now).  The British government this week has announced that it is opening up talks with low-level officials from Hezbollah’s political wing. The UK had cut off all ties with both the military and political wings of the party in 2005, and had added the military wing to its list of “banned organizations” in July 2008.

While the US has officially distanced itself from this policy change (see this article from Hezbollah’s Al Manar), it seems to have very subtly opened the door for it to take place. President Obama after all has very recently started calling for reconciliation talks between the Taliban and the US. An anonymous State Department source quoted in the Al Manar article also states that the US might find the UK-Hezbollah talks beneficial.

There’s a great Op-ed today in the New York Times by Roger Cohen which discusses these policy reversals:

“Like Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah has long been treated by the United States as a proscribed terrorist group. This narrow view has ignored the fact that both organizations are now entrenched political and social movements without whose involvement regional peace is impossible.

Britain aligned itself with the U.S. position on Hezbollah, but has now seen its error. Bill Marston, a Foreign Office spokesman, told Al Jazeera: “Hezbollah is a political phenomenon and part and parcel of the national fabric in Lebanon. We have to admit this.””

The Cohen piece is highly recommended reading.

Stuff to check out

1)  America’s Finest:   Except for  Lou_Dobbs, most  major American TV stations are mediocre and unserious in their coverage of important news — unless we now consider Tweeter updates as “serious and critical.”   There is, however, one huge exception to this trend.  Check out this clip and see what I’m talking about.  I learned more from this 8 minute clip about the financial crisis than I have from watching CNN for months. 

2) A Pattern?:   This didn’t get  much coverage but there was a  third potentially violent incident in Egypt about a week ago.  

3)  Universal Culture:   If you are Saudi Arabia you are supposed to “own” the Gulf.   So when you tie little upstart Qatar in a football match that’s embarrassing.  Its the same feeling us Notre Dame Fighting Irish fans have when we lose to Boston College.  So watch this Youtube_clip of a Saudi prince going into the locker room and chewing the team out.  He basically says “this was totally unacceptable…your passing sucked, the attack was pathetic, the midfielder looked like he was sleeping” but not only that “you represent the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and this was a disgrace – so get it together.”

Who says Saudi culture is  different than American?   Delete_the_F-words and this could be an Arab Bob Knight.