- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 3, 2006

Remember the Coalition of the Willing? Here’s a new force to set the world straight: The Coalition of the Willing to Call Hezbollah a Terrorist Group. Without effort, I can think of a trio so inclined (Australia, Israel and the United States). Throw in trusty Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau for good measure, and it’s a “multi”-national coalition.

Once — and it seems bizarre to have to point this out — it was self-evident that Hezbollah was civilization’s foe. Indeed, it was an unremarkable, innate expression of civilization itself to think so. No more. It is a measure of the moral attrition of the West that this “point of view” now becomes openly contested, a matter of nuance, degrees, and complexity, punctuated by clinking water glasses at conference tables the world over.

All of which leaves the so-called war on terror exactly where? Muddled beyond measure. For the war on Hezbollah is, if it is anything, a crucial front of the “terror” war. If the Israelis lose — and by lose I mean if the Israelis allow the crooked court of world opinion to bar them from crushing Hezbollah and its ability to make war — we all lose. That is, “we” who wish to triumph over “terror” all lose. And here we go again, bumping up against the clumsy imprecision of politically correct language that fails to define the enemy as adherents of the doctrine of Islamic jihad. Such as Hezbollah, for instance. In addition to destroying Israel, the vicious Iranian proxy also aims at imposing an Iranian-style Shariah state in Lebanon. As just one more contemporary manifestation of jihad doctrine, Hezbollah, which has killed more Americans than any jihad group except al Qaeda, should easily make the blacklist of enemies in a post-September 11 world.

But no. Most of our traditional “allies” (or whatever they are) quiver at the thought. “Given the sensitive situation, I don’t think we will be acting on this now,” said Finnish foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja, speaking for the 25 member states of the European Union, which this week rebuffed a plea from 213 U.S. congressmen to brand Hezbollah a terrorist group. Russia — no traditional ally but oddly treated like one — also balks at designating Hezbollah (or, for that matter, Hamas) an outlaw group. France, meanwhile, goes so far as to call nuke-seeking, Jew-hating, Hezbollah-sponsoring Iran a “respected” country and “stabilizing” force in the region.

But even as our strategic destiny diverges from Europe’s over the Middle East — an epochal rift a long time coming — there is something else disquieting about the Hezbollah question. And that concerns the terror group’s standing in the region. In Lebanon, credible reports attest to anti-Hezbollah sentiment among Southern Lebanon’s Christian populations. But key parts of the Lebanese government — which the United States hopes will take over Hezbollah-controlled areas — and the national army clearly favor Hezbollah. This should make us wonder whether the United States sending the Lebanese army $10 million in emergency aid benefits peace or benefits Hezbollah.

Then, of course, there’s Iraq, a nation of warring Islamic tribes safeguarded only and barely by the continued presence of American forces, not to mention billions of taxpayer dollars. To date, Iraq’s prime minister, president, two vice presidents, assorted imams, and much of its newly free media have publicly condemned one party — Israel. The fractiously sectarian Iraqi parliament has even come together in rare and unanimous solidarity to condemn the Jewish state. When Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki addressed Congress last month, he declared Iraq to be on “the front line” of the war on terror, and proclaimed Iraqis to be America’s “allies in the war on terror.” But he also pointedly failed to condemn Hezbollah terrorism — or, it seems safe to presume, to consider Hezbollah a terrorist group. Like a Mel Gibson bender, this should make us think. Can the United States and Mr. al-Maliki really be talking about the same “terror” war?

Our elites never ask such a question, maybe because it leads to another. Does propping up in Iraq what amounts to a proto-Shariah state that is reflexively anti-Israel if not reflexively pro-Hezbollah constitute victory in the “war on terror”? Call me crazy, but I don’t think so. We’ve already had our victory in Iraq by overthrowing Saddam Hussein. We won’t be able to win again until we recognize that our politically correct but factually mistaken view of the Islamic world is out of focus. When we can’t see victory on the other side of the cultural divide, we need to look elsewhere.

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