The Mideastwire Blog

Excerpts from the Arab and Iranian Media & Analysis of US Policy in the Region

Qifa Nabki’s critique and Kissinger’s weiqi

Elias had this to say a few weeks back:

“…First of all, we should note that Noe is precisely not criticizing the Tribunal for being a cynical tool used by the West to target Hizbullah. He doesn’t have a problem with that. Rather, his critique is that the STL was a tool that was not wielded in the proper way, for maximum effect. In other words, by using the STL as a bludgeon rather than a scalpel, America and its Lebanese allies missed many opportunities to force concessions out of Hizbullah that they now have lost the ability to do.

— [Well said!]

“Again, this strikes me as flawed reasoning. It wasn’t the West’s “alienation” of Hizbullah that led the party to shun the Tribunal; the record clearly shows that Hizbullah was — from the beginning — totally opposed to the Tribunal. They may have paid lip service to the ideals of justice, but when push came to shove, they consistently worked to undermine the creation of the court. Let us recall the following:….


-[That is simply not accurate – Hizbullah politically HAD TO cooperate at a number of key junctures – and therein, exactly, lies my point – there was the pressure point where making hizbullah’s rejection COSTLY would have been smarter. And this would have been accomplished at the key early junctures where the tribunal could have been less of a blunt tool, perhaps less deadly, true, but ultimately better all around – including for the cause of international justice.]


“I am not rehearsing these events to argue that Hizbullah was acting like a guilty party. My point is, rather, that “maximalism” is not the exclusive preserve of the United States and its Lebanese allies. Noe treats the establishment of the UN investigation commission and the subsequent tribunal as if these were developments that came about effortlessly, when in fact these bodies came about via a protracted and bitter struggle, in which both March 14 and Hizbullah were active participants.

“The notion that some kind of third-way accomodationist stance on the STL could have been found that would have satisfied Hizbullah, March 14, Syria, and the US is unconvincing to me. The process got ugly because everybody was playing hardball, not because the US hurt Hizbullah’s feelings.

— [ this is exactly NOT my point. The core idea here was that indeed, HIZBULLAH NEVER WOULD HAVE BEEN SATISFIED….. they never would have liked the STL… of course!…. Just like they would never have liked giving up their weapons in March 2000 and seeing an Israeli embassy in solidere when they were almost forced to…. or as they could have been forced to in 2005 had the US and others led a markedly less maximalist, less direct pressure approach.

The STL process should have aimed lower than being forged, as it quickly was, as a key means of hurting Hizbullah and Syria. This was a fatal mistake that lost a key opportunity for making rejection of the tribunal politically WAY TOO COSTLY FOR HIZBULLAH.

My point is that this could have been accomplished, especially in the 2005-2006 period – especially by focusing on the nature and rules of the tribunal, investigating leaks etc…. – but instead the Bush folks, M14 crowd and Neo-LiberalCon fellow travelers saw the STL as a great weapon to wield – pushing the maximum pain via Mehlis, via the rules, via the lebanese legal/parliamentary process etc as we know especially now from WIKILEAKS.

This was a Feltman-Abrams hardball approach. Unfortunately for both and for Lebanon, the US and its allies were in an increasingly weak position to play hardball.

Chess would have been better – or maybe even Kissinger’s weiqi


Written by nickbiddlenoe

July 26, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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