The European Union’s Position on Hezbollah: The Unmitigated Gaul
Hezbollah (AKA The Party of God), while playing a dominant role in the government of Lebanon, is also a religiously and politically extremist Shi’ite organization with its own private army and political agenda, separate and distinct from the national army of Lebanon and its official government. The organization has its own radio station, TV station (Al-Manar) and social services arm. In essence, Lebanese Hezbollah is a state within a state. Its funding and direction are derived from Iran, and is thus a wholly owned subsidiary of that nation.
On July 22, 2013, the European Union (EU) officially labeled Hezbollah’s military wing a terrorist organization, but not its political wing, earning itself a special place in semantic hell. This bizarre bifurcation, reserved by the EU only for Islamist movements, was an exercise in verbal acrobatics, belying the EUs desire not to offend or anger the organization, lest they be subject to attacks on the continent.
Of course, the EU should have learned that by not directly participating (with rare exceptions) in the US led bombing campaign against ISIS, they were not spared attacks on European soil by that terrorist organization. Expedience, at the expense of morality, is never a sound strategy when faced with genocidal entities.
The fact that the military wing takes its orders from the political wing was intentionally overlooked. We shall soon see whether all of the tough talk from European governments since the recent spate of attacks on the continent will alert those government leaders that they cannot hide from Islamist terrorist organizations (be they Sunni or Shi’ite) by straddling the line between action and cowardice. Yes, the French have conducted recent bombing sorties in Raqqa, Syria, the de facto capital of ISIS, since the November 2015 attacks in Paris, but judging by their history of acquiescence toward Islamist terrorist organizations, these attacks should probably be seen as a spasm of outrage rather than a sustained military campaign. They will likely be short lived.
The list of terrorist attacks attributed to Hezbollah is far too extensive to list in this post, but some of the more notorious ones are:
The 1983 bombing of the US Marines barracks in 1983 that killed 241 US servicemen, 58 French paratroopers and six civilians.
The 1984 bombing of the US Embassy annex in East Beirut, killing twenty-four.
The 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847. US Navy diver, Robert Stethem, was murdered and his body thrown on the tarmac.
The 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, killing twenty-nine.
The 1994 bombing of the AMIA (an Argentinian Jewish organization) building, also in Buenos Aires, killing eighty-five.
The 1994 bombing of Alas Chiracanas airlines, flight #00901, en route from Colon, Panama to Panama City, killing all twenty-one on board.
The 1994 attack on the Israeli Embassy in London, injuring twenty-nine.
The 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia killing nineteen US military personnel and wounding hundreds more.
The 2012 Burgas bus bombing attack in Bulgaria, killing five Israelis and the driver.
In 2005, Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafic Harari was killed along with twenty-one others when his motorcade was struck by a roadside bomb.
Other attacks were foiled in places as diverse as Cyprus in 2012, Singapore in the 1990s and Egypt in 2009.
Intermittently, over the years, Hezbollah has fired rockets at Israeli towns. Then, the group launched a major salvo of cross-border rockets at Israeli civilian centers, resulting in the 2006 Lebanon War. But most of the opprobrium from the EU was directed at Israel’s military response which was labeled, “disproportionate.” Apparently, when Israel is attacked, the EU believes that proportional warfare means the equal exertion of firepower. This obtuse reasoning, of course, was never used during WW1, WW11, the Falklands War or any other conflict involving the European powers.
While the EU, with metronomic regularity, criticizes the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and emotes moral outrage concerning Jerusalem housing ordinances, it seems to have no moral qualms with the Hezbollah Charter which openly calls for genocide: “Our primary function in our fight against Israel… the Zionist entity is aggressive from its inception…Therefore our struggle will end only when this entity is obliterated…” After all, the charter was written by the “peaceful” political wing, not the “terrorist” military wing of the group.
Yet, the EU refuses to label the entire organization as terrorist. Can anyone imagine an American District Attorney seeking arrest warrants only for the hitmen of a Mafia family, but not for the consigliore or Godfather, who in fact, issue the orders for the murders.
More analogous, by the EUs own logic, there should have never been Nuremberg Trials after WW11. Of the twenty-four men who were tried, the vast majority worked within the political (not military) wing of the Nazi Party. They included party secretaries, governor generals, ministers of the interior and foreign affairs, party propagandists, industrialists, ideologists and bankers. Some of these “civilian” Nazi Party functionaries were given long prison terms, others were executed. The victors did not differentiate between those who gave the orders (the political wing of the Nazi Party) for the murder of POWs and the mass murder of civilians, and those who loyally carried them out, (the military wing).
As the EUs Faustian bargain with ISIS disintegrated, so too will its convenient arrangement with Hezbollah. What the EU needs now is resolution, not resolutions. As George Orwell famously observed: “an indispensable adjunct to freedom is a willingness to call things by their real names.”
That’s a great place to start.