Friday, October 03, 2008

Repost(Biden's Gaffe)

I got a crazy phone call from a conservative friend of mine asking about the gaffe Biden made about Hezbollah. We each had some confusion about what the actual mistake was so I tried my best to clarify:

Biden, who is known for his verbal miscues, managed to only have one major gaffe, apparently erroneously referring to Hezbollah instead of Syria when he talked about the United States and France coming to the aid of Lebanon.

“When we kicked — along with France, we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, I said, and Barack said, ‘Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don’t know — if you don’t, Hezbollah will control it,’” Biden said.

What’s funny about this particular gaffe is that the conjecture is incorrect. Typically with a statement like this it’s across the board incorrect, but in this case, it’s half right… The U.S. kicked Syria out of Lebanon and the last of their troops left in 2005. Hezbollah at that time was not considered a terrorist organization in the U.S. thanks to their condemnation of the Sept. 11 attacks(they were listed as a terrorist organization in the 90s because of attacks on Israel and the kidnapping of several Israeli soldiers). In July of ’06 Hezbollah then began a war with Israel that lasted for about a month. The UN brokered a cease fire in August of ’06 effectively ending the conflict. Currently though, Hezbollah is an effective political organization that is respected in the region. The U.S., being such an ally of Israel’s probably would’ve preferred to keep Hezbollah from gaining its current status. Without U.S. support, Lebanon has been in conflict throughout 2008 due to a recent uprise in the agenda of Hezbollah. This uprising is a result of the Lebanese governments attempts to make Hezbollah’s military telecommunications illegal. So what Joe Biden said is accurate only if you replace Syria for Hezbollah only the first time he said it.

So it would’ve been correct if he’d said:

When we kicked — along with France, we kicked SYRIA out of Lebanon, I said, and Barack said, ‘Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don’t know — if you don’t, Hezbollah will control it.

So like I said, it was definitely a misstatement, but he wasn’t just making it up. He was trying to reference a real problem with our understanding of these types of conflicts. Removing the Syrians from Lebanon certainly halted that conflict, but it actually helped to provide Hezbollah the ability to gain popularity and justification in Lebanon. Had we stepped in(I wouldn’t say with troops, personally) we might’ve been able to help the government support efforts to minimize the effect of Hezbollah. In short, it would’ve been stepping into a propaganda war against clerical influence of government policy, but if our concern really is keeping the region around Israel safe for Israelis this should’ve have been a much higher priority than demonizing Iran. I also believe though that NATO would’ve have been the best organization for this type of problem and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon even tried to express that resolution 1701 which ended the ’06 war didn’t go far enough:

"Hezbollah continues to refuse to provide any information on the release or fate of abducted soldiers, and places conditions and demands for the release that are far outside the scope of resolution 1701," Ban wrote in the report.[45]

The report also points out that Hezbollah has replenished its stock of rockets and missiles in South Lebanon, and is now in possession of 10,000 long-range rockets and 20,000 short-range projectiles.

Now I can't say that my explanation of this is 100% accurate, nor is it a complete understanding of the situation in Lebanon with Hezbollah, but it does stand to reason that the ONLY gaffe that Biden made was mistakenly saying Hezbollah when he meant to say Syria. Big deal, but hardly as bad as the gaffes Palin made IMHO.

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