[Marxism] re: Israel is losing the war (Wall Street Journal)

Brian Shannon Brian_Shannon at verizon.net
Wed Aug 2 18:10:15 MDT 2006

This is an interview in a self-proclaimed LIBERAL publication, The  
American Prospect.* Ranstorp completely endorses what the U.S. and  
Israel attack, but he offers some advice, presumably on bended knew.

He maintains that Israel has been most effective in seizing an  
occasion useful to it, i.e., by focusing on the capture of Israeli's,  
they would appear justified in an irrational response. Of course, the  
response is not irrational from the point of view of imperialism, but  
just what they want.

Ranstorp's comment on Proportional Representation is interesting.  
Right now the representation is based on communities. What Ranstorp  
implies is that the Hezbollah would hold onto its own community  
support but be able to reach out to other communities because of its  
political program. Of course.

I have indented the questions.

Brian Shannon

* The American Prospect was founded in 1990 as an authoritative  
magazine of liberal ideas, committed to a just society, an enriched  
democracy, and effective liberal politics. Robert Kuttner, Robert  
Reich, and Paul Starr launched the magazine initially as a quarterly.


Contra Iran
TAP talks to Magnus Ranstorp about Hezbollah and the Iranian connection.

By Laura Rozen
Web Exclusive: 08.02.06

Magnus Ranstorp is among the world’s leading experts on Hezbollah.  
Advisor to governments, former director of the Center for the Study  
of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St. Andrews,  
Scotland, and currently chief scientist on asymmetric threats at  
Sweden’s National Defense College, Ranstorp has interviewed hundreds  
of members of Hezbollah, Hamas, and other militant Islamist groups  
for his research, numerous articles, and books, including Hizb'Allah  
in Lebanon. He spoke from Sweden with Laura Rozen about the militia  
group and what the United States should be doing about the current  
conflict in Lebanon.

> Some in the U.S. intelligence community have voiced concerns that  
> Hezbollah has the capability to strike abroad; it’s not clear at  
> this point they have the intent. What would their calculation be?

The Israelis know that if they assassinate [Hezbollah general  
secretary Hassan] Nasrallah, Hezbollah and Iranian intelligence will  
reach around the world and hit an Israeli embassy or diplomatic mission.

> Why that sort of attack? To show they have global reach?

For retribution.

I have been to Argentina, I have seen where Hezbollah and Iranian  
intelligence attacked the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992. I  
have seen their style. I assisted the Argentine Supreme Court in its  
investigation of the 1992 case. And it’s indisputable that Hezbollah  
and Iranian intelligence were involved.

> Why does Iran need Hezbollah to conduct terror operations? Their  
> own intelligence operatives have conducted assassinations by  
> themselves throughout Europe.

For plausible deniability. To operate under the cover of plausible  

You’re right, the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security is  
the most formidable intelligence agency in the region, surpassing  
even the Mossad.

> Why is Iranian intelligence so effective?

Well, they have 30,000 employees. They have to survive in a hostile  
Arab environment. They export Hezbollah. They are at work in the  
Gulf, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

> So is the Lebanon conflict a result of Iranian hegemony?

This conflict has to be viewed in a broader geophysical context. The  
bottom line is that while it has to do, of course, with what’s  
happening in the Middle East in general, more specifically it has  
much to do with the brewing conflict, the U.S.-Iranian confrontation.

> So you do see the Lebanon conflict as about the United States and  
> Iran?

Without exception; with a great degree of confidence. There has been  
a lot of background preparation. Iran’s control is more than meets  
the eye.

Really, if you want to mess with Iran, Hezbollah is the Achille’s  
heal, the weakest link in the whole matrix. You take them on, not  
just because you want to mess with Iran, but for many reasons: for  
Lebanon’s sake, to get some solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian  
issue, also to tackle Syria, which has been a staunch ally to Iran  
for 26 years.

Hezbollah has been very smart maneuvering politically. They have  
created a broad resistance coalition in Lebanon, which they control,  
but they don’t claim ownership of the resistance. They are playing  
the confessional card in the sense that they are reaching across the  
divide, and they have done so for a long time in order to position  
themselves to make it more difficult to disarm them.

> Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres said at an event yesterday that  
> Hezbollah is trying to de-Lebanize Lebanon, to reorient it to Iran.

Peres is compressing the long view of the path Hezbollah has taken.

Before, during Lebanon’s civil war, even into the early 1990s,  
Hezbollah’s flag called for the Islamic Republic of Lebanon.

But as they have entered into the Lebanese political scene in recent  
years, they have been very smart; they’ve stopped calling for the  
Islamic Republic of Lebanon, advocating instead for the people’s will  
to determine Lebanon’s orientation in the future.

Having said that, however, the ultimate card Hezbollah can play if  
the Lebanese play hardball with them is to push for pure proportional  
representation: one man, one vote. If that’s the case, Hezbollah will  
take over the reins of government to an even greater degree. That is  
the ultimate ace they have up their sleeve.

Hezbollah has organized, personal, longstanding links with Iran, on a  
number of different levels. In 1992, Hezbollah Secretary General  
Hassan Nasrallah became the personal representative of Iran’s Supreme  
Leader Ayatollah Khamenei in Lebanon…

Hezbollah currently has about 100 Iranian advisors in Lebanon. They  
don’t partake in the fighting. They are more tactical advisors…

[Hezbollah provides the Iranians with] the terror machinery. It’s not  
used very much anymore. Recently the main focus has been on trying to  
assist Hamas on a low scale, strategic consultations and kidnapping  
[the Israeli soldier]. That is coordinated via the Hamas  
representative in Beirut, Osama Hamdan. He used to be Hamas’ rep in  
Iran. They have recently been trying to infiltrate foreigners into  
Israel; people have been arrested for carrying out reconnaissance on  
Israeli troops.

But the connections with Iran go ever further. The entire Hezbollah  
collective leadership studied in Najaf [Iraq]. Nasrallah was there  
between 1976 and 1979, he was there during Khomeini’s rein there. The  
Iranian clerics were trained by the Palestinians in the 1970s….

> If you were advising the U.S. government, what would you tell them  
> to do?

I would say from a U.S. perspective, I would advise the Israelis, if  
they are really serious about taking out Hezbollah, they should  
neutralize the Hezbollah political leadership to lay the ground work  
for diplomatic efforts. Squeeze them in one direction, towards U.S.- 
led efforts to lock them into UN Security Council resolution 1559,  
which calls for the disarmament of all militias in Lebanon, which  
means Hezbollah

The Israelis have seized the moment. Everything was in a holding  
pattern, stalemate, and the kidnapping was perfect for the Israelis,  
and they have seized the moment. From my perspective, I would tell  
them to continue on the same path. Not to concede until the work has  
been done...

I have followed this thing on a daily basis for sixteen years now,  
even when it was completely out of the headlines. And there has never  
been a better moment to really move on the Lebanese and Syrian tracks.

> By the “Syrian track,” do you mean behavior change, or regime change?

Probably behavior change, although things may have to get worse  
before they get better. The Israelis and the Americans will part ways  
on this. The U.S. would like to follow through with the democratic  
experiment there. The Israelis don’t want to change the regime.

Laura Rozen is a senior correspondent for the Prospect.
© 2006 by The American Prospect, Inc.


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