Jimmy Carter and Hizballah
by W. THOMAS SMITH, JR.
December 12, 2008
Poor ol’ Jimmy Carter. He’s a good man to be sure: an excellent Sunday School teacher I’m told, a Naval Academy grad and submariner (huge pluses in my book). But as a wartime commander-in-chief – and make no mistake the United States was at war (with the Soviets and their proxies as well as the Iranian revolutionaries) during his presidency – Carter has proven to be sorely lacking.
As an elder statesman, Carter has worked tirelessly building houses for the homeless and generally trying to further various human rights causes worldwide. And that’s great. But where he doesn’t need to stick his nose is in the realm of American foreign policy.
Cases in point are his recent offers to monitor the 2009 Lebanese parliamentary elections and meet with the Lebanon-based Shia terrorist group, Hizballah.
As far as the election monitoring is concerned, Lebanon’s interior minister Ziad Baroud said, according to USA Today, he “welcomed [Carter’s] offer but … the Cabinet must approve it.”
As far as the proposed meeting with Hizballah is concerned, the terrorist group – which Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff says “makes al Qaeda look like a minor league team” – rejected the offer because they say Hizballah doesn’t meet with current and former U.S. presidents.
My question is, what was Carter thinking? Maybe that’s it: He wasn’t. Few western leaders are thinking rationally when it comes to Jihadists like Hizballah (or Hamas whom Carter has already met with).
These people are killers – at war with the infidel (meaning us) – nothing more. Meeting with Hizballah (And, yes, Barack Obama has suggested meeting – without precondition – Hizballah’s primary benefactor, Iran.) would accomplish absolutely nothing for the West.
Hizballah cannot be taken at its word. Jihadists lie and deceive – and coerce or pay their supporters, sympathizers, and apologists to do the same – as a matter of strategic leverage (please see my piece on Al Taqiyya). Terrorists like Hizballah meet with their enemies in order to “clean their public faces,” appear more human, attempt to shift their enemy’s intelligence focuses, and buy time for the greater Jihad: There is no permanent peace with the Jihadists, only temporary truces so that they may regroup or strengthen their positions.
What such a meeting also would accomplish for Hizballah – whose leaders have proclaimed “Death to America” – is an undeserved recognition of the terrorist group as a formidable armed-power worthy of an audience with a former leader of the free world. Then it would give the terrorists an opportunity to reject such an offer, which is exactly what they did with the Carter offer.
In the end, the offer and rejection – in the eyes of Shia extremists like Hizballah (even their Sunni counterparts like al Qaeda) – makes America appear weak, groveling, and jilted, which only fuels the enemy’s public standing in the Islamic world thus enhancing their recruiting and sponsorship efforts among rank-and-file Muslims.
Can anyone imagine a former U.S. president offering to meet with Hitler or members of the SS during the height of World War II? Or worse, Hitler or the SS saying “no” to such a meeting?
We are similarly at war with the Jihadists who ultimately want to subjugate or kill us. There is no negotiating with this enemy. We must come to grips with this fact, and stop trying to convince ourselves that Islamists think and reason like Westerners.
The only senior Western representative to meet with Hizballah should be the commanding general of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, and that meeting should be an unconditional demand that Hizballah surrender its arms as called for under United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701.
As for Pres. Carter: He should stick to his volunteer work; building houses for the homeless and teaching Sunday School.