Time for Nasrallah and Obama to talk?
"Just maybe!" hints the latest National Intelligence Estimate (NIE)
An experienced Washington Post columnist, David Ignatius, to his credit not among the most biased Israeli Hasbara spewers from the Zionist daily, dropped by our Hezbollah neighborhood known as Dahiyeh the other day. During a hour meeting with Hezbollah Foreign Relations Officer Ammar Mousawi and his brilliant assistant, and friend to many Americans, English Literature scholar Hussein Haider, the WP reporter came away apparently impressed with the quality of the discussion with the Lebanese political party that Israeli President Shimon Peres claims "is now Lebanon!" Visiting Westerners are regularly surprised to learn firsthand that Hezbollah, the new majority party in Lebanon whose imprimatur will be stamped on all major Lebanese government decisions, including, enshallah (God willing), without any more nonsense, the internationally mandated civil right to work and to own a home for Lebanon's quarter million Palestinian refugees, bears no resemblance to the past quarter century of Zionist Fox News- US Main Stream Media portrayal.
But then, western epiphanies in Dahiyeh are old news.
Like many observers of Lebanon's new majority, Ignatius apparently wondered about the possibility of some sort of high level direct dialogue between Hezbollah and the Obama administration given the continuing US skid and waning influence in the region and the dramatic rise of Hezbollah and its allies against the backdrop of the Islamic-Arab Awakening that may be in just its early stages. So, as seems to happen every couple of years recently, an alert journalist makes contact with the US Intelligence Community and grist is offered for an intriguing column that the US might anoint for dialogue the "political wing" of Hezbollah as distinct from the "military wing" since the Party does not act much like a "terrorist organization" should.
The "separate wings" concept is a fiction of course as there is no totally separate political-military command division within Hezbollah. There are many departments and units that do specialized work on health care, education, urban and environmental planning, post war reconstruction and fourteen other social service focused tasks. Specialized units keep an eye on the blue line and prepare to confront Israeli aggression against Lebanon. The party is generally unified in its decision making following sometimes freewheeling "best expert argument wins" debates as part of its almost Leninist "democratic centralism' model with the buck stopping with the 7 member Shura or Executive Council. The Secretary-General, Hassan Nasrallah has significant power but he acts for and answers to the Shura and lacks the typical absolute authority of collapsing Arab despots.
The "good wing-bad wing" pretense is favored by some in the US Intelligence Community as it allows political cover for desired engagement much as was the case for other "terrorist' groups such as the PLO, the ANC and the IRA. For that reason John Brennan, the White House counterterrorism adviser recently discussed the new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Hezbollah that is nearing completion, with "draft ideas' being circulated to key Members of Congress and AIPAC.
According to Congressional sources, the White House, has zero interest in attacking Iran and believes that Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah is someone the US "can do business with." Given Nasrallah's admirers in Tehran, and his mass popular appeal in this region, some of the NIE drafters and White House staffers think Nasrallah could help with at least some US-Iranian antagonisms.
As Israel and its Arab collaborators quake as Iran ascends in the region, the future determinate of Middle East Peace will be US Iranian relations", according to a US Senate Intelligence Committee staffer, who added: "Many in Washington think we can work with Iran and Nasrallah could perhaps help both of us immeasurably."
The same source opined that the White House appears split down the middle whether to seek direct contact with Hezbollah with some close Obama aides arguing that times are changing in the Middle East and maybe US policy should too following a decade of trillion dollar a year wars with nothing but carnage and US economy ruining deficits to show for them. Obama aids are said to favor a regional approach that has already led to two U.S.-sponsored meetings on Afghanistan that included Iranian representatives -- one in Rome last year and one in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on 3/3/11.
Opposed to this view is the Foreign Policy establishment which, committed to Israel, does not care much who is president as they always stay in power and exist in the form of the Council on Foreign Relations and other non-elected, self-appointed and auto-replenished guardians of American foreign policy. Their view, expressed this week by Tommy Vietor, the National Security Council spokesman, is still mired in: "on the political level, there can be no dialogue with Hezbollah because it is a terrorist organization creating instability in the Middle East."