Student Blogger Interviews Tom Friedman
Student blogger (and budding future law professor and regular Opinio Juris reader) David Schraub has an exclusive two-part interview with Tom Friedman. You can read the interviews over at The Debate Link here and here.
Plenty of insights regarding the Middle East, Lebanon, Iraq, the Bush Administration, and the future of “liberal hawks” in the Democratic Party. Here is a taste:
DS: So how does Hezbollah come out of this? Do they come out stronger?
TF: Well as we sit here today–and I’m glad I’m vacation right now so I don’t have to write a column this week–I think this was a devastating defeat for Hezbollah. Wars are fought for political ends. They aren’t fought for pride; they aren’t fought for how many people will put your poster up or how many times your face will appear on al-Jazeera. Wars are fought for political ends. Well let’s look at the two political ends of this war. It appears as we sit here today, that we’re going to get a French-led, European peacekeeping force in South Lebanon, that will escort the Lebanese army down to the border and will serve there as a permanent peacekeeping force. That’s a huge achievement for Israel… This is a huge strategic loss for Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah. Being able to touch Israel, and provoke a war like this, was a real strategic advantage for them. They could turn it on and off anytime they wanted. They can’t do that anymore….
That’s number one. Number two, Hezbollah was given these rockets by Iran, one assumes, as a deterrent, so if anyone–if Israel–ever struck Iran’s nuclear facilities, Iran could hit back through south Lebanon. First of all, now it’s fired off a lot of these rockets, got a lot of them destroyed, and while they of course they can be resupplied…. Israel will study this whole war, and learn the lessons of it. So, militarily Hezbollah is weaker. And politically speaking, inside Lebanon, many Lebanese are very angry about this war. They’re sitting back and saying, especially in their own community–and you may not hear that in the press here, but believe it’s going on–”What is this war about? What did this war achieve? Pride? But I lost my house. My factory. The bridge that got me to work. What was this all about? Who did we do this for? A third country?”
Now just those questions alone make it much harder for Nasrallah to act in the future. So, I would say on every count this was a huge strategic defeat for Hezbollah.