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Middle East History According to Oliver North

Reported by Judy - August 1, 2006 -

Convicted felon Oliver North, who got off on a technicality in the Iran-Contra affair with the help of the ACLU, gave history lessons on Iran and Hezbollah on Fox News "Dayside" on Monday (July 31, 2006), but he left out his role in arming terrorists in the Middle East.

"Dayside" co-hosts Mike Jerrick and Alyson Camerota introduced North as "counter-terrorism coordinator" in the 1980s. North described Hezbollah as an Iranian-sponsored, directed, and suppllied terrorism organization that also has built a political force in Lebanon.

In response to questions from the audience, North said that Hezbollah was created by Ayatollay Khoumeni who hated America and that's why Hezbollah members hate America. Northing about Arab nationalism, unquestioning U.S. support for Israel, just "they hate us."

When it comes to Iran supplying terrorist organizations, North should know plenty. After all, it was he who dreamed up the idea of selling arms to Iran in the 1980s at a huge mark-up and then using the money to promote warfare in Central America. But on "Dayside," he never mentioned U.S. arms going to Iran to use in the Middle East or his tole in it.

On the rest of the program, North repeated his unfounded accusations that Hezbollah was to blame for the 54 civilian deaths at Qana, saying that "whether they were killed by Hezbollah, whether they were forced to stay there by Hezbollah, we don't know" but that Israel is paying the consequences for the bombing.

North continued to try to make the Israeli-Lebanon crisis into a "U.S. versus terrorism" fight, claiming that "more Americans have become victims of terror through Hezbollah than any other organization, except Al Qaeda." Pretty deceptive since Hezbollah since the biggest Hezbollah attack on American citizens was the 1983 bombing of the marine barracks in Lebanon -- an attack that Ronald Reagan did nothing to avenge and which North did not mention.

A professor of Middle Eastern studies from the University of Michigan says North's comparison of Hezbollah and al Qaeda is off-base. Juan Cole, on his July 31, 2006 blog entry on Informed Comment, wrote:

"Western and Israeli pundits keep comparing Hizbullah to al-Qaeda. It is a huge conceptual error. There is a crucial difference between an international terrorist network like al-Qaeda, which can be disrupted by good old policing techniques (such as inserting an agent in the Western Union office in Karachi), and a sub-nationalist movement.

"Al-Qaeda is some 5,000 multinational volunteers organized in tiny cells.

"Hizbullah is a mass expression of subnationalism that has the loyalty of some 1.3 million highly connected and politically mobilized peasants and slum dwellers. Over a relatively compact area. ...

"The main factor in causing these peasant sharecroppers to become politically aware and mobilized was the Arab Israeli conflict. The Israelis stole some of their land in 1948 and expelled 100,000 Palestinians north into south Lebanon, where they competed for resources with local Lebanese Shiites. In the late 1960s and early 1970s the Palestinians became politically and militarily organized by the PLO. The Shiites' conflict with the PLO in the southern camps in the 1970s was probably a key beginning, but from 1982 it was primarily their conflict with the Israeli Occupation army that spurred them on. ...

"Where subnationalisms are organized by party-militias willing to use carbombings and other asymmetrical forms of warfare, they are extremely difficult, if not impossible to defeat militarily. It would take a World War II style crushing military defeat of these populations, with the willingness of the conqueror to suffer tens of thousands dead in troop casualties. Israel is not even in a position to risk such a thing, given its small population.

"Hizbullah is not like al-Qaeda in any way, sociologically speaking, and making such an analogy is a sure way for a general or politician to trick himself into entering the fires of hell."

Cole says Israel has made an error in thinking it can eliminate Hezbollah militarily. North is trying to persuade Americans into following Israel into "the fires of hell." He should lead the way.