The Obama administration is mighty impressed with itself for having proved it can make a deal with the Taliban. Now, it would like to make one with Hezbollah. John Kerry said last week that the Lebanon-based terrorist outfit could have a role to play, alongside Russia and Iran, in bringing about a “legitimate” political solution in Syria.
The sky is the limit in these heady days of diplomacy, Obama style.
There’s a certain symmetry to Kerry’s vision. Once, he thought Syria had a key role to play in bringing about a “legitimate” political solution in the Middle East. Now, he posits such a role for Hezbollah in “solving” Syria. What’s next, a role for al Qaeda in bringing about a solution in Lebanon?
For its part, Hezbollah seems sufficiently impressed by Obama’s deal with the Taliban to want to engage the global patsy. Its leader, Hasan Nasrallah, responded to Kerry’s overture with a taped message from Beirut.
Nasrallah stated that “any political solution has to start and end with Assad.” Thus, if the U.S. wishes to participate, it will have to stop supporting the rebels and engage in a dialogue with Assad, now that he overwhelmingly has been “elected” by the Syrians.
These conditions don’t seem onerous from the Obama administration’s perspective. Its support of the rebels has been minimal. And a dialogue with Assad hardly seems out of the question for an administration that prides itself in dealing with America’s bloodiest enemies and that has already negotiated deals with Iran and the Taliban.
Kerry, though, rejected Nasrallah’s response for now. He called it “as meaningless as the non-election that took place in Syria this week.”
But the negotiating positions of military victors are never meaningless, especially when they are a response to overtures from the loser.
Obama and Kerry have been flailing in Syria, hoping to achieve success but unwilling to make the requisite military commitment. First, Russia was going to help; then a Geneva conference was the ticket; now Kerry hopes that Hezbollah will bail us out.
These fantasies, not the response to them, are substantively meaningless. But the fact that Obama and Kerry indulge in them is rich in meaning.