Exclusive: Sen. Obama Says Hamas and Hezbollah Have ‘Legitimate Claims’
by N. M. GUARIGLIA
September 29, 2008
Sen. Obama’s former top foreign affairs advisor, Robert Malley, recently had to resign his role in the Obama campaign due to holding meetings with the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. Mr. Malley’s favorable views of Hamas have been widely known for years. Malley had written extensively, sometimes co-writing articles with the late Yasser Arafat’s advisor Hussein Agha, blaming Israel, not Arafat, for the failure of the Camp David talks.
Had Malley’s views on (and meetings with) Hamas not been unveiled, who knows where Mr. Malley would have ended up in a potential Obama administration? Perhaps he would have been the Secretary of State. This is a sad and frightening possibility, or probability, because Sen. Obama is the least-vetted man in U.S. political history.
Nobody likes “gotcha!” politics. Both Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama have made serious gaffes during the course of this election, which began earlier and has lasted longer than any other election in American history. Both men are being recorded and watched at all times, and they’re human. Missteps and goof-ups are to be expected. Just ask Joe Biden.
But this issue is different. In a New York Times article, written by David Brooks on May 16th of this year, Sen. Obama made a very revealing admission that has gone overlooked by the mainstream press. The article, entitled “Obama Admires Bush,” focused on Sen. Obama’s views regarding the Middle East. The “Bush” in question was George H.W. Bush, the senior, and throughout the interview Obama displays his affection for old-school James Baker/Brent Scowcroft foreign policy realism.
About midway through the interview, however, the man who wants to be President of the United States gave a whopper of a quote. In Brooks’ words:
The U.S. needs a foreign policy that “looks at the root causes of problems and dangers.” Obama compared Hezbollah to Hamas. Both need to be compelled to understand that “they’re going down a blind alley with violence that weakens their legitimate claims” (emphasis mine).
Why has no one to date asked the would-be Commander-in-Chief what he means by “legitimate claims”? Certainly there is a large distinction to be made between Palestinian and Lebanese innocents vs. the terrible Hamas and Hezbollah organizations. The former have aspirations which, if addressed, would help the United States geopolitically. But the latter? To suggest these terrorist groups have legitimate claims? Something does not sit right, there.
To be fair, Mr. Obama acknowledges that the two groups are conducting vicious violence, and previously in the article asserts that Hezbollah is “not a legitimate political party.”
Which is all well and good. So what does he mean when he says Hamas and Hezbollah, specifically, have legitimate claims? They both consider themselves at war with the West, they both want to destroy Israel, and they both want to impose a puritanical version of Islam over their people. Clearly, any grievances they might have – which to the amoral and relativist would seem “legitimate” – should be overlooked and ignored, no?
This is more than a gaffe. It occurred during an interview with a respected journalist. It is in print.
What are the implications of this statement? Is Sen. Obama implying he opposes Hezbollah and Hamas merely due to their actions and not their beliefs? Is he solely against what these Jihadist groups do, and not what they represent? That’s like hating the gas chambers but excusing the fascism; opposing the gulags but delving into the nuances about the “legitimacy” of Stalinism.
The Third Reich complained about a raw deal at Versailles and a lack of Lebensraum, or “living space,” for the white race. The Bolsheviks harped about the excesses of the bourgeoisie. None of these “claims,” legitimate or not, were even considered by Western statesmen serious about the continuity of the Western way of life – and rightly so. Hamas and Hezbollah could stop the neck-slicing and car bombing tomorrow, and they would still be theocratic and neo-fascistic movements attempting to usurp their citizenry and democratic principalities in Palestine and Lebanon.
In fact, that is the route most Jihadist groups go: they use insurrection and terrorism to achieve governmental power and the apparatus of the state, then they morph into dictatorial regimes which no longer need to rely primarily on asymmetrical violence to brutalize their population and threaten their neighbors.
It is a disgrace that Sen. Obama has not had the chance to clarify himself, and an even further disgrace that nobody has held his feet to the fire on this issue (amongst others). Hezbollah and Hamas have combined to kill hundreds of Americans. Before 9/11, Hezbollah was the one terrorist group which had killed the most Americans throughout the world.
To put this statement by Sen. Obama into further context, consider this: Hamas and Hezbollah are both direct proxies of Iran. The same Iran which is blowing up Americans and Iraqis in Iraq.
The same Iran which Sen. Obama once promised to negotiate with without diplomatic preconditions.
The same Iran which Sen. Obama apparently believes does not, or would not, work with Sunni Jihadists (Iran being a Shi’ite country).
On top of all this, last year Sen. Obama voted against labeling Iran’s elite paramilitary unit, the Revolutionary Guards Corps, a “terrorist organization.” Sen. Obama did not want to designate the Revolutionary Guards – who created Hezbollah, and directly train and arm Hezbollah and Hamas to this day – a terrorist group.
The Revolutionary Guards, along with their surrogates, have been involved in some of the most egregious and destructive terrorist activities all across the world since 1979. And since 2003, they’ve killed U.S. forces in Iraq.
Again, Sen. Obama voted against calling them “terrorists” – and just several weeks ago, said Hezbollah and Hamas had “legitimate claims.”
More vetting of Sen. Obama’s views about the Middle East needs to happen before we have another foreign policy debate, let alone hold an election.
More context, still: Hamas actually endorsed Sen. Obama, to which Obama replied:
It’s conceivable that there are those in the Arab world who say to themselves, “This is a guy who spent some time in the Muslim world, has a middle name of Hussein and appears more worldly and has called for talks with people, and so he’s not going to be engaging in the same sort of cowboy diplomacy as George Bush.”
That’s a perfectly legitimate perception as long as they’re not confused about my unyielding support for Israel’s security.
While Hamas might not be confused about Sen. Obama’s views, I am. The press is supposed to be the watchdog for the American people. It took more than a year after the rantings of Rev. Wright were reported for the pastor’s hateful sermons to break the news nationally. It took prompting from Sean Hannity for George Stephanopoulos to finally question Sen. Obama about his connections to former domestic terrorist William Ayers.
This article might be from a few months ago, but this quote is too important to overlook. In not addressing this issue, Sen. Obama ends up concealing something which might be very unpleasant if further explored. Considering the context of this statement – his pro-Hamas advisor, the endorsement by Hamas, his refusal to label the Revolutionary Guards terrorists, etc. – the American public simply must know what Sen. Obama meant when he told David Brooks that Hezbollah and Hamas, mortal terrorist adversaries and theocratic extremists, had “legitimate claims.”
Before I walk into that voting booth, I need to know that. Period. Someone in the media, or in the McCain campaign, or at his rallies, needs to ask him what he means. And they need to ask him now.