Wednesday July 1, 2015
To understand today’s crises in Iraq, Syria, and Iran, one must grasp their shared Lebanese connection. This assertion may seem odd. After all, what’s the big deal about Lebanon? That little country hasn’t had top headlines since Israel deigned to bomb and invade it in 2006. Yet, to a large extent, the roots of the bloody tangle now enmeshing the Middle East lie in Lebanon: or to be more precise, in the Lebanon policy of Israel.
Rewind to the era before the War on Terror. In 1995, Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s “dovish” Prime Minister, was assassinated by a right-wing zealot. This precipitated an early election in which Rabin’s Labor Party was defeated by the ultra-hawkish Likud, lifting hardliner Benjamin Netanyahu to his first Premiership in 1996.
That year, an elite study group produced a foreign policy document for the incipient administration titled, “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” The membership of the Clean Break study group is highly significant, as it included American neoconservatives who would later hold high offices in the Bush Administration and play driving roles in its Middle East policy.