The Plank

Talking To Enemies

Obama may have shaken hands with Chavez, extended an olive branch to Cuba, and be warming up for talks with Iran. But when reciting that narrative, people should bear in mind that there are still important limits:

Hezbollah, which waged a 34-day war against Israel in 2006, has
built legitimacy here [in Lebanon] by providing a network of social services.
Britain recently said it would resume contact with the group’s
political wing, which has one post in the current Lebanese cabinet.

So far, though, President Obama has stuck with the Bush
administration’s refusal to deal with Hezbollah. American officials
reject the British distinction between its political and military
wings, and they view the group as a proxy for Iranian and Syrian
influence in the region.

Same goes for Hamas so far--although the LAT has an important story today reporting that Obama would permit U.S. aid to a Palestinian government which includes the militant group. That's not the same as talking directly, though.

--Michael Crowley

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