Why America Needs Hezbollah
By Ted Rall
Clearing House" -- -- Hours after a ceasefire halted a five-week war
between Israel and Iranian-backed Islamic militias in Lebanon,
reported the New York Times, "hundreds of Hezbollah members spread
over dozens of villages across southern Lebanon began cleaning,
organizing and surveying damage. Men on bulldozers were busy cutting
lanes through giant piles of rubble. Roads blocked with the remnants
of buildings are now, just a day after a ceasefire began, fully
passable." Who cares if Hezbollah is a State Department-designated
terrorist organization? Unlike our worthless government, it gets
The citizens of New Orleans desperately need Hezbollah's can-do
terrorist spirit. Outside the French Quarter tourist zone, writes
Jed Horne in The New Republic, what was until 2005 our nation's most
charming city and cultural center remains "a disaster zone, an area
five times the size of Manhattan."
One year after the routine matter of a Gulf Coast hurricane, half
the city's population remains refugees--screwed over by a government
that hasn't lifted a finger to pretend that it cares. Horne
describes "Vast swaths of a city emptied as if by a neutron bomb,
with only the fecal brown floodline up under the eaves to suggest
what went so very wrong--that, and the ghostly dried brine still
coating the dead lawns and landscaping."
New Orleans is a dead city. Incredibly, the politicians don't give a
damn. "Now most of the water has gone," the British Daily Mirror
newspaper informed readers on the storm's anniversary, "but little
else has changed. Driving through the streets, it is shocking to see
how much devastation remains and how little rebuilding has taken
Americans watched incredulously as their government responded to the
desperate pleas of sick and starving Katrina victims by herding them
into internment camps, and then issued them $2000 debit cards--an
insulting pittance--to compensate them for losing everything they
owned. Anyone could see that the federal government had failed its
obligation to protect its citizens. Not only had officials refused
to shore up crumbling levies, they didn't even try to send in relief
after the long-predicted flood. The United States of America,
however, is led by men who see things very differently from, well,
everyone else. They actually think that Hurricane Katrina victims
received too much.
"If you put $2,000 in someone's hands, that's a lot of money,"
Federal Emergency Management Agency Director David Paulison
explained during a July 23 announcement. Due to Bush Administration
budget cuts, the victims of future disasters will have to make do
with a mere $500.
You know the U.S. has gone Third World when bombed-out Lebanese get
a better deal than we do. Remember how hurricane victims couldn't
get through to FEMA's perpetually busy hotline? Promising that
Hezbollah personnel "in the towns and villages will turn to those
whose homes are badly damaged and help rebuild them," Sheikh Hassan
Nasrallah ordered Hezbollah militants to canvass damaged
neighborhoods and begin repairs at once. Hezbollah gives out "decent
and suitable furniture" and a year's free rent to all Lebanese who
lost their homes. Unlike the racist government officials who managed
the botched response along the Gulf Coast last year, where whites
were rescued while blacks were shot, the Shiite terrorist group's
offer also applies to Sunnis, Christians and even Jews.
"Hezbollah's reputation as an efficient grass-roots social service
network," reported the Times, "was in evidence everywhere. Young men
with walkie-talkies and clipboards were in the battered Shiite
neighborhoods on the southern edge of Bint Jbail, taking notes on
the extent of the damage. Hezbollah men also traveled door to door
checking on residents and asking them what help they needed." With
terrorists like that, who needs FEMA?
A year after Katrina, officials are still pulling bodies out of the
rubble. Dozens of corpses remain unidentified; the president,
governor and mayor continue to pass the blame for their willful
inaction. George W. Bush still refuses to accept responsibility.
Just one day after the Lebanese ceasefire, however, Sheikh Nasrallah
had already delivered a thorough accounting of the damage caused by
Israel's bombing campaign and launched a comprehensive rebuilding
program. "So far," said the Hezbollah leader, "the initial count
available to us on completely demolished houses exceeds 15,000
residential units. We cannot of course wait for the government and
its heavy vehicles and machinery because they could be a while."
As often occurs during emergencies in the U.S., price gouging for
housing, water, gasoline and other essentials was rampant during and
after Katrina. Bush did nothing. Nasrallah, by contrast, warned
businesses not to exploit the situation: "No one should raise prices
due to a surge in demand."
Never argue with a man who buys AK-47s by the boxcar.
"Hezbollah's strength," says Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a professor at the
Lebanese American University in Beirut and an expert on the
organization, in large part derives from "the gross vacuum left by
Sound familiar? It does to the people of Ladysmith, Wisconsin. The
rural town, destroyed by a tornado in 2002, has been abandoned by
the government to whom its people paid taxes all their lives.
Maybe we can commission Hezbollah to rebuild the World Trade Center.
Ted Rall is the author of the new book "Silk Road to Ruin: Is
Central Asia the New Middle East?," an in-depth prose and graphic
novel analysis of America's next big foreign policy challenge. Visit
his website www.tedrall.com