Lebanon teeters on the brink

Hezbollah is threatening to break up the “unity” government of Lebanon, as reports and rumors suggest Hezbollah members may be indicted by the prosecutor of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon established by the United Nations Security Council, for their roles in the assassination of Rafic Hariri, the father of the current Lebanese prime minister, Saad Hariri.


Wassim Mroueh. “Ministers set for showdown in Cabinet,” The Daily Star, November 10, 2010,

Robert F. Worth, “Don’t Aid Hariri Tribunal, Hezbollah Warns.”
New York Times, October 28, 2010

Robert F. Worth, “Lebanon: International T,ribunal Says Hezbollah Tried to Obstruct Justice in Prime Minister’s Killing,” New York Times, October 29, 2010.

Elias Sakr and Hassan Lakiss, “Hizbullah’s boycott call bid to obstruct justice – Ban,” The Daily Star, October 30, 2010

The indictment by the prosecutor only states the charges. They must still be proven before the court, which is headed by a very distinguished Italian international lawyer, Antonio Cassesse.

A cabinet meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, November 10. Hezbollah is not only challenging the Hariri government by threatening to withdraw from the governmnet and disrupt the country, but is also challenging the United Nations Security Council and the entire framework of internationanl law and institutions under which the Special Tribunal for Lebanon was established.

Into this maelstrom, Senator John Kerry traveled on November 8, apparently at the request of President Obama.

Senator Kerry seems to see no conflict of interest between his oversight responsibilities as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and serving as President Obama’s roving ambassador to countries from Afghanistan to the Sudan and Turkey, Syria and Lebanon.

Obama has effectively co-opted Kerry, who cannot remotely be viewed as avoiding the appearance of impropriety while simultaneously acting under a constitutional mandate to hold the president to account for his foreign policy, and exercising an executive function under that same president by going on diplomatic missions to assist in implementing U.S. foreign policy.

Obviously, it would appear that he might withhold his criticism of the president’s foreign policy in his Senate role due to the fact that it might affect his future diplomatic assignments from the president.

Democratic senators might take due note of this conflict of interest when voting to elect the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the next session of Congress, in January, 2011.

One must wonder whether Secretary of State Clinton had a full voice in the decision to send Kerry to Lebanon. Perhaps so. One can only sympathize with her ambassadors.

Neither Obama nor Kerry demonstrates any sense of understanding the separation of powers in this context, and the appropriate constitutional boundaries that should be respected by each.

See “Senator Kerry’s Conflict of Interest in Afghanistan,” The Trenchant Observer, August 19, 2010.

Meanwhile, Lebanon teeters on the brink.

The Trenchant Observer

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E-mail: observer@trenchantobserver.com

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