Hezbollah Kicked out of Lebanon? Come Again, Joe?

Last night’s debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden (transcript here) is tough to call. Both sides are claiming victory. It seems that both Biden and Palin won, possible since they were not really competing against each other.

Biden had to make sure that he did not put his foot in his mouth or come across as mean or aggressive. He remained amiable and gracious throughout, passing up several chances to attack Palin’s misstatements. His tears during the mention of his first wife’s fatal car accident came across as honest and spontaneous, and he attacked McCain, not Palin.

Palin’s task was more difficult. After two awful weeks for McCain, because of both the economy and Palin’s incomprehensible answers during her Couric interview, a poor performance for Palin could put the nail in the coffin of McCain’s campaign and rule out any national political career for Palin. What’s more, she was going up against a veteran senator with long and deep foreign policy experience. She was able to remain on the offensive for much of the debate, and even took control of the topic being discussed at times, albeit in a sometimes awkward fashion. She was able to project her personality through the television that endeared her to conservative and rural Americans. And, most importantly, she had an answer for every question (even if it wasn’t the question being asked), and did not freeze up or say that she did not know about a certain subject.

Both candidates had their misstatements, but there was one that continues to stand out in my mind.  

Biden said:

When we kicked — along with France, we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, I said and Barack said, “Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don’t know — if you don’t, Hezbollah will control it.”

Now what’s happened? Hezbollah is a legitimate part of the government in the country immediately to the north of Israel.

What? When was Hezbollah kicked out of Lebanon? How could they be a legitimate part of the government if they were kicked out?

Perhaps he was referring to Syria leaving Lebanon, according to Jeremy Pelofsky at Reuters. Syrian troops left Lebanon in the aftermath of the Cedar Revolution in April, 2005. But France and the United States did not play meaningful roles in that event, offering only statements of support for the Lebanese people. That was a Lebanese affair. In addition, no one advocated putting NATO troops into Lebanon to replace the Syrians who had just left.

I believe Biden left out the word “south” in his answer, referring to Hezbollah’s retreat from south Lebanon to new lines north of the Litani River at the end of the Second Lebanon War in August, 2006. There, the U.S. and France took leading roles in crafting U.N.S.C. Resolution 1701 that outlined the terms of the cease-fire. But, again, saying France and the U.S. kicked Hezbollah out of south Lebanon is an disingenous way of framing a war in which Israel lost 120- plus soldiers in order to accomplish what Biden is crediting the U.S. and France with. Also, no one has yet been able to dig up any instance of Obama or Biden pushing for NATO troops in south Lebanon instead of UNIFIL soldiers.  

Imagine the reaction in the media if Palin had made such a strange claim on a foreign policy issue.

Annenberg’s Factcheck.org does not even deal with Biden’s Hezbollah gaffe in their “non-partisan” critique of the debate.

22 Responses to Hezbollah Kicked out of Lebanon? Come Again, Joe?

  1. Diane says:

    There’s another possible interpretation of Biden’s bizarre comments being discussed at Commentary’s “Contentions” blog.

    Possibly he was confusing the PLO with Hezbollah, and he was referring to the expulsion of the PLO from Lebanon in 1982 by the IDF. Perhaps he meant Ehud Barak, not Barack Obama, when he says “I said and Barack said, “Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don’t know — if you don’t, Hezbollah will control it.”

    American and French forces were involved in the expulson of PLO forces after the first Lebanon War.

    But if this is what Biden meant, it still makes no sense to mention this episode from long, long ago as a way to illustrate the “abject failures of the Bush administration” in its Israel-Palestinian diplomacy efforts. This was the foreign policy of Ronald Reagan. And conflating the PLO with Hezbollah is no minor error.

  2. Diane says:

    Here’s that thread about Biden’s Hezbollah comment:


  3. Cynic says:

    I tried to comment about some of the misconceptions voiced there discussed at Commentary’s “Contentions” blog.
    but I seem to have some problem with WordPress. I submit the comment and nothing comes of it. When I try to re-submit after a fair amount of time I receive the message that I have already submitted the comment.
    Occasionally I have this problem here. Can anyone explain a possible cause for this?

    Anyway what I wanted to remind Michael Totten of was of Hezbollah’s “founding” by Iran, their bombing of the Marines and Baker’s and Weinberger’s reaction.
    Anyway that would have made Biden a very green rookie at the time and as context does not seem to matter anymore, of no consequence.
    Thomas Sowell has a good piece out this week “Do Facts Matter?”; apparently not for the Bidens of our lives.

  4. Cynic says:

    I believe Biden left out the word “south” in his answer, referring to Hezbollah’s retreat from south Lebanon to new lines north of the Litani River at the end of the Second Lebanon War in August, 2006. There, the U.S. and France took leading roles in crafting U.N.S.C. Resolution 1701 that outlined the terms of the cease-fire.

    But Hezbollah is back in the “South” and the UNIFIL troops no better than they were before, and Syria is now denying that they are arming Hezbollah after two years of resupplying them with all the latest and greatest from Iran.

  5. Joey says:

    U.N. Resolution 1559
    Nevertheless, in August 2004, France and the United States cosponsored U.N. Resolution 1559 calling for the removal of Syrian troops from Lebanon and the disarming of militias including Hezbollah, although the French initially hedged on the second point, stressing that Hezbollah could be disarmed only by the Lebanese authorities.

  6. oao says:

    All these arguments about facts are useless.

    Facts are inconvenient, because they demonstrate the descent of america into irrelevancy. America is looking for a face-saving out of its backing of israel because it realizes, whether consciously or not, that it has self-destructed via its internal and external policies.

    Politicians are babbling all sorts of nonsense in an attempt to find a way out before the impotence of america becomes so obvious and very serious blows are dealt to it.

    Pathetic, but well in line of what america does when it does not have overwhelming power to be arrogant.

  7. oao says:

    Correction: I did not mean america realizes it has self-destructed, but rather that that it has no longer significant power to influence events. It is my claim that it achieved this by its own policies.

    Poor articulation.

  8. E.G. says:

    Correction to oao,

    The U.S. seems reluctant to use the power it has. And not only militarily.

  9. Cynic says:


    From here it looks like America is scared of what the neighbours will think (bundle into that all the PC, multiculti hypocrisy running wild currently – some of the Supreme Court comments over the past couple of years seem to manifest that phobia)aside from the influence of corporate lawyers in international investments and the realists in Foggy Bottom.

  10. E.G. says:


    From here too it looks like a giant afraid of its own might. The spirit isn’t willing… On the other hand, perhaps we’re taking the signals from the wrong place – the media?

    Side note: who are the candidates trying to please/attract, the voting people or the media?

  11. Cynic says:


    The candidates are not interested in the voting public but only in satisfying the Fanny Maes filling their pockets and the MSM of course in their delusional heights of power only interested in scaring the lemmings into flight

  12. Diane says:


    re your trouble posting to Contentions, were you by any chance using a verboten word? Once I used the word “nazi” in a post and it kept refusing, without explanation. When I replaced one letter with an asterisk, it went right through.

  13. the media elitist says:

    “Also, no one has yet been able to dig up any instance of Obama or Biden pushing for NATO troops in south Lebanon instead of UNIFIL soldiers.”

    Actually, I think Obama did call for more NATO. I don’t know he if he called on them to replace UNIFIL though.:

    “During the July 2006 Lebanon war, Barack Obama and Joe Biden
    stood up strongly for Israel’s right to defend itself from Hezbollah raids and rocket attacks. Obama is an
    original cosponsor of the Senate resolution expressing support for Israel, condemning the attacks, and calling
    for strong action against Iran and Syria. Throughout the war, Barack Obama made clear that Israel should not
    be pressured into a ceasefire that did not deal with the threat of Hezbollah missiles. Senator Obama remains
    concerned about the rapid re-arming of Hezbollah in Lebanon since the ceasefire. In addition, Obama signed a
    letter to the European Union pressing the EU to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Long before the
    July 2006 conflict, Barack Obama worked to limit Hezbollah’s influence in the region, signing a letter urging
    President Bush to place al-Manar, the official television station of Hezbollah, on the Treasury Department’s
    Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity list and to aggressively target organizations that aid in its
    broadcast.” BarackObama.com

  14. oao says:

    The U.S. seems reluctant to use the power it has. And not only militarily.

    That might have been true when the US still had real power and had everybody by the balls. Since then america has deteriorated. You can’t achieve much by bullying or buying everybody all the time. You gotta use knowledge and smarts and the US don’t have those no more. That’s what happens when you have no competition: you become arrogant ignorant. It’s self made, nobody defeated america, it did.

    I suggest you check out this:


    He tends to exaggerate a bit, but the general idea is correct.

  15. Josie says:

    I actually thought he was confusing the instance where hezbollah was instrumental in taking up the vacuum left in place when Israel left southern Lebanon….
    Biden’s blunder is so disturbing because we keep being told he was brought onto the Obama ticket due to his foreign policy “expertise”…..I nearly choked on my popcorn the night of this debate…..

    What the f*&% was he talking about??????

  16. Cynic says:

    Thanks for the heads-up.
    Now what’s worrying me is what the PinC (politically incorect) word was.
    Is WordPress starting to do the MSM’s job or was it by request of the site owner?
    Then again what was it in a comment I could not get posted here?

  17. oao says:

    There is really no american foreign policy expert worthy of the name. They all project american concepts on foreign cultures and engage in wishful thinking.

    For an excellent example of this as well as of the same for Israel see the following:


  18. Cynic says:


    From your link to Caroline Glick:

    Yet rather than reconfigure its strategy and its strategic aims to accord with conditions on the ground, Washington opted to ignore what was happening. The Marines did not receive permission to take the fight to its source, to support Israel, or even to protect themselves from the war they found themselves in the middle of.
    Thus the stage was set for the attack against the Marine barracks at the Beirut airport. On October 23, 1983, an Iranian and Syrian-backed Hizbullah cell attacked the unprotected Marine barracks with a massive car bomb. Two hundred forty-one Marines were killed. Humiliated, the US pulled out of Beirut with its tail between its legs. The message that it was possible to defeat America reverberated throughout the region.
    The lesson of the US experience in Lebanon was clear: You cannot assume that favored actors are trustworthy or competent allies just because it is politically expedient to believe they are. Reality is what it is, and if you wish to change it, you first must acknowledge it.

    It is not just foreign policy that is flawed but the politicians who make it; and Biden was selected to advise BO.
    The man who started his “political” career more or less at the time of the Marine tragedy and yet seems to know nothing or is mentally incapable of associating facts, or is already senile.

  19. oao says:

    Politicians tend to be flawed by definition — there is a certain type of person who self-selects for politics. even if they start well-intentioned, they either learn to dance to the tune or get spit out.

    Biden is one of the worst: the very definition of a pompous ass. American politics are full of them.

    And McCain is hardly better. They are all pathetic in their ignorance.

  20. oao says:

    i’ve not mentioned obama because anybody with a brain understanda what an empty suit he is. that’s what affirmative action gets you.

  21. […] certainly ranks up there with his assertion during the 2008 Vice-Presidential debates that the United States and France had "kick… That would certainly be news in the streets of […]

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