Middle East Crisis: Dealing With Sub-State Actors

How bad can a mother-in-law get? A woman in London knows and now she's getting rewarded for what she endured. After moving in with her mother-in-law following her arranged marriage, she was forced to do all the housework — including cleaning the toilet without a brush. She couldn't leave the house unless she was escorted. She had to wear only the clothes her mother-in-law picked out for her. Finally, she'd had enough. She divorced the guy and sued the mother-in-law. A judge just awarded her $65,000.

On the more serious side of the news: Dr. Henry Kissinger and I had an interesting discussion about two topics. First, is the emergence of sub-state actors. When he was secretary of state, Dr. Kissinger dealt with difficult governments, but now the greatest issue is the question of how to deal with "bad guys" who have no state per se. While Hezbollah is represented in the Lebanese parliament, the representatives do not speak for Hezbollah. The group, which most agree is controlled by the Syrian and Iranian governments, has no official state to negotiate with. If it were to launch a nuclear attack, whom would you retaliate against? Lebanon? Iran? Syria? Ostensibly all could claim they were not responsible. This poses a new and difficult diplomatic twist.

The second issue is more delicate. It involves questioning whether we can implement our convictions in regions of the world that are not at the same developmental state. If our goal is to promote democracy in a place where the rights of women are not recognized by the culture, history or even religion, are we willing to put the democratic conviction of equality for all on the shelf if it compromises the implementation of a rudimentary democracy? Would we be willing to wait for a country to get around to granting women voting rights (consider the time it took in America)? Or, are we dedicated to an "all or none" philosophy? What are our overall national goals? Do we want security above all? Do we prefer democracy foremost even if it threatens to undermine a U.S.-friendly government? These are questions we, as a nation, must address or risk schizophrenic international policy.

See, you wondered what went on in between commercials!

Because I find Dr. Kissinger so fascinating, I featured him in my book, "Going Places." In it, he discusses his time in the U.S. Army and what event led him to a career in diplomacy. You can e-mail me to order an autographed copy at www.hillfriends.com.

Have a great day. I'll see you tomorrow,


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