On Friday’s “Democracy Now,” the radio program’s host, Amy Goodman, spoke with Mideast expert and Truthdig contributor Juan Cole, whom she asked about the recent protests in Iraq over Israel’s incursion into Lebanon. Cole replied by saying, “Well, Iraq turns out to be a majority Shiite country, and most of the Shiite Iraqis have repeatedly voted for fairly hard-line fundamentalist religious parties. Since Hezbollah is cut from very much the same cloth, it’s not surprising that very large numbers of Iraqi Shiites support their co-religionists in Lebanon.”
Can you talk about, right now, the latest hours in Beirut, the packets that have been dropped, the leaflets that have been dropped on Beirut, calling on residents to leave?
Well, the Israeli bombing campaign is only tangentially aimed at hurting Hezbollah. That’s a guerrilla organization. They’ve gone underground. It’s very unlikely that the Israelis can do further harm to them at this point by merely bombing unknown sites. The Israelis are systemically destroying the Lebanese infrastructure. They are hitting bridges. They are continuing to hit roads. They are degrading the ability of the Lebanese to connect with one another. And they are, frankly, putting pressure on the rest of the Lebanese to turn on Hezbollah and to try to control it on behalf of the Israelis.
And what is the effect of this? How are people in Lebanon responding to Hezbollah?
Well, from opinion polling that’s been published, it appears to be the case that there’s been, on the whole and by and large, a large spike of approval for Hezbollah and support for it, even among the Christian minority, which has gone to 55% support of Hezbollah. So it seems to be the case that the political aim of the Israeli bombing campaign is failing, and so far it doesn’t seem to have disabled Hezbollah militarily either.