Matt McCarten: New voice of Islamic resistance resonates with indisputable reason

We should all be grateful that the terrible butchery in Lebanon has stopped this week, after more than 1000 Lebanese and Israelis were killed.

Meanwhile, in American-occupied Baghdad more than 1000 people are killed every month.

It is amazing that the most powerful military empire the world has ever known has trapped itself in a Middle Eastern quagmire. Everyone knows that the US administration's incompetence has created a civil war that is killing thousands of people. Is there going to be an honourable way out? Not a chance.

The US encouragement for its ally Israel to invade Lebanon has backfired on both governments. The embarrassing situation facing the most powerful army in the world in Iraq and the fact that the fourth most powerful army has been fought to a standstill by a couple of thousand Hizbollah militia in Lebanon must make even the ignorant among us realise that things aren't going according to plan.

All that the US-backed Israeli attack on Lebanon has done is allow Hizbollah to become the new darling of the Muslim masses.

The simplistic nonsense about "freedom verses terrorism" that we are dished up isn't going to cut it any more - if anyone believed it in the first place. One thing is clear even to the Americans: military solutions won't solve the Middle East's problems.

The traditional political paradigm of left and right doesn't seem relevant to politics in the Middle East. Marxism always underestimated the power of religion and nationalism.

On the other hand the loony right-wing thinks that these heathens, given the right incentives, will convert to Christianity and embrace capitalism.

We've had our wake-up call. It's time to put our prejudices aside and try to understand what is driving the resentment against the West.

I've tried to find out more about the new scary monster - the general secretary of Hizbollah, Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah. Without wishing to annoy his opponents, it's clear that he is the leader that people in the streets of the Middle East are looking to.

Hizbollah has won a historic victory by defending Lebanon and is seen as an inspiration for resistance to the foreign occupiers of Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Israel claimed its aim was "to destroy Hizbollah" in the first days of the Lebanon conflict and release its two hostages. It has achieved neither.

Israel is perceived to have deliberately targeted Lebanon's infrastructure and civilians in an attempt to turn the populace against Hizbollah. Nasrallah claims the Israelis wanted to recreate the civil war between Christians and Muslims. Instead, he seems to have successfully turned it into a nationalistic war against the Zionist invaders.

Nasrallah's appeal seems to be in opposing ethnic and religious conflict, whether Christian or Islamic. He boldly states: "The imperialists are seeking to win the war which they could not [win] with arms and weapons from inside, by the creation of a war between sects through a diverse range of collaborating so-called resistance groups. The same trick was played through Saddam before against the Shias and the Kurds. And now, they continue with these tricks.

"Today there is no Saddam, but there are tens of possible Saddams. I call on our peoples to not pay heed to this trick. Let's be vigilant towards the murder of brothers and sisters."

Not a bad rallying cry.

Nasrallah is a great fan of Hugo Chavez, the left-wing President of Venezuela. He calls on socialist and left movements to join him in the international struggle against injustice. Before the United Nations ceasefire this week Nasrallah was quoted by a Turkish newspaper as saying: "This fight is not only our fight. It is the common fight of all those oppressed across the world.

"Don't forget that if the peoples of Palestine and Lebanon lose this war, this will mean the defeat of all the oppressed people of the world."

In the interview he called on the traditional left to support his cause. "What we are saying to our socialist friends who want to fight together with us for fraternity and freedom [is] so long as we respect your beliefs, and you respect ours, there is no imperialist power we cannot defeat." This man is no Osama Bin Laden. He's much more clever.

He dismisses accusations that he is a lackey of Iran and Syria by saying: "This is a great lie. We are an independent Lebanese organisation. We do not take orders from anyone.

"But we are on the side of Iran and Syria. They are our brothers. We are going to oppose any attack directed at Tehran and Damascus. We uphold global resistance against global imperial terrorism."

And just in case we don't quite get what we are in for, he concludes: "So long as there is imperialism in the world, a permanent peace is impossible. This war will not come to an end as long as there are occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine."

This is the new voice of authority for tens of millions of people. We have two choices: either drop a couple of hundred nuclear weapons on the whole region or negotiate an exit strategy that gets the "occupying countries", including New Zealand, out of it. Otherwise we'll spend the rest of our lives queuing at airports holding belongings in plastic bags and watching the bodies of the thousands of people each night on telly.

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