Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

What Happens When Iran Kills American Soldiers?

by Elliott Abrams Friday, July 8, 2011

There must be very few times in American history when a foreign government is accused of killing American troops, and absolutely nothing is done about it.

Every school kid used to learn lines like “Perdicaris Alive or Raisuli Dead,” or “Millions for defense but not one cent for tribute.” The War of 1812 was fought in large part due to the “impressment” of American sailors by the British, a similar example of denial of freedom that fell far short of actually killing American sailors.

So what are we to make of the following statements by America’s senior military officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen? Reuters reports that at a luncheon with journalists, Mullen said this:

“Iran is very directly supporting extremist Shia groups which are killing our troops. And there’s no reason … for me to believe that they’re going to stop that as our numbers come down….There’s no question they want to influence, and particularly in the south,” Mullen said. “They are shipping high-tech weapons in there … which are killing our people and … the forensics prove that.”

Read more »

Lebanon’s Non-Government

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, July 7, 2011

The turmoil in Syria has left Lebanon’s own political situation completely in flux. Months ago, Hezbollah arranged for Najib Mikati to become prime minister. Mikati is a Sunni, as Lebanon’s constitution requires, but he was not the true representative of the country’s Sunni community. That man was Saad Hariri, forced out of the government by Hezbollah and its allies.

But the new arrangement, finally consummated today with a vote of confidence for Mikati in Lebanon’s parliament, is dead before it starts. It reflects the old balance of power, when Hezbollah’s ally Bashar al-Assad was fully in charge in Syria. Today the Assad regime is foundering, and its influence in Lebanon will continue to diminish as players make their own new bets about life in Lebanon after the Assads are gone from Syria.

The best way to understand events in Lebanon is to read the columns of Michael Young, opinion editor of the English-language Daily Star newspaper of Beirut. Young’s most recent column is reprinted below, for as always he provides insight and clarity. Read more »

On Palestinians, Pledges, and Budgets

by Elliott Abrams Monday, July 4, 2011

A fair measure of the dedication to the Palestinian cause on the part of Arab governments is whether they put their money where their mouth is. In that context, a news story today conveys an answer: “The Palestinian Authority will pay its employees only half their monthly salaries in July, the prime minister told reporters here on Sunday, because of what he said was ‘the failure of donors, including our Arab brothers, to fulfill their pledges.'” Read more »