The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
EU Hezbollah Hypocrisy Faces Tough New Test

Is the EU finally ready to officially name Hezbollah as a terrorist organization? The NYT reports that Bulgarian officials have confirmed Hezbollah’s responsibility for the July 2012 suicide bombing in Burgas that killed five Israeli tourists and wounded many others. The Bulgarian government’s announcement might force the EU to reconsider its détente with the Iranian-backed terrorist group:

Thousands of Hezbollah members and supporters operate in Europe essentially unrestricted, raising money that is funneled back to the group in Lebanon.

Changing the designation to a terrorist entity raises the prospect of unsettling questions for Europe—how to deal with those supporters, for example—and the sort of confrontation governments have sought to avoid. […]

A sort of modus vivendi exists where Hezbollah keeps a low profile for its fund-raising and other activities and Europeans do not crack down. In Germany alone, some 950 people have been identified as being associated with the organization as of 2011.

According to the NYT report, France and Germany have made it clear that they prefer the status quo, but other European countries are showing willingness to finally call Hezbollah what it is. We certainly hope so, not least because Bulgaria has been put in a tough bind it doesn’t deserve: The small Balkan country knows its announcement won’t harm relations with the U.S. and Israel, but Bulgaria spent months playing for time out of fear that the report might isolate it from concerned European allies.

FDR said you can’t turn a tiger into a kitten by stroking it. Apparently, many in the EU have long believed he was wrong. We hope this NYT report is right. If it is, Europe may now be in the process of discovering a spine.

Published on February 5, 2013 12:21 pm