I was trying to hold off on this until I finished my full upcoming post on the foreign policy weakness of the current crop of Republican Presidential candidates. I really was, but this can’t hold back anymore. The sheer stunning craziness forces me to speak. I have also come to realize that there are times on this blog for gravitas and intellectual rigor when covering a subject. This will be applied to the aforementioned post. There are also times for blatant mocking. This post is very, very much the latter.
I’m of course talking about Michele Bachmann. Of course. It turns out that unbeknownst to the United States writ-large, Cuba has been close to prompting another missile crisis for a plucky young team of mutants to solve. This time, the Soviets aren’t the ones that are putting up missile sites in Havana. It’s Hezbollah.
In her recent slams on Cuba, potentially a bid to help her win the Florida primary, Congresswoman Bachmann has decided to focus on Cuba’s alleged ties with the Lebanese terrorist organization cum political party. After asking her crowd in Cedar Rapids, Iowa why the United States would normalize trade with a country that sponsors terrorism, i.e. Cuba, she let this loose:
“Hezbollah has been potentially looking at wanting a part of missile sites in Iran,” she said, citing earlier her position on the House Intelligence Committee. “So of course when you’re 90 miles offshore from Florida, you don’t want to entertain the prospect of hosting bases or sites where Hezbollah can have training camps or perhaps have missile sites or weapons sites in Cuba. This would be foolish.”
So yes. Just a few problems there. First of all, this entire story was all based on one report, which was published in Italy’s Corriere della Sera at the end of August and was pushed on several conservative blogs. I managed to find the piece, and while I don’t speak Italian, and Google Translate doesn’t do the best job of unpacking everything, I’m not seeing any attributed quotes, or even unattributed quotes. It’s odd, because the newspaper has a sterling reputation, especially compared to other Italian newspapers, but the story is both brief and lacking in anything that makes it ring true.
In any case, the article speaks of a trio of Lebanese who have made their way to Cuba from Mexico to use it as a base for attacks against Israelis in Latin America and to meet with people of ill-repute to traffic weapons and smuggle people across borders. These three are to be joined by over twenty others to launch forward operations. There is some small air of truth in this, in that Hezbollah has been known to operate in some of the more lawless areas of South America, such as the Tri-Border Region, for smuggling and money laundering. But there’s nothing in this article that makes it seem like the story that is being pushed about Cuba has any backing to it. Nor does is mention anything about missiles or setting up training bases.
Not that that sort of thing matters to Congresswoman Bachmann. According the Wall Street Journal article linked, she’s using her time on the House Intelligence Committee, which she won after the 2010 midterms, to promote her experience with foreign policy. Okay, pause. Let’s say maybe, just maybe, that in her time on the House Intelligence Committee, she came across something to back up her statement about Hezbollah and Cuba. That would definitely qualify as something that the public doesn’t know then, and would have been revealed by Congresswoman Bachmann. How does leaking privileged information in speeches help your case? Answer: it doesn’t. At all.
More likely, as reported in this Politico piece, it was a case of Michele Bachmann skimming something put in front of her and then speaking on it publicly as she often does, leaving it for her aides to clean up. Good luck with this one guys. The Twitterverse and blogosphere are already having a good time with it, as evidenced by this tweet by IR scholar/part-time Anne-Marie Slaughter nemesis Dan Drezner:
I have it on good authority that Hezbollah is in league with the Parti Quebecois #notreally #somethingforbachmanntocitenextweek
Couldn’t have said it better myself.