Mitt Romney

Responding to attention drawn to his assertion Hezbollah’s social welfare efforts in southern Lebanon should be a model for the U.S., the campaign of Gov. Mitt Romney issued a statement reaffirming the Republican presidential candidate disdain of the terrorist organization.

“Governor Romney believes that bloodthirsty terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas have smothered the progress of the people and nations where they have built their networks, Lebanon serving as an example,” the statement said.

In a campaign stop in Iowa last weekend broadcast by C-Span, Romney was asked what he would do as president to “restore the sense of goodwill toward America.”

“Did you notice in Lebanon what Hezbollah did?” the former Massachusetts governor asked. “Lebanon became a democracy some time ago, and while their government was getting under way, Hezbollah went into southern Lebanon and provided health clinics to some of the people there, and schools.”

Romney said “that kind of diplomacy is something that would help America become stronger around the world and help people understand that our interest is an interest towards modernity and goodness and freedom for all people in the world. And so, I want to see America carry out that kind of health diplomacy.”

Hezbollah’s social welfare is tied to its promotion of Shiite Islamic beliefs, including the waging of a final, apocalyptic world battle against “evil.” Sections of the welfare network, including schools and camps, are routinely used by the terror group to indoctrinate students in anti-Israel propaganda and instruct in military tactics.

The Romney campaign’s statement said Hezbollah and Hamas “have smothered the progress of the people and nations where they have built their networks, Lebanon serving as an example.”

“These terror organizations cannot and should not be allowed to gain an advantage with the citizenry in Muslim nations just because they mask their terror agenda with an offering of some vital services,” the statement said. “America can make great progress and provide more stability by creating partnerships with moderate Muslim governments to perfect the institutions of democracy and showcase the wonders and benefits of American democracy, such as our health-care technology, educational institutions and free market commerce.”

The statement said by “working with moderate Muslims to break down and defeat terror organizations like Hezbollah militarily, we can then turn to a new ‘Marshall Plan’ approach that strengthens the foundations of freedom and prosperity in burgeoning Middle East democracies.”

The campaign pointed out Romney said in an April 10 speech in College Station, Texas, the U.S. must use all of its civilian instruments to defeat Hezbollah’s efforts in southern Lebanon to win hearts and minds.

While we watched, he said in the Texas speech, “Hezbollah brought health care and schools to the Lebanese. Guess who the people followed when conflict ensued? The same thing happened with Hamas and the Palestinians.”

Israeli security officials have said Hezbollah’s civilian infrastructure in southern Lebanon, including hospitals and apartment buildings, is routinely used by the terror group to store and utilize rockets, weapons and other munitions. The group’s schools reportedly are used to recruit youngsters to its guerrilla army.

Hezbollah’s Mahdi Scouts hold plastic rifles in parade on anniversary of outbreak of the second intifada (Center for Special Studies)

WND reported Hezbollah’s Youth Scouts, part of the group’s social welfare network, instructs tens of thousands of children and teenagers in military tactics and indoctrinates them with radical Shiite Islam beliefs, according to materials found by Israel during last month’s war in Lebanon.

Hezbollah last summer engaged in 34 days of confrontations with Israel provoked after the group kidnapped two Israeli soldiers. During the war, Hezbollah fired more than 3,000 rockets into Jewish population centers, killing 43 Israeli civilians.

Romney’s reference to Hezbollah’s work as an example of how America can improve its image abroad brought to mind Democratic Sen. Patty Murray’s session with high school students Dec. 18, 2002, in Vancouver, Wash., in which she asked why al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is “so popular around the world.”

The senator from Washington state said bin Laden has been “out in these countries for decades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building day-care facilities, building health-care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful. We haven’t done that.”

Murray then asked the students: “How would they look at us today if we had been there helping them with some of that rather than just being the people who are going to bomb in Iraq and go to Afghanistan?”

Murray later emphasized she believes bin Laden is an “evil terrorist” and said she was only trying to provoke a thoughtful discussion of U.S. foreign policy aims.


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