The End

Now the Saudis have asked the Syrians to leave Lebanon, and soon. It's the end, whatever Bashar Assad does. All the props sustaining Syrian power in Lebanon have crumbled, except the resort to brute force; and even there you can kill Rafik Hariri and say it wasn't you. You can say that the bungled assassination attempt against Marwan Hamadeh, a Hariri ally, last October wasn't you either. You can even say that you had nothing to do with the deployment of armed thugs in Beirut belonging to an Islamist group created by the Syrian regime to fight the Muslim Brotherhood (a deployment for the purpose of preventing a meeting between U.S. envoy David Satterfield and Lebanon's Sunni mufti). But can you really say that about any possible new victims?

It's over. From Damascus there is news of gloom and uncertainty, desperation and anticipation of the worst, even talk of a coup, though no one quite seems to know who would organize it.

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  • Warren||

    I guess recess is over. Now we must return to obsessing over Lebanon.

  • Ruthless||

    Michael Young, will you be so kind as to remove to Venezuela? It might be for your own safety, and besides, I'm more of a mind to obsess over Venezuela.

  • ||

    The last part, about a coup, IS interesting. One small prediction: if there is a coup, the UNachs and the EUROcrats will be tripping over themselves to proclaim the most recent thug as an Arab messiah. The default assumption of Europeans is that one-party police states is the appropriate pattern of governance for Arabs, and Koffi would sorely miss a predictable Syrian vote on the SC, the GA and sundry committees.

  • ||

    Can those of us who believed all along that the Iraq War would lead to this sort of thing start gloating now?

    Glenn Reynolds says it's too early to gloat. But I say might as well get started before the MSM finds reasons to rationalize why this has nothing to do with Bush, and pushes as many positive events as possible down the memory hole.

  • ||

    In my day we used to say, "The wog can never govern himself. He simply hasn't got the brains, poor old sod. The best he'll ever be able to do is a strongman of some sort, to keep order and such."

    And the bolshies called us racist imperialists. Well, the boot is on the other foot now, what? La mission civilatrice indeed.

  • ||

    Can those of us who believed all along that the Iraq War would lead to this sort of thing start gloating now?

    By "lead to" you seem to mean "precede chronologically". Go ahead and gloat, but they don't really mean the same thing.

  • ||

    Andrew,

    Do quit be such a xenophobe. Thanks.

  • ||

    Joe Bonforte,

    Gloat all you want to. Gloat like you did way back in March and April of 2003. :)

  • ||

    Speaking of that memory hole ... do people remember the Lebanese civil war ? It lasted about 15 years, between 1975 and 1990, and was extremely ugly and bloody. It ended when the Syrians entered and imposed a Syrian peace. Since then Lebanon has prospered.

    Will Lebanon manage it on it's own, this time ? Lets hope.
    I'm no fan of Syria, but it's intervention in Lebanon was good for Lebanon at that time.

  • ||

    Having the Saudi Crown Prince tell you to loosen the oppression is like having Chris Farley suggest that you ease up on the cocaine and hookers.

  • ||

    Concerning a coup:

    I work in the Middle East, alongside a few Syrians. Eery last one of them is convinced that Bashar is a hollow figurehead and the real power resides with the military and intelligence services.

    A coup would basically be the powers-that-be replacing an old puppet with a fresh face, probably to create the illusion of real change. As things stand right now, there is very little chance of "people power" creating a real democratic structure in Syria.

    On the other hand, my Syrian friends all say that things are much less repressive than they were, say, ten years ago. It's easier to enter and exit the country, the need to pay bribes has declined, it's easier to set up businesses, and the secret police are far less pervasive (although maybe just better hidden.) Maybe, just maybe, things are moving slowly and organically in the direction that Western pro-democracy types would like to see. Outside military intervention would probably stop that in its tracks.

  • ||

    Barry P.,
    The long term trend toward things improving in general hides a lot of mistakes and idiocy by the likes of folks like George W. Bush.

  • R C Dean||

    The long term trend toward things improving in general hides a lot of mistakes and idiocy by the likes of folks like George W. Bush.

    Funny, though, how that long term trend accelerates when idiots like Bush are in charge, idnit?

    What a coinkydink, eh, that when idiots like Reagan and Bush are in charge, that these long term trends toward democratization suddenly become apparent and inevitable, so that Reagan and Bush are no more than lucky guys who happened to be standing there when Communism collapsed or the Middle East turned the corner toward sanity, but when giant pulsating brains like Clinton and Carter are in charge, oh, well, then we must accomodate ourselves to the permanent presence of autocracy.

    Just one of life's little ironies, I guess. No connection between accomodating autocracy and its continued presence, and opposing autocracy and its collapse. Nope, no connection at all. Just an ironic little coincidence, that's all.

  • ||

    Is the absence of an active opposition movement in Iran, after years of near-1989 conditions, also a conincidence?

    Taking credit for every good thing that happens doesn't actually prove that you made them happen, you know.

  • gaw3||

    I agree with Jacob that Lebanon's civil war was unbelievably vicious. Here's hoping for no return. (I do believe Lebanon will not revert, but some of the players are still around.)

  • ||

    By "lead to" you seem to mean "precede chronologically". Go ahead and gloat, but they don't really mean the same thing.


    Of course. How silly of me. It's all just a coincidence, I'm sure.


    And the fact that a Lebanese militant himself pointed to the Iraq election as one of the main influences in the Lebanese events? Oh, well, I'm sure he's just an ignorant American puppet, and his on-the-spot opinions mean nothing next to the wise keyboard jockeys here in America that are certain nothing Bush does can ever have positive outcomes.

  • ||

    Can those of us who believed all along that the Iraq War would lead to this sort of thing start gloating now?

    The last I heard, the catalyst for the events in Lebanon was the assassination of a popular politition.

    What did the invasion of Iraq have to do with that?

  • ||

    well joe

    Since you seem to know a bit about it, fill me in:

    Is the popular opposition in the Islamic Republic...

    A) Larger than the democratic opposition in Egypt now?

    B) Smaller?

    C) About the same?

    Same question: Lebanon before Hariri's assasination? ANY Eastern European country the year the Berlin Wall fell?

    You want Bush to amp up opposition groups in Iran? FASTER PLEASE?

  • ||

    Andrew, I'd guess that the opposition in Iran is larger, since Khatami actually won election running as a reformer, whereas Mubarak would probably be re-elected even in free and fair elections. The bigger difference is that the Iranian opposition isn't very active, having been suppressed in a big way by their government over the past couple of years, more so even than the Egyptian opposition. It also depends on what you count as "democratic opposition" - there are probably a huge number of sympathizers in Iran who aren't active, for obvious reasons.

    Iran is a much larger country than Lebanon. What are you asking?

    "You want Bush to amp up opposition groups in Iran?" Here we come to the big distinction: I don't believe the size and success of opposition depends primarily on George Bush's efforts to "amp them up." In Lebanon and Ukraine, the U.S.'s role was mainly to react to events taking place outside of American control. Beyond the most rudimentary, inconspicuous civil society efforts and, of course, behaving in a manner that makes us worthy of emulation, we don't actually have very much to do with the rise of genuinely popular democratic movements. Attempts to fake real people power, or initiatives that come on too strong, end up playing into the tyrants hands by creating a convenient "Yankee imperialists interfering with our independence" narrative.

    Whichk makes the philosophy of "FASTER PLEASE" counterproductive. These things happen on their own, and our efforts are most effective when accompanied by patience and humility. "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall...or we'll rain fire on your cities from the sky" wouldn't have sped history along - it would given the Soviet government a huge injection of rally-around-the-flag. As it has in Iran.

  • ||

    A little more seriously joe...

    ...I really wonder what your model IS for how democracies emerge in previously authoritarian environments.

    I suspect that - without thinking it through - you assume that the democraty-inspired resistance steadily works on the pre-revolutionary environment under repression, until the revolutionary Moment is reached, then establishes the Democratic State

    ...in much the same way the Marxist underground will steadily work to undermine a repressive regime, until the revolutionary Moment is reached, then try to impose the Marxist state.

    I would submit that this is a very poor model for describing how democracies emerge from repression in the real world, and is useless for guiding a world power that takes an interest in sponsoring democracy in a troubled region of the planet.

    (Of course, you and GG also shop a far cruder model - for polemical purposes - which contends that democracies emerge when impotent and disengaged buffoons like Pres. Clinton and VP. Gore, or Kofi Annan and Jaques Chirac "call" for them
    ...but that is born of a childish and churlish need NOT to assign "credit" to real actors like Bush and Blair, Reagan and Thatcher, and John Paul II, whom you dislike for other reasons.)

    Polemics aside, I think this could make for an enlightening and stimulating discussion.

  • ||

    The investigators working on Hariri's death are apparently going to announce next week that he was killed by a suicide bomber:

    http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=550719

    And just as flame bait: Justin Raimondo pwned Michael Young on this point.

  • ||

    Cripes, "churlish" again. How many warbloggers had even heard of that word three weeks ago?

    Uh, Andrew, I have singled out Reagan's and the Pope's stance towards Eastern Europe as the model that should be followed on numerous threads that you have posted on yourself. I used the Berlin Wall speech as my example of effective democracy promotion. You can debate my points, or you can argue with the liberal in your head, but not both.

    You may not have noticed this, but Reagan, Thatcher, and the Pope didn't actually launch a military invasion of Eastern Europe. Instead, they "called for" democratic changes, just like Clinton, Annan, and Chiraq. This is the same model Bush has belately bought into - notice he didn't threaten to invade Egypt or Lebananon, as your model would have it, but engaged in diplomacy (gasp, faint) in conjunction with European allies (swoon, gag). And it has been very effective, and hasn't killed anybody. More of this, please, and less with the footage of children mutilated by American bombs.

    I don't really buy the model you set up for me, of popular democratic movements arising though a revolutionary vanguard. I tend to believe more in the civil society model, in which formal and informal groups that already have credibility among the public, and were not primarily formed for the purpose of political activity, are diven to increasingly critical postures as the repressive government continues to abuse the public. The chess clubs in Eastern Europe, Solidarity, and the bishops in El Salvador are examples of this.

  • Peter K.||

    I don't understand why anyone reads Raimondo. Who killed Hariri is sort of besides the point now - like who poisoned President Yushchenko - now that the French, Russians, Saudis, and Egyptians are all calling for an end to the occupation. (wow those neocons are effective)

    Raimondo and his ilk feel Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories is wrong and American occupation of Iraq was wrong yet Syrian occupation of Lebanon is okay with them.

  • ||

    The suicide bomber theory is, I am convinced, bogus. Even the father of the alleged "suicide bomber" has said he could not drive. For heavens sake, let's wait for a credible investigation, not some suspicions thrown out by Lebanon's intelligence services--or Raimondo.

  • ||

    Well joe,

    I asked because I wanted to know. I don't think anyone knows for sure how democracy emerges from repression...but I don't think the points you cite in your immediately preceding post - that bully-pulpit "calls" by either real Playas like Reagan or Bush, or cheap entertainers like Annan and Chirac...still less the Pope (remember the 2003 Easter Peace Message?) - or movements like Solidarity (a failure, I think, until events rescued them) - go much toward explaining it.

    I think two other explanations are much more apposite.

    1.) Actual force. Germany-Japan-Italy, Afghanistan-Iraq. Perhaps the assasination of a strong-man,,,Trujillo in the Dominican Republic comes to mind - but see below.

    2.) Events that make the hitherto implacably intimidating mystique of the repressive regime appear hollow. Examples are countless.

    A defeat abroad (the Falklands for Argentina, Cyprus for Greece, years of frustration in Africa for Portugal)

    The passing of a strongman (Franco, perhaps Trujillo, Papa Doc, one hopes Castro)

    Symbolic defiance...like Buddhist monk immolating themselves.

    Perhaps some other unmanageable crisis? It is easy to imagine a major quake in Teheran bringing down the Mullahs.

    What can outsiders do? Soem of the bully-pulpit stuff can help - Nobels, and White House visits for activists, and such.
    Probably it's important not to blur that by coddling the tyrants...which is why a lot of that multi-lateral track stuff is probably counter-productive. Hang around the French too long, and you'll be meeting every slease-ball on the planet, at the airport...if not the palace. It is hard to avoid one of those Rumsfeld/Saddam photo embarassments, if you get in too many frames with Chirac and de Villepin.

    Of course, we HAVE installed two democracies by force. Nice job - thank you Mr. Bush!
    (Never seen it before? Now you have.)

    And...contrary to your theory joe, humiliations and threats to the nation's security may not be as contrary-to-purpose as you imagine.

    Argentina is a democracy today, and unlikely to ever fight over the Falklands. Pissed at the British, and us for supporting the Brits? Sure - who cares?

    Greece is a democracy today...and pissed at the Turks, and us for supporting them. Yeah, they hiss and spit all KINDS of anti-Americanism...but the French do that for NO reason. Who cares?

    We aren't going to invade Syria. But we will invade Lebanon if they or the Hizbollah start slaughtering the protestors. And contrary to your apprehensions, the army in Iraq could take a week off to eviscerate the Syrians any time they feel like it.
    (they can't protect Taiwan...because what sort of idiot, joe, would protect Taiwan with 150,000 foot-soldiers?)
    The car-bombers in Baghdad would have a better week of murdering school-children...and that's all.

    And the Syrians KNOW it. Which is why they are going to endure the humiliation of being expelled from lebanon, losing some 40 billion in revenue while they're about it.

    Look like one of those "earth-quake" moments joe? Don't you think the presence of 150,00 Americans on the other side of Syria, and a trigger-happy cowboy in the White House had something to do with the boldness of the demonstrators.

    (In any pre-war demonstration, a bystander who shouted "Syria Out!" would likely have been mobbed as a provocateur.)

    joe, if you don't like being called churlish...stop being churlish.

  • ||

    "I don't think anyone knows for sure how democracy emerges from repression..."

    And here I thought you knew!

    "...but I don't think the points you cite in your immediately preceding post - that bully-pulpit "calls" by either real Playas like Reagan or Bush, or cheap entertainers like Annan and Chirac...still less the Pope (remember the 2003 Easter Peace Message?) - or movements like Solidarity (a failure, I think, until events rescued them) - go much toward explaining it."

    Reagan sure as hell didn't win the cold war by invading third party nations--that's for sure. At what point was Solidarity a failure? Out of curiosity, in your eyes, was Martin Luther King a failure?

    "What can outsiders do? Soem of the bully-pulpit stuff can help - Nobels, and White House visits for activists, and such. Probably it's important not to blur that by coddling the tyrants...which is why a lot of that multi-lateral track stuff is probably counter-productive."

    So it's a media war! This War really is different from the Cold War! How many photo-ops will it take before Iran is finally free?

    ...Mind if the rest of us fight the War on Terror in the meantime? In the physical world I mean.

    ...And are you certain, after democracy sweeps away say Mubarak, Musharraf, Fahd/Abdullah, and the Mullahs that whomever replaces them will be our allies in the War on Terror? When Castro came to power, he was popular, you know--as were Khomeni, Hitler, Hirohito, Mugabe, Amin, Mao, Milosevic and Pol Pot.

    "Of course, we HAVE installed two democracies by force. Nice job - thank you Mr. Bush!
    (Never seen it before? Now you have.)"


    Hope for the best and plan for the worst I always say. I wouldn't count my chickens 'til the ruling party in those democracies bows its head, when prompted, and takes its place in parliament as the loyal opposition. I can imagine Sistani's and Sadr's supporters doing that, but I have a lot of imagination.

    "Argentina is a democracy today, and unlikely to ever fight over the Falklands. Pissed at the British, and us for supporting the Brits? Sure - who cares?"

    By your reckoning, we should have embraced Peron despite his Anti-Americanism, right?

    "Greece is a democracy today...and pissed at the Turks, and us for supporting them."

    ...Yeah, and if the Turks don't like an all but independent Kurdistan on their border, well fuck them too! They better watch what they say on TV or we might Reverse Domino their ass.

    "We aren't going to invade Syria."

    What are you, on the National Security Council?

    "But we will invade Lebanon if they or the Hizbollah start slaughtering the protestors."

    Let's hope no one endorses that blank check.

    We pull out of Saudi Arabia only to invade Lebanon--brilliant! I guess Al Qaeda's sucide bombers aren't enough for you.

    "And contrary to your apprehensions, the army in Iraq could take a week off to eviscerate the Syrians any time they feel like it."

    I'm almost speechless. How does one respond to a remark like that? It requires more than the usual--hell, I think it's beggin' for an insult, but I don't have the expertise.

    ...Gary? Gary!

    By the way, It seems to me that the idea underlying your whole assertion--the suggestion that the people of the United States exist to serve the interests of other peoples--gets social contract perfectly backwards.

    ...Ask not what your country is doing for other peoples, ask what your country is doing to protect you, your life, your liberty and your property.

  • ||

    The post about Lebanon prospering under Syrian tutelage is laughable....Lebanon's prosperity began centuries ago when it was Phoenicia.

    Syria only aided the prosperity of it's and Iran's henchmen of the Middle East, ie Hizbullah, and any other extremist Islamic group that needed AK47/financial support. Unfortunately under Syria Hizbullah has flourished as a "political party" in Lebanon. They now have a choice.....join in pluralism with your Christian, Muslim and Druze brotherhood or languish in isolation as freedom makes a return to Lebanon.

    I cannot wait for the Syrian pestilence to exit, and then the world can see the truest democracy in the Middle East.

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