Foreigners Out! Uh, We Mean, the Other Foreigners!

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It's nice to see that even in the world of putatively objective news reporting, there's room for a touch of dry wit here and there. From the Washington Post's coverage of the Hezbollah-run pro-Syria protests in Lebanon:

"We have come here to affirm Lebanon's independence, sovereignty and unity … and say no to the flagrant foreign interference in our affairs," he said.

Participants stressed that the foreign influence they referred to was from the United States, France and other countries, not Syria, which they welcomed.

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  1. Reminds me of Paul Bremer’s warning that foreign countries better not interfere with Iraq’s internal politics.

  2. It reminds me of the time that my mom said I was only allowed to play ball outside, and then told me the porch didn’t count.

    Paul Bremer, more like Paul Bummer. If this administration gets any dumber, they’re going to need kitty litter.

  3. My cat resents that comment.

  4. “Reminds me of Paul Bremer’s warning that foreign countries better not interfere with Iraq’s internal politics.”

    or Bush saying (while keeping a straight face) that the Lebanese can’t have free elections during the presence of foreign (Syrian) troops.

    The difference, though, is that in this instance the locals (Lebanese) get to define who is a welcome guest and who is an unwelcome meddling foreigner.

  5. or Bush saying (while keeping a straight face) that the Lebanese can’t have free elections during the presence of foreign (Syrian) troops.

    Are you implying that the U.S. military acted to stifle free elections in Iraq? I don’t remember hearing too many Iraqis complaining that U.S. military forces prevented them from reaching the polls or intimidated them from voting a certain way.

    Not speaking as a bushbot here, but there wouldn’t have been free elections at all this bear in Iraq,
    if the U.S. hadn’t been there.

    Contrast this with the chilling political effect Syria’s army has had on the Lebanese political process for a long time.

  6. Why do some people have a hard time accepting that there may be a more than trivial number of pro-Syrian Lebanese? I see that already there are attempts to explain away the huge size of this rally compared to anti-Syrian rallies. But I have not thus far seen any *proof* that the pro-Syrian demonstrators were all (or even mostly) coerced to be there or bused in from Syria.

  7. “I don’t remember hearing too many Iraqis complaining that U.S. military forces prevented them from reaching the polls or intimidated them from voting a certain way.”

    The vast majority of Sunnis refused to participate in the election if held during the presence of US forces and without a specified withdrawal date.

  8. The statement makes sense if the speaker is a pan-Arabist. If your goal is an Arab super-state then Syria is not a “foreign” power.

  9. True, Mark, but the ferociously sectarian Shiites in Hezbollah are far from pan-Arabists.

  10. “The vast majority of Sunnis refused to participate in the election if held during the presence of US forces and without a specified withdrawal date.”

    Refusing to participate is not the same as “U.S. military forces preventing them from reaching polls or intimidating them from voting a certain way”

    Good attempt at the straw man, though.

  11. Refusing to participate is not the same as “U.S. military forces preventing them from reaching polls or intimidating them from voting a certain way”

    instead of preventing them from going to the polls, mr ian, mr db, we rigged the constitutional process so that they couldn’t be represented in what they saw as a meaningful way. they felt that they had been disenfranchised long before there was ever a vote.

    clever, hm? but no less a disenfranchisement, it would seem.

  12. Why do some people have a hard time accepting that there may be a more than trivial number of pro-Syrian Lebanese? I see that already there are attempts to explain away the huge size of this rally compared to anti-Syrian rallies.

    because it conflicts with the narrative of “freedom on the march” and the “beirut spring”, mr t, which gives many of us license to feel so good about the war we made. for the same reason, many otherwise cynical people seem to want to believe mubarak has done something other than change the window dressing in egypt.

  13. we rigged the constitutional process so that they couldn’t be represented in what they saw as a meaningful way

    You mean so the minority could dominate the majority, like they had for so many years?

  14. “Refusing to participate is not the same as “U.S. military forces preventing them from reaching polls or intimidating them from voting a certain way””

    It is, if your refusal was because you felt intimidated to vote a certain way (i.e., vote for someone who isn’t acceptable to the US). The US afterall imposed restrictions on who could run.

    What the Syrians did in Lebanon is no different than what the US did in Iraq, accept that when the Syrians got involved it was by request from the majority of political players in Lebanon during the civil war and all the major international players including the US.

  15. Why was Harri killed?

  16. “You mean so the minority could dominate the majority”

    Doesn’t the Christian minority in Lebanon get 50% of the seats in the Parliament?

  17. “instead of preventing them from going to the polls, mr ian, mr db, we rigged the constitutional process so that they couldn’t be represented in what they saw as a meaningful way.”

    Really? Rigged? How so? Got Proof?

  18. “It is, if your refusal was because you felt intimidated to vote a certain way (i.e., vote for someone who isn’t acceptable to the US).”

    Really? Intimidated? How so? Got Proof?

  19. yes, the Christians get 50% of the seats in Lebanon. The Shia get a far smaller percentage relative to population (since they account for around 40%).

    The elections in Iraq were most definitely not rigged — in the first place, they were organized by the UN, in the second place if they had been rigged, Allawi would have done much better than pro-Iranian groups.

    Admittedly, I have to wonder when wingnuts loudly decry Spain, Germany etc. when their governments follow the demcoratic will of their people and oppose the Iraq war and ask other East European democracies to over-ride the will of their people and send troops to Iraq . How does that square with the supposed respect for democracy of these people ? I won’t even go into the calls to ban Al Jazeera seen from these people.

  20. “Really? Intimidated? How so? Got Proof?”

    You get to ask for a proof when you show your evidence for making the original claim that the Syrians intimdated the Lebanese to vote a certain way. You made your claim much earlier than I did mine.

  21. I don’t doubt that there are SOME pro-Syrian Lebanese. Soem, in fact, who want Syria and Lebanon merged…although I seriously doubt that is what most demonstrators today want.

    45% of Nicaraguans voted for the Sandanistas once, when they had all the cards. Then the numbers tumbled.

  22. Really? Rigged? How so? Got Proof?

    yep — the iraqi constitution. directly proportional representation on the national level, which is what is called for throughout, is seen by the sunnis (who, whatever else they are, are secularist and technocratic) as a rigged outcome for the primitivist, fundamentalist iranian shi’ites such as mullah sistani. they have said as much to time magazine and the american army. they also have been reputed to have great problems with the kurdish veto — the constitutional provision which allows the kurd provinces to band together to thwart any legislation they desire, giving the kurds what the sunnis (and many shi’ites) see as disproportionate authority.

    now, you may feel differently about what constitutes rigged, but they see such a process as fundamentally flawed and rigged against their safety, which is why they say they resist. given the natural propensity for nascent democracies to devolve into majoritarian tyrannies (a la putin’s russia), they certainly have some reason to worry, imo.

  23. instead of preventing them from going to the polls, mr ian, mr db, we rigged the constitutional process so that they couldn’t be represented in what they saw as a meaningful way. they felt that they had been disenfranchised long before there was ever a vote.

    gm –

    The constitutional process was “rigged” alright – in a way that fuckin’ guarantees minority Sunni representation even if the Sunni Arabs in Iraq didn’t turn out, which they largely didn’t. This is a good thing, not a bad thing, dude. It ensured equal representation for a minority group.

    Claims of “disenfranchisement” are, to be very simple, mind-numbingly stupid.

    And to the fuckin’ idiot who made the claim that the US imposed restrictions on who could run, is that then why Islamists also ran for election?? Or maybe by “restrictions” you actually mean the requirement that woman participate?

    Please, fuckers, if you’re going to open your mouths perhaps you ought to at least have a small inkling of what the fuck you’re talking about.

    And yes, I also question your patriotism, you dolts. Deal with it.

    Dear god, but the smugness of so many of you – who also happen to be incredibly stupid mind you – cracks me up.

    Suffer in your ignorance, hippies, suffer.

    Ok, now suffer more.

  24. ian: I just noticed that it wasn’t you who made the original claim, it was db. But I also noticed that you asked me for a proof but not him. I wonder why?

    Anyhow here is my proof:

    http://www.aljazeera.com/me.asp?service_ID=6939

    “We told him (Qazi)[UN representative] that we had conditions and that we would discuss them with the parties that boycotted the polls and would put forward a common stance,” said spokesman Omar Ragheb.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A29157-2004Nov5.html

    “The Sunnis have proposed six measures, including a demand that U.S. forces remain confined to bases in the month before balloting.”

    “Until now, groups such as the Association of Muslim Scholars, which supports the new proposal, had insisted that no election could be considered legitimate until Western troops left Iraq.'”

  25. lol.

    “the iraqi constitution. directly proportional representation on the national level, which is what is called for throughout, is seen by the sunnis…..”

    Well, Mr. Gaius, the perception of particular sunnis regarding what you characterize as “rigged” is not the same thing as being, you know, actually rigged. So, what we have with your characterization is a minority group all of a sudden finding itself losing the monopoly on power it enjoyed for so many years, instead finding their representation allocated relative to their numbers….Cry me a river.

    “(who, whatever else they are, are secularist and technocratic) ”

    They are? All of them? Secularists? Does that include the sunni wahhabists? Probably not. Maybe we should avoid generalizations like that.

    In any event, Mr. Gaius, I am confused as to exactly what iraqi constitution you are reffering, as, as far as I know, the recent election was held to form a national assembly tasked with writing an iraqi constitution. So, ummmm, what constitutional process are you even talking about?

  26. mr. a.

    Just so I understand, you are claiming that sunni participation was lacking do to pressure being brought upon sunnis, by sunnis, to vote for candidates acceptable to sunni clerics?

  27. Bushbot:
    “to the fuckin’ idiot who made the claim that the US imposed restrictions on who could run,”

    Unlike bushbots, the fucking idiot can substantiate his claim.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A29081-2004Nov5.html?sub=AR

    “In an attempt to prevent former officials of Hussein’s Baath Party from running, no candidate will be certified who had been in the party “with the rank of Division member or higher,” a level that one former senior CIA official said was “not high and would cover many schoolteachers and college professors.” In addition, a candidate who was a former party member will have to sign a document renouncing the party, disavowing all past links and swearing that he or she has no current “dealings or connection” with Baathist organizations.

    The rules create “a real rat’s nest to unravel,” the former CIA official said, “and clearly will not bring Sunnis into the process unless it is waived.” “

  28. a:

    I suppose, as you claim (correclty) that the U.S. imposed restrictions on who could run, that the government is illigitimate? If that is true, do you hold the same opinion about the German government?

  29. ian:

    “you are claiming that sunni participation was lacking do to pressure being brought upon sunnis, by sunnis, to vote for candidates acceptable to sunni clerics?”

    From my previous reply:

    “The Sunnis have proposed six measures, including a demand that U.S. forces remain confined to bases in the month before balloting.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A29157-2004Nov5.html

  30. Yes, a, thank you. I read your comment the first time. I also read the wapo article the first time. How about answering the question? It is a simple question. Yes, you are claiming that sunni participation was low due to pressure applied to sunni’s by sunni’s, or, No, [then offer your explanation here].

    Repeating yourself really doens’t help.


  31. 45% of Nicaraguans voted for the Sandanistas once

    And of course, the then American administration was really careful (NOT) to respect the democratic wishes of the Nicaraguans. I also recollect then administrations being carefully respectful of the democratic Somoza.

    That being said, the idea that the US rigged the elections in Iraq is nonsense.

  32. I don’t think Syrian guest workers were a large part of the demonstration. Most are Sunni, not Shia like Hezbollah.

  33. Well, Mr. Gaius, the perception of particular sunnis regarding what you characterize as “rigged” is not the same thing as being, you know, actually rigged.

    mr ian, you seem to operate from the presumption that direct representation is the “right” method. i submit that if direct representation leads to anti-sunni pogroms, intractable insurgency and eventual civil war, it isn’t — ideology be damned, that real end result simply isn’t. and haughtily telling them from the “moral high ground” that they really *should* like it that way is totally insufficient to address the reality of the problem (although typically american these days, it seems).

    wahhabists — yes, we should avoid generalizing, and there surely are some — but they must be relatively few compared to the baathists that the american army is now negotiating with. fundamental to these negotiations is our acknowledgement that the problem is mostly with these secularist sunnis who are fighting over problems of political representation, and not religious fanatics — for we wouldn’t have much reason to be negotiating if we didn’t think that was so, would we? so i think that puts a hole in the idea that the iraqi insurgency is an any meaningful way a wahhabist movement, despite the possible presence of zarqawi.

    i think it clear that the baathist sunnis — and ensuring them a strong voice in iraqi government — is (ironically enough) really the best way to effect a pro-western government with minority rights in iraq. the shi’ites are a frightening crowd, quite pro-iran and given to sharia and islamic republic. is that what we want to foster there, an iranian client state? i think not.

  34. “mr ian, you seem to operate from the presumption that direct representation is the “right” method”

    never said that. in fact, i disagree with it entirely. I am entirely aware of the kind of problems that can occur with a direct representation. tyranny of the majority and all that.

    My point, however, is that it is not appropriate to characterize an election as ‘rigged’ if your only criteria is that the election results in a condition that one finds unsatisfactory. The majority drowining out the voice of the minority is always a problem in a democracy.

    ” so i think that puts a hole in the idea that the iraqi insurgency is an any meaningful way a wahhabist movement”

    never said that either. another straw man.

  35. “I suppose, as you claim (correclty) that the U.S. imposed restrictions on who could run, that the government is illigitimate?”

    I said nothing about the illigitimacy of the Iraqi government. That is a question for the Iraqis. The current government is interm government appointed by the US. The new government isn’t formed yet.

    I only highlighted the hypocarcy of Bush’s statement. Then, db, defended Bush’s hypocracy and I refuted his defense. I supported my claim, s/he didn’t. You seem to share his/her opinion. Why do you think that Iraqi elctions are legitimate despite foreign (US) troops presence, while Lebanese elections wouldn’t be legitimate because of the presence of Syrian troops?

  36. Hmm, still trying to figure out how having an opinion one way or t’other about Iraqi elections affects one’s level of American patriotism. Thanks for the jackbooted non sequitur du jour, BushBot.

  37. ian: I’m still waiting for an answer for my question:
    “Why do you think that Iraqi elctions are legitimate despite foreign (US) troops presence, while Lebanese elections wouldn’t be legitimate because of the presence of Syrian troops?”

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