Prodigal Son


Fouad Ajami has written a very elegant, and personal, account of recent events in Lebanon for Foreign Affairs. For those who follow Ajami, this is probably the moment of his final reconciliation with the old country, toward which he had long harbored an ambiguity that blended admiration and considerable unease.

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  1. I agree. But it’s been a while coming. You could see it in the Hariri obituary, and a couple of pieces in US News and WSJ, where, as I noted on my blog, he was sounding the Lebanonist line.

  2. Lots of interesting stuff. One point he made caught my attention: the concept of a “soft landing” for Syria.

    I know, I’m a terrible American who sees the entire world through Washington, but indulge me:

    When this began, the administration and Middle East hawks were determined to leverage the unrest not just to achieve the independence that the opposition protesters were working for, but to try to leverage the overthrow of the Assad regime. Every action and statement by the Syrians, even those indicating a willingness to leave, a desire to abide by the UN resolutions, or an openness to dialoge, was met with a bellicose response. It was clear that the goal was not just to get Syria out of Lebanon, but to make the process as painful and humiliating for the Syrian regime as possible. When a former John Kerry advisor wrote an editorial urging the administration not to try to exploit the situation to achive unrelated strategic ends, Michael Young wrote a nastygram, accusing him of wanting Syria to control the country, loving Saddam Hussein, siding with the terrorists, yadda yadda yadda.

    Then the Hizbollah demonstration happened, and the downside of making the withdrawal as humiliating as possible – the possibility that the Syrians might not pull out at all, or that they would gin up a “civil war” to give them an excuse to stay – suddenly seemed a lot more likely.

    There was a real shift in rhetoric at this point. When was the last time you heard Bush complain that the interrum pullout to the Bekaa Valley was meaningless? Or even say much of anything at all about the situation?

    The abandonment of the strategy of holding the Lebanese’ aspirations hostage to American strategic interests can only be a good thing for the success of the Independence Intifadeh.

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