March 15, 2005

The Arab Street Revolution

Jonah Goldberg recently wrote:

I love the CBS News forged-document story. To paraphrase the abominable snowman from the Bugs Bunny cartoons, I want to hug it and squeeze it and name it George. Okay, I don't want to name it George, but you get my drift. If this story were hot fudge, I would smear it all over my body and then roll around in nougat.
That's how I feel about the revolution in Lebanon.

On that note, my new Tech Central Station column is up: Our Friend, the Arab Street.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at March 15, 2005 09:38 PM
Comments

Bashar Assad already admitted as much himself. "I am not Saddam Hussein," he said to Time Magazine. "I want to cooperate."

LOL! Too You gotta love George W. Bush.

Posted by: Carlos at March 15, 2005 10:39 PM

“In any case, as I'm sure he well knows, George W. Bush isn't John Kerry.”

Daniel Drezner, Andrew Sullivan, Mickey Kaus, and many other well meaning people bought into the con job that John Kerry would be as tough as George W. Bush. Well, all I can say is this: the Massachusetts senator has done absolutely nothing since losing the election to make me regret not voting for him. Kerry still wants us to wait for the rest of the world (ie. the Old Europeans) to join in the war on terror. He will likely never forsake his Vietnam syndrome mindset. On a gut level, Senator Kerry is convinced that American use of military violence will inevitably backfire causing more harm than good.

Posted by: David Thomson at March 15, 2005 11:32 PM

I feel the same way about both stories, afterall, the first one ultimately led to the second.

Posted by: Kay Hoog at March 15, 2005 11:34 PM

I do not expect the Arab street to ever become our friend. It is enough, and would make me very happy, for the Arab street to join the modern world, and stop being our enemy, become a normal country like France.

I may not like France much, but Chirac isn't launching suicide bombers at us. That's a good thing.

Posted by: Jim Rockford at March 15, 2005 11:35 PM

“I may not like France much, but Chirac isn't launching suicide bombers at us. That's a good thing.”

I don’t expect any real cooperation with France. These people are too envious and lazy to substantially help us in fighting terrorism. They only worry about early retirement and 35 hour weeks. The best we can hope for is that the French don’t get in the way!

Posted by: David Thomson at March 16, 2005 12:01 AM

Michael

On what basis do describe the events in Lebanon as a "revolution"?

Posted by: Benjamin at March 16, 2005 12:12 AM

Michael

Bit of a poorly defined line in your article:

Right now we're seeing two revolutions at once: a literal revolution by the "Arab street" against a dictatorship

Yes, there is agitation against the continued involvement of Syria's military in Lebanon. In that respect it is against a foreign policy of the dictatorship of Syria. But Lebanon is not a dictatorship itself. It has been building democracy since 1991, under the Taif agreement, and Syria has been slowly withdrawing forces since 2000. Anti-Syrian Lebanese groups have been increasingly vocal, encouraged by Israel's withdrawal, and UNSCR 1559.

At most, then, we can call this process an "acceleration" not a "revolution". Although you are anxious in your article to trumpet the apparent success of US foreign policy as regards Lebanon, you don't acknowledge the internal dynamic of Lebanon's politics which has been building since way before Dubya was President, and which is influenced by many other factors.

Indeed, you are anxious to "claim" the Arab street, just as the other lot did earlier. I am not sure how useful that is, or indeed accurate.

Posted by: Benjamin at March 16, 2005 01:06 AM

Michael
On what basis do describe the events in Lebanon as a "revolution"? --Benjamin

On a previous thread,MJT said that he could 'recognise'certain people by only their comments without having to see the actual name attached.That seemed a pretty good trick but as soon as I saw this post in this thread,I immediately thought of Benjamin.

Just saying.

Posted by: dougf at March 16, 2005 01:50 AM

Two kinds of societies: Fear and Free.
The change from one kind to another is a revolution.

Benji's got a small point that Lebanon has been taking small steps for many years. But to claim it was NOT a fear society is pretty weak.

The Arab Street is demanding an end to the fear society, fear of Syrian military, fear of Syrian secret police.

This demand is a revolution, a fantastic feel-good revolution. I'm sure it's been a dream of many of those dreamy Liberty babes.

Another small step, not yet even fully taken, towards my own dream (I'd be happy to share, know who I am yet?)
A World Without Dictators.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at March 16, 2005 02:09 AM

http://regimechangeiran.blogspot.com/2005/03/iranian-peoples-shock-awe-in-tehran.html

http://www.daneshjoo.org/publishers/currentnews/article_1621.shtml

http://www.activistchat.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=5398

Something is happening in Iran

Posted by: Raymond at March 16, 2005 03:05 AM

Leftist and their terror states that mass murdered 100+ Million people in the name of utopia have no love of democracy

Their fake talk about it is all a fraud

Its freedom that they hate.

Posted by: Raymond at March 16, 2005 03:09 AM

Add Benjamin to the long list of venemous naysayers on the left. He doesn't care about Democracy and Freedom in Lebanon or anywhere else. He doesn't want to see people liberated. He just wants to see the Bush administration fail. How childish and petty.

Posted by: Kay Hoog at March 16, 2005 04:36 AM

I meant to say "venomous," not "venemous."

Posted by: Kay Hoog at March 16, 2005 04:38 AM

Kay Hoog/Raymond:

It's not just that they "don't care" about democracy - it's that they are actively opposed to it.

You can get a million leftists in the street to say "US out of Iraq", but not one to say "Syria out of Lebanon"

You can get a million leftists in the street to say "US out of Iraq", but not one to say "Russia out of Ukraine"

You can get a million leftists in the street to say "Stop the US invasion of Iraq", but not one to say "Stop the Chinese invasion of Taiwan"

Why? Let's look at their heroes, and do some analysis

Posted by: secret asian man at March 16, 2005 05:17 AM

Kay

Rather silly. I am all for the withdrawal of Syria from the Lebanon. I am all for the disarming of Hezbollah. I am all for the continued development of democracy in Lebanon, and the implementation of UNSCR 1559.

What I am pointing out - and it is an historical fact - that this democratisation and development process in Lebanon has been going on for some time, since 1991 and the ending of the civil war. Hariri, indeed, played an active part of that - a Prime Minister without a militia. Elections have taken place, institutions developed.

Israeli withdrawal too, and a Syrian withdrawal since 2000. So I am not against this process. I am just pointing out what should be an obvious and liberating fact. That this process was owned by the Lebanese well before Dubya got involved.

That's simply a fact. Americans views on this affair can be patronising, condascending and vainglorious. Not necesaarily MT, but I have seen such nonsense on the net.

Posted by: Benjamin at March 16, 2005 06:13 AM

As Jesse Walker and commenter Kevin Carson noted on Reason.com, this "Cedar Revolution" is as false as the Ukranian one. It smacks of CIA and Mossad manipulation and is only more proof of how the Neocons pust their imperialist corporatist agenda under the guise of "the people."

Read about it here:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LeftLibertarian/

Posted by: Real Revolution, not Neocon one! at March 16, 2005 06:19 AM

secret asian man

You really are quite presumptious. I live in Hong Kong, support the Democrats here, and I am visiting Taiwan on 2 April. I am just as worried about Beijing dictatorship as anyone else in this little tip of China. I am fully supportive of efforts to get the Syrians out of Lebanon.

As for the Americans in Iraq - yes they should get out. Iraq is for Iraqis after all, and I am sure many US soldiers are missing the US like crazy.

You continue to exist in your world of easy stereotypes, then.

Posted by: Benjamin at March 16, 2005 06:20 AM

Benjamin,

I got news for you pal, there were people in Iraq who have wanted to be free since '91 also. Heck, since before '91. I wonder why they've only now had free elections...

But never mind all of that. You'd spout off any half-truth just to diminish the efforts of our brave soldiers in the Middle East. I hear this all the time from the left, we're just all supposed to believe that this chain-reaction of Freedom in the Middle East is all just one big coincidence. It has nothing to do with Bush and the U.S. How convenient.

Maybe you're just so sick and tired of your side losing all the time, you'd do anything to rain on our parades. Well guess what, I was gloating when Bush got elected to second term, I was gloating when Iraqis voted in a free election for the first time, and with each further success President Bush, the leader of the GREATEST nation on earth, makes I will continue to gloat!

Posted by: Kay Hoog at March 16, 2005 06:31 AM

Benjamin and kimmit,

What do you fear from freedom breaking out? And yes 8 years of W. will be the reason. Where are your leftest protests in support of the people demonstrating for freedom in Ukraine? or Lebanon? or protesting the tyrants in Iran? Saudi Arabia? North Korea? Yet you protest the elimination of one of the worst tyrants in the world (Saddam)?

Why do you hate freedom and stand with the tyrants?????????

Are you afraid that in 50 years history will see two towering Presidents (Reagan taking down the Soviet Empire) and Bush (Bringing Freedom to the ME) and Clinton being just a footnote between the two? And the fact that each time you protest the US military liberating countries you lose votes? Why not support the people who want freedom and not the tyrants and terrorists????

Do you have any morals?

Posted by: buffpilot at March 16, 2005 06:32 AM

There is SO much cognitive dissonance on the Left, such an abject refusal to acknowledge what any student of history can tell you: Change of the magnitude and speed we're seeing in Lebanon (and elsewhere) FUNDAMENTALLY can only happen when there is a BIG STICK to accompany the SOFT WORDS, to paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt. Benjamin and his brethren simply cannot stand that this despised Republican -- hmmm, that's redundant, isn't it? -- may have had SOMETHING to do with the rapid spread of Democratic yearnings through the Middle East and elsewhere. If people on the Right go to far in claiming credit (and they do), it's primarily because people on the Left deny ANY credit where it is due.

Posted by: JABBER at March 16, 2005 06:41 AM

Never mind that Walid Jamblatt, Christian Druze leader and certainly no fan of U.S. policy, says the following:

"It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq," explains Jumblatt. "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world." Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. "The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."

But it sure wasn't Bush-Chimp-Hitler who had anything to do with that, right fellas?

Posted by: Matt at March 16, 2005 08:52 AM

Dougf,

Your comment is both funny and familiar at the same time. I started reading the post you mentioned and without even thinking I knew exactly who was the author.

Whats particuarly funny is not only is my reconigition of the author nearly involuntarly automated so is my response. I start to read in about the first sentence or two and my mouse wheel kicks in and I go zipping to the next post with the same level of automation!

I just cant help myself!

Posted by: HamOnRye at March 16, 2005 08:59 AM

I’d always thought that the situation in the Middle East was like a hornet’s nest too. Comparing it to Europe, WWII, I didn’t think that our ‘Marshall plan’ in Iraq could thrive until the 'nest' was removed and all the fascist groups were dismantled.

The difference may be that the people in the Middle East don’t love their leaders with the same enthusiasm and vigor that the Germans and the Japanese loved theirs. As you’ve pointed out, a large percentage of the population in these dictatorships is comprised of members of the secret police. This proves that they were suppressing a lot of dissent.

Fascist groups don’t usually fade away, but in this case, they might. I hope they do.

Posted by: mary at March 16, 2005 10:42 AM

Correction, I meant Muslim Druze.

Posted by: Matt at March 16, 2005 12:14 PM

Real Revolution, not neo-con one:

It's not the Jews, man. It's the Freemasons.

sarscasm off

Posted by: Matt at March 16, 2005 12:18 PM

Why?

Er, because it's our job to tell our government what kind of policy we want, and it's our government's job to convey our wishes to other governments? That is, the point of a rally is to pressure our government into a certain policy, not to dance around and feel good about opposing China. You are aware of how this whole "democracy" and "representative government" thing works, right?

Where are your leftest protests in support of the people demonstrating for freedom in Ukraine? or Lebanon? or protesting the tyrants in Iran? Saudi Arabia? North Korea?

What would be the point? We have no leverage over Russia, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, or North Korea. We do have leverage over our own government. Believe me, I cast a vote very much in protest of coddling and supporting authoritarian regimes, but I was thoroughly outvoted.

Posted by: Kimmitt at March 16, 2005 12:35 PM

What would be the point? We have no leverage over Russia, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, or North Korea. We do have leverage over our own government.

Huh, geeze, I would've thought a show of unity in the US against dictatorships would be an enormously powerful signal to send to the world. That is, if the protest types were actually sincere in there aims. I would have thought such marches would demonstrate to the dictators that they can't wait us out, that our next election ain't gonna change US policy regarding them, that they'd better shape up NOW, cuz it ain't gonna get any better for them.

But I keep forgetting, protesting isn't about accomplishing anything anymore, nor is it about solidarity with the oppressed, it is simply about restraining American power.

Posted by: spc67 at March 16, 2005 12:46 PM

You neocons don't get it. Protesting is an end it itself.

- Slave Morality

Posted by: Slave Morality at March 16, 2005 12:55 PM

Something is happening in Iran

I'd love to believe it, and I have every confidence it will happen there fairly soon, but I've seen so many false alarms from activistchat that I'm very wary.

Posted by: Achillea at March 16, 2005 01:01 PM

Benjamin,

revolutions are never instantaneous. They always start small and tak e long time to build steam. it is only the final explosion that is dramatic. And revolutions are never monocausal, so it is not useful to ask whether Bush's policy did or did not bring about the developments in Lebanon. The question is whether or not they contributed and how much. We can turn the question around and ask how much US policies and actions have contributed to maintaining dictatorships in the ME. There is more to it than pulling puppets' strings.

Posted by: Jim at March 16, 2005 01:35 PM

So Kimmit,

I assume then you voted for Bush and will be out with the counter-protesters, correct? The protesters are not for bringing freedom to the oppressed nor opposing tyranny. They do stand with the Tyrants and the dictators. I am sorry I misunderstood your position.

The US stands for freedom, democracy, and sexy! And we seem to be succeeding one tyrant at a time...though it does seem to be picking up!

I am just glad I got to do my part over there.

Posted by: buffpilot at March 16, 2005 01:39 PM

Kimmitt,

If you organize a protest calling for an end to our "alliance" with Hosni Mubarak and the House of Saud I'll show up and march right along with you if you can promise that the ANSWER goons and the globophobes people aren't on the mailing list.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 16, 2005 02:37 PM

MJT,

The Million Strange Bedfellows March, I can see it now. You'd be surprised who would show up. You set it up, and I'll march.

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at March 16, 2005 03:37 PM

MT and Ged,

I'm in too...but that could be the sign of the apocalypse.

Posted by: spc67 at March 16, 2005 04:25 PM

Look Kimmitt! Cats and dogs! Working together!

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 16, 2005 04:51 PM

I have a very unfortunate image of Jonah Goldberg right now.

Posted by: John at March 16, 2005 05:01 PM

I think the important thing to remember is this: if Kerry had won the election, and freedom was exploding around the world the way it is now, liberals would be dancing naked in the streets and aborting babies in celebration. But since Bush is president, they go around, like Kay Hoog said, spouting off half-truths "just to diminish the efforts of our brave soldiers in the Middle East". Because, as we all know, there is no way for a patriot to criticise the president in the hopes of influencing things for the better without diminishing the efforts of our brave soldiers.

So we have to keep reminding these liberal traitors that while all the good things that happen under Bush are because of him, all the bad things are totally coincidental.

On another note, what's this cognitive dissonance thing I keep hearing about from those traitor liberals?

I don't know why anyone should ever listen to a liberal anyway. They're always protesting the policies of their own government, and never in the street protesting tyrants in Georgia and Ukraine. They must be in love with dictators. They must write about them in their diaries and then draw little hearts instead of dots in their names when they have "i" or "j" in their names. But the second they protest dictators in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, or Uzbekistan, then they'll be critical of our president, who supports those dictators, and therefore they'll be trying to diminish the brave efforts of our soldiers in the Middle East.

Oh, so does anyone know what the official conservative stance on France is these days? Not that long ago they were cheese-eating surrender monkeys, but then Bush went to France and said that he could trust Chirac and that they were helping us in Lebanon. Seriously, what should I believe? Someone needs to tell me what to believe.

Freedom!

Posted by: Proud Conservative at March 16, 2005 05:10 PM

PC: Only one problem with your post....

"...if Kerry had won the election, and freedom was exploding around the world..."

The only sound of freedom exploding if Kerry was president would be the explosions of the various tyrants slaughtering the oppressed. If Kerry was president Tom Friedman's Hama Rules would still be very much in play. Not just in Syria but in Lebanon, Egypt, Iran, etc. maybe even in Libya again because none of them would ever have to ponder what happened to Saddam happening to them.

Posted by: AlanC at March 16, 2005 05:45 PM

The real problem with Proud Conservative's post is that he doesn't make a convincing fake liberal at all. Bzzt. Try again, buddy. Wait, on second thought, don't. Satire isn't one of your strong points.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 16, 2005 06:03 PM

Satire? Fake liberal? Guh?

Freedom!

Posted by: Proud Conservative at March 16, 2005 06:10 PM

Kay Hoog

My coments were regarding Lebanon, not Iraq. I am fully wawre of the consequences of the US invasion of Iraq.

Lebanon, however, is a seperate situation. There has been no US invasion, but they have been building democracy, with elections and disarmament of militias, Syrian withdrawal and Israeli withdrawal, all happening since 1991.

That does not denigrate the work of US soldiers in Iraq now or the invasion of Iraq (2003.)

It is just stating the FACTS of the Lebanese situation. How thick can you get?

Posted by: Benjamin at March 16, 2005 07:02 PM

"Proud Conservative," I meant that you seem like a fake conservative, not a fake liberal. Most fakes around here are fake liberals and I've just grown accustomed to calling them out.

Real people don't write sentences like these:

They must be in love with dictators. They must write about them in their diaries and then draw little hearts instead of dots in their names when they have "i" or "j" in their names.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 16, 2005 07:59 PM

Benjamin,

Oh, I see, it's all just one big coincidence.

Okay, I'll bite. Let's pretend for a minute that Bush is in no way responsible for the situation in Lebanon. What's the point of bringing it up? There's no constructive reason for pointing this out. It only denigrates the effort of our President and our brave soldiers, and all us Americans who have sacrificed here at home. Why is it that you constantly harp on U.S. failures, or supposed failures, while sweeping all of our successes under the rug? Not only is your above statement a pointless statement it make, it's a poisonous, destructive thing to say. Liberals really do want to destroy everything, it seems.

Posted by: Kay Hoog at March 17, 2005 02:12 AM

Benjamin could be the poster child for Meme Mutation Disease: where one pernicious meme, in the presence of a hostile environment, mutates into one better adapted to it's surroundings.

"The Bush Doctrine is all about securing oil fields; it will lead to more bloodshed and repression." Reality is making those clinging to that meme a little green around the gills.

Therefore....

"The rise of pro-Democracy movements in the Arab world would have happened anyway; the Bush Doctrine is either inconsequential, or actively subverts those popular movements." Ah, now there's a meme that can actually co-exist with the news without making the brain hurt.

And for his next trick, Benjamin will prove that black is white and promptly be run over at the next zebra crossing.

Posted by: Mark Poling at March 17, 2005 09:35 AM

I'm listening to a moonbat defend Stalin on the Michael Medved show. Sickening.

Posted by: Carlos at March 17, 2005 12:55 PM

Whatever gradual, step-by-step approaches Lebanon has taken since 1991 towards a more representative government free of the Syrian occupation, Bush's contribution can't be denied, unless one is desperately looking to deny it. It as though goods were being laboriously transported by mule pack through some steep canyon pass, and then suddenly a helicopter swoops down and hoists the mule, pack and all, aboard. The goods are going to get to their destination a lot sooner, and it doesn't make sense to say, "Oh, well, the mule was carrying those packs there anyway, so what help was the helicopter?"

Just ask yourself: if not for Bush and the war in Iraq and most particularly the Iraqi elections of 1/30, do you think these anti-Syrian demonstrations would ever have happened? And, if so, how many people do you think they would they have drawn? The Iraqi war has energized and emboldened this new Arab Street, which may in fact represent a heretofore "silent majority" in the Arab world.

Posted by: neo-neocon at March 17, 2005 03:43 PM

Neo-neocon - May I say that your "mule" metaphor was quite excellent and apropos.

And speaking of metaphors, I must say that I quite enjoyed this line from Michael's essay:

"There was always something slightly obnoxious about referring to people as though they were pavement."

LOL!

Posted by: Caroline at March 17, 2005 05:44 PM

Mark Poling

I was not denying Bush's contribution - I have already acknowledged it, but your reading comprehension is poor, so you missed it. Nor are my comments about the Mid East generally, they are specific to the Lebanese situation, and reference specific events in recent Lebanese history. Those references are pretty necessary when talking about the democracy demonstrations in Lebanon.

The marshalling of a range of facts to support an argument or thesis is very necessary in disciplined and mature debate, although I see many posters here dispense with that structure, choosing instead the old standbys of ad hominem attacks, the false dichotomy, or the straw man instead.

Risible, and transparent.

Posted by: Benjamin at March 17, 2005 10:06 PM

If you organize a protest calling for an end to our "alliance" with Hosni Mubarak and the House of Saud I'll show up and march right along with you

Heh, six time zones is a little far away to organize a march, but I did what I could from here. What can I say; your guy won, so we're still BFFs with the Saudis.

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Johann Hari
Author of God Save the Queen?

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Andrew Sullivan
Author of Virtually Normal

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James Lileks
Author of The Gallery of Regrettable Food

"A hard-headed liberal who thinks and writes superbly"
Roger L. Simon
Author of Director's Cut

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James Howard Kunstler
Author of The Geography of Nowhere


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Essays

Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

The Men Who Would Be Orwell
Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

Looking the World in the Eye
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

In the Eigth Circle of Thieves
E.L. Doctorow, The Nation

Against Rationalization
Christopher Hitchens, The Nation

The Wall
Yossi Klein Halevi, The New Republic

Jihad Versus McWorld
Benjamin Barber, The Atlantic Monthly

The Sunshine Warrior
Bill Keller, The New York Times Magazine

Power and Weakness
Robert Kagan, Policy Review

The Coming Anarchy
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

England Your England
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn