May 30, 2007

What Assad Fears Most Has Come to Pass

by Michael J. Totten

Syria's tyrant Bashar Assad has dreaded nothing so much over the past couple of years as a Chapter 7 United Nations Security Council Resolution establishing a tribunal to put on trial the assassins of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Chapter 7 means the international community will impose enforcement mechanisms on the guilty. Assad worries it will be the first step toward internationally-sanctioned regime-change in Damascus.

Today the Security Council passed a Chapter 7 resolution with no votes against. Fireworks lit up the skies over Beirut as a small bomb was tossed into a church near the Hezbollah dahiyeh.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at May 30, 2007 02:29 PM
Comments

Hi -

Great news indeed.

What is interesting is the abstainers: they could see no way to block the invoking of Chapter 7, i.e. the evidence is overwhelming.

The five abstainers - Russia, China, Qatar, Indonesia and South Africe - complain about the Security Council oversteppping its authority and that "it is not appropriate" for the Security Council to "impose" such a tribunal.

In the case of Russia and China, these are countries with a very, very long tradition of hiding behind national sovereignty claims to hide their own human rights abuses: as far as they are concerned, whatever happens behind their borders cannot possibly be of concern to non-citizens.

This is where the Westphalian system of nation-states is weak: abusers can literally get away with murder.

Like I said, great news. Of course, this makes things "worse", worse in the sense that Syria can no longer hide.

Posted by: John F. Opie at May 30, 2007 03:39 PM

Western media always seems to try and aggress Hezbollah (i.e. make them look like the agressors). Yes, a sound bomb went off near the 'Hezbollah' dahyeh, but where was it in? The place could be as near to Israel as dahyeh, or as near as samir gaegae's home, or as near Syria etc.

Be more specific next time and stop playing around with words because it may confuse less aware people.

Posted by: yo yo at May 30, 2007 05:02 PM

This is good news. Maybe one of the reasons Assad has been trying to reach out, to Israel, to America, is that he saw this coming, that Russia and China were not going to oppose this move.

Posted by: Dan at May 30, 2007 05:10 PM

Yo Yo, it was a concussion bomb in a church. Near the Hezbollah dahiyeh, not in it, as I said.

I didn't say Hezbollah did it. They probably didn't.

So you can calm down now.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 30, 2007 05:11 PM

Why would South Africa abstain?

Posted by: Susan at May 30, 2007 05:17 PM

The U.N. investigation has been extended to June of 2008.

The judges, when they are hired, will be hired for an initial term of three years.

And the appeals judges outnumber the regular tribunal judges.

Look for an official ruling on this matter somewhere around 2020.

It's the U.N. way.

Posted by: alphie at May 30, 2007 05:46 PM

"Look for an official ruling on this matter somewhere around 2020."

Lebanon was able finally push for Chapter 7. Who knows they might even be able to achieve some expediency as well. 2018 may be.

What if tribunal will conclude that Assad has nothing to do with it?
What if it will turn out to be internal Lebanese powers?
Will then UN try to sweep it under the rug in fear of another Civil War in Lebanon?

Posted by: leo at May 30, 2007 09:42 PM

When the international tribunal is out of the way, the Lebanese government predicts that Syria will have much less influence in Lebanon, and will have much greater problems of its own.

Is that a good sign for Lebanon?

lets hope.

Posted by: Jester at May 30, 2007 10:12 PM

This is where the Westphalian system of nation-states is weak: abusers can literally get away with murder.

The westphalian system is not intended to create justice. It's purpouse is to prevent wars.

Posted by: rosignol at May 30, 2007 10:50 PM

By raising the expectation that political assassinations will be punished, today's resolution probably hinders Syria and helps Lebanon from this day forward -- regardless of how slowly the wheels of the tribunal turn.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at May 30, 2007 10:51 PM

What if tribunal will conclude that Assad has nothing to do with it?

Of course, Assad has nothing to do with it. In fact, that's one of the main reason why he's been trying so adamantly to prevent the tribunal from getting off the ground.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at May 30, 2007 11:08 PM

"Western media always seems to try and aggress Hezbollah (i.e. make them look like the agressors)."

It is good to see that somebody questions the media.

However, as a student of the university of Haifa when Hizbullah threw rockets at it I can assure you that Hizbullah are the aggressor.

I have seen the rockets. The media happen to be right about this.

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at May 31, 2007 01:28 AM

"Why would South Africa abstain?"

South Africa is a weird country. They think that racism is a "white" thing and that they must thus look for friends among Arab nationalists (who are, despite their constant attempts to eradicate Jews and Kurds and other minorities not racist because they are not American, Jewish, or European).

South Africa will always vote as anti-Israel or anti-democratic as possible. I expect they would also vote against an independent Kurdistan, if the question ever comes up.

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at May 31, 2007 01:33 AM

Good news yes, but given his resilience over the years it's very, very difficult to be optimistic that Assad's reign in Syria will be over anytime soon.

An article in today's Salon explains how Assad is gaining, not losing, strength. Not entirely convinced, but well worth reading. Here's the link:
http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2007/05/31/syria/

Posted by: Matt Schiavenza at May 31, 2007 04:45 AM

This is the U.N. we are talking about. The biggest toothless tiger in history. If Assad doesn't die of old age first, what does he truly have to fear? The U.N.? What is the U.N. going to do? Threaten sanctions? And if Syria still doesn't comply, well the U.N. might just get serious and threaten more sanctions.

Posted by: Eric at May 31, 2007 05:31 AM

holla

Posted by: mantis at May 31, 2007 05:36 AM

Point of clarification: The "holla" was just a general reaction to the news, not to the preceding post. Although, I do share a little of his pessimism.

Posted by: mantis at May 31, 2007 05:39 AM

What is the U.N. going to do?

Issue a strongly worded protest, of course. Assad is shaking in his boots.

Posted by: Carlos at May 31, 2007 05:42 AM

This is welcome news on it's own merits -- the establishment of a tribunal will hopefully serve as a deterent, at least for the next few years. And even if the tribunal drags on for years it can still cause serious discomfort in Damascus.

Posted by: MikeB at May 31, 2007 05:47 AM

South Africa is a weird country. They think that racism is a "white" thing...

It's the "anti-whitey" school of foreign policy.

Posted by: Carlos at May 31, 2007 05:49 AM

I should add that the tribunal alone isn't enough, but at least it's progress in the right direction. And for the UN, which has huge and obvious failings, for take even this step is pretty significant.

Posted by: MikeB at May 31, 2007 05:51 AM

"It's the "anti-whitey" school of foreign policy."

Arabs are, of course, "white" too.

But for the purpose of some, "white" is really just a tautological term describing whoever needs to be white for the user of the term.

White supremacists consider Jews non-white and that was a common opinion when laws were made against non-whites.

Now that the political correct position is to prefer (non-white) minorities, Jews became white.

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at May 31, 2007 06:37 AM

"What is the U.N. going to do? Threaten sanctions?"

The U.N. sanctions, the U.S. and coalition of the willing enforces. Maybe France instead of U.K. this time. If I were Assad, I'd be a little bit nervous.

Posted by: MarkC at May 31, 2007 06:48 AM

"Whitey," in this context, simply means, "Those whose ancestry can be traced to Europe," i.e., those who are believe to be responsible for the "Third World's" fall from the wealth, freedom, and opportunity in which it gloried before "whitey" screwed everything up.

That may not be precise, of course, but precision is not a feature of such discussions.

Posted by: Randall at May 31, 2007 07:12 AM

Hallelujah! Allah-u-Akbar! Vishnu Lives!... Whatever works; this is good news.

Now let us see our guys not waste this opportunity; I always fear their proclivity to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory as they carry out their small sectarian shopkeeper accounts...

Posted by: Jeha at May 31, 2007 07:43 AM

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 05/31/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

Posted by: David M at May 31, 2007 07:54 AM

rosignol,

when the intention is to prevent wars at any price, you may end up with a lot of injustice. there are those who manipulate the system to game it and this is what iran and syria are doing.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 08:59 AM

given the nature, history, membership and structure of the UN, it's hard to be optimistic. too many things can go wrong, and syria, iran, russia and china are too good at machinations and playing on the differences within the west to derail.

to be honest, i find it hard to believe that anything serious will come out of this in a meaningful time.

but i would like to be proven wrong.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 09:05 AM

It would be good if this inquiry intimidated Syria into being less aggressive. I'm not optimistic about that. There may be some sort of deal and 'flipping' of Syria soon, but I don't think this resolution will be instrumental in achieving that.

Abstractly, it serves justice that Assad be indicted by this tribunal, so I'll cross my fingers and hope that the physical acts that follow from justice being done here bring less suffering to people in Syria and Lebanon, and not more.

This resolution does seem to lay groundwork for Assad's eventual overthrow. That would be a good thing in abstract: whether it's a good thing when it happens depends on whether it leads to less death in the region, or more death. If we were to knock off Assad right now, what with a million angry Sunni refugees in the country, I think chances are high we'd end up with a Sunni fundamentalist on top, and a serious uptick in anti-Shiite violence in Lebanon. It might do more to spike a regional sectarian conflict than a withdrawal from Iraq.

If Assad falls - I don't expect him to - we'll see how that prediction fares. Of course, circumstances may, and hopefully, will change - hopefully the sectarian spark in the Mideast will be weaker in ten years.

Posted by: glasnost at May 31, 2007 09:18 AM

the arab regimes are pretty good at staying in power because they are ruthless and ruthlessness is respected as strength in the arab culture. (by comparison, the west is not ruthless and thus held in contempt as weak, which invites attacks).

so i agree that it is unlikely assad will fall, at least not for quite a while; and if and when he does, the chance for some sort of islamic state is quite high.

in fact, my guess is that in practically all arab states islamic regimes will come to power if the dictators/monarchs were to fall.

all those who decry the undemocratic regimes in the arab world must consider whether islamist regimes to replace them is better or worse. the west made the mistake of ignoring this issue twice: in iran and in iraq, with dire consequences.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 09:49 AM

actually, 3 times: in afghanistan too, but the jury is still out on that one. but i am not optimistic.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 09:57 AM

fp - this is a short sighted view. As we've seen Assad is able to use the threat of an islamic gov to intimidate his enemies and make it difficult to appose him, giving him much more freedom of action than he should have. the situation is similar in egypt, though not as bad.

I think it's necessary to support democracy, straight up. if they vote in the brotherhood like in gaza, then you simply have to fight them. they're the legitimate government and they they want to be at war, so its war. and for the war to end the people will have to vote in a new government that doesn't want war.

there are no shortcuts.

Posted by: adam D. at May 31, 2007 10:03 AM

adam,

you've got it backwards.

on the contrary, it was shortsightedness to assume, like you do, that democracy will arise in iraq, iran and afghanistan, it was predictable and predicted it would not, this was ignored, and we are paying for it.

and you are now insisting on repeating the same mistake.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 10:29 AM

The most important thing the tribunal does in the near term is reinforce Lebanese sovereignty and encourage Lebanese patriots. The world has weighed in: assassins must be held to account.

Imagine the US Speaker of the House being blown up by a car bomb, along with 21 other people. The idea that such an act would go uninvestigated and unpunished is unthinkable. There would be enormous pressure from every level of US society and government to find the guilty party: law enforcement agencies, the press, ordinary citizens.

The assassination of a Lebanese prime minister deserves no less.

The Lebanese aren't going to persevere against Syrian colonialism via military means, but their military disadvantage is twinned with a huge moral advantage. Assad needs collaborators, and the position of the collaborators becomes untenable as Syrian culpability becomes clear. You can't present yourself as Lebanese and at the same time support a regime that kills off popularly elected leaders.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at May 31, 2007 10:29 AM

"I have seen the rockets. The media happen to be right about this."Andrew Brehm

Oh no, poor you. You saw a rocket, how very scary and traumatic. Have you recovered from the shock yet?

I can't imagine how a whimp like you would react if you was under occupation, with family members killed, with you village razed off the ground, not only by bombs, but by bulldozers too. How would you react if you lived in an area with a million bombletts which have killed more Lebanese civilians than the Katyushas did throughout the whole war. My god. You saw a Katyusha. Have you seen a Bunker Buster, or a 'Diasy', each weighing 1 ton, being dropped on you using 23 aircraft. Have you felt the impact when 23 of these bombs land in your area at almost the same time?

My god, you saw a Katyusha.

Posted by: yo yo at May 31, 2007 10:43 AM

"I think it's necessary to support democracy, straight up"

Oh, balls. We tried it in Iraq and it didn't work. I was for it, and now I'm against it. It's too weak to stand up to world jihad. FP is right. If you knock over an Arab dictator, the sea of jihad rushes in. Jihad is the sea in which America will exhaust itself and eventually drown. We have to be smarter. Forget about nation-building. It worked in Germany and Japan, but we'd defeated them first. We haven't defeated the Jihadists. Jihad is the new, new thing. A post-national, pan-Islamic movement of enormous potency. We need to understand it. If we keep making the same mistakes, we'll lose.

Posted by: MarkC at May 31, 2007 10:47 AM

Actually, yesterday was a true embarassment for the nation of Lebanon. While the abstaining countries were arguing that they did not agree with the tribunal being set under Chapter 7, and should therefore be conveyed under Lebanese concensus, and that they would not be part of any infringement of violation of Lebanese independence and sovereignty and so on...meanwhile the Lebanese representative was begging the UN to violate his sovereignty and independence... Looks like foreigners care more for Lebanese than some 'patriotic' March 14 Lebanese. How funny.

Posted by: Yo Yo at May 31, 2007 10:48 AM

creamy,

the problem is that lebanon cannot enforce it's own sovereignty. whether UN can do it for them i very much doubt.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 10:52 AM

I strongly suspect that the day will come when Nancy Pelosi regrets having trooped to Damascus for her photo op with the murderer of Rafiq Hariri and Pierre Gemayel. There is a reason that Condi Rice has kept her distance, as she had the political acumen to realize that this day would come to pass, and that the Boy President's blundering would be his undoing.

This series of assassinations has to be one of the worst mistakes since Jack and Bobby decided to cap Ngo Dinh Diem and Madame Nhu. Allende comes close, of course, but this could lead to an unraveling of the regime if the cherubic lad can't actually keep the wolf away from the door. Rice appears to be relentless about the need for a Hariri Tribunal. Meantime, the Usual Suspects don't appear to be supporting the Opthamologist.

Sadly, now that he is in the process of being caught, all the more reason for the Opthamologist and his Iranian Patrons to unleash Nasrallah on the Israelis this July.

Posted by: section9 at May 31, 2007 10:55 AM

Yo Yo;

The difference between you and me is that my society is involved in making high tech innovations and building a world class economy and a compassionate society, and your qassams and katyushas distract me, whereas you're not doing anything anyway.

Posted by: MarkC at May 31, 2007 10:56 AM

The only reason that Lebanon has not ratified a request for the Hariri tribunal is because the Hezbollah shill Nabi Berri has refused to convene the cabinet, knowing that if he did, it would be the very first thing that they would vote on, and that it woud pass by a wide margin. And we all know who Hezbollah is in thrall to, and it is not the country in which they live. Berri's obdurance is just more of the same old Syria-proxy obstructionism, and the UN Security Council saw through it, to its credit.

Posted by: Salamantis at May 31, 2007 11:15 AM

Lebanese concensus

buahahaha!!! That was funny (though I know you didn't intend for it to be).

Posted by: Carlos at May 31, 2007 11:47 AM

Mark,

Jihad is not a "new" thing.

It has been rising and falling in the Middle East for over a thousand years.

A passage from T.E. Lawrence's book, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, written during WWI:

The Wahabis, followers of a fanatical Moslem heresy, had imposed their strict rules on easy and civilized Kasim. In Kasim there was but little coffee-hospitality, much prayer and fasting, no tobacco, no artistic dalliance with women, no silk clothes, no gold and silver head-ropes or ornaments. Everything was forcibly pious or forcibly puritanical.

It was a natural phenomenon, this periodic rise at intervals of little more than a century, of ascetic creeds in Central Arabia. Always the votaries found their neighbors' beliefs cluttered with inessential things, which became impious in the hot imagination of their preachers. Again and again they had arisen, had taken possession, soul and body, of the tribes, and had dashed themselves to pieces on the urban Semites, merchants and concupiscent men of the world. About their comfortable possessions the new creeds ebbed and flowed like the tides or the changing seasons, each movement with the seeds of early death in its excess of rightness.

Posted by: alphie at May 31, 2007 12:01 PM

section9,

We shouldn't hold our breath waiting for Assad to topple, but Lebanon can move forward without his fall. Lebanon is fighting for its independence. It doesn't have to subjugate Syria to win that struggle.

As a former San Franciscan, I was ashamed to see Nancy Pelosi cavorting with Assad. Hopefully the passage of the tribunal resolution will discourage similar trips in the future by her or others. Michael Young has persuaded me that Syria cannot be successfully "engaged" by the US; I hope our politicians arrive at that position sooner rather than later.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at May 31, 2007 12:06 PM

Not sure where Adam went...

But I'd like to defend his point regarding democracy in the Middle East.

He's not saying it will bring sanity in the short term. He's saying that it will bring clarification.

And an end to the whole sorry era when the average citizen of a Middle Eastern country could blame his bottomless frustration on an unresponsive and repressive - and, in many cases, Western-supported - political system.

I agree. What exactly the hell am I - an American - supposed to say to a Saudi/Egyptian citizen who despises his America-supported government, and can't do a damn thing about it?

Shrug awkwardly.

Even if that guy (girl) isn't any better off under a democratically elected government (probably wouldn't be, the rate things are going...), the locus of responsiblity for the situation would be where it should be in the hands of the citizens being governed by these sorry excuses for government.

Posted by: Randall at May 31, 2007 12:19 PM

you don't have to be a san franciscan (which i am) to figure out that pelosi is an ignorant idiot who got where she is because of her connection to money and fundraising.

when she opens her mouth it is like a broken record. she spews mindless platitudes which you can sense she learned to regurgitate for various occasions. she looks and acts like a robot.

it says something about the us when people like this represent it (which, i must add, not exactly unrepresentative).

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 12:22 PM

he he, I think Longneck just peeed in his pants a little!

(and by "Longneck" I don't mean to demean one of God's lesser creations--khil'it rabbna hayda, regardless of how repulsive looking he is--but truly, it does look as if the guy is just a neck with an ugly face drawn on its end!)

Posted by: Louis-Noel Harfouche at May 31, 2007 12:25 PM

Louis-Noel, good to see you here. Blog more, will you? You're slacking!

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 31, 2007 12:29 PM

Randall,

yes. clarification. thanks for clarifying.

and if we can maintain a steady policy of supporting democracy for, say, a century or so, we can even hope to produce a sort of evolutionary bottleneck in the ME.

Nor do I think it's absurd to have such a long term policy. The arabs and israelis both think on such timescales. we should too.

Posted by: adam D. at May 31, 2007 01:00 PM

Salamantis,

As the tribunal renders Syrian denials more and more implausible, collaborators like Berri, Lahoud and even Nasrallah will find life increasingly uncomfortable. Their constituents may be less attuned to the habits of democracy than other Lebanese, but their sense of justice is strong. It's not possible to say to them out loud, "I support the murder of our prime minister."

If, as expected, the tribunal finds that the assassination of Rafik Hariri was masterminded by Assef Shawkat and approved by Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian regime will be fatally radioactive. The closer that outcome draws, the brighter the glow. Eventually, Assad's malevolence towards Lebanon will be so blindingly obvious to all that he will be unable to operate.

That is what he fears most, why his opposition to the tribunal has been so strident, and why yesterday was such a great day to set off celebratory fireworks.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at May 31, 2007 01:06 PM

> Jihad is the sea in which America
> will exhaust itself and eventually drown.

nonsense. But it is a major part of the backdrop against which all internal power struggles within the west, and perhaps between the superpowers, will take place for the foreseeable future. So the jihadis are definitely going to influence what the world looks like in 100 years, but not necessarily in the way they intend.

Posted by: adam D. at May 31, 2007 01:17 PM

if i know anything about regimes like syria, i would bet that they will do anything they can to prevent the tribunal from functioning or reaching a decision the way they tried to thwart its creation. and it is not entirely clear who will blink first. there is so much one can expect from the "international community".

support of democracy in iran might work if the west were to do it smartly (which they're not capable of), but in the arab world it is a highly questionable proposition, to put it politely. this is an illusion of westerners just like the ones who convinced the us govt that liberating iraq would make it democratic.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 01:22 PM

adam,

it is not enough to declare nonsense. it is desirable to elucidate.

as far as i can see, islamism is on the rise all around the world and the west is declining and pursuing suicidal policies.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 01:25 PM

fp,

I will elucidate.

Israel has a hostile population effectively within its borders, roughly equal in size to its own population and harboring multiple extremely violent terrorist groups. Yet Israel is not drowning. It never gets a break and suffers a lot and has many worries, but it is not drowning.

Q.E.D.

The US will not drown in a wave of Jihad.

Posted by: adam D. at May 31, 2007 01:49 PM

The tribunal may or may not accomplish anything. I can certainly see why the skeptics are not holding their breath.

But what is significant is the fact that those countries who Assad previously has counted on for support have now stepped back a little. Which means that the external support that he has counted on is a little less firm than it used to be. And may get weaker still, now that a start has been made. That, and not the prospect of the tribunal bringing him to justice, is what is giving him the chills.

Posted by: wj at May 31, 2007 02:10 PM

and this is the basis of your "nonsense"? you can't be serious.

"if israel does not drown, than the us won't drown" is faulty logic in more than one way.

The drowning argument does not specify any time constraints, so israel may drown at some point. and judging by some of its policies, it may well do so. It is even possible to support an argument that israel is drowning already.

israel has been vividly aware on a daily basis for the last 60 years who it's dealing with and what is at stake. the drowning argument you countered implied that the problem of the us and the west in general is precisely that they are oblivious to all that and pursue policies which increase the odds of drowning.

so at best you can say that it's not certain that it will drown, but you certainly cannot state that it is nonsense to argue the risk. and even then i would say that there is more evidence in favor of drowning than it is for the opposite, if you observe events carefully and thoroughly.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 02:28 PM

I quote from another thread:

Fp, Yo yo admitted to being a kid Michael banned before. He's a Lebanese teenager whose parents sent him to Britain because they could tell that he's nuts and enamored with Hezbollah. Hopefully in Britain he won't join Hez or blow up any buses.

Posted by Josh Scholar at May 31, 2007 11:53 AM

There are other posts that I could quote, both yours and others, but I'll simply summarize:

So, Yo-Yo, we DO know who you are and what you do. Yo-Yo is a naive Lebanese teenager who has been wisely banished to Britain by understandably concerned parents because he irrationally idolizes Hezbollah with such a blind and starry-eyed fervor that another handle of his here has been Hezbollah Lover, among a number of other sock puppet nicks of his here, and who sits around his flat and types immature snarky kid crap into our serious adult conversations.

Now, since you are unprepared to learn anything from anyone else here, but insist upon trying to teach all and sundry things that you don't know (and can't know because they're not true), I most heartily recommend that you bug, sod, or whatever, off, little boy, until you're older, and, one would hope, wiser (if you should be so lucky).

Posted by: Salamantis at May 31, 2007 02:33 PM

mark, do you really want to have a dialogue with a kid about world politics?

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 02:33 PM

Adam D: The US will not drown in a wave of Jihad.

No kidding.

Anyone who thinks the US will drown in jihad should spend a few weeks in Texas.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 31, 2007 03:05 PM

Yo Yo's latest comment has been deleted, as will any future comments that appear on this site.

No, we are not going to argue geopolitics with a Hezbollah teenager.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 31, 2007 03:09 PM

Nor do I think it's absurd to have such a long term policy. The arabs and israelis both think on such timescales. we should too.

I agree. If you consider the US Civil War, democracy promotion is the long-term policy of the US, just not in the middle-east until recently.

I see two ways to do this: the US South/Japan/Germany scenario and the South Korea/Chile scenario. The first scenario is what we are trying to do in Iraq, but hopefully the second scenario can be applied to Egypt, Syria etc. In South Korea and Chile, authoritarian governments embraced capitalism which eventually gave rise to democracy as a new middle class wanted more responsibility over their own lives.

Either way, it is a long process but definitely worth doing.

Posted by: Keith at May 31, 2007 03:45 PM

I forgot to include Kuwait in the second category.

Posted by: Keith at May 31, 2007 03:56 PM

If Assad is being replaced by the M.Brotherhood. So be it. As a state that plays diplomatic games to survive, keeping Baby Assad in power is not a good choice.But,one can fight a war against the Muslim Brotherhood if they are in power in Syria.......
Also interesting that the Arab countries and the rest of the world have decided not to accept the crime of "laissez majeste"...........

Posted by: diana at May 31, 2007 04:04 PM

I don't think the Assad regime will be brought down by this tribunal, because as Iraq has shown the region and the world, stability and security are probably more important than justice and freedom -- if the latter 2 preculde the former 2.

I have talked to a lot of Lebanese who have high hopes for this, and talk of Milosovic's fate as an example of what could happen to Mr. assad. But the Milosovic state had alreday fallen by the time he was sent to the Hague.

Sad though it may be for many Lebanese, and sad though it will be for many people's concepts of justice, I think that were the current concentric power strcuture in Damascus to be brought down, Syria would slide into an abyss of internal violence, and quite likely drag little Lebanon into that vortex -- wherin Lebanon would be smashed and battered once more and everyone would wonder if "justice" at any price was such a good idea afterall.

I am not saying that assassinating people you don't like is a good idea (although I see calls for just that sort of thing on this blog quite regularly!).

But I do think that you lot are kidding yourselves if you think that trying to pull down the current set up in Syria will actually make Lebanon a happier place in the long term. The Middle East is not Central Europe -- and the Lebanese should really open their eyes and look at the nature of the neighbourhood in which they live. They are not in the EU, they will never be the Czech republic, and frankly the EU won't really help them.

I would also argue that whoever is in charge of Syria, they will want to dominate and economically exploit their smaller Levantine neighbour.

Posted by: Microraptor at May 31, 2007 04:13 PM

Microraptor: I am not saying that assassinating people you don't like is a good idea (although I see calls for just that sort of thing on this blog quite regularly!).

No one here advocates assassinating people because we don't like them. Noam Chomsky, George W. Bush, Ralph Nader, Nabih Berri, Jacques Chirac...no one of that sort is on anyone's hit list. Not around here anyway.

Assassinating a terrorist or terrorist-supporting dictator goes beyond assassinating "people you don't like." It's self-defense, and I think you must know that.

Killing Rafik Hariri was not self-defense. He in no way posed a military or terrorist threat to the Syrians.

If Hariri's goal was to conquer and annex Damascus, and he had armies of soldiers and spies and guerillas ready and willing to make a go of it, I wouldn't hold it against them if the Syrians killed him.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 31, 2007 04:27 PM

not just tx. detroit, minneapolis. and more.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 04:52 PM

keith,

do you have any clue about any differences between japn/germany/korea and the ME? what makes you think that ignorance of such differences makes anybody pay attention to what you say?

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 04:55 PM

diana,

can you elaborate as to why a war is possible with MB and not with assad?

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 04:56 PM

mjt,

according to juan cole syria is operating in self-defense in lebanon. so there.

seriously, though, it may well be that assad thinks that he cannot survive economically without dominating lebanon, in which case he operates in HIS self-defense, to avoid losing power. but that's not what we usually mean by self-defense.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 05:01 PM

fp,

you're observing Act I, scene III of the 21st century global jihad. something like that. At the end of Act I, the west is humbled, finds itself complacent and confused, and clings nostalgically to a peaceful past that was itself only a fantasy.

As the drama unfolds, there can be surprises. This week the UN security council reprimanded Hamas without any moral equivalence arguments at all. Did you ever think you'd see the day?
- http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3406780,00.html

Posted by: adam D. at May 31, 2007 05:21 PM

In this interview with the BBC, done shortly after 9/11, Rafik Hariri stated he did not consider Hezbollah or any Palestinian group opposed to Israel as "terrorists" and refused to cooperate with the U.S. in any actions against them:

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article8295.htm

Did he change his stance before he stepped down as Prime Minister of Lebanon?

Posted by: alphie at May 31, 2007 05:35 PM

The Narcissism of Muslim Land. Why does the West concede that land belongs to the Muslims but not anybody else- The Native American Indians always claimed that the land did not belong to anybody. Yep the Arabs are whiteys, as if they came from Bosnia, Bulgaria, Russia. And to think that Russia has almost 30 million Muslims and still maintains its Orthodox Christian outlook. But that won't last long. Given enough time Texas will be Islamic, after all, Byzantine history has shown that with a little persistence(over a 1000 years) Islam always achieves victory because while the west is divided, Islam is united. I'm just kidding "Cowboys Rule." Just finished up research on Muslims in South America, and you know what; eight out of ten Muslims were native converts. So what is the conversion rate in Texas, trooper? Use an exponential algorithm to forecast future demographics and there you go, in ten years there will be a significant number of converts in Texas.Oh yeah- the way to figure out Syria is to view them as Mafia dons who are not going to give up Lebanon without a fight. Syria's next move will be to get the Christians to fight each other. Where's Franjieh by the way. Major Dundee was a great movie-check out.

Posted by: James Just at May 31, 2007 05:52 PM

Adam D,

Before you fill up the comments section and wear yourself out arguing with the indefatigable fp, you might want to see what happened the first time MJT tried to talk him down from his Amerabia lunacy.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at May 31, 2007 05:54 PM

what you say is not substitute to evidence and analysis of events and trends.

it is exactly what you accused others of and which i've dispensed with: nonsense.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 06:10 PM

creamy,

can you give us an idea of what do you think i meant when i used the term amerabia and why do you consider it lunacy?

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 06:13 PM

sure there can be surprises. but the one you refer to does not merit attention.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 06:16 PM

sure there can be surprises. but the one you refer to does not merit the label as one. and even if it were one, you cannot rely on surprises when the treand is so damn clear.

i guess hamas peed in their pants and they'll now recognize israel and give up violence. a strategic development.

give us a break.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 06:19 PM

here's one of UN members which is one of those who are self-destructing via immigration and the consequences. I guess they show what they think of the UN:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070531/ap_on_re_eu/norway_palestinians

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 06:39 PM

they say that us atheists cannot possibly win against the islamists because we don't have faith to counter theirs.

well, then, here's the faith who tried to take on islam:

http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSL2834877820070528?feedType=RSS

but hey, this is just act 1 something. right.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 06:45 PM

do you have any clue about any differences between japn/germany/korea and the ME?

List the ones you think are important in this situation. The fact that these are three different countries with ancient cultures that now share the same democratic/capitalist/liberal social systems supports my theory. That is why people should listen to me.

Posted by: Keith at May 31, 2007 07:03 PM

fp,

As far as I'm concerned, the debate concluded in that thread, MJT and Nouri Lumendifi pulverized you past the point of pity, and there's no need to revisit the subject.

I characterize it as lunacy not only because the idea of America descending into dhimmitude is just plain silly, but because in your obsession 1) you generate an incredible volume of under-edited material, and 2) display a striking immunity to doubt and to the arguments of others.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at May 31, 2007 07:06 PM

Yo-yo is back, for a brief span, at least, and once again is demonstrating his complete lack of understanding coupled with his Hezbo sympathies.

First, he talks about Israel conquering and annexing Lebanon because they have designs on its territory. On the contrary; they have invaded Lebanon only to prevent attacks upon themselves from Lebanese territory, and then left. It was the Syrians who conquered and annexed, or at least satellitized, Lebanon, who only left when they were forced out, and who are now striving to seize control of it again.

Nerxt, he wishes for a violent death for Nasrallah. I wouldn't mind seeing him die soon, in any fashion that it should happen, but only to deny Hezbollah a brutal and capable terrorist leader who plagues Lebanon and Syria alike. Yo-yo, however, wants an assassinated martyr whom Hezbollah might rally around, as Lebanon has rallied around the cause of the assassinated Hariri.

Posted by: Salamantis at May 31, 2007 07:22 PM

I reread yo-yo's execrable comment, and also notice that he pines for the death of every Israeli political leader and soldier, at Assad's murderous but not nearly powerful enough hand. Of course, we know what would happen next in that neighborhood; the death of Israel itself, which is what this sick puppy really pines for.

Ain't gonna happen, except in yo-yo's Jew-hating dreams. He should stop indulging in impossible genocidal fantasies and deal with reality for a change.

Posted by: Salamantis at May 31, 2007 07:29 PM

it's good that you prefaced it "as far as i'm concerned". i'm not gonna worry about that, because you don't understand what i mean. you take them to logical extremes which are not intended and then you find out, correctly, that they are lunacy. they are your lunacy, not mine.

when i used the term amerabia i used it teasingly to make a point about the behavior of some public figures in the us which resemble those of dhimmis. it was not meant LITERALLY as "america descending into dhimmitude". it was also meant as a warning that unless care is exercised, we'll end up like europe. and the recent survey results of the muslim community, lawsuits by muslim groups, DHS payment ot mosques for nonexitent islamophobia attacks, indicate that there is danger.

my comments may be under-edited, but that's because i do the best i can with the time i have and i just make sure that the gist is OK.

as to doubts, i have to have a good reason for them and if i don't i guess i'll stay immune.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 08:00 PM

I have a sensational feeling something somewhere in the Arab world/Middle East will change completely, for ever - I dunno.

What, they'll be even more hate--filled and "humiliated" than they are now? I hardly think that's possible. Osama also wanted this "change" when he planned 9/11, which would be triggered by the American response. He didn't get it. Folks in the middle-east are hate-filled and "humiliated", but not noticeably more than ever. And you actually think the middle east will weep at the assassination of a shia? I doubt it. More likely the overwhelmingly sunni middle east will celebrate. They haven't forgotten how the shiaas danced in the streets when Saddam was toppled and hanged. Sorry, you aren't going to get your much hoped for Caliphate in this lifetime.

Posted by: Carlos at May 31, 2007 08:06 PM

let me turn that around: can you specify any arab country in the ME that you foresee will go for the capitalist democracy system?

if i am not mistaken, most of those countries were under colonial occupation by capitalist democracies for extended periods and they did not develop as such. care to consider why?

the difference is the culture/religion: it is anti-modern anti-western and rabidly so. that was not the case in the ones you compared to. there is no concept of individual rights and freedom.

now, there are elements that are democratic for sure. but they do not have a serious constituency in the societies and if they are supported by the west they are discredited internally.

finally, we saw in iraq what happens in a power vacuum: the democratic elements don't stand a chance not only in numbers, but in commitment. lots of funds and efforts were invested in the palestinians and look at where they are. can the democrats compete with hamas/fatah?

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 08:15 PM

Actually, Japan was a Shinto theocracy ruled acording to the Bushido warrior code, that considered its Emperor as God on earth, and that sent Kamakazis on suicide missions against Allied ships. But then again, even after two nukes, when the Japanese Army tried to press for surrender, elements within it attempted a palace coup. Only the tsubutu suicide of their commanding general and the indisputable decision of their Divine Emperor finally led to their capitulation.

Posted by: Salamantis at May 31, 2007 08:23 PM

true. my guess is that after 2 nukes in some arab country perhaps a long occupation of the one in japan would also succeed. but i am not sure.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 08:37 PM

but in any case, the culture did not have anti-modernity built in, it was modern.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 08:38 PM

Actually, Japan was much like the Muslim countries have been in their recent history; the Meija regime bought and then copied Western technology, but did not concern itself much with the science behind it.

The great technical and scientific infrastructure edifice of modern Japan was erected post-WW II, largely with Western assistance. Anyone of sufficient age can still remember how crappy the electronics we imported from them were at first.

However, they are now a shining, sterling exemplar of how militarily aggressive tendencies may be sublimated, in a constitutional democracy, into cutthroat competition in the economic production and trade arenas. And that is a GOOD thing. It gives their people jobs, spurs global innovation, and provides consumers worldwide with cheaply mass-produced yet high-quality products.

Posted by: Salamantis at May 31, 2007 08:47 PM

How do we, as free, democratic and tolerant societies, deal with the aggressive encroachments of the virulent Islamicist memeplex? I believe that we're already on the path to doing so, and this is why:

The primordial form of government, one that long predated the advent of the written word, is monarchial, composed of royal masters, typically from a single family lineage that served as a simulacrum of the genetic heritage of the tribe, and ruled slaves, who owed the masters familial bonds of fealty. However, this form of government often entailed power struggles and intrigues by the royal relatives to either lay claim to or to seize the reins of succession during the authority change when the king, czar, pharoah or emperor would die, and this was not conducive to smooth and orderly transition and the smooth continuation of civil order.

Spoken religious myths had most likely been invoked to legitimize royal rule for as long as humans spoke and gathered in tribes. However, with the creation of written language, it was possible to create a form of leadership that would not change or die like rulers did; blueprints - that is, sets of ideas - that could codify the regal rule as divinely sanctioned, serve as abstract monarchs with which to supplement the concrete yet generationally changing kings, provide a common glue which smoothed transitions and soothed the populace while transition happened, and, via the inclusion of explicit tribal history, the encoding of symbolic abstractions of important past tribal decisions within the religious myth, or the insertion of purportedly divinely communicated rules, provide both guidance as to how such transitions should be effectuated, and within what parameters a particular king should circumscribe his decisional alternatives. These blueprints are the holy texts of written religions.

As time passed, certain written religions spread across several kingdoms each, and the kings themselves became in their turn ruled by their ecclesiastical authorities, who held sway over multiple kingdoms; as religion mattered more, royalty mattered less. In such a manner, genetic monarchies gradually evolved into, or were superseded and supplanted by, ideological monarchies, whose rulers were chosen from within the membership of the religion itself, the successor being decided, whenever a ruler died, via the consensus of the most influential members remaining.

Where religious government was itself supposedly superseded, in most cases, its supersession was apparent rather than real. Thus with communism and fascism, the god of matter and labor, and the god of the spirit (geist) of the people and its will to power, replaced the transcendent god of heaven, mind and prayer. Still, however, the master and the slave remained; the divinely granted or prescriptively composed sets of ideas and rules were the acknowledged rulers, but the actual rulers were those who mandated to the general populaces what those rules meant. Hegel was the philosopher who first explicitly described this structure.

The Hegelian master-slave dialectic was composed of Masters (who were willing to risk death in order to rule) and Slaves (who were not willing to risk death in order to not be ruled), and Hegel did not present any manner by which governmental form could evolve past this basic inequity. However, in the past couple of hundred years, a synthetic new level has emerged, that of Free and Independent Individuals, who refuse to rule others, but who are willing to kill and die in order not to be ruled by others - that is, they are willing to, in fact, even desirous of, letting others rule themselves, and will even take pains to free enslaved others, but in return they insist upon the right to rule themselves also, via representatives who are neither divinely chosen nor doctrinally imposed by exclusive vote from within an ideological apparatus, be they priests or commissars, but are instead popularly elected by the populace at large, in accordance with a constitution that, in addition to codifying those ethical precepts contained within both holy and secular precursors which are genuinely ethical, mandates the existence, frequency, and structure of such a process. In a way, the principle of ecclesiastical or commissar vote was generalized to encompass the entire citizenry (just as, in prior times, the Gutenberg printing press wrested the holy texts away from their elite cadres and made them available for perusal and judgment to all literate citizens), and a new memeplex has thus evolved; the constitutional democracy memeplex

In fact, evolution is an explicit module of this memeplex; whereas holy texts were forever frozen in their revealed forms, constitutions could be amended or modified by elected representatives responding to popular consensus in the face of changing circumstances, like species evolve in response to natural selection acting via changing environments. This capacity for evolution from within relieves pressure for revolution, as popular changes can be made to the established order without the need to overthrow that order in its entirety. However, so that the rights of minority citizens are protected from any oppressive 'tyranny of the majority', basic guaranteed civil and political rights for all are also included as a submodule qualification of the popular evolution module. This submodule grants and guarantees all of the memeplex's citizens equal rights and freedoms to individually pursue their own personal and economic well being. The interpreters of this constitution (the written and codified template of this memeplex) are appointed by the popularly elected representatives of the citizens, and those who amend it via legislation are separated from those who execute its enforcement and from those who interpret its meaning, as a barrier against groups of representatives collaborating in order to create and implement mutually self-serving rather than citizenry-benefitting changes, or issuing and enforcing self-serving interpretations, and to prevent the executors from authoring self-serving provisions which they then may enforce to their own benefit, or from interpreting existing provisions in self-serving ways. Of course, the concrete personal and political reality of a citizenry as codified in their constitution can never completely catch up to their abstract ideal, as this ideal is itself a moving target, in constant evolution in response to evolving and expanding potential rights, responsibilities, opportunities and choices, but, as noted before, their constitution can be continuously modified to progressively approach it.

Competition between the governments and peoples of countries that embrace this principle, that is, competition between constitutional democracies, is removed from the politico-military sphere (democracies generally do not war with one another - it's counterproductive) and relocated in the economic sphere, comprised of international trade and the competition between producers for consumers via the manufacture of better and/or less expensive products. This competition of course financially and materially benefits the consuming citizenry, at the same time that it furnishes them with gainful productive employment by means of which they may self-support (self-support and self-responsibility being a necessary corollary of freedom and self-rule). Thus, the constitutional democracy memeplex is likely to appeal to a significant percentage of those who presently suffer political and personal oppression and economic privation under theocratic and totalitarian systems, and are prevented by such systems from having an electoral voice in their government's conduct, making personally benefitting economic decisions, exercising personal choice, or changing (or even advocating the changing of) the nature or rules of the system in order to permit themselves to do these things. This appeal renders it likely that the constitutional democracy memeplex can, by offering people the opportunity to achieve concrete and actual this-world economic benefits, expanded ranges of personal choice, and genuine political empowerment, successfully compete for their cognitive memespace with the abstract and hypothetical next-world paradisiacal promises and infernal threats proferred to them by the Wahhab/Qutb memeplex. The hope for the future of secular and tolerant civilization could well lie in this constitutional-democratic memeplex synthesis proliferating through the populations of the globe, siphoning a large enough percentage of their potential members away from the enslaving embrace of the Wahhab/Qutb memeplex that they are unable, after membership attrition via natural and jihad-related causes, to increase or maintain their acolyte population, and finally ridding the world, via democratic revolution (assisted where possible and necessary), of the remaining totalitarian and theocratic enclaves which continue to employ the oppressive master-slave dialectic, and maintain their citizenries in its stifling thrall.

Posted by: Salamantis at May 31, 2007 08:55 PM

true. my guess is that after 2 nukes in some arab country perhaps a long occupation of the one in japan would also succeed. but i am not sure.

Arabs have no Emperor, and if they did have a Calph they wouldn't obey with the fidelity that the Japanese had to the Emperor.

In a sense there's no one there to surrender.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at May 31, 2007 09:11 PM

Surrender would most likely require a fatwa to that effect from the most respected mufti, mullah, or ayatollah in the region, or from a group of them.

Posted by: Salamantis at May 31, 2007 09:14 PM

fp,
let me turn that around: can you specify any arab country in the ME that you foresee will go for the capitalist democracy system?

Kuwait already has. The UAE will probably when the people start thinking money is not enough, and want power over their own lives. The others will follow one day.

if i am not mistaken, most of those countries were under colonial occupation by capitalist democracies for extended periods and they did not develop as such. care to consider why?

Because colonial powers were not interested in making these countries democratic. The American colonies were ruled by colonial administrators remember. Now there is pressure for them to change, both from their own people and other countries.

the difference is the culture/religion: it is anti-modern anti-western and rabidly so. that was not the case in the ones you compared to. there is no concept of individual rights and freedom.
Japan, Germany, Korea all had virulently anti-modern and anti-democratic elements in it; Hirohito was no Washington. The ME has humans in it, not Borg. People get the idea of being able to choose what laws apply to them. If democracy can exist in Bhutan, South Africa, Kuwait, Brazil, Canada, Mauritania etc. then there is no reason it can't exist in the rest of the ME.

now, there are elements that are democratic for sure. but they do not have a serious constituency in the societies and if they are supported by the west they are discredited internally.
Except for the serious constituency point, I agree, but these aren't serious obstacles. Democracy and capitalism aren't just western anymore; let them follow India's example, it doesn't matter.

finally, we saw in iraq what happens in a power vacuum: the democratic elements don't stand a chance not only in numbers, but in commitment. lots of funds and efforts were invested in the palestinians and look at where they are. can the democrats compete with hamas/fatah?
Think of Iraq as Japan or Germany in 1943 then rethink your answer. It could all go to hell, true, but my argument is about the greater middle east, not just Iraq.

Your general point is reasonable (but not right), that the violent elements in the ME will screw up all democratic or capitalistic movements. Looking at history, I think you are wrong. Was Europe in 1939 less violent than the middle east now? What about the American colonies in the 1770's? central America in the 1980's? Japan in the 1940's? Korea in the 1950's? Eastern Europe between 1940 and 1989? Botswana in well, forever?
Each of these places had some of the following: violence, entrenched dictators, colonialism, nationalism, genocide, reactionary religions, terrorism etc. but they all found out it is better to beat the crap out of each other with a ballot than a bomb.

I am not some hippy that thinks democracy and capitalism are some kind of magic crystals. I subscribe to Churchill's view that these things just work better than the alternatives.

Posted by: Keith at May 31, 2007 09:20 PM

They're called the Golan HEIGHTS for a reason; from that strategic perch, all of Israel could be devastatingly strafed, as has happened in their history. Israel's retention of that territory is motiviated overwhelmingly by self-defence concerns; they do not want a replay of that catastrophic pain, and understandably have a hard time trusting that, should they relinquish them without international assurances backed up by a preventative force with real military teeth, that a recapituation would not eventually ensue.

But thinking adults would know this; you are neither.

Posted by: Salamantis at May 31, 2007 09:44 PM

Keith: The ME has humans in it, not Borg.

Thank you for saying that.

I get tired of reading about Middle Eastern people as though the Koran were wired into their brains as code is wired into my operating system.

Just spending ten minutes in Sunni Arab West Beirut will disabuse a person of this kind of thinking.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 31, 2007 09:59 PM

alphie said:

In this interview with the BBC, done shortly after 9/11, Rafik Hariri stated he did not consider Hezbollah or any Palestinian group opposed to Israel as "terrorists" and refused to cooperate with the U.S. in any actions against them:

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article8295.htm

Alphie's not always polite, Mike, but this is a classic example of him bringing excellent information to the blog that no one else would bring, and it completely fails to be acknowledged by anyone here. There can't be any dispute about the source - Hariri is on tape.

On a personal level, I sympathize with Hariri's dilemma as caught on this tape. It may be the same kind of dilemma that Ramadan faces, to one extent or another. But, in 2001, it's clear that Hariri doesn't consider Hizabllah or Hamas as terrorists and wants the US conflict with these organizations to be concluded without bloodshed.

This, of course, doesn't make you wrong about Hariri, Mike, insofar as Hariri didn't deserve to be assassinated by Syria. I don't condemn any Lebanese figure for being unwilling to rush off to a crusade. However, I think in the aftermath of his cruel assassination, Hariri has been whitewashed by a lot of people. I sure haven't seen any coverage of this side of Hariri's POV on your site, or most other neo-cons. Certainly, Hariri's statements here would be the opposite of the attitude a lot of people on your site constantly demand of any and all Arab/moderate public figures. I don't necessarily agree with those demands, but it should be exposed that Hariri is shown here, by those standards, as not measuring up. To put it another way, Hariri goes further in defending Hamas/Hizballah than I have ever heard Ramadan quoted as going.

I think this video possibly also strengthens the argument that Hariri was coordinating his political positions with Saudi Arabia. That doesn't make it okay that Syria bombed him either - he was a Lebanese politician and he's not obligated to disagree with anyone, including Saudi Arabia.

Anyway, however you feel about Hariri, there's no arguing with the fact that Alphie's link here is an unimpeachable source and adds real, underappreciated info to a picture of Hariri.

Posted by: glasnost at May 31, 2007 10:18 PM

Wrong thread for the above comment. Cr*p. Do me a favor, Mike, and delete it. I'll repost it where it was meant to be posted.

Posted by: glasnost at May 31, 2007 10:20 PM

Glasnost,

Hariri was allowed to be prime minister only so long as he followed the Syrian line. He had no choice but to say what he said when he said it unless he wanted to end up at the very top of Syria's hit list.

He finally cracked and told the Syrians to go fuck themselves and they killed him.

Do not take everything these people say seriously, especially during the time the Syrian Baath was their master.

Today Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Seniora said the tribunal "is not against sister Syria." Do you think he beleives that? I know he does not.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 31, 2007 10:28 PM

Michael,

I think it's a stretch to say that one of the world's richest men was nothing more than a Syrian stooge who was secretly pro-Israel.

He had some very insightful things to say during the interview about what America needed to do to succeed in the war on terror.

Advice we failed to follow, of course.

Posted by: alphie at May 31, 2007 11:00 PM

fp,

when i used the term amerabia i used it teasingly to make a point about the behavior of some public figures in the us which resemble those of dhimmis.

No, you didn't.

Here's the context:

It is obvious that the US is in decline due to both internal and external policies. So is Europe. WW2 was the last war it won. There is economic collapse, in part due to peak oil. That's the fate of dominant empires. So Israel is the least of your worries. There are signs of Amerarabia, similar to Eurabia. Descent into dhimmitude.
What is also exacerbating the collapse is the destruction of the educational system. The west is producing ignorance and inability to reason...
Posted by: Creamy Goodness at May 31, 2007 11:12 PM

Hariri very well knew, considering what had befallen others in the past, what the penalty might be should he have an attack of public truthfulness. But, eventually, he could not constrain his truthful impulses, and he was murdered for them.

Posted by: Salamantis at May 31, 2007 11:13 PM

Like many before him, and several since.

Posted by: Salamantis at May 31, 2007 11:13 PM

mjt,

i don't think that saying islam is central in the arab world means that all arabs are borgs. but some are, and it is those that inflict a lot of damage, or inspire others to do such.

i am not sure how much sunni beirut can be projected to the arab world. i'm not even sure how the sunni beirut would behave in the case of conflict which involves religion.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 11:15 PM

Alphie,

secretly pro-Israel.

MJT's post is right above yours, and it's nice and compact. All it takes is a quick glance to confirm that you put those incendiary words in his mouth.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at May 31, 2007 11:17 PM

creamy,

no, i reread it myself and it proves my point.

there are 2 issues: US decline, and amerabia. they have some relationship, but are distinct.

US decline is a fact, whichever way you measure it, and it's due to the nature of empire, which overreach. it is when empires falter already that the barbarians pound. iraq has exacerbated the problem, but it would have happened anyway.

what i said was 'SIGNS of amerabia'. now, I could list here tons of such signs, but i won't. there are enough sources which document them quite well and i linked to some myself here and in my blog. they are similar to those in europe, although, of course not to the same degree.

by DESCENT into dhimmitude i meant that if the current trend continues, such a descent would occur. if there are already signs of self-imposed dhimmitude, it's not farfetched to assume that as the trend continues, this will increase.

I did NOT say it has happened, i did not even say that it will happen in the near future. i only said that it is likely to happen if we let or help it. it would be a creeping process over a very long term.

and i stand behind this position.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 11:32 PM

oh, and the collapse of the educational system: that's already happened. and it certainly exacerbates everything.

in fact a lot of the errors expressed here, including dismissal of worrying signs, are a consequence of poor education

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 11:35 PM

Creamy,

Watch the Hariri interview I linked to before accusing me of putting words in people's mouths, please.

He states repeatedly that Israel is the enemy of Lebanon.

Michael said that Hariri, who could have bought his own country (or army) if he'd wanted to, was just saying that because he was afraid of Syria.

I find that hard to believe.

Of course it's not unusual for political factions to try to claim a fallen hero as one of their own, but in this case I think it's bordering on the bizarre.

Posted by: alphie at May 31, 2007 11:39 PM

Excuse me, alphie, but didn't Syrian-commanded operatives assassinate Hariri when he changed his tune? At least that's what the UN seems to suspect, and to have enough evidence for that suspicion to justify a Chapter 7 tribunal. And the Siniora government seems to concur.

It would seem that his fears were not only real, but also well-founded. I think that Hariri finally could not bear mouthing the words that Syria put there, and decided to risk speaking his own, and paid for that transgression, as he suspected might happen, with his life.

Posted by: Salamantis at May 31, 2007 11:48 PM

Sal,

If Hariri was that worried about Syria, he could have moved to Saudi Arabia and lived...like a king. I doubt the Syrians would have dared to do anything to him there.

And if you have a link to the anti-Syrian speech he made before he died, please provide a link to it. That was what I was asking for in the first place.

As far as I've been able to find out so far, Hariri was pro-Syrian and truly believed they were protecting Lebanon form Israel.

Posted by: alphie at May 31, 2007 11:58 PM

fp,

I intentionally limited my previous communique to a single assertion: you misrepresented the context of your quote.

This was your response:

creamy,
no, i reread it myself and it proves my point.

Whether or not you still find your own writing persuasive is not germane to my accusation.

You are arguing in bad faith.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at June 1, 2007 12:06 AM

Yes, alphie, Hariri COULD have exiled himself to Saudi Arabia, but he chose not to, apparently due to an honorable sense of fealty to his own home country, and a desire to help it however he could.

Most of what Hariri said near his end, he apparently said to the Syrians and to his fellow coalitionists, and, like his latter-day actions, it cost him his life.

Posted by: Salamantis at June 1, 2007 12:18 AM

Alphie: I think it's a stretch to say that one of the world's richest men was nothing more than a Syrian stooge who was secretly pro-Israel.

I didn't say either of those things.

I think it's time you posted comments somewhere else. Having a normal conversation with you is impossible.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 1, 2007 12:47 AM

Michael,

Believe it or not, I come here to learn about Lebanon.

Yet every time I ask a simple, straightforward question, I get accused of being an anti-Semite, Chomskyite, terrorist lover and, even a Nazi.

In this thread, I linked to an interview with Rafik Hariri where he expressed opinions out of step with the impression I got of him from the posts here.

All I asked for was some links that show he changed his stance on Syria after that interview.

Yet all I got was a very belated "don't believe what people in the Middle East say."

Posted by: alphie at June 1, 2007 01:20 AM

Alphie, I answered your question very clearly and you completely distorted it.

If you honestly want an answer to your question, and if you genuinely rather than deliberately misunderstood me, here is something else for you to think about.

From an interview I conducted a few months ago with Eli Khoury.

--

“There’s an old idea that’s been around in Lebanon for a while now,” I said, “and I think it confuses a lot of people. [Lebanese Prime Minister] Fouad Seniora recently said it again. He said Lebanon will be the last Arab country to make peace with Israel. Can you explain to a Western audience what that’s all about?”

“The last Arab country,” he said. “This is the statement of those who want to make peace but know that they can’t. They don’t want to get ganged up on by the Arabs. We are the least anti-Israel Arab country in the world.”

There’s another old saying that has been around for a while, and it’s directly related: No war without Egypt. No peace without Syria. Lebanese can’t make a separate peace with Israel without Syria, not when Syria still partly rules Lebanon through its proxies, its intelligence agents, its bought men (including the president), and its assassins.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 1, 2007 01:48 AM

preparing for the next war this summer?

Posted by: echnaton at June 1, 2007 02:10 AM

Michael,

When I googled "Eli Khoury" the first link I got was this one:

http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=12771

which basically says Khoury has received millions of dollars from Karl Rove.

That doesn't mean he's a neocon mouthpiece, but when he says thinks like this:

Only Hezbollah will seriously oppose it, plus the fools on the radical left, but they are irrelevant.

and

“I am a liberal by nature,” he said. “But this is a luxury in the Middle East. We have to be a little bit neocon here in Lebanon.

I gotta question his impartiality a little.

Do you think any Lebanese leaders are free of foreign ties?

Posted by: alphie at June 1, 2007 02:48 AM

I am not saying that assassinating people you don't like is a good idea (although I see calls for just that sort of thing on this blog quite regularly!).
-Microraptor

What is the less objectionable option:

1) killing thousands, or tens of thousands of conscripts who don't want to fight in order to compel the surrender of a murderous thug who will spend the rest of his life in comfortable exile or in a somewhat-comfortable cell in the Hauge

or

2) The murderous thug dies, everyone else lives.

I am certain that the people ruled by the murderous thug will be far more likely to forgive me for 2) than 1).

>>>>>

This week the UN security council reprimanded Hamas without any moral equivalence arguments at all. Did you ever think you'd see the day?
-Adam D.

The UNSC? Sure. The General Assembly? Hell, no.

>>>>>

How do we, as free, democratic and tolerant societies, deal with the aggressive encroachments of the virulent Islamicist memeplex?
-Salamantis

The same way a free, democratic, and tolerant society deals with other bad ideas- informational inoculation. Once enough of the electorate knows what we're dealing with, representatives will be elected based on how they intend to deal with it. I expect this to happen within a decade, two at most- sooner, if a WMD attack occurs on US soil or within the territory of an ally.

It is not necessary to invent facts to make Islamism look bad, the truth will suffice.

Posted by: rosignol at June 1, 2007 03:00 AM

Do you think any Lebanese leaders are free of foreign ties?
-Alphie

Do you think that any leaders, in any small country surrounded by stronger neighbors, are free of foreign ties?

I assure you there aren't any.

Ties to stronger governments are how that small country protects itself from stronger neighbors- they cannot deter aggression on their own, so they seek the friendship of countries stronger than the ones considered threats.

Why do you think so many governments wish to have friendly relations with the United States? Being considered a friend of America is often sufficient to make stronger neighbors decide to 'expand' in some other direction.

Posted by: rosignol at June 1, 2007 03:12 AM

"Do you think any Lebanese leaders are free of foreign ties?"

You seem to think that there is something wrong about foreign ties and that showing such ties is enough to prove your point (whatever your point might be, I cannot tell).

I sure hope that leaders generally have foreign ties. How would this world ever get better without ties between the nations?

It's whom you have the ties with, not whether you have any ties at all. The US and Saudi Arabia do not deny that Lebanon is a souvereign country, Syria does.

Did you read up on the history of fascism and nationa-socialism now?

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at June 1, 2007 03:25 AM

Alphie: Khoury has received millions of dollars from Karl Rove.

What a ridiculous and paranoid distortion.

You aren't here to learn, you're here to snark and be an ass.

I want you to leave now. If you won't, I will make you.

This is as polite an eviction as you are going to get.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 1, 2007 03:40 AM

Actually, Alphie, nevermind the politeness.

I made the mistake of taking you seriously for a half second and tried to help you understand the Arab-Israeli conflict in Lebanon. After you read the interview with my friend Eli Khoury and learned that a mutual friend of ours was car-bombed by the Syrians on his way to Eli's apartment -- you dismissed both me and Eli by dragging in Karl Rove.

Fuck you. Go away.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 1, 2007 03:45 AM

rosignol,

right on, but that is the biggest problem.

the educational systems in the west has collapsed. we no longer produce people with knowledge and ability to reason and appreciation thereof, but train them for the job market. as a result they are willfully ignorant, unable to reason, gullible, and don't care about foreign policy.

hence the swallowing of islamophobia claims lock stock and barrel and rabid anti-semitism.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 1, 2007 09:29 AM

creamy,

how you would you know good faith?

and who the hell cares what is germane to you?

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 1, 2007 09:33 AM

Sigh. Mike, I personally believe your interpretation of Hariri, but you encounter people refusing to believe you all the time. This one might be personally different for you, but I don't think it's genuinely unusual. I can tell a lost cause when I see one though, so I'll conclude.

Posted by: glasnost at June 1, 2007 03:45 PM

Glasnost,

I don't care if Alphie shares my view of Hariri or not.

However. My personal friends will not be libeled by trolls and still retain publishing rights. That is final.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 1, 2007 03:53 PM
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