Do you remember that 241 Marines were killed by a suicide bomber in Beirut, Lebanon in 1983? Nearly 60 French paratroopers also died that day in a second attack. They were all in Lebanon to provide order in the midst of a civil war – to protect Lebanese of whatever religious persuasion.
Syria also had troops there, and had had since 1976. The Syrian interest was somewhat different. They were there to protect a specific religious sect and specifically to establish a social infrastructure devoted to the, preferably mass, murder of Jews and Christians.
You can be sure Syrian President Bashar Assad remembers 1983, and he has told Time magazine that Syria’s 14,000 troops in Lebanon will be withdrawn soon: ”It [the withdrawal] should be very soon and maybe in the next few months. Not after that. I can’t give you a technical answer. The point is the next few months.”
He is almost certainly lying. But he has made a commitment. I expect George Bush and Condoleezza Rice will hold him to it.
Syria is not withdrawing immediately, so the good news is that “the next few months” will give far-left protestors an opportunity to correct a serious oversight.
They will be able to protest against suspension of civil liberties, anti-democratic behavior, misogyny, homophobia, torture, lying and stupidity. They have an evil occupying military force against which to “speak truth to power”.
I do not, however, mean their normal whipping boy – the United States. I’m wondering where they’ve been for 24 years on the question of Syria’s occupation of Lebanon.
Actually, I do not wonder all that much. Our own far-left “intellectual elite” see Israel as the sole proximate cause (the US being the sole ultimate source) of all Middle East problems.
That the extreme-left reflexively consider Israel to be evil is not anti-Semitism only by virtue of the fact that Arabs and Jews are both Semitic peoples. That this semantic trickery distorts the commonly understood meaning of anti-Semitism as Jew-hatred, matters no more to Noam Chomsky or Juan Cole than it does to Abu Al-Zarqawi – who is cheerfully killing Iraqis because they are Shiites.
Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 to defend itself from the Palestine Liberation Organization. Despite the fact that Syria nutured the PLO’s growth there, and provided protection for its thugs, the far-left has seen Syria as a reasonable counterweight to Israel’s hated presence. A present problem with this attitude is that Israel withdrew from Lebanon 5 years ago.
Have you noticed the increased radical-left protests against Syria since then? Neither have I.
Syria still occupies Lebanon because without the theft it practices there, and without the advantages a Lebanese presence conveys on Syria’s ability to evade international sanction, Syria’s economy would have already collapsed.
For small favors we can be thankful. There is no UN “PLO for Food” program.
If Boy Assad actually does withdraw his troops, his government won’t last another year. The fact that he’s even talking about it, though probably lying, is immensely important; especially on the heels of turning over several dozen Iraqi Baathist thugs, including Saddam’s half-brother, to Iraqi security forces. He’s backpedaling to buy time.
He isn’t clever enough to realize that this squirming will not be enough. The Soviets under Gorbachev didn’t see it coming either, but I think the results will be similar.
To close, a 2 question test:
1- Syrian cooperation has elevated in the last 2 weeks because of (Please rank in order of importance.):
- U.N. Resolution 1559, passed in September, and backed by the US and France- calling for the immediate and complete withdrawal of all foreign troops from Lebanon.
- Condoleezza Rice saying (1-Mar) that Syria must pull its 14,000 troops out of Lebanon.
- ”The pressure of the international community is quite palpable on Syria. They really should get about living up to their international obligations.”
- The fall (28-Feb) of the Syrian-puppet Lebanese government.
- Iraqi voters on 30-Jan.
- Intercepted communications proving Syrian Intelligence was involved in the recent Tel Aviv bombing (27-Feb).
2- Pick a name for the 2 foreign policy theories least responsible for these changes.
- Bush Doctrine
- Kerry Conciliation
- Blair Initiative
- Moore On
- Kennedy Invective
- Dean Deconstruction
- Sharansky Protocol