Sunday, May 11, 2008
As George Bush the II heads to the Middle East this week, another one of his administration's Orwellian overclaims is in tatters. Much like our headline shot, of the Bush administration's ludicrous attempt at deception (self, too) in Iraq, "Mission Accomplished," the "Cedar Revolution" in Lebanon has been nothing more than a neo-con induced hallucinogenic vision. The Bush administration's methodology has been to claim what they wish were true as certain, with no room for dissent.
The claims of change and peaceable democracy arriving in Lebanon were evidently faux from the beginning to long term Middle East watchers. Even the term, "Cedar Revolution," was coined externally by an U.S. Under Secretary of State, Lebanon is splintered.(1)(2) The concept of "Cedar Revolution", like the concepts of peace in the larger Middle East or democracy in Iraq, was a good concept. Its well-spring was the assassination of then Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on February 14, 2005. The Bush administration, followed by other world leaders (3), observed the demonstrations that took place in the streets a week later and massively misinterpreted their influence. These protests resulted in the resignation of Syrian strawman, prime minister, Omar Karami. However, the underlying fundamental divisions in the country were unaffected.
Lebanon is another state with boundaries drawn by a western (French) map maker, enforced by western military might, that ignore the underlying tribal, national and religious identities on the ground (4). Despite assertions by the Bush administration, and their enemies in France's then Chirac led government, that Syrian influence would be purged from Lebanon and democracy would reign supreme, the facts on the ground, once again, did not match the lofty rhetoric. Syria did withdraw its troops, but it did not discontinue its support for its violent proxies, nor the meddling of its intelligence agencies in the highest levels of Lebanese affairs. Assassinations abounded. Syria openly pressured the Lebanese government to bypass its constitution to extend the term of the president. The office has since gone vacant, in lieu of a compromise.
This messy state of affairs got worse this week, just before President Bush's Middle East trip, when Hezbollah took to the streets of Beirut en masse in a show of force. The Lebanese government termed it an “armed coup” against Lebanon and issued a call for help. Yesterday fighting broke out in northern Lebanon, and amongst some Druze and other non-Muslim groups.
There is on-going momentum to arguments that connect Iran and Hezbollah. However, in this case it appears it is Hezbollah's impatience with political stalemate rather than Iran's bidding that has rekindled a higher state of war in Lebanon. The Clarion's point is simply make no mistake, despite the Bush administration's foolhardy overclaims of a "Cedar Revolution" Lebanon never left a state of Low-Intensity Conflict.(5)
(1) The idea of a Western imagined "Cedar Revolution" ala the "Orange Revolution" in the Ukraine and the "Rose Revolution" in Georgia was a wholly externally imposed vision. The citizens of Lebanon are much more familiar with the people power street demonstrations of Hezbollah, civil war, and great power interference than non-violent protest resulting in reasonable democratic elections. Which is not to say non-violent protest resulting in reasonable democratic elections cannot happen, only that there is not a local history of it.
(2) Lebanon is literally splintered. By mandate its government includes a Maronite Catholic Christian President, a Shi’a Muslim Speaker of the Parliament, a Sunni Muslim Prime Minister and an Orthodox Christian as the Deputy Prime Minister.
(3) Note like Iraq's WMD, the Bush administration is able to run for cover under the rubric of, "other western intelligence agencies thought the same thing."
(4) Needless-to-say, Iraq and Afghanistan fall into the same category of externally imposed state borders and central government, over multiple nations and tribes.
(5) Witness the series of high profile assassinations, and other attempts, often with the implication of the Syrian intelligence agencies involvement that followed the so-called "Cedar Revolution."