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Friday, January 27, 2006

Joshua Landis' commentary on Lebanon

I found Joshua Landis's commentary on Saad Hariri's visit to the US rather insulting. Joshua continues to interpret events through the Syrian regime's prism, which is unfortunate. This particular piece contained many presumptions and factual errors.

According to Landis, "Hariri wants to go back to Beirut. He will need Bush's help to do it, unless he is to accept the Jeddah formula and make peace with Bashar al-Asad and Hizbullah, which seems to be off the table for now. Junblat undercut that move quickly, but it looked as if Saad Hariri was ready to sign onto the Saudi deal and bow to Hizbullah."

Of course Joshua is conflating two separate things: the Saudi proposal to end the "crisis" between Lebanon and Syria and the Jeddah agreement to settle the cabinet crisis, which has to do with Hizbullah's status in the country. Saad may have backed out on the second after giving what could best be described as a conditional approval, but he never agreed to the Saudi proposal, which would have given Syria control of Lebanon all over again.

Of course, if you subscribe the Syrian agenda, you will be prone to mix things up like Joshua did. And I don't know where Joshua got that Saad was ready to sign Lebanon away and "bow to Hizbullah" if Jumblatt hadn't intervened. Oh wait, I think we know where that came from.
So Hariri came to Washington after Junblat and Dick Cheney scuttled the Saudi attempt to broker a truce between Shiites and Sunnis in Lebanon.
Again, the Saudi proposal is what the US shot down. It was also rejected by Siniora and the March 14 alliance, or do they not count? And when did war break out between Sunnis and Shias in Lebanon?

This is an unfortunate attempt to skirt the real issues and portray the Syrian offensive on Lebanon as a domestic Lebanese struggle between Sunnis and Shias!

And then this:

Maybe Washington will give Hariri more arms so he can fight Hizbullah?

Only in Joshua's mind is there a war between Hariri and Hizbullah that justifies this alleged need for arms! Saad might have gone to seek technical and military assistance for the Lebanese army, a national institution, but fighting Hizbullah??

If I didn't know better, I would say this commentary was an attempt to incite sectarian strife in Lebanon.

Josh continues:

The fact that regional sentiment is blowing in Asad's direction was made clear by the Saudi attempt to broker a sulha between Syria and Lebanon. It was confirmed by General Aoun's recent statement that "his Free Patriotic Movement's closest ally in Lebanon was Hizbullah, as the two held similar views with regards to reform and other internal issues.
Wait. Aoun said he had similar views with Hizbullah on INTERNAL issues, not on issues regarding a truce between Lebanon and Syria. And speaking of that, truce?? Syria needs to halt its uniltareral war, Lebanon is not conducting any war to need to negotiate a truce!

And Josh continues misrepresenting Aoun on this issue, making the General's alliance with Hizbullah and opposition to the government look like it's motivated by a rejection of Lebanese government policy on Syria! Aoun's politics may be disappointing and obstructionist, but a supporter of the Syrian regime he isn't!

And then this conclusion:

So what did Saad Hariri get from Washington that may permit him to return to Beirut? It doesn't seem like much besides words - and perhaps some arms. My guess is that Washington will have to start sending arms to show that it is willing to support Hariri with more than words. He has to be able to deliver something to his supporters to prove that Washington hasn't abandoned him. What will Washington do about Hizbullah if it won't let Hariri compromise with the militia backed party? Building up the Lebanese army is a risky strategy, but one that will have to be undertaken if Washington is going to fight "terror."
Why is building the Lebanese army "risky strategy?" And why is helping the Lebanese army part of a US policy against Hizbullah? Only in the Syrian imagination is such an attempt be interpreted as an attempt to destabilize the country and start a civil war, which is what Joshua is basically saying. Saad Hariri here appears like a traitor who is engaged in a war with the Shia in his country, and who is trying to procure US arms to fight them.

Absent from this analysis is Saad's father, Rafik Hariri, who was killed by Syria in the Syrian terrorist war that Landis keeps forgetting. Actually, Rafik was mentioned… by mistake in the first paragraph.

…Rafiq Hariri has been in Washington to meet President Bush.

Here's one of Josh's readers commenting on this Freudian slip:

Dear Josh,

Although Rafiq Hariri is dead and the person who was in Washington and at the Woodrow Wilson Institute was his son Saad, your Freudian slip makes perfect sense.Maybe the Syrian regime should adopt your line and not only deny that they killed Hariri but also deny that he is dead. The Syrian mukhabarat should start spreading rumours that Rafic Hariri was seen eating falafels at Sahyoun in downtown Beirut. And he was even seen in Israel at Lahd's restaurant.Josh you are a genius.

Bashar Assad should have invited you to attend the Arab Lawyer's conference. You could have clapped for him in Damascus instead of Washington DC and shouted at the top of your voice "I saw Rafic Hariri in Washington...He ain't...Assad you're a saint...you can bring back people from the dead".

Take Care


It is indeed unfortunate to see Joshua Landis becoming one of the Syrian regime's most outspoken defenders!!

What is even more depressing is that institutes like the Middle East institute in Washington invites him to speak, and actually gives his delusional mind credibility!!

I've written Josh on several occasions, but he chooses to ignore my remarks on his bias for the Assad dynast and his cronies!!
Landis and his ilk see everything through the US foreign policy is bad, and always wrong, always no exception, impossible etc... prism, that anyone against US policy is to be lauded. Which finds these people supporting dictators like Saddam and Assad, and denigrating anyone whose aims are in alignment with the US, whether temporary or not. The guy is a dork. I can't stand apologists for dictators. Plus he is mimicking Assad in denigrating lebanese politicians who whatever their faults are operating in difficult conditions under threat for the life.
PS, when Aoun was in exile and pushing the Syrian Accountability act etc.., I am sure Landis was singing a different tune, calling him a right wing extremist etc.. now that Aoun is accomodation syrian regime desires, suddenly he is A okay
Landis is married to a syrian alawite woman, and I guess she's the dominant part of their relationship.
Landis is a PRO syrian monkey! he has his head up bashars ass so high he can lick his tonsils.

Landis knows my posts clearly (and if you go to his shitty blog you can read my posts there and what i think of this f'n prick!

Let me be clear from the outset. I am no fan of Joshua Landis. Actually I think that he is simply incorrigible. I don't ever mind when various writers or thinkers disagree with me, I expect that most of the time, but I don't suffer fools gladly. And Mr. Landis has shown the uncanny capacity to weave arguments and arrive at conclusions that are neither supported by the facts nor logical in their construction. I cincerely feel sorry for his students because his fulminations are a sign of a cluttered mind , wt least when it comes to the Syrian regime. I have never seen a stronger apologist and a more shamless person in this regard. He will spin and spin and spin again in an attempt to excuse incompetence and total disregard to human dignity and decency. His tired line is that the Syrians better get used to the abuses of this regime because changing it will not come with a guarantee of stability. Mr. Landis needs to be reminded all the time, not that he ever listens, that total certainty in a regime is no virtue. It is a sign that creativity has long departed and that rigormortis has taken over. It is a sure sign of death because it implies no rebirth and no rejuvenation.

Michael Hudson is mentioned by Joshua in his latest post as an attempt to impress by the company that he keeps. Unfortunately for him Michael Hudson's record of Middle Eastern analysis is quite weak. Mr. Hudson does a more credible job whenevr he tries to explain US foreign policy in Marxist terms. He aspires to be a mini Noam Chomsky of sorts and with rather good success because his analysis of the imperialistic strains that govern foreign policy are well anchored in dialectical thinking. But it is important to note that Michael Hudson usually critiques the Western position but rarely heaps praise on the current regimes in the area.

Let me at this point address two specific issues that appeared in the Landis post regarding Lebanon.

(1)At one point he says:
"Hariri wants to go back to
Beirut ( he can't)...unless
he makes peace with Bashar
Al Assad"

Is this finally a confession by Mr. Landis that the Syrian regime threatens those that dare disagree with its policies with physical harm? Why should Sa'ad Hariri be afraid of going back to his own country? Is it , I wonder, because he fears Syrian thugs who might decide to blow him up to smithereens?

(2) at another stage in his confused analysis he states the following:
"There seems to be a
consensus in the Middle
East that Syria should be
forced to pay a price"

Now why would there be a consensus to force a poor innocent country to pay a price? Is thata further admittance that the SYrian regime is responsible for all the heinous acts of assassination that have gone unresolved up until now? Mr. Landis does not tire from building his straw men. He goes on to say that the Syrian Ba'ath might agree to offer the head of Ghazaliprovided that Bashar Al Assad is sparred the embarassment
of facing the consequences of his acts. And one more time we are reminded that Bashar Al Assad must be spared , not because he is innocent but because if he is overthrown then he will make sure that the price is too high. Yes Mr. Landis you have made your point very clearly, Bashar Al Assad acts as a guilty party, he does not own to his dastardly deeds a, the Syrian population should be thankful for his incompetence in all fields and for his dictatorial behaviour, but above all the region in general and the Lebanese in particular must submit to his whims otherwise he will unleach his wrath, Your hero Mr. Landis is nothing more than a two bit dictator and a blackmailer for that matter. You ought to be ashamed of yourself for offering solace for such a corrupt, unethical and immoral bunch of thugs.
Lebanese Pride Habibi come on wlo, no need for that language. I hear your frustration, but try to keep it civil man. Thanks.
Joshua who?
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
I do not read Landis blog anymore.The man is definitely under influence.
Who is the supplier?
I guess the blind ophtalmo...
Perhaps President Assad has gained more confidence as a result of Iranian support for his regime.
Maybe Joshua Landis should grow a beard, get an AK47, and start liberating the Golan Heights...
Really, Saad should accept 50% Justice??? How arrogant and stupid!
The jist of your piece is that Syria ought to impose, via the Jeddah travesty of an agreement, its own terms!!! While Bashar is still wanted for investigation...
Landis has outdid himself...a true Baath idiot with an American passport.
Kais, for God's sake, check out Landis' latest comments on Lebanon. It would be hilarious if it was the work of a 12-year old, but we’re talking about a man who’s regularly quoted in the international press (not that it means anything).

Click here

He had the guts to write "Why Lebanon Should Repair Relations with Syria".

Syria is conducting a terror campaign in Lebanon; this might explain why Lebanon has a problem with Syria's government (but hey, why mention that little detail?). How come that a great scholar like Joshua Landis fail to see this simple evidence?

Shouldn’t Landis write "Why Syria Should Repair Relations with Syria"?

I mean Syria bombs Lebanon and it is OUR responsibility to mend the bilateral relations? What kind of a joke is that??

It’s not like Syria is asking for peanuts, it’s asking for a quasi-abdication of our sovereignty !!

The truth is that Landis is far from being naïve. He is simply suggesting that Lebanon surrender to a terrorist blackmail. He doesn't write it explicitly because it's not 'appropriate' for a scholar to say such things. But that's the implicit meaning of his words.

Are some basic moral principles like the rejection of terrorism negotiable now? Has Joshua Landis become a terrorist apologist? Does the man have any moral principle?

Farid Ghadry didn't call him an "American Baathist" for nothing!!

You're right--after his 50% justice piece, we should be worried that press quote him at all.

His arrogance is stifling. Syria can obviously do not wrong in his eyes.

You guys need to be more pragmatic. 100% justice in the political world is almost unheard of. What josh is suggesting seems to me a lot more realistic. But you interpret it as him being an apologist or a baathist (oh but if Farid Ghadry says so then he’s right).

Saad has one hell of a juggling act in front of him. But at the end of the day it will come down to choosing between his country’s future or his father's legacy and justice. its unlikely that he will get both, and if there is a deal in the pipelines then rest assure good old Dubya along with Riyadh will press Hariri Jr. into accepting it if they see its in their best interest, so why cant he pro-active?

There might be hope for some that Saad will act contrary to this and attempt to get 100% justice and come back to dominate Lebanese politics. All his actions so far suggest this but i am not sure if he has been playing hardball/bluffing or is more hidden arsenal.

What it all comes down to is: if the Damascus leadership will remain then Hariri will have to swallow his pride. And for the moment Assad seems firmly in hold, so maybe he need to pull a “Junblatt” and mend relations with the people who killed his father. Not pretty but then again politics never is.

I read his blog, and I find thoughtful comments, whether they disagree, agree, or go off on a tangent. I read middle-east blogs he recommends, and I find mostly the same, though they don't necessarily agree with each other. I come here, and find an impressively long list of irrelevant insults and personal attacks. I take it I've wandered across a right-wing blog.
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