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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Landis: let them have "50 per cent justice"

In his response to my post, Joshua Landis said Saad Hariri should meet Syrian demands and accept “50 per cent justice” in order to escape being assassinated by Syria. If he accepts, Syria will allow him to return to Lebanon, where he can allegedly “continue his father’s legacy and vindicate his death by fixing an independent Lebanon.”
What is more, only Saad’s return and an end to the cabinet crisis will mean progress and prosperity for Lebanon, two things that Rafiq held higher than even his own welfare and safety. Those are the goals that Saad should be willing to sacrifice a hundred percent justice for. In the end, they are achievable and they are the ultimate recompense for his father’s death. The welfare of Lebanon is justice. That was Rafiq Bey’s goal and wish.
In other words, Saad’s unrealistic stubbornness and reliance on the US is hampering progress in Lebanon. He should instead submit to the demands of the terrorists and exchange his country’s sovereignty for his own personal safety. And as long as he behaves, Bashar Assad will not take him out.

Landis argued that this "compromise", supposedly facilitated by the Saudis, is the only realistic option available to Saad, who is being the "odd man out" in a region that is leaning towards saving the Syrian regime from collapse and economic sanctions.

The problems with Joshua’s post are many, one being a misrepresentation of the Saudi offer, which he says goes as follows:
The UN investigation will go forward and continue to isolate, embarrass, and discomfort Syria, but President Asad will not be asked to testify and presumably he and his family members will avoid conviction, and Syria will avoid UN sanctions. This is what most Middle East states seem to be pushing for and what is most likely to be the outcome of the investigation. Let us suppose that Syrian security chieftains, such as Ghazale and Juma Juma, will be convicted. Hizbullah will also be allowed to keep its arms into the immediate future, and Hariri will have to write off the remaining articles of Resolution 1559. He will also have to soften his demand for an international court even though Western leaders believe, Mehlis has stated, and most Lebanese aver that Asad ordered his father’s death.
Of course the above does not accurately reflect what is being offered to Lebanon, which was rejected by most Lebanese parties expect Hizbullah.

The proposal called for halting the Syrian attacks on Lebanon in exchange for demarcation of the border except the Shebaa farms, exchanging embassies, forming a joint Lebanese-Syrian security committee and coordinating foreign policies. The Saudis (at least the camp in Saudi Arabia favoring this so called compromise) and the Egyptians are adding to what is essentially a Syrian proposal the condition that Assad be spared the humiliation of being interrogated by the UNIIIC.

Joshua argues that by accepting what he termed as “50 per cent justice”, Syria will spare Saad’s life and Lebanon will prosper. Never mind that the country Saad would return to will be back in Syria’s orbit, and the Syrian regime will return to calling the shots and setting Lebanese policies.

Joshua also does not explain how the UNIIIC can simply skip the part about Assad’s involvement in the Hariri assassination.

I suppose what is offensive about Joshua’s post is the way he victimizes the Syrian regime and holds Lebanon responsible for Syria’s woes. For instance, it’s “Saad war with Assad.” And Saad started it: “he boxed Syria out of world affairs” so in return Syrian “boxed him out of Lebanon.” And Rafik Hariri was killed "because he supported resolution 1559, which called for the complete withdrawal of Syrian troops and the disarming of Hizbullah and an end to resistance against Israel.” So Lebanon started it, and should satisfy itself with has been achieved so far, mainly that” Syrian troops are out of Lebanon and the country is no longer occupied, which is a lot.”

So accoding to Landis' analysys, the least Lebanon can do now, which is apparently being held hostage by Saad Hariri, is to “repair its relations with Syria,” which it had screwed up in the first place. After all, Josh writes, “Syria paid a large price for Hariri’s death; it was not in vain.”

And Rafik Hariri would have approved, Joshua argues. “Hariri was never opposed to Syrian influence, as such; rather, he was opposed to Syria hindering Lebanon’s development and prosperity.” Assuming this is true, what has changed since Hariri’s assassination to convince Saad that Syria will now be working towards Lebanon’s development and prosperity? And why is it anathema to the Syrian regime for Lebanon to want to pursue those goals independently?

It is incredible how nearly identical Landis’ thinking is to the Syrian official propaganda. The Syrian press and Bashar have been telling us for almost a year now that Saad is the one sleeping with the devil, betraying his own father, and pursing anti-Syrian policies that will harm his own country’s interests. And like the Syrian press, Landis finds Michel Aoun the least objectionable, because he “distinguishes between independence and accommodating Syrian interests.”

So Joshua Landis wants Saad Hariri (note, it’s not Lebanon, it’s Saad) to forgive Bashar his crimes or risk being assassinated like his father. For no Western state now wants the regime to fall. I don’t recall Saad ever demanding regime change in Syria. In fact, this is really about Lebanese national interests, not the well being of the Syrian regime, which deserves all that is allegedly suffering. The Lebanese, Joshua thinks, risk being manipulated by the US in their conflict with Syria.

By not compromising, we Lebanese, Joshua claims, are being “unrealistic.”

My dear Josh, compromise is a two-way street. The Syrian regime has made none, while the Lebanese continue being assassinated. You said Syria paid a high price already, I say the Syrian regime (and I make this distinction) has not paid anything. Lebanon has paid in blood, Bashar had a few nightmares.

You said that the perfectionist policy of no-compromise will provoke even greater extremism in the region, and you cite elections in Iraq, Egypt and Palestine as examples. How about you apply this to the Syrian regime? Why can’t the Syrian regime compromise with the Syrian opposition? Why can’t they reduce the powers of those extremists by actually withdrawing support for radical organizations, and end the persecution and imprisonment of secular (and non secular) opposition leaders? If Syria has free elections tomorrow and the Muslim Brothers win, whose fault would that be? Whose fault was it in Egypt? If they had stronger secular and moderate parties then the outcome would have been different. Like the Egyptian regime, the Syrian regime views the natural enemies of those extremists as a threat.

And you know what? If Lebanon settles for that “50 per cent justice” you prescribe, Syria, meaning the Syrian people, will get zero justice. The only winner here is Bashar Assad, and the losers are the Lebanese and Syrian people. Is it realism to sanction the continued theft of people’s most basic rights? I think not.

Thank you for a great response, though I did not and will not read Joshua's thread for I can see all of what you mentioned he has said, from its title.

Furthermore, I think what Joshua meant in this genius ET statement about 50% Justice is sacrificing a pawn from Syria, who is the least any body is concerned about, Ghazali since he does not belong to the real inner gang of the Assad regime. Just imagine an American so called Professor Of History at a great American University speak of a sacrificial lamb (human being in this case) as if we are still living in ancient America's era of sacrifices for the gods..Is that the logic of a real human being living in 2006?

I say again, and in this case again and again: Joshua Landis himself is a shame for Oklahoma University, and America.

Dear Kais, I understand your moral objections to coming to an understanding with a country, responsible for killing your leader. My purpose is not to dispute those objects or defend Asad from guilt. I have not tried to do that.

What I am trying to figure out is a realistic and acceptable solution to the impasse that both countries find themselves in. You do not propose one. What I understand from your post is that you propose that Syria become democratic and somehow unseat Bashar.

I agree that this would be an ideal outcome if it could be realized.

But I think this is fantasy. Waiting for a popular uprising in Syria, a coup, or an American invasion - the three scenarios that could bring this about is grasping at straws. There is no indication that any of these is likely.
This conflict must not be presented in terms of satisfying individuals whether it is Sa'ad Hariri or Bashar Al Assad. The conflict should never be thought of except in terms of principles, values and ideas. This is not about vengence but about establishing the rule of law.

Joshua Landis never ceases to astonish me with his childish and yes even imbecile ideas. He must have sold his soul for less than thirty pieaces of silver. No one could be this educated and yet this gullible.

I guess one solution would be for Syria to stop its assassination campaign and leave Lebanon alone without requesting something in exchange. As far as Lebanon is concerned, it should not matter what the regime in Syria is like, as long as they don't make Syria's survival depend on continued breach of Lebanese sovereignty. I don't think it's idealistic to want Syria to respect Lebanon like it does Egypt, for example. Lebanon should not be their pawn, or anybody else's pawn for that matter. And the regime should stop hiding behind the events in Lebanon to protect itself against its own people.
Attn. Kais, Ghassan & Co.

“This is not about vengence [sic] but about establishing the rule of law”

Yeah sure…and how about old-fashioned legal concepts such as “a suspect is innocent till proven guilty”, or “a judge shall not prejudge” [Mehlis’ “interim report” being made of the same high-octane innuendo as comrade Vichinsky’s Soviet-style jurisprudence], or “the prosecution shall not leak confidential information to the media” [Future TV’s staged infomercials passing for “revelations” communicated by UN inspectors and/or vice-versa]…

If you’re really sincere about “establishing the rule of law” in your country, how about prosecuting the boards of directors of Saudi Oger, Liban-Cell and Electricté du Liban who stole billions of dollars from Lebanese taxpayers and Western donors when the country who ruled by the Hariri-Khaddam duo (1990-2004)?

Why don’t you focus your highly biased legalistic zeal on corrupt warlords such as Walid Jumblatt and Samir Geagea who actually massacred tens of thousands of innocent Lebanese civilians, including hundreds of Ba’abda and ‘Aley’s inhabitants who were “ethnically cleansed” by Walid Beck, a fate that prompted Rafic Al-Hariri to reward him with the Ministry of the Displaced and Refugees?
It’s as if Adolf Hitler had been put in charge of the Ministry of Holocaust Survivors in 1945 Germany!

Not to mention the fact that, between 1991 and 1996, Rafic Al-Hariri & Sons illegally razed downtown Beirut, expropriating thousands of ethnic Lebanese in the process and handing the proceeds of their government-approved theft to foreign “investors” (Solidere SAL)?

Not to mention the Hariri-engineered cultural genocide and systematic destruction of the country’s ancestral culture cum massive brainwashing of the populace.
Today, the Lebanese prole public is busy watching enlightening programs such as “Star Academy” and Haifa Wehbe’s lingerie fashion tips, in between hateful sermons beamed live from Mecca: it helps that Saudi Arabia and its Beirut-based Oger Group strawmen own the Lebanese Broadcasting Company and Future TV, the former providing reconstructed fascist zombies such as Ms May Chidiac to run as the “personal appointee of His Highness Sheikh Saad” in the upcoming Baabda by-election!

And, for the more “highbrow” segment of the population, Saudi marketers have The Nahar and Al-Daily Star, which gives them a total of approximately 90% of Lebanese media be it audio-visual or print: not a meager feat for people who staunchly believe in the Orwellian concept of “Al-Haqiqa”!

Once pesky killjoys such as Gen. Michel Aoun and Hizbullah are wiped off, Sheikh Saad and his Saudi handlers will finally be able to aim at reaching a 99.99% market penetration, thus beating Hafiz al-Assad at his own totalitarian game!

Then, and only then, Lebanon will have become an authentic Arabian banana republic where the hapless admirers of Haifa Wehbe and the hateful disciples of Wahhabism reign supreme…

Dr Victorino de la Vega
Thomas More Center for Middle-East Studies
Mr. Landis, you can't have it both ways. You are incredibly duplicitous and dishonest. You are advocating, not just analyzing. So don't sell us this bit that you are being an objective analyst. You aren't. You are an advocate. And your analysis is stupid, as it's shaped by this advocacy.
Josh's proposal is incredibly stupid on so many levels. If the Lebanese abandon the UN resolutions, what leverage will they have against Bashar taking over everything, including continuing with the elimination policy?! His "word"?! His "goodwill"?! His "promise"!? This is the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Give him everything he wants, lose any possible leverage that you may have, and get "prosperity"! Hilarious. Breathtakingly stupid, Josh. You've outdone yourself. Thank God nobody in the administration making policy decision pay attention to your drivel, or that of your other stupid friend Flynt Leverett. Such nonsense.

And this is not to mention anything about Iran, France or the US and their interest. We're taking your stupid post on its own stupid terms! You can imagine if we were to actually discuss those other elements. Have you been paying attention to any of that!? Your worldview is so narrow it's pathetic. But one thing you do that's useful is that you probably accurately reflect regime think.
Don't you ever get tired from using the same subjective arguments and cliches over and over and over again:-)
In a more serious vein you are confusing two major issues.

( Corruption in conducting domestic affairs should not be tolerated irrespective of the race, creed, political affiliation, color of eyes... of those responsible. But this has nothing to do with asking another country, a neighbour for that matter, to respect the inherent rights to sovereignty and independence.To ask a country to let another country be is similar to your requesting that your neighbour stay away from your backyard and house. That is not a demand. That is your right.

(2) What is the logic that will allow you, or Joshua Landis for that matter, to conclude that if a country does committ irregularities in enforcing its laws in its own domestic affairs then that implies that its neighbours have a carte blanche to transgress and abuse its sovereignty. I am sorry but A does not flow from B.

As for your constant attacks on Wahabism, you will be surprised to know that I do consider them to be the major source of political islam and fundamentalists intransigence in the Moslem world. But that is a completely different issue. If what you are saying about the Lebanese situation is the fact the all the current political leaders have to go then you will find out that many are in agreement with you. But again even a corrupt Lebanese regime that might or might not have Wahabi connections is still entitled to its sovereignty and independence.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
concerning these ‘unrealistic’ claims that the Syrian regime can't be toppled (as you said on your blog). I think that if Syria’s position was so strong, why is it trying to cause all hell to break loose in Lebanon? The truth is that the Syrian regime needs something from Lebanon vital for its survival. It needs the international trial to be cancelled. We don’t live in a world where the international community can tolerate the assassination of foreign leaders. Actually, I cannot recall a single case where a country used a covert terrorist operation to blow up the leader of a neighbouring country (my God, what were they thinking!!).

The Syrian regime is very fragile. It has no legitimacy. Its economy is collapsing, the oil is running out, the population is exploding (I don't need it to give you the whole picture; you know it better than me). The list of problems is very long but the source of the problems is very short: it’s the regime. All the long term indicators are negative. We all know that the last thing it needs is economic sanctions. On the medium term, it would condemn the regime to death. But it would also leave an economic wasteland in the heart of the Middle East, which is not something that we need.

Reforms are the only option, but it's an option that Bashar seems reluctant to take. After 5 years, the guy didn’t deliver the most basic reforms. He blew his chance, he accumulated errors. Bashar is the wrong guy at the wrong place. He must be removed. Actually we’ll make a favour to the Syrian people. And no, there won’t be any Allawite genocide.

I used to favour Joshua's “50% justice” alternative. I wrote in favour of a 'scapegoat' solution at the beginning of the summer. I thought that we could put the past aside and begin a new relationship with Damascus. This was when I considered that the MB posed a greater danger than the Assads. This was before Assad launched his rampant war on Lebanon and made it clear that it was either his regime or our democracy. Did he expect the Lebanese to choose him rather than themselves? Another error. He is not learning from his mistakes.

Saad has made it clear that he will not sign a deal. If he wanted a deal, he would already have signed it at this point. And Hezbollah can do little about this. The last obstacle for this trial is the international community. It is still hesitating about this.

As much as I fear the idea of having a failed state next door, I don't see any other alternatives for us. Syria is refusing to treat Lebanon as an equal. We are done with importing Syria's problems here.

A deal today cannot give us any long-term guarantee. We are familiar with Syria’s deals by now. They sign deal when they are weak and break them later once they become stronger. What guarantee can Bashar give to the Lebaneses? His word??? The risk is that if we don't have this trial today, the international community might forget about us Lebanon couple of years and Assad will use his Lebanese proxies to come back through the backdoor. On the last century, Lebanon was strong when Syria was weak and vice-versa. This is the first time in 30 years that an opportunity to remove the Assads or to put them on their knees arises.
It is a one-time opportunity. Shall we take it or leave it?

Alea jacta est!
"But I think this is fantasy. Waiting for a popular uprising in Syria, a coup, or an American invasion - the three scenarios that could bring this about is grasping at straws. There is no indication that any of these is likely"

As Vox said above, there's another scenario. International isolation. Economic sanctions. Internal decay. The outcome is guaranteed.

I am sorry for the Syrians, but we're the victim here. And we have had enough

Let's sign peace with Israel on because Lebanon have given enough for the Arab cause or for any other cause. What about the Lebanese cause? Now that's a cause worth fighting for. The hell with Syria. We have been oppressed for two generations, and now we should be responsible for solving their problems? We have enough work on our hands already. Our main Arab partner is the Gulf anyway and we can bring foreign workers from Egypt.
Thank you Kais for your GREAT response! Keep it up and may Allah bless Lebanon!
“Actually, I cannot recall a single case where a country used a covert terrorist operation to blow up the leader of a neighbouring country (my God, what were they thinking!!)”
Dixit Mr Vox Populist who speaks fluent Latin too :)

Yeah sure dude…y como no? as they say south of the great republic of Texas

In September 1973, Dr. Salvador Isabelino Allende simply decided to “shoot himself twice in the head” Syrian-style!

President Nixon and his special advisor Donald Rumsfeld learned about that tragic event while watching the evening news on CBS: I can assure you they were sincerely shocked even though the guy was a purulent pinko, and had a history of manic depression- no doubt the main reason why he eventually committed suicide…

“Stuff happens” said Rummy with a grin!

"Waiting for a popular uprising in Syria,a coup or an American invasion- the three scenarios that could bring this about is grasping at straws"

You don't expect me for a moment to believe that you really mean any of the above do you? You are in essense saying that you tell your students that their actions in life should never be guided by any moral compass whatsoever. The only thing that counts is their reading of the historical forces at a moment in time.That such actions are wrong or unethical or lend support to those that commit human right abuses and exploit others is not important Expediency is what matters even when that means victimizing the victim twice.That is deplorable. Have you ever heard of Plato and the quest for the good life? What kind of a Hobbesian world are you advocating?
Vicky, I identified Allende as a potentially similar case. But I discard it because there's a lot of differences:

-first Allende was a scum who (not unlike Hezbollah) pushed for a rampant civil war and wanted to destabilize the economy. Even though he had won less than 1/3 of the popular vote, he authorized leftist militias to terrorize honest citizens. Not to mention that he flirted with racist/eugenist theories during his youth. This doesn't mean that his successors were saints, but I only wanted to share my personal POV as we say on the wikipedia.

Try this link (I worked on this page a few months ago BTW)

"Allende died during his military ouster from power on September 11, 1973 by Chile's armed forces (Commander in Chief Augusto Pinochet) weeks after the Chamber of Deputies of Chile's Resolution of August 22, 1973 sanctioned his forcible removal"

« La violence révolutionnaire est inévitable et légitime. Elle est le résultat nécessaire du caractère violent et répressif de l'État-classe. Elle constitue l'unique chemin qui mène à la prise du pouvoir politique et économique et à sa défense » ;
« Il est possible pour le gouvernement de détruire les bases du système capitaliste de production. En créant et en élargissant l'aire de propriété sociale aux dépens des entreprises capitalistes et de la bourgeoisie monopolistique, nous pourrons leur faire quitter le pouvoir économique » ;
« L'État bourgeois au Chili ne peut servir de base au socialisme, il est nécessaire de le détruire. Pour construire le socialisme, les travailleurs chiliens doivent dominer la classe moyenne pour s'emparer du pouvoir total et exproprier graduellement tout le capital privé. C'est ce qui s'appelle la dictature du prolétariat. »

-second of all nobody know what really happened. It's quite possible that Allende killed himself. I mean considering the alternative (being tortured in jail) who can blame him.

-Third it was legitimate and frank old-fashioned coup with people fighting each other on the battlefield. Not some cowardly bomb placed in a car. It didn't take place in an occupied country, and wasn't a the nth assassination of a political leader.

-Fourth it was Chilian against Chilian. The coup was maybe US approved but it's not the same thing. The military wanted to remove Pinochet for a long time anyway. The US only gave its green light.

-Fifth who cares about Allende anyway. We know what his best pal Castro has done in his country. Just compare Cuba and Chili today. Do Chilians really have reasons to regret Allende?
guys ...

For those seeking a moral solution to this problem - as great as it would be - should at least be open to the possibility that realpolitik will eventually kick in, as it always does. There are several demands that Lebanon cannot give in to - one of which, as Kais says, is:

Lebanon should not be their pawn, or anybody else's pawn for that matter.

but is it that unrealistic to believe that Lebanon won't get all its demands?
Laz I would have much prefered not to post again on this issue. But implicitly your response makes it sound as if Lebanon has outrageous demands that are negotiable. That is the farthest thing away from the truth. Lebanon must insist on ALL its demands because it has NO demands. It just wants to be left alone. That is an existential right that is nonnegotiable. Negotiate that and you would have oin essence negotiated the demise of anation state. One either believes that a Lebanon should exist or that it should not. It is as simple as that.
The Hizbollah has made it abundantly clear that they have no desire for a renewed civil war. Besides, if the Hizbollah really wanted to fight a new civil war, it would probably win again (seeing that many members of the Lebanese Army are likely Hizbollah supporters). Hizbollah will only direct its fire at Israel and will only respond to aggression (such as a possible Israeli attack on Iran).
zxKais, both you and Landis make powerful arguements. You the idealist and Joshua the realist. I have to side with Landis for many reasons.

First, the Lebanese need to move on and get their internal affairs in order. How long can ordinary lebanese endure our economic and political crisis. For those determined to find the Truth about Hariri's murder they have the support of almost every political faction to carry on with the investigation.

Second, there is every indication that this investigation will take years to complete and may in the end be inconclusive. To date , there has been very little hard evidence made public by Mehlis. Let us not forget the heresay evidence has in some cases been recanted by the witnesses.

Let us look at what is possible to be achieved politically and work towards that end. The pursuit of unrealistic goals will get us nothing. Look at the Palestinian situation for example.

"This conflict must not be presented in terms of satisfying individuals whether it is Sa'ad Hariri or Bashar Al Assad. The conflict should never be thought of except in terms of principles, values and ideas. This is not about vengence but about establishing the rule of law."

Since when has Lebanon been ruled by law and principles. Lets get real. Almost all of our glorious leaders have gotten away with murder.

Anton, Your mirage of the US cavalry or the French foreign legion on the horizon is no match for Iran's proxies on the ground. A little realism is in order to counter your neocon fantasies.

Vox, your lapse of memory is dishonest to say the least, regarding political assassinations. Did you forget your beacon ,Israel and its numerous assassinations in Lebanon.

Let me remind you of dear Uncle Sam :

Following is a list of prominent foreign individuals whose assassination (or planning for same) the United States has been involved in since the end of the Second World War. The list does not include several assassinations in various parts of the world carried out by anti-Castro Cubans employed by the CIA and headquartered in the United States.

1949 - Kim Koo, Korean opposition leader

1950s - CIA/Neo-Nazi hit list of more than 200 political figures in West Germany
to be "put out of the way" in the event of a Soviet invasion

1950s - Chou En-lai, Prime minister of China, several attempts on his life

1950s, 1962 - Sukarno, President of Indonesia

1951 - Kim Il Sung, Premier of North Korea

1953 - Mohammed Mossadegh, Prime Minister of Iran

1950s (mid) - Claro M. Recto, Philippines opposition leader

1955 - Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India

1957 - Gamal Abdul Nasser, President of Egypt

1959, 1963, 1969 - Norodom Sihanouk, leader of Cambodia

1960 - Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim Kassem, leader of Iraq

1950s-70s - José Figueres, President of Costa Rica, two attempts on his life

1961 - Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, leader of Haiti

1961 - Patrice Lumumba, Prime Minister of the Congo (Zaire)

1961 - Gen. Rafael Trujillo, leader of Dominican Republic

1963 - Ngo Dinh Diem, President of South Vietnam

1960s-70s - Fidel Castro, President of Cuba, many attempts on his life

1960s - Raúl Castro, high official in government of Cuba

1965 - Francisco Caamaño, Dominican Republic opposition leader

1965-6 - Charles de Gaulle, President of France

1967 - Che Guevara, Cuban leader

1970 - Salvador Allende, President of Chile

1970 - Gen. Rene Schneider, Commander-in-Chief of Army, Chile

1970s, 1981 - General Omar Torrijos, leader of Panama

1972 - General Manuel Noriega, Chief of Panama Intelligence

1975 - Mobutu Sese Seko, President of Zaire

1976 - Michael Manley, Prime Minister of Jamaica

1980-1986 - Muammar Qaddafi, leader of Libya, several plots and attempts upon his life

1982 - Ayatollah Khomeini, leader of Iran

1983 - Gen. Ahmed Dlimi, Moroccan Army commander

1983 - Miguel d'Escoto, Foreign Minister of Nicaragua

1984 - The nine comandantes of the Sandinista National Directorate

1985 - Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, Lebanese Shiite leader (80 people killed in the attempt)

1991 - Saddam Hussein, leader of Iraq

1993 - Mohamed Farah Aideed, prominent clan leader of Somalia

1998, 2001-2 - Osama bin Laden, leading Islamic militant

1999 - Slobodan Milosevic, President of Yugoslavia

2002 - Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Afghan Islamic leader and warlord

2003 - Saddam Hussein and his two sons

(Taken from Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II
by William Blum)

Like it or not,this is the reality of world politics. Surely we can do what we are famous for and make a deal to move on with our lives and get Lebanon's house in order. Maybe then we can withstand somewhat Bashar's inevitable demise at the hands of his own people.

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 100% justice. its unlikely that he will get both, and if there is a deal in the pipelines then rest assure that 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?

Some might be hope 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 has 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 needs to pull a “Junblatt” and mend relations with the people who killed his father. Not pretty but then again politics never is.

Mmmm, yes, "realism." My problem is not "realism." My problem is stupidity, which you, Issam, are its most pure incarnation. Tarek is a close second.

Josh, as the anonymous commenter said above, has an incredible gift of duplicity in this regard. He can sell not just the worst apology, but ADVOCACY of the regime, in the name of "realism" or more offensive still, "American interests." Rubbish.

But then again, you have never said anything more valuable than a mental fart, Issam. But it's always amusing to see you try to present your intellecutal gassiness as intelligence, or better still, "realism." I mean, really...
Actually, gift isn't the right word. Gift implies that he's good at it. He's horrible at it, and it makes him sound incredibly stupid and flushes his credibility down the toilet. And for what?!
Well-done Tony!!! Excellent counter argument with sound & organized points. Now why don’t you stop barking and come back with a "realistic" alternative? instead of the wet dreams you usually utter. Or better yet how much you wanna bet that in due time what Josh or I are suggesting will end up as fact. Not because we are advocating anything but instead, and in my humble opinion, we can read the status on the political scene without having our political beliefs influence our analysis.

Is what I am suggesting morally questionable? yes. Is it possible nonetheless and has it been done before? quadruple yes. So why the name calling, are you that enraged that your brain is having a thought impediment? History has dozens of examples; your idol Junblatt is a shining illustration. If you have a shred of “realism” in that thick head of yours you would know that most probably Assad will remain in power. Now how would you deal with that? Because life most go on and the Lebanese are being hurt as much as the Syrians (if not more) with this turmoil.

Syria has paid a high price for what it has done in Lebanon, not as high as you like sure, but it will continue to pay for a long time to come. You should also understand that if they feel the pressure crossing a certain line, the anti-Syrian camp supporting it will bear some of the Syrian rage. But if this vicious circle is what you’re after, then I take back everything I said.

I repeat: a close second. Though you still need some training to reach Issam. He's mastered this.
Really ,Tony I worry about you. Its time you saw one of those psychiatrists that NY is famous for. Too much self-love can be dangerous to your health.

I can only think of one word that stopped you from coming back with an answer. Cowered
Going back to that CIA list, what baloney. Almost everyone on that list was never killed, or even attempted. There are US plans to invade Canada, that does not meet it will ever happen. It is called contingency planning.
Whereas in lebanon in the past year, we have 7 assasination attempts, 4 successful all with further casualties. Oh I guess we can add the Kurdish syrian leader killed etc...
AS Anton has pointed out, there is a difference in putting out a realist position full of unfortunate compromises etc... and actually advocating such a position. Landis is an advocate for the Syrian position. I and others here are advocates for Lebanon. We hope and advocate for the best for the country, knowing that life is full of disappointments. There is a big difference
Brilliant! That sure showed me! You're climbing ever closer to Issam. Keep working at it. Although with his latest, he just jumped a few steps ahead of you again.
As I wrote to Dr. Landis on his site, his thought process on Syria is predicated on the proposition that the probability of Bashar’s downfall or imprisonment is “very low”. Moreover, he feels that it is “not clear” that Washington is actually interested in Assad’s downfall or imprisonment. In my opinion, Saad’s actions, on the other hand, are more consistent with a man who places higher odds than Joshua with regards to the probabilities above. Indeed, it is my opinion that one’s prediction and feelings on this subject is most likely highly correlated with the probabilities he attaches on Bashar’s downfall. Were he to survive, as Joshua seems to think, Hariri may indeed have no choice but to repair relations at some stage. My suspicion is that Saad is comfortable taking the other side of the bet for the time being. Only time will tell who of the two is right.
Beyond that, it's not a matter of whether Assad will fall or not. Nor is it really about whether Syria and Lebanon should at some point med relations. It's a matter of what exactly is being proposed (let alone the time). What was proposed by Josh is ludicrously stupid.
I respectfully disagree. Every politician in the region must be weighing the odds of Basahr’s fall when it comes to positioning himself on the issues. Khaddam, for instance, did not hide his feelings that he sees Bashar toppled before the end of they year. I submit to you that had he shared Josh’s odds, he would have thought twice before he embarked on his latest endeavor. I cite Khaddam as merely an example. Were Saad to start genuinely believing that Bashar’s chances of being removed are becoming “very low”, then I don’t think what Josh suggests sounds close as insane as you suggest. What would be his alternative plan if Bashar were confirmed to be staying?
I'm not disputing that aspect of the calculation. I'm referring to the actual substance of the supposed "offer" that Josh floated. And it is insane! Just think about it.

But besides that, the US and France have been crystal clear when it comes to the investigation. The Arabs, contrary to Josh's claim, are not "running interference" when it comes to the investigation. They can't. And when there was a slight hint that Egypt might, France and the US made it exceptionally clear where they stand. "To its ultimate conclusions." "Time of impunity is gone." The Egyptians and Saudis had to immediately reassure everybody that the investigation is off limits, and that it's a separate issue, and Syria has no choice but to cooperate, etc. that their interest is just to reduce tension between Syria and Lebanon, etc.

Also, in contrast to some aspects of the Arab initiatives, the US and France always come from the perspective of Lebanon's "sovereignty, freedom, and independence," and not just "stability." Jeffery Feltman made that very clear as well, reading it as he did, from a prepared statement, to drive the point further on where the US stands on this issue. Chirac's statements are always clear in this regard as well.
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I personally made it clear in my original post to Josh that I do not share his level of confidence about the fate of Bashar. To date, I am yet to see any conclusive evidence to support his odds. I did offer the possibility that he is either smarter than us, and/or he is better informed than the average observer. He has stuck his neck out and made his prediction. You have to disagree with his odds before you can start to refute his suggestion. Saad and Khaddam seem to predict a different future for Basahr than Josh does. Clearly, you and many Lebanese feel the same. Were Saad to change his mind and start to raise the chances of Basher’s survival in office, I think he will have no choice but to start “repairing relations” with Syria.
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Stupid anon 9:53 it is my most sincere wish that Hezbollah tries to use its militia because it's not our rusted Lebanese army that will quell it, it's an international ntervention. Under the current circumstances, it's not the worse thing that could happen to Lebanon.

Unfortunately, Nasrallah is not that dumb. Why do you think he didn't want to launch his militiamen in the battle? Because he's patriotic? LOL!
Issam, 90% of your list is unsubstantiated and there's mostly assholes on it. Supposing it's true, it wouldn't be political assassinations but acts of philanthropy - and by the way, there's no 'assassination' when two countries are at war like in the case of Saddam.
International intervention will not restore Phalangist fascist supremacy. It was tried in 1982, and the Progressive Socialist Party absolutely routed the Phalangists in Mount Lebanon and the Chouf District.
Sniff…smells likes the fez-wearing fascist fool is back amongst us miserable mortals and other true enemies of “Al-Haqiqa” advertised as “realists” by Syrophile Oklahoman Mohammedans such as Ahmad Al-Jushshi Ibn Landis!

Since our Phalange high school dropout friend likes to think he’s some kind of “linguist”, let’s have a quick glance at his flowered lexicon du jour: “rubbish”, “mental fart”, “flushing credibility down the toilet”- this robust two-step metaphor seems to indicate the man might have reached junior high in his native Metn hamlet….

Tony’s ingrained penchant for intellectual scatology then culminates with a definitive Harirista tirade:
“The US and France always come from the perspective of Lebanon's "sovereignty, freedom, and independence," and not just "stability." [Ambassador] Jeffery Feltman made that very clear as well”

Yeah, sure dude…
Just like another benevolent albeit rightwing (Bush would call him a “compassionate conservative”) ambassador named Heinrich Lohse made clear in an imperishable 1941 speech: “the Germans have come to defend the liberty and independence of the freedom-loving Baltic states from Soviet-Slavic hegemony”!

And after all, why not? Stalin could easily have been a Baathist, for:
1) He was born in the Middle-East
2) Just like Michel Aflaq, he seriously considered becoming an Orthodox Christian monk before joining a highly totalitarian political movement
3) He had a thick moustache, just like Saddam Hussein, Bashar al-Assad and George Galloway- no doubt an ominous sign of his being a staunch “enemy of freedom”

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No personal insults or swear words please, regardless of where you stand on the issues. Thanks.

And Victorino, enough with the fascist comments. And that goes for you too Anonymous who brought up the Phalangists out of nowhere. What? Did you just read about them in a book and then decided to apply your knowledge?

Also, I would appreciate it if the "anonymous" out there picked nicknames (sign at bottom of comments if you don't want to register) so that we know who is saying what. I don't want to have to turn off anonymous comments or switch to a comments system that allows me to ban users.
Thanks , Kais. Let's hope that emotions will be checked and reason rules our discourse.

interesting to note that josh's article made it to champress.
Sorry Kais for using swear words, I got carried away. But you could've edited my comment instead of erasing it completely. So here's a cleaner version of my previous comment:

Dear Innocent_mental fart (it seems this word is ok)

You are wrong, Syria has not paid highly, not nearly as what Lebanon has paid. We would need to bomb the heck out of Damascus for a couple of years, then move on to bomb Aleppo and then back to Damascus (while bombing a few mountain towns on the way), politicaly and militarly occupy Syria for 30 years and control the appointment of anything from a construction worker to the President of the Republic, kidnap and torture with the most horrible of means thousands of syrian civilians, plunder the country and rob it of every cent that goes through its coffers and finally assasinate a couple of dozen politicians, journalists and religious leader before we even get CLOSE to even.

You sir, along with Josh Al-Assad make me sick.

Champress? Josh officially writes of the syrian news agency now.

Great promotion for a US professor!
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