Monday, July 31, 2006

More Successful By The Day

Last year, Bush supporters found it convenient to paint a selection of largely unrelated events as somehow resulting from George Bush's glorious strategic vision for the Middle East. Behind those squinting eyes, we were informed, was a grand plan that was only beginning to unfold.

Since it's always difficult to argue the case for the Iraq invasion while actually looking at the chaos it caused there, it's useful to be able to point to something more positive. Almost anything will do, which is why we've heard that toppling Saddam resulted in, variously, the end of Pakistani nuclear proliferation, the "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine, Libya giving up on its WMD, Mubarak's multi-party elections, Saudi Arabia's municipal elections -- and, perhaps most popular of all, the expulsion of Syria's puppet government from Lebanon.

This last was a great testament to the soundness of the Bush strategy, we were told. Even though the obvious cause was the assassination of Hariri, it was actually down to George Bush's fetish for democracy. Melanie Phillips, for instance, detected that the anti-Syrian demonstrations were sparked by a presidential pronouncement:
"Soon after Hariri’s assassination, President Bush declared:

‘We want that democracy in Lebanon succeed, and we know it cannot succeed so long as she is occupied by a foreign power, and that power is Syria.’

The Lebanese, paying close attention, took to the streets and demanded Syrian withdrawal."
This being the case, she castigated David Hirst for his "exemplary omission" of enlightened Washington policy from his analysis of the situation.

Even keener than her to sell the Lebanon success story was Stephen Pollard. As soon as the Karami government stepped down he knew whom to thank for the surge of democratic feeling. It was "real man of peace", George Bush:
"[T]oday's resignation of the Lebanese Syrian quisling government is but the latest demonstration of something which the Bush-hating fanatics (by which I mean the BBC and the rest of bien pensant opinion) will continue to ignore whatever the evidence: that Bush's foreign policy is not merely wise, but grows demonstrably more successful by the day."
The explanation was clear:
"None of this happened by accident. It happened as a result of one common factor: the exercise of American power in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the consequent fear amongst terror-supporting regimes that they too would go the way of him and it."
So America's "wise" and "successful" democracy spreading policy was the direct cause of regime change in Lebanon -- leading, within months, to the Siniora government now in power. In 2005 we were instructed to congratulate Bush for this feat.

Now it turns out this wonderful democratic government, arising out of "fear amongst terror-supporting regimes" instilled by Bush's activities, is in fact an Israel-hating, terror-supporting regime unwilling, rather than unable, to rein in Hezbollah. The president remains disgracefully attached to Hezbollah. Presumably it's no longer evidence that Bush's foreign policy "grows demonstrably more successful by the day".

Expect continuing demonisation of the Lebanese government, a total silence on last year's extravagant claims that Lebanon vindicated the Bush doctrine, and a search for some new ex post facto justification for the Iraq invasion.

9 Comments:

Blogger james higham said...

That's as maybe, Stuart but what's your actual take on the Lebanese Government? Is there one of your posts I can look at for this?

I note the recategorization - thanks.

6:13 pm  
Blogger StuartA said...

I haven't got a posting up about the Lebanese government.

That said, it seems plain that the alleged US democratisation strategy, if it had been sincere and successful, was never going to yield a Lebanese government congenial to Israeli/US interests, just as it wouldn't in Egypt or Saudi Arabia.

It's hardly surprising that the Lebanese prime minister is not coming out wholeheartedly against Hezbollah, given that many Lebanese people are their supporters. It would be surprising, of course, if US-supported Israeli action didn't increase their numbers.

As usual, US policy is a failure on its own terms.

7:25 pm  
Blogger james higham said...

So, given that this is so [I agree with you], how do you see the way to go forward or is it, as I suspect, the first round in the armageddon game? I mean, what's the solution to the thing?

12:00 pm  
Blogger StuartA said...

I don't know if this is the first round in the armageddon game, although obviously if it leads to a military confrontation with Iran it could move in that direction.

Keeping solely to Lebanon, it seems obvious that a ceasefire should be sought as soon as possible.

Given the history of Israeli intervention in Lebanon, and the circumstances now, it is plain that they cannot militarily destroy Hezbollah. They've tried in the past with larger operations, and failed.

Nor can they weaken them, except tactically (and therefore temporarily). On the whole, bombing raises Nasrallah's prestige, and bolsters Hezbollah support. I don't think it's a coincidence that non-Hezbollah government members are saying nice things about them: the confrontation seems to have tilted Lebanese politics in Hezbollah's favour.

Therefore the idea that Israel needs another few days to create the conditions for a "lasting" ceasefire is absurd, in my view. This cannot be done by military action. A few more days will achieve nothing beyond more deaths, and more support for Hezbollah.

After the attacks began we heard a lot of people saying Hezbollah/Iran had miscalculated. I think it's the other way round. Israel has, so far, achieved absolutely nothing internationally except worldwide condemnation.

Hezbollah, by contrast, has reasserted itself, and is further established in Middle Eastern minds as the organisation that took on Israel. Whether or not Iran was behind recent Hezbollah actions, the West has received a graphic reminder of its ability to intervene on that front.

Of course, alongside this I regard Hezbollah and Israel's recent killing of civilians as immoral, regardless of its putative strategic benefit. Since Israel appears to enjoy Blair's backing, and since it has so far killed around ten times as many civilians, I'm afraid I view it as the force most in need of restraining.

12:08 pm  
Blogger james higham said...

"Therefore the idea that Israel needs another few days to create the conditions for a "lasting" ceasefire is absurd, in my view. This cannot be done by military action. A few more days will achieve nothing beyond more deaths, and more support for Hezbollah."

"As usual, US policy is a failure on its own terms."

Have to agree with this.

"...and since it has so far killed around ten times as many civilians..."

You don't feel that Hezbollah's tactics might ahve contributed to this, plus the Israeli 'errors of judgement'?

Incidentally, if you remember our little ... er ... spat, over divine matters, I saw a post today I'm now going to post myself on 'how to answer an atheist'. [Now I'm not saying I agree with it, mind.]

6:52 pm  
Blogger StuartA said...

There are obviously several factors contributing to the deaths in Lebanon and Israel. No doubt Israeli military error and Hezbollah tactics are two of them.

But my point stands that since the bombing is achieving nothing positive for Israel, and a lot negative, it should be curtailed, irrespective of the humanitarian consequences elsewhere (which are, of course, terrible).

If the bombing were actually making Israel safer then there would be a different debate, but since it isn't, I really can't see that any case can be made for it. It fails the first test of achieving its stated aims.

I briefly read the atheist thing. I might respond if I have time.

10:47 am  
Blogger james higham said...

Stuart, saw your comment to Tim Worstall and it was difficult to refute. Also, I've just had an influx of Irish coming off you. What's going on there? Is most of your traffic Irish?

5:08 pm  
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