Creating people's geographies
See also his other entries for a decidely less than benign view of US foreign policy towards Lebanon: Hezbollah vs the CIA Cedar Revolution and Bolton Busy Framing Syria for Gemayel Assassination
Friday November 24th 2006, 12:26 pm
According to Nathan Brown, a plodder for the neoliberal Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the United Nations, the Bushian “vision” for the Middle East has failed.
“The assassination Tuesday of Pierre Gemayel, a Cabinet minister and scion of one of the countries’ leading Maronite Catholic families, has renewed fears of civil war and raised suspicion that Syria is again asserting itself in the affairs of its restive neighbor,” reports the Los Angeles Times. “Lebanon’s ‘Cedar Revolution,’ which gave power to anti-Syria forces, was heralded along with the 2005 elections in Iraq, Egypt and the Palestinian territories as part of a new movement that was going to be ‘as important as the fall of the Berlin Wall,’ Brown said.”
Never mind that Lebanon’s “Cedar Revolution” was but another intelligence operation gussied up in the vestment of so-called democracy. “We know now that the ‘Cedar Revolution’ was just another clever ‘made-in-Washington’ public relations scam orchestrated by skillful American NGOs and Israeli intelligence agencies. The ‘color-coded’ revolutions have since been widely discredited as more of Uncle Sam’s tricks for bringing about regime change in countries where the leaders fail to conform to the economic diktats of the IMF and World Bank,” writes Mike Whitney.
“Palestinian voters have since granted power to the militant group Hamas, which the administration has yet to recognize. Egypt’s reforms have stalled. And in Iraq, the government has proved unable to run the country amid increasing violence and rising U.S. casualties. Many Iraqis say they would prefer a return to authoritarian rule,” the Times continues.
Indeed, the Palestinian people elected Hamas because they were sick and tired of the corruption and cronyism of Arafat and the PLO. One “of the reasons that Hamas won the election is because the corruption of these people living in their big houses was so manifest that people didn’t want to take it anymore,” Jeffrey Blankfort tells the San Francisco Independent Media Center. “The fact of the matter is that it was Arafat’s and the PLO’s corruption that led to the rise of Hamas, because Hamas was honest and was providing for the people, and they weren’t spending everything on themselves…. Arafat was getting eight million dollars annually from Israel.” Since Hamas does not collaborate with Israel, it must be crushed, its leaders abducted and imprisoned in Israeli torture dungeons.
In Egypt, the “iron-fisted” dictator Hosni Mubarak promised “constitutional and legislative reforms which will ensure the ideal electoral system, strengthen political parties and the role of women in parliament,” even if these so-called reforms lead to the installment of Gamal Mubarak, son of Hosni. It is business as usual in Egypt, as human rights organizations repeatedly document. “Infringements of freedom of expression, association and assembly, particularly in the run up to the People’s Assembly elections… raised doubt about the government’s stated commitment to fair and free elections. State security forces continued to commit grave human rights violations with impunity, including the detention without charge or trial of political detainees and torture, and political opponents continued to be sentenced after unfair trials,” Human Rights Watch noted in 2000. The people of Egypt have endured a “state of emergency” since 1981.
Naturally, the Iraqis prefer the return of Saddam and the Ba’athists to the brutal occupation of U.S. troops. Even during Bush Senior’s sanctions, dutifully carried out and extended by Bill Clinton, the average Iraqi was better off than he or she is now under the crushing yoke of Bush the Junior’s “democracy.” Many Iraqis recall the day when their country was the envy of the Arab world with its top-notch healthcare and educational systems. Malnutrition rates are “now roughly equal that of Burundi, a central African nation torn by more than a decade of war,” explains Doug Lorimer, citing results of an Iraq Health Ministry report. “The report added that acute malnutrition among Iraqi children had nearly doubled since the occupation began, with nearly 400,000 Iraqi children suffering from ‘wasting,’ a condition characterized by chronic diarrhea and dangerous deficiencies of protein.” But then, as Rumsfeld quipped, “democracy is messy.”
“A collapse of the Lebanese government would mark a further expansion in the influence of Hezbollah—and of Syria and Iran, which back the Shiite Muslim militant group—many of the analysts said,” the Times reports. “It would be a setback to the U.S. goal of uniting the country around a stronger central government, and to hopes that an expanded Lebanese army could protect Israel from Hezbollah attacks.”
Of course, this is precisely the plan—to reduce Lebanon, and the rest of the Arab and Islamic Middle East, into a cauldron of simmering ethnic and religious violence, thus realizing the neocon “Clean Break” and Oded Yinon’s plan for balkanization.
In fact, the average grunt in the Lebanese army realizes Hezbollah was organized as a response to the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon and it is now the only force capable of keeping Israel out of the country, as the result of Israel’s invasion last summer amply demonstrates. Moreover, it is apparently too much to ask the “liberal” Los Angeles Times, an indefatigable apologist for Israeli brutality and war crimes, to set the record straight—the invasion began after Israeli soldiers were captured in the town of Aitaa al-Chaab, inside Lebanon, a fact reported by Forbes, the Hindustan Times, AFP, Asia Times, and others, but later swept down the memory hole.
“U.S. officials have been trying to help the Lebanese government resist pressure from Hezbollah, which wants to replace Siniora’s team with a ‘unity’ government that would give Shiites more say and block many of Siniora’s initiatives and goals.”
Never mind that Lebanon’s Shia are systematically excluded from the government. “A 60-year-old National Covenant divides public offices between Christians and Muslims, yet in actuality the country has long been run by a Christian and Sunni oligarchy, with input from Druze leaders. Shiites, the largest and poorest of the four groups, are disdained by the elite, and until recently, were virtually disenfranchised by the Lebanese political apparatus,” writes Eric Laursen, a fact you will not read in the Los Angeles Times.
Fouad al-Siniora and his government are darlings in the eyes of the neoliberals, as Lebanon fits nicely in the loan sharking model preferred by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. “While a proposed economic reform package may help cut the country’s massive debt burden, it would also make living conditions harder for ordinary people and fail to stem the so-called ‘brain drain’ phenomenon, say economists,” IRIN, a “project” of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, reported earlier this year. “Prime Minister Fouad al-Siniora and Finance Minister Jihad Azour are scheduled to head to Washington. There they are expected to discuss reforms and push for international support in meetings with World Bank and International Monetary Fund officials.” According to Albert Dagher of the Lebanese University, neoliberal “privatization,” or unhindered thievery of public infrastructure, “would serve to increase the burden on ordinary citizens” and “result in significant cuts in state budgets for education, health and other public services,” thus reducing the overall standard of living, as planned.
“Concern over events in Lebanon has grown in Washington. The administration registered its alarm this month in a statement saying there was ‘mounting evidence’ that Iran, Syria and Hezbollah were collaborating to overthrow the Siniora government,” the Times warns.
In other words, in order to salvage the plans of both the neocons and the neolibs, Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah, bugaboos of the Israeli “vision” of a “democratic Middle East,” are to be illustrated as meddlesome demons, per usual. As poverty and exclusion in Lebanon are primarily due to “socio-economic disparities,” once again according to the United Nations, and more than half of the population are living between a “low degree of satisfaction” and “intermediate satisfaction,” it stands to reason the neoliberal toady Fouad al-Siniora should go. No doubt the Israeli invasion, resulting in the displacement of more than a half million people, added to the desire to get rid of al-Siniora the banker and his minions. It makes perfect sense to look toward Hezbollah as a protector, as it is the only force capable of responding to Israeli provocation.
“Some analysts argue that, rather than the democratic ascendancy Bush foresaw in early 2005, Lebanon represents a trend that will bring instability and spell a sharp decline in U.S. influence in the region,” the Times concludes. “That trend is marked by the rise in influence of Hezbollah and Iran, the increase in the influence of fundamentalist Islam, the growth of sectarian militias, higher oil prices and the stagnation of efforts to find an Israeli-Palestinian peace, said Richard N. Haass, a top State Department official during Bush’s first term and now the president of the Council on Foreign Relations.”
Haass and his CFR cronies may feign consternation for the sake of public consumption, but in fact the neolib plan for the Middle East is moving forward swimmingly. It should be noted that Richard Haass is the president of the CFR and as VP and director of Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution and he brings together the neolib and neocon factions (while Brookings, at first glance, is a “liberal” think tank, with such luminaries as Strobe Talbott, Clinton’s Deputy Secretary of State, and Teresa Heinz, the billionaire philanthropic wife of John Kerry, it is in fact yet another reactionary criminal organization funded by the likes of the John M. Olin Foundation, and connected at the hip to the American Enterprise Institute, where Bush gets his “minds”). Call it a tag team effort between kissing cousins.
Like the classic shell game or confidence trick, the neolibs are attempting to shift blame for the “failure” of Bushian “democracy” in the Middle East on the neocons, who are to be set-up as fall guys. Increasingly, we are sold on the idea that the “adults,” in the guise of James Baker and the Iraq Study Group, are now in control and a new path will be forged in the untamed wilderness that has sprouted up around the neocon effort to democratize benighted Arabs through shock and awe.
In fact, there is very little difference between the neocon and neolib versions of reality in the Middle East, as both will result in more violence and misery. If the Baker Boys accomplish anything, it will be a marginalization of the Israeli effort to create a Greater Middle East, rolling the outlaw settler state back to the status of a junior partner, while emphasizing the World Bank and IMF component designed to return fantastic profit and inflict untold hardship on the people of the Middle East in the process, as they victimize millions around the world.
Of course, the more strident and fanatically Zionist among the neocons—determined to attack both Syria and Iran while the Baker Boys appear ready to talk, although one should never trust a talking neolib—may pull off something catastrophic in the next two years as Bush winds down his ill-gotten presidency.
Indeed, one may argue with a large degree of accuracy that the assassination of Pierre Gemayel is a show of brinkmanship on the part of Israel and the neocons, intended to send a message to their neolib cousins, much in the same way a Mafia family, through violence and murder, sends a message to a rival family.