Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Rout Continues

If the Cedar Revolution came on the coat-tails of Operation Iraqi Freedom, on the crest of the wave of belief in the "purple stained fingers" of voters, then the assassination of Lebanese Minister Pierre Gemayel comes upon its ebb. The results of the November election have sent the clear message that America is in retreat. Barack Obama recently said:

These are serious times for our country, and with their votes two weeks ago, Americans demanded a feasible strategy with defined goals in Iraq – a strategy no longer driven by ideology and politics, but one that is based on a realistic assessment of the sobering facts on the ground and our interests in the region. ...

It may be politically advantageous for the President to simply define victory as staying and defeat as leaving, but it prevents a serious conversation about the realistic objectives we can still achieve in Iraq. Dreams of democracy and hopes for a perfect government are now just that – dreams and hopes. We must instead turn our focus to those concrete objectives that are possible to attain – namely, preventing Iraq from becoming what Afghanistan once was, maintaining our influence in the Middle East, and forging a political settlement to stop the sectarian violence so that our troops can come home. ...

Shorn of its rhetoric, Obama's message is simple. It is not a formula for winning. It is a formula about how to get the hell out of Dodge. The obvious question is what signals this sends to the struggle between democracy and dictatorship within the region. The Cedar Revolution was all about attempting to establish a genuine Lebanese Democracy by evicting the Syrian occupiers. The Cedar Revolution, according to Wikipedia was:

the most commonly used name for the chain of demonstrations and popular civic action in Lebanon (mainly Beirut) triggered by the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on February 14, 2005. The primary goals of the original activists were the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, the establishment of an international commission to investigate the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri, the resignation of security officials, and the organization of free parliamentary elections. The demonstrators requested the end of the Syrian influence in Lebanese politics.

Current events in Lebanon are all about the process of dictatorship regaining its imperium in the backwash of an American withdrawal. Syria, along with Iran is regarded the victor in Iraq, a defeat that is openly ceded by men like Barack Obama who foreign observers see as an indicator of which way the wind is blowing in Washington. In the last few days, Syria and Iraq have strengthened their relations, or more accurately put Iraq has come to Daddy. Richard Beeston of the London Times describes why they are "friends again". America wants out, and Iraq must mend fences with the new regional victors while America begs them to let it go.

What makes this week's meeting different is the political context. Both Washington and London are openly discussing the need to engage Syria and Iran and enlist their help in resolving the turmoil in Iraq. ...

If President Talal Jalabani, the Iraqi leader, can bring about rapprochement between the Bush Administration and its foes in Damascus and Tehran then there could be an opening worth pursuing.

The US military in Iraq believes that 100 insurgent fighters cross the border into Iraq from Syria each month and that Damascus is hosting many ex-Baathist Iraqis who actively engaged in organising attacks across the border. Similarly, American and British officials believe that Iran is supporting Shia Muslim militia groups in Iraq.

Both countries could play an important role in helping to stabilise the situation in Iraq. But their support would come at a cost. Iran wants Washington and London to stop their campaign to impose sanctions on Tehran for its controversial nuclear programme.

Michael Totten sees the recent assassination of Pierre Gemayel as a bald-faced attempt to change the voting composition of the Lebanese cabinet by subtraction. And there is no secret about who is behind it. It is our new friends the Syrians, the ones we are about to ask to let us go. And it's goal is seems simple, to alter the political calculus until Hassan Nasrallah, the stooge of our other new "friend" Iran, can take over.

The Syrian regime cannot restrain itself from butchering its Lebanese enemies ...

UPDATE: Just spoke to a friend of mine in Lebanon. I did not realize until now that Gemayel was a member of the Lebanese cabinet. The Hezbollah/Syrian axis has been trying to bring down the government by pressuring three more members to resign. One down, two to go. Looks like the coup d'etat is in progress.

UPDATE: Abu Takla in the comments says "one more to go, not 2. If they assassinate one more minister, the cabinet is automatically dissolved, because it would lack the two-thirds + 1 it needs to be constitutional."

UPDATE: Another member of Lebanon's political cabinet, Michel Pharaon was targetted with assassination today. He survived. But if the bastards had gotten him, the government would have fallen and stage one of the coup would be over.

UPDATE: Hezbollah is planning massive street "protests" on Thursday. Tony Badran notes: "This assassination will likely ensure that if such street rallies do take place, clashes would erupt, as it's clear that the Syrians are set on that. (Just another reminder for the idiots who believe Syria is a force of "stability.") Syria has a primary objective that outweighs everything else: kill the Hariri tribunal, and redominate Lebanon at any cost. This is nothing short than a fight to the death for the Syrians. And, as these thugs have done throughout their bloody history, they will kill anyone."

The most comical aspect of this whole rout is the way the diplomats will continue to prepare for the big meeting with Syria and Iran to broker a regional peace, something they believe "only a Superpower" can achieve. Alas, the habits of self-importance die hard. The countries are already making their own arrangements with the new victors, because those countries realize better than Barack Obama that you cannot charge a price for what you have already given away. And what will come of it all won't be peace. It will be war on a scale that will either draw America back into a larger cauldron or send it scurrying away behind whatever line of defense it thinks it has the will to hold. More than 60 years ago, Winston Churchill told the appeasers they had a choice between war and dishonor. They had chosen dishonor, and added that now they would have both war and dishonor.


Christopher Hitchens, writing in Slate says recent events make it plain that "the Bush administration, or large parts of it, is now cutting if not actually running, and it is looking for partners in the process" and presiding over it is "Baker, who supported the Syrian near-annexation of Lebanon. In order to recruit the Baathist regime of Hafez Assad to his coalition of the cynical against Saddam in the Kuwait war". As I've said, whatever the coming conference to create a regional solution to the war is intended to be, it may be perceived as a buffet an which little pieces of Iraq are fed to Syria, Iran and Turkey in order to buy Washington's ass out of a tight electoral situation.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The word that comes to mind is "sad".

Two years after Hariri's assassination, government officials are driving themselves around Beirut, unguarded, like so many sitting ducks. Sad.

They say in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. I don't know what the equivalent saying would be for the chinless man, but... eh, there goes King Assaad.

11/21/2006 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Well at least Mr Talabani knows his options, when he gets to Tehran.

Blazing trails, Mr Talabani is.

11/21/2006 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger charlotte said...

What I don't understand is whether it was a military or diplomatic decision not to punish at least Syria for its deadly interference in Iraq a year ago. And just about now would have been a good time to address Iranian meddling and sabotage with strikes against her nuke program and certain infrastructure.

Those would have been proper responses for their having crossed the Line in the Sand, but alas the winds blew and they're impossible to see, anymore. No one respects our word, admonition or turf, it would seem, including us.

11/21/2006 02:50:00 PM  
Blogger dla said...

Reminds me of why I don't like BO - he's still a chicken liberal.

11/21/2006 02:50:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

I can't agree that this is the fault of the US, not at all. The appeasers are the anti-Syria people in Lebanon who took the side of Hezbollah during the war with Israel. That was their opportunity to turn on Hezbollah. Instead they flamed Israel.

No one on the outside can help until the people of Lebanon turn on Hezbollah.

11/21/2006 03:04:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Wu Wei,

It is certainly not the exclusive fault of the US. It is in large part a result of Israeli mistakes too. But whether Israel, the almost invisible UNIFIL (remember them? Yoo-hoo, UNIFIL?) or the Global Cop America is at question, the answer regarding all three are the same. They can make noise, but are fundamentally impotent. Like the battleship which stood off the Lebanese coast with its 16 inch guns while the Hezbollah killed over 200 US Marines in a single attack.

But I think it fair to say the Syrians had a bad moment a few years back when they momentarily feared America had grown back its teeth. But that was then, this is now.

11/21/2006 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Yes, and now the American people have voted for America's historic isolationist habit. America's bold interventionism after 9/11 was the exception, not the rule.

I feel many of my countrymen are the self-absorbed paper tigers Bin Laden portrayed us as. After trying war, harder than it's been tried since Vietnam, America is retreating into its imagined invulnerability, and our enemies see it happening and are taking advantage of it, they're going to the undefended goal with gusto.

It's really sort of embarrassing, that we give a rookie Senator with two years in the seat this much recognition. It just shows how immature our feelings are when we get tired of the hard, horrible work.

I'm not even going to imagine what it will take to overcome this fatal weakness. If 9/11 didn't do it... ahh, I'm not even going to guess.

And our enemies, knowing what 9/11 did arouse in us - why would they risk rousing us to such a level any time soon? No, they can build the caliphate at home, first.

Sorry to be so glum.

11/21/2006 03:23:00 PM  
Blogger istarious said...

Wu Wei is correct, but is missing the larger picture.. France is the dominant player is Lebanon, not Israel, and not the US.

Maybe if the French time the fire of their SA missile batteries on Israeli jets correctly, one of Israel's downed F16s will make a trajectory straight to Nasrallah's hiding cave and scare him into playing nice with others. Knowing the French's many talents, I do not for a second doubt this maneuver beyond their capability.

11/21/2006 03:23:00 PM  
Blogger Cruiser said...

Wu Wei, the fact that Syria and Iran are not hunkered-down in fear is a lot of peoples fault, but primarily ours. Sure, the Lebanese may deserve some of what they get for failing to confront an evil that has gathered in its lands. But, we also have interests in Lebanon and throughout the Middle-East.

Tranny, sorry, Tranzizoraster is correct to wonder how the President thought he could direct any outcomes in the Middle-East without using military force against those who resisted the outcomes (or without convincing resistors that he would use force if required). His failure to take any action despite Syria’s and Iran’s open support of those killing our troops convinced them that the administration would definitely not use force where only our indirect interests were involved. That is a tragedy for us, not just the Lebanese.

11/21/2006 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

I think it fair to say the Syrians had a bad moment a few years back when they momentarily feared America had grown back its teeth. But that was then, this is now.

Yes, they certainly misjudged us, didn't they?

I could ask, Why is Assad still alive? But that would be hurtful and just so not politically correct.

11/21/2006 03:51:00 PM  
Blogger Kinuachdrach said...

Tony wrote: "Yes, and now the American people have voted for America's historic isolationist habit."

Come, now. There are good reasons for being glum, but that is not one of them. The American people did not vote for isolationism. The Democrats did not even offer that as an option in their melange of confusing & contradictory opinions. Where the Democrats did offer an unabashed anti-war candidate (Lamont), he lost (and lost BIG) to an independent who supported action in Iraq (Lieberman).

Don't fall victim to the media falsehood that an astonishingly narrow Congressional majority for Democrats constitutes an overwhelming call by the American people to get out of Iraq or the world.

In the first real test of the media's preferred meme, elected Democrats overwhelming rejected their own Speaker's wishes and squashed prominent anti-war whiner Murtha. Not exactly evidence that rank & file elected Democrats are isolationists. But the media always prefer their own opinions to real world data.

It may be that a lot of Democrat politicians are now coming to terms with the obvious political fact -- if they fail to deal with Iraq in particular & Islamist terrorism in general, then they are making their own political futures hostage to the unpredictable actions of a whole range of unsavory characters in the Middle East.

It is way too early to give up!

11/21/2006 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

Why should an outsider help anti-Syria Lebanon if she will just turn on them? Israel had gone a long way down the road of liberating Lebanon from Hezbollah. Israel could have done even more if the Lebanese had just kept their mouths shut. If the Lebanese had quietly given more intelligence Israel could have done a lot more.

And the ultimate way to be rid of Hezbollah would have been for the anti-Syrian Lebanese to have joined Israel's side, and asked the UN for protection.

Instead the non-Muslim Lebanese totally took the side of Hezbollah, pushing the UN to stop the war as soon as possible, and calling everything Israel did monstrous.

The only good news is that the reason the assassination took place is because the Lebanese were pushing back on Hezbollah.

11/21/2006 03:59:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Thanks Kinuachdrach!

I wasn't giving up, but I needed that!

Cue Tom Petty:
Well I wont back down, no I wont back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I wont back down

Gonna stand my ground, wont be turned around
And Ill keep this world from draggin me down
Gonna stand my ground and I wont back down

Hey baby, there aint no easy way out
Hey I will stand my ground
And I wont back down.

Well I know whats right, I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin me around
But Ill stand my ground and I wont back down

Hey baby there aint no easy way out
Hey I will stand my ground
And I wont back down
No, I wont back down

11/21/2006 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...


I don't think giving up is an option. And I don't think anything I write should be understood as advocating surrender. However I think it is important to recognize that a "bait and switch" is being attempted and is perilously close to completion. There are people out there who, sincerely or cynically, believe in appeasement. And they must be disabused of the advantages of capitulation. One of the best ways to discourage surrender is to point out what happens to those who fall under the boot. People have forgotten what defeat is like, probably because the anti-Vietnam movement internalized the fantasy that it had no consequences. But this time it is different, and I'm afraid the bitter cup must be passed round until its misguided drinkers finally realize that they are drinking shit.

11/21/2006 04:05:00 PM  
Blogger charlotte said...

The Cedar Revolution going to custom cedar coffins.

11/21/2006 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Does anyone want to guess where the current Iraqi PM, Nuri al Maliki, spent a good portion of the 1980s? From wikipedia:

In 1980, the Saddam Hussein government sentenced al-Maliki to death for his activism in the Dawa party. Thereafter, he lived in exile, first in Iran[4] and later in Syria. In Syria, he headed the party's Jihad Office, a branch responsible for directing activists and guerrillas fighting Saddam Hussein's regime from outside of Iraq. He was elected chairman of the Joint Action Committee, a Damascus-based opposition coalition that led to the founding of the Iraqi National Congress, a United States-backed body of opposition to the Saddam Hussein regime which the Dawa Party participated in between 1992 and 1995.

Hmmmm, a Syrian based "Jihad Office"? Readers of this blog know that I've been ranting about the inherent vileness of the Shiite Islamofascists who won elections in Iraq back in '05. Is any of this becoming clearer now?

11/21/2006 04:16:00 PM  
Blogger Colin said...

We can't declare either victory or defeat in a war we never fought.

We chose to a limited set of objectives, in particular the removal of the threat posed by Saddam's Iraq, with an option on major historical change - which, if achieved, would have been achieved greatly on the cheap. Not that we have yet reached the point where we can look back objectively, but it does appear in retrospect that the historical wager never had the odds greatly on its side, but in proportion to the stakes a few thousand military casualties was not an inordinate sacrifice. There's plenty of time for us to prepare for the day when we grow accustomed to few thousand casualties on any given afternoon.

It increasingly appears that cleansing Lebanon, Iraq, and the rest of the Middle East of the armed militias that continually re-play the old Weimar tunes in country after country will require a true bloodbath, sooner or later. There's nothing weak or immoral - to the contrary - about holding the door open for any alternative for as long as possible, even if it means struggling to support deeply compromised and unlikely allies like the Maliki and Siniora governments, and even if it means that we ourselves will eventually pay a much higher price in blood and treasure than if we acted more aggressively now.

11/21/2006 04:19:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

It is important to realize that defeat could come from two directions. One is surrender, not fighting (like the left).

The other is the lack of patience and discipline that comes from believing that large amounts of conventional troops and bombing can quickly solve all problems. World War II took a long time and had setbacks. The Cold War took a long time and was successful because presidents like Ronald Reagan were willing to be patient and use a wide variety of tools including economic tactics, diplomacy, propaganda, special forces, surrogate forces, and not just conventional troops.

11/21/2006 04:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of routs,

Wretchard, Tony, et al:

I do still wonder if, despite the latest dispiriting GWOT setbacks, the Battle of San Jacinto might still ghost-point towards something; something yet in store.

Bad guys have really shown their true asses of late: Assaad with his political murders, the mullahs with their nuke bomb eschatology, Hamas and Hezbollah with their political terror campaigns... They're out in the open, making their big grabs where everyone with eyes to see, can see. And when they act in the open they expose themselves, perhaps more than they know.

So a question whose answer I do not know: Are they being lured?

Are they being lured by dipolmatic mummery into overextending themselves, and committing to ambitious grabs whose outcomes can be only decisive victory or decisive defeat for their regimes? It's a question I still puzzle over, often. Like all good Texans, I remember the outcome of Sam Houston's lure-and-rout strategy at San Jacinto...

As the, troops advanced, Deaf Smith galloped up and told Houston, "Vince's bridge has been cut down." The General announced it to the men. Now both armies were cut off from retreat in all directions but one, by a roughly circular moat formed by Vince's and Buffalo Bayous to the west and north, San Jacinto River to the north and cast, and by the marshes and the bay to the east and southeast.

At close range, the two little cannon, drawn by rawhide thongs, were wheeled into position and belched their charges of iron slugs into the enemy barricade. Then the whole line, led by Sherman's men, sprang forward on the run, yelling, "Remember the Alamo!" "Remember Goliad!" All together they opened fire, blazing away practically point-blank at the surprised and panic-stricken Mexicans. They stormed over the breastworks, seized the enemy's artillery, and joined in hand-to-hand combat, emptying their pistols, swinging their guns as clubs, slashing right and left with their knives. Mexicans fell by the scores under the impact of the savage assault.

General Manuel Fernández Castrillón, a brave Mexican, tried to rally the swarthy Latins, but he was killed and his men became crazed with fright. Many threw down their guns and ran; many wailed, "Me no Alamo!" "Me no Goliad!" But their pleas won no mercy. The enraged revolutionists reloaded and chased after the stampeding enemy, shooting them, stabbing them, clubbing them to death. From the moment of the first collision the battle was a slaughter, frightful to behold. The fugitives ran in wild terror over the prairie and into the boggy marshes, but the avengers of the Alamo and Goliad followed and slew them, or drove them into the waters to drown. Men and horses, dead and dying, in the morass in the rear and right of the Mexican camp, formed a bridge for the pursuing Texans...

Thoughts? Odds?

11/21/2006 04:28:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...


I think your points are well made but something has changed, or perhaps more fairly put, something may have changed. That something, as Philip Bobbitt, Fred Ikle and others have pointed out, is that small nations and subnational groups now have the power to inflict great damage on the West. This was the great revalation of 9/11, something which we have either in hindsight rejected, or more likely, forgotten. That thought drove the idea that "business as usual" in the Third World was no longer possible.

The debate is whether one can continue to manage the Middle East and other disturbed areas in the same old way, or whether address it squarely by attempting radical surgery on the most intractable problems. The experience in Iraq seems to have convinced many that the time to face things squarely has not arrived or is too expensive to address. Now we are back to management.

We will soon see whether management is at all possible with a nuclear Iran, the Sunnis counterarming against Iran, Israel already scheduled for a new war and all the other things which I am sure, I need not repeat to you. Maybe the old ways still work. But I think not and the coming months will provide some empirical test of whether we have turned the corner or gone off the edge.

11/21/2006 04:32:00 PM  
Blogger Arthur Dent said...

Wu, defeat for America is a long way off.

Defeat for Iraq, for EUnuchstan for Africa seems in the cards. Lebanon may be the big loser, the surprise loser for trusting EUnuchstan. For distrusting real allies. I do not care.

Israel, who cannot lose even once, messed up in Lebanon. That should give great pause to those who spit on American policy and action.

Meandering is part of the game. Islamists can only make the war last longer.

I understand that EUnuchstan does not get it, part of me does not care.

That Israel is not united on what to do worries me.

11/21/2006 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> nations and subnational groups now have the power to inflict great damage on the West

Yes, that's why no amount of force, including nukes, could solve the problem. If all it takes to launch a briefcase nuke attack on the US is a dozen terrorists, and some of them may be in the US, slaughter won't work.

> whether address it squarely by attempting radical surgery on the most intractable problems.

No one ever spells out the "radical surgery" plan because no such plan could work.

11/21/2006 04:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wu wei: No one ever spells out the "radical surgery" plan because no such plan could work.

And if the patient dies...

I'm sorry, what was the question again?

11/21/2006 04:48:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Unfortunately, Iraq was always going to be a "failure," no matter what happened, just as Vietnam was always going to be a "success" in those same circles.

If Sunni and Shiite and Kurd and Jew and Christian in Iraq lay down with the lambs, studied war no more, and danced in their national costumes to the favorie Belmont Club song on that fabled mountaintop - we would nonetheless hear ten years hence about the terrible traffic accident the other day in downtown Baghdad, the horrific golf shoe shortage in Ramadi, or the Sunni teen gang in Fallujah who is knocking over mailboxes on weekends.

These are the kinds of people who, prior to the election were capable of decrying the lack of affordale housing while simultaneously complaining about how real estate investor profits have dropped off in recent months due to lower prices.

Failure was preordained - it's just a matter of degree....

11/21/2006 04:49:00 PM  
Blogger Arthur Dent said...

A dozen suitcase nukes in a dozen nations will not destroy the west.

It will perhaps, turn treatment towards removing the tumor.

I would love to see a Muslim nuke on France, peace-progressives are far more violent in a psycho way than W, or Rumsfeld, that is partly why 'they' ban the death penalty even for obvious killers. Peace-Progressives are adolescents denied parents.

/ouch/ Sorry.

11/21/2006 04:56:00 PM  
Blogger Lord Acton said...

Just a couple more cards left to deal...All of the players will be forced to show their hands soon...patience Belmont Clubbers.

Take heart:


11/21/2006 04:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, Lord Acton, I'll see your youtube battle-cheese and raise you.

Hold 'em or fold 'em, Lord Acton. Hold 'em or fold 'em.


11/21/2006 05:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wretchard said:

Like the battleship which stood off the Lebanese coast with its 16 inch guns while the Hezbollah killed over 200 US Marines in a single attack.

The battleship in question was the USS New Jersey, she was present for 11 months (5 months longer than a typical Med cruise), and she provided a great deal of gunfire support to that operation, mainly around the airport. In 1985 I knew some of the EW's who served aboard BB-62 on that expedition, and they related tales of a chaotic rocket free-for-all every night between several factions.

11/21/2006 05:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

re: San Jacinto

Amir Tahiri gives some analysis of the Lebanese situation that echoes my San Jacinto musings. (I'll admit, this massages my armchair ego rather more than it should. Someone please mock me now. I'll be a better man for it.)

The second reason why Syria may be in greater danger is that, for the first time in decades, it has moved into a position from which it cannot back out at will. Pushed by Iran into trying to make a comeback in Lebanon, Syria may be heading for a gamble that is not easy to pull off.

11/21/2006 05:25:00 PM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

The experience in Iraq seems to have convinced many that the time to face things squarely has not arrived or is too expensive to address.

I think the perception that Iraq has been inordinately expensive is due in part to simple ignorance of the historical record.

In the full sweep of U.S history, from the commencement of the Revolution on Lexington Green in April 1775, until the sunny morning of September 11, 2001, our average daily sacrifice has been between 14 and 15 military fatalities (1,217,000 fatalities/83,461 days = 14.6/day). Since 9/11, the average daily sacrifice has been 1.7 per day (3200/1900=1.68).

For the past five years we are suffering military fatalities at a rate that is less than one-eighth the historical average. In that time we have fought two wars, one of which is now commonly refered to as mess and quagmire conducted by a President and Sec Def who are considered by a good part of the population to be incompetent and inept.

Heaven help us if we ever have to wage a real war.

11/21/2006 05:28:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Tex, you need to be mocked? Okay, "Remember the Alamo!" Talk about a buzzkill, have you ever seen the movie? All the good guys died, man.

Doubling down on the buzzkill, even five short years after, why don't all Americans feel with equal Texas Alamo-fervor - "Remember 9/11!" - ?

11/21/2006 05:35:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Other Phalange supporters, including women, screamed and wept. They called on supporters to march to a nearby Shiite neighborhood and Aoun's residence in a Christian suburb east of Beirut.

"Nasrallah, Aoun and Lahoud, they killed him," shouted Antoine Shaaya, a man in his late 20s who wore a large cross around his neck. "And we won't be silent after today."

Politician Assassinated

11/21/2006 05:38:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

The really interesting thing about Gemayel's murder is that it was gratuitous. It wasn't obviously required defensively by Syria and therefore it represents an upping of the ante. Now in games of chance, that occurs when the player is either bluffing or holds winning cards. The implication is that Syria is either bluffing or holds an unbeatable hand.

The question is why they should act this way? And the answer, it seems to me is that Syria actually thinks it can get away with this stunt. Something in the recent past has convinced both Teheran and Damascus that now was the time to make hay. Now one can argue about where this motivation to aggression came from, but it's fair to say that some of the blood in the water has been poured there by recent events in Washington. I for one predicted that we would see this kind of thing following the elections and the signals sent by the sack of Rumsfeld. It might be coincidence, but maybe not.

11/21/2006 05:52:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...


All we need to do is to let Iran & Syria have Israel then all will be roses, right?

11/21/2006 06:03:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

wretchard said...
The really interesting thing about Gemayel's murder is that it was gratuitous. It wasn't obviously required defensively by Syria and therefore it represents an upping of the ante.

Yep. It's a message, especially coming on the heals of Iraq's diplomatic re-establishment of ties to Syria. The two pieces fit nicely. Brought to you courtesy of Syria's "Jihad Office", mayhaps? The one staffed by Nuri al-Maliki?

11/21/2006 06:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tony: why don't all Americans feel with equal Texas Alamo-fervor - "Remember 9/11!" - ?

Maybe because we didn't have leaders like Senator Murray in 1836.

If we did...

"We’ve got to ask, why is this man (Santa Anna) so popular around the world?," said Murray, who faces re-election in 1838. "Why are people so supportive of him in many Spanish countries ... that are riddled with poverty?

"He’s been out in these countries for decades, building military schools, building roads to the military schools, building eco-friendly stucco prison infrastructure... and the people are extremely grateful. We haven’t done that."


(OK, OK, I know Santa Anna didn't own slaves like some Texans did. Point granted. Just wanted to rag on Murray for a sec. The tool.)

11/21/2006 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

It is pretty obvious the Ahmednuttyjihad's the baby Assads, the Assrallah's of the world cheered the Democratic victories.

However, Jonah Goldberg in noting this fact also mentioned they just may be looking at the law of unintended consequences. He doesn't (nor do I) believe the Dem's starry-eyed remedies will fix anything in the Middle East.

The Ahmednuttyjihad, Baby Assads, Assrallah's et al of the world may very well be overplaying their hand at the moment. However, any good gambler knows you quit losing streaks and you push winning streaks. Right now we are so timid, we'ld fold holding a four of a kind to their 2 ducks.

11/21/2006 06:10:00 PM  
Blogger Boghie said...

How Far...
How Fast...
Can we run...

Do we drop our shields to gain a little more speed. Remember, Islam cannot claim the New World as one of its former dominions!

11/21/2006 06:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wretchard: The really interesting thing about Gemayel's murder is that it was gratuitous...

I'd agree that the Republican mid-term defeat has in actuality encouraged the enemy. They do indeed smell blood in the water, and may strike more often as the bloody frenzy builds.

(I apologize for any aspersion that imagery might cast on sharks, who tell me they abhor religous violence.)

As for Gemayel's murder, I wouldn't say it's gratuitous, if by 'gratuitous' you meant 'without reason or value'. I'd say it was instead calculated, and with reason and value for Assaad -- if he was indeed the hand behind the act, as I reckon he was.

Gemayel was a cabinet member. As specified by the Lebanese Taef Agreement, the cabinet exists only if a 2/3 quorum can meet. Therefore the "incapacitation" of 1/3 of the cabinet members would break the quorum needed for government. Remember that the Shiite cabinet members are long gone, having been warned off by Assaad, who fears the government's looming indictment. Their resignations put the cabinet just 2 members away from quorum loss.

Gemayel's murder means that only one more "incapacitation" is required. The failed attempt on Michel Pharaon, coming just a few hours after the assassination of Gemayel, was intended to be the final incapacitation. Had one of those bullets taken his life, the quorum would now be lost and the government would by law fall into the hands of the pro-Syrian (i.e., "pwned") President Lahoud.

So that's not gratuitous violence in my book, but Machiavellian calculation in action.

They're one bullet away.

That the Lebanese government is so mentally and spiritually and testicularly weak as to let it all happen is, again, sad.

(footnote: some articles say they're two bullets away, not one. I haven't seen the cabinet member active-list, to confirm whether the cabinet is one or two members from quorum-loss at this time.)

11/21/2006 06:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

boghie said:

Do we drop our shields to gain a little more speed. Remember, Islam cannot claim the New World as one of its former dominions!

In a few more decades, the New World will be Christianity's only dominion.

11/21/2006 06:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

re: Lebanon

Just btw, but if anyone in a position to do something in defense of Lebanon should happen by this little thread, I'd say to you, ala Vasquez from 'Aliens 2',

"Whatever you're gonna do, do it fast."

11/21/2006 07:01:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...


You are absolutely right that the right word was "calculated". I guess I meant that the Syrians, had they desired only peace and love, would not have been forced into such a throw of the dice. This throw was for bonus points.

11/21/2006 07:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tex said:

I'd say to you, ala Vasquez from 'Aliens 2',

"Whatever you're gonna do, do it fast."

That's from Alien II? I thought she said that on her blind date with Habu.

11/21/2006 07:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wretchard This throw was for bonus points.

You think so? Yeah, I guess so long as Hezbollah can keep the Lebanese government at home and army in barracks, Assaad doesn't really have to go for the brass ring.

It's a precarious situation, though. If, hypothetically, any force - Israeli, Lebanese, US, other -- should break Hezbollah's shaky hold on Lebanon, Assaad would suddenly find himself flooded with pro-Syrian Lebanese refugees and jihadi run-aways. And then the indictment(s) for murder would come down. And also his regime would be cut off from its main source of money (though I don't know how much of Lebanese business is presently back in Assaad's grasping hands).

My thought being, these factors, in aggregate, could well swamp Assaad's regime, which is a very mediocre and fragile kleptocracy.

Now, toppling the Lebanese government... that swamps things the other way. So I'm guessing the throw was for points Assaad thinks he really needs.

11/21/2006 07:31:00 PM  
Blogger skipsailing said...

hey, what if we killed this guy?

11/21/2006 07:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heh. Or paid his tool-buddy Putin to kill him. What's the price of a Kremlin borscht these days?

11/21/2006 07:40:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Woman Catholic sez: tex said:

I'd say to you, ala Vasquez from 'Aliens 2',

"Whatever you're gonna do, do it fast."

That's from Alien II? I thought she said that on her blind date with Habu.

Yeh, I thought Tex was starting to sound like Habu II.

Still, here on this blog, we are looking out our own window and seeing murder, mayhem and war going down. Levity is fun, but there's a real world out here and it's a fuckng bummer going downhill like the late 70's right now, only faster.

11/21/2006 08:41:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Putin poisons the Chechen-sympathizer almost the day of the signing of the WTO deal with USA, and Assad kills the Leb cabinet holdout(s), almost the day of the signing of the accord with Iraq ending 25 yrs of broken relations.

These timings are gratuitous, alright. Or accidental, if you believe in Easter bunnies.

They're clear language to those around the world who watch for such.

Here's who else it slapped--the new bosses in DC. The party which taught the world how to "vietnam" the USA.

Some talk above about Nov 07 being 'not' a cut & run vote--wrong, i think. The proofs offered (Murtha, et all) are inside baseball, while the real message, the one with the fireworks and booming cannon, is that the Bush Doctrine was soundly rejected in the USA.

11/21/2006 08:47:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Yep, all those administration failures, from immigration down to Foley, thru the deus machina of the election, have probably just started up "The Big One".

Somehow, the campaigns never managed to even ask the "compared to what?" questions.

As in, the war in Iraq is going badly--compared to what ? Now we'll find out, even though we forgot to ask.

11/21/2006 09:16:00 PM  
Blogger Das said...

To arthur dent - seconding your thought,

While we're all in apocalyptic mode; I have a hunch that when the s#@t goes down the real revenge-niks will be the leftoids. A big bomb on our soil will come as an unbounded surprise to them and they will respond like rabies; conservatives, and other thinking types, as found here on BC, having thought things through, will get angry but keep their heads. In other words look to the conservatives among you to shelter innocent Muslim fellow citizens from the mad-rage of blood-lust leftoids.

11/21/2006 09:28:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

that's the truth--

11/21/2006 09:36:00 PM  
Blogger C-Low said...

I am not quite ready to believe Bush has given up. I have a small hope that we are playing weak to trick our eneny into overstepping thinking they can win. Defencesive war is always easier to sell than offensive and Bush we all know now unfortunatley can't sell gold for free.

We will soon know Bashuer goes hot in early 07 I believe target date is March. Once that happens thier will be no preemptive strike on Iran (no pres will sign on a man made Chernobyl).

If you guys are right thou and we have been broken GET READY. It's not over by far I would easily predict within 10yrs we will have a nuclear global war millions dead on our side hundreds of millions on thiers. Mostley civilians on both sides. We will have carnage truley on a biblical scale. History will not look kindley on our generation.

11/21/2006 10:16:00 PM  
Blogger TmjUtah said...

skipsailing said "hey, what if we killed this guy?"

And I say "why not, indeed?"

A dozen terrorist nukes probably couldn't disrupt executive power and control here. Big names going air pollution, chunks of infrastructure going missing...

But we are based on decentralization and blessed (sarcasm) with an abundance of legal and political emminences at all levels of the ladder just waiting to have their shot.

Not so for the chinless one's freakshow. And it gets even worse for the mullahs - they've managed to achieve tribal recognition all on their lonesome over the last thirty years and the other tribes have had more than a bellyfull.

We need real sanctions delivered to the real powers in bad places. Raytheon, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin get my vote for process servers.

If unstability means no state sponsors for exporting terror, then lets destabilize by home address and known meeting places until the leaderless enemy becomes too busy fighting internal factions to look beyond tomorrow.

We've got a Dem legislature with one foot in a bucket and their eyes permanantly popped by bad cosmetic surgery.

Our executive, on the other hand, has instant communication to the most spun-up U.S. military in history.

This war is political before it ever was religious; simply put, our political structure can survive lethal blows with surprisingly little disruption to our daily lives. Not so those systems of thuggery or theocriminality currently slapping cards and flinging chips.

Yes indeed. Why not kill them?

I entertain a fantasy; it would be cool to wake up to reports that the existing Lebanese cabinet has formally petitioned the U.S. for help in defending Lebanon from Syria and Hezbollah, concurrent with striking peace with Israel.

That would be something to see. Cool, even.

Not nearly as cool as the BDA camera shot from the front of the taclans flying though Assad's & the Twelver president's palace windows.

11/21/2006 10:19:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> But Amal Mudallali, foreign affairs adviser to the head of Lebanon's largest parliamentary faction, said Mr. Gemayal's killing had been carefully planned.
"The assassination is aimed at stopping the international tribunal," she said. "It is the second time they have killed a Lebanese politician when the U.N. Council was meeting on Hariri -- it is not a coincidence. ...

"Iran is projecting its power in the region and sending a message to the U.S.," said Robert Rabil, director of graduate studies at the political science department at Florida Atlantic University.
"It is an assertion of Shi'ite politics, and the Islamists, led by Iran, are using Syria to project their power in the region. So now Iran has a say in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and in Iraq now they have a strong say." ...

Undersecretary of State R. Nicholas Burns said Washington viewed the murder as "an act of terrorism. We also view it as an act of intimidation."
Hezbollah and its supporters quit Lebanon's Cabinet on Nov. 11 after their demands for a larger role in the government were rejected. Hezbollah's leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, has vowed to take the group's cause to the streets and bring down the government.
Mr. Ginsberg said it would be a fallacy to think that Sheik Nasrallah was acting for strictly domestic reasons.
"He is a pawn of Iran," Mr. Ginsberg said. "It is like watching a chess player -- Iran -- begin playing some very good matches. We had better stop playing checkers or we are going to wind up handing the Middle East over to our adversaries."

11/22/2006 03:19:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/22/2006 04:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How different things would be if the Democrats in America had stood strong all along, refusing to succumb to short term political advantage!

What would we be seeing in Iraq, Iran, and Syria today?

How much stronger would the U.S. position be throughout the world?

Oh yea, the Democrats definitely don't want that!

11/22/2006 07:17:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

amen, greg--

11/22/2006 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Greg - How different things would be if the Democrats in America had stood strong all along, refusing to succumb to short term political advantage!

What would we be seeing in Iraq, Iran, and Syria today?

The US involved in 3 interminable clusterfucks. The Draft underway since we don't currently have the manpower to do the Great Neocon Dream of regime change in the 3 countries that are Israel's rivals. Instead of 650 billion spent overseas as our Fleet declines, infrastructure crumbles, and Medicare comes closer to catastrophe - we would have spent 1.8 Trillion. And our deaths would be over 10,000 and casualties approaching 50,000. Oil would be at 200 a barrel with most Gulf Oil shut down and Russia dealing the black stuff out for not the money, but regaining it's place of dominance by forging political alliances in Europe.

But Israel would be safer, and the Neocons still in power....if that is your goal.

How much stronger would the U.S. position be throughout the world?

With 3 simultaneous wars and/or insurgencies underway? World depression with the oil shutoff and explosion in cost? Oh, likely worse than we are now, which is pretty bad and will take years and years to regain our weakening as a superpower under Bush.

11/22/2006 03:24:00 PM  
Blogger quantum said...

Cedarford: It's the joos!

11/23/2006 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger Allison said...

you don't need a butterfly effect to see that our electing the Dems to Congress killed Gemayel.

our cutting-n-running has always been worse for the non-thug people of world than for the US.

11/26/2006 03:45:00 PM  

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