Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ghanem the Eighth

A huge car bomb killed an anti-Syrian MP and at least three others today in Beirut, a week before the Lebanese Parliament was to due meet to elect a new president. Antoine Ghanem, the eighth prominent anti-Syrian figure to be assassinated since 2005, died in the blast in the Christian Sin el-Fil neighbourhood of the capital.

That's how the UK Times describes the latest incident in undeclared conflict between parties whose identities are officially unknown but which are common knowledge. Joshua Landis at Syria Comment notes that Antoine Ghanem's death is an operation of subtraction in a deadly game of arithmetic for control of the Lebanese government. The participation of organizations like Hezbollah in the "democratic space" means that bombs are as legitimate as ballot boxes.



This is significant because Presidential elections must be carried out before the end of November and March 14th's majority is only held by a few deputies. The immediate impulse of journalists will be to tie the killing of Ghanem to Syria. They will see it as Damascus' pay back for Israel's bombing raid on Syria.

Ghanem's death may also be a signal to France, which is said to be trying to diminish Syrian influence in Lebanon through its connections with Maronite Christian political allies. Ghanem was a Maronite.

It's difficult to speculate on what the "Western" response should be largely because all conceivable ripostes are illegal, with the exception of sending Syria a diplomatic protest -- which would be rejected anyway because they will not officially acknowledge any role in events. A declaration of war is out. Military action would legally require an application to the UN. Covert action is liable to denouncement by the New York Times. Counter-assassination is probably a criminal act which no Western politician could authorize without fear of being tried by a Human Rights Tribunal in the future. So what's left? A futile trek to the UN made all the more compelling by the fact that every liberal pundit will clamor for it. The fact that no such constraints bind Syria, Hezbollah or Iran is irrelevant; and they will be the first to denounce and reject the Western pleas at the UN.

The employment of the Israeli Air Force to bomb an unspecified target funded by unknown other countries passing through the airspace of an unmentioned allied Muslim Nation for reasons that are still mysterious shows how total this legal paralysis is. Despite the third-rate military capability of Syria, none dare act against except it but an "outlaw nation", which by definition, can operate outside international law. With Syria and Hezbollah knocking off one opposition politician after the other what can the moral mandarins of the West Left do, except hope the despised Jew will do their dirty work? They may have even arranged for it, because even if Syria succeeds in obtaining a "democratic majority" by tearing up all the rules of democracy, by employing the car-bomb and the machinegun, the West will be forced to play by the formal rule book anyway and accredit their diplomats to the Syrian puppets. A call to Jerusalem may have been easier. We all know how this works. The enemy can torture Americans but Americans must always abide by the Geneva Convention. Dura lex, sed lex.. And one way, too.

The alternative of course, is for Europe and America to forthrightly declare their intention to stop Syria themselves. And if any provisions of International Law prevent it, then International Law should be amended where appropriate and action proceed forthwith. But that's too honest a course for a political elite too clever by a half. They've manacled themselves and can't even muster the gumption to unlock it with the key between their fingers.

14 Comments:

Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

yep..

nothing changes...

but would it not be nice if let's say nasrallah was taken out by a nice car bomb?

time to play tit for tat...

time to use black opps against the syrians...

oh, that's right we did last week....

yep, we cant fight and win this war with flowers and hugs...

time to turn the screws on iran/syria/hamas/hezbollah

israel just voted to declare gaza s a hostile area, hamas says that's a declaration of war...

good

9/19/2007 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

I don't think the West will do that unless something far, far worse than 9/11 happens. People are too invested in the green baize routine. Just look at what issues politicians focus on. Blackwater vs the Iraqi Interior Ministry, Habeas Corpus for foreign terrorist detainees. That's where the priorities are.

In the 1930s the elites throughout the West were willing to concede comparatively far, far more than what is at stake should Lebanon, Iraq and Israel fall. Right up to the brink, when Chamberlain flew back from Munich, everyone was confident things were under control that there would be "peace in our time". That's not to say history will repeat itself. It just illustrates to what degree political elites can blind themselves. And this is true throughout history. Time and again the exalted leaders of great civilizations have failed to recognize an obvious threat or were incapable of responding to it.

9/19/2007 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The Israeli bomb a threat in Sytia
The Syrians bomb a threat in Lebanon

Tit for tat continues.

9/19/2007 02:02:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Joshua Landis notes Antoine Ghanem's death is an operation of subtraction in a deadly game of arithmetic for control of the Lebanese government"
---
It takes a Professor with a Phd to figure that out?
;-)
---
This article brought to you by National Organization of Women.
not
In Egypt, a Push Against Genital Cutting
Health care workers observed a minute of silence following the death of a 13 year-old girl during an operation to remove her clitoris.
Photographs: Banning a Tradition

9/19/2007 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Doubtless I'm being dense and not geopolitical enough, but can someone explain to me how Syria bombing Lebanese Christians hurts Israeli Jews?

9/19/2007 02:57:00 PM  
Blogger Nomenklatura said...

Right up to the brink, when Chamberlain flew back from Munich, everyone was confident things were under control that there would be "peace in our time".

There's a lot of evidence that in the later 1930's the European elites were not as confident as you suggest.

Nevertheless, the evidence also shows that many of them worried much more about maintaining their unquestioned elite status within their own societies than about what the enemy might do if he won, and that they continued to be fixated on this question right up to the moment when enemy tanks rolled into their capital cities.

Unfortunately this attitude is just as evident today. In fact it's even more marked, given that the enemy is present in their capital cities and murdering their citizens already.

9/19/2007 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger Kinuachdrach said...

Time and again the exalted leaders of great civilizations have failed to recognize an obvious threat or were incapable of responding to it.

There is an issue with "international law" that the elites insist on sweeping under the carpet -- enforcement.

If a Hsu metaphorically flips the bird to the US legal system and takes a train ride instead of showing up in court, he ends up involuntarily in shackles with armed guards. Citizens expect their government to use force to uphold the law, if necessary.

Until there is meaningful international agreement that international law is backed up by the credible threat of force, there is no such thing as international law.

However, it would be very painful for the usual suspects to recognize that they have been fooling themselves for the last half century. Which is why the elites continue to shove international enforcement under the carpet, and why the whole edifice of "international law" will eventually crumble.

9/19/2007 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Any bets that OJ goes softly to Jail, when asked?

9/19/2007 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Unfortunately this attitude is just as evident today.
In fact it's even more marked, given that the enemy is present in their capital cities and murdering their citizens already.
"
---
Well put!
Could expand on that to add that their agents are welcomed at the Whitehouse.
Thank you for your service, Karen Hughes.

9/19/2007 03:23:00 PM  
Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

the arab world and islamic worlds seem to, despite their praise the prophet mohammed, are quite cult of personality driven.

thus it does work to kill their leaders..

syria, hamas, iran, hezbollah & the palios all know this...

9/19/2007 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Lebanon Asks UN To Investigate Ghanem Assassination. As predicted. You can see the Western diplomatic establishment coming from a mile away. They are so utterly predictable in their sterility. The Syrians should have a form letter "rejecting" the accusations pre-written, waiting only for the blanks to fit in.

9/19/2007 05:33:00 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

desert rat's post smelled like moral equivalence.Israel eliminates a possibly catastrophic escalation by an evil regime and that same evil regime murders a legitimate political opponent in a country they are trying to subvert.That's not tit for tat. It's a victory and a loss in the long war we face with the neo-Barbarians.

9/19/2007 10:40:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Can we send Pelosi to Syria and get them to stop with diplomacy? She's really good at that State Department stuff.

9/20/2007 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

Here's a video of an ied going off in the middle of a convoy. It really raises the road

9/20/2007 01:12:00 PM  

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