Do we even care? {Lebanon}

jmervyn

Diabloii.Net Member
Do we even care? {Lebanon}

I thought it interesting that I've seen almost no coverage of Syria's pullout from Lebanon. While I've not been glued to the TV, I sample several different news outlets, and I only recently saw something on Yahoo talking about how the Syrians are effectively out today, which I guess is around 4 days ahead of schedule.

Instead, I've seen plenty of Papacy, Jacko 'the fondler', and a goodly bit of how eeevil Frist is for joining in a televangelist broadcast about the judicial filibuster (I guess churches in Harlem don't play a political role - it was absolutely SHOCKING that Frist would play up to a religious audience!).

So what's up, folks? Is it that we just don't care a whit about what used to be one of the most urbane countries in the Mid-East, emerging from the shadow of what is debatably one of the most oppressive? Is the media petrified at the thought of even hinting about a relation to Shrub's "democracy breaking out all over" plans? Are we so shallow that we're more interested in Jacko's paedophelia than people actually having a chance to pave their own way?
 

Necrolestes

Diabloii.Net Member
Early withdrawal method rarely works.

I've only seen mention of this historic event in my local paper; nothing of this has been on my local or national news (though it may be on tonight). Lebanon will not truly be free until all pro-Syrians are voted out of office (it is more likely, however, that pro-Syrians will be removed by more violent means) and the military withdrawal is only the beginning (this, perhaps, is why the news has chosen to ignore it because this is just the first step and not the final destination of Lebanon's journey towards freedom).

Edit: Here's an article on Yahoo showing the first steps towards freedom
 

Dirty_Zulu

Diabloii.Net Member
From the media's money making perspective, stuffs about a place most Americans never heard of doesn't sell. Most of my friends never heard of Kuwait before Sadam invaded it. Same with Kabul.

So if it's not about Jacko's tickling, Britney's pregnancy, or which celebrity is swapping parters, it wouldn't sell.
 

jmervyn

Diabloii.Net Member
Dirty_Zulu said:
From the media's money making perspective, stuffs about a place most Americans never heard of doesn't sell. Most of my friends never heard of Kuwait before Sadam invaded it. Same with Kabul.
I'd be a lot more willing to buy the 'ignorant yanqui' concept if it weren't for all the Lebanese that fled the country over the decades. They're almost as well known for being 'wild geese' expats as the Irish. I was talking with my Mom's landlord in Honduras about Nicaragua, only to be hearing him jump to talking about Britain's involvement in Palestine; turns out, of course, that the family was originally Lebanese.

Dirty_Zulu said:
So if it's not about Jacko's tickling, Britney's pregnancy, or which celebrity is swapping parters, it wouldn't sell.
Sales likely do have a lot to do with it - so I guess self-obsessive/narcissistic Westerner does factor in. Still, I cringe to think that the media panders so exclusively to the shallow & purile... then again, seeing how many 'reality TV' shows there are reinforces that viewpoint.

Thank God for BBC America...

EDIT - I suppose PR plays a role as well: http://www.paulgraham.com/submarine.html
 

jimmyboy

Diabloii.Net Member
jmervyn said:
I thought it interesting that I've seen almost no coverage of Syria's pullout from Lebanon. While I've not been glued to the TV, I sample several different news outlets, and I only recently saw something on Yahoo talking about how the Syrians are effectively out today, which I guess is around 4 days ahead of schedule.

Instead, I've seen plenty of Papacy, Jacko 'the fondler', and a goodly bit of how eeevil Frist is for joining in a televangelist broadcast about the judicial filibuster (I guess churches in Harlem don't play a political role - it was absolutely SHOCKING that Frist would play up to a religious audience!).

So what's up, folks? Is it that we just don't care a whit about what used to be one of the most urbane countries in the Mid-East, emerging from the shadow of what is debatably one of the most oppressive? Is the media petrified at the thought of even hinting about a relation to Shrub's "democracy breaking out all over" plans? Are we so shallow that we're more interested in Jacko's paedophelia than people actually having a chance to pave their own way?
We're Americancentric. The Paris of the Middle East... well ... it's Paris. And even though Jacko is a weirdo, he's our weirdo. He even gets more air time than the Pope.
 

llad12

Diabloii.Net Member
jmervyn said:
So what's up, folks? Is it that we just don't care a whit about what used to be one of the most urbane countries in the Mid-East, emerging from the shadow of what is debatably one of the most oppressive?
Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe the USA invited the Syrians to come into Lebanon in some 25-30 years ago to help stablize the country.

jmervyn said:
Is the media petrified at the thought of even hinting about a relation to Shrub's "democracy breaking out all over" plans?
"Breaking out all over"??

Perhaps you should read a portion of this interview from Juan Cole:

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Juan Cole, you wrote in “Informed Comment†on Wednesday, “The simplistic master narrative constructed by the partisans of President George W. Bush held that the January 30 elections were a huge success and signaled a turn to democracy in the Middle East. Then the anti-Syrian demonstrations were interpreted as a yearning for democracy inspired by the Iraqi elections. This interpretation is a gross misunderstanding of the situation in the Middle East.†I'd like, first, you to explain this ...



JUAN COLE: The whole narrative is a little bizarre. The Lebanese have been having parliamentary elections for decades and were among the few to have fairly upright such elections at some points in the 20th century in the Arab world. So, they haven't learned anything from the Iraqi elections. In fact, the elections in Iraq were a mixture of the sublime and the ridiculous. I mean, it was a wonderful thing, people came out and risked their lives to vote, but they didn't know the names of the candidates that they were voting for because of the poor security conditions, and the country had to be locked down for three days. No vehicular traffic at all in the entire country in order to prevent car bombings, so that the elections could be held. So I think most urbane, sophisticated Beirutis would have looked upon this process in Iraq with a little bit of pity, and there's nothing inspiring there for them. They already had the elections in their country scheduled for May. What happened in Lebanon was local. I think we're going to see a lot of this -- everything that happens in the Middle East from now on is going to be pegged to the Bush administration regardless of whether the Bush administration had anything to do with it, but there's now, I think, a political struggle inside Lebanon, between those groups, especially the Christian Maronites, the Drews, and a section of the Sunnis who want an early end to the Syrian military occupation and an end to over-weaning Syrian influence in Lebanese politics on the one hand, and then Hezbollah and the generality of the Shiite community, I think, as well as another section of the Sunni community that actually wants the Syrians to continue to play a role.
Democracy Now

While Dubya's little escapade in invading/conquering and nation building a third world country may have a positive effect in ridding the world of Saddam, the end results of this type of intervention may be far more detrimental to US interests in this area than one cares to believe.


PS: The LA Times and CNN ran an AP wire story on Syria's withdrawal.
 

Steel_Avatar

Diabloii.Net Member
I'll second Jimmyboy. I saw the title of this thread, and I read "Lebron" as in Lebron James, who I admittedly do not care about.
 
Ehh, I dunno, maybe you should move into this century. I checked the news on my phone during a break at school and pretty much everything on the air or on web sites was either Japan's train wreck or Lebanon. Bolton, Frist, and Delay managed to use the vast right-wing media conspiracy to disappear from the spotlight, and instead focused it on disasters and "victories for democracy thanks to America **** yeah!" that are neither victories for democracy nor thanks to America.

As far as Syria moving into this century, all I've really got to say is "**** yeah!"
 

jmervyn

Diabloii.Net Member
Well, if I can rely on Duped and Ill for nothing else, it is to be contrary. Ill, you'll have to show me chapter & verse if you want me to accept the idea that we urged THE prototypical Soviet client state to intervene in the civil war of a neighbor to our only ally in the region. Duped, I only caught the Yahoo! story from Wired; it had already passed from view on the main page and hence I saw no regular coverage.

But regardless of the legitimacy of Juan Cole or his opinions, my concerns about the lack of any sort of perspective remain. Aren't we blinding ourselves by allowing mass media to dictate our "interests" to such an extent (note I don't resort to 'libberul medyh', since I've been just as disgusted with FOX's overcoverage of Terry Schaivo and Jacko)?
 

zarikdon

Diabloii.Net Member
Maybe they're waiting for the official ceremony on Tuesday? But the boredom factor might be important too.
 

DurfBarian

Diabloii.Net Member
I think the Bush Administration has been pressuring the media to keep the Syria story out of the news because it won't do to have the public thinking this thuggish state is on the way to redemption before we start bombing it.

I'll be signing tin-foil hats at Borders later this week. :teeth:
 

Ash Housewares

Diabloii.Net Member
DurfBarian said:
I think the Bush Administration has been pressuring the media to keep the Syria story out of the news because it won't do to have the public thinking this thuggish state is on the way to redemption before we start bombing it.

I'll be signing tin-foil hats at Borders later this week. :teeth:
dot dot dot


HIPPY!
 

llad12

Diabloii.Net Member
jmervyn said:
Well, if I can rely on Duped and Ill for nothing else, it is to be contrary. Ill, you'll have to show me chapter & verse if you want me to accept the idea that we urged THE prototypical Soviet client state to intervene in the civil war of a neighbor to our only ally in the region.
An excerpt from a brief synopis of Lebanon history ... Per Juan Cole:

... When the French conquered Syria in 1920, they decided to make it easier to rule by dividing it. They carved off what is now Lebanon and gerrymandered it so that it had a Christian majority. In 1920, Maronite Catholics were probably 40 percent of the population, and with Greek Orthodox and others the Christian population came to 51 percent. The Shiites were probably only about 18 percent of the population then. Both under the French Mandate (1920-1946) and in the early years of the Lebanese Republic, the Maronites were the dominant political force. When Lebanon became independent in 1943, the system was set up so that Christians always had a 6 to 5 majority in parliament.


Lebanon had a relatively free parliamentary democracy 1943-1956. In 1957, I have been told by a former US government official, the US CIA intervened covertly in the Lebanese elections to ensure that the Lebanese constitution would be amended to allow far-right Maronite President Camille Chamoun (1952-1958) to have a second term. As the Library of Congress research division ("country studies") notes:

In 1957 the question of the reelection of Shamun [Chamoun] was added to these problems of ideological cleavage. In order to be reelected, the president needed to have the Constitution amended to permit a president to succeed himself. A constitutional amendment required a two-thirds vote by the Chamber of Deputies, so Shamun and his followers had to obtain a majority in the May-June 1957 elections. Shamun's followers did obtain a solid majority in the elections, which the opposition considered "rigged," with the result that some non-Christian leaders with pan-Arab sympathies were not elected. Deprived of a legal platform from which to voice their political opinions, they sought to express them by extralegal means.

This account agrees with what I was told in every particular except that it does not explicitly mention the CIA engineering of the election. Chamoun was unacceptable to the Druze and to the Sunni nationalists newly under the influence of Gamal Abdul Nasser in Egypt. A small civil war broke out. Chamoun lied to Eisenhower and told him that the Druze goatherds were Communists, and Ike dutifully sent in the Marines to save Chamoun in 1958. Thereafter the Maronites erected a police state, with much power in the Dueuxieme Bureau or secret police. Since Washington had already overthrown the democratically elected government of Iran in 1953, and is said to have helped install the Baath in power in Iraq, it may well be that the Illiberal Age in the Middle East of the second half of the 20th century was in important part the doing of Washington and was for Cold War purposes. (Those namby pamby democracies were just too weak to forestall sly Communists).

The Christian-dominated system of Lebanon fell apart for a number of reasons. The Israelis expelled 100,000 or so Palestinians north to Lebanon in 1948. The Christians of Lebanon refused to give the Palestinians Lebanese citizenship, since the Palestinians were 80 to 85 percent Muslim and their becoming Lebanese would have endangered Christian dominance. Over time the stateless Palestinians living in wretched camps grew to 300,000. (In contrast, the Maronite elite gave the Armenians who immigrated citizenship so fast it would make your head spin.)

In the second half of the 20th century, the Lebanese Shiites grew much faster, being poor tobacco farmers with large families, than did the increasingly urban and middle class Maronites. Maronites emigrated on a large scale (it is said that there are 6 million Lebanese outside Lebanon and only 3 million inside), to North America (think Danny Thomas and Salma Hayek) and to South America (think Carlos Saul Menem of Argentina and Shakira of Colombia).

By 1975 the Maronites were no longer the dominant force in Lebanon. Of a 3 million population, the Shiites had grown to be 35 percent (and may now be 40 percent), and the Maronites had shrunk to a quarter, and are probably now 20 percent. The Shiites were mobilizing both politically and militarily. So, too, were the Palestinians.

The Maronite elite found the newly assertive Muslims of the south intolerable, and a war broke out between the Maronite party-militia, the Phalange (modeled on Franco's and Mussolini's Brown Shirts) and the PLO. The war raged through 1975 and into 1976 (I saw some of it with my own eyes). The PLO was supported by the Druze and the Sunnis. They began winning against the Maronites.

The prospect of a PLO-dominated Lebanon scared the Syrians. Yasser Arafat would have been able to provoke battles with Israel at will, into which Syria might be drawn. Hafez al-Asad determined to intervene to stop it. First he sought a green light from the Israelis through Kissinger. He got it.

In spring of 1976 the Syrians sent 40,000 troops into Lebanon and massacred the Palestinian fighters, saving the Maronites, with Israeli and US approval. Since the Baathists in Syria should theoretically have been allies of the Palestinians, it was the damnedest thing. But it was just Realpolitik on al-Asad's part. Syria felt that its national interests were threatened by developments in Lebanon and that it was in mortal danger if it did not occupy its neighbor.



The Druze never forgave the Syrians for the intervention, or for killing their leader, Kamal Jumblatt. Although the Palestinians were sullen and crushed, they declined as a factor in Lebanese politics once they were largely disarmed, since they still lack citizenship and face employment and other restrictions. The UN statistics show almost 400,000 Palestinians in Lebanon, half of them in squalid camps. But some social scientists believe that because of massive out-migration to Europe, there are actually less than 200,000 in the country now.

In 1982 the Israelis mounted an unprovoked invasion of Lebanon as Ariel Sharon sought to destroy the remnants of the weakened PLO in Beirut. He failed, but the war killed nearly 20,000 persons, about half of them innocent civilians. Ziad Jarrah had a long-term grudge about that. The Israelis militarily occupied southern Lebanon, refusing to relinquish sovereign Lebanese territory.

The Shiites of the south were radicalized by the Israeli occupation and threw up the Hizbullah party-militia, which pioneered suicide bombs and roadside bombs, and forced the Israeli occupiers out in 2000.

One foreign occupation had been ended, but the Syrians retained about 14,000 troops in the Biqa Valley. The Israeli withdrawal weakened the Syrians in Lebanon, since many Lebanese had seen the Syrians as a bulwark against Israeli expansionism, but now Damascus appeared less needed.

Over time the Maronites came to feel that the Syrians had outstayed their welcome. So both they and the Druze wanted a complete Syrian withdrawal by the early zeroes.

In the meantime, Syria gradually had gained a new client in Lebanon, the Shiites, and especially Hizbullah. Likewise many Sunnis supported the Syrians.
Global Policy or Juan Cole's Informed Comment



jmervyn said:
But regardless of the legitimacy of Juan Cole or his opinions, my concerns about the lack of any sort of perspective remain.
I don't claim to be a expert on Lebanon history ... thus a qualifer was used in my original statement.

llad12 said:
Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe the USA invited the Syrians to come into Lebanon in some 25-30 years ago to help stablize the country.
If anything, the only debating point that could have be made, relative to my quoted statement, was that the invite to Syria was made by the embattled Christian president of Lebanon (with tactical approval from Israel and the USA per JC).

SF Gate

I am disappointed with your attack on Juan Cole. The use of a Horowitz attack-dog-site, linked in order to discredit this learned professor of Middle Eastern history, seems a rather pathetic tactic --> reminiscent of Karl Rove.

Debate the issues if you can ... not the man.
 

Anakha1

Banned
Everyone knows that a nation cannot turn to democracy on its own good time. The U.S. has to do it for them.
 

jmervyn

Diabloii.Net Member
llad12 said:
I don't claim to be a expert on Lebanon history ... thus a qualifer was used in my original statement.
Nor am I - but I had no desire to turn this into just another fencing match. My point was the shallow nature of our media, not Lebanese history.

llad12 said:
I am disappointed with your attack on Juan Cole. The use of a Horowitz attack-dog-site, linked in order to discredit this learned professor of Middle Eastern history, seems a rather pathetic tactic --> reminiscent of Karl Rove.

Debate the issues if you can ... not the man.
When you cite him so extensively, I have every right to examine his motivations and legitimacy (which, like Hersh, I don't regard as infallible or even necessarily accurate because they appear so irrationally partisan; Hersh has been on the Daily Show and seems like a nutter). I don't give a rat's -tail- about their winning of awards, since they are often preaching to the converted like yourself. Particularly, as I said, when you're the one reeling away from my intended topic.

If you really want to sink to another quibble, as you seem to delight in, here's two that I chanced across on Google that certainly don't validate Cole's "CIA is EEEVIIILLLL" mantra as the cause:
The dictator of Syria, Hafez Asad, clearly declared his intentions of annexing Lebanon on August 8, 1973 by announcing that ‘Lebanon and Syria are one country and one people but have two governments’. While arms and funding were flowing to Lebanon and many political parties were turning into armed forces, the Syrian regimes worked on weakening the Lebanese government and hence the Lebanese army by supporting various militias to grow disorder and spark sectarian conflicts.
...
A brutal fight broke up the war in Lebanon then. November 2, 1975, an entire Battalion of Syrian Special Forces entered Lebanon through Bekaa Valley. In January of the following year, Syrian Vice President announced to Kuwaiti newspaper “Lebanon is a part of Syria, and Lebanon will be returned to Syria…this should be clear to everyoneâ€. One week later, a battalion from the Palestine Liberation army, under Syrian command, entered the Bekaa and started confrontations with the Lebanese army, while more Syrian and Palestinian forces entered Northern Lebanon attacking Lebanese police and security forces. By end of January 1976, the Syrian-Palestinian forces had committed a great massacre in Damour village killing hundreds of its residents and displacing the rest and leaving nothing but rubble. In May of 1976, the Syrian army invaded the Lebanese northern region of Akkar, and advanced into the Bekaa valley east of Lebanon. A month later, the Syrian dictator, Hafez Assad, delivered his infamous speech in the Syrian capital stating that he sent the Syrian army to Lebanon without permission from any authorities.
And

But that's it - if I'm going to waste my time bickering with you or Duped about how the evil U.S. is really at fault for this too, I'd rather let this thread die.
 
jmervyn said:
But that's it - if I'm going to waste my time bickering with you or Duped about how the evil U.S. is really at fault for this too, I'd rather let this thread die.
Hey, maybe you can quote me on that?

I'm not saying the US is evil, I'm just saying that it's ridiculous to assume that this pull-out is because of American military presence in the region (as opposed to, say, the months of public demonstrations and diplomatic railings against their presence that went on prior to this apparently under your radar). I think perhaps you'll recall what happened the last time America had a military presence in Lebanon. I mean, you have been touting yourself as the planet's sole expert in all things military, I'd assume things like that wouldn't slip your mind.

Also, you'll be happy to know that this has made its way onto Yahoo so you can find it without actually reading any news. It's currently right beside the story about our top weapons hunters declaring the WMD hunt in Iraq completely exhausted. (Haha, I got you good! America is evil!)
 
merv, I don't think you're giving the Bushies credit where credit is due, and I'm not talking about Lebanon.

Bush and his camp have a great grasp of how to control the media. If they wanted Lebanon to be making headlines next to the derailed train and Wacko Jacko, it would be, because the press office of the White House would be bleating about it like a stuck sheep.

They're not, because they're being realistic about it. Claiming that the White House is solely responsible for helping Lebanon find democracy is a very weak claim that would soon be shot down, and moreover there's still no guarantee that things will go smoothly. This is the Middle East, for crying out loud. The day that Bush declares a victory and congratulates the Lebanese democracy is the day some psycho with a trunk full of explosives finds just the right target to immolate and turns the whole thing right back into a disaster again.
 

jmervyn

Diabloii.Net Member
DrunkCajun said:
merv, I don't think you're giving the Bushies credit where credit is due, and I'm not talking about Lebanon.

Bush and his camp have a great grasp of how to control the media. If they wanted Lebanon to be making headlines next to the derailed train and Wacko Jacko, it would be, because the press office of the White House would be bleating about it like a stuck sheep.
Perhaps, though I don't know that there's as much interest in the press office as in what Paris Hilton is screwing lately (then again, if Ari had dressed in a leotard, the press would be all over it like, well, a cheap suit).

DrunkCajun said:
They're not, because they're being realistic about it. Claiming that the White House is solely responsible for helping Lebanon find democracy is a very weak claim that would soon be shot down, and moreover there's still no guarantee that things will go smoothly. This is the Middle East, for crying out loud. The day that Bush declares a victory and congratulates the Lebanese democracy is the day some psycho with a trunk full of explosives finds just the right target to immolate and turns the whole thing right back into a disaster again.
Ok, I can buy that Shrub won't draw any attention to it because he knows both just how debatable any U.S. support would be and how likely it would be to aggravate those involved. But that still doesn't explain to me why there was a dearth of coverage earlier - I finally saw a snippet on FOX, though the entire Hannity & Colmes was spent blathering on about kidnapped & murdered children (with a side of bumfight coverage). Still nothing on the AM earlier shows, though as Duped mentioned it was up on Yahoo again.

FOX I expect to be tawdry & shallow, I suppose... yet I saw them hitting the issue earlier than the 'big 3'.
 
Top