Constant's pations

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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

America in Lebanon: Ignore what they did in Iraq, Toto

America called for Syria to withdraw from Lebanon. Yet, the criteria and argumetns used would require the US to pull out of Iraq.

A comparison of both cases. It does seem a little odd, that this many years later the United States continues to hold one standard for itself in Iraq with another for Syria in Lebanon.

Iraq as a lesson for Lebanon

The United States suggests that if the American Army were to withdraw from Iraq, there would be instability throughout the Middle East.

The US would ask the world to be patient and not rush the United States’ withdrawal. The region could not survive in the power vacuum.

  • Why doesn’t this standard apply to Lebanon?

  • Why are the Syrians asked to leave more quickly than the Americans from Iraq?

  • Why is a power vacuum in Lebanon good, but a power vacuum in Iraq is bad?

    It is curious the US argument is somehow forgotten on Syria. Indeed, if Syria were to withdraw, we might raise questions about the reasonableness of a speedy withdrawal.

    Unstable Lebanon

    Let’s remember why the Syrians are in Lebanon. The Lebanese had a civil war causing a border problem for the entire region. The United States gave a green light, and we’ve seen nothing in the Security Council suggesting otherwise.

    Let’s apply the Lebanese problem to Mexico or Canada. If the United States viewed a political breakdown was causing significant problems for the United States, I see the United States doing the same as the Syrians did in Lebanon.

    One would think that during this time of crisis, that the US would want the Syrians to stay in order to maintain order.

    Lebanese power vacuum

    Yet, suppose that Syria were to immediately pack-up all 15,000 troops in Lebanon tonight and withdraw.

  • Would the region be free from violence?

  • Will the United States blame Syria for not adequately planning the withdrawal?

    It is likely that even if the Syrians did exactly what the United States wanted, the Syrians would take the blame for the likely instability in the power vacuum.

    Leadership problem

    I don’t see the United States or any other credible military force in the region to take over should the Syrians immediately leave.

    I do see the United States pushing for a resolution without a credible plan. Something not to be forgotten in the wake of the illusory WMD in Iraq. Remember, it was a war of choice, and the United States chose not to adequately plan and not to adequately equip their troops.

    It is likely the United States is similarly pushing for a fast solution to Lebanon without adequately planning or provisioning the follow-on forces.

    The convoluted American debate

    What does seem strange are the lessons of Iraq. Time and time again we heard that the media should have asked the tough questions.

    It seems curious that the questions people are asking are based on the unproven assertion that Syria was somehow involved in the assassination.

    When the Syrians refuse to admit anything, the Americans look to this as evidence of a breakdown in Syria.

    When it is pointed out that it is ridiculous for the Syrians to have done this because of the backlash, the Americans point to the absurdity as evidence of political insanity in Damascus.

    That is far too convenient. This is more of the Saddam-accusations we saw prior to the invasion of Iraq. Again, we are not painting Saddam as an angel. But the American record in Abu Ghraib, Afghanistan and Guantanamo leaves few to believe the Americans are angels either.

    Prior to the invasion of Iraq, we saw the same kind of non-sense answers. When valid questions got raised, the answers were in form of greater levels of absurdity. Each time valid questions were raised about the veracity of the claims about WMD, the stories to justify the conclusions grew ever absurd.

    The same is going on in Lebanon. Thus, it is reasonable to conclude that the Media is not asking the right questions, and doing little to adequately give a voice to those who have another view of the situation.

    Lessons applied Lebanon

    The tough questions:

  • When did the US President issue a finding that Syria should be forced to withdraw from Lebanon?

  • When was it approved that non-current former-prime ministers are legitimate targets of US-sponsored covert operations [read = assassination] to stir up anti-Syrian sentiment?

  • Despite having unlimited access to financial records through Echelon and ChoicePoint, why are the American unable to find who funded the explosion that killed the former Lebanese Primer Minister?

    One would think that in the wake of the 9-11 Patriot Act, that the mighty US government would have these answers. Yet we have no answers, only accusations.

    Thus, if the post 9-11 world is truly one where the mighty US government is all powerful and protecting of the Americans … would this failure in Lebanon not signal a failure at home.

    For if the American government cannot track a high-priority terror cell in the Middle East, why should the American people have any confidence that the government can track them at home?

    Are American safer for having given up their constitution in the wake of 9-11?

    I doubt it. Rather, America wants to convince the world that it is all powerful, in order to justify watering down civil liberties; while at the same time it wants to ignore the implications of the failure in Lebanon:

  • If the United States cannot track and record those responsible in Lebanon for the Assassination, then there’s no reason anyone should believe that the exchange of civil rights-for-security-argument has any merit at home.

    The American government cannot have it both ways. It cannot expect its citizens to believe that it is all powerful when it fails; and at the same time, despite the failures and inaction that it is all powerful.

    Rather, America as evidenced by the 9-11 and Iraq-invasion-planning bungling shows that it has not changed. It has information it could use to act, but chooses not to.

    The government also has requirements that it cannot fulfill. And the government also has capabilities that it will exploit but not so in other situations.

    Look to Coventry. Why would Churchill remain silent about what he knew? Just as America would remain silent so as not to reveal its capabilities. And it's flaws and gaps. Yet, when the pressure is on and time critical, don’t count on America to be there. It might be. It might not. Like a magic show.

    American capabilities without payoffs

    One cannot believe that the United States is capable of doing its job either in the Middle East or at home. Yet, despite all the hand waving, the American government doesn’t want anyone to notice that.

    Do Americans want a government that selectively plans and not-plans?

    One that selectively enforces and ignores the laws of the land?

    One that actively violates the laws, then uses others violations of its laws as the basis to deny rights to its own citizens?

    Don’t look behind the curtain, Toto!

    Special immunity does not apply to the United States

    Iraq and Syria are interesting to compare. In both situations we have a lot of non-sense. A rush to judgment. And many valid questions getting ignored, explained away, or responded with non-sense.

    At each question, the President’s spokesmen will say that the President needs to be given credit for spreading democracy. Note that this has nothing to do with holding the President accountable for the deceptions about WMD or the failed planning in Iraq.

    Rather, we simply have more hand waving to justify going along with what is otherwise unproven.

    In the end, we may find real evidence of who committed the Assassination. In the meantime, it is not helpful for the United States to demand a quick Syrian withdrawal without there being an adequate plan to manage the likely power vacuum.

    United States burden

    If the United States is going to demand a speedy Syrian withdrawal, then the United States need to actively ensure that the withdraw and the power vacuum do not spiral into the same anarchy which precipitated the Syrian intervention.

    The answer is not for the United States to replace the Syrians. Rather, the solution is for the Lebanese to transition from Syrian to local control. Whether the Lebanese want to do this with or without US, Israeli, or UN involvement remains up to the Lebanese.

    However, once the Lebanese choose and agree on a timetable for Syrian withdrawal, it must be clear that the Lebanese are responsible for the security situation.

  • As we see in Iraq, what evidence is there that the local population is really ready to fill in the power vacuum?

    At this juncture, I see little evidence that the timing is right. I do hear that the Lebanese want to have the Syrians out. This is a good sign.

    However, let us heed the lesson of the Americans in Iraq: Ensure the local situation is stable before the governing military forces are removed.

    To do otherwise would ask that we allow another civil war to ferment on the Syrian border and the Syrians do nothing while their own security situation remains untenable.

    Syria is being set-up

    If the world is asking the Syrians to back into a no-win situation, then let us not be surprised why they choose to discuss their border concerns with the Iranians. The Syrians do feel as though they are in a no win situation, especially when they’re getting mixed signals about what to do.

    Syria is a sovereign nation. Just as the Americans would take necessary measures to protect and secure its northern and southern borders, so too would the Syrians be expected as a responsible nation to swiftly move should Lebanon spiral into anarchy.

    In the end, Lebanon may not spiral into civil war. But let us hope that the force which the Americans and their paws have unleashed in Lebanon remains forces that are responsive.

    Americans are not perfect – do not hold the Syrians to a higher standard

    However, given the poor planning in both Panama and Iraq after US intervention, it is likely that the Lebanese when stirred up are not necessarily forces that are going to be managed back into submission under a government which the United States favors.

    Where is the Presidential finding in re Lebanon?

    Let us hope that the Presidential finding authorizing the assassination of a non-government leader does not become the very document which the Congress could turn to impeach the President.

    The United States owes it to Lebanon to ensure the Syrians’ border is secure. If the Syrians need to delay their withdrawal to ensure Lebanon remains stable, as the Americans are doing in Iraq, then that is what is needed.

    In the meantime, the United States needs to explain why there is the sudden urgency to compel Syria to act and respond, but there is no a similar standard of response to which the United States is replying.

    Oh, that’s right. It’s about the double standard. One that the Arabs resent, and which in part contributed to the initial uprising, not just in Lebanon but the entire Middle East.

    Double standards in America’s heartland

    And the Americans wonder why, despite the 52 warnings to the FAA, two buildings are no longer on the Manhattan Skyline. Wake up. It’s about a government that has failed and proves incapable of providing credible reasons for its actions.

    The Americans continue to spread one standard for itself, and a second standard for everyone else.

    Beware when the Americans talk about Democracy. They do not practice it at home. Their leaders do not read the legislation they rubber stamp. America is a Republic, not a Democracy.

    Other questions

  • Why does the FBI need a national database; the FBI has proven it is incapable of managing the simple I-drives.

  • Why is there needed a national ID card; the ChoicePoint-law enforcement liaison program shows that law enforcement doesn’t need the information on an ID card. All the information is already in the databases.

  • Why does the United States need to throw out the lessons of Watergate and combine the CIA and FBI?

    There’s nothing that stopped the FBI from accessing ChoicePoint data on the suspected individuals. There was no search warrant needed to examine the details about the people who had lawfully entered the country.

    All the United States government has done is once again given excuses for inaction, and then more non-sense to justify more double standards: Why the solution to the government’s mounting legitimacy problem is to destroy the constitution.

    The world and America should take note of the double standards. For what the United States can get away with abroad it will impose at home; and the non-sense it can peddle to the American media-consumer is the same non-sense it will expect the rest of the world to coddle.

    But free people may not choose to blindly obey the Americans. So prepare to be invaded. Or hope the Europeans can sit down with the cowboy and have a friendly chat about diplomacy.

    Never mind the nuclear secrets leaked from Pakistan. The Americans don’t want to hold their friendly-dictators accountable, only hold the Syrians accountable for a mess the Americans created through inaction and double standards.

  • Where was the mighty Echelon in sweeping the Middle East airwaves in search of those terror alerts?

  • Where was the mighty FBI-ChoicePoint databank and I-drive to hunt down the money flows into the terror cells?

    Isn’t it curious that all these tools the government now has to hunt down terrorists, suddenly don’t work when it comes to holding America accountable for the assistance they gave to the assassins.

    America is quick to use the excuse of external terror to justify martial law at home; yet, when those tools might otherwise be used to track the real criminals, the fruits of the Patriot Act somehow prove to be unavailable.


  • Will we find out about the law enforcement officers who have private investigation companies, using this information to target those questioning the law enforcement abuses under the Patriot Act?

  • Will we learn of more in law enforcement who are given the green light to deliberately put wrong information in credit reports so as to deny jobs and housing to those who speak out against the government?

  • Will the Congress bother looking into the ChoicePoint data, and see how the information is used to target American voters and those freely exercising their constitutional rights?

  • Why was ChoicePoint so quick to settle with the NAACP: Did it not want to allow evidence to be introduced into court that would otherwise show the board was knowledgeable of the improper use of information for political purposes?

  • Why would a member of the ChoicePoint board discuss their options with the board, when the charter requires that discussion to occur with the General Counsel?

    American government needs a tighter leash

    Don’t be fooled. America is based largely on manipulation, lies, and unreliable statements. The real test is in the result. That is why America needs to show it can succeed in Iraq. When America is ready to withdraw from Iraq, the Syrians may be ready to withdraw from Lebanon.

    Anything else and the Americans are asking the world rush to a quick solution, all the while ignoring the other issues. No surprise, as evidenced by the pre-Iraq invasion pseudo-planning. This is the lesson of the Patriot Act and the rush to invade Iraq without evidence.

    Heed the lessons. Otherwise, do not complain when the United States arrogantly imposes one standard on the world, and asserts immunity for its own agents.