Since Nasrallah pressed his demand for a greater share of power in late October, Lebanese have been faced with what amounts to a long wait: sensing that something might happen, but not sure what or when. Last week, a hard-line Christian leader, Samir Geagea, predicted that assassinations might be ahead. Others warned that killing three ministers would deprive the cabinet of one-third of its members and, by law, force it to resign, as Hezbollah has demanded. Partisan television stations have railed at one another, streets are awash with politically loaded posters and emigration is the stuff of everyday conversation.
But the turn to violence Tuesday seemed to scare leaders as much as it angered them. Walid Jumblatt, a Druze leader and one of Hezbollah’s most outspoken foes, showed up at St. Joseph’s Hospital, where Gemayel’s body was taken. He spoke briefly to Gemayel’s father, who served as president from 1982 to 1988, then turned to the crowd. “Beware,” he said. “Let’s not give the opportunity to the killers to lead us to civil strife.
TheNewsRightNow has an updating feed on developments there.
HH: I thought we might have a month away from the bad news, but as Beirut descends into crisis tonight, it appears as though the bad guys sense an opening.
VDH: Yeah, they do, and I think this should be a wake up call for everybody in the United States who wants to bring in the 1990’s realist team, that anybody who thinks that they can have some sort of reconciliation with Syria and Iran are missing the entire problem in the Middle East. The problem is those two countries, and those two governments.
HH: Victor Davis Hanson, if you had a chance to visit with the President tonight, what would you be telling him?
VDH: Don’t give up. Don’t weaken. Don’t hesitate. Don’t pause. Do not cut a deal with those two governments. They’re killing American soldiers through surrogates in Iraq. They’re trying to destabilize Lebanon like they did in the 1980’s. They’re the source of most of the evil that’s now causing us problems from Afghanistan to Iraq. And this idea that you’re going to bring James Baker back, and that team back who gave us everything from Iran-Contra to jobs, jobs, jobs as the only reason we’re going to go into the Middle East, to flank the Jews. I could go on, but it’s a very sensitive point with me. I think a lot of us, Hugh, stood by this administration through thick and thin when the paleocons turned on them, when the liberal hawks turned on them, when the neocons are starting to bail. But my God, if you’re going to go into the Middle East, and put 130,000 Americans in harm’s way, fighting for democracy, and then you turn around and you appease those two governments who are killing people, I don’t think a lot of us are going to stand for that.
HH: Is this an Archduke Ferdinand moment with the assassination of Gemayel?
VDH: I think it may be. I really do. I think that Syria realizes that as soon as they saw that the United States was going to cease pressure on them, it was time to go in and start killing non-Shia politicians, reporters especially. They’ve killed journalists, they’ve killed T.V…it’s not just this Gemayel. It’s not just a Christian politician. They’ve been doing this for two years, killing, systematically, any critics. And they sense that they get a green light from us when we pull back. And I think it should be a wake up call for the United States, that when you go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, you don’t go to war in a half measure. You either go to war or you don’t go to war. And we’re in a war in Iraq, and we’re in war with, as the President said, Islamic-facism, and autocracy and dictatorship, and there’s no better examples than Iran and Syria.
HH: Victor Davis Hanson, earlier, talking with Claudia Rosett, I said, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you go to war with the Congress you have, and now we’ve got a left-leaning Congress coming in. Does the President have the ability to wage aggressive war with a pacifist Congress?
VDH: I think he does, but let’s be candid, Hugh. The problem right now isn’t…it may be the left wing Congress, but he’s got another problem, and that is he’s bringing in Robert Gates, and he’s bringing in the Baker realism, and that doesn’t have a good record. That’s the people who said don’t talk to Yeltsin. Let’s stick with Gorbacev. Let’s not go to Baghdad. Let the Shia and Kurds die. Let’s arm the Islamisists to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan and then leave. It’s not a good record. It’s short-term expediency at the expense of long-term morality. And it’s not in the interest of the United States to do that, to cut a deal with these countries.
HH: Now tell me something. If you and I see this as we do the same way, and almost inevitably, it’s a very clear picture what’s going on here. How could “realists” persuade themselves, Victor Davis Hanson? And I haven’t seen Baker do this yet, so I’ll withhold judgment. I haven’t seen Gates do it yet, so I’ll withhold judgment. But how could any realist step up and say the thing to do is to negotiate with the Syrians? What’s madness.
VDH: I don’t know. I think they think that these two countries, it’s almost a prima facia admission that these two countries are backing, in various ways, the Shia and Sunni insurgents in Iraq, and then maybe we can cut a deal, and let them have some leeway at the expense of what? Another democracy in Lebanon? So they won’t topple our democracy in Iraq? You can’t do that. It’d be like asking the Soviet Union to allow a democratic Ukraine, or Hitler to allow Czechloslovakia to have elections. That’s not what those countries do. They exist to destroy democracies, and I don’t understand it. But I do think if they appease these two countries, they’re going to lose a lot of support of people like ourselves, who’ve been with them thick and thin, when everybody else has bailed.[# More #]
I played for Hanson the inane Maureen Dowd from Imus’ show yesterday:
HH: Let me play for you a clip of Maureen Dowd, New York Times columnist, sort of articulating perfect pitch of what the Syrians and Iranians and their proxies must be hearing:
Don Imus: Why do you think the President fired Rumsfeld, to switch gears here?
Dowd: Well, I heard you talking to Frank (Rich) about this. I think that you know, I talked to some of the old 41 people, and they agree with you guys, that…this is what one of them said to me. He said, “Junior can get us back up, and he may start moralizing again, and get back in the missionary position.” And they think it’s just the beginning of trying to capture him with the butterfly net, you know, that the door will be open to the father and Brent Scowcroft, but not…you know, that Cheney is still there, and Sy Hersh has this New Yorker piece suggesting that they’re going to bomb Iran, so…
Imus: They’re attacking poor, old Sy Hersh, who has had his problems, but I mean, why not try to debunk the story? I mean…
Dowd: Well, Cheney…I mean, I agree that as long as Cheney is there, who knows…it’s going to be very hard for W. to just sort of flat-out admit my father was right, everything I’ve done has been wrong, and has made the situation worse in Iraq, which is has, and the Middle East. And I think, you know, that for him to dismantle that reality, and just suddenly say my father was a better president is just going to be almost impossible.
HH: Victor Davis Hanson, this is silliness and absurdity on an epic scale, but it’s also dangerously idiotic.
VDH: Yeah, well…yeah, but here’s the height of moral depravity. We have this New Yorker/Washington insider, this high nasal twang acting silly and stupid when thousands of people’s lives are in jeopardy, and Americans are fighting for freedom, and she’s looking at this as some type of Oedipal arrangement between Bush I and Bush II. It’s just ridiculous, because what’s happening right now is that a government is trying to have a systematic plan of assassination to destroy democracy, and she can’t seem to make the simple moral calculus that people who are risking their lives every day in Iraq need our support. And it’s not just some stupid, little political inside the Beltway game that she writes her stupid, little columns about. It’s people’s lives at stake. Just listening to that just reminded me how amoral these people have become, when they don’t believe in anything anymore.
The Lebanon crisis is unfolding quickly, and very few people seem to be paying attention. Powerline and Gateway Pundit are posting some key links, and of course Michael Totten The Bellmont Club, Claudia Rosett, CounterterrorismBlog, YoniTheBlogger and AcrossTheBay are focused on events there.
But generally there does not seem to be much interest in the slow undoing of The Cedar Revolution via the tactics of Anschluss. Speaker-elect Pelosi and Majority Leader-elect Reid and Chairman-elect Biden might want to spare some time today for Lebanon, and their suggestions to the president as well as support for vigorous action to prevent the undoing of the government there.