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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Condelezza Rice's new Middle East « Previous | |Next »
July 28, 2006

There is more than American indifference to Lebanese suffering isn't there? Condelzza Rice, the US Secretary of State, may represent the Lebanon war as the "birth pangs of new Middle East but the Lebanese interpret the war as foreshadowing a dystopian future of the Middle East: Israel exercising hegemony over the region, exploiting Arab resources and manpower while stripping away the remnants of Arab and Muslim identity.

And the Arab states that are friends of the US? What are they reckoning? One interpretation:

StavroA. jpg.gif
Jabra Stavro

Will the corrupt and repressive Arab regimes---the axis of pro-American dictatorships such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc--- jump ship under pressure from the Arab street? These pro-American Arab states (including Jordan) publicly aligned themselves against Hezbollah and Iran (and implicitly with Israel and the United States), even in the face of clear public opposition. They blamed Hezbollah for the crisis and failed to act to defuse the conflict.

Can these regimes continue to ignored public opinion? Will they shift to demand an immediate ceasefire? When will they publicly express disappointment at the attitude of Washington and the international community toward the Israeli aggression against the Lebanese people? This pro-American bloc, which includes Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, is losing popularity by the day.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:03 AM | | Comments (6)
Comments

Comments

It has been weird, this is the closest thing to state on state violence we have seen. Israel is trying to quash Hezbollah as a non-state entity, but we may be seeing an instance where this is the first of non-state entities that can rival states outside of just being an annoyance (like Al Queda has done).

If that is the case, Israel is in a mongrel of a position. There only response is Westphalian while their opponents are innovating all manner of violent, political and social organisation around them.

Israel has responded with the traditional nation-state manner when in doubt. Force, more force and more force.

The Lebanese Government is ruined. Any social services and monopoly on violence it had is shredded. Nation-state displays of power are good for that. The Lebanese government is completely sidelined.

But the Israeli opponent is as resiliant as ever. This is bad policy.

The best means to sideline Hezbollah was to somehow get the Lebanese Government to provide the social services and social programs to the southern poor and the Lebanese disaffected so Hezbollah's social services arm is reduced to the same political potency as the red cross is in the west.

To make claims of Israel's right to defend itself, or Iran/Syria's involvement as nations supporting terrorism misses the whole point. Hezbollah got government seats because they were popular to the electorate.

They were popular, not for terrorism, but because they werent corrupt and they provided the services that government wouldnt or couldnt. It is the same for Hamas.

Israel has extended Hezbollah's power and influence. If they are unlucky, a rival to Hezbollah will appear in the north too and rival both Hezbollah and Israel in resources.


Cam
I fully agree with that analysis. Here is an Israeli account in the LA Times for contrast:

After languishing for years under Syrian occupation, Lebanon has been hijacked by the Syrian-supplied and Iranian-directed Hezbollah. The Lebanese government and army are powerless to control this force, much less disarm it. Hezbollah's burgeoning power not only permits Syria to continue its occupation of the country but, more perilously, it enables Iran to realize its dream of establishing an unbroken arc of Shiite militancy from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf. An Iranian takeover of Lebanon not only threatens Israel's security but also that of moderate Sunni states throughout the region, and it endangers Europeans and Americans.

It's paranoia is a long way from t he reality on the ground.

Condelezaa Rice has said that "no return to the status quo ante" is acceptable. That means for Israel---and the US---that the regional strategic cooperation between Iran and Syria, two backers of Hezbollah, must be undermined as it is directed against Jerusalem, and that no durable peace can be reached unless the US change's Damascus' and Tehran's stance toward Israel.

London sides with Washington--as does Canberra. Canberra just goes along with Washington which goes along with Israel.

Gary, The militant arm of Hezbollah is strong. No doubt of that. They even took out some of the prestigous targets that nation-states have (boat, tank, city bombardment) and think they are immune to attack from non-nation-state entities.

It appears the militant arms is well organized in tactics and bringing unusual and cheap weapons to bear.

I suspect Israel's fear is more the rising power of the Hezbollah's militant arm and the possibility that it may capture, through elections, the purse of Lebanese taxpayers to be a genuine nation-state rival which is openly hostile to Israel.

The problem isnt that they have destroyed Hezbollah, its militant cause will probably only grow more entrenched in the south, and maybe even tolerated in Beirut, but the nation of Lebanon and its civil structure have been blown away.

I dont expect Australia to have any imagination in foreign policy. They GAPF has sucked any independence, innovativeness and awareness out of us. Howard is especially unimaginative on the foreign policy stage. Probably the most unimaginative I can think of.

The best policy Australia could have toward Lebanon is the same as we had in the 1980s; immigrate here, it is safe, peaceful and you can get on with your lives.

Cam,
It would seem that there is virtually total support across the US political spectrum — if not among the foreign policy establishment — for Israel's actions in Lebanon and Gaza, which Democrats and Republicans alike characterise as Israel taking on terrorist organisations that want to destroy it.This overlooks the way that. Hizbullah is a resistance movement which managed to liberate Lebanese territory from Israeli occupation, and which is protecting the Shia population of south Lebanon from Israeli aggression. Since the Lebanese state is incapable of defending itself, Hizbollah becomes the defacto state.

There is a lack of debate in America about the US-Israel relationship. The "elephant in the room" can't be discussed. So the U.S. concerns itself only with Israel's security and ignores the interests of the Arab parties to the conflict.

Consequently, there is little criticism of the way that Bush's foreign policy has tended to harm precisely those liberals in the Middle East whose visions of reform the administration claims to nurture. So there is a growing gap between the West and the Arab world - a gap which silences the moderates and marginalizes the liberals, while empowering the radicals and the Islamists.

there is little criticism of the way that Bush's foreign policy has tended to harm precisely those liberals in the Middle East whose visions of reform the administration claims to nurture.

Yeh. The Cedar Revolution looks like a quaint 48 hours of the news cycle now.

It also appears that Bush has hijacked the "American Creed" or Revolutionary rhetoric. I am going through Harry Ammon's book on James Monroe atm. He writes how the American revolutionaries saw their cause as being beyond liberating America from monarchical tyranny and being a global cause.

Bush has tapped into that, in the same way Howard has bent the Australian (ockerisms?) creed to his narrative; such as mateship and "australia is great mate" etc.

The news cycle is focusing on Israel has a right to defend their borders is missing Israel's reasons for conducting this campaign. It also sidesteps how the Lebanese Government, as you mention one of increasing liberalism, has been obliterated as a functioning entity.

Bush's rhetoric is just rhetoric - nothing more. Sad. Their rhetoric has appeal, I like it, it appeals to me, their policy is vacuous though. I could never support the Bush Administration.


Cam
Both London and Canberra have left it up to Bush to set the bearings of their moral compass. The cedar revolution, with its simplistic "people power" image and the election victory of anti-Syrian parties, apparently led Washington and Downing Street to believe that Lebanon has a radically new and pro-western government.

In fact, Lebanon has a government of tnational unity in which Hizbullah has two ministers. Being anti-Syrian is not the same as being anti-Hizbullah. Hizbullah is an authentic part of Lebanese society. It is recognized by the Lebanese that it is better to have Hizbullah in the government rather than outside Lebanon's political process.

Rice's new Middle East" iimplies a geostrategic realignment.The region would be cleansed of radical Islamists and turned into a bastion of secular democracy. It is ironic that current US policy is one of backing Israel's destruction of the fledging democracies in Lebanon and the occupied Palestinian territories.; a destrucition that signifies hegemonist intentions.