Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Lebanon : What Does It Mean?

Informed Comment

A few really intelligent words from the remarkable Juan Cole (more and more frequently my first source when I need to understand middle-eastern social/economic/political/religious relationships) on the "Cedar Revolution" going on in Lebanon.

Juan goes through a fascinating and detailed account of the history of Lebanon and the relationships among Sunni and Shiite Muslims, Druzes, and Maronite Christians, explaining the geopolitical significance of the 1975-90 civil war in Lebanon. He concludes:

I don't think Bush had anything much to do with the current Lebanese national
movement except at the margins. Walid Jumblatt, the embittered son of Kamal whom the Syrians defeated in 1976 at the American behest, said he was inspired by the fall of Saddam. But this sort of statement from a Druze warlord strikes me as just as manipulative as the news conferences of Ahmad Chalabi, who is also inspired by Saddam's fall. Jumblatt has a long history of anti-Israeli and anti-American sentiment that makes his sudden conversion to neoconism likely a mirage. He has wanted the Syrians back out since 1976, so it is not plausible that anything changed for him in 2003.

Chris Albritton also throws in his two cents, seconding Juan's motion.

(Cole) argues, convincingly, that Bush’s influence in Lebanon is marginal, at best, which jives with my sources who say Bush is not to be thanked for this. (I’m reminded of the credit his father received for ending the Cold War. History, it seems, can be made just by showing up on time.)

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