Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Lebanese Prime Minister to Step Down

I found the story on Yahoo News. When I looked for it again two hours later, it was buried in their archives, so I guess they don't care very much. But in response to pressure at home and abroad, Lebanese Prime Minister Omar Karami made a conditional offer to resign. Karami is pro-Syria, so this is quite the victory for the Lebanese independence movement.

Other than from Bush, Syria is feeling the heat from France, Jordan and Egypt.

So What?

I've done a series of posts on the situation in Lebanon without garnering any comments, and I wonder if in part that's because few Americans know or care about the reasons for the tensions there. I suspect that much of the interest I've seen in the blogosphere is due to the fact that one of the actors - Syria - is already on the U.S. hit list, and so we just assume that anything Syria is forced to do must be a good thing.

The primary reason why the fate of Lebanon should interest Americans is suggested in the quote by Walid Jumblaat to the effect that there is a spark of Democracy, palpable in middle eastern countries such as Lebanon and Egypt. Consider also the editorial in Lebanon's Daily Star, "Democracy Comes Knocking in Lebanon, Egypt and Palestine." If true (and there are good reasons to believe it is true), then our Iraqi experiment has already started having success, and we can reasonably expect to see further clamor for democratic freedoms in a traditionally tyrannical region. For that reason, we ought to keep a close eye on what anti-Syria groups in Lebanon are saying, and whether or not they are successful at meaningful change without violence.

A secondary reason is that Syria might view its waning position in the region as an indication that it's time to stop playing the "Taunt America" game. Already they're playing a dangerous game of alliances with Iran - if they find themselves increasingly isolated, with strong European pressure on Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions, Syria is more likely to decide that discretion is the better part of valor than if they feel nice and secure.

From an-Nahar (I don't see a place for a perma-link). The word by the chair says "government," and the words above the destroyed cars say "assassination of al-Hariri."