Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Pro-Syrian Rally in Lebanon

Via Jeff Goldstein, here's a blogger who wants to know why the right side of the blogosphere (now officially re-named the Parrotosphere) hasn't mentioned the massive turnout of pro-Syria rally in Lebanon.

"The larger issue is, of course, what's a silver tongued devil going to do when the going gets tough? Sure, it's easy to churn out the posts when Lebanese babes are gracing the front of Time. But when four times as many Hezbollah inspired Lebanese show up and defy the Right's little crayon drawing representation of the situation. . ."

In the comments to that post, reader Daniel suggests that a totalitarian regime bussed in people to protest. I don't buy it; at least, not without some kind of evidence. Something like, say, pictures of buses, or eyewitness accounts of buses. And who would be sending these buses? If it was Syria, I think it's extremely unlikely that a massive convoy of demonstrators could be bused across the border without somebody mentioning it.

Reader Bumperstickerist added, "by my read that wasn't a pro-Syria 'Please Stay' rally. It was a 'Thanks, Syria! Now Leave' rally." I'm not sure where he gets the info to draw that distinction, and in any case, I don't think it makes any practical difference. The whole point of the Lebanese protest story is "Look, people in the Middle East are speaking out against a hated foreign influence," and the fact of the pro-Syrians suggests that maybe Syria wasn't so hated after all. In that light, consider TallDave's observation:

"1) The first (anti-Syrian) protest was illegal; they risked being machine-gunned to death just for showing up.
2) The second (pro-Syrian) "protest" was not only condoned and heavily armed, but supported by (and comprised of) the very people who would have been machine-gunning protest #1 if not for world media attention and the fact that a few hours away there are 165,000 troops from a military superpower led by a man who just said he was going to stand with democratic reformers "

True, but the relative courage and enthusiasm of the crowds calls to my mind the claim by Lefties in the last election that they could only pull the lever once, but they were going to pull it really freakin' hard. That's great as far as it goes, but it still only counts as a vote. 200,000 anti-Syrians don't get to vote more often than 500,000 pro-Syrians, no matter how good-looking they are. (h/t Unabrewer).

The fact is, Hezbollah got out a whole lot of people, and that really does look genuinely bad, no matter how one might try to spin it. One might point out that the anti-Syrians have already succeeded in getting some tangible results (i.e. resignations of important politicos), and that demonstrations are only as good as the results they achieve. I might also observe that Syria is in fact (partially) withdrawing troops, and that they were spooked into turning over some important insurgency leaders. None of these tangible results changes the fact that turn-out was huge in the pro-Syria rally, although they might serve to remind us that hope is not lost.

Far more disturbing, in my view, than the numbers of pro-Syria demonstrators is the cynicism of those bloggers who look to the demonstration as a breath of fresh air, since they finally (FINALLY!) have something linke actual ammo against the right-wingers who have been, let's face it, on something of a winning streak.

Another important point: bloggers might post links to the story of the pro-Syrian demonstrations. And they might go so far as to speculate about the impact those demonstrations might have. But what can we really say, that is of substance? There are pro-Syrians in the streets of Beirut, that much is plain - but so what? What will come of it? What tangible gains will be made by pro-Syrian elements because of it? And until we have some further evidence, what good can speculation do?

Update: From Lebanon's Daily Star, Hezbollah's Secretary General has a theory about who came up with UN resolution 1559, calling for the immediate withdrawal of Syrian troops. Any guesses? Here's a hint.

"But he pointedly failed to say that Syrian troops should remain on Lebanese soil in a move that many observers interpreted as a concession to Lebanese opposition demands for their withdrawal."

So peace may not be on the march, but perhaps it's on the "smarch."

Related: Not all anti-Syrian activity is of the "hot chicks waving flags" variety.

Update: Don't miss Patton's thoughts on the counter-demonstrations. The upshot:

"I'm now comfortable asserting my belief that the fun and games from yesterday's news aren't indicative of Lebanese reality."