Archive for the ‘Lebanon’ Tag

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Fareed Zakaria:

But, first, here’s my take, Those urging the U.S. to intervene in Syria are certain of one thing, if we had gotten in sooner, things would be better in that war-torn country.

Had the Obama Administration gotten involved earlier, there would be less instability and fewer killings. We would not be seeing, in John McCain’s words this week, “Atrocities that are on a scale that we have not seen in a long, long time.”

In fact, we have seen atrocities much worse than those in Syria very recently, in Iraq only few years ago. From 2003 to 2012, despite there being as many as 180,000 American and allied troops in Iraq, somewhere between 150,000 and 300,000 Iraqi civilians died and about 1.5 million fled the country.

Jihadi groups flourished throughout Iraq, and al-Qaeda had a huge presence there. Now, the U.S. was about as actively engaged in Iraq as is possible, and yet more terrible things happened there than in Syria. Why?

The point here is not to make comparisons among atrocities. The point is that the situation in Syria is much like that in Iraq. We can learn a lot from our experience there.

All the features of Syria’s civil war that are supposedly the result of U.S. nonintervention bloomed in Iraq despite America’s massive intervention there.

In Iraq under U.S. occupation, jihadi terrorists of all stripes flourished. They employed tactics that were brutal beyond belief, putting electric drills through people’s heads, burning others alive and dumping still breathing victims into mass graves.

These struggles get vicious for a reason. The stakes are very high. Joshua Landis, America’s leading scholar on Syria, points out that Syria is the last of three great minority ruled regimes in the Middle East.

In Lebanon, the first, the Christian minority was displaced in a 15-year, bloody civil war. In Iraq, the U.S. displaced the Sunni minority, but they then fought back brutally, again, a long, bloody civil war. Syria is following precisely that pattern.

The minority regime fights to the end because it fears for its life once out of power. The Sunnis of Iraq fought even against the mighty American military because they knew that life under the majority Shias would be ugly, as it has proved to be.

The Alawites, the ruling sect in Syria, will fight even harder because they are a smaller minority and have further to fall.

Now, would U.S. intervention, no-fly zones, arms, aid to the opposition forces, make things better? Well, it depends on what one means by better.

It would certainly intensify the civil war. It would also make the regime of Bashar Assad more desperate. Perhaps Assad has already used chemical weapons; with his back against the wall, he might use them on a larger scale.

If the objective is actually to reduce the atrocities and minimize potential instability, the key will be a political settlement that gives each side, minorities and majority, an assurance that it has a place in the new Syria.

That was never achieved in Iraq, which is why, despite U.S. troops and arms and influence, the situation turned into a violent free-for-all. If some kind of political pact can be reached, there’s hope for Syria.

If it cannot, U.S. assistance to the rebels or even direct military intervention won’t change much. Syria will follow the pattern of Lebanon and Iraq, a long, bloody civil war. And the United States will be in the middle of it.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1305/05/fzgps.01.html

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Posted May 6, 2013 by tmusicfan in Politics, Quote of the Day

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John Fugelsang “Some people, like Bob Harris, had other ideas.  A successful TV writer, who’s job writing for ForbesTraveller.com gave him the chance to review some of the most luxurious locations around the world.  Bob hit it big as a contestant on Jeopardy, winning over $350,000, but rather than sit at home, Bob decided to get active, investing in more than 5,600 business in 67 countries through micro loans…..”

Fugelsang “What drove you to try to meet the people who’s lives you’ve touched?

Harris “I wanted to know if it worked.”…….

Fugelsang “What was one of the crazier experiences you had, actually going out there to meet people?”

Harris “The most important experience I had, came down to 5 words that a guy told me in Lebanon.  He had his whole business destroyed in the war where Hezbollah and Israel recently went to war.  He’d lost everything, and I asked him if he was angry at Hezbollah, at Israel, at anyone?  And, he looked at me and he said, this was his absolute truth, and these are 5 words that, if there is anything that this book is about, this is what stuck with me.  He looked at me and said, ‘you love more, you win.'”

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Fareed Zakaria “But, first, here’s my take. Yasser Arafat’s body has been exhumed for investigation, bringing back memories of the unpredictable Palestinian leader and the Middle East in which he operated.

The news broke at a time when a conventional wisdom began to take hold that the Middle East today is much more dangerous, unstable, violent and anti-American than before. So let’s take a look at the facts.

In the 1980s, the newly empowered, radical Islamic Republic of Iran unsettled the region with its promise to spread its revolution elsewhere. Lebanon was in the midst of a bloody civil war that engulfed not only itself but also the Palestinians and Israel.

Iran and Iraq fought a gruesome war with over 1 million casualties. Hezbollah attacked U.S. armed forces directly, forcing a humiliating withdrawal from Lebanon. A CIA station chief was tortured and killed, and U.S. secrets and interests compromised. And that was just in one decade.

Or consider those days from Israel’s point of view. During the 1980s, Jerusalem faced well-armed regimes in Iraq and Syria, leading members of the so-called rejectionist camp that urged permanent hostilities against Israel. No Arab regime other than Egypt would dare speak openly of peace with Israel. The official charter of the Palestine Liberation Organization called for the destruction of Israel and its replacement with a Palestinian state. Arafat’s chief tactic was terrorism against Israelis, Europeans and Americans.

Today the Soviet Union has collapsed, Saddam Hussein is gone, the Syrian regime is tottering. Israel, on the other hand, has grown to become a regional military superpower.

Its defense budget is larger now than that of all its neighbors put together. Its technological advantages put it in another league. The Palestinian Authority affirms Israel’s existence and works with it regularly.

Iran remains a real threat, but it is isolated, sanctioned and contained like few other countries in history. It is also roiled by discontent at home and facing the combined opposition of the secular Arab states, Israel and the Western powers.

Amidst the disorder, there is a broader contest for regional power. Israel has by far the most powerful economy and military, but it lacks political power for obvious reasons. Turkey has economic and military power as well, and it also has growing regional clout.

Egypt, meanwhile, is the natural leader of the Arab world, but at the moment is not in a position to dominate. Its economy is a shambles, its military second rate and under pressure from its people, and its democracy still very fragile.

President Mohamed Morsi’s recent power grab is worrying, but the public opposition to it has been reassuring.

So the Middle East today is mixed, complex region that is changing fast. Grand generalizations about it are likely to be undone by events. But it is a more vibrant, energetic, open, even democratic place than the Middle East of a generation ago.”

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1212/02/fzgps.01.html