The irony of it all: 140,000 v. 14,000

I--just this minute--had the chance to read the Fisk article. Please note, he has lived in Beirut for 30 years now. He knows Lebanon. And I know why I avoided reading the article for so long:

To the outside world, this may seem a victory devoutly to be wished: just two weeks after the murder of the former prime minister Rafik Hariri - a prominent opponent of the Syrian presence in Lebanon - the army of Damascus is pulling out of the country it has dominated for 29 long years. At last, free elections might be held in Lebanon, further proof that - thanks to Mr Bush - democracy is breaking out across the Arab world. Iraq held elections, Saudi Arabia held local elections, President Hosni Mubarak promises a contended election for the presidency of Egypt. So why shouldn't Lebanon be happy?

Have we forgotten 150,000 dead? Have we forgotten the Western hostages? Have we forgotten the 241 Americans who died in the suicide bombing of 23 October 1983? This democracy, if it comes, will be drenched with blood - but the blood will be that of the Lebanese who live here, not that of the foreigners who wish to bestow freedom upon them.


[Y]et again, Lebanon risks becoming a battlefield for the wars of non- Lebanese.

For 30 years, America has tolerated - even supported - Syria's military presence in Lebanon. In 1976, both the Israelis and the Americans wanted Syrian troops in Lebanon - because they would be able to "control" the 300,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon - but now Mr Bush's real concern is Syria's supposed support for the insurgency in Iraq.

The irony is extraordinary: 140,000 American troops occupy Iraq - we shall leave the Israeli occupation forces in Palestinian lands out of this equation - while their President demands the withdrawal of 14,000 Syrian troops from Lebanon.


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