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Thursday, March 17, 2005

sunlight is the best disinfectant?

It has become clear, if you follow these things, that Lebanon is the strategic key to all of the surrounding autocratic states. I suppose that should've been clear in 1975, but I wasn't exactly a political junkie back then.

Iran has missles in Lebanon, preventing Israel from attacking Iran (like they attacked Iraqi nuclear facilities) without being struck. Hezbollah has a lot of strength and perhaps its heart in Lebanon, where they almost have a legitimate purpose. Beirut is a playground of the rich and famous, although with all the gunfire it's closer to Tupac and Biggie than Merv Griffin. Syria needs Lebanon to finance its WMD and all the other things governments waste money on.

So why wasn't this obvious before? I'll admit I don't follow the disposition of Iranian ground forces as closely as I should, but it seems like Bush could've invaded Lebanon more easily than Iraq.

Were we victims of our own PR? Did we paint Saddam as the bad guy for so long that we would look weak by invading anyone else?

Not that invasion is the best way to effect change. Free trade can work wonders, except for in Lebanon. When 18% of their population works for McDonald's or WalMart, then we can consider them Westernized. In this case trade is not the problem, but the fact that every other country with a military has occupied Beirut, sometimes simultaneously. Pressuring Syria to exit may have made sense pre-Iraqi Freedom. But would Syria care?

Non, they would laugh. Economic sanctions. Ha ha ha. The shock and awe had an effect.
The internal pressure of democratic protests would not exist without the Iraqi elections.
Hezbollah would be stronger with the Palestinian jihad still in full swing, and Saddam is no longer making martyrdom the fastest way to feed a family.
Iran would be more willing to use its influence/missles if the EU wasn't breathing down its neck about the nuclear program, and the Marines weren't parked next door.

By the way, whose idea was it to send naval infantry to a desert? It makes sense, but it shouldn't.

So Syria is afraid of responding to the protestors, the protestors are fetching rather than revolting, and Iran is busy snookering the countries that believe the Ayatollah cares about air pollution. It's still an Ayatollah, right? Khomenei? I could've sworn he was retired last time I saw him, at a friend's wedding.

Just kidding.

The brides were beautiful.

Bankrupting Syria will be nice, since they have a good portion of Saddam's WMD. (Speculation. The WMD are real, but most is unaccounted for. There are better sources than those, but they are decent.) Protecting Israel from missle attack is nice, but since under current circumstances Iran would only launch after being attacked, it is not vital. Israel doesn't have much need to attack Iran, as long as we can keep them from getting nukyular weapons. Given that the EU is in charge of that, we better secure the missles. I don't especially trust the missles in the heart of Hezbollah's military power, anyway.

What changed? The policy of supporting democracy, for one. Primarily, interfering with Iran would have helped Iraq and vice-versa. Lebanon was thought to be irretrievable by many. Given the circumstances, there had to be a democratic movement, and the CIA isn't quite up to engineering one these days, if ever 'twas.

Bottom Line: The Lebanese democrats are running a bluff that would've been impossible 3 years ago, and it is extremely important that they succeed.

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