Hariri’s assassination

A brilliant article by Chris Sanders:

In retrospect his assassination should probably be less of a surprise than the fact that he survived as long as he did. He and his patron Fahd symbolise an old equilibrium in the politics of the region that became untenable once the United States decided on a global offensive informed by the regional priorities of its client Israel. The Taif Agreement of October 1989 legitimised the presence of Syrian troops in Lebanon and committed Saudi largesse as part of a larger strategic plan to stabilize the region under the aegis of the United States, an important part of which was the commitment of the latter to bring about a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. It was this basic framework that made possible the coalition assembled by the US during the Gulf War in 1990, which, be it not forgotten, included Syrian troops.

The adoption by Messrs. Cheney, Rumsfeld & Bush of a strategic plan that is basically Israeli in origin and orientation[1] swept away the basis for the existing regional equilibrium. Indeed, sweeping away the equilibrium is exactly what that plan is intended to do. The Taif equilibrium bound Israel to find a settlement with the Palestinians toward which Israel’s leadership was at best equivocal, because that equilibrium neutralised Israeli freedom of action to unilaterally define its role in the regional political economy. With the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the assumption of power by Binyamin Netanyahu in the mid-90s, equivocation became open hostility. The Israeli, or rather Zionist, dilemma was and is really quite simple. A settlement with the Palestinians and regional peace means openness, openness means Palestinian access to Saudi funding, and Saudi funding plus the Palestinian birthrate spell the end, ultimately, of an Israeli state defined by a Jewish as opposed to a national identity.

Another analysis which adds another culprit (Israel) to the already big list of enemies to Rafic Hariri

Danielle Pletka is getting excited over Syria

In the Los Angeles Times… I think that certain publications should have at least a minimum of decency (due to their size) and not let freaks write dangerous propaganda.

Confronting China

Neocons again and again here:

Using the immense wealth of the Scalife, Olin, and Carthage foundations under the umbrella of the highly influential American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the “lobby” recruited a group of well-placed, powerful political figures.
AEI members include neoconservative icons like Lynne Cheney, Charles Murry, Michael Novak, Irving Kristol, Ben Wattenberg, Frank Gaffney, and Michael Ledeen.
The AEI is closely aligned with the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), the group that successfully lobbied for “regime change” in Iraq and argues that it is a strategic necessity for the U.S. to control the world’s oil supplies.
PNAC, the brainchild of AEI’s Kristol, includes among its members Vice President Dick Cheney, Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, former State Department officials Richard Armitage and John Bolton, and other leading administration figures like Elliot Abrams, Richard Perle, and Zalmay Khalilzad, presently U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan.
The confrontationist’s goals are much the same as they were in the opening years of the Cold War: ring China with military bases, support Taiwanese independence, and, in Kristol’s words, “Work for the fall of the Communist Party oligarchy in China.”
In short: corner the dragon.

Pat Buchanan

reminds us of the true problem:

In his inaugural address, Mr. Bush calls 9/11 the day “when freedom came under attack.” This is sophomoric. Osama did not send fanatics to ram planes into the World Trade Center because he hates the Bill of Rights. He sent the terrorists here because he hates our presence and policies in the Middle East. He did it for the same reason FLN rebels blew up cafes in Paris and Hamas suicide bombers blow up pizza parlors in Jerusalem.

From the Battle of Algiers to the bombing of the Beirut Marine barracks, from the expulsion of the Red Army by the mujahideen of Afghanistan to the expulsion of Israel from Lebanon by Hezbollah, guerrilla war and terror tactics have been the means Muslims have used to expel armies they could not defeat in conventional war.

The 9/11 killers were over here because we are over there. We were not attacked because of who we are but because of what we do. It is not our principles they hate. It is our policies. U.S. intervention in the Middle East was the cause of the 9/11 terror. Bush believes it is the cure. Has he learned nothing from Iraq?

Syria Targeted

Eyal Zisser, a pundit from JCPA (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) has been interviewed on what Syria will do next. Zisser showed his scepticism and thinks that Americans should show “real pressure” if it intends to uproot Syria from Lebanon, because Syria won’t easily relinquish “vital Economic and Political assets”. the concert of nations should not rule out force according to Zisser. Oh and this article features the insights of Walid Phares. This guy is practically everywhere.

Fortunately enough, we still have some interesting elements around such as one valuable analysis by Stephen Zunes who wraps up the main challenges facing the post Hariri era.

Military Industry update

Hey, I missed the advices given by Frank Gaffney Jr. to George Bush before he took off for his European tour. The focus is on Russia. It reads well now that Bush has criticized Putin of scoring low on the “democracy” test, Frank Gaffney had already said basically the same thing. As a proponent of extravagant American military build-up, democratizing reads more like a process of abiding by the American rules and imperial interests. Thus, Russia cannot try to build its position in its region. It can only “democratize” and resume the process of oligarchization that started with western capital, and let the rest of its periphery dismember. The point of no return would be to help Syria. Oh is it trying? Well Russia is in trouble.

Also on the agenda is the European arms ban to China that is questioned and could be lifted. It seems that

there is much more at stake in the decision by Europe than whether it sells French fighter jets or German submarines to Beijing: namely, broader commercial ties and some genuine diplomacy. That, say political and military analysts here, is why European leaders have been willing to oppose the United States, which opposes lifting the embargo.(…)
For years, the trade has been dominated by Russia. Israel is the next-largest supplier to China, and its role has particularly troubled American experts because it specializes in technologically advanced equipment, like drones.
Such equipment, the United States worries, could tilt the security balance between China and Taiwan.
Neither Russia nor Israel observes the embargo, which was imposed after the Chinese leadership massacred the student-led opposition in Tiananmen Square in 1989. France and Germany, which do observe it, are believed by some experts to be third- and fourth-largest suppliers to China.

Anyway, Europe has never stopped delivering arms to China
Another example of conflict of interests is the European and American arm trade to… Iran:

It’s generally illegal for American companies to do business with Iran. But NBC News found more than a dozen European defense and aviation firms eager to fill the void. Some do business with the Pentagon, yet they were actively selling their wares to Iran. (…)
Steven Bryen used to be the Pentagon official responsible for preventing technology from going to countries like Iran. Now he’s the president of Finmeccanica in the United States. Does he think Iran is an enemy of the United States?
“I think they’re our enemy at this point,” says Bryen. “I mean, they’re behaving like our enemy.”
So why would Bryen’s company trade with an enemy?
“In Europe, they don’t call it the enemy,” he says. “If it’s a civilian item that doesn’t threaten anyone, then I don’t have a problem with that.”
European subsidiaries of NBC’s parent company, General Electric, have sold energy and power equipment to Iran, but GE recently announced it will make no new sales. (MSNBC is a Microsoft-NBC joint venture.)

Meanwhile, the US has a new scapegoat in Iraq:Mexico.

Meanwhile Neocons

are busy working. Daniel Pipes has

has proposed the creation of a new Anti-Islamist Institute (AII) designed to expose legal “political activities” of “Islamists,” such as “prohibiting families from sending pork or pork byproducts to U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq,” which nonetheless, in his view, serve the interests of radical Islam.
Pipes is also working with Stephen Schwartz on a new Center for Islamic Pluralism (CIP) whose aims are to “promote moderate Islam in the U.S. and globally” and “to oppose the influence of militant Islam, and, in particular, the Saudi-funded Wahhabi sect of Islam, among American Muslims, in the America media, in American education … and with U.S. governmental bodies.”
Schwartz, a former Trotskyite militant who became a Sufi Muslim in 1997, has received seed money from MEF, which is also accepting contributions on CIP’s behalf until the government gives it tax-exempt legal status, according to another grant proposal obtained by IPS.

And there is still debate over the possibility of pushing for democracy in the Middle East. basically Dov Zakheim VS Michael Rubin
Here’s an interesting observation by Michael Rubin:

Democracy is a process. Friendly dictators may be better than prickly democracies for businessmen, but not for American national security.

I wonder how much of it is pure propaganda? How much of it just sheer ignorance? It seems that Neocons know absolutely nothing about the dynamics of institutions.

Hariri and the Syrians (take 3)

Although some people would be shocked, I like this passage:

Hariri, however, wasn’t quite the Lebanse nationalist hero he’s made out to be. A billionaire who made his fortune as a construction contractor to the Saudi royal family, he made plenty of Syrians rich while orchestrating a building boom in Beirut since the 1990s.

Hariri’s murder (take 2)

Justin Raimondo draws an excellent parallel between events in Ukraine and what’s taking place in Lebanon. Instead of “Orange” we have a “Red and White” revolution. Notwithstanding the fact that people are gathering under one sky and shouting, the only touching aspect of this story is the “together” factor. What they shout, and who shouts is a totally different story.
Just as Ukraine is still filled with oligarchs (because they still are in power), Lebanon will remain so. The only change will be at the level of who has more power.

As for the assassination of Hariri, Syria was the big loser, as any half-ass analyst could have predicted. Don’t tell me the Syrians deliberately provoked an international outcry against Damascus and hoped for renewed focus on their occupation of Lebanon.

So why is everyone focused on Syria?
Another interesting analysis that takes a regional perspective of the event is Ramzi Baroud, editor of Electronic Intifada.
Here’s an interesting observation:

While there is a great deal of interest in seeing Syria and Lebanon forced to talk peace on Israeli terms, with an active crowd in Washington orchestrating and manipulating U.S. support, there are not enough funds nor troops (nor popular support, even though that is more manageable) to carry out a conventional military undertaking in Damascus.
And as past American interventions, mainly in Central America, have taught us, when direct military involvement cannot be sold to the public or sustained politically or financially, it’s time for clandestine operations. Seymour Hersh’s articles revealing U.S. covert operations in Iran confirmed the suspicions of many that the U.S. government is trying to find other means to confront Iran and thus purge one of Israel’s last standing foes.

No wonder why today Syria finds itself more and more cornered and will eventually withdraw its troops from Lebanon. And history repeats itself.

Some things Unsaid on Sharansky

Tom Barry has a new posting on Right Web about the influence of Nathan Sharansky.
check out this passage:

According to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in the 1970s Sharansky engaged “in underground Zionist activities” until his 1977 arrest by Soviet authorities on charges of treason and espionage. Although the U.S. government denied any connection between Sharansky and the CIA, he was sentenced in 1978 to 13 years imprisonment. An international campaign, supported by Presidents Carter and Reagan, led to Sharansky’s release on February 11, 1986 as part of an East-West spy exchange. That same night the self-described “Prisoner of Zion” arrived in Israel, where he quickly became the leading voice for the cause of Soviet Jewry.
In 1988 Sharansky founded and became the first president of the Zionist Forum. In 1995 Sharansky formed a political party to represent new Jewish immigrants to Israel. Always closely allied with Likud, particularly its most extreme factions, the Yisrael B’Aliya party no longer maintains its own independence and has effectively merged with Likud.

Also he seems to be a friend of Daniel Pipes:

Sharansky charges that Middle East studies departments at U.S. universities have adopted a vehemently anti-Israel posture due to “years of massive investments of money and effort by Arab states and the Palestinians.” As the product of “generous Saudi funding,” university departments have “been set up…to establish pseudo-scientific theories, presenting Israel as the last colonial state, whose very existence is immoral regardless of borders.”

Israeli Spying:

When the U.S. media reported that in August 2004 that the FBI had been investigating clandestine information-sharing meetings involving a Pentagon official working for Douglas Feith, Israeli intelligence officials, and representatives of the American-Israeli Political Affairs Committee, Sharansky was the Israeli government official who publicly denied the allegations of spying. Sharansky suggested the criminal investigation was the result of a U.S. government interagency “rivalry,” singling out “the Pentagon and the CIA.”

And the Neocon connection:

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the birth of NED, President Bush in a November 2003 speech delivered at the NED headquarters reaffirmed the U.S. government’s role as international provocateur in a “global democratic revolution.” Bush promised to double NED’s budget to allow it to take the “world democratic movement” to the Middle East—the region targeted by the U.S. government as the focus of its “forward strategy of freedom.”
Sharansky’s vision of having Washington lead coalitions to end tyrannies and promote democratization, especially in the Middle East, mirrors the democratization agenda that neocon-controlled think tanks and quasi-governmental institutions like the National Endowment for Democracy have long been advocating. NED, for example, under the leadership of neocon Carl Gershman, has established itself as the international secretariat for the “World Movement for Democracy,” which encompasses an increasing array of international associations of nongovernmental organizations, foundations, academics, and parliamentarians, among others.
NED’s democratization programs and its new role in organizing transnational democracy movements aligned with the United States is part of the neocon strategy to marginalize the United Nations, which in addition to constraining U.S. hegemony has been a consistent critic of Israeli human rights abuses and its violations of international law. Sharansky shares this vision, as he spelled out in his book. According to Sharansky, the United Nations “is a very problematic organization” because it includes countries that are not democratic and because the UN doesn’t make the necessary connection between human rights and freedom. Consequently, “We have to start thinking about creating a parallel to the United Nations, an organization, a United Nations of free societies. And these, in the United Nations of free societies, the question of human rights will not be disengaged from the question of freedom.”

Walid Jumblatt interview for Liberation

I wonder what really happened to Walid Jumblatt. What made him change so drastically. Did the Syrians misbehaved somehow? One would say this would have never happened with Hafez el Asad in power. But why? Who’s in power in Syria right now? What are the different Syrian poles and what card is Jumblatt playing in order to make him with his old Lebanese enemies?
In the meantime check out this article where the word diplomacy does not mean anything anymore.

Dangerous Lebanese pundits

Everybody knows Walid (Christian Freak) Phares, and this a new article on Hariri’s assassination. But here is a new kid on the block, Habib Malik (surely the son the cousin or the grandson cousin of Charles Malik, because there is a mention of Human right activist blabla) writing for the Middle East Forum of Daniel Pipes and Ziad Abdelnour. Habib Malik is at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (He’s part of the family). I shall quote some illuminating sentences that would make Charles Corm poetry pale in comparison:

The freest Christian community in the Middle East kept Lebanon open to more than Western commodities and technical know-how; it also accessed the deepest values in Western tradition. It built up the country’s free institutions in the economic and political realms. It bestowed on Beirut the freest press in the Arab world, a liberal atmosphere of free inquiry in its private universities, and a political system in which the leaders actually retired.

Were it not for the presence in the city, and in Lebanon as a whole, of a vibrant, creative, and relatively secure indigenous Christian community, with its tarnished but real record of freedom, Beirut would be indistinguishable from its sullen and drab sister metropolises throughout the Arab and Islamic east. With Lebanon’s Christians free, the country’s pluralist character has demonstrated its ability to spawn cultural creativity of a highly varied and novel sort—in art, poetry, literature, music, architecture, entertainment, and more. Clearly, Lebanon minus its free Christians would quickly turn into a monochromatic version of Syria.

Muslims in Lebanon generally like the free and open Beirut they have come to know. On the whole, they do not wish to replace it with a version of Tehran or Kabul, though they often do lose sight of the fact that the city they so cherish is contingent on a continued free Christian presence.

In Lebanon, as distinct from its Arab neighbors, society has traditionally been stronger and more durable than the state. Lebanon’s civil society features active churches and ecclesiastical organizations, a large network of banks and businesses, excellent schools and colleges, a vigorous tradition of publishing, competent hospitals and other medical facilities, a flourishing entertainment and services sector, and many independent unions, associations, and syndicates of students, labor, legal, medical, engineering, and the like. These civil institutions are under a creeping but relentless onslaught, however: Islamization3undermines pluralism, Syrianization perpetuates occupation by a totalitarian neighbor, and the continuation of the no-peace/no-war status quo allows these two blights to inflict their slow but relentless damage. This may be the single greatest problem facing Lebanon today.

So let me summarize: thank you Christians for being there to create this haven of liberty and ‘civilization’, Muslims are grateful now, and should be very careful against “Islamization”, this dark cloud that could tarnish all the beautiful things Christians have done (Like a civil war perhaps???). But above all one should beware of …”Syrianization”, a new concept to add on our list of useful tools that simplify and facilitate the designation of enemies.

Don’t repeat the mistakes of your ancestors Habib because in the meantime there was a civil war because of such misunderstandings. Aarrgh! I think I hate this guy already.

Washington Institute and New policies

WINEP has just issued a new call for targeting Iran and using military force if diplomacy does not reach. Meanwhile, Bush and Europe are in a new alliance and Russia may find itself in the line of fire. Thus, Syria, Iran and other “rogue” states. One should read the killing of Rafic Hariri starting from these observations. This is the regional perspective.
One can also check this interesting analysis on US/Russian relations and Iran that first appeared in the Daily Star.

Hariri’s assassination

I war trying to pick up among the burst of emotions following the assassination the interesting articles that need tried to tackle the gravity of the situation in a realistic way.
first, Zvi Bar’el makes an interesting observation on Hezbollah in Haaretz.
second, Tim cavanaugh has a moderate approach in Reason.
third, Jim Lobe shows how it’s a win situation for hawks in the US.

Also one needs to look at what’s going on at the level of Syro-Iranian relationsand to Russia.

L’économie en retrait

Un article d’Eric le Boucher dans le Monde qui prette à réflexion:

Après avoir régné pendant deux siècles industriels en juges de paix de la production et de la distribution, après avoir régenté les bases de la société, après avoir fait les élections politiques, les économistes ne font que subir des revers, depuis, grosso modo, la chute du Mur. La planète est parcourue de guerres ethniques dont ils n’ont rien à dire, ou presque. Les pays développés sont traversés de violences communautaires qui renvoient à des considérations a-économiques. Le religieux fait un retour qui les laisse secs. Les rois de l'” infrastructure”, qui selon Marx déterminait tout le reste, sont nus. (…)
Alain Touraine va plus loin dans son dernier livre (Un nouveau paradigme, Fayard, 23 € ). Nous serions entrés dans une nouvelle phase où l’économie n’est plus déterminante. Une première phase était celle de la politique, celle “du désordre et de l’ordre, la paix et la guerre, le pouvoir et l’Etat, le roi et la nation, la République, le peuple et la révolution”. Puis la révolution industrielle et le capitalisme “se sont libérés du pouvoir politique et sont apparus comme la base de l’organisation sociale”. Vint “le paradigme économique et social”: “Classes sociales et richesse, bourgeoisie et prolétariat, syndicats et grèves, stratification et mobilité sociale, inégalités et redistribution sont devenus nos catégories les plus usuelles d’analyse.”

Cette deuxième phase se meurt. La mondialisation la tue parce qu’elle provoque une “séparation complète de l’économie et des autres institutions, en particulier sociales et politiques, qui ne peuvent plus la contrôler”. Le capital mobile se moque désormais du travail, englué dans la terre des nations, et des gouvernements. Il va au moins cher et délocalise. Les salaires sont sous pression. Les grands compromis sociaux des années 1930 à 1970, établis sur des bases nationales, ne résistent pas. Les catégories sociales sont détruites : la dichotomie pertinente devient celle qui sépare les professionnels (indispensables et souvent mobiles eux-mêmes) et tous les autres. Le système se dégage de ses acteurs.
C’est la fin du “social”, tel qu’on l’entendait. Les syndicats se retrouvent sans adhérents et les luttes sociales sans appui. Les “altermondialistes” ne mènent qu’un combat “de retardement”. Au passage, note Touraine, c’est aussi la fin, par fragmentation, de la “société” et de l’idée de l’Europe, les deux étant historiquement et philosophiquement liées puisqu’elles sont cofondées sur la représentation des forces sociales.

Je pense que l’économie en tant que discipline tarde à s’adapter au niveau conceptuel. La structure économique prime toujours sur le reste, c’est juste qu’on ne sait pas le penser par rapport aux nouvelles données.

Another Meeting

That discusses the future of the Middle East Process. Somewhat moderate (if you consider Dennis Ross as a moderate!) as well as pure brand hawks are present (such as Danielle Pletka to discuss Rice’s current policies.

Iran’s Policy Committee holds a conference

When I know events such as this one, will take place I have a shrill coming down my spine. Imagine the feeling.. all the beautiful crowd is there: Iran-Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), The Committee on the Present Danger (CPD), The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (TWI).

The debate will center on how to engage Iran. Based on the speakers and the reports published by these ‘fellows’, the outcome could be scary.

Lifting the European ban on arms trade with China

Possible political clashes between Europe and the US on this one, here.

Christian ‘Zionists’ and neocons

A good article highly rich in links and resources on the famous synergy.

CIA and the Nazis

New revelations have come to light as to possible American recruitments from Nazi military ranks right after WWII, thanks to Jewish-issues-professional-trackers Haaretz and friends.

Conservative bias in the media

an excellent article at commondreams.org on how conservative pundits are being paid to endorse Bush’s views.

Update on Elliot Abrams

Here. He still have to be very close of Middle Eastern affairs, with Stephen Hadley. The latter has a case of violating US national security for Israel.

Elliot Abrams as deputy national security adviser


Elliott Abrams, a special assistant to the president and an assistant secretary of state in the Reagan administration, has been appointed deputy national security adviser with a focus on promoting global democracy and human rights.

President Bush’s national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, also announced Wednesday that Faryar Shirzad will continue to serve in an expanded role as deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs

John Bolton’s departure replaced by Bob Joseph

FT has an interesting comment on it:

A group of hardline officials known as “nuclear hawks” is being promoted in a shake-up of the Bush administration’s arms control and non-proliferation teams, according to officials close to the administration.

The latest appointment, announced by President George W. Bush on Monday, saw Jack Crouch, the ambassador to Romania, become deputy national security adviser. Mr Crouch, who served in the Pentagon from 2001 to 2003 as assistant secretary of defence for international security policy, has a long background in arms control. In his Senate confirmation hearing in 2001 he was questioned on his support for US testing of nuclear weapons, his 1995 recommendation for destruction of North Korea’s nuclear complexes in the absence of a satisfactory agreement, and the mistake he said was made by George H.W. Bush when president in withdrawing US nuclear weapons from South Korea.

Also entering the National Security Council is John Rood, a senior Pentagon official who replaces Bob Joseph as special adviser. Mr Joseph is expected to move to the State Department to replace John Bolton, undersecretary for arms control.

Mr Bolton had the reputation for being the hawk of hawks in the Bush administration, but one adviser, who asked not to be named, said European governments were naive to believe that his resignation signalled a moderate approach. The promoted officials, he said, had less regard for arms controls and more commitment to building new generations of nuclear weapons and missile defence systems.

Barry Rubin in the Daily Star

Barry Rubin, director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs, usually writes columns for the Jerusalem Post. But he has decided to share his thoughts with us through the Daily Star. Democracy, Arab mediocrity, etc. usual themes.

Turkish Israeli military deal

Well, after all this talk about Syrian-Turkish or Iranian-Turkish deals, Israel has just signed a $1.5 billion arms deal with Turkey:

that would involve the refurbishment of another 48 of the Turkish air force’s F-4 Phantoms and some 200-300 M48 Patton tanks belonging to Turkey’s armored corps. Turkey is also looking into the possibility of purchasing Israeli-made Harpy unmanned aerial vehicles.

That the difference between big and small fish. If Israel did not have “comparative advantage” in military “goods” it would have ceased to exist a long time ago. Actually, Israel is the military factory of the modern world.