The Syrian Hoax

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Once
again the Bush propaganda machine has swung into action, inciting
America to believe there's a terrible threat to the world's future
– a threat that must be destroyed, by force if necessary.

And
that threat is Syria.

Syria
has 13,000 soldiers in Lebanon – impeding the burning desire
of the Lebanese people to be free. "Freedom is on the march,"
thanks to all those people the U.S. military killed in Iraq, and
we must act now to be sure that nothing stops the great march.

According
to the propaganda machine, the Syrian troops in Lebanon are a threat
to democracy, and so
the White House is demanding
that Syria withdraw its troops
immediately.

Meanwhile,
the pro-Syrian government in Lebanon has left office, and the Lebanese
people are cheering in the streets – demonstrating that they
want nothing to do with Syria.

And
there's more: it's common knowledge that the Syrians were behind
the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, the ex-Prime Minister of Lebanon.

In
addition,
Condoleezza Rice says
she has "firm evidence" that
the Islamic Jihad militant group in Syria helped plan the recent
Tel Aviv suicide bombing. She went even further: "There is
firm evidence that Palestinian Islamic Jihad, sitting in Damascus,
not only knew about the attacks, but was involved in the planning, . . . And
so the Syrians have a lot to answer for."

Finally,
the U.S. State Department just released its annual report on human
rights abuses in all the countries of the world (except the United
States), and
the story of torture and other crimes in Syria
is a mile long.

The
indictment of Syria is lengthy and frightening. Obviously, Syria
is a living hell, a threat to peace in the Middle East, and a rogue
state that supports terrorism.

So
load your gun and let's get ready to kill some more bad guys.

On
the Other Hand . . . 

If
the mainstream press and TV news channels were to get their information
from somewhere other than the U.S. government, they might help us
to understand that the situation isn't as black and white as the
Bush administration is trying to make it out to be.

Yesterday
(March 2nd) I listened to National Public Radio and heard the Syrian
ambassador to the United States in an extraordinary interview.

Here
are some of the things he said . . . 

Regarding
Rice's demand that Syrian troops leave Lebanon immediately:

Actually,
if anyone with a sense of fairness would look at the history of
our presence in Lebanon, you could easily tell that we had 42,000
troops in Lebanon 10 years ago, and we started a series of withdrawals
and redeployments. Today, we have only 13,000 troops, and they
– all of them are outside major Lebanese cities. So we have
done this in the past, and we have explicitly said that we will
continue doing this. . . . 

And we have
repeatedly said on the record in the past three years, not because
of this pressure now, the moment the Lebanese government will
ask us to leave, we will leave. And we are leaving, absolutely.

Regarding
Rice's statement that she had "firm evidence that Palestinian
Islamic Jihad sitting in Damascus not only knew about the attacks,
but was involved in the planning."

This is extremely
disappointing. First, let me say that we condemn what has happened.
Second, Syria is providing every possible political support to
the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, so that he can enhance
the peace process. There is a window of opportunity for peace
in the Middle East. We are actually supporting his efforts. Mahmoud
Abbas has said something 180 percent contradictory to what Secretary
Rice has said. He said there is no evidence whatsoever linking
Syria to that attack.

We feel disappointed
because this is reminiscent to the series of accusations that
used to be leveled against Iraq before the invasion on Iraq.

As
to terrorist groups based in Syria:

What we said
to the Americans in the past two years – and now I am repeating
this, on the record – is "The moment you bring us a
shred of evidence that anybody, anybody is doing this, we will
act upon it." I will repeat: "We will act upon it."

But the problem
is they never come to us and tell us, "Look, this is what
we have." They only go to the media and say, "We think
that this is happening," or "We believe that this is
happening out of Damascus." Now we do not allow this. We
do not believe this is happening, but we do not stop here. We
tell our American counterparts, "Whenever you want to really
find a solution to this problem, come and discuss it with us.
Show us what evidence you have, and we will act upon it."


You can hear the interview
free of charge, or you
can order a written transcript
for $4.95.)

I
must remind you that 90% of what we know about foreign affairs is
information that has come from the U.S. government. That's where
CNN, Fox TV News, ABC, NBC, CBS, The Washington Post, The
New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and almost all
the rest of the American media get almost all their information.
And we've seen plenty of evidence that the Bush
administration has no qualms whatsoever about spreading disinformation

to further its political programs.

So
What's Doing in Syria & the Rest of the Middle East?

What,
then, do we really know about the march to freedom and the Syrian
threat?

  1. There
    are 13,000 Syrian troops in Lebanon. There are 150,000 American
    troops in Iraq. Which is more of an invading, occupying army?

  2. The Syrian
    troops in Lebanon are all in the countryside – ready to
    help restore order if needed, but generally out of sight of
    the Lebanese people. The American troops in Iraq are all over
    the place – killing insurgents and civilians alike while
    devastating cities like Fallujah.

  3. There
    are no reports of Lebanese insurgents fighting the Syrian troops,
    while there are daily clashes between Iraqi insurgents and American
    troops.


  4. As Pat Buchanan has pointed out
    , it would make no sense
    for the Syrians to have assassinated the Lebanese ex-Prime Minister
    – since they had to know that they would automatically
    become the #1 suspect and bring the wrath of Bush down upon
    their heads.

  5. Syrian
    troops first invaded Lebanon at the time of the Gulf War. And
    while Syria was overrunning Lebanon, President George H.W. Bush
    was proudly listing Syria as a member of the coalition of nations
    fighting Saddam Hussein.

  6. The Bush
    administration, as usual, won't negotiate anything with anyone.
    The Bushies prefer to make accusations in the media, assert
    that they have evidence that no one ever gets to see, and incite
    Americans to hate another nation of human beings.

  7. The claims
    that recent democratic developments in Arab countries prove
    that the Bush doctrine has succeeded are as premature as the
    "Mission Accomplished" banner on the USS Lincoln.
    I'm not aware of a single country in the Middle East in which
    the citizens have one iota more liberty than they did three
    years ago. All we've seen are tiny baby steps toward democracy
    – meaning that the some people might get the opportunity
    to vote on who will officiate in their police states, just as
    the citizens of Iraq got to vote under the Hussein regime.

  8. The TV
    pictures of a Lebanese crowd celebrating the fall of the pro-Syrian
    Lebanese government no more demonstrate the attitudes of all
    Lebanese than do the TV pictures of U.S. pro-abortion rallies
    demonstrate that all Americans (or even a majority) are in favor
    of abortions.

  9. Despite
    the State Department's human rights report of torture and other
    ghastly conditions inside Syria, the U.S. government has been
    sending some of its "War on Terror" prisoners to Syria
    for interrogation – and, presumably, torture. And not one
    American politician is embarrassed by the contradiction.

Once
again, the Bush administration has cried "Havoc!" and
is gearing up to unleash the Dogs of War.

And
if we're smart, we won't believe a word of it.

March
4, 2005

Harry Browne [send
him mail
], the author of Why
Government Doesn’t Work

and many other books, was the Libertarian presidential candidate
in 1996 and 2000. See his website.

Harry
Browne Archives

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