My article "The Syrian Hoax" on the Syrian-Lebanese situation has provoked more criticism than any article I’ve published in a long time.
Some of the responses have been of the scholarly variety . . .
"You are an absolute idiot. With reporters like you we don't need any other enemies."
"Keep pushing the liberal propaganda on us Harry. You are good at it. We know at least 50 percent of the American public are clueless. Just like you. Now if we can convert the rest of us to sniveling cowards like you, we’ll be in real good shape for the future."
It’s obvious from what they say that these people know much more about the Syrian situation than I do. It’s quite cruel that they don’t pass on to me any of their superior knowledge. They hinted that they know things I don't know, but they refuse to tell me what those things are.
Syrian Occupiers & American Occupiers
I pointed out in my article that the 13,000 Syrians "occupying" Lebanon are nothing compared to the 150,000 American troops in Iraq and yet George Bush is demanding an immediate withdrawal of all 13,000 Syrians. (Yes, I know that Bush isn’t the only "world leader" calling for Syria’s withdrawal from Lebanon, but he’s the only one making a lot of noise about it.)
Someone wrote to tell me that there is no comparison between the Syrian and American occupiers:
The difference is that Syria has no interest whatsoever in promoting freedom for the Lebanese, whereas the US has allowed open protests, free speech, and a landmark vote involving dozens of political parties. The Syrians have turned Lebanon into a complete client state.
But Zvi Bar’el has pointed out in the Israeli publication Haaretz:
Just to calm those who note the "historic moments" in the Middle East, Lebanon is the freest country in the region. Its parliament has real power and its newspapers and electronic media demarcated the boundaries of freedom of expression before Al Jazeera did so. Anti-establishment satire has existed there for a long time and its citizens, even more than the citizens of Turkey, regard themselves as more Western than Arab.
In fact, if the Syrians won’t let the Lebanese express themselves, why are the American media making such a big thing out of a few thousand people holding rallies in Martyrs Square, rooting for the Syrians to leave Lebanon.
We’ve all read about such demonstrations and seen them on television. From the media, we could easily draw the impression that there isn’t a single Lebanese who doesn’t want the Syrians out of Lebanon by High Noon. But it might help to add some perspective if the media just as ardently covered the pro-Syrian demonstrations which, in fact, are considerably larger than the anti-Syrian rallies. As with the anti-Syrian demonstrations, some of the participants have been urged to join the demonstrations by various organizations and some are everyday people who want to express their opinions.
And as to the idea that the Iraqi people under American occupation are much freer than the Lebanese, please take a closer look at the police state the American military has established in Iraq.
Not Much Knowledge Is a Dangerous Thing
Syria is not my idea of a nice country. But it’s also not a threat to anyone not even to the Lebanese. Few Americans understand the long relationship between Syria and Lebanon a relationship that began way before George W. Bush was born.
But neither reality nor history mean anything to George Bush or to the sycophants who are willing to follow him down the barrel of a cannon. As the Israeli writer Uri Avnery has pointed out, "George Bush, the (not-so-)Quiet American, runs around the world hawking his patent medicines, ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy,’ in total ignorance of hundreds of years of history." Avnery’s article "The Next Crusades" is an excellent summary of U.S. and Israeli meddling in the Middle East.
We have had would-be Messiahs in the White House since time immemorial. Not one of them had the faintest idea what he was getting into when deciding how to rearrange the rest of the world. And not one of them ever had to pay for his bungling. It was always thousands and thousands of Americans and foreigners who paid with their lives for the President’s mistakes.
P.S. One correction: In my previous article I said "Syrian troops first invaded Lebanon at the time of the Gulf War." This was wrong on two counts. The Syrian troops were invited in by the Lebanese government, and that was in the mid-1970s. Several readers noticed my carelessness, and I’m grateful for the correction.
March 11, 2005