FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bush’s Blueprint for a Remade Middle East Reeks of Colossal Hubris

by PIERRE TRISTAM

 

In gothic novels the bombshell princess is typically shackled to the whims of nasty men and foul-mouthed step-mothers and suffers indignities by the bushel until she’s liberated by Prince Charming. The novels always cue The End before Princess discovers that her Fabio look-alike is actually twice the bastard her tormentors had been, and a serial womanizer: He’s the guy hopping between Harlequin covers while she ends up dog-eared and spineless at the secondhand bookshop.

The gothic novel has its real-life equivalent in geopolitics. Instead of a helpless, persecuted bombshell, you have a beleaguered, persecuted country that dreams of deliverance. Deliverance may come, but The End doesn’t conveniently follow. The story must go on. The next chapter often reads like a morgue manifest.

I speak of experience here. When I was a boy in the early years of Lebanon’s civil war, all we dreamed about was some kind of savior to liberate us from mayhem. In 1976 we got the first in a series. The Syrian army marched in to keep us Christians from being slaughtered by a coalition of Palestinians and Muslims. We welcomed the Syrians with the ritual rice-throwing, although it was probably minute rice, not something fancy like Basmati: We didn’t trust the Syrians.

Sure enough, a minute later, relatively speaking, they turned their guns on us and became the occupying army they have remained ever since. So we started dreaming of new liberators, and for a time we were convinced Israel would oblige. Looking back, that was like wishing for Huns to liberate you from Visigoths, us poor beleaguered Christians being no less Vandals for wear. Between one bombardment and another I was ferreted out of the country and have kissed and licked every day’s peace ever since, but obviously kept an eye on Lebanon’s torments. In 1982 the Israelis did finally invade. They got the rice treatment, too, because the Palestinians had turned south Lebanon into their private little Idaho, militia-style.

Sure enough, the Israeli occupation, one of Ariel Sharon’s Guernicas, proved no less grotesque than the Palestinians’. The Christian-inspired, Israeli-managed massacres of a few thousand Palestinian civilians at the Sabra and Chatila camps precipitated yet more foreign interventions. This time it was the multinational force of Italians, French and Americans. For that one the Lebanese sprung for Uncle Benz.

They thought America would finally save them as no one could. Then America got in the nation-building business. And as it did, it took sides — siding with the Israeli-backed Christian government of Amin Gemayel, a playboy with brie for brains. And then, in quick succession, those quiet Americans met the unquiet wrath of Arab savagery. The American embassy in Beirut was suicide-bombed, killing 63. On Oct. 23, 1983, the Marines’ barracks south of Beirut was suicide-bombed, killing 241. A simultaneous bombing of the French barracks (remember those “surrender monkeys”?) killed 58. At the time the bombers were from a little known faction of renegade Shiite Muslims called Hezbollah. Little known no more: Hezbollah is today’s al-Qaida’s spiritual mistress.
Themselves defeated, the Americans left shortly after the barracks bombing. I was glad. Not because I wanted them out of there as a Lebanese chauvinist, but because by then I was reacting as an adopted American. My allegiance was wholeheartedly with those Marines, who never should have been put in such a wasteful situation in the first place. I happened to know the Lebanese — the Arab — mentality of the moment. It isn’t worth the fight, and it is certainly not worth a drop of American blood, no matter the idealistic quest then or now.

Freedom? Liberation? Democracy? Arab nations wouldn’t know what to do with any of it. As Charles Glass, once a reporter with ABC news, wrote a dozen years ago, they’re not nations. They’re “tribes with flags.”

And it is into that mayhem, that Lebanon writ large, that President Bush is sending his army. American soldiers will probably get the rice treatment. They’ll get the hugs and the roses. The pictures will be grist for a month of Bush-pumping propaganda back in the “homeland.” But the gratefulness of liberation doesn’t outlast the afternoon nap. Those trigger-happy Shiites the Marines last knew in Lebanon, incidentally, form Iraq’s majority, and the country is crawling with Balkan-tempered minorities.

Planning the California-scale creation of a pro-American nation out of Washington Beltway blueprint in the Arab heartland is science fiction with a death wish. It is colossal hubris. It is Icarus on crack. With Afghanistan still smoldering with chaos, the Anglo-American country-hoppers don’t know what gothic nightmare they’re getting into in Iraq, what they’re getting us all into. And it won’t end well no matter the bushels of rice riddling Americans’ welcome along Mesopotamia’s shimmering, shifty sands.

PIERRE TRISTAM is a Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial writer. Reach him at ptristam@att.net

Yesterday’s Features

Pablo Mukherjee
Watch Their Lips

David Krieger
Shock But Not Awe

Linda Heard
Winning Hearts and Minds Bush——–Style

Imad Jadaa
The Beautiful Face of America

Adam Engel
Buckets of Blood

Patrick Cockburn
Kurds Unimpressed

David Lindorff
POWs, Torture and Hypocrisy

Robert Fisk
The Coup That Didn’t Happen

April Hurley, MD
A Doctor’s Outrage in Baghdad

Gloria Bergen
Chretien’s Shame

Reema Abu Hamdieh
The Smell of Death Surrounds Me

Website of the War
Iraq Body Count

Keep CounterPunch Alive:
Make a Tax——–Deductible Donation Today Online!

home / subscribe / about us / books / archives / search / links /

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 29, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary and the Clinton Foundation: Exemplars of America’s Political Rot
Patrick Timmons
Dildos on Campus, Gun in the Library: the New York Times and the Texas Gun War
Jack Rasmus
Bernie Sanders ‘OR’ Revolution: a Statement or a Question?
Richard Moser
Strategic Choreography and Inside/Outside Organizers
Nigel Clarke
President Obama’s “Now Watch This Drive” Moment
Robert Fisk
Iraq’s Willing Executioners
Wahid Azal
The Banality of Evil and the Ivory Tower Masterminds of the 1953 Coup d’Etat in Iran
Farzana Versey
Romancing the Activist
Frances Madeson
Meet the Geronimos: Apache Leader’s Descendants Talk About Living With the Legacy
Nauman Sadiq
The War on Terror and the Carter Doctrine
Lawrence Wittner
Does the Democratic Party Have a Progressive Platform–and Does It Matter?
Marjorie Cohn
Death to the Death Penalty in California
Winslow Myers
Asking the Right Questions
Rivera Sun
The Sane Candidate: Which Representatives Will End the Endless Wars?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia District Attorney Hammered for Hypocrisy
Binoy Kampmark
Banning Burkinis: the Politics of Beachwear
Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
Ashley Smith
Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
Vincent Navarro
Is the Nation State and Its Welfare State Dead? a Critique of Varoufakis
John Wight
Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery
Lawrence Davidson
The New Anti-Semitism: the Case of Joy Karega
Mateo Pimentel
The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?
Roger Annis
In Northern Syria, Turkey Opens New Front in its War Against the Kurds
David Swanson
ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders
Norman Pollack
American Exceptionalism: A Pernicious Doctrine
Ralph Nader
Readers Think, Thinkers Read
Julia Morris
The Mythologies of the Nauruan Refugee Nation
George Wuerthner
Caving to Ranchers: the Misguided Decision to Kill the Profanity Wolf Pack
Ann Garrison
Unworthy Victims: Houthis and Hutus
Julian Vigo
Britain’s Slavery Legacy
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail