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:
July 26, 2016
Andrew Levine
Pillory Hillary Now
Kshama Sawant
A Call to Action: Walk Out from the Democratic National Convention!
Paul Street
An Update on the Hate…
Jeffrey St. Clair
Don’t Cry For Me, DNC: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Ellen Brown
Japan’s “Helicopter Money” Play: Road to Hyperinflation or Cure for Debt Deflation?
Angie Beeman
Why Doesn’t Middle America Trust Hillary? She Thinks She’s Better Than Us and We Know It.
Fran Shor
Beyond Trump vs Clinton
Richard W. Behan
The Banana Republic of America: Democracy Be Damned
Binoy Kampmark
Undermining Bernie Sanders: the DNC Campaign, WikiLeaks and Russia
Arun Gupta
Trickledown Revenge: the Racial Politics of Donald Trump
David Swanson
DNC Now Less Popular Than Atheism
Linn Washington Jr.
‘Clintonville’ Reflects True Horror of Poverty in US
Deepak Tripathi
Britain in the Doldrums After the Brexit Vote
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Threats: Arbitrary Lines on Political Maps
Robert J. Gould
Proactive Philanthropy: Don’t Wait, Reach Out!
Victor Grossman
Horror and Sorrow in Germany
Nyla Ali Khan
Regionalism, Ethnicity, and Trifurcation: All in the Name of National Integration
Andrew Feinberg
The Good TPP
400 US Academics
Letter to US Government Officials Concerning Recent Events in Turkey
July 25, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
As the Election Turns: Trump the Anti-Neocon, Hillary the New Darling of the Neocons
Ted Rall
Hillary’s Strategy: Snub Liberal Democrats, Move Right to Nab Anti-Trump Republicans
William K. Black
Doubling Down on Wall Street: Hillary and Tim Kaine
Russell Mokhiber
Bernie Delegates Take on Bernie Sanders
Quincy Saul
Resurgent Mexico
Andy Thayer
Letter to a Bernie Activist
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan is Strengthened by the Failed Coup, But Turkey is the Loser
Robert Fisk
The Hypocrisies of Terror Talk
Lee Hall
Purloined Platitudes and Bipartisan Bunk: An Adjunct’s View
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of Collective Punishment: Russia, Doping and WADA
Nozomi Hayase
Cryptography as Democratic Weapon Against Demagoguery
Cesar Chelala
The Real Donald Trump
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Propaganda Machinery and State Surveillance of Muslim Children
Denis Conroy
Australia: Election Time Blues for Clones
Marjorie Cohn
Killing With Robots Increases Militarization of Police
David Swanson
RNC War Party, DNC War Makers
Eugene Schulman
The US Role in the Israeli-Palestine Conflict
Nauman Sadiq
Imran Khan’s Faustian Bargain
Peter Breschard
Kaine the Weepy Executioner
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail