Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Michael: The Lebanese Hypocrisy

Bush insists that Syria end its military presence in Lebanon before any elections, yet we had troops in Iraq during the recent elections there, and there are no plans to pull out before the elections at the end of this year.

Bush acknowledges that elections require freedom of assembly, multiple candidates, free access by those candidates to the media and the right to form political parties. Yet the during the recent Iraqi elections our forces imposed virtual martial law on the country, restricting assembly and movement, and the party lists were anonymous until the day before the election, making the elections a no more the a plebiscite on those parties fielding candidates.

Is it only me that detects a certain hypocrisy in the disparity between Bush’s demands in Lebanon and his actions in Iraq?

Some think that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza serves as a model for the Bush Administration’s strategy for creating a ‘democratic occupation’ in Iraq. Administration Neo-cons fully expected a very short military phase of the occupation and were rudely surprised by the strength and effectiveness of resistance to the occupation. The costs of the Iraqi adventure skyrocketed beyond those originally projected in both financial and human terms. In response Neo-cons scrambled to deal with the burgeoning crisis. They found the answer right down the road. Just as the Israelis outsourced providing for the humanitarian needs and policing of the occupied population to the Palestinian Authority while keeping control of most of the land and resources, the Neo-cons are attempting to create a compliant civil government with some degree of democratic legitimacy in Iraq, while preserving American prerogatives.

In both occupations the bedrock of ‘democratization’ is just self-management as an occupational cost-control measure, not genuine self-determination. There is one thing no Iraqi or Palestinian government under occupation will be allowed to do - ask the occupying forces to leave. In Palestine, there is another constraint on autonomy imposed by Israel - control of water and land resources that might conflict with Israeli or settler interests. In Iraq, the analogue is control of and access to petroleum reserves by the corporations that are proxies of American interests.

The monstrous hypocrisy of Bush calling for withdrawal of Syria’s 14,000 troops before any elections in Lebanon while holding ‘free’ elections in an Iraq occupied by 150,000 Coaliton troops is not challenged in our press because we are being trained, as the Israelis already have been, to not even see such clear double-standards as hypocrisy any more. Instead, there are just naturally two different standards; one for us and ours, and one for everybody else.

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