Domino The elections in Lebanon are finally over, and by all accounts, the anti-Syrians won.
The victory means there will be a parliamentary majority opposed to Syrian influence in Lebanon for the first time since the 1975-1990 civil war.
"Final results show that we are ahead and show that the people have voted for change," Mr Hariri told Reuters. "It was not possible that after the martyrdom of Rafik al-Hariri [and] the withdrawal of Syria that nothing would change."
But it is not so much that Syrian influence was rejected as much as it was that the elections legitimately reflected the will of the people.
For all the shortcomings surrounding this election, the Parliament that it returns will have a good deal more legitimacy than its recent predecessors. And while there are many more steps to be taken before Lebanon can truly call itself a democracy, we have at least moved in the right direction over the last nine months.
Meanwhile in Syria, political forces opposed to the dictatorial regime there are watching.
Syrian opposition leaders are watching with a mixture of jealousy and despair as voters in other Arab countries cast ballots in elections hailed as the slow march of democracy throughout the Middle East.
Initially hopeful that reforms in Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt and the Palestinian territories would lead to an opening in Syria, opposition figures say it now appears change will again pass them by.
The Baath Party regime led by President Bashar al-Assad is adapting just enough to survive under intense international scrutiny, Syrian dissidents said in recent interviews. The change is not nearly enough to make a real difference in the lives of a population now in its fourth decade of authoritarian rule.
"The whole region is changing, and we're being left behind," lamented Bisan Bouni, a human-rights advocate whose father, a member of the Communist Party, was imprisoned for most of her life. "We were optimistic at first, but not anymore. It's clear we're just going to be even more isolated."
Syria is deemed the last rogue Arab state, the refuge of anti-American extremist groups and the recipient of mounting threats from the United States and Israel.
The last rogue Arab state: because Iranians are Persian. But Syria and Iran are linked rogue states even if one is predominantly Sunni and the other Shi'a. But make no mistake, Iran is calling the shots in this relationship, Syria's Assad is the bitch in more ways than one.
Money and weapons were transported by air from Iran to Syria and then over the border to the terrorist camps in the Bekka Valley. There is no reason to think this will end anytime soon. It will be a while before Lebanon can get aggressive in patrolling that border. And there is little doubt that Iran aids the insurgency in Iraq which is staged from Syria.
But Syria must tread lightly lest what happened in Lebanon happens to them
Syrian Authorities have arrested 60 Kurds during a demonstration in northern Syria protesting the death of a prominent Kurdish cleric, and some of the detainees were tortured, two Kurdish parties claimed. The protest was held June 5 in the mainly Kurdish city of Qamishli, four days after the body of Kurdish Islamic scholar Mohammad Mashouk al-Khaznawi was found in a hospital morgue.
The demonstrators denounced the death and protested what they call the government's persecution of Syria's Kurds, the Yekiti Kurdish Party and the Azadi Kurdish Party said in a statement.
You never know what will spark a popular revolt...
Not that that would be a bad thing.
To the extent that successful democracies, with successful growing economies, arise in the region is ultimately the yardstick by which history will judge President Bush's policy in Iraq.
In the now immortal words of former anti-American, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt
"It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq," explains Jumblatt. "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world." Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. "The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."
If Bush Mideast gambit succeeds, and the dominoes fall, he will have changed the world.
"Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly," John F. Kennedy was once quoted as saying.
Democrats used to believe in words like that. And the fact that they do so no longer explains the neo-Con phenomena more than anything else.
With more than 1,700 U.S. troops dead in Iraq, voters in the U.S. have grown uneasy with Bush's policies, according to public polls. Some in Congress are pushing for a date certain when troops would begin withdrawing.
This story written by the AP is everywhere replete with caricatures like
Overseas, the U.S. image has been tarnished by allegations of prisoner abuse in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where suspected terrorists are being detained. Bush challenged critics, even invited journalists to the detention facilities.
But the fact of the matter is this, no amount of political pressure will force Bush to withdraw before the job in Iraq is done. It's as simple as that. He does not stand for re-election in 2008 and as far as he is concerned, the voters told him in November to see it through.
The Nation has a piece entitled Is The End In Sight? which says in part
Every day brings news of more Democrats coming forward, standing up and introducing "exit strategy" resolutions. (Though, as of yet, leadership isn't coming from the leadership.) Lynn Woolsey forced a Congressional vote on bipartisan legislation that would have asked Bush to submit a plan to Congress explaining the outlines of an exit strategy from Iraq. Senator Russell Feingold has introduced a nonbinding resolution calling on the Bush Administration to set specific goals for leaving Iraq.
But the fact is, this is all posturing. Why are they asking for the President to submit an "exit strategy"? If they really think it's a bad thing to stay in Iraq, then Congress has the power to force an exit strategy upon the White House.
Congress gave the President the authority to go to Iraq and they can take that authority away. The fact that none of the Democrats have suggested that is because every thinking individual knows that such a thing would doom the situation to failure.
And Democrats do not want to be the ones responsible for another post-Vietnam malaise.
But they wouldn't mind if Bush and the Republicans were.
Make no mistake, while there are some who are truly opposed to the war, perhaps any war, but certainly an idealistic expeditionary war with uncertain outcomes, there are many who are simply trying to subvert the President's foreign policy. And this includes members in foreign countries.
They may even know that succeeding in Iraq would be a huge accomplishment that would benefit everyone all over the world. And they may even know that there is a much greater chance for success if we as a nation spoke with a single, optimistic voice.
Yet still they subvert.
Because to some of these people, a success for the opposition is failure for them.
And if that's not petty and small, then I don't know what is.
Fake but true...Again? Michael Isikoff, writing for Newsweek again uses unnamed sources to lob an attack against Bush and his Administration.
Two senior British government officials today acknowledged as authentic a series of 2002 pre-Iraq war memos stating that Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons program was "effectively frozen" and that there was "no recent evidence" of Iraqi ties to international terrorism—private conclusions that contradicted two key pillars of the Bush administration's public case for the invasion in March 2003.
Of course he is referring to the new cause celebre among Democrats; the Downing Street Memos. But it turns out, that like the CBS document purporting to show that the President was AWOL for his National Guard service, there are no originals. They have been destroyed. All that remains are copies. And they are not even exact copies, they are "copies" that were retyped by the reporter.
With Times of London reporter Michael Smith admitting the memos he used in his stories are not originals, but copies he retyped, the controversy seems to be reaching a fever pitch.
"Until tonight ... no one questioned the authenticity of the documents provided by the Times of London," said CaptainsQuartersBlog, one of the sites behind the Rather scandal. "That has now changed, as Times reporter Michael Smith admitted that the memos he used are not originals, but retyped copies.
(Ed original post is here.)
So the reporter had the originals which would prove the documents authentic, but instead he retyped them then destroyed them. Huh. Why?
Smith told the Associated Press he protected the identity of the source he had obtained the documents from by typing copies of them on plain paper and destroying the originals. The AP showed the documents to an unnamed senior British official who said they "appeared authentic."
Oh. Of course. Perfectly natural.
Unfortunately we only have his word for this.
Oh, and Mr Isikoff's two (count 'em; two!) unnamed sources who claim they're true.
If all of this sounds familiar, well, that would be because it is familiar. All that need to happen to complete the trifecta is for someone to claim that the documents may be false, but the story is true.
Strangely, the Memos aren't all that damning to begin with. So why would the reporter go through all the trouble of retyping them on an old manual typewriter and then using further methods to make them appear older than they were?
Got me. But I do know that even though there is little damning in the memos, they have gotten the Left in a tizzy. Perhaps they figure no one will read them and they can frame the story any way they like. Fake follows fake, I suppose.
It was Karl Rove....