[Marxism] GLW EDITORIAL: US hypocrisy on Lebanon
glparramatta at greenleft.org.au
Mon Mar 14 23:55:38 MST 2005
US hypocrisy on Lebanon
In a staggering display of hypocrisy, US President George Bush told
trainee US military officers on March 8 that parliamentary elections
scheduled to be held in Lebanon in May could not be free and fair so
long as 14,000 Syrian troops remained there.
“All Syrian military forces and intelligence personnel must withdraw
before the Lebanese elections, for those elections to be free and fair”,
Bush declared. “The Lebanese people have the right to determine their
future, free from domination by a foreign power. The Lebanese people
have the right to choose their own parliament this spring, free of
In the very same speech, Bush hailed the January 30 elections in Iraq —
elections held in the intimidating presence of 150,000 US occupation
troops — as having unleashed a popular movement for “freedom” and
“democracy” across the Middle East.
The US-engineered elections in Iraq, however, were not aimed at enabling
the Iraqi people to determine their future, but to provide a
“democratic” facade for Washington’s attempt to install a pro-US puppet
government that will hand over Iraq’s vast oil wealth to the control of
The big majority of Iraqis who participated in the elections voted for
candidates who campaigned for the withdrawal of the US-led occupation
troops, but who have since dropped this demand — knowing full-well that
Washington has no intention of meeting it and that their political
survival depends on the continued presence of tens of thousands of US
troops in Iraq.
Similarly, Bush’s rhetoric about “standing with” Lebanese people in
their desire for “democracy” is a total fraud. This is exposed by the
fact that not once in this or any of his other speeches has Bush
demanded an end to Lebanon’s gerrymandered electoral system — in which
the pro-Western leaders of the privileged Christian minority have
traditionally dominated Lebanese politics.
As a condition for granting the country independence in 1943, Lebanon’s
French colonial rulers imposed acceptance of an unwritten agreement that
allocated parliamentary seats on a 6-5 ratio of Christians to Muslims.
In April 1975, a full-scale civil war erupted, in which the Christian
militia of the extreme right-wing Phalangist party fought against the
militias of the Shiite and Sunni Muslim majority and their Palestinian
refugee allies. By early 1976, the war was going poorly for the
Phalangists and Syria, with the full endorsement of the US and other
Western powers, sent 40,000 troops into the country to prevent them
However, in the wake of Israel’s 1982 invasion and occupation of
southern Lebanon, Syria began providing assistance to the Shiite-based
resistance movement Hezbollah and accommodated to Muslim demands for an
end to Lebanon’s “confessional” political system, which favours the
The 16-year-long Lebanese civil war — in which an estimated 100,000
people were killed — came to an end in 1990, after the Lebanese
parliament enacted the Syrian-backed Taif Agreement. Under the
agreement, there was to be a phased withdrawal of Syrian troops from
Lebanon and political reforms giving the Muslim majority a greater say
in the country’s political system.
However, the present electoral system in Lebanon still falls a long way
short of being “free and fair”. While Muslims make up 60% of Lebanon’s
population, and Christians 40%, parliamentary seats are divided between
them on a 50:50 basis.
Under the Taif Agreement, Syrian troops are to be fully withdrawn from
Lebanon when this “confessional” political system is fully abolished.
However, this threatens to decisively weaken the influence of the most
pro-US elements in Lebanon and strengthen the electoral weight of the
radicalised Shiite poor and their Hezbollah leadership.
Hence, Washington’s demand that Syrian military and security fores be
immediately and completely withdrawn from Lebanon is aimed at stopping
the full implementation of the democratic political reforms called for
in the Taif Agreement. As in Iraq, Washington is not seeking to spread
“freedom” and “democracy” in Lebanon, but to reassert US political and
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