[Marxism] GLW EDITORIAL: US hypocrisy on Lebanon

glparramatta 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 
US corporations.

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 
being defeated.

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 
Christian minority.

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 
economic domination.

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