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Assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri

  1. Mar 1, 2005 #1

    plover

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    Juan Cole has provided a précis of Lebanese history as a context for the recent events there and the politics that surrounds the presence of the Syrian occupation forces.

    There's no good way to excerpt the historical sections, but here are the concluding paragraphs:
     
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  3. Mar 1, 2005 #2

    russ_watters

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    Does Juan Cole understand that the Cold War is over?
     
  4. Mar 1, 2005 #3

    plover

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    As I noted, the piece is summarizing a historical context, which means it might refer to things in the past, no?

    Did you even read the rest of it? And if not, why comment?
     
  5. Mar 1, 2005 #4

    russ_watters

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    Certainly, but it appears to be saying that the Cold War will affect our response to the situation:
    Tested? Why would it be a test for us unless...
    But since the Cold War is over....see my first post.

    edit: wait, I may have misread. Would we be tested because (if) the crowds are "Islamist"? Well, of by "Islamist," they mean favoring an authoritarian theocracy, no, that won't be much of a test: that isn't "people power."

    edit2:
    I did read the rest of it. The rest is just history (slanted history, but whatever). The main purpose of the writing is in the intro and the conclusion which you quoted: taking backhanded pot shots at Bush and the US. I'm not a big fan of Cole. History professors are supposed to be apolitical. It is unethical to be an activist.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2005
  6. Mar 2, 2005 #5

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    Huh? The "test" is whether the "democratization rhetoric coming out of Washington" would be followed up by support of the Tunisian (or other Arab) people if they "take to the streets to end the legacy of authoritarianism". I have no clue why you think the Cold War is supposed to determine the response in some sense. The "test" per se does not appear to have anything to do with the Cold War, which is just part of the historical context that has produced many of the current Middle Eastern regimes.

    In my view, there are currently two (possibly) conflicting indicators as to how the administration might handle things: one is the recent noise Condi made in Cairo about Egyptian political prisoners, the other is the public silence of the administration concerning recent crackdowns in Jordan on the press and various groups demonstrating for freedom of speech and association combined with the rise of ethnic Jordanian nationalism (largely directed against ethnic Palestinians). I say "possibly" because while these are outwardly divergent responses, I'm unsure as to how they may arise out of the administration's prior relations to Mubarak and King Abdullah.
    "Islamist" is a very general term; obviously many are authoritarian theocrats (or close enough as to make no difference), others are not, but a simplistic take on the concept is at best unhelpful.

    I also don't see at it as a necessary element of the argument—it is probably just the likely scenario in Tunisia. (And I have no sense of what the character of grass roots movements might be in Tunisia.)
    Heh – like you know enough Lebanese history to say that objectively.
    Actually to me, the history is the important part—it's certainly the reason I posted this. But I was kind of stuck as to what to quote that might convince people to read the rest.

    Also, if you look closely at what is actually said, it is not pot-shots at Bush or the U.S. It's a caution against attributing more control over world events to the U.S. President than is warranted (a tendency vastly predating Bush), and in that sense is a complaint about hasty generalization, especially as practiced by journalists.

    These days if you mention Bush (in any light), people scream partisanship, whether it's there or not. To the extent Cole's statement can be interpreted as partisan, it's not directed at Bush, but at those liable to produce unconsidered triumphalist statements on his behalf.

    Maybe he could have phrased what he said more carefully to defend against people reading things "between the lines" (and on first reading the piece, I can't say I caught the distinction I noted above), but honestly, he shouldn't have to.
    I'm not sure what to say to this. It sounds like you might have been reading some of the recent hatchet pieces against Cole. You certainly don't seem to have read enough by him to know that he does not reflexively attack Bush. His real animus appears to be against ignorance (hardly a surprising attribute for a professor). Thus, he opposes Bush's policies to the extent they exhibit ignorance about the Middle East, but he can be similarly appalled by those on the left when their opinions are woefully uninformed. Attack him if you like, but at least attack him for what he actually does rather than what those who have been smearing him want you to believe.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2005
  7. Mar 2, 2005 #6

    selfAdjoint

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    Yes Russ, I would like to know why it's "slanted" history too. For instance Cole says The US manipulated Lebanese politics DURING THE COLD WAR, including the 1958 "invasion" byt the US Marines, which I well remember - I was in the Air Force at the time and was scheduled to go and give them meterological support, but the whole thing was over before the paperwork cleared. Do you deny this happened? And do you deny Cole's point that this and other manipulations are in the causal past of today's events, and not forgotten by Lebanese who care about their country?

    Why is there always this knee jerk rejection of every suggestion that when the US or ANYBODY plays "reallistic hard ball foreign policy" they store up ill-will that can come back to bite 'em?
     
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