Towards A Good Samaritan World

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN

Bush is demanding that Syria pull out of Lebanon:

"Both of them stood up and said loud and clear to Syria, `You get your troops and your secret services out of Lebanon so that good democracy has a chance to flourish," Bush said during an appearance at a community college in Maryland to tout his job training programs.

The world, Bush said, "is speaking with one voice when it comes to making sure that democracy has a chance to flourish in Lebanon."


Probably Syria will pull out, but Democrats won't give Bush credit, saying that the Lebanese people were forcing Syria out anyway. They'll probably be right. This is a freebie for Bush. By being on the right side rhetorically, he can get a little more credit for a democratic advance, and ingratiate himself with the Lebanese, without actually doing anything.

Yet imagine what a President Kerry might have said.

"We appreciate the aspirations of the Lebanese people to assume more complete control of their national life. But we must also remember the legitimate security interests of Syria. We must bear in mind the danger of civil unrest in the event of an abrupt Syrian withdrawal. We should never assume that the values we seek to realize in our own political life are the values that other nations seek to embody in theirs. And we should never assume that even a sizeable group of protestors represents the whole Lebanese people.

"When I was a young man, we made the tragic and arrogant mistake of trying to impose our system on a nation very different from our own. With the recent defeat of George W. Bush, America showed that it now understands the lessons which I brought home from Vietnam: that we must be tolerant of others' political values.

"There is no evidence so far that Syria was responsible for the murder of Rafik Hariri. If such evidence comes to light, those responsible should be held accountable for any violation of the law which they may have committed, and judgment will be passed by the authorities under whose jurisdiction the crime took place. Until such evidence comes to light, I trust the word of my friend President Assad of Syria that Syria was not involved in the crime. We must also take into account the possibility that Hariri's murder was a spillover from the upsurge of terrorism triggered by our invasion of Iraq. Not long ago, the US made a wrong-headed intervention in the Middle East based on hasty conclusions. We should not let that happen again.

"When the unrest in Lebanon has calmed down, I will go to Damascus and consult with Assad and with Lebanon's elected president, Emile Lahoud, to discuss what changes, if any, may be needed in the security arrangements of Lebanon."

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