President Pinhead would like us to know that "It is no coincidence that two nations that are building free societies in the heart of the Middle East — Lebanon and Iraq — are also the scenes of the most violent terrorist activity." I'll just sidestep the issue of defining "terrorists" versus "freedom fighters" versus "insurgents" or "radical fundamentalists" or whatever the most frightening version is this week. Instead I'd like to wonder about the "coincidence" of this whole experience. We are reminded by PH that "America's security depends on liberty's advance in this troubled region."
Well, okay, I'll bite. Just exactly how is my security connected to the "advance of liberty?" I've grown pretty accustomed to the notion that anytime I stray from the Bush/Cheney doctrine that the terrorists win. Again, just exactly what they win and how I let that happen will have to wait. I'm still stuck on the coincidence of it all - but first, a little history: Lebanon was the homeland of the Phoenicians, a seagoing people that spread across the Mediterranean before the rise of Alexander the Great. Carthage, which threatened Rome, was a Phoenician colony. Alexander burned Tyre, the leading Phoenician city, ending the Phoenician independence. The country became part of numerous succeeding empires, among them Persian, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Crusader, and Ottoman. The area became a part of the French Mandate of Syria. On September 1, 1920, France formed the State of Greater Lebanon as one of several ethnic enclaves within Syria. Lebanon and Syria both gained independence in 1943, while France was occupied by Germany. The United Kingdom, fearing that Nazi Germany would gain full control of Lebanon and Syria by pressure on the weak Vichy government, sent its army into Syria and Lebanon.
Do I need to go on? This is a land of empire making and breaking, and right now it's the folks from Syria and Iran who are causing all the ruckus, democracy-wise. What can be done to ensure the stability of the burgeoning freedom of Lebanon and Iraq? Maintain a military presence. Even though today marks the coincidental beginning of Pinhead's discussion of "phased redeployment," it is by no means coincidental that we find ourselves entangled in the unfathomable politics of aggression in the Middle East. It is the birthright of all great empires. Just ask the Ottomans.