October 24, 2005


Make the punishment fit the crime (Leader, October 25, 2005, The Guardian

An unrepresentative regime whose leading figures are drawn from a religious minority, a regime which has ruled, often brutally, with the aid of its armed forces and its pervasive and ruthless intelligence services, and which has been guilty of crimes against its own people and against the people of a neighbouring state. The country to which this description now applies is not Iraq but Syria - or, rather, the description always applied to both of the states where the Ba'ath party's assumption of power turned out in practice to mean government by sect, clan, family, and a president for life. [...]

The regime in Damascus may already have been in a weakened state before Mr Hariri's death, since the young president, possessing neither his father's authority nor his astuteness, was already finding it hard to control the factions within the elite. Continued investigations, depending on how high they go, could weaken it further. The Americans and the Israelis, contrary to some impressions, may not want regime change, preferring a vulnerable Assad who can be persuaded to do what they want on Iraq and Palestine. Yet they could trigger it nevertheless, and the last thing the Middle East needs is another government toppled from the outside.

If the Syrian regime is to change it is Syrians who should change it. The pursuit of those responsible for the killing of Mr Hariri cannot be be allowed to falter, but regime change should not ride on the back of judicial process. The French are already insisting on this, and the Americans and the British, the other two nations who have taken the lead over Syria, would be wise to follow suit.

Obviously it would have been better if the coup plotters had killed Hitler and toppled the Nazis from within, but need we really have waited for other Germans to succeed?

One wonders if the Left is conscious that the effect of their standard of non-intervention would be to encourage dictators to greater repression?

U.S. presses Damascus over murder of Hariri (Brian Knowlton, OCTOBER 24, 2005, International Herald Tribune)

Reacting to a UN investigation that linked Syria to the killing of a former Lebanese prime minister, the United States on Monday demanded immediate cooperation from Damascus in the continuing inquiry and began working with other Security Council members on a resolution to raise the pressure on Syria.

French officials - who said they and the Americans were crafting language calling on all countries to cooperate fully with the investigation - said it was too early to seek United Nations sanctions against Syria.

But the U.S. ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, demanded cooperation now.

"This is 'true confession' time now for the government of Syria," he said in New York. "No more obstruction. No more half-measures. We want substantive cooperation, and we want it immediately."

In Washington, Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, said, "We want to talk about the way forward with other members of the Security Council."

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 24, 2005 9:14 PM

Yes, but they really feel like they've done something when they slap that "Free Tibet" bumper sticker on the Prius.

Posted by: Rick T. at October 24, 2005 10:15 PM

Remember, they probably all went to est training, so this total disconnect with reality is nothing new for them. Visualize whirled peas.

Posted by: HT at October 25, 2005 12:21 AM

"...the last thing the Middle East needs is another government toppled from the outside." The locals do not agree, but they don't swoon to the Guardian's melody, and therefore don't count.

Posted by: Luciferous at October 25, 2005 10:07 AM