Lebanon: Act Two in Democratization
"Pro-Syria" demonstrators in a Fox News photo
Seeing the huge turn-out Hezbollah cranked up today in Beirut gives one pause regarding the fate of the Bush Doctrine in the Middle East. Politically, it's easy enough to understand. If Lebanon "falls," Syria and Iran are threatened, so they are pushing their Hezbollah troops into the fray in an all-cost effort to protect their terrocracies. It's a a sneer to Bush: "OK, are you really going to support Democracy, Bub?" And it's a clenched, heavy fist over the heads of those who demonstrate for Democracy.
Socially, it's a bit more fluid. Yes, we all hoped for a dismal turnout, but Hezbollah is well funded by the despots and mullahs, it drove the Israelis out of South Lebanon, and it has the intimidating power of the Syrian secret police behind it.
The real action will occur when the curtain is pulled shut on a voting booth. When the thugs don't have control over what box you check, what box will you check: thugs or freedom? Clear enough, but the trick will be getting to the voting booth. Getting Syrian troops out will be step one and relatively simple compared to step two, which will be to diminish the power of the Syrian secret police in Lebanon.
It looks like Afghanistan and Iraq will be the quick and direct first act of this play, designed to get the audience's attention (and the Muslim world is paying attention to Democracy!) and that act two will most likely be more subtle and perhaps even more tense.
It's a good time to have Bush directing the show in the White House, with the assistance of Bolton in the UN and Rice at State. The president has his team in place, and were it not for the idiot driver of one just-freed Communist journalist in Iraq, the strength and expandability of the coalition would be stronger than ever. But since the bullet holes don't substantiate the journalist's story, Bush should be getting on with the show soon.