Saturday, August 23, 2008

Georgia on my Mind

Ah, the ironies of the Great Game

There is much hyperbole and little fact/background in teh news nowadays. The media is not really aware that , in its invasion of Georgia, the Kremlin has taught the White House a masterly lesson in geography, teaching them Yankees not to venture too far into mother Russia’s “Near Abroad”. You would think the State Department’s Kremlinologist-en-chef would know better, but recall that she (and most others) misread (to put it mildly) the collapse of the Soviet Union, in spite of much evidenceHow about putting some real Russia experts on the payroll?

However, is Tsar Putin now overreaching? Or is he merely going for some more leverage?

Syria’s Russian Gamble

In the short term, the Syrian move towards Russia may pay off. On one easter front/province, the Lebanese leadership appears cowed, for now, and their Hezb’O’Clients have the run of the land. On the southern front, a headless Israeli government is providing them with the necessary cover.

This venture into Russia’s “Near Abroad” may well pay off in the immediate. But Assad’s regime is far weaker than it appear; not only is his support largely based on a shaky sectarian base, he is unable to secure his own high command’s security. Yes, he can still pull the strings in Lebanon, and he will do so forcefully. But this will only confirm what Hezb’s last “victory” has achieved; to confine Syria’s “support” in Lebanon to the imprisoned Shiite community. And even then, it’s not much of support; who do you think carried out those attacks that were carried out against Syrian workers?

“Eminent Domain” versus “Near Abroad”

however, On the long run, because of this shaky support the Syrian hopes are likely to be dashed.

We Lebanese have learned that you cannot fight geography; much of our opposition to Syria has more to do with the current sectarian mafia that rules the country, and little with the country itself. After all, many of us have family there, and more do good a brisk business.

However, the Syrians are still stuck in the days of the Damascus Congress, with assembly of pseudo-representatives (s)elected on the “selective, rather than the elective principle”, claimed us as part of a “Greater Syria”, as well as with what today is Iraq, Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Territories. Some like to add Cyprus to the mix… I guess as long as they’re dreaming…

All Syrians grew up soaking in the myth of glorious Omeyyads, the stories of the deviousness of those “Isolationists” in the wayward “Eastern Province”, the plight of occupied Iskenderun. This current crop of Syrian leaders may actually have been raised to believe this newspeak, and the mirage of Greater Syria leads them to venture into the “Near Abroad”.

As they venture deeper, the Syrian leadership may be getting ready for another geography lesson, a crash course in the Carter Doctrine.

American Geography

The Carter Doctrine is little more than a 20th Century version of the Monroe Doctrine.

The Monroe Doctrine is often mistaken as purely isolationist. And in a sense, it is; but when the 5th President of the United States considered America’s “Eminent Domain”, King Coal reigned supreme and his country was (and still is) its Saudi Arabia. Today, Oil is the blood of the economy, and, with more than 40% of proven reserves, the Middle East is its bleeding heart… And Hormuz its jugular vein.

In the immediate, the Americans are distracted with their elections. But come November, whoever is elected will have to worry about how to power all those Abram tanks. Mc Cain may waste less time navel gazing than Obama, but either one will ultimately move to reassert America’s right on its own “Eminent Domain”.

And the fact remains that Syria, like Lebanon and the rest of the Middle East, are part of America’s “Eminent Domain”. And unless there’s another Nakhimov waiting in the wings, the Siloviki may not be willing to push far beyond Sebastopol. And the Bitkhonim in Israel may not really follow through with Brest-Litovsk, especially if the Americans remain unwilling to sell out Lebanon.

So, since the Syrian regime will one day learn that simple leitmotif; you cannot fight geography, especially not when you continue oppressing your own people and proclaiming fake reforms. So , now that they back from their Bastille Day vacation, maybe we should start them on the Dummies version of Geography, Lesson 1, which we owe to the mismanagement of generations of short-sighted Arab "leaders";

It may be our sand, but it’s their oil.


5 comments:

danny said...

Syria, in an awkward manner is trying to compare itself to Russia...Whifs of Grandeur!!How idiotic is that? A despot trying to equate the Russian/Georgian issue with that of Syria/Lebanon!
I am afraid until the Persian Belle (HA) has not been divorced from Lebanon will not have a semi tranquil period of time. I suggest that if the pshyiatrists were to have their annual Mental Health conference in Lebanon we might get a better deal. It would be interesting if the case studies were to be our "leaders"...

Gus said...

Contrary to what some have said the similarities between the Georgian current problem and what has been going on in Lebanon for a few years is more than skin deep.

Georgia is a country populated by 4.5 million people, just like Lebanon. South Ossetia has less than 100,00 people and Abkhazia just about 200,000 people i.e South Ossetia represents about 2% of the official population of Georgia while Abkhazia is around 4 %. Yet each of these populations feels that they desrve an independent sovereign state on the grounds that they are different than the rest of the Georgians. Isn't this what many in Lebanon were afraid might happen? HA and its followers have never believed in or respected Lebanese sovereignty or identity but think of themselves as part of an Umma and thus were anxious to serve the interests of Iran and Syria as long as that was accomplished at the expense of the Lebanese central government. Make no mistake about it, HA and its allies have not split from Lebanon because they were able in an indirect way to gain control of the whole country but I feel certain that they would proceed in building their own separate enclave if the other Lebanese were to show smoe spine and oppose the HA project of weakening and dissolving whatever is left of Lebanon. Syria has played and will continue to play the role that Russia is playing in Georgia but this observer does not blame the Syrians for pursuing their interests but lays most of the blame on the so called Lebanese citizens who have never shown any meaningful allegiance to a sovereign Lebanese state.
The Lebanese "opposition" have not had to go as far as the South Osstians not because they do not want to but because they found out that they can have the whole thing. As you can see that is tantamount to having Souyh Ossetia swallow the whole of Georgia. (Even the Lebanese president acts as a Syrian and HA mouth piece but that is a different story).

Disconnect said...

You people are so disconnected from reality its funny. Has any person who is associated with this blog even visited Lebanon in the past 5 years?

HA is not a weird people living alone is some enclave in Lebanon. They are part of the Shia community which always have been a big part of the capital and ever so growing. Ain el Mreisseh (where I am from) has been a strongly Shia area for the past 60 years.
Raouche is becoming more and more mixed.
The Shia are an integral part of Lebanon and here to stay.

Jeha said...

Thank you for pointing out the obvious , Disconnect; all Lebanese citizens are an integral part of Lebanon. LaPalisse would not have put it better.

And that has nothing to do with this post, or any other post of this blog. Maybe you should learn to read.

So please, be factual. Or go away.

Nobody said...

There is much hyperbole and little fact/background in teh news nowadays. The media is not really aware that , in its invasion of Georgia, the Kremlin has taught the White House a masterly lesson in geography, teaching them Yankees not to venture too far into mother Russia’s “Near Abroad”. You would think the State Department’s Kremlinologist-en-chef would know better, but recall that she (and most others) misread (to put it mildly) the collapse of the Soviet Union, in spite of much evidence… How about putting some real Russia experts on the payroll?

I am wondering who is next. Many people bet on Ukraine. The Baltic sites may be also in a risk group. Latvia in particular. I remember reading in the New York Times that Russians there are getting restless and they should be close to 40% of the population. If Russian nationalists start a mess there I won't be surprised if the Russian army pays a visit.