Across the Bay

Friday, November 11, 2005

Hersh-ey Barf

Michael Young responds to a pathetic statement by the conspiracy-prone and spasmatic (when it comes to "neocons") Seymour Hersh on Syria's role in the Hariri assassination. Here's what Hersh said:

I'm exceedingly skeptical, and I have been all along, of the point of view of what happened to Hariri. The American point of view is that it was Syria with the aid of some people in Lebanon. Despite all the back and forth about how the American press corps was totally manipulated, to its embarrassment, about WMD, I would still argue, we're still being totally manipulated by this administration about Syria and Lebanese involvement.

Here's part of Michael's response:

Hersh has apparently caught a rampaging malady among those reflecting on American behavior in the Middle East; it is now fair game, it seems, to interpret any regional news story through the parochial prism of a "wag the dog" scenario, so that the Katrina and Harriet Miers debacles, or George W. Bush's wilting ratings, have become perfectly good explanations for U.S. policy toward Syria, Iran, Iraq, or anything you might want to shoehorn into a preposterous narrative. (The fact is that U.S. policy toward Syria was shaped months before Bush won the 2004 election, at a time when he was doing very well, and this was encouraged by, of all people, French President Jacques Chirac.)

This line of thinking was peddled by the insufferable Buthaina Shaaban (possibly one of the source of Hersh's wisdom on things Syrian) in her rants/op-eds in ash-Sharq al-Awsat. That paper also featured an equally brain-dead op-ed by Mamoun Fandy that followed that same logic, which Fandy mistook for cleverness. But perhaps the cake should go to the most boring individual to write on things Middle Eastern, mildew incarnate, Clovis Maksoud, for a typically diarrhetic piece in an-Nahar along those same lines.

Varieties on the same theme can be found at places like the Daily Kos, etc.

So if we were to give Hersh an Andrew Sullivan-style award, who would we name it after? I ran through some candidates in my mind, and I think for this kind of silliness, the best candidate really cannot be anyone but the hilarious Justin Raimondo. (By the way, if you wish to donate to the "Help Raimondo Buy His Medication" fund, contact me for more info.) I think we have a winner.

I should add that this kind of nonsense (pandered by the BBC for instance, and certainly Al-Jazeera) has driven Lebanese bloggers crazy (scroll down for links to samples). One of them, The Beirut Spring, decided to even start a petition in support of Mehlis.

Update: Michael Totten chimes in from Beirut. He makes a point similar to my last one, about the Lebanese sentiment. He notes that he has met a total of two people in Lebanon who don't think Syria was responsible: a conspiracy-prone extremist Christian, and an extremist Shiite (from Hizbullah). I think that gives just about the accurate picture. The extremes are outside the moderate center of Lebanese consensus. The latter was seen on March 14th, when 1.2 million people took to the streets and pointed the finger squarely at Bashar, and did so after Hizbullah flexed its muscles a week before then, thus showing them to be outside the moderate Lebanese consensus. (By the way, Michael uses the term "right-wing" for the Christian fellow. It should be added that Hizbullah is not "left-wing." Hizbullah is as right-wing as it gets, only from the Shiite Muslim side. I've expressed repeatedly my distaste for such terminology as "right" and "left" in Lebanon, as its value is limited, especially when it gets mixed with sectarian identification.)