Across the Bay

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

High Stakes

The always-sharp Bill Harris explains what exactly is at stake in Lebanon:

In the contemporary world it is fashionable to represent conflicts as involving various shades of gray among contending parties, with clear moral choices being problematic. In the current Lebanese crisis, however, the choice is clear – it is between day and night, between light and darkness.
Beyond the worthiness of Lebanese democracy, the Lebanese crisis poses the fundamental issue of stamping out political murder. The Syrian regime’s apologists whine that the Hariri assassination – in fact the mass murder of more than twenty people and one event in a continuing chain of murders – is not a suitable matter for international intervention. But, even setting aside international security in the Levant and foreign – Syrian – interference in Lebanon, who else except the international community could pursue the criminals given that the Lebanese legal system has been terrorized and corrupted into impotence? No democracy and no pluralism can coexist with impunity for political murder. This is an international matter. Exemplary punishment for Hariri’s assassins and their masters and accomplices at the hands of the international community will send a powerful global message. It would be an international disaster for the UN’s first ever murder inquiry and court to become a fiasco.

Indeed, what's at stake is quite clear, and it goes beyond balance of power issues: either rule of law (and international law) -- which is the basis of the international system and of sound governance everywhere -- prevails, or the rule of thuggery, terrorism and violence prevails.

Either the international community stands up for its values, its laws, and its very system, or it legitimizes terrorism as the principle rule and tool to achieve objectives (which also means legitimizing Bin Ladenism more generally).

It's as simple as that.