Across the Bay

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

An Odor of Mildew from Carnegie

Following up on my critique of the dreadful and sinister Carnegie report, NOW Lebanon's editorial kicks it up a couple more notches:

Carnegie appears very much locked into an old template in analyzing Syrian behavior. We are offered a long section explaining how “pragmatic” Syria was in the past vis-à-vis the United States, which is supposed to make us deduce that Syria is still pragmatic today, hence worthy of US engagement. Based on Carnegie’s conclusions, however, the larger implication is more sinister: Syria has interests in Lebanon, can impose its will in the country, therefore, Washington has an interest in granting it some room to maneuver here because Syria is practical enough not to hold an ideological grudge against the Americans and can assist them elsewhere in the region.

As for the Lebanese who oppose Syria, Carnegie maliciously implies that they’re not really worthy of American salvation...

Carnegie is blinded by the past, technically incapable of updating its memory bank on Syria and the Middle East.
When the report’s authors realize this, they will finally be able to pen a document that can be taken seriously.

Read the whole thing.

I have just one quibble with a point raised in the editorial. While their treatment of "realism" addresses it merely as a conceptual framework, I feel the authors still concede too much to Carnegie on the "realism" issue. My point in my critique was that Carnegie's proposals are anything but realist (or internationalist for that matter). They're just stale, counterproductive recommendations that would recreate a balance of power antithetical to US interests.

The point is, as evident from the naval deployment, to name but the latest move, that Lebanon is viewed strategically. Secretary Rice put it well: "[The naval deployment] is simply to make very clear that the US is capable and willing to defend its interests and the interests of its allies."

The split in the region on an international and regional level, between the US, the UN, Arab allies on one hand, and Iran and Syria on the other, reflects a struggle for a favorable balance of power in the region as a whole, especially in the Gulf: either to Iran's advantage or to that of the Pax Americana.

The notion that the abandonment of Lebanon to Iran and its satellites, and the undermining of allied Arab states, and the reopening of the Lebanese southern front, and the restoration of Hezbollah's operational freedom somehow creates a better balance of power for the US is laughable.

And so Carnegie doesn't deserve the realist label. Nor does it deserve the internationalist label either. It's why I dubbed it a call for defeat and abandonment of interests, allies, principles and international law. It's a set of terrible, ill-informed and often ludicrous -- not to mention dated -- recommendations any way you look at it, and it should be safely discarded.