Marchand Chronicles: Domino EffectDomino Effect
The Marchand Chronicles
March 5, 2005
A fascinating column appeared recently in the UC-Berkeley campus newspaper, The Daily Californian. Among other things, the authors, students Anna Schlotz and Snehal Shingavi, said this:
The anti-war movement has a responsibility to support the resistance as the struggle for the basic human rights of freedom from occupation, self-determination, and the ability to live with dignity; and to place the blame for chaos, civil war and terrorism squarely at the feet of American bombs and foreign policy. After all, the only thing standing in the way of U.S. plans to attack North Korea, Iran or Syria is the implacability of Iraqi resistance.Forget the boilerplate Michael Moore rhetoric, disregard the lionization of the terrorizing, head-hacking, innocent-slaughtering "resistance," and ignore the blame-America-first argument that seems to constantly belch into the skies over Berkeley like steel factory smokestack emanations in Pittsburgh or Gary, Indiana. What makes this line of thought fascinating is the last-line-of-defense strategy implied by the final sentence: After all, the only thing standing in the way of U.S. plans to attack North Korea, Iran or Syria is the implacability of Iraqi resistance.
Isn't it remarkable that after all the talk that the U.S. is caught in a Vietnam-like quagmire, that someone in the anti-war camp has come out with their own version of "The Domino Theory" that was used to justify Vietnam? "If we don't win in Iraq, North Korea, Iran, and Syria will all fall to the cursed Americans!"
Meanwhile, an amazing sequence of events is taking place elsewhere in the Middle East, unappreciated by Schlotz and Shingavi because it involves genuine ideas of "freedom from occupation, self-determination, and the ability to live with dignity" and casts future American "victims" as the villains. In Lebanon, following the targeted assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, almost certainly the product of Syria's meddling, thousands of people have taken to the streets demanding autocracy. This led the pro-Syrian Lebanese puppet government to collapse and the entire world to pressure Syria to completely withdraw all troops from Lebanon.
This breathtaking occasion, along with other rumblings of pro-democratic developments in Palestine, Egypt, and even Saudi Arabia, has been called a "Domino Effect" itself, with the Iraqi elections in late January providing the initial catalyst for the chain reaction. And although President Bush is too magnanimous to gloat about the results of his pro-democracy movement, even his detractors, like The New York Times or the German publication Der Spiegel, are giving him some credit for the outcomes.
Well, not everyone.
Ed Kilgore, guest-posting at Josh Marshall's blog, wrote the following in response to Bush supporters who asserted that the President's foreign policy had led to this Domino Effect:
[I]t literally never crossed my mind that Bush's fans would credit him with for this positive event, as though his pro-democracy speeches exercise some sort of rhetorical enchantment.post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this) logical fallacy. This is a president and an administration that chronically refuse to accept responsibility for the bad things that have happened on their watch--even things like the insurgency in Iraq that are directly attributable to its policies. Barring any specific evidence (provided, say, by Lebanese pro-democracy leaders) that Bush had anything in particular to do with Syria's setbacks in Lebanon, I see no particular reason to high-five him for being in office when they happened.
This is the kind of thinking, of course, that has convinced God knows how many people that Ronald Reagan personally won the Cold War. It's the old
Let us congratulate the Lebanese, not those in Washington who would take credit for their accomplishments.Instead of the Domino Effect, Kilgore represents the Domino's Effect: his brain went out for pizza while composing that post.
While Kilgore is right in that all congratulations are due to the Lebanese people for their brave demonstrations of freedom, it's irrational to conclude that their protests are taking place in a vacuum. Lebanon has lived under Syrian domination for three decades, but only now are their efforts at autocracy gaining traction. Why? Ask influential religious leader and long-time U.S. critic Walid Jumblatt: "It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq. I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world. The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it." (emphasis added in case Kilgore is reading). Among Lebanese youth, their new hero is "Ju-Ju": an Arabic pet name for "George."
Since his second inaugural address, President Bush has seeded the clouds of democracy over the arid desert expanse of the Middle East. His critics say, "Well, it was going to rain eventually, anyway." It seems getting Bush-haters to fall in line is one domino that will never topple.