Tuesday, March 8, 2005 will mark the beginning of the first test of the President Bush's Freedom Doctrine, as he so eloquently declared upon his second inauguration
on January 20, 2005:
Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world: All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.
And again in his State of the Union Address
just a few weeks later on February 2, 2005:
And to the Iranian people, I say tonight: As you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you.
Ironically, it wasn't the Iranians, but instead the good people of Lebanon who heard the President's message loud and clear, and today they are standing for their own liberty. They have begun to oust a puppet regime, and continue to gather in "Democracy Square" in support of freedom and democracy.
However, reports are now circulating expecting violence to break out on Tuesday March 8, 2005, when the Hizbollah militia takes to the streets of Beirut
to protest Syria's withdrawal:
Tuesday's protest, called by the Shi'ite Muslim Hizbollah group and its allies to show support for Damascus and oppose what they call Western meddling, was widely expected to attract a large turnout. ... Hizbollah (Party of God) warned of mayhem if Syrian troops were to leave Lebanon.
At the Nudnik File, some of us suspect
that Assad is reaching for his father's old playbook: specifically, he will claim that he is complying with the UN Resolutions by partially withdrawing while manipulating events on the ground to demonstrate that Syria is needed to maintain stability in Lebanon. So if Hizbollah confronts the democracy movement and violence erupts (thereby making the "mayhem" prediction come true), Assad will be able to pull an I-told-you-so, and claim that his warnings of civil war
were right on the money, and therefore a continued Syrian military presence is required in Lebanon to keep the peace. The English translation is: Syria continues to both fleece Lebanon as well as use its lands to conduct terrorist activities.
So the question remains, what will the United States do to "stand with"
the good people of Lebanon if Hizbollah terrorists move against the peaceful democracy protestors on Tuesday? Will the U.S. "stand with" the Lebanese freedom movement, or simply stand by and watch them get slaughtered by Hizbollah terrorists?
And it's already beginning, as reported in this article from LebanonWire.com:
In a shooting incident between rival camps late Sunday, an 18-year-old opposition supporter was wounded when followers of loyalists movements fired on his car near Martyrs' Square. The Lebanese army later arrested three people.
This is a watershed moment in history.
That "tipping" phenomenon to which Rumsfeld often refers is actually occurring. We saw it on January 30 in Iraq, we are seeing the beginnings of it in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. And it is advancing faster than anyone imagined in Lebanon.
Back in late January and early February when President Bush gave those speeches, many in the administration most likely questioned where and when this policy would find its first test.
Well, that question no longer remains. The world unexpectedly finds itself looking to the streets of Beirut for the first test of the Freedom Doctrine.
And two pretty simple principles hold true here:
1) The United States has a moral obligation to prevent any injury from coming to the Lebanese freedom movement. Right now, we should have a dozen Apaches and a few hundred Special Ops groups waiting off the coast of Lebanon ready to drop in on a moment's notice to protect the freedom movement if the Hizbollah terrorists engage in any violence against them.
2) And what if the United States fails to live up to its bold ideals and support it strong rhetoric with immediate protection against any attack on the democracy advocates in Lebanon? Freedom will no longer be "on the march" in the Middle East, all US credibility in the region will be lost, the "tipping" will reverse, and all hopes for democratic reform in the Middle East will be set back for decades.
So will we load up the Apaches and insert Special Ops teams to protect the democracy protestors in Lebanon from armed Hizbollah terrorist militias? Or will we do the exact opposite of what President Bush promised by "ignoring their oppression" and "excusing their oppressors" as soon as the first shots of the revolution are fired?
All I've got to say is that if this freedom movement in Lebanon dies, there with it dies President Bush's Freedom Doctrine, and all of the possible benefits that such an historic moment offered.
History will not treat such a grave error kindly, and I hope for the sake of freedom and democracy throughout the world that we have a plan to avoid such a calamity at any cost.