The Therapy Sessions
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Thomas Friedman is a man whose opinions I respect, even if he is aggravatingly inconsistent. He was for the war - seeing it as an opportunity to remake the Muslim world - until it got tough. Then he waffled and declared all was lost: he blasted Bush and praised Kerry for his Iraq plans (which were?). And now he is optimistic again.
Still, he always has an interesting perspective:
When Syria's Baath regime feels its back up against the wall, it always resorts to "Hama Rules." Hama Rules is a term I coined after the Syrian Army leveled - and I mean leveled - a portion of its own city, Hama, to put down a rebellion by Sunni Muslim fundamentalists there in 1982. Some 10,000 to 20,000 Syrians were buried in the ruble. Monday's murder of Mr. Hariri, a self-made billionaire who devoted his money and energy to rebuilding Lebanon after its civil war, had all the hallmarks of Hama Rules - beginning with 650 pounds of dynamite to incinerate an armor-plated motorcade.
Message from the Syrian regime to Washington, Paris and Lebanon's opposition: "You want to play here, you'd better be ready to play by Hama Rules - and Hama Rules are no rules at all. You want to squeeze us with Iraq on one side and the Lebanese opposition on the other, you'd better be able to put more than U.N. resolutions on the table. You'd better be ready to go all the way - because we will....
...What else can the Lebanese do? They must unite all their communities and hit the Syrian regime with "Baghdad Rules," which were demonstrated 10 days ago by the Iraqi people. Baghdad Rules are when an Arab public does something totally unprecedented: it takes to the streets, despite the threat of violence from jihadists and Baathists, and expresses its democratic will...
...Nothing drives a dictatorship like Syria's more crazy than civil disobedience and truth-telling: when people stop being intimidated, stand up for their own freedom and go on strike against their occupiers. The Lebanese can't play by Hama Rules and must stop playing by the old Lebanese Rules. They must start playing by Baghdad Rules.
Baghdad Rules mean the Lebanese giving the Syrian regime - every day, everywhere - the purple finger.