Wednesday, February 16, 2005

SYRIA'S REASONS FOR STAYING IN LEBANON sound an awful lot like the Bush administration's reasons for staying in Iraq.

Syrian officials have said that the smaller, weaker country, whose current president and many other leaders are staunch allies, depends on Syrian soldiers and intelligence agents to keep the peace among Lebanese factions.

And from Reuters the day before the Iraq elections:

Under pressure to start bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq after Sunday's election, President Bush said on Saturday that the U.S. mission must keep going to help the new government get its footing.

"As democracy takes hold in Iraq, America's mission there will continue," Bush said in his weekly radio address. "Our military forces, diplomats and civilian personnel will help the newly elected government of Iraq establish security and train Iraqi military police and other forces."

The White House and the State Department really need to stop and think about how funny it is when their spokespeople say, as Richard Boucher did at the news conference yesterday where he announced that the U.S. ambassador to Syria was being recalled: "Yesterday's bombing calls into question the stated reason behind this presence of Syrian security forces: Lebanon's internal security." Aren't they worried that Americans might remember the innumerable times when the Bush administration defended the continuing presence of U.S. troops as necessary to protect Iraqis' safety, even as one incident of horrifying terrorist violence after another occurred?

And when Condoleezza Rice makes statements like this:

"There is no doubt that the conditions created by Syria's presence there have created a destabilized situation in Lebanon. ..."

or when the acting U.S. ambassador to the United Nations calls for Syria to end its occupation of Lebanon, isn't the Bush administration concerned that millions of Americans will need the Heimlich maneuver?

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