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Thursday, February 14, 2008


Assassination in Syria

A leading Hezbollah militia leader was assassinated with a truck bomb in Syria. I can safely predict that, unlike the assassination of Rafik Hariri in Lebanon, there will be no international outcry nor any demand for a U.N. investigation of the murder, even though a foreign government (Israel, obviously) is the leading suspect in the assassination.

Two sentences in the Los Angeles Times article I was reading caught my eye:

It [the war between Israel and Lebanon in 2006] also led to questions about whether Syria would continue meddling in Lebanese politics as it quietly attempted to ease its bellicose stand with Washington.

Iran, a key Hezbollah ally believed to have regarded Mughniyah as a strategic asset for creating mischief in the region, blamed Israel.
Note two things about this. First, both of these sentences are unattributed, that is, they are being presented by the author of the article as simple conventional wisdom. Who "questions whether Syria will continue meddling"? Who "believes Mughniyah [the assassinated leader] is a strategic asset"? "We" do, apparently.

Of course, the even more striking aspect of these sentences is the pejorative and trivializing nature of the charges. Hezbollah's purpose in life, apparently, is to "create mischief in the region." Syria is "meddling in Lebanese politics." What utterly despicable people, the reader is being told; they kill people just to "create mischief" and "meddle."

$1000 to any reader who can find a news article in the Los Angeles Times or any other leading corporate outlet describing U.S. behavior "in the region" as "creating mischief" or "meddling."

Update: Allan Nairn's similar take on the event, headlined "Mafia Rules in the Middle East," with his bottom line: "If you're big enough, you can whack guys."

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