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Lebanon: and The Universal Appeal of Liberty

August 8, 2006

So OFFAL was asked yesterday whether one of Hezbollah’s demands for a cease fire, the immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops, was “a negotiable point.”

At the risk of making OFFAL seem more articulate than in actuality, I’ll only quote the first sentence of his actual answer and paraphrase the rest: “Whatever happens in the U.N., we must not create a vacuum into which Hezbollah and its sponsors are able to move more weapons.” [The Lebanese government should take control of the South and secure it; with the help of an international force if necessary.]

He would then expound on… um… something or other…

…we want the Siniora government to survive and to be strengthened. The linchpin of the policy is to support democracies. And so the strategy at the U.N., the diplomatic strategy is to support that notion, because a democracy in Lebanon will not only help that nation address its long-term issues — such as rebuilding, providing a hopeful life — but a democracy on Israeli’s northern border will stabilize — help stabilize the region. We are committed to a democracy in the Palestinian territory.

Palestine? (Yeah, I noticed how you changed gears, there.) Seems like we could have done something to strengthen Lebanon’s democracy a little sooner, though. Before hundreds of civilians were killed, thousands displaced and the infrastructure destroyed.

Shoulda woulda coulda, I guess.

Even so, I kind of see your point. So just stop. Stop!

Oh, alright [sigh] continue if you must…

President Abbas, in his conversations with Condi, talked about moving forward with democracy. There are people who can’t stand the thought of a society based upon universal liberty from emerging. And that, in itself, ought to be a warning signal to those of us who care deeply for peace, that people would be willing to kill innocent citizens in order to stop the advance of liberty.

So you’re onto Palestine now, and saying things all decent people know to be true. I know it’s all rhetoric and emotionally charged language and stuff, but am I to gather that it’s acceptable to kill innocent civilians so long as you aren’t doing so in order to stop the advance of liberty? Because there seems to be a lot of killing of civilians going on in this big crazy world.

In any case, propaganda received: We’ll kill them into liberty.

No need to continue, right?

No? [cringe]

Now, I’ve talked a lot about the universal appeal of liberty, and I readily concede some people aren’t willing to — some say, well, you know, liberty may not be universal in this sense — America imposes its will. We don’t impose liberty; liberty is universal.

It’s one of the interesting debates of the 21st century, I think, that some would be willing to say it’s okay for people not to live in a free society. It’s not okay for us. If you love peace, in order to achieve peace you much help people realize that which is universal — and that is freedom.

Um… What?

Well whatever it was, it was riddled with ‘liberty’ and ‘freedom’; and— if I may make an observation based on the revealations of the last six years —seems a bit disingenuous, if you catch my drift.

[White House: President Bush and Secretary of State Rice Discuss the Middle East Crisis]

P.S: I’d be interested to know what the “some people” in “…some people aren’t willing to — some say, well, you know, liberty may not be universal in this sense…” are actually saying. I still mean to write more on this, but by Your Montag’s definition, those who would deny another’s liberty would have to be power seekers bent on domination — and morally wrong. Wait has OFFAL been talking to himself?

  1. August 10, 2006 2:05 PM

    Your P.S. suggests one possible definition of terror: “the effort to impose the total and unqualified power of a truth.” (Alain Badiou, Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil, trans. Peter Hallward (London: Verso, 2001), xii.) Your earlier, very nice summary: we’ll KILL them into liberty. Where does the power to decide who dies and who does not arise from? Or, more relevant to this post, what sort of ideology or ethics bolsters such an idea, that another could be threatened, sanctioned, killed into “liberty” or “freedom,” the supposedly universal (but per Montag, in fact precisely unavailable to those to whom it is ostensibly offered, a paradox which is worth thinking about)? For me, the most sinister phrase among the many in the quoted comments: “help people realize.”

  2. August 10, 2006 9:22 PM

    Sometimes all that’s needed is a gentle nudge toward death from a white phosphorus bomb to “help people realize” how universally appealing liberty is.

    Ethical questions and exploration of the paradoxes within the rhetoric are certainly worth thinking about. However, to question the ideology or methods of our leaders based upon what they say is perhaps an exercise in futility. For the sophistry of The Machine is smoke and mirrors to hide a cold strategic calculus.

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