The 'domino effect' in reverse?
That's what Syria's Expatriates Minister, Bouthaina Shaaban, claims in a column that Beirut's Daily Star published today, timed to coincide with the Hamas victory in the Palestinian polls. Anyone who calls the 'election' of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela 'real democracy' should be read with a shaker of salt handy...especially coming from a representative of a violent dictatorship like the Ba'athist Assad regime in Syria.
Three years of occupation and bloodshed later, the American-exported democracy in Iraq is nothing more than ethnic and sectarian division and hostility to neighboring Arab states. The democratic leader turned out to be no one other than the American ambassador, and the interests of the people proved only subservient to American national interests. A similar democracy is now being sought in Lebanon, inaugurated with political assassinations.
This does not necessarily contradict with the domino theory. The effect, however, went in the reverse direction. In another part of the world, Che Guevara, Allende, the small island of Cuba, and Hugo Chavez have proven that even small weak countries can stand up to the hegemony of powerful ones.
The domino effect in Latin America has returned Venezuela's natural resources to its national control. It made Evo Morales, an indigenous citizen, win the elections in Bolivia. It brought Michele Bachelet to presidency in Chile. The domino effect has ended decades of military dictatorship and foreign hegemony, and reinstituted real democracy and freedom.
Real democracy and freedom...like that in Syria, to be sure.
Syria the Model?
This, of course, is the same Bouthaina Shaaban who said in late December 2005:
He [Syrian President Bashar Assad] is the first democratic, humble, young, hopeful leader for his country. I think the West doesn't know him, doesn't know what kind of man he is. If they know him, and they know what kind of person he is, and if they truly want democracy and freedom in our region, this is also a very important question. If they truly want peace in our region, they couldn't have a better partner than President Bashar.
Forgive us, Ms. Shaaban, but we know Bashar. He's is a partner in democracy as clouds are a partner to sunlight.