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Anonymous - Chicago, Illinois
Seelye's documentary is excellent. Very concise yet packed with invaluable information. It proves that the Syrian government needs to change. All the people who were interviewed in Syria are scared people who would never voice their real opinion, not on camera or even in public. It is a very known fact that Assad threatened Hariri telling him that he would break Lebanon if his politics were opposed. You can't get more dictatorial than this. But is he really a strong dictator? Or is he just a scared dictator? A dictator does not send messages and threats, a dictator executes. Let's never forget that his father Hafez, much like Saddam in many ways, massacred his own people and the people of Lebanon.
The culture in this whole area of the world is one based on honor and religion. And in Bashar's eyes, change has to be done in an honorable way. Not through defeat. It's his party that needs to fall -- a party that an educated doctor like Bashar, who has studied in England, cannot be so convinced about. Some believe that we were lucky it wasn't someone like his late father that took over the Syrian regime. And if we watch the facts and read between the very few lines that Bashar al-Assad provides, isn't it almost clear that Bashar himself is seeking a regime change? Isn't it almost obvious that he is not free in his own moves?
Fear is what I see, and fear is great when we remind ourselves that we're
all humans. In a world where a car accident can be arranged;
a world where a human life is cheaper than a bullet; a world
where a car bomb is as easy as lighting a cigarette, as
easy as the one that killed prime minister Rafiq Hariri,
the United States has to get the obvious message: Bashar
needs its help. This is a historical turning point that
will change the future of the entire Middle East, and the
world. The United States has to keep the pressure on Syria,
through diplomacy -- and sanctions if necessary -- but not
war and chaos. We have an opportunity for "the change" today
and it's now or another 400,000 years from now or never.
Larry Tawil - Minneapolis, Minnesota
I was astounded at just how quickly Damascus bowed to Lebanon's
demand and scrutiny from the global community in vacating
the country. No doubt that pressure from the United States
in some form or another played a part in this, especially
given the strategic reasons for Syria's deployment there
as defense against Israel and as peacekeepers among the
various factions in the south.
Equally astounding is the paradox
accentuated by the move that Israel's refusal to vacate
its occupied territories and the Golan Heights (which
rightfully belong to Syria) according to U.N. and world
community demands remains unchanged. The Israeli military
occupation is older than that of Syria's in Lebanon; it
has utterly failed in protecting Israelis from terrorist/freedom
fighter (take your pick) attacks; their ongoing presence
is the single most potent reason for Middle East tension
Anonymous - Monument Beach, Massachusetts
This is for Kate Seelye whom I knew as a young girl when
I was living in Damascus, a member of the American Womens'
Club and was acquainted with her parents. I looked forward
to her piece on Lebanon and Syria, and I hear her regularly
on NPR. So it is established that I am a fan. I was disappointed
by the piece because it did not show how sinister the Syrian
regime really is, and how deeply they are/were imbedded
in Lebanon. Of course the merchant would say, "there is
no opposition, and there is no need for one, since we all
love our president unconditionally." Wow! Who would say
otherwise on international television? You can say she showed
a dissident but she did not mention how ruthless a background
Mr. Assad descends from, and how nothing has changed in
his father's cabinet. I could go on and on. Ms. Seelye covered
a lot of ground literally, but the survey was too superficial.
I look forward to more in depth exposure, so that the average
viewer who hasn't spent half their adult life in the Middle
East gets a more thorough analysis of how complicated things
really are. Thanks a lot.
Thomas Chell - Clinton, Tennessee
Thanks so much for the wonderful program in which Kate Seelye
reported from Lebanon. I could not say enough to express
my appreciation to her for all she has done in connection
with this reporting. Also the Liberia story was very informative.
James Morris - Los Angeles, California
Kate Seelye's Frontline World piece, which aired tonight was
nothing short of Zionist propaganda against Syria. There is
no proof that Syria was involved with the Hariri assassination.
Israel and the U.S. Neo-cons (via the JINSA/CSP/PNAC) in their
'A Clean Break'/war for Israel agenda (which esteemed U.S.
intelligence writer and author James Bamford discusses on
pages 261 to 269 of his book A Pretext for War, which I would
like to send to Ms. Seelye) were served by having Hariri out
of the way as conveyed in articles written by U.S. intelligence
writer Wayne Madsen.
Drew Abas - Loveland, Ohio
How can James Steele describe 1 million people, one quarter
of the population of Lebanon demonstrating for the withdrawal
of Syrian troops from Lebanon Zionist propaganda? And
no where in her report did she declare Syria's involvement
in Hariri's assassination. It was these same 1 million
Lebanese making such charges, true or not. NOT reporting
this would have been propaganda of another feather. Did
we watch the same show?
Michael Dowd - New York, New
I agree with James Morris and would like to point out
that it is remarkable that not once during this entire
program discussing the politics of Lebanon and Syria is
Israel mentioned. For instance, why did Syria enter Lebanon
in 1976? Also interesting is the fact that all the anti-Syria
graffiti and placards are written in English. Ms. Seelye's
documentary is an excellent example of pure Zionist propaganda.
Actually, we do mention Israel in the story, saying that
Israel still occupies Syria's Golan region. We also say
that Syria entered Lebanon as peacekeepers in 1976. They
clearly overstayed their welcome. There was no shortage
in Beirut of anti-Syrian graffiti and placards in Arabic,
we chose to show some signs in English simply because
they were easier for our audience to read. Many groups,
including Hezbollah, carry signs in English because they
want to deliver their message to American TV viewers.
Anonymous - Billings, Montana
I watched the report of Lebanon on PBS. It was great to
be able to see all that on TV and see all the footage of
how the Lebanese people were united. I hope Lebanon will
be again the Paris of the Middle East. Thank you!
Chahe Demian - San Francisco, California
I read your article titled "Lebanon's History of Occupation,"
and would like to thank you for portraying the situation
in Lebanon. The Syrian army entered Lebanon in 1976, and
since then has played the role of an arsonist and a firefighter
at the same time. About your mention of a renegade general,
allow me to make a small correction, the "renegade" general
was none other than the legitimate prime minister of Lebanon,
and the commander of the Lebanese army, His Excellency General
Michel Aoun. I am sure you saw his portrait carried by at
least one half of the millions who demonstrated in downtown
He was ousted in 1990 with the blessing of President George
Bush, in favor of gaining Syria's silence during the first
Gulf War. He is the only leader that has inspired the current
freedom movement from his exile for the past 14 years. His
testimonies at the U.S. Congress led to the adoption of
the Syrian Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Act.
For all of us Lebanese Americans, he is a national hero
and our only hope to unite the country, fight corruption,
and turn Lebanon into a symbol of democracy in a region
where democracy is much needed. It is one thing not to like
some of his previous actions or words directed toward U.S.
foreign policy, specifically from 1989 to 1990, when he
realized that President Bush was willing to sacrifice the
only democratic Arab country and donate it to a totalitarian
dictator like Hafez Al Assad. But post 9/11, we all understand
who is right and who was wrong, so I kindly ask you to reconsider
your classification of "renegade".
Kate Seelye responds:
In his fine book on Lebanon's civil war Faces of Lebanon
William Harris notes that General Aoun "deserves note as
the only democratic populist in the contemporary Arab world."
However, Harris also writes that Aoun led Lebanon into a
"military adventure with no hope of success" that turned
many in Lebanon, as well as some in the international community
(primarily the United States), against him. This is perhaps
why Aoun is sometimes referred to as a "renegade general"
by western analysts and reporters -- a characterization
that some understandably find objectionable.
The following are responses to the moderator question,
"Do recent events in Lebanon reflect a move toward democracy
in the Middle East?"
Christopher Rushlau - Portland, Maine
Kate Seelye on Lebanon. It is astonishing unless you are
a conspiracy theorist that Seelye got all the way through
the article (on the Web site) without using the word "Israel."
Pete McDonald - Chelmsford,
Bad timing. It is more likely that Lebanon will once again
become a safe haven for terrorists bent on the destruction
of Israel. The U.N. should have placed more emphasis on
helping Syria create a stronger Lebanese government in control
of a well-equipped army and a dependable internal security
force. Ethnic divisions within Lebanon limit national population
cohesion. Without the Syrian army present Israel may need
to take action against Lebanon within 3 to 5 years to accomplish
that task if the predictable insurgency materializes.
Maya Mroue - Pennsylvania
In response to Pete: As an American from "the land of
the free;" I am very disappointed by your comment. What
do you mean by: the U.N. "helping Syria create a stronger
Lebanese government?" This goes against all principles
of freedom. Can't you see that this whole "revolution"
was to free ourselves from Syrian occupation. And, please,
don't bring Israel in the picture. Why is it always about
Israel? This does not concern Israel. If anything, it
opens negotiation for Lebanon and Israel to have diplomatic
relations. The last thing we need is "Israel taking action."
This has only lead us to war and destruction in the past.
We can take care of ourselves, we don't need Syria and
we certainly don't need Israel! So please, stay out!
Kurt Hill - Ypsi, Michigan
Lebanon's Shia population has to be convinced that they
are wanted and needed at the new Lebanon government table.
Second, the Shia leadership has to be convinced that armed
conflict will not get the country moving in the right direction,
especially since Syria's military/intelligence group seems
to be moving out. The object is to show unity via the political
way versus the armed stronghold way. The Shia should be
invited to share in the piece of the pie and begin to help
the poor upgrade their lives. So convince the Shia's that
they don't need to bully their way into power or else Lebanon
will be occupied again by U.N. forces or even Syrian forces
to keep the peace. But yes, they do have the makings of
some sort of democratic process to include all and keep
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