Michael Totten

It’s Not All About the U.S.

New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh thinks someone other than the Syrian Baath regime assassinated former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. (Hat tip: Michael Young)

I’m exceedingly skeptical, and I have been all along, of the point of view of what happened to Hariri. The American point of view is that it was Syria with the aid of some people in Lebanon. Despite all the back and forth about how the American press corps was totally manipulated, to its embarrassment, about WMD, I would still argue, we’re still being totally manipulated by this administration about Syria and Lebanese involvement.

What Hersh decries as the “American point of view” is not the American point of view. It is the Lebanese point of view. It is the French point of view. It is the United Nations’ point of view. It is pretty much The World’s point of view. The American point of view happens to line up with The World’s point of view in large part because America is part of the world.
I have met a grand total of two people in Lebanon who told me they think someone other than Syria, with the help of its Lebanese goon squad, assassinated Hariri.
The first was a right-wing Christian who thought the United States did it. After he accused the United States of whacking Hariri he stuck out his hand, as if he wanted to shake mine, and said “Thank you for killing Hariri. It got Syria out of our country.” The Lebanese Christian community does not share his view. He speaks for himself. (And, just so we’re clear, I did not shake his hand.)
The second person who thought someone other than the Syrian regime killed Hariri was Mohammad Afif, a member of Hezbollah’s political bureau. (Syria, like Iran, is and has been a patron of Hezbollah.)
If those named in the report by U.N. Special Prosecutor Detlev Mehlis do, in fact, turn out to be innocent, that will make one hell of a story. Perhaps Hersh is the man to investigate it and write it. If so, he will need to get out of his office and come to Beirut. No matter what he might end up writing on the subject in the end, he will certainly find, once he gets here, that the notion “Syria killed Hariri” isn’t American.
UPDATE: See also Tony Badran and Roger L. Simon.