After the Syrian Fireworks
The Powers Inflate a Local Dispute
There was a time, not long ago, when a crack Arab fighting force used to parade beneath my balcony in a Middle Eastern capital once a week to rehearse its second round against Israel. Headed by a goat and a military band, it marched off through a crowded market square, banners flying and arms at the ready, and then headed for a pleasant little valley three or four miles out of town.
Here, after a suitable rest, and an hour of crawling and shouting into radio sets, fires were lit, lunch was eaten, and coffee brewed. The afternoon was given over to smoking, pep-talks, and sometimes singing. At last, just sufficiently disheveled, the force would return, almost too weary to acknowledge the admiring exclamations Of the market square crowd. Merchants consoled one another with the thought that there was at least something to show for the new military tax. Visiting firemen who caught the parade dashed off solemn cables about the new spirit of militancy animating the Arab world.
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