April 14, 2005

Hezbollah Blogging

Posted by Michael J. Totten

Lebanon still has some deadly serious problems aside from just the
Syrian dictatorship and the secret police. Hezbollah runs their own
terrorist state-within-a-state in the southern suburbs of Beirut. I
went down there yesterday and blogged about it - with photos - here.

It was, um, creepy to say the least.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at April 14, 2005 02:55 AM

Great posts at the SOA site Michael. But please - no more photos of the Hezbollah fanatics. Some of us are more than willing to use our imaginations.

Posted by: Caroline at April 14, 2005 07:01 AM

Yuuccch !!

Once you've seen one backward,ignorant,fascist Islamist theocrat,you have pretty much seen tham all.
I don't think you can reason with these clowns.They only understand one language.The problem is not that there are 'martyr' posters everywhere(obscene as they are);the problem is that there are not nearly enough posters.
Not nearly enough.

Posted by: dougf at April 14, 2005 07:26 AM

Excellent excellent post on the Spirit of America blog. That's what Liberals used to sound like. And Beirut looks like a blast to be in.

dougf, Lebanon is clearly a house divided, like our own country, and will eventually break one way or the other. It will emulate the West, or it'll continue to languish in middle eastern backwardness.

But I noticed the reasonable, freedom-loving Arabs instead of the fascist ones.

This stood out:

"And she said: "I must tell you something. If we didn't think we had American support we would never have done this. They would kill us. We need you. It is just a fact."

Bush is obviously the right man at the right time. But count the Left out. Their only concern is that Bush will get credit for any of this. And they'd rather see Arabs languish under tyranny than for Bush to get any credit for their freedom.

Posted by: spaniard at April 14, 2005 07:40 AM

Great pictures there, Michael. Should we have comments there, or here? I can imagine you're not sure yourself.

Any thought of trying to find some Shiite Hezbollah moderates who speak English? It might be interesting to help them blog. I'm thinking of a blog-friend, instead of a pen-pal. I'd be happy to write an email to any in Lebanon who want to talk in English. (I have time now, not money.) Maybe other bloggers would, too.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at April 14, 2005 07:52 AM

Any thought of trying to find some Shiite Hezbollah moderates who speak English?

That would be like finding an atheist anarchist moderate. It's a contradiction in terms.

Posted by: spaniard at April 14, 2005 07:55 AM

Excellent reporting and photos. Beats anything on the media today.

Stay safe!

Posted by: Patricia at April 14, 2005 08:55 AM

For all intents and purposes there hasn''t been any public schools in Lebanon for 20 years or more.

So who have all the volunteer teachers been? Guess. That's a whole generation and more taught by Hezbollah school teachers. Yes, there's a bit more of a problem than getting the Syrians out. Some of the Lebanese want freedom. An equal number, or thereabouts, want to kill every Israeli and Westerner they can find.

Posted by: geraldObrien at April 14, 2005 09:32 AM

Great stuff Michael! What a service you provide to those of us wondering around the web.

From one of your posts:

"I wanted to make sure these guys knew a huge cross-section of the American people support what they are doing.
"It feels kinda weird, man" Hisham said.
"Why?" I said.
"Because we don't know what you want from us. What's in it for you?"
"Look," I said. "We live in a free country."
"Oh yes, I know," Hashim's friend said. "We really envy you for what you have."
"So we want you to be free, too," I said. "Americans hate dictatorship and oppression. No one should have to live like that. You're fighting for what we believe in, so of course we support you."
They seemed slightly wary, like I was blowing smoke.
"Okay," Hashim said. "Who decides what kind of freedom we have in Lebanon?"
"You," I said and pointed at him personally.
"Yes!" he said. "Who decides what kind of freedom people will have in Iraq?"
"Iraqis," I said.
"Yes!" he said. He then took out a card and wrote his name, phone number, and email address on the back of it. He handed it to me, shook my hand, and said "You have a friend in Lebanon now. You will always be welcome here."

All true. But it is also true that we like and support democracy because democratic people do not commit violence or otherwise physically attack each other when they disagree. Adherents to democratic priciples, including States, are sybolic signatories to a contract that says we will work together, we will argue, sometimes vehemently, and then we will vote. And once we have voted we will accept the result - whether our point-of-view wins or loses.

And that is as good a reason as any to support the establishment of democracy in the rest of the world.

Posted by: too many steves at April 14, 2005 09:46 AM

Like the "Taking back the streets" post, "the Problem of Hezbollah" shows us more about the situation in Lebanon than we learned from the standard press.

The situation in Lebanon tells us a lot about the situation in the entire Middle East. Many people have do not agree with the Ba’thist/Islamist demand that anything that is not Arab or Muslim must be hated and destroyed. Kurds, Shi’ites, Christians, Jews and moderate Muslims have been persecuted for years by dictators who have been systematically ethnic-cleansing the Middle East in the name of Arabization.

Most people are tired of the hate, they want unity and the right to determine their own destiny. When the secret police and the fascists with guns lose their power, more people feel free to tell us the truth.

I'm glad you posted this - the contrast between the two sides in this dispute says a lot. How can anyone who has seen Hezbollahland claim that this is a charitable group?

Posted by: mary at April 14, 2005 10:18 AM

"An equal number, or thereabouts, want to kill every Israeli and Westerner they can find."

We were told the same thing before the Iraqis voted. The message of freedom is more powerful than any messenger, let alone a totalatarian terrorist group.

In the US, people marched because they feared an evangelical takeover based on a Schiavo slippery slope. Imagine how many marchers could be mustered to protest actual totalatarianism. There are reasons to fear for the future of Lebanon, but a popular uprising to crush the spread of freedom isn't one of them.

Posted by: Sweetie at April 14, 2005 10:50 AM

In the US, people marched because they feared an evangelical takeover based on a Schiavo slippery slope."

Really? I missed that one. Must have been pretty insignifant.

Posted by: spaniard at April 14, 2005 10:54 AM

I think they have done a great job "marketing" their movement. Independance O5, sounds great. Hot protestors, even better. Not blowing shit up, it is a great start. Is there any chance Hizbu will go political, IRA style, and eventually disapear?

Posted by: Mike at April 14, 2005 01:38 PM

P.S. Michael - the only reason I said "no more photos of the Hezbollah fanatics" - was for your sake - not ours. In other words, based on your post that it isn't a good idea to photograph those folks, I was only suggesting - don't. You're a writer remember? Describe them. In other words - you use your writing skills and we'll use our imagination and I think that's a fair trade all around. That's what I meant, although I probably didn't make it clear :-)

Posted by: Caroline at April 14, 2005 06:00 PM

These same Hezbollahs that you are portraying as backward terrorists are the same people that stood and fought for Lebanon’s freedom from the Zionist state of Israel. Unlike the Christians and the others who stood and watched these men give their blood and souls to the freedom of their country. It is really shameful how people like you quickly forget or pretend to forget if the situation does not suit them.


Posted by: Yusef at April 14, 2005 08:33 PM

Yusef, how long ago did the civil war end?

Posted by: Mike at April 14, 2005 09:20 PM

"These same Hezbollahs that you are portraying as backward terrorists are the same people that stood and fought for Lebanon’s freedom from the Zionist state of Israel."

Do you work for George Soros? You sound just like a radical Democrat. Have you ever visited the Daily Kos? I'm sure that you can get a campaign job on the Democratic presidential campaign in 2008.

Posted by: David Thomson at April 14, 2005 09:23 PM

Great stuff, Michael. Be free, be open, be brave, but be safe.

It's silly of me to say that last - there's nothing safe about fighting a war for freedom. That's exactly what you are doing, too. We can kill the bad guys with weapons... and we most assuredly will do a lot of that... but we can only win if the locals win.

No empire are we; more a street dance wondering what it will take to get the other neighborhoods fit to visit.

Too tired to blather anymore.

Good work, Michael. Mom and I will be sending our little bit of support before the weekend is out. Keep up the good work, sir.

Posted by: TmjUtah at April 14, 2005 09:54 PM

Poor people live there Michael. In "Hezbollahland".

I bet they can't afford to buy the stuff in those parts you describe as "free-wheeling" as Hong Kong, in those gleaming shopping malls. Just like the poor in Hong Kong are priced out of much of the city.

But in "Hezbollahland" as you describe it (making the people faceless, or just "Hezbollah"), yes there are people with guns. But Hezbollah provides welfare there because these people are poor.

So getting rid of the guns is one thing, but the link Hezbollah has with the people there is deeper. You might want to solve some of the economic issues then.

You also might want to actually speak to the people there. That's difficult, but surely that's part of finding out what's going on.

Anyway, Michael, keep safe, and I hope you enjoy the rest of your time there.

Posted by: Benjamin at April 15, 2005 12:48 AM


From what I've been told, only about one-third of the Shiite population supports Hezbollah these days. One third is secular, and another third supports various other minor splinter factions. Sunni Muslims fear and loathe Hezbollah, and the reasons for that would be obvious if you were here in West Beirut with me. (It's like Paris here in the center of Sunni Muslim Lebanon.)

Yes, Hezbollahland is poor. But that is not the reason armed Hezbollah goons rule the streets. It's the other way around. No one, and I mean no one, is going to invest any money down there. Also, Hezbollah is not the only group of people building hospitals.

I will give Hezbollah credit for one thing. They are not financially corrupt, at least not to people's knowledge here. But that is not good enough. They still need to be disarmed and become a normal political party. You would go batshit on any group of armed Christian thugs who behaved the same way, as would I.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 15, 2005 02:35 AM

It is a good time here, though, Bejamin. Come on out on holiday sometime. It is totally worth it. This place is endlessly compelling. I am nowhere near tired of being here.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 15, 2005 02:37 AM

"You might want to solve some of the economic issues then."

Yes, and do you want to know how to accomplish this goal? You do so by getting rid of Hezbollah. These thugs discourage any serious investment. Spare me the rhetoric about how their “welfare agency” assists those living in squalor. Economic growth is virtually impossible when you lack political stability and gangsters control the streets. Are you aware that President Bush did wonders for the Iraq economy? Getting rid of Saddam Hussein was mandatory to help the Iraqis improve their standard of living.

Posted by: David Thomson at April 15, 2005 02:38 AM

But in "Hezbollahland" as you describe it (making the people faceless, or just "Hezbollah"), yes there are people with guns. But Hezbollah provides welfare there because these people are poor.

Straight from the Lefist playbook. They cause poverty in the first place, then fancy themselves compassionate when dishing out "charity."

Posted by: spaniard at April 15, 2005 08:00 AM

Nice reply Micheal.

The Mid East is certainly one place I will visit sometime. I hope all goes well for you.


You are twisting my words. I did not say the cause was poverty per se, but its in the mix. Hezbollah sell themselves as welfarists too. They are also men with guns.

So it seems to me one has to tackle both the gun issue and economic issues.

Posted by: Benjamin at April 15, 2005 09:48 PM


what I meant was that perhaps those people are poor precisely because Hesbollah creates the conditions which guarantee they will remain poor, and therefore dependent on Hisbollah for charity. Actually, I think that was Michael's point too.

Which is what the Left does, albeit inadvertently. They want to re-distribute wealth for the poor, but they've created conditions by which it's nearly impossible to create wealth because wealth requires incentive.

Posted by: spaniard at April 15, 2005 11:21 PM
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