November 18, 2006

The New Middle East

Michael Young, Opinion page editor at Beirut's Daily Star, writes a Kiss Goodbye to a Liberal Middle East.

Syrian dissident Ammar Abdulhamid, whom Michael sometimes publishes in the Daily Star, has more on this theme on his blog:
During my recent talk at Brookings, one of the attendees, a well-known and respected former diplomat, asked me whether I did not think that US diplomat are smart and clever enough to be able to convince the Assads, once they engage them, of them of the usefulness of breaking away from Iran.

That’s the real problem here. US officials, their ideological predilections notwithstanding, think always that they can outsmart their way out of any mess that they outsmarted themselves into. They come to this “game” with their smug confident attitude and want us to have faith in their wisdom, because, hey, they know things about our own realities that we somehow don’t. They invest their egos in this “game,” while we invest our lives. They gamble with the lives of 300,000 or so Americans, while we are forced to see their three or so hundreds and raise them a few hundred millions more.

Now the neo-cons, because they had a place for us, Arab democrats, in their plans, that is, when victory was eventually achieved, asked us for our advice then ignore it and proceeded to do what they were inspired to do, expecting us to adjust all the while, or, from their point of view, catch up, because of course they knew better. The realists, however, won’t have to play this game with us, because the place they have reserved for us in their particular schemes is right there on the margins of things, in exile or in the dungeons of the ruling regimes.
Posted by Michael J. Totten at November 18, 2006 12:09 PM
Comments

I second the sentiment, but a sentiment it is.

To be the devil's advocate: is it not the case that, Bush Sr.'s policy secured for the Kurds their chance of building an autonmous enclave?

And is it not the case the the various deals with Hafez Asad allowed peace to be restored and kept in Lebanon - a situation that allowed the emergence of that new generation of Lebanese liberals who complain about the Syrians?

And was it not that very policy that shepherded the Israelis and Palestinians out of the first Intifada and into the Madrid summit?

And, on a broader canvas, is not the case that US realists in the past 100 years succeeded where idealists on left and right failed (e.g. the cynical FDR (who referred to Somoza as 'our son of a bitch') constructing the world order that Wilson had not managed to 25 years earlier; Ike containing the Soviets; LBJ making a mess of East Asia while that crook Nixon beginning to tidy it up; Kissinger achieving stability in the middle east after 1973)?

I am not saying that idealism is bunk. I am saying that there is a case to be made for realism, and that since JWB is leaving such a mess behind, the onus of proof is now on the idealists.

Posted by: Disk on Key at November 18, 2006 01:30 PM

An interesting editorial, but I'd have to say that I haven't seen a great deal of democracy promotion from the current Bush administration. Good relations with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the Gulf States, and Pakistan haven't been contingent on democratic reform, and in the case of Iraq, democratic institutions were forced by the Shia.

And, of course, I'd suspect that reformers in places like Iran are taking a long hard look at Iraq right now and thinking that maybe they could do without messy democracy, at least for a while.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at November 18, 2006 01:41 PM

Very interesting article by Mr. Young.

Given the US's record of running from ME entanglements did anyone in the ME express suprise that Bush isn't running?

I think Bush will stick with Iraq for the remainder of his term, unless the Dems defund the war. After that, with a Dem in Office... Well, I think Iraq will have to have it's act together because it's likely the US will pull out completely. Can Iraq have it's act together, in two years, and become something resembling a democracy? Or will it collapse?

It'll be up to the peoples of the ME to make their countries more liberal, while the US and Europe support the thugocracies running the place.

Or have I missed the point entirely?

"But American realists can't see that either, because in their deference to the natural order of states, to sovereignty, they cannot bring themselves to deplore what's happening inside states."

Deploring what's happening inside states is irrelevant. The question is, "What the **** do we DO about it?" The problem, of course, is that we're damned if we do and we're damned if we don't. Whatever we do, or don't do, it'll be wrong. And the four or five people who might think that it was right, or maybe just a good idea, get zero support and zero media time.

"They can now rest assured: The "neo-imperial" US has increasingly less of an intention to defend their cause, and with realists back in the forefront, ample philosophical justification not to do so. "

Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Posted by: Greg at November 18, 2006 01:55 PM

DPU: I haven't seen a great deal of democracy promotion from the current Bush administration.

That's because you haven't. You have only seen some. Now you're going to see less instead of more.

Sigh.

Disk on Key: And is it not the case the the various deals with Hafez Asad allowed peace to be restored and kept in Lebanon - a situation that allowed the emergence of that new generation of Lebanese liberals who complain about the Syrians?

If that was such a great idea, shall we do it again? That's exactly what Assad wants, and that's exactly why he's trying to burn Lebanon now.

As the Lebanese like to say: Assad starts the fire, sells the water, then doesn't deliver.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 18, 2006 02:29 PM

Now you're going to see less instead of more.

I guess that depends on how one promotes democracy.

There are a number of things that need to be in place in a society (or group of societies) for democracy to successfully take hold. Working to develop those precursors in the region might be a more fruitful approach in the long term than kicking over the dictatorships and trying to insert constitutions and elections. That approach just doesn't seem to be working very well.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at November 18, 2006 03:15 PM

On the one hand democracy cannot be imposed. On the other hand in Arab world dictators are disposed only by other dictators. It is a catch 22 that leaves no room for hope.

The onus is on Arab liberals to stop talking to the West with vague statements that mean nothing and give us a concrete plan. For example, how do you change Egypt into a democracy without a civil war or the Mulim Brotherhood taking over? Give us a plan that is realistic and implementable. Otherwise, sit back and watch the realists define the agenda.

Posted by: e at November 18, 2006 03:38 PM

For example, how do you change Egypt into a democracy without a civil war or the Mulim Brotherhood taking over?

It occurs to me that Israel is probably more secure at the moment than it would be if democracy suddenly blossomed in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at November 18, 2006 03:43 PM

It occurs to me that Israel is probably more secure at the moment than it would be if democracy suddenly blossomed in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria.

Yes that's the result of really nasty hatred.

I don't understand why the so called progressives have been taking the side of the haters all these years instead of fighting hatred!

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 18, 2006 03:56 PM

Yes that's the result of really nasty hatred.

Sorry J, that was a bit unclear. What do you mean?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at November 18, 2006 04:24 PM

There are a number of things that need to be in place in a society (or group of societies) for democracy to successfully take hold. Working to develop those precursors in the region might be a more fruitful approach in the long term than kicking over the dictatorships and trying to insert constitutions and elections. That approach just doesn't seem to be working very well.

DPUG, that’s exactly right. Just look at the “democracy” in the Palestinian Authority. The only things democratic about it are the occasional elections, which take place in an atmosphere devoid of democratic institutions. No free press; no checks or balances on power; massive corruption; routine use of violence to cow the public, etc.

Democracy is much more than mere elections. We should be working to develop democratic institutions first, elections second.

Posted by: semite1973 at November 18, 2006 04:30 PM

Yes that's the result of really nasty hatred.

I don't understand why the so called progressives have been taking the side of the haters all these years instead of fighting hatred!

Me either, dude. I wrote down my thoughts on that subject just recently and I'll copy it here:

I watched a Glenn Beck special on CNN about the anti-Semitic rabidity that emanates from the Arab and Muslim media. Two weeks ago Fox News ran a similar special. Finally at least two mainstream media outlets have homed in on this problem, which I believe is the real reason the Arab-Israeli conflict rages on.

As I’ve written before, there seems to be two general ways to view the conflict: “It’s the occupation, stupid,” or “It’s the anti-Semitic brainwashing hate propaganda, stupid.”

Let’s look at the first argument: Time and again Israeli territorial concessions are answered with violence. This is a fact, and so the argument that the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza fuels the conflict—oh wait, Gaza was evacuated over a year ago—doesn’t hold water. So why does the conflict rage on? Because it stems from Israel’s mere existence in any size, shape or form. Yet the mainstream media basically refuses to consider this fact. Therefore, most reporting “on the ground” about the conflict is your typical, “Fatimah al-Husseini and her 30 children are angry. She wants to buy vegetables for the feast, but she can’t get cucumbers because Israeli checkpoints between her hardscrabble village and the major vegetable markets require hours of waiting. Sometimes, it’s closed altogether…” [Voice over to Fatimah’s hysterical ranting in Arabic, where every time she says “Yahud (Jews) the translator replaces it with “Israeli” or “Zionists”].

I listen to the BBC every night. I listen to NPR twice a day on my hour long commute to work. I peruse all sorts of news mediums. The above is the type of standard reporting fare on the Arab-Israeli conflict. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed any reports about the Medieval hate that is spread throughout the Arab and Islamic worlds. Why, why, why???

Posted by: semite1973 at November 18, 2006 04:33 PM

How, exactly, does one go about "fighting hatred?"

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at November 18, 2006 04:38 PM

DPU: It occurs to me that Israel is probably more secure at the moment than it would be if democracy suddenly blossomed in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria.

Probably.

The same is probably not true about Iraq, and is definitely not true about Lebanon. Lebanon's anti-democrats are the ones who threaten Israel.

What the Arab world needs most is liberalism. They will not get it from Bashar Assad, Hosni Mubarak, or the Iranian mullahs. Some obstacles need to be cleared out of the way, or at least weakened and/or contained, even if that isn't sufficient by itself.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 18, 2006 04:47 PM

Anyway, DPU, it isn't all about Israel. The Arab world's sort-of democracies are also threatened right now by Syria and Iran. The same regimes -- surprise, surprise -- are doing everything they can to f*** with the US in the region.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 18, 2006 04:49 PM

Semite1973: I don’t think I’ve ever noticed any reports about the Medieval hate that is spread throughout the Arab and Islamic worlds.

Sure you have. Otherwise you wouldn't know about it.

It doesn't come up a lot on NPR, though, you're right about that.

You know what else you don't get much of in the mainstream media? You don't get many reports about the liberals and moderates in the region who absolutely detest all this garbage. Nor do you get reports about people who are conflicted, who sort of go along with the bullshit and at the same time partly opt out of it. Probably 2/3 of Lebanese fit into one of those categories. I'll bet 2/3 of Iraqis do, too. 99 percent of Iraq's Kurds fit into the first category.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 18, 2006 04:57 PM

Why would Israel be less secure if Egypt overnight became a Jeffersonian democracy? (Not a Muslim Brotherhood one person, one vote, one time deal but a real liberal democracy)

Posted by: e at November 18, 2006 05:09 PM

Michael, you are very right about that as well. The media doesn't much focus on the liberals in the Arab world.

I didn't mean to say the media never reports on the hate speech from the Arab world. Obviously it does here and there, but not often and you usually won't find it in the NYT's, and as you admitted, on NPR. If you tell people you saw something on FOX News, they role their eyes at you as if you are a Pentecostal. That's why it was so surprising to see it on CNN, albeit on the Glenn Beck show, which Beck admits is a conservative program.

So back to what Josh mentioned: why do so many so-called liberals in the West fail seem to ignore the venemous hate?

DPUG, I don't know how to eradicate anti-Semitic and rabidly anti-Western hate speech. Responsible reporting from Arab media outlets might be a step in the right direction...

Posted by: semite1973 at November 18, 2006 05:35 PM

How, exactly, does one go about "fighting hatred?"

Funny how, when you change the context ever so slightly, they come up completely blank.

"Fighting hatred, we've never done that!"

What the fuck was the civil rights movement? Ever hear of racism? How about the abolitionist movement? Slavery had nothing to do with hatred?

Progressives like to project that everyone on the planet is the same, then they go and ignore every single societal problem that isn't being caused by American or European white men... That's equality for you.

Actually they go further than ignoring the problems, they show up on the wrong side, trashing the cause of liberalism the world over.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 18, 2006 06:04 PM

On the one hand democracy cannot be imposed.

So what are Germany and Japan today, chopped liver? And what about France? France became a democracy when the Germans captured her emperor.

Don't dull the debate with false platitudes, please.

Posted by: Solomon2 at November 18, 2006 06:12 PM

There never was a liberal middle east to kiss. Repressive governments do not cause or assist militant islam, it thrives among muslims not governments.

Posted by: mikek at November 18, 2006 06:12 PM

The problem is that understanding another culture well enough to actually fight injustice in it would involve actual work and effort. It would also involve admitting that you weren't born an expert and actually have to search, hard, to get your bearings. Our phoney, unreal, useless "progressive" movement is entirely made up of useless know-nothing egotists who only define themselves by their domestic enemies, know nothing about the world, and care less to find out.

I'm not saying that the far right is better, though I suppose there might at least be a touch of protestant work ethic on that side.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 18, 2006 06:15 PM

Don't dull the debate with false platitudes, please.

It's not just false, it was invented because its entirely self serving. If you simply assert that there's no ethical dillemas in the world and no work to be done, then you can always claim to be on the side of the angels by doing nothing.

It 100% convinient, and like everything that convinient, it's based on a lie.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 18, 2006 06:17 PM

Solomon2,
In the Arab world, democracy cannot be imposed according to Arab liberals. I don't know for a fact if it is true or not, but whatever the case, the Arab liberals should present a plan.

The only true case where democracy was imposed is Japan. In Europe there was an historical process that was building toward it, of course with ups and downs. I don't think the Japanese case provides any insights to the Arab case. I think that imposing democracy on pre-Meiji Japan would have been impossible. The Arab world has to go through some form of the Meiji restoration before any comparison could become valid.

Therefore the only valid comparison is Iraq and there imposing democracy was not successful because the Iraqis are just not ready.

Posted by: e at November 18, 2006 06:47 PM

why do so many so-called liberals in the West...seem to ignore the venemous hate?

Because it frightens them.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 18, 2006 07:32 PM

mikek: Repressive governments do not cause or assist militant islam

The Iranian one does. The Syrian one does, too, as long as militant Islamists don't do anything inside Syria. Mubarak in Egypt enables their worldview with his vicious state-run media organs. See also the Palestinian government from Arafat to Hamas.

Some repressive governments do fight militant Islam, such as Jordan's and Tunisia's. In Jordan it doesn't work very well, but in Tunisia it does.

Militant Islam is very thin on the ground in Turkish, Kurdish, Bosnian, Azeri, Kazakh, Uzbek, Albanian, and Indonesian culture.

It really depends on which countries and cultures we're talking about.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 18, 2006 07:40 PM

Is Josh Scholar, by any chance, the nom to blog of David/Carlos?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at November 18, 2006 07:43 PM

Why would Israel be less secure if Egypt overnight became a Jeffersonian democracy? (Not a Muslim Brotherhood one person, one vote, one time deal but a real liberal democracy)

It wouldn't, but simply applying the facade of democracy would result, as you suggest, with a radical government or a civil war.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at November 18, 2006 07:58 PM

The only true case where democracy was imposed is Japan...The Arab world has to go through some form of the Meiji restoration before any comparison could become valid.

Much better. e, I think you're the first person ever to argue that Commodore Peary succeeded at imposing democracy by force upon Japan. The Meiji Constitution had some democratic forms, and its vagarities allowed the Japanese some of the same "ups-and-downs" several European countries experienced, but I don't think Japan was a firm democracy in the accepted sense of the term until after the American Occupation.

The idea of limited constitutional democracy is not new in the Arab World. It has been tried in Libya, Iraq, Kuwait, Egypt, etc. What has happened is that Arab rulers either abrogated their constitutions or were overthrown by those that did. (Readers better-informed than I can discuss the situation in Jordan. It's a constitutional monarchy, but the King seems to run everything that's important and there's no sign of change.)

I lean towards Dr. Sanity's response to the argument that Arabs are "born idiots":

No, the members of this culture and this religion are not born idiots...rather their idiocy is carefully and deliberately crafted and molded by the societal and religious dysfunction so rampant in the Islamic world. Ignorance, stupidity, violence and blind obedience are rewarded; clear thinking is not particularly valued and often punished.

America's Founding Fathers were aware, I think, that a successful democracy presupposed a certain level of education widely spread throughout the population. I have never met Arab "liberals" willing to talk about this aspect of mass re-education necessary for the peaceful and productive functioning of their societies; they appear to see themselves as just another potential ruling elite, and thus are determined to keep the field of potential liberal competition as small as possible.

A similar attitude in Americans tems would have occurred if the Federalists of old rejected Andrew Jackson's victory over J.Q. Adams on the grounds that Jackson was elected by a bunch of hicks from the sticks.

Therefore the Arab liberals fail because either their strength is insufficient, or because, once empowered, they concern themselves with power ruling the people rather than the reverse.

Conclusion: if democracy-by-force is to succeed, it must be accompanied by appropriate changes in the education system. This occurred in Japan, Germany, and Eastern Europe. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it has not occurred in Iraq, and certainly not in Gaza.

Posted by: Solomon2 at November 18, 2006 08:05 PM

MJT, my comment was not clear. I didn't mean actual assistance, if I could re-word it I would have said:

"the arguement that insane islam results from western backed tyrants is wrong. The insane version of islam works in any country under any system. The retards that attacked us in 2001 were european muslims. Anyone who tries to explain that the palestine issue or hegemony caused it should be kicked in the face."

You can add Iraq to your list (probably not indonesia, rock stars don't count), everywhere militant islam dominates the people are turned off.

Posted by: mikek at November 18, 2006 09:27 PM

Solomon2,
The point I was trying to make was that without the Meiji restoration, the democracy imposed on the Japanese after WWII wouldn't have been successful.

"No, the members of this culture and this religion are not born idiots...rather their idiocy is carefully and deliberately crafted and molded by the societal and religious dysfunction so rampant in the Islamic world. Ignorance, stupidity, violence and blind obedience are rewarded; clear thinking is not particularly valued and often punished."

Change "Islamic" above to "Japanese" and the paragraph applies quite well to pre-Meiji Japan. Commodore Perry forced Japan to trade with the world, not to become a democracy. The Japanese then realized that in order to compete with the West they need to westernize. The Meiji resotoration made Japan a western country. This is what the Arabs reject. They reject the fact that the West should be emulated or that it is a good example to follow. Why, is not clear to me. They should learn from the Japanese experience that one can westernize while keeping intact ones culture.

Posted by: e at November 18, 2006 09:57 PM

Is Josh Scholar, by any chance, the nom to blog of David/Carlos?

No, and unlike Carlos I'm not a conservative, I'm an extremely disillusioned liberal. I don't know who you're refering to as David.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 18, 2006 11:25 PM

Why, is not clear to me.

Multiple reasons. For religious Arabs it's because we're infidels and therefor enemies of God. For the dictators it's because democracy would leave them out of a job. For some it's because democracy would put the destructive, insane, religious people in charge.

They should learn from the Japanese experience that one can westernize while keeping intact ones culture.

Not relevent, culture is a red herring.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 18, 2006 11:28 PM

Well explained, e! You see that fallacy expressed too frequently by people who understand nothing of Japanese history (or, for that matter, the origins of western democracy).

With Japan, you hit one of the nails precisely on the head: at the time of the Meiji restoriation, the country's leadership made a strong commitment to emulating the west in many key respects (including establishing many of the institutions that are preconditions to democracy), and that determination was largely accepted and embraced by the population.

The other dirty little secret about post war Japan (and post war Germany, for that matter) is that many of the pre-war institutions (and their leaders) were more or less left in place under the occupation. Relying on these institutions meant that society was able to continue to function effectively, and by persuading leaders of the existing power structure to work with the occupiers, the occupying powers were able to effect top down change far more effectively than if they had to rebuild the entire society.

Posted by: J.B.S. at November 18, 2006 11:34 PM

Not relevent, culture is a red herring.

If you want the single most important reason why Iraq has been such a colossal failure, it's because our leaders share both Josh's ignorance and arrogance.

Culture is everything in this context. An inability to understand cultures (even, in many case, the very concept of culture) is usually the reason why people like Josh can't understand why people in other cultures behave as they do, and instead end up dividing the world up into groups of "good" people (who think like me) and "bad" people (who don't).

Posted by: J.B.S. at November 18, 2006 11:55 PM

Time and again Israeli territorial concessions are answered with violence. This is a fact, and so the argument that the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza fuels the conflict—oh wait, Gaza was evacuated over a year ago—doesn’t hold water. So why does the conflict rage on? Because it stems from Israel’s mere existence in any size, shape or form. (Semite '73)

The best insight into the mindset of the current Pal. (Hamas) leadership came from a Haaretz article the other day. The journalist asked Hamas leaders why on earth the Palestinians would do something as counter productive as firing rockets into Israel from Gaza, thus preventing Gaza from being in any way normal:

We're using what we can to confront the occupation. We're creating a balance of fear. We know that the means at our disposal are more limited, but we've managed to create fear and anxiety on your side."

But that 'occupation' isn't the West Bank and Gaza...

The question provokes smiles from some of his colleagues in the room. "You don't like being called Zionists? Look, you're a state of oppression. Your state will disappear from here, and as we see it, all forms of resistance - rockets, suicide bombings - are legitimate to remove the occupation of historic Palestine [the territories of 1948 - A.I.]. The military wing will choose whatever means it sees fit to use at any particular moment."

"Come on, let's be realistic for a minute," I urge, still waiting to hear Radwan assume a more rational tone and explain that these are just declarations for the sake of the media and that, in fact, he knows Hamas is not going to get rid of Israel. "You know you won't be able to wipe out Israel. So, leaving aside your ideological slogans, what is your realistic solution?"

The answer given by Radwan and the others in the room is still surprising even if you've heard it 100 times before: "You think that the realistic solution is that we be expelled from our land, from the home that was ours? The blood of the Dir Yassin massacre is still warm. The only solution is that we return to our homes within the 1948 territory."

"So what you're saying is that in the meantime you prefer to live in these awful conditions, under occupation, rather than recognize Israel and make peace?" I ask.

Radwan smiles again, as if he knows a secret that Israel isn't in on. "I promise you, the occupation won't last long. We've seen this in history. States based on oppression have been taken apart. We won't consent to live under occupation. We'll continue to fight it until we return to the homes we were expelled from in the Palestine of 1948."

(http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=789124%20&contrassID=2&subContrassID=15&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y)

So, just like Lebanese civilians and the civil infrastructure were sacrificed by Hezb. for the greater good of fighting the 'Zionist entity' in the summer, the people of Gaza are being sacrificed for a greater cause of someday (in their view) pushing Israel into the sea.

I'm all in favour of democracy in the Arab world and a two state solution in Israel...but when you read stuff like that you begin to doubt those beliefs

Posted by: Dirk at November 19, 2006 12:02 AM

J.B.S. I should have quoted more of what I was responding to so that my words wouldn't be taken out of context the way you have.

I was responding to "... They reject the fact that the West should be emulated or that it is a good example to follow. Why, is not clear to me."

I was saying that a fear of Arab culture being destroyed is not a primary reason that Arabs are avoiding emulating the successes of the west. It's an often sited excuse, but never a primary reason.

You're confusing completely separate levels of reference. Of course culture is exactly what we're talking about, and completely important, but that wasn't the question I was responding to. I was responding to the question of what the Arabs what motivates Arab reject of the west.

And in every case the primary motivations are quite precise. Fear of disobeying God, for instance may from our point of view be cultural, but it isn't experienced by the believer as part of culture, God being believed to be above culture.

And power relation motivations, such as a ruling class' fear of losing power, may be cultural but are far too specific to be lumped under "a fear of losing one's culture".

Sloppy conversation, this.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 19, 2006 12:09 AM

Of course my lack of proofreading is always sloppy too. Sorry.

In summary, whenever an Arab writes that he's against western destruction of his culture, he's almost always putting a face on a strong motive that he isn't willing to tell you about. Things are not what they seem to the naive.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 19, 2006 12:12 AM

There's another group in the middle east that also reject westernization I tend to leave out, thinking of them as so marginal, but Beirut Spring just mentioned them as a member of the Lebanese opposition (to the government).

Various Left Wing Intellectuals who are ideologically opposed to American influence, all sects
In A Nutshell: Believe that America, as a supporter of baby-killing Israel, should be kept out of Lebanese public life.
Tactics: Intellectual rigor, theater, the arts
Typical Quote: "they want 'democracy and freedom' (with sarcastic use of quotation marks)"
Core Supporters: Left wing intellectuals, working class, communists, anti-globalists (read: Anti Americans)

Mouthpieces: Assafir, Al-Akhbar newspapers

They also have a strong motivation to reject the west, also non-cultural, though they might also pretend their motives are different than they are. Simply put they reject the west because they've absorbed the Anti-western propganda from the Soviet years (and the alligences of those years), and it's only reinforced by the fact that Communism died and the west did not.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 19, 2006 12:19 AM

OK, Josh, I do see that you managed to entirely divorce yourself from the context you intended, and I responded to what you wrote rather than what you meant.

Although you didn't manage to convince me that you know much about Middle Eastern cultures. Not that I claim to, but I am good at spotting people who know less than I do but who pretend to know more. That's part of the special appeal of this website!

Posted by: J.B.S. at November 19, 2006 01:37 AM

Democracy, the word is so overused and abused. Personally, I think the 'realists' have it right now. I do not think that either the Syrian or Iranian regimes are crazy. I think especially the Syrians have been tactically at least extremely moderate (although unlike Libya, they might not have changed their strategic goals). The Iranians... more open to question, although I think they too have a stake

The old debate about democracy was always that it is the same as disorder and anarchy. Clearly today, we have anarchy without democracy, the current Iraqi regime was elected, yes, but remains extremely corrupt and weak. We have to set our priorities, what good is "democracy" if it means anarchy?

I think the best opportunity for democracy in the Mideast was post-Gulf War. I still can't get over the 'realist' thinking that it was OK to reinstate medieval autocracy in Kuwait. It was as absurd as if we'd ended Communism in Russia by replacing it with a Tsar.

Posted by: Craig at November 19, 2006 02:52 AM

Increasing I'm reading that Arab Muslims believe (or BELIEVE) that:
Allah himself, his words clearly recorded by the Prophet, put the oil in the Mid East to signify that Arabs, and Islam, are to rule Britain.
That is why their culture is King.

(in answer to: But I didn't vote for them.
You don't vote for ruling King cultures.
Well, how did Arab Islam become the King culture?)

Both Germany and Japan had economic cultures of production that included hierarchical "big business" type corporations, and the ability to use economic cooperation for production. Even the USSR & East Europe had such productive organizations, and some reasonable respect for 'private' property -- with possession, e.g. of cars or houses, being a good legal surrogate for private ownership.

Democracy works much better in a culture oriented towards production.

The Arabs don't produce much, but because of their gov't oil wealth, which is also why the US is so involved, there is the illusion of a great, strong society/ culture.

The Arab cultures need to be more productivity oriented.

An Iraq Oil Trust, with monthly payments to all registered to vote and voting citizens, would have helped Iraq a lot -- and provided a good model of better division of the oil wealth.

Too much of the Iranian, and Saudi (especially?), oil money is going to support terrorism, and the export of anti-Western Islam. The anti-capitalists of the West are 'useful idiot' allies of this.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at November 19, 2006 03:47 AM

"Therefore the only valid comparison is Iraq and there imposing democracy was not successful because the Iraqis are just not ready."

The great majority of Iraqis are ready, and they voted peacefully. There is a significant minority (maybe ten per cent) who are hostile to democracy, and their violence is enough to cause a lot of trouble and suffering.

Add to that maybe ten thousand dedicated Al Qaeda terrorists who have invaded Iraq with the sole intention of killing Americans and Shias.

If ten per cent of the population of the US were fighting against democracy, you would have a full scale civil war on your hands.

Posted by: Don Cox at November 19, 2006 03:47 AM

I still can't get over the 'realist' thinking that it was OK to reinstate medieval autocracy in Kuwait. It was as absurd as if we'd ended Communism in Russia by replacing it with a Tsar. (Craig)

In fairness it's almost certainly what the Kuwaiti population, or at least the minority classed as 'citizens', wanted in 1991 and there have been some tentative steps at reform since. Possibly because of the 1990/1 experience, Kuwait is one of the saner places in the Middle East today

It was also the right thing to do by international law, (not so obviously the Tsars who had been deposed 70 odd years previously).

But maybe the key point about the realists and the neo-cons was put best by Andrew Sullivan in last week's (UK) Sunday Times:

Poppy was prudent but not bold. W was bold but not prudent. If Poppy had been as bold as his son back in 1990 and had actually invaded Iraq, the coalition would indeed have been greeted as liberators in Baghdad. There would even have been enough troops to succeed in an occupation. The anti-American suspicions that the Shi’ites retained from their bitter experience of being abandoned in 1991 and the rapid deterioration in Iraq’s civil society during the sanctions regime of the 1990s might never have come about.

The ironies are painful. If the father had been more like the son in 1990 the world might now be a very different place. And if the son had been more like the father in 2003, had responded to obvious errors and brought sufficient allies and troops to the task, he might have succeeded as well.

(http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2092-2449573,00.html)

Posted by: Dirk at November 19, 2006 05:58 AM

The great majority of Iraqis are ready, and they voted peacefully. There is a significant minority (maybe ten per cent) who are hostile to democracy, and their violence is enough to cause a lot of trouble and suffering.

Interestingly, opinion polls conducted in Iraq over the summer shows support for the concept of democratic decision making at around two thirds (http://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/articles/060817/17iraq.htm)

However, maybe the best parallel is not with some of the ones that have been thrown around - Japan, Germany and post Soviet Russia.

But instead with Algeria, which has emerged from a civil war every bit as bloody as the one in Iraq today, and which has come out the other end with a reasonably stable econony and civil society.

Of course, in Algeria the military took control of the situation in 1991-92, effectively suspended democracy for the next 5-10 years and rode out the Islamist insurgency through a combination of fighting the GIS and bringing some of the more moderate Islamists into the system.

Posted by: Dirk at November 19, 2006 08:03 AM

No, and unlike Carlos I'm not a conservative, I'm an extremely disillusioned liberal.

My mistake, you have a similar style. He has an obsessive need to address the wrongs, real or imagined, of the left in nearly every comment, and employs non-stop rudeness and insults in response to commenters, no matter what tone they use to him.

When I asked for clarification of the point you were making, and you triumphantly used it as a chance to insult rather than discuss the issue, I could have sworn I was hearing Carlos.

I don't know who you're refering to as David.

Another one of Carlos' sock puppets. He switches occasionally, and then lies about having done so. Which makes denials hard to take at face value.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at November 19, 2006 08:37 AM

Josh: "Yes that's the result of really nasty hatred."

DPU: "Sorry J, that was a bit unclear. What do you mean?"

The history of Europe is that the rise of democracy brought nationalism with it, and the wars became--briefly in the scheme of things--an order of magnitude more destructive of lives and property.

While there isn't a direct analogy between pre-1848 Europe and 2006 Islam, the populations of muslim countries have been fed a steady diet of religious chauvenism and it seems perfectly possible to me that popular governments in most of those places will initially be extremely bigoted, especially against jews.

I still don't think that makes it moral for the west to prop up dictators in the name of "stability", but it's something policymakers need to take into account.

Posted by: Stacy at November 19, 2006 09:51 AM

Could we perhaps be ignoring another context: That the middle-eastern states do not have "national identities" in the way that we in the west take for granted?

Iraq is nothing more than tribes selected for their historic hatred of each other (in order to prevent unification against the west). The middle-east was parceled up with dictators and strongmen placed so that it might never unify (Every strongman wants to be the most powerful). In such a situation, how can democracy form except by fiat?

I think we're missing the fact that Saddam Hussein, the Shah, and others were imposed in a response to the Arab Unification movement (Originally Eastern Orthodox Christian, but then captured by Islamic mullahs). The United States and the Western world, in the formation of the Middle East in the 40s and 50s, did everything it could to prevent any sort of popular support. We wanted the populations at each others throats because Europe had an age old fear of the Caliphate (which it had defeated only centuries before).

What Muslims have realized is that they don't need a state to have a caliphate, they can simply turn the existing states into an extension of their kingdom. The only way around this? Hell if I know, but a complete dissolution of the current domestic state and identities of the people who we wish to democratize seens to be in order.

Posted by: Berkeley Non-Conformist at November 19, 2006 10:47 AM

Note: There are of course exceptions to my analysis, but by and large it takes more than 40 years of dictatorship to form nationalistic identity.

If we look at the Franks, the Romans, English, etc, true National identity aside from ethnicity, religion and tribe took hundreds of years to form.

I don't mean this as an insult to well meaning Middle-Eastern (And African, and some Asian) liberals, but as a critique of the American perspective: That nations want to be democracies.

My point is that maybe we're not dealing with "nations" as we think of them. Japan was a nation, but Iraq is a state formed by fiat. Any sort of true-nationalistic identity in any of the states should be perceived as heroism.

Posted by: Berkeley Non-Conformist at November 19, 2006 10:52 AM

Berkeley non-comformist. Yes, some of the Arab states are artificial creations. But the concepts of Syria, Lebanon - or Mt Lebanon as it was known in Ottoman times - and of course Egypt, were well established before the Middle East was parcelled up post World War One.

And saying that the current boundaries were done to keep the Arabs down and warring tribes were put together on purpose isn't really true.

In the Sykes-Picot agreement between Britain and France after World War One, the Arabs didn't really figure one way or the other. As with other colonial boundaries, the carve up was done to satisfy the interests of the two powers concerned and nothing else.

But as for there being no national identity in the Arab countries, I don't think that's true. Any international football (soccer) match between two Arab states proves otherwise

Posted by: Dirk at November 19, 2006 11:35 AM

saying that the current boundaries were done to keep the Arabs down and warring tribes were put together on purpose isn't really true.

No, Dirk, BNC is essentially correct. As the Ottoman Empire slowly crumbled, European statesmen instinctively wanted it replaced by nation-states. The idea was that each new state would fight for its identity and thus Europe would be spared the mighty assaults of the Empires of old.

Only a few of the resulting "states" were to be natural national formations: Greece, Serbia, Turkey, Egypt, Armenia, Romania, Kurdistan and - if the Jews returned - Palestine. The entire Fertile Crescent, as the heart of aggressive empires that struck against Europe, was unnaturally divided and its central states culturally chopped up by the refusal to grant the Kurds a state.

Most of the Arab nations are artificial creations, some established by the British Empire's Jewish Legion under the window dressing of a favored Arab warlord. Yes, Arabs were liberated from Turkish rule by Jewish soldiers who were promised a state of their own in their ancient homeland. Not something Arabs cared to teach their kids.

Other than democracy, the only unifying principle for the new nation-states was violence. Turkey submerged Islam and marched its Armenians to death in the desert. Iraq eliminated its Assyrians. In Syria the minority Alawites seized political control.

Once these tasks were accomplished, it was only natural that the new rulers would seek more violence to continue justifying their continued existence - as national leaders, most of them had puny abilities (the Husseins of Jordan being the chief exception, I think). Luckily, Israel was forming to attract the bloodthirst of subject populations. Now they could take their anger at being oppressed out on somebody else.

Before you dismiss this analysis, take another close look at the Hezbolli AlG's posts. Almost every other paragraph invokes Shi'a oppression by others as a justification to attack Israel. Such attitudes only make sense in this context.

A cynic might say that's also why Europe did so little about Islamic expansionism after WWII: it was to be the Jews' job to die first; European troops were only to be used in extreme cases. That fantasy ended in the Sinai in 1956, when the U.S. essentially forced France and Britain out of Middle East politics.

Jews often make the mistake of thinking their problems, specifically anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, are the central issue. Not so here. If Israel is ever subdued or destroyed, Europe is next - unless the Islamists conquer Europe first.

time's up, gotta go...

Posted by: Solomon2 at November 19, 2006 12:39 PM

If Israel is ever subdued or destroyed, Europe is next - unless the Islamists conquer Europe first.

I was with you on that excellent comment up to that point, Sol. Israel isn't going anywhere, and neither is Europe. C'mon now.

Israel has an extremely effective military, as well as nuclear weapons. And despite the occasional story of abuses by members of the IDF, this is an extremely humane one, as are most well-trained militaries of liberal democracies.

However, I don't think that many would be under the illusion that would change if Israel's existence was under serious threat.

Israel isn't going anywhere, and any political solution to the problem needs to recognize that fact first.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at November 19, 2006 01:59 PM

If Islamists can only conquer a handful of Islamic countries -- and they are always hated when they temporarily do so -- the odds that they can conquer Israel and Europe are practically zero.

The problem is that they blow stuff up trying and will likely keep it up for a long time.

Many Europeans cower before these people now. Projections of a future "Eurabia" assumes they will do so forever, which is, I think, extremely unlikely. Europeans can be, and in some ways are now, much more ruthless than Americans.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 19, 2006 03:03 PM

Actually Michael, if you follow the demographic projections out enough decades, then it certainly becomes conceivable that parts of western Europe could fall.

I'm less worked up by this than some because it's not my problem and I'm not ever sure that the affected countries want to do anything about it. Yes some wonder countries may become hell-holes. It will be their own damn fault if they do, they've got plenty of time to resist the trend if they care to.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 19, 2006 04:06 PM

When I asked for clarification of the point you were making, and you triumphantly used it as a chance to insult rather than discuss the issue, I could have sworn I was hearing Carlos.

Frankly I was at a bit of a loss to answer. If I said, "There are clouds in sky" and got the response, "What is a cloud and where is this 'sky' of whic you speak?" I would conclude that no useful conversation is possible, certainly not at the speed of typing.

Of course there's difference in interpretation involved. I assumed that you aren't really as dense as you pretend and were trying to obstruct the conversation.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 19, 2006 04:12 PM

... But, conversely, if you really are that ignorant, your basic education is your own problem. I just don't have that much time to waste.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 19, 2006 04:15 PM

Berkeley Non-Conformist, please don't conflate the US with Europe when discussing colonialism. Aside from buying oil, the US had no involvement in drawing the borders of Arabia, Africa, or even the rest of the Americas. That was an all-British and French show, with occasional input from other west European governments.

Posted by: Stacy at November 19, 2006 04:29 PM

I would conclude that no useful conversation is possible, certainly not at the speed of typing.

Then a more cordial way of dealing with that is to say just that. To instead then crow that the question indicates stupidity or worse on the part of the poser is insulting.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at November 19, 2006 05:45 PM

... But, conversely, if you really are that ignorant, your basic education is your own problem. I just don't have that much time to waste.

Yes, I'm quite ignorant and stupid. Thank you for spending some of your valuable time to inform me of this.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at November 19, 2006 05:50 PM

This is what the Arabs reject. They reject the fact that the West should be emulated or that it is a good example to follow. Why, is not clear to me. They should learn from the Japanese experience that one can westernize while keeping intact ones culture.

Maybe if sycophantic foreigners and exploitative countrymen didn't spend so much time inflating Arab egos and instead pointed out that the Japan twice rose from the mud after being humbled and humiliated - and that indeed Arabs have much to be humble about - Arabs would think of Western culture more favorably.

I suppose this dissonance between inflated Arab ego and the true poverty of Arab accomplishment may be a factor in creating the frustration and inferiority/superiority complex that fuels the Arab and Islamic terrorism. (Am I even using the right terminology?) Compare to the Nazis: they had a superiority complex, but it was widely acknowledged the Germans had a lot to feel superior about - Bach, Beethoven, Goethe, technology, etc.

BTW, somewhere out there is a blog [can't find it tonight] written by a Japanese aid worker who keeps meeting Arabs who tell him that they admire the Japanese because they kept their culture intact when Japan confronted the West. He responds by pointing out that Japan changed its culture in response to confronting the West. He reports his interlocutors blink a couple of times and change the subject or walk away. They simply do not accept his correction.

Posted by: Solomon2 at November 19, 2006 06:40 PM

Josh: Actually Michael, if you follow the demographic projections out enough decades, then it certainly becomes conceivable that parts of western Europe could fall.

Only if nothing changes for decades. What's the liklihood of that?

I met a Danish leftist recently who took the Islamist side in the cartoon war, which put her far to the "left" of the average Dane. It's significant, then, that she also said she would happily support a complete shutdown of immigration and the banishment of Muslims from her country if the trend continues.

A freakish shift to the far-right in Europe wouldn't surprise me at all, nor would a shift to something more reasonable. Either way, I don't expect all politics to be frozen in place for the next 40 years.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 19, 2006 07:03 PM

A freakish shift to the far-right in Europe wouldn't surprise me at all, nor would a shift to something more reasonable.

It's not "freakish" for them. European countries are held together by nationalism. America is held together by the Constitution. Europeans therefore are not nearly as squeamish about violating human rights, etc. as Americans are. Europeans had their national identities long before they were democracies.

Note, however, that the march towards European Union is an anti-democratic trend that suppresses nationalism. Therefore I expect any nationalist reaction aimed at suppressing immigration or banishment will therefore meet resistance from EU institutions.

(Uh, how would banishment be different from the "ethnic cleansing" the Serbs tried to apply less than a decade ago?)

Posted by: Solomon2 at November 19, 2006 07:14 PM

It's not "freakish" for them.

My point.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 19, 2006 09:32 PM

Thanks for the explication Sol. My Middle-Eastern history is a bit rusty, but one of my Political Identity teachers was Greek so we got to hear over and over about the parcelling up of the Ottoman Empire. Usually with a self-satisfied chuckle.

Stacy: Unless I'm mistaken, the United States was instrumental in the compromise that resulted in Israel's creation. I'm not sure about the rest of their involvement. However, even if that's not the case, we were instrumental to placing Saddam Hussein and the Shah in power in order to combat the rising Arab Unity movement.

My point was not about the Sins of the US (Although I think atonement for them best justifies war in Iraq as well as the rest of the ME) but about the artificial creation of nation-states and the west's consistent destruction of democracy under the guise of "realism."

Honestly, the first time we place a dictator didn't work, why should we be dissuaded that the first time we place a democracy it doesn't work? Those are the realities between Realism and Idealism: Do we place a dictator or a democracy. (Hint: The Shah is an example of a dictator that didn't "take." Hooray realism.)

Posted by: Berkeley Non-Conformist at November 19, 2006 11:29 PM

Although you didn't manage to convince me that you know much about Middle Eastern cultures. Not that I claim to, but I am good at spotting people who know less than I do but who pretend to know more.

I see, you're a perceptive genius, if you have to say so yourself.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 20, 2006 12:33 AM

[Voice over to Fatimah’s hysterical ranting in Arabic, where every time she says “Yahud (Jews) the translator replaces it with “Israeli” or “Zionists”].

Mistranslating ought to be a firing offense. Actually it should probably be a "you'll never work in this industry again" offense.

So much for journalistic ethics.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 20, 2006 12:37 AM

"In fairness it's almost certainly what the Kuwaiti population, or at least the minority classed as 'citizens', wanted in 1991 and there have been some tentative steps at reform since. Possibly because of the 1990/1 experience, Kuwait is one of the saner places in the Middle East today

It was also the right thing to do by international law, (not so obviously the Tsars who had been deposed 70 odd years previously)."

The Kuwaiti state was abolished by Iraq, while this was not recognised by the international community it isn't unusual at times of great change to have a referendum or two on a new constitution. I think that would have been acceptable and legal.

At this point, Kuwait is "sane" the same way all the Gulf States are: rich and fat, with a medieval version of Islam, whose hypocrisy produces lots of a disenchanted upper class people who end up becoming terrorists.

It's not the best example to set when we're preaching democracy and liberation, and yet we tolerate such clearly oppressive regimes when it suits our interests. (and even, sometimes, when it doesn't!)

Posted by: Craig at November 20, 2006 08:27 AM

I met a Danish leftist recently who took the Islamist side in the cartoon war, which put her far to the "left" of the average Dane. It's significant, then, that she also said she would happily support a complete shutdown of immigration and the banishment of Muslims from her country if the trend continues.

That's an amazingly inconsistent position she took!

Will I be forgiven for summarizing it as she prefers to stab Muslims in the back to facing (or attempting to work out) any problems.

It's "I'm on your side, 100%" while scheming behind their backs to deport them all.

Do you think that sort of hypocracy is common?

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 20, 2006 11:11 AM

Ah, it wasn't a blog, but a book: 'The Arabs: A Japanese Point of View,' published in Arabic and written by Japanese researcher Nobuaki Notohara (or Nobohara):

"Whenever some Arabs meet at a scientific convention and Japan is mentioned, the participants compare Japan's revival to the yearned-for Arab revival. They say that Japan succeeded in entering the new age while at the same time preserving its social culture. Apparently, this is the majority opinion among Arab observers. It appears that this is an apologetic view or justification aimed at saying, 'You can enter the age of modernization, globalization, and production without giving up your social heritage, the traditional political pattern, and the behavioral norms that are inappropriate for our time.'

"'And if they are told that the Japanese entered the new age because they changed the political patterns and social behavior to which they were accustomed and because they adopted new ideas, some Arabs respond to this with amazement and denial…'

"Now a Japanese man comes along who expresses, in excellent Arabic, the opposite of what certain Arabs think...

"The author says that several times his Arab friends have asked him: 'The U.S. destroyed you by dropping two nuclear bombs on your cities. Why don't you hate America?' He answers: 'We must admit our mistakes. We were imperialist and we conquered peoples and destroyed many lands – China, Korea, and Oceania. We must criticize ourselves and then correct our mistakes. As to feelings, this is a limited personal matter that does not build the future.'

Posted by: Solomon2 at November 20, 2006 12:42 PM

That's because you haven't. You have only seen some. Now you're going to see less instead of more.
-MJT

Yep.

Middle-eastern liberals, take note: the choice being offered was NOT between good and bad. Your choice you were offered was between bad and worse. Yes, the neocons got a lot wrong. Yes, they screwed up a lot. Yes, things could have been done better. Yes, yes, yes.... but you ignored the important thing. They weren't just talking about democracy in the middle east, they were doing.

The alternative to the Neocons is not, and never will be, perfection. In the real world, the alternative to the Neocons are the Realists.

If Iraq goes to hell- and it's already most of the way there- it's going to be decades before an American President- Republican or Democrat- uses more than rhetoric to promote democracy.

The thugs of the world are rejoicing, because they are succeeding.

crap.

..........

The onus is on Arab liberals to stop talking to the West with vague statements that mean nothing and give us a concrete plan. For example, how do you change Egypt into a democracy without a civil war or the Mulim Brotherhood taking over? Give us a plan that is realistic and implementable. Otherwise, sit back and watch the realists define the agenda.
-e

Exactly.

..........

If you want the single most important reason why Iraq has been such a colossal failure, it's because our leaders share both Josh's ignorance and arrogance.

Dunno. While there are obviously problems throughout the foreign-policy system (including the military side of things), I would expect people who make a living dealing with other cultures to be somewhat more sophisticated about such things.

Culture is everything in this context. An inability to understand cultures (even, in many case, the very concept of culture) is usually the reason why people like Josh can't understand why people in other cultures behave as they do, and instead end up dividing the world up into groups of "good" people (who think like me) and "bad" people (who don't).
-J.B.S.

Yeah.

As was mentioned some weeks ago, Americans generally agree on the big issues. We can make nigh-infinite shades of distinction between anything from a wanna-be socialist to a liberal Democrat to a RINO to a DINO to a Republican to a Evangelical Conservative in the American political context, and those distinctions will have meaning to another American. But to people in other societies/cultures, there seems to be little difference between D's and R's. That's frequently because with regards to that society/culture's big issues, the answer you get on issue X is the same regardless of if a D or an R is the one doing the talking.

Americans have the same problem when dealing with other societies. From where we stand, making distinctions between foreign people is very difficult (as group X's answer to a question will often be nearly indistinguishable from group Y's answer to the same question) and frequently comes down to "side with whoever is shooting at whoever shot at us most recently".

.....

Do you think that sort of hypocracy is common?
-Josh Scholar

That isn't hypocrisy. That Danish leftist's position is, essentially, "If you want to come here and live as Danes, welcome, if you want to come here and re-create the backwards cesspit you left, we'll send you back".

It's a very common attitude, and not just in Denmark. I was in Norway last spring, and whenever immigration came up, that was the basic attitude I heard expressed by pretty much everyone, from the conservatives (there are a few) to the socialists (depressingly common).

Posted by: rosignol at November 21, 2006 06:02 AM

Pierre Gemayel was shot dead in Beruit today.

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&article_id=77064

God help Lebanon.

Posted by: SirGlubb at November 21, 2006 07:38 AM
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