December 26, 2006

Hezbollah's Putsch - Day One

Church and Mosque Beirut.jpg

BEIRUT – I returned to Beirut after eight months and a hot summer war and found that the city had little changed, at least on the surface. My old neighborhood in West Beirut was intact. Civil war reconstruction continued downtown. More restaurants and pubs had opened close-in on the east side of the city. Solidere sported a brand-new Starbucks. Beirut did not appear to be reeling from war. Post-Syrian gentrification had proceeded as scheduled.

On second glance, though, all was not well. I was the only guest in my eight-story hotel, and I genuinely shocked the staff when I stepped into the lobby first thing in the morning. “Why are you still here?” one bartender asked me. Almost all my friends and even acquaintances left the country during the July War and hadn’t returned. Milk was still hard to come by in grocery stores and even some restaurants because the Israeli Air Force destroyed Lebanon’s milk factory. Party and sectarian flags were flown on the streets in abundance, a tell-tale sign that the post-Syrian patriotism and unity were coming apart.

All that and, you know, the private army of an enemy state was threatening to topple the government.

I had barely arrived and recovered from jet lag before Hezbollah took over the streets. I asked Carine, one of my few remaining friends, if she wanted to join me downtown for the festivities, but she refused to be seen anywhere near the made-for-TV event. She didn’t want to artificially inflate Hezbollah’s head-count by one. So I went down there alone with my camera and notepad.

Protesters Near Mosque.JPG

Aside from Hezbollah, the Baath Party, and a few irrelevant crackpots on the radical left, no one in the world thinks of liberal-democratic protests and sit-ins in Lebanon as a “crisis.” But nearly everyone – including the Arab League and every Arab government in the world except for Syria’s – recognizes, for one set of reasons or another, that it’s a problem when a guerilla and terrorist army loyal to another state tries to topple an elected government.

I try my best to be accurate. But these reports are not “objective.” My writing is personal and unapologetically biased. If you want bloodless and neutral coverage of the ongoing crisis in Lebanon, find a writer or reporter who doesn’t care about Lebanon, who can shrug at its problems, who only cares about the place because it’s a “story,” who can yawn and sleep soundly while it convulses and explodes. There are plenty around. The rest of us will take sides.

*

I ate breakfast at Paul, a little French bistro across the street from a Lebanese army checkpoint that marked the beginning of Hezbollah’s freshly occupied territory downtown. The café was a bit quieter than usual, but if you had just parachuted into Lebanon, hadn’t picked up a newspaper, stayed inside the little bubble the bistro provided, and refrained from discussing the impending crisis, you would have no idea a political storm was scheduled and coming.

Couple at Paul.jpg

Many Beirutis in the Sunni and Christian neighborhoods (which is to say, most of Beirut) feared political and sectarian violence in the streets. I didn’t so much, at least not at that time. The Lebanese army had deployed in full force. The city looked like a besieged war-time capital braced for an invasion.

Lebanese Army Hezbollah Rally.jpg

Lebanese Army Soldier Hezbollah Rally.jpg

Lebanese Soldiers Hezbollah Rally.JPG

Hezbollah also dispatched their “discipline” men to prevent and break up fights. It was oddly comforting, but nevertheless so, that Hezbollah’s pragmatic higher-ups would be protecting me and everyone else from their fans. Many people worried about civil war, but no one seemed to want it. So there was no war.

Hezbollah wasn’t the big threat in any case. Hezbollah is Lebanese. Hezbollah has to live there with Christians and Sunnis and Druze. More worrisome were what one former Aounist I know calls “the flies on their backs” – the Syrian intelligence agents who have every incentive to foment chaos and violence.

The rally was scheduled for 3:00 p.m. I went downtown at 1:00.

Protesters on Empty Street.JPG
Die hard supporters of Hezbollah set out early into the empty streets of Beirut

Hezbollah asked (ordered?) its members and followers to fly only Lebanese flags at the rally downtown. A swarming mass of menacing green and yellow “resistance” flags wouldn’t look good in front of the cameras.

Hezbollah Flag.JPG

So Hezbollah waved the benign and patriotic cedar tree flag instead.

Hezbollah Protesters Arrive Downtown.JPG

Some Hezbollah supporters didn’t get the memo or chose to ignore it.

Hezbollah Hats.JPG

But the “resistance” logo for the most part wasn’t in evidence.

Most Lebanese Christians, Sunnis, and Druze never visit Hezbollah's strongholds. "Why the hell would I want to go there?" a friend once asked me. "For some sight-seeing?"

I go to Hezbollah, though, and I did it again a few times on this trip. After having done so within days of the rally, the sheer cynicism of flying the Lebanese flag in front of the cameras is painfully obvious.

Lebanese flags are ubiquitous in the Christian, Sunni, and Druze regions of Lebanon. Lebanon is perhaps the most be-flagged country I’ve ever seen. But Lebanese flags scarcely exist in the areas under control by Hezbollah. (They have a state-within-a-state, after all, with parallel institutions, schools, military, police, and foreign policy. Why not flags, too?) The cedar tree flags downtown are mere props in a media battle. Hezbollah wants to look mainstream and patriotic. A road trip to the south shows this is a lie. (I’ll document my trip south in future articles.)

Michel Aoun’s (predominantly Christian) Free Patriotic Movement did fly its orange flags downtown, though.

Aounist Protesters.jpg

The Aounists are Hezbollah’s Christian fig leaf, the only non-Shia party of any significance that dared form an alliance with a party so implacably hostile to the Lebanese project. What good would a fig leaf be if it were invisible? So the Aounists burnished their orange. The Aounists had to be seen.

I felt better with the Aounists around. The Hezbollah demonstrators who came downtown two hours early were the true believers, the ones who would have come down even if Hezbollah had not paid them to do so. (Each person was paid 30 dollars to attend the rally, and everyone who stayed downtown in the camps was paid another 30 dollars for each day they stayed.) Hardly any women were down there at 1:00, and many of the men who were there were pumped full of macho swagger like coked-up frat boys looking for fights.

The Christian Aounists in orange may be fools for forming an alliance with a bullying Islamist army. But they are civilized people who have no interest in war or jihad. I knew that if anyone in the crowd were to give me any trouble the nearest group of Aounists could provide a friendly refuge. I do not agree with their politics, but I instinctively like and trust them as people. (You would, too, if you knew them as I do.)

A handful of other micro-parties showed up – Marada, the Communists, and a few that were so insignificant I did not know they existed until I ran into them. Most damning was the presence of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party.

The SSNP, founded by Antun Saada in 1932 and modeled after the Nazi and Fascist parties of Germany and Italy, is the most vicious and sinister of all Lebanon’s parties, more so even than Hezbollah. Last week seven members were arrested by Lebanese police and several truckloads of weapons and explosives were captured. Ali Qanso, the party leader, defensively said “we are a resistance force, and we use different methods of resisting, among which is using explosives.” If the Syrians use Lebanese proxies to carry out bombings and assassinations, the SSNP are most likely the culprits.

(Johns Hopkins Professor Fouad Ajami, who grew up as a Shia in South Lebanon, wrote about Saada and the SSNP at length in his masterful Dream Palace of the Arabs.)

SSNP Protester.jpg

Their flag is a spinning swastika. Naturally they are aligned with Hezbollah and belong to the so-called “March 8” opposition coalition.

Hezbollah blasted ear-splitting military music through gigantic speaker towers. Some of it was cheesy and sounded more or less like the same patriotic pop I heard at March 14 rallies last year. Some of it, though, sounded exactly like the soundtrack to a fascist putsch or revolution.

Squads of rowdy militant teenagers shouted “Nasrallah! Nasrallah! Nasrallah!” and violently pumped fists in the air.

A loutish gang of young Shia men walked along the line of separation between the downtown rally and middle class Christian East Beirut. They loudly booed and jeered as they looked east, all but daring the residents to come out and “get some.” Echoes of Northern Ireland.

A twelve year old kid with a Hezbollah flag saw me and sneered.

Hezbollah’s own security goons with their walkie talkies and ear pieces stared at me and closely watched every single move I made.

A small angry-looking child dressed in military fatigues wandered around loose on his own.

Soldier Boy Protester.jpg

It was a slightly creepy environment, but for the most part uneventful. Nobody got in my face (yet). So I went back to Gemmayze in East Beirut and had a beer while waiting for more people to show up.

Gemmayze begins only one block from downtown where the rally was held, but its quieter civilized streets felt like another country.

Tueni in Gemmayze.jpg

Hallowed Be Thy Name.jpg

I snapped a quick photo of a “No War” sticker on the door to a French bar called Godot.

No War Godot.JPG

“That’s from July,” the bartender said as he stepped out to talk to me. “It is not from this war.”

“You think this is a war?” I said.

“It is shit,” he said. “It’s bad for everybody, for the government and the opposition.”

“You’re independent then,” I said.

“I have no side,” he said. “I’m proud to be Lebanese, but I have no side.”

His name was Chibli and he told me Godot was open throughout the July War. His little bar became something of a haven for visiting foreign correspondents. I didn’t see any visiting foreign correspondents in Godot on that day, nor anywhere else on any other day either.

Godot was closed, though, until 4:00. So I went to Torino, the only place open in a neighborhood where support for Aounists was slim and support for Hezbollah has always been zero.

Inside Torino.JPG

Such a surreal place, Beirut. Inside the bar was a world of hipsters, booze, good conversation, Italian-style espresso, flirting, and Depeche Mode on the stereo. Outside was Hezbollah, guns, tanks, and the army.

A car roared past bristling with Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) and Marada flags. Marada is a tiny party in North Lebanon headed by Suleiman Franjieh – who lost his parliament seat in the last election – that is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Syrian Baath Party. Seeing Aounists and Marada in the same car was truly bizarre. During most of Syria’s post-war occupation of Lebanon the Aounists were at times the only people in the country who bravely demonstrated in public against the regime. They were beaten, arrested, and sometimes tortured for their acts of defiance. Aoun’s newfound alliance with the old enemy enrages most of the Christian community. The FPM is less popular than ever as a result.

Tension within the Christian community is higher now than it has been since the end of the war 15 years ago. But the Aoun-Hezbollah alliance lowers the tension between Christians and Shia. Since the odds of inter-Christian fighting are vanishingly close to zero and the odd of Christian-Shia fighting are slightly higher, the Aounists may have a point when they say their alliance with Nasrallah is a buffer against civil war. Nevertheless, the alliance is ugly to see.

I went back downtown at 2:45. The crowd was burgeoning now, and genuinely enormous.

Large Hezbollah Crowd.JPG

Martyr’s Square, though, and the gigantic empty spaces around it, were blocked off by razor wire and the army.

Razor Wire Martyrs Square.JPG

Former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri is buried across the street from Martyr’s Square, and his grave had to be protected from tens of thousands of angry Shia who might desecrate it if a mob mentality were to develop. So when you see photos of large masses of Hezbollah protesters, keep in mind that the anti-Syrian rally on March 14 of last year filled the same space you see above in addition to filling the much larger Martyr’s Square area to the east of downtown.

Razor Wire Martyrs Square 2.jpg

Hezbollah likes to claim their rally was larger. But it is not physically possible for it to have been larger. They filled the space allotted to them, but they had much less space to fill.

Razor Wire Martyrs Square 3.JPG

The Aounists have the dubious distinction of having been present at both rallies. I doubt they understand how these photographs are interpreted abroad, and how crazy it must look that a supposedly liberal Christian political party is aligned with an Islamist terror militia. Don’t they understand that this makes Lebanon look like a nation of terrorists and terror supporters to people outside the country? Lebanon’s politics are strange and misleading enough to people who understand how the internal jockeying and consensus system works.

So when I found two Aounists in orange sitting at an outdoor table at the French café next to downtown I asked if I could join them and if they would be willing to explain themselves to a primarily American audience.

Aounists at Paul.JPG

“Of course,” they both warmly said and gestured for me to sit.

“Pull up a seat,” said the man on the left. “Can I buy you a coffee?”

Click here to read the next installment.

Post-script: Please donate and help support independent journalism. I am not independently wealthy, and I have to pay all travel expenses out of my own pocket to bring you these dispatches. Your donation helps defray the costs of my trip to Beirut and South Lebanon, and may also go toward covering my next trip abroad – which is coming up soon in six weeks.

If you would like to donate money for travel expenses and you don't want to use Pay Pal, you can send a check or money order to:

Michael Totten
P.O. Box 312
Portland, OR 97207-0312

Many thanks in advance.

All photos copyright Michael J. Totten

Posted by Michael J. Totten at December 26, 2006 03:08 PM

Comments

I see you ask for donations in your post-script. So the CIA and Mossad remittances just don't cover it, eh?

Posted by: Ali at December 26, 2006 04:06 PM

ROFL, Michael, the traditional attack from the conspiracy-dominated arab mind has already appeared.

Posted by: Robin Roberts at December 26, 2006 04:41 PM

"I try my best to be accurate. But these reports are not “objective.” My writing is personal and unapologetically biased..."

Maybe so, but it's utterly superior to anything else available in the states.

Thanks

Greg

Posted by: Greg at December 26, 2006 04:57 PM

58 minutes from post to first accusations of "zionist" collusion.

sigh

Posted by: JimK at December 26, 2006 05:41 PM

Yeah, but it's an Arab so we don't have to pay it any attention.

Posted by: NahnCee at December 26, 2006 06:01 PM

Ali, NahnCee, the scary thing about Hezbollah supporters is that their comments are so stupid that it's impossible to tell if they're parodies.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 26, 2006 06:16 PM

Great article of course. And you have me swearing at the cliff hanger. And then... and then....

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 26, 2006 06:17 PM
Yeah, but it's an Arab so we don't have to pay it any attention.

I doubt it. Probably an anti-Semitic Leftist. The Arabs are smarter than that.

Posted by: Scott Kirwin at December 26, 2006 06:22 PM

"A twelve year old kid with a Hezbollah flag saw me and sneered."
ha ha ha ha ha ha... Dude you're a clown...

Posted by: J at December 26, 2006 06:31 PM

ha ha ha ha ha ha... Dude you're a clown...</

How did we get three moronic and illiterate Hezbollah supporters at the top of one thread?

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 26, 2006 06:37 PM
How did we get three moronic and illiterate Hezbollah supporters at the top of one thread?

It's Winter break. College kids are home on break.

Posted by: Scott Kirwin at December 26, 2006 06:53 PM

What a great post, as always. Glad you're back.

Reading the first post, I'm reminded of how much Israel's security is improved by the outrageous paranoia Arabs have of Jewish power.

Posted by: Abu Nudnik at December 26, 2006 08:01 PM

Reading the first post, I'm reminded of how much Israel's security is improved by the outrageous paranoia Arabs have of Jewish power.

Naw, it's just the bitterness of extreme hatred, and all it does is mean that the fuckhead who wrote it is seething with hatred and would no doubt support violence any way he can.

That doesn't help the innocent people of Israel at all.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 26, 2006 08:23 PM

You're as bad as "Dead Man's Chest" with ending on a total cliffhanger. For shame. ;)

Posted by: Ryan at December 26, 2006 08:42 PM

Back, with a bang.

I hope you find time to write about the Herzliya conference. Your perspective would be quite interesting.

Posted by: The Perpetual Refugee at December 26, 2006 11:29 PM

Calm down people. Ali was joking (if he wasn't he is the joke, a canadian joke,eh)

Posted by: mikek at December 26, 2006 11:40 PM

Michael ack ack you are just leaving us hanging here?! How can you just leave us hanging? Pull up a chair and...MORE, MORE!!!! Good night, I'm going to be checking back every five minutes for the next edition.

Thank you for writing so beautifully, for providing the much-needed background and context that is so woefully missing from all the MSM reports... not to mention risking your life to bring us these reports.

Posted by: Yael at December 27, 2006 02:48 AM

GREAT post ! Nothing to add. Bravo

Posted by: Catherine at December 27, 2006 03:28 AM

Thank you Michael. Excellent as usual. I'm eagerly awaiting the next installment.

Posted by: Steve M at December 27, 2006 03:42 AM

A good alternative to Robert Fisk

Posted by: Steve at December 27, 2006 05:26 AM

Great post! PLEASE keep writing! I suggest that you wear any hat to fit in to report to us! One more suggestion, try to limit the comments on the blogs to the informative ones not mud swinging!
Will open a paypal account very soon!

Posted by: GK at December 27, 2006 06:15 AM

From a Jew living in Beirut: I am disgusted by what you write. Utterly disgusted. Nothing more to say.

Posted by: jew in beirut at December 27, 2006 06:20 AM

I am disgusted by what you write.

Go read Helena Cobban then. She adores Hezbollah.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 27, 2006 06:28 AM

How dare you call yourself a reporter you are a biased person with a keyboard. You know very well your ideas are skewed and your coverage is horrible. Maybe you can go somewhere where only Christians live so you can fell the comfort you so obviously yearn for. You sir are the epitome of racist scum.

Posted by: Joseph at December 27, 2006 07:17 AM

Joseph is banned for trolling.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 27, 2006 07:29 AM

Jew In Beirut
Not only are you a self-hating Jews, I Guess you are a coward too, considering you're hiding behind a pseudonym.

I suppose it's necessary given your neighborhood - if you indeed do live in Beirut (which I doubt - since cowards rarely speak truthfully).

Posted by: Scott Kirwin at December 27, 2006 08:37 AM

Has Hezbollah advocated an unconstitutional overthrow of the government? If not, then "Putsch" is probably inaccurate.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 27, 2006 08:42 AM

Scott,

I had a Jewish room mate in Beirut and he never had any problems. It is not a particularly anti-Semitic place. (South Lebanon is a different story.)

If this person is, indeed, a Jew, he or she is almost certainly a buffoonish Westerner. There are many in Lebanon, and they tend to bring all sorts of personal and political baggage with them.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 27, 2006 08:43 AM

DPU,

Hezbollah is a well-armed terrorist army that takes orders from Syria and Iran against Lebanon's elected government. I'd say putsch is only a slight exagerration at most, and only because they are not actually using violence against Lebanese at this particular moment.

They did use deadly violence against Lebanese very recently, however, and I'll get to that in future articles.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 27, 2006 08:46 AM

How Israel can help you?

Posted by: Guy at December 27, 2006 08:52 AM

I'd say putsch is only a slight exagerration at most, and only because they are not actually using violence against Lebanese at this particular moment.

It seems to me that quite a few Lebanese political groups have used violence against other Lebanese at various times. However, for this to be a Putsch they would need to be advocating an unconstitutional change of government. So far, they seem to be not doing that, regardless of who they take orders from.

I'm harping on this because I think that many readers may not be familiar with forms of government that can be forced to resign through external political pressure, and on reading "putsch" may end up thinking that the demonstrations themselves are a coup attempt.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 27, 2006 08:57 AM

Michael
You're right of course, about the Jews and "buffoonish Westerners." I just got back from Tanzania and met a few there that simply should never have left the suburbs of Chicago - or at least stopped from doing so by the TSA.

I simply don't pay much heed to anyone who doesn't have the balls to put their name to what they write. Although I do take a kind of perverse pleasure into emasculating them when the opportunity arises.

Posted by: Scott Kirwin at December 27, 2006 09:00 AM

DPU: I'm harping on this because I think that many readers may not be familiar with forms of government that can be forced to resign through external political pressure

Yes, fine, but this is foreign political pressure applied through the use of a terrorist army.

If Hezbollah were a non-violent political party I would scrap the use of the word putsch.

And when I say Hezbollah used deadly force against fellow Lebanese, I'm talking about August 2006, not the 1980s.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 27, 2006 09:21 AM

I just hope shit that happens in the near future doesn't turn Beirut into Baghdad. I think that what most people in Beirut wanted Santa to give'em for Christmas.

Posted by: tommy in nyc at December 27, 2006 09:48 AM

And when I say Hezbollah used deadly force against fellow Lebanese, I'm talking about August 2006, not the 1980s.

I guess the specifics of this are to be revealed later?

As for my opinions:

Pros: As usual, emotionally interesting ground-level detail. Good for writing novels.

Cons:

I try my best to be accurate. But these reports are not “objective.”

You're confused, Michael. It's one think to acknowledge that one has an opinion and point of view, and apologize for inaccuracy that may result. It's a different thing to make a write-off of inaccuracy as an enjoyable privilege of being out of the bias closet.

Not that I'm necessarily saying you've done this. Just a statement of principle. Now, having said that:

Aside from Hezbollah, the Baath Party, and a few irrelevant crackpots on the radical left, no one in the world thinks of liberal-democratic protests and sit-ins in Lebanon as a “crisis.” But nearly everyone – including the Arab League and every Arab government in the world except for Syria’s – recognizes, for one set of reasons or another, that it’s a problem when a guerilla and terrorist army loyal to another state tries to topple an elected government.

This is not just a pro-March 14 statement. It's also a warping statement, misleading and ultimately not factually accurate.

When you hear the phrase "terrorist army trying to topple an elected government", what comes to mind are paramilitary forces shooting their way into headquarters, exterminating the old leadership, and seizing control of the capital with a monopoly of force. Whatever this was, whatever its pluses and minuses, whatever it represents, this was not that. What it was, was tactically and methodologically indistinguishable from the Cedar Revolution. The same methods, the same dynamics, popular protest and civil disobedience. Different results.

If you come to terms, or even attempt to come to terms, with the serious paradoxes, complications, and challenges to your pre-fab worldview represented by this reality, you'll have a great piece of writing.

Otherwise, you'll have some superficially entertaining travelogue.

Other than the paragraph I picked out, mostly the bias was flavor, not substance. Which is good. Cheers.

Posted by: glasnost at December 27, 2006 10:53 AM
Glasnost
What it was, waas tactically and methodologically indistinguishable from the Cedar Revolution.

Wrong. Last I checked Hezbollah is a self-defined armed militia. Show me the arms that the Cedar Revolutionaries had.

You seem to have lost the ability to differentiate between peaceful protest and armed resistance.

Before you go criticizing the "pre-fab worldview represented by this reality" - whatever the f**k that means - you might want to reflect upon your own.

Posted by: Scott Kirwin at December 27, 2006 11:15 AM

To Guy: How can Israel help Lebanon?
Just tell Israel to do the following:
1. Stop the violation of Lebanese water, land and air space!
2. Get out of Shebaa Farms
3. Give us maps of mines and cluster bombs planted by Israel in Lebanese areas
4. Release Lebanese prisoners
5. Don't interfere in our internal affairs!

Now how Syria can help Lebanon?
1. Mark the border between Lebanon and Syria including Shebas Farms.
2. Control your border, no smuggling of anything!
3. Release Lebanese prisoners.
4. Don't interfere in our internal affairs!

Posted by: GK at December 27, 2006 11:28 AM

You seem to have lost the ability to differentiate between peaceful protest and armed resistance.

I think that the point glasnost was making was that, so far, this particular crises has not involved armed struggle, and that Hezbollah has been copying the tactics employed by the March 14 movement last year.

I think that is probably a positive thing.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 27, 2006 11:38 AM

glasnot

Karami govt was defeated in a parliamentary vote no?

Posted by: rm at December 27, 2006 11:56 AM

to rm,
"Karami govt was defeated in a parliamentary vote no? "
he actually was wise enough, so he dissmiss.

Posted by: dany at December 27, 2006 01:38 PM

Your man Chibli works at a bar named Godot? As in, "waiting for," perhaps?

/sillyjoke

Posted by: Ryan at December 27, 2006 03:15 PM

what has been happening downtown is NOT the same as march 14th. march 14th never blocked off key roads or halted economic activity in the city center. march 14th never attempted to siege the serail (ok, it didn't last long with hezbollah either, but only because of saudi intervention). march 14th didn't pan spotlights along the serail in the middle of the night to make sure no one could sleep (i can see this from my balcony btw), or blast music at 4am for the same purpose. march 14 didn't pay people to camp out -- this isn't an uprising, it's an operation. i could continue with the discrepancies, but presumably michael will do that in upcoming posts.

make no mistake -- this IS a (slow-motion) coup attempt.

Posted by: carine at December 27, 2006 03:28 PM

Also, March 14 ousted a foreign military dictatorship. That same foreign military dictatorship is now trying to topple the democratically elected government that replaced it and reassert control over the country.

Sheesh, the differences could hardly be greater.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 27, 2006 04:03 PM

Does the word 'seethe' apply to anyone outside the mid east?

Posted by: Dean at December 27, 2006 05:28 PM
That same foreign military dictatorship is now trying to topple the democratically elected government that replaced it and reassert control over the country.

Sheesh, the differences could hardly be greater.

You are discussing goals and motives. I was discussing tactics.

Can we agree that this form of political pressure is better than armed conflict?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 27, 2006 05:38 PM

Thanks for the article :)
by the way, the same guy that called you a clown: if you hold your cursor over his name, you'll see his email address is "tehmile".
That, my friend, means enema in arabic.
Who, again, Monsieur Tehmile is the clown ?

Posted by: k at December 27, 2006 05:43 PM

Double Plus: Go watch Leni Riefenstahl's film Reichsparteitag des Friedens filmed at the 1939 Nuremberg party rally. Uh-oh, she didn't film that one. The Rally for Peace had to be cancelled. Germany invaded Poland the next day.

Use you head as well as your eyes when you watch these things go by.

Posted by: JohnOh at December 27, 2006 06:53 PM

GK:

Some of your points about what Israel could do are fair enough - but how about what Lebannon could do?

1) Stop allowing a private militia/army/terrorist group/party/whatever to fire rockets from its (nominal) territory into the territory of another state.

2) Stop allowing same group to stage cross-border raids into another state.

3) Control its side of the border with Syria to strangle Hezb'Allah's resupply route.

4) If they think that they really own Sheeba Farms, take it to the UN, since the hardly pro-Israel UN drew the line to which the Israelis withdrew - and they said that the Farms were part of the occupied Golan.

5) Control its own frickin' territory - if it needs help to do that, then get it - whether from the UN, the US, the Arab League or whomever. As long as Hezb'Allah chooses to be a statelet making war on Israel, Lebanon will never be at peace. That may not be fair, but it's reality.

Posted by: holdfast at December 27, 2006 06:57 PM

Can we agree that this form of political pressure is better than armed conflict?

Why on earth would people under siege feel the need to agree that one form of siege is 'better' than another?

The encampment downtown is destroying Beirut's economy. In a conflict, one side wins by destroing the enemy's infrastructure through economic means or military means. Hezbollah is choosing the method that will work best for them, the method that will let them win, and the method that their enemy will find hardest to fight.

In your opinion, this method is "better"? Why?

Posted by: mary at December 27, 2006 07:01 PM

Why on earth would people under siege feel the need to agree that one form of siege is 'better' than another?

Well, aside from the fact that I was asking this of Michael, and that Michael isn't currently under siege to my knowledge, are you suggesting that one might think civil war is preferable to civil disobedience?

In your opinion, this method is "better"? Why?

Oh, you are suggesting that. Well, for a start, if it came to armed conflict, I think that Hezbollah has a slight edge militarily over most of the opposition, so they'd probably come out on top. I don't think that would be a good thing. Do you? Secondly, if you think a protest is tearing up the economy, I'd have to wonder if you think that a civil war would be good for the economy. And lastly, if Hezbollah is not resorting to armed force when it is in a militarily superior position over the opposition, it may be a sign that they recognize that political pluralism is a better road forward than armed struggle. That, to me, seems "better." What would you consider that?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 27, 2006 07:22 PM

"are you suggesting that one might think civil war is preferable to civil disobedience?"

-Well, this is more civil disobedience for now backed by the threat of civil war later if the Hezb'Allah does not get their way. Not exactly Ghandi or MLK - some might even call it intimidation or thuggee. When one "party" is armed to the teeth and the others not so much, it isn't exactly my idea of "political pluralism" - it it yours?

DPU - the logical conclusion to your posts is that a non-violent (except for maybe a few assasinations of cabinet ministers) campaign followed by a Hezb'Allah takeover of Lebannon is preferable to a renewal of fighting wherein the Lebanese might have a chance to free themselves of Syrain influence. I suppose that it is a defensible position, except for the minor detail that any sort of Hezb'Allah takeover is almost certain to lead to a renewed and even bloodier conflict with Israel - and the more Hezb'Allah is a part of "official" Lebannon, the more Beruit is going to get pounded.

Posted by: holdfast at December 27, 2006 07:34 PM

the more Hezb'Allah is a part of "official" Lebannon, the more Beruit is going to get pounded.

This is precisely the problem.

A Hezbollah victory, peaceful or otherwise, means war and destruction and mayhem and ruin for Lebanon.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 27, 2006 07:36 PM

the logical conclusion to your posts is that a non-violent (except for maybe a few assasinations of cabinet ministers) campaign followed by a Hezb'Allah takeover of Lebannon is preferable to a renewal of fighting wherein the Lebanese might have a chance to free themselves of Syrain influence.

Everything that I've read indicates that Hezbollah would be the most likely victor of a violent struggle. I would eagerly look at evidence to the contrary.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 27, 2006 07:55 PM

In your opinion, this method is "better"? Why?
Oh, you are suggesting that.

No, I'm saying that Hezbollah is trying to destroy the Lebanese infrastructure using the method that will best benefit Hezbollah. Why should anyone who is not Hezbollah feel the need to call this 'better'?

And lastly, if Hezbollah is not resorting to armed force when it is in a militarily superior position over the opposition, it may be a sign that they recognize that political pluralism is a better road forward than armed struggle.

It may also be a sign of the second coming. That 'may' can express a wide range of wishful thinking.

If Hezbollah is not resorting to armed force when it is in a militarily superior position over the opposition, their history indicates that they're using the standard terrorist extortion routine, 'Nice country you've got, wouldn't want anything to happen to it.' So which is worse, living under the constant threat of having your legs broken by knuckle draggers or actually having a broken leg? The best choice is neither - the best choice is to weaken and/or disarm the knuckle-draggers.

Posted by: mary at December 27, 2006 07:55 PM

A Hezbollah victory, peaceful or otherwise, means war and destruction and mayhem and ruin for Lebanon.

If it isn't spoiling any upcoming posts, do you see any way that Hezbollah will lose this? Cause I sure don't.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 27, 2006 08:00 PM

No, I'm saying that Hezbollah is trying to destroy the Lebanese infrastructure using the method that will best benefit Hezbollah.

Uh, no one was arguing that it wasn't. The question was whether Hezbollah using civil disobedience is preferable to Hezbollah using bullets and rockets. Read the original comment you were objecting to again.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 27, 2006 08:02 PM

The question was whether Hezbollah using civil disobedience is preferable to Hezbollah using bullets and rockets.

And if you reread the rest of my comment, you'll note that Hezbollah's actions are closer to extortion than 'civil disobedience'.

Posted by: mary at December 27, 2006 08:13 PM

you'll note that Hezbollah's actions are closer to extortion than 'civil disobedience'.

That can be said of all civil disobedience. And I still don't understand whether you think Hezbollah's current actions are preferable to open warfare or not.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 27, 2006 08:25 PM

DPU: do you see any way that Hezbollah will lose this?

I don't know. Anything could happen.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 27, 2006 08:55 PM

"That can be said of all civil disobedience" - yeah, 'cause if MLK didn't get what he wanted he was going to flatten Birmingham, AL with 10,000 Katusha rockets.

Hezb'Allah is strong in the south, but if the Lebanese Army, maybe with support from the US and/or the Arab League, were to close the border with Syria and start to squeeze them without directly attacking their strongholds, the Lebanese government might be able to force a substantial disarmament. Such a move could even be accompanied by security guarantees from the US and Israel, contingent on the Lebanese government controlling its nominal territory.

Sure the above may be a long shot - but I will guaran-frickin-tee you that if the Hezt gets control of the levers of power the result will be a renewed conflict with Israel that will make this year's contretemps look like a kidergarten scrap.

Posted by: holdfast at December 27, 2006 09:00 PM

I will guaran-frickin-tee you that if the Hezt gets control of the levers of power the result will be a renewed conflict with Israel that will make this year's contretemps look like a kidergarten scrap.

Yep. And no one who is supporting Hezbollah today will take any responsibility for this whatsoever.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 27, 2006 09:04 PM

double-plus-ungood: The question was whether Hezbollah using civil disobedience is preferable to Hezbollah using bullets and rockets.

One in the same. Somebody at Hezbollah apparently finally read at least one of the classic "terrorist" books (Mao, Collins, etc) and took notes. It's taken them bloody long enough (such things have been required reading for US SF for a long time).

They've decided to use civil disobedience because it makes political sense to do so. Somebody added it up and figured it would look better to have a protest. Looks nice on the world stage. This does NOT mean they've given up violence. Just that it wasn't politically expedient to do it in this case. It's the best way, right now, for them to move closer to their goals.
When they decide it is smarter to start killing people again, they will.

It's not a sign that they are moving towards pluralism (although giving that sign is why they did it). This was not a moral decision by Hezbollah, but a tactical one.

Is it preferred to open warfare? Sure, in the sense that people aren't dying now. Of course, people will probably die later anyway.

Posted by: Spade at December 27, 2006 09:13 PM

What amazes me is that the photographs make me think Beirut is a beautiful city and a place I'd love to live in, if it weren't for the violence.

Most of what we outsiders read about the place makes it seem dismal but your photographs make us see its beauty.

I thank you for taking them and including them in the report.

D

(I'm unemployed and broke, or I'd be happy to contribute a few shekels).

Posted by: David H Dennis at December 27, 2006 09:39 PM

The political situation consists of Iran/Syria backed Hezbollah parliament members dissatisfied by the fact that they do not have control over the goverment as a whole. As a result they are pressuring the democratic goverment for either veto power over all measures (something that their numbers do not currently allow them to do - it is a power disproportionate to their seats in gov't); or to topple the government and call for new elections (ones that they will make sure they win). Lebanon is sitting on the brink of a cliff - with its democratic future in jeopardy, and the future of becoming a proxy state to Iran and Syria, and a Hezbollah run terror-state into the bargain. This would create a new geo-strategic front for Iranian power (not the will of the Iranian people, but the ambitions of its destructive leaders) and for violent jihadism. The international community either does not realize the gravity of what is taking place, or realizes and does not care to become involved. My guess is that they are blind to the danger. It mystifies me, however, that the U.S. is not raising more of a hue and cry in the international arena. What should be taking place now is that the diplomats and leaders of the free international community should be sending their members to stand together and show solidarity with the democratic government of Lebanon and the brave Lebanese who want only freedom and independence.
(Tears for Pierre, Rafik, Gibran - the young generation of leaders killed so that they could never lead a democratic and free country)

And Fears for the rest of us who do not realize the larger significance of Lebanon in the greater international arena of the West and moderate Arabs/Islam

Whew - I'll get off my soapbox now..
But really.

Posted by: Miriam at December 27, 2006 09:47 PM

Just curious, I'm in the US and don't know beans about Lebanon, but the Shia appear to be a significant and a growing faction of that country. Other than Hezbollah is there another group that credibly represents this population? Assuming they are not properly represented by the government, how are peaceful protests a pusche?

On an unrelated note, Michael Totten appears to me to be in the neo-conservative camp ("knee-cap Syria", spread peace and democracy through violence, etc.) Michael, did you promote our grand adventure in Iraq? Do you advocate a tactical strike on Iran? Do you think these Middle-East countries might be better off if we players left them alone and let their populations figure things out amongst themselves?

I understand the argument that if we left the other team would run amok but damn, either we come up with a new game plan or admit their welfare is secondary.

Posted by: mike9999 at December 27, 2006 10:10 PM

mike-too-many-nines, you have no idea what treasure of journalism lie waiting for you in the archives.

Go read the last few years worth of archives, then come back with better informed questions.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 27, 2006 10:35 PM

what i don't understand is why won't somebody drop a few cluster bombs at hizballah crowd. such a target rich occurrence...

and under "somebody" i mean anyone actually interested in peace in the middle east - israelis, cia, french, some lebanese militia...

ideally, lebanese army would just gun them down with their machine guns. but they probably don't have guts for that...

Posted by: Poul at December 27, 2006 10:38 PM

ideally, lebanese army would just gun them down with their machine guns. but they probably don't have guts for that...

"Guts" isn't the first word that comes to mind when describing the massacre of an apparently peaceful demonstration.

And, I hate to break it to you, but that demonstration doesn't include the majority of Hezbollah members. So the result would be a civil war with massacre after massacre following.

That probably isn't the outcome you were looking for.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 27, 2006 10:44 PM

Hoo Boy Mike9999.. One of the many things you'll learn while reading Michael's posts.(and I hope you read more of what he writes in the future as well as his archives.) Is that you cant pingeon hole him politically. You made some assumptions that are, well, wrong. But if you look at being proven wrong not as a negative, but as having learned something. And if you enjoy learning. You're going to have a great time reading Mr. Tottens stuff.
Cheers
M

Posted by: Mike at December 28, 2006 12:02 AM

Thanks for this information, and for God's sake be careful up there.

Posted by: jvon at December 28, 2006 01:03 AM

It mystifies me, however, that the U.S. is not raising more of a hue and cry in the international arena.

Hizbullah is a symptom. The roots of most of this idiocy run back to Tehran and the old Sunni/Shia feud.

Posted by: rosignol at December 28, 2006 03:52 AM

"My writing is personal and unapologetically biased. If you want bloodless and neutral coverage of the ongoing crisis in Lebanon, find a writer or reporter who doesn’t care about Lebanon, who can shrug at its problems, who only cares about the place because it’s a “story,” who can yawn and sleep soundly while it convulses and explodes. There are plenty around. The rest of us will take sides."

Dear Michael,

I read your articles frequently -- sometimes I agree with you, sometimes I don’t. But the extract above has prompted me to post a comment for the first time.

I think it’s perfectly legitimate for you to write in a “personal and unapologetically biased” way -- anyone visiting your website can see that you indeed do. As readers we gain an insight into your views and are free to look elsewhere for a different opinion. However, I believe you are wrong to suggest that a reporter who strives for “neutral coverage” is a reporter who “doesn’t care about Lebanon”

Trying to cover a story impartially and objectively is one of the cornerstones of good journalism. Reporters (on any story) may care very deeply, hold fierce views, and experience strong emotions, but many will try and put all these to one side in order to try and cover the story in a balanced way. Plenty of journalists, not least Lebanese journalists, care about Lebanon very much. And yet they are trying to provide neutral and bloodless coverage as they believe it better equips their readers or viewers to gain and understanding of the complex situation there.

“Taking sides” is not wrong -- but there is also a place for reporting that tries not to be personal or biased. Please don’t accuse those reporters of only caring about Lebanon because it is a “story”.

Posted by: newshound at December 28, 2006 06:19 AM

Great reporting, Michael. Superior stuff.

Hugh Hewitt wonders why some MSM outfit doesn't give you a camera and mic. I daresay any illumination of the situation in Lebanon would cause heads to explode here in America - a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Posted by: Rick Moran at December 28, 2006 07:03 AM

So do they shiites out protesting actually have any legitimate complaints that deserve addressing or are they merely sheeps following syria/iran orders?

Posted by: NM at December 28, 2006 07:32 AM

This is the silliest, most racist, and most annoying article I have read about Lebanon in a while.
Michael you are an ignorant biggot.

Posted by: Elie at December 28, 2006 07:36 AM

So do they shiites out protesting actually have any legitimate complaints that deserve addressing or are they merely sheeps following syria/iran orders?

Some of both, I think.

My impression is that shia tend to form the 'underclass' in predominantly-sunni countries, and tend to be less prosperous and somewhat discriminated against. I don't know if that's necessarily the case in Lebanon (tho I suspect that people who had something to lose would be less willing to pick fights with the Israelis), but it's quite possible that the shia who make up Hizbullah have some legitimate complaints about how things run in Lebanon. Unfortunately, the only one I've seen presented is "we're unhappy because we don't have as much influence with the Lebanese government as we think we should have". Welcome to the club, guys... every country on earth has a group of people that feels that way.

It's a damn shame they seem to think the best way to have their complaints addressed is to cozy up to Assad and pick fights with the Israelis. That kind of thinking just leads to people getting killed.

Posted by: rosignol at December 28, 2006 07:52 AM

It is my understanding that the Shi'a are (or at least recently were) significantly under-represented in Lebannon's political system/compromise, which is based on somewhat outdated demographics. I believe that the two top spots generally go to a Christian and a Sunni - but it is the Shi'a who have been having the most kids. I don't think that it is as bad as Saudi Arabia, where the Shi'a form a truly disenfranchised underclass - treated worse than Sunni foreigners - and feared as potential Iranian fifth columnists.

Posted by: holdfast at December 28, 2006 08:36 AM

Elie...

How is this article at all racist? Neither "Hezbollah supporters", Syria or whatever "political bodies" mentioned here are races. In fact, considering that the Lebenase and Syrians are from the same geographic region, it would not be too far off to posit that they are interrelated ethnicities (I could be wrong of course...).

So please, detail the racism that so offended you here. Considering that Michael has spent much time in Lebenon and obiviously cares about the people there--Christians, Druze, Shia/Sunni etc., all of which I hope you note are religions not races--I believe that the "ignorant bigot" label should go to you, even more so because you mispelled bigot.

Get a clue and save yourself from foot-in-mouth disease.

Posted by: Marijke at December 28, 2006 09:02 AM

Great post! I'm a Lebanese filmmaker who lives in the States. I should be in Lebanon mid January and would love to meet up if possible. I can not offer help in form of money but I will be traveling extensively through out Lebanon and can offer rides, insights, tips and connections.

email me if you're interested.

Posted by: Merva at December 28, 2006 09:56 AM

The Lebanese people need to stand firm, as time is not on the islamofascists' side. Iran and Syria cannot afford to pay for this madness forever. If the Saudi gangsters cut off Assad's credit line, finally and completely, he'll be forced to make a positive move, because the mullahs can't afford to keep him afloat forever, while also paying for their own restive populations' wants and needs.

Posted by: bomb them until the rubble bounces at December 28, 2006 10:07 AM

If the Saudi gangsters cut off Assad's credit line, finally and completely, he'll be forced to make a positive move...

Wow. Now THAT was an entertaining display of a lack of even minimal research.

The Internet, where having an opinion makes you an instant expert.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 28, 2006 10:16 AM
DPU: do you see any way that Hezbollah will lose this?

MJT: I don't know. Anything could happen.

For instance?

Assuming that political dialog doesn't result in a compromise solution, which seems unlikely, then it's a standoff that Hezbollah would likely win. If it comes down to an armed conflict, again, Hezbollah seems to be the strongest in that area, and would likely win.

Those are the only two scenarios that I can think of that don't involve additional interference from outside parties.

Israel seems unlikely to do much at this point, including confrontation with Syria. The bloc of Sunni nations that are opposed to Syrian influence in Lebanon seem more intent on regional stability than in preventing Hezbollah from obtaining a greater degree of political control. And as far as the US is considered, Lebanon is a relatively unimportant sideshow at the moment, so there won't be much involvement oher than angry sound bites.

What have I missed?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 28, 2006 10:39 AM

"Now THAT was an entertaining display of a lack of even minimal research."

You'll have to explain yourself a little better than that, son. Smarmy comments don't really pass for anything but, well, smarminess.

The internet, the smarmy weasel's prime habitat.

Posted by: bomb them until the rubble bounces at December 28, 2006 11:17 AM

You'll have to explain yourself a little better than that, son. Smarmy comments don't really pass for anything but, well, smarminess.

Well, I suppose asking me for an answer beats having to crack open a web page on the subject.

Hariri, who the Syrians killed last year, was pro-Saudi, to put it mildly. Saudi Arabia was outraged over his assassination. Also, they haven't supplied any form of financial aid to Syria for well over a decade, and is currently providing support for the anti-Syrian political forces in Lebanon.

As this is pretty fundamental stuff, I'd assume that you have almost no knowledge about the current situation.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 28, 2006 11:31 AM

Mr. Totten, what you are doing in Lebanon is unclear, but it is certainly not journalism. From your own confessions of bias, you seem more like someone there to stir up agitation and paint a (admittedly) biased picture of events in Lebanon for an ignorant and uninformed Western audience, most of whom already have an inaccurate and misinformed opinion of Hizballah, and who come here to receive affirmation for their groundless assumptions.

A couple questions:

1) Do you read or speak Arabic?
2) Where are the source attributions for many of the assertions you make? (Since you admitted your total bias, you can understand that anything you say must be dismissed out of hand in light of conflicting reporting in other more reliable sources.)
3) You banned Joseph for "trolling". Did you also ban Poul for his comment?

I find your analysis (if it can be called that) quite vacuous and bland, similar to the unsubstantiated drivel that one would read in the right-wing Israeli press or on right-wing blogs. You make little (if any) apparent effort to actually talk to Hizballah supporters to hear their opinions, or if you did, none are incorporated in your article. Your assertions are not backed up by sources. This is clearly not journalism by any accepted definition.

People who visit your blog would be better served reading truly objective journalism by Juan Cole, or real analysis from someone who actually understands Lebanese politics, society and culture (and reads/writes/speaks Arabic natively) like As'ad Abukhalil.

"If this person is, indeed, a Jew, he or she is almost certainly a buffoonish Westerner. There are many in Lebanon, and they tend to bring all sorts of personal and political baggage with them."

Heh, you said it, Mr. Totten.

Comments and replies welcome at my blog.

Posted by: abaham at December 28, 2006 11:37 AM

Actually, if you had any knowledge of the situation, you'd know that the Saudis have been underwriting the Syrian debt for many years, with only a brief mention of interruption a couple years ago, when the Saudi gangsters were making a pretense of concern. You're probably too dumb to have noticed at the time, but Assad quickly scuttled off to Riyhadh begging forgiveness, which soon came, and the debt was happily rolled over by the Saudi gangsters.

But then, you obviously have no knowledge of the situation in the Mideast, so this has escaped you. Better stick to the smarminess, bub.

Posted by: bomb them until the rubble bounces at December 28, 2006 11:41 AM

People who visit your blog would be better served reading truly objective journalism by Juan Cole, or real analysis from someone who actually understands Lebanese politics, society and culture (and reads/writes/speaks Arabic natively) like As'ad Abukhalil.

Personally, I read both those sites regularly for their insight into Middle Eastern politics, but I would hardly call them either journalists, objective, or anything close to unbiased.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 28, 2006 11:46 AM

...but Assad quickly scuttled off to Riyhadh begging forgiveness, which soon came..

Bullshit. He scuttled off to Riyhadh to beg forgiveness, he was given a good spanking and sent back home after the Saudis told him to pull all his troops out of Lebanon.

The Saudi royals may be likened to gangsters, but it takes a special kind of logic to imagine they're controlling Assad in his confrontation with Saudi-backed political forces in Lebanon.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 28, 2006 11:51 AM

Ahhhh yes, after being exposed as the clueless dolt that he is, the smarmy weasel sheds the smarminess and goes straight for the rage and profanity. How typical of the smarmy internet weasel!

"He scuttled off to Riyhadh to beg forgiveness..."

And to beg that his current debt be rolled over, so that he could stay in business, a request that the Saudis quickly honored. You'd know this, if you knew anything about that region.

"...it takes a special kind of logic to imagine they're controlling Assad in his confrontation with Saudi-backed political forces in Lebanon."

Actually, nobody imagines ANYTHING, other than you, bub. We knowledgeable observers simply point out the obvious, that the Saudi gangsters have long provided financial support for the Syrian gangsters, a fact that you were obviously unaware of, as you bluster your fantasies and smarminess. Smart of you to drop your clueless denials of this reality, however, bub, it really made you look like a fool.

You see, son, the first part of a learning process is to gather data, and this must occur long before any foolish "analysis" might be attempted, analysis such as your fantasy that anybody said the Saudis "control" Assad's actions in Lebanon. We really can't know that one way or the other, can we? Not if we're following a legitimate learning process, that is.

All we know is what we know, that the Saudis have LOOOOOONG supported the Assads financially, despite your ignorance on that matter. Some of us always knew of this, but you didn't, obviously. Now you do.

Now, try to leave the smarminess out of your posts, son. Just take this new bit of knowledge you've obtained, and try to build upon it. You'll get along better.

Posted by: bomb them until the rubble bounces at December 28, 2006 12:23 PM

Well, oh vastly learned one, possibly you might explain why the Saudis direct Assad to oppose a Saudi-backed political force in Lebanon? Because I'm having some difficulty with that one.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 28, 2006 12:26 PM

Hmmmmmm, back to the smarminess, eh bub?

Hard to make sense of that nonsense you just posted. So again, you'll have to explain yourself a bit more. As we've previously established, smarminess doesn't pass for anything but, well, smarminess.

And again, before you launch off into your foolish "analysis", you might want to start off with what you DO know, rather than what you fantasize. In this particular discussion, your new-found knowledge starts off with the Saudi's historical financial support for the Assads. We clear?

Posted by: bomb them until the rubble bounces at December 28, 2006 12:42 PM

Are you avoiding the question? If so, why?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 28, 2006 12:44 PM

Goodness, was that an attempt at a question? Why, it appeared simply as another of your fantasy assertions, composed of a sloppy and grammatically incorrect grouping of words, followed by a question mark.

Perhaps you should try again. And remember, as you formulate your "question", that the Saudis have looooong funded the Assads.

Posted by: bomb them until the rubble bounces at December 28, 2006 12:56 PM

Well, you've made it obvious that you are dodging the question. I think I'm done with you now.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 28, 2006 01:03 PM

Your naivete is almost laughable sir! It's ashame that they even allowed you into bint jbail at all given the anti-shia rubbish you peddle on your pages. It's quite interesting, though, that you've only interviewed the March 14 camp. And if you only knew how fractious and opportunistic that camp really is. Before you try to (re)present Lebanon to your Western readers, I recommend taking a lesson in humility and quit pretending you understand a single fucking thing about this country. Because you don't! I promise. And until you get off your high horse and venture into the interviews you'll obviously never be willing/able to secure, you will be consigned to the realm of whining punditry. And go take some Arabic lessons while you're at it. Not all Lebanese speak French as their first language. And by the way, I'm glad the Aounists are "more civilized" than those poor Shia. They should just go back to collecting garbage huh...

Posted by: sami at December 28, 2006 01:04 PM

Scroll up, Bub. You were done when you denied that the Saudis fund the Assads, which exposed you as a clueless internet dolt.

Posted by: bomb them until the rubble bounces at December 28, 2006 01:08 PM

MJT, calling Hizbullah "terrorists" make the article more than an "unapologetically biased" one.
Also, you must have known by now that such tone you're writing with makes you a sectarian guy in Lebanese 'standards'. The demonstration was totally peaceful and civilized despite the attacks from the the so called "March 14" supporters that killed a demonstrator! ( It happened at the beginning of this month. See this video)

Posted by: AR at December 28, 2006 01:12 PM

Yeah - how dare you call an organization that straps bombs onto children, that deliberatlely rockets civillian towns with zero military value, that blows up peacekeepers who came to help their benighted little country, that blows up community centres 10,000+ miles from their homeland "terrorists" - for shame, the "Party of Allah" is just a humble political party, much like the Democrats with a social service arm modelled on the Rotarians. I mean really, just because they have an armed "wing" that occupies a third of their nominal country and which can unilaterally decide to pull their country into a full-on shooting war with another country, you call them "terrorists"? I suppose you think that all the parades with the masked gunmen, the toddlers dolled up like "martyrs" and the exhortations to genocide make the Pary of Allah any less of a legitimate political player? Sir, your bias is showing!! Don't you know that all these things are just colorful threads in the rich tapestry of Arab-Muslim political life? You, with your smug western-Zionist-crusader values like reverance for life and a preferance for freedom, how dare you cast aspersions on the right of a quasi-soverign people to raise mold their society into one giant IED?

Racist!

Posted by: holdfast at December 28, 2006 02:04 PM

AR - are you really so dense that you can't realize that Michael is probably one of the best friends Lebannon could have? He shows an American audience a human, interesting side of a country that is most recently famous 'round these parts for killing job lots of Marines in their sleep. He actually cares about the people of Lebannon, at a time when most Americans would not be overly concerned if the entire Arab-Muslim middle east were to fall into a black hole - and most would likely sigh with relief. Oh well, I guess that anyone that isn't ready to lick the sweat off your balls Carter or Ramsey Clark style can never be a friend to the Arabs in your book. So be it.

Posted by: holdfast at December 28, 2006 02:09 PM

double-plus-ungood:

People who visit your blog would be better served reading truly objective journalism by Juan Cole, or real analysis from someone who actually understands Lebanese politics, society and culture (and reads/writes/speaks Arabic natively) like As'ad Abukhalil.

Personally, I read both those sites regularly for their insight into Middle Eastern politics, but I would hardly call them either journalists, objective, or anything close to unbiased.

I didn't call them journalists either (in fact they are both university professors and universally recognized experts in their field, which is Middle East history and contemporary studies), but they do in fact produce content and analysis that does more than just scratch the surface of issues in the Middle East, more so than a typical journalist would. So actually, they are much more knowledgeable, insightful, and useful, than mere "journalists".

I would agree that Abukhalil isn't necessarily objective or unbiased, but he is honest, which is more than I can say about many people who purport to know anything about the Middle East (including our blog host). To say Juan Cole is biased or isn't objective is abjectly ludicrous. Perhaps you'd like to back up this claim in some way?

Or, what would you consider "unbiased" and "objective"?

Posted by: abraham at December 28, 2006 02:19 PM

holdfast,

Please explain how Michael is a friend--nay, BEST friend--of Lebanon? Of all of Lebanon, or just the Christians, Sunnis, and Druze? What about the 40% of the population of Lebanon that is Shia? Is he their "Best Friend" too?

Please explain.

As for the rest of your blather, I can't find anything useful, relevant or accurate to respond.

Posted by: abraham at December 28, 2006 02:26 PM

Abraham,

Don't be silly. Juan Cole would not dare say his blog posts are unbiased. Everyone knows his opinions. He only seems unbiased to you because he shares your opinions.

As far as my making no attempt to speak to Hezbollah supporters, keep reading. Of course I spoke to them, too. This is only the first of 15 articles I plan to publish. I can't squeeze all my material into one place. This was just an introduction.

If you want to dismiss out of hand what I write, fine. I really don't care. For the most part I write what I see and hear. Your experience in Lebanon (if you have any) is naturally different from mine and your opinions may vary.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 28, 2006 02:26 PM

I would agree that Abukhalil isn't necessarily objective or unbiased, but he is honest,..

And funny, and quite angry.

To say Juan Cole is biased or isn't objective is abjectly ludicrous. Perhaps you'd like to back up this claim in some way?

I'd say that Cole is very knowledgable, but his analysis isn't objective. For example, he has repeatedly used the term "thug" in reference to Iraq's al Sadr and "goons" for his supporters. This may descriptive, but is hardly objective.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 28, 2006 02:28 PM

Also, Abraham, I not an enemy of the Shia. I am, however, an enemy of Hezbollah. They threatened me with physical violence for what I wrote on my blog, and they scream "Death to America" on a fairly regular basis. I am, as you know, an American.

Being friends with these people is impossible. If they want to change their attitude toward me personally and toward my country in general, I will change my opinion of them.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 28, 2006 02:30 PM

Abraham - I think I explained it rather clearly - perhaps your reading comprehension skills aren't up to the task? Unlike, say, Juan Cole or other members of MESA, Totten reaches a politically diverse audience (as evidence, you and I are here having this argument). Bluntly, I regard Cole as a lying sack of s**t and wouldn't believe him if he wrote that the sun rose in the east. Moreover, Totten reports his experiences as a concerned but non-Arabic speaking American traveling in the middle east - a point of view that many here can relate to. Also, unlike Cole, Totten actually gets out and spends time on the ground, seeing things with his own two eyes. Sure it'd be cool if he could also speak Arabic, but he's working with what he's got - leveraging it as well as he can, unlike Cole who is content to sit fat, dumb and happy in his ivory tower. I happen to know that Totten has interviewed Hezb'Allah leaders before, and I'm assuming we'll see more of that in this series of articles (unless they chose to make it too dangerous for him).

Most Americans do not care about the color of your skin or the name of your god - but they do find it a lot easier to relate to people and peoples that share similar aspirations (a good life for one's family, education and safety being prominent) - and don't spend most of their days yelling "Death to America". I think most Americans can see that in the Lebanese people that Totten profiles here, which leads to a de-mystification, which can only help relations on a person-to-person level. Abraham, however, isn't interested in humanizing the Shi'a to this largely American audience - rather he chooses to to try to defend Hezb'Allah, which most Americans simply won't buy. Sure maybe Republicans think we should bomb them and Dems think we should wait and hope they go away, but nobody outside the Ramsey Clark-Carter-Chomsky crowd actually LIKES the murderous bastards, which is where Abraham and his ilk lose their audience. Oh well, at least he's honest - though I really do hope he's wrong and that the majority of Shi'a don't support Hezb'Allah's genocidal aims.

Posted by: holdfast at December 28, 2006 03:06 PM

Stumbled across your blog, what a load of deliberately ill-informed rubbish. Yet another one of the "they're just Shia" voices. You expect the Shias to permanently live in squalor under the boot of your Christian fascist and IDF pals because ...? My favorite part of your cold war spy tale cum orientalist fantasy is how you seem to think those black-shirted Hezbollah baddies have you "on their list" and are whispering into their shirt cuffs about you.

Posted by: Kizilbash at December 28, 2006 03:09 PM

By the way, the obnoxious commenters are coming here from the Angry Arab blog. Google it if you want to read it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 28, 2006 03:13 PM

You expect the Shias to permanently live in squalor under the boot of your Christian fascist and IDF pals

You don't know a damn thing about me. No one in America thinks the Shia should live in squalor under Christian or Jewish fascism. Americans do not think like that.

The reason I dislike Hezbollah is because Hezbollah is a magnet for Israeli invasions and I prefer Lebanon live in peace without being invaded ever again.

Thanks for reading.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 28, 2006 03:16 PM

Ok, fine, I'll grant you that Juan Cole employs pejoratives in describing the various factions about which he writes. But to assume Cole is biased towards or against any particular faction is absurd. As but one example, Cole was unapologetically critical of Hezbollah's rocketing of Israel, whereas a great many of his readers (including this one) found the criticism to be misplaced or irrelevant. And even though I don't agree with Cole 100% on everything, what does that have to do with his being objective or not? Many people agree with him. In all the words being written about the Middle East, some people are wrong but are believed to be correct, and some are correct but believed to be wrong. Amidst all the noise, someone is right. Taken as a whole, the facts, history, and Cole's writings combine to demonstrate that he generally is.

As for your considering Hizballah to be your "enemy", how is it that a supposed journalist can express enmity against his subject matter and still call himself a "journalist"? I know you have admitted you are neither objective nor unbiased. I appreciate the honesty. However, and especially as an outsider with no particular knowledge of the customs, culture and language of the place he covers, it taints all your writing, making it completely useless as a source of information. By proudly expressing your bias, you are relegating yourself to irrelevance.

And why do you suppose Hizballah screams "Death to America"? Perhaps because the bombs that rained down on them came from us? Or did they pick their object of hatred out of a hat? How would you explain it? Is it because every bomb that fell on Lebanon last summer was either paid for or supplied by you, I, and our country in general? Yes, I know you have acknowledged this fact in the past, but do you not take it one step further to see the simple connection? What about in 1982? I read all the time that Arabs hate us for our freedoms and blah blah blah, but usually that's being expressed by right-wing conservative types. To hear a self-described "liberal" profressing a similar line is odd. Hizballah has a valid gripe against the US. Do you know enough of your history to understand why? Do tell.

Who threatened you with physical violence? What were the circumstances? When and where did it occur? If you already wrote about it then I'd appreciate a link to the article so I can read about it.

Are you truly interested in becoming friends with "those people"? What outreach have you done to express your friendly intentions, and how have you expressed it?

Finally, I'd appreciate an answer to my query: Do you read or speak Arabic?

Posted by: abraham at December 28, 2006 03:17 PM

how is it that a supposed journalist can express enmity against his subject matter and still call himself a "journalist"?

Because they threatened to kill me.

Anyway, I never said I was unbiased. Bias in journalism is rampant. The difference between me and many other journalists is that I admit it and don't try to hide it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 28, 2006 03:25 PM

If you would rather call me a "writer" than a "journalist," that's fine with me. Journalism is a detested profession. Americans view journalists less favorably than they view used car salesmen.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 28, 2006 03:26 PM

hey totten, they don't want to be your friend b/c you're a blithering dumbass white guy stomping around their country trying to write about how miserable and uncivilized they are. go fucking figure. why don't you go to darfur and save us all the bother of hearing your fantastical musings on Lebanon. in case you were totally unaware, hizballah has tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of supporters here in the US. and these people don't scream death to america, i promise. and neither does hizballah in lebanon. why didn't hizballah celebrate 9/11. they mourned and expressed their deepest condolences to the american people. so go do some research and quit peddling your Friedman-esque "i-have-shia-friends" rubbish as journalism. we see through it full stop! and before you run your mouth about hizballah threatening your life, think again my man. they could give a shit about some bumbling idiot like you. in case you didn't know, after the israelis left lebanon w/ their tails b/t their legs in 2000, hizballah turned over the SLA collaborators to the lebanese authorities. and guess what, they did the same damn thing again in July when they caught the mossad spy ring pinpointing buildings in the daHiyeh for laser guided bombings. interesting huh, the very people who most severely threatened hizballah and they didn't threaten their lives like they did yours. you need to grow up and quit thinking you've got something new to say. you're kata'ib friends have already crossed all the bridges you're attempting at the moment. so just dig up some of that good old literature.
and another thing, until you can interview nasrallah or qassem or any number of other figures in arabic, you can't step up to the plate w/ the big boys b/c you're just going to writing from secondary selective reporting. so clean up your act and go home. no one cares what sort of anti-hizballah diatribe you've got up your sleeve. hizballah is here to stay my friend. and that i hope leaves you quivering at night. that's what the reality is, they're not going anywhere and they're only going to get stronger while the puppets of the Middle East like Abbas only grow weaker and weaker and weaker and weaker....

Posted by: sami at December 28, 2006 03:26 PM

This guy's just a Hezb'Allah schill. No talking sense to him.

Oh - and by your logic, Israelis should have been in the streets screaming "death to Iran" and blowing up Iranian embassies, mosques, cultural centers etc - since all of the rockets that fell on Irael came from or were paid for by Iran.

Posted by: holdfast at December 28, 2006 03:28 PM

Also, I only speak a little Arabic. And no, I can't read it. Most Lebanese speak English and don't like to speak Arabic to foreigners anyway. So learning the Lebanese dialect is not at the top of my to-do list for practical reasons.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 28, 2006 03:29 PM

hizballah is here to stay my friend. and that i hope leaves you quivering at night

Sorry, no.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 28, 2006 03:32 PM

holdfast,

To compare an academic, noted scholar and expert of the Middle East, it's history, culture and people, who speaks/reads/writes Arabic, Farsi, Turkish, etc., to a blogger is...funny. "Haha" funny. You, too, are "haha" funny. To conjecture that Cole locks himself in a room and gets all his news from the internet like you do is flabbergasting, and demonstrates that you know who Cole is, but not what he writes or says. To even pretend like you do is insulting.

As an Arab and a Muslim myself, I find it quite obnoxious that little cretins like yourself would insinuate that you somehow know more about Middle East politics or culture than I do, just because you read the likes of LGF and swallow every bit of garbage that the right-wing hate sites present on their main pages.

I spend most of my time visiting these festering garbage dumps in an attempt to initiate debate with the denizens within, but I always somehow seem to get blocked from commenting. Anyone expressing a sympathetic tone on Hizballah or who opposes the blanket bigotry and hypocrisy applied to Arabs in general is met with the same type of reaction as you have shown. Your mind is closed off to anything that doesn't fit what you have already decided to believe, so whatever I have to offer is lost on you anyway, which is why instead I find myself responding to your ignorance rather than correcting your misconceptions about the people of the Arab world. Except for this one bit: if you don't know that Hizballah is currently and by far the most popular group in all countries that comprise the Middle East then you, quite frankly, don't know jack fucking shit. Your ignorance betrays you.

Posted by: abraham at December 28, 2006 03:36 PM

If you would rather call me a "writer" than a "journalist," that's fine with me. Journalism is a detested profession.

How about "propagandist"? That's more accurate.

Americans view journalists less favorably than they view used car salesmen.

Yes, because a bunch of guys go around spreading propaganda under the guise of "journalism", giving real journalists a bad name.

As for your inability to speak or read Arabic, that says it all. Until you do, if you ever bother to learn (and you would if you were really so interested in the Lebanese), you will never understand the people and the culture of the Arab world, and therefore your writing will only ever represent artifacts of reality. Your words are, and will remain, completely unreliable and irrelevant.

Thanks for conveniently avoiding most of my other questions. Your non-response was much more informative than any answer you might have given, if you were more intellectually honest.

Posted by: abraham at December 28, 2006 03:47 PM

Oh - and by your logic, Israelis should have been in the streets screaming "death to Iran" and blowing up Iranian embassies, mosques, cultural centers etc - since all of the rockets that fell on Irael came from or were paid for by Iran.

Um, they are, dipshit.

Posted by: abraham at December 28, 2006 03:49 PM

Hey Abraham,

You are welcome to stick around, post comments, and argue with people. There is no point in having a comments section where everyone agrees with me and with each other.

But I need to ask you to be nice. If you are polite here, you will get a polite response in return. If you come in here and insult people, you will be insulted in return.

I will ask you to leave if you cannot comply with these rules. If you choose to comply and are treated rudely by others, I will ask them to leave.

This is not Little Green Footballs, and I will not tolerate my comments section resembling the one over there.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 28, 2006 03:49 PM

Michael
I'll repeat what I said over at Dean's World. Your comments really attract the freaks, and I wouldn't waste your time arguing with...

1. Cowards who hide behind pseudonyms and fake email accounts.

2. Terrorist apologists on the Left who read a Chomsky book and claim to know all there is to know about American foreign policy.

3. The English-speaking propaganda wing of any terrorist organization.

4. Anti-semites - whether in Europe, the US or the Middle East.

Who cares what they think? I sure as hell don't.

Posted by: Scott Kirwin at December 28, 2006 03:49 PM

No problem. With the exception of holdfast, I think so far I've been pretty civil, and honest.

I will return as much respect as I receive from you.

Posted by: abraham at December 28, 2006 03:51 PM

Thanks for conveniently avoiding most of my other questions.

I'm busy writing an article and don't have time to spend all day in the comments.

Also, you'll get a better response from me if you refrain from insulting me.

You'll find I'm pretty easy to get along with if you exert a little effort. You are welcome to disagree with me, but I will ban you if you don't change your attitude.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 28, 2006 03:52 PM

Abraham,

Calling me an irrelvent and intellectually dishonest propagandist is not showing me respect.

You know damn well that a huge number of people in Lebanon agree with my political opinions. The fact that I don't speak Arabic fluently and that I express my opinions rather than hide them does not mean (by itself) I am wrong.

Leave the insults at the door.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 28, 2006 03:55 PM

Fine, perhaps when you're not so busy you can explain the nature of your contacts with Hizballah? I am most interested.

Posted by: abraham at December 28, 2006 03:57 PM

I'll respect Michael's decision not to link to angryarab's site, but to help people find the post (which does not mention Mr. Totten by name) I suggest searching the main page for the phrase "The White Man went to Beirut"

It's an interesting site to read. I have lots of experience reading on-line hatred by Muslims etc.. This isn't quite as bad a some of the radical Islamist sites, but it's good to get a feeling for the tenor of Muslim paranoia and hatred.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 28, 2006 04:01 PM

Oh and I was specifically refering to the comment section, though the main page is pretty bad too.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 28, 2006 04:02 PM

You know damn well that a huge number of people in Lebanon agree with my political opinions.

Granted. An even larger number don't.

The fact that I don't speak Arabic fluently and that I express my opinions rather than hide them does not mean (by itself) I am wrong.

What makes you so sure you're right? How long have you spent, in total, in the Middle East, or Lebanon in particular? What countries have you visited?

I stand by my comment that you will never get a true picture of your favored subject until you can immerse yourself in Arab culture and truly understand it. You're an outsider, and have an outsiders views and opinions. And I might speculate that these are opinions based on what people already sympathetic to your political leanings have told you in English.

I have much more to say, but in fairness to you I'll withold the remainder of my remarks until I've had an opportunity to read the rest of your series. Then we'll see what we're dealing with.

I must admit, my expectations are already biased.

Posted by: abraham at December 28, 2006 04:04 PM

Wow - with a razor wit (and manners!) like that I'm shocked that your attempts to "initiate debate" while "slumming it" on righty blogs meets with so little success. It really is too bad that at the end of the day all you are doing is reinforcing all the negative stereotypes of Muslims and Arabs that people like Totten are trying to dispel. So be it.

As to Cole - well, far be it from me to point out to a mega-genius like yourself the fallacy of appeal to authority, but . . . Anyway, I've read Cole (he actually does seem to spend a lot of time on the net), and frankly I'm not impressed. You like him because he gives an academic gloss to your beliefs - fine, that's your right, but though I don't have all of Cole's credentials, I have enough education and common sense to be able to tell shit from shinola. I also know enough about history and the failings of the "great mean" to recognize the value of a first person observer on the ground (as an example, William L. Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich - penned by a mere journalist, is probably the best print window into that era). I don't agree with everything Totten writes, but I appreciate his observations and insights - they give me some food for thought and help me to formulate my own conclusions. You clearly prefer to be spoon-fed your "thoughts" by Cole and Nasrallah.

You may very well be right about Hizb'Allah's popularity - I don't think I denied it, though I really don't think it says anything good about you and your ilk - seems more like an indication that all your other institutions, leaders, ideas etc (Nasserism, Socialism, Pan-Arabism, Ba'athism, Saddamism) have been miserable failures and the you are desperately grasping any straw that will give you the illusion of some control. It is not unlike what some southerners here in the US did with the Klan after the Civil War (even the hoods look kind of the same). I hope you're really proud that the most popular group in the middle east is a Persian-bankrolled version of the Klan (are you perchance an Al'Kleagle?)

Posted by: holdfast at December 28, 2006 04:08 PM

Great stuff Michael. Agreeing with you (or disagreeing with you for that matter) isn't the point...people who don't get that are missing out on something.

Posted by: Rich Horton at December 28, 2006 04:19 PM

Abraham wrote: Please explain how Michael is a friend--nay, BEST friend--of Lebanon? Of all of Lebanon, or just the Christians, Sunnis, and Druze? What about the 40% of the population of Lebanon that is Shia? Is he their "Best Friend" too?

Well, before you came to this site and while Michael was in Lebanon just recently he had a Shiite Lebanese hosting his blog for him...

Posted by: Zak at December 28, 2006 04:43 PM

MJT wrote: By the way, the obnoxious commenters are coming here from the Angry Arab blog. Google it if you want to read it.

Double-plus-ungood and I got into it before about the Angry Arab blog. I said it drips with hatred, he wanted me to actually identify where there were drips of hatred, as if hatred is a liquid and as if I was speaking literally and not metaphorically, but such is DPU's style of debate...

Anyway, some of the most paranoid anti-Semitism I've ever encountered can be found in the comments section of Angry Arab. As'ad Abukhalil seems to appeal to a very nasty crowd, which tells you something about Mr. Abukhalil...

Posted by: Zak at December 28, 2006 04:49 PM

Abe wrote: As but one example, Cole was unapologetically critical of Hezbollah's rocketing of Israel, whereas a great many of his readers (including this one) found the criticism to be misplaced or irrelevant.

Hezbollah attacked Israel unprovoked, crossing the border, killing soldiers and kidnapping others. They launched missiles at Israeli population centers, unprovoked.

That's okay with you?

If so, fine, but then you have no right to complain about Israel's response, which no doubt I am sure you do or did or will do.

Posted by: Zak at December 28, 2006 04:52 PM

Everyone pipe down! The great Middle East expert holdfast has spoken!

Yes, I suppose my "appeal to authority" negates my argument, whereas your appeal to diversity of readership ("reaches a politically diverse audience") and your appeal to authority of a "concerned but non-Arabic speaking American traveling in the middle east" trumps my point that Cole is far more reliable as a source of Middle Eastern news and analysis.

You may very well be right about Hizb'Allah's popularity...

No, I am right. This fact was widely reported, and stories about this started coming out several days into the summer's war, when it became apparent than Hizballah was not only holding their ground, but kicking Israel's sorry ass. From Egypt to Saudi Arabia to Jordan (as a Mid-east expert you'll realize that these are all countries with a minority Shia population) and byeond, the general mood was one of admiration for Nasrallah and Hizballah, with photos of the former being displayed in shop windows, cars, etc., and his name becoming the most popular name given to newborns. Of course, you didn't hear any of this because it didn't pass through your filter.

I don't think I denied it...

No, but you did say:

Abraham, however, isn't interested in humanizing the Shi'a to this largely American audience - rather he chooses to to try to defend Hezb'Allah, which most Americans simply won't buy.
Sure maybe Republicans think we should bomb them and Dems think we should wait and hope they go away, but nobody outside the Ramsey Clark-Carter-Chomsky crowd actually LIKES the murderous bastards, which is where Abraham and his ilk lose their audience.

So by trying to help people understand the relationships between the Shia of Lebanon and Hizballah (which for all intents and purposes are practically synonymous) and explain the relevance of the latter, how and why they came to represent nearly 40% of the population in Lebanon, and why they aren't simply going to go silently into that good night, I am turning people off? Or am I really just turning you off? Why is that? Is it because what I am saying doesn't fit with the pure bullshit and Israel propaganda that you read in your pro-Israel newspapers and on your favorite web blogs run by WASPs where the message basically boils down to "Arabs = BAD!!!" and which you've come to believe as factual without so much as raising a critical eyelash?

You wouldn't be interested in what I had to say either way about the Shia because to you they're just fucking towelheads, so why pretend? You've already made your mind, which is why nothing
I tell you will be of any interest or any use. You're just arguing for the sake of expressing your vitriol.

As for Hizballah, your main beef with them is that they are a threat to Israel. Stop pretending you care about Lebanon. Your only concern is to promote the interests of Israel as a voluntary shill because you've bought into the line that their interests are entwined with American interests.

Posted by: abraham at December 28, 2006 04:53 PM

Angry Abraham:

Oh - and by your logic, Israelis should have been in the streets screaming "death to Iran" and blowing up Iranian embassies, mosques, cultural centers etc - since all of the rockets that fell on Irael came from or were paid for by Iran.

Angry Abraham: Um, they are, dipshit.

Me: Please provide evidence of Israelis shouting "death to Iran" and blowing up Iranian embassies, mosques and cultural centers.

Posted by: Zak at December 28, 2006 04:58 PM

Angry Abraham (who seems to be checking his anger now) wrote:

What makes you so sure you're right? How long have you spent, in total, in the Middle East, or Lebanon in particular? What countries have you visited?

While I think it is certainly helpful to spend time in a place that one studies and writes about, and to speak the local language, I do not think it is a necessary prereq.

You should discuss MJT on the merit of his arguments and nothing more. A person can spend plenty of time somewhere and speak the local language, but it hardly mean the person thus becomes a expert.

I have yet to read any persuasive arguments from you, Abraham, just a lot of criticism of MJT for not speaking Arabic and for not having spent a huge chunk of his life in Lebanon.

Posted by: Zak at December 28, 2006 05:04 PM

Abe: I have much more to say, but in fairness to you I'll withold the remainder of my remarks until I've had an opportunity to read the rest of your series. Then we'll see what we're dealing with.

I must admit, my expectations are already biased.

Well, you're really going to hate the fact that MJT sees the Israelis as human beings that have a right to exist...

Posted by: Zak at December 28, 2006 05:06 PM

Zak: Double-plus-ungood and I got into it before about the Angry Arab blog. I said it drips with hatred, he wanted me to actually identify where there were drips of hatred, as if hatred is a liquid and as if I was speaking literally and not metaphorically...

Wow, that conversation must have wounded you deeply for you to still being going on about it. Apologies.

But to clarify - the contention was that he was anti-American. I asked for a link to a single post that displayed anti-Americanism, you said you didn't have to, the whole site was dripping with it. I then said that it should be easy to find one, then I thought we amicably agreed to disagree, little knowing that this had scarred you horribly and that you would repeatedly bring it up over and over again.

As for hatred, sure, he hates everyone, as I think I demonstrated with a cataloging of everyone that he attacked on a single day of posting. It's part of his charm. That and his hair.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 28, 2006 05:08 PM

Anyway, some of the most paranoid anti-Semitism I've ever encountered can be found in the comments section of Angry Arab. As'ad Abukhalil seems to appeal to a very nasty crowd, which tells you something about Mr. Abukhalil...

I've met some spectacular trolls here in the comment section of MJT, and I won't simply stand by and let you talk that way about Michael.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 28, 2006 05:14 PM

Abe wrote: No, I am right. This fact was widely reported, and stories about this started coming out several days into the summer's war, when it became apparent than Hizballah was not only holding their ground, but kicking Israel's sorry ass.

Ahem, Hezbollah did not beat Israel. Israel has the power to carpet bomb the entire south of Lebanon into rubble, easily. They didn't because they have morals.

Posted by: Zak at December 28, 2006 05:14 PM

Hezbollah did not beat Israel. Israel has the power to carpet bomb the entire south of Lebanon into rubble, easily. They didn't because they have morals.

And Vietnam was a US victory for the same reason.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 28, 2006 05:17 PM

Abraham, why don't you call yourself "Ibrahim?"

Or, why not call yourself "Avraham," which is, after all, the correct and original Hebrew pronunciation?

Posted by: Zak at December 28, 2006 05:19 PM

DPU: I've met some spectacular trolls here in the comment section of MJT, and I won't simply stand by and let you talk that way about Michael.

Huh?

Posted by: Zak at December 28, 2006 05:20 PM

Huh?

You're suggesting that because he has trolls in his comment section he is a bad person. The same logic and judgment would then apply here to our host.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 28, 2006 05:24 PM

Did I hold myself out as an expert? No - I'm a guy with some education who has spent quite a bit of time reading and thinking about the topic. You're a screaming looney who seems constitutionally incapable of answering a straight question and instead must put slurs in the mouths of his adversaries due to an inability to reason and argue cogently.

I said that I admired what MT does - and you said that Cole is right because he has a bunch of degrees. One is an appeal to authority, one is expressing a preference based on product. You figure the difference. Clearly you don't even know what the term means - read a book or email Cole for the answer. Totten's appeal to a wide audience doesn't make him right - but it does make him useful, since his readers can be exposed to ideas they might not otherwise get, since at least a good chunk are unlikely to devote their lives to reading Prof Cole's writings.

So the Arab Street was in love with Nasrallah this summer. In the past it was pictures of Nassar, Sadat, Saddam, Arafat, whomever - it's whoever looks good and the moment and it won't last.

Not getting overrun as quickly as Arabs usually do = kicking ass? ROFLMAO! Talk about defining victory down.

Re Hezb'Allah - I was expressing the hope that Arabs (including Shi'a) could be, and could be presented as, something other than terrorists and terrorist supporters - you seem to want to disagree and argue that Shi'ism is synomymous with the world's nastiest terrorist group (sorry Osama, but it's true, they've got you in experience).

Posted by: holdfast at December 28, 2006 05:26 PM

"...Hizballah is currently and by far the most popular group in all countries that comprise the Middle East..."

Um, Mr. Abraham, you are aware that your Hezbo heroes can't even win an electoral majority in their own COUNTRY, aren't you?

And you're aware that they're resorting to guns and bombs and murder because they want to SHOOT their way to the power that they cannot possibly win at the ballot box, aren't you?

If they're so frickin' "popular", why don't they just walk right into the big house and take their rightful place?

There's a reason. Think about it. And you don't need to speak arabic to know that reason.

Posted by: bomb them until the rubble bounces at December 28, 2006 05:30 PM

What a horrible thread this has become.

Anyway I'm looking forward to Michael's writing, if not to the comment section

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 28, 2006 05:38 PM

What a horrible thread this has become.

Here, a hamster in a little Santa hat. If that doesn't improve the thread, well, I don't know what will.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 28, 2006 05:49 PM

Mr. double-plus-ungood, The Saudis cut off any direct funding to Syria during the 1990s. Syria did benefit from Saudi largesse though their influence and business dealings in Lebanon. But now, for all intents and purposes, there is NO funding from Saudi Arabia; neither direct nor indirect. Sorry to burst your buuble, bra.

Best,
Ali

Posted by: ali at December 28, 2006 05:50 PM

Sorry to burst your buuble, bra.

Uh, that was my position, that Saudi Arabia had cut financial aid to Syria over a decade ago. I think you might need to re-read the comments above.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 28, 2006 05:54 PM

No need to re-read anything, Mr. Ali. The Saudis underwrite the Syrian debt, and have for many, many years. Similar to the above fantasist, you might want to reflect back on Assad's frantic flight to Riyadh recently, when he begged them to continue that financial backing. Thugocrats don't go begging for no good reason.

Posted by: bomb them until the rubble bounces at December 28, 2006 06:01 PM

Ali - does that mean that they called all outstanding debt, or that they simply won't extend any further credit? I guess if they really were on the outs and the Saudis called it in, the Syrians could just default and tell the Saudis to pound salt. Still it seems possible (likely even) that there would still be at least some longer-term debt outstanding, though whether it would give the Saudis much leverage is another question entirely.

Posted by: holdfast at December 28, 2006 06:01 PM

Sorry to burst your bubble, bra.

Posted by: bomb them until the rubble bounces at December 28, 2006 06:03 PM

DUP regarding Hezbollah's supposed victory over Israel:

And Vietnam was a US victory for the same reason.

If the Arabs ever "kicked Israel's ass" it would mean the destruction of Israel and all that it entails, i.e. the obliteration of a UN member state, a genocide of horrific proportions.

The North Vietnamese never vowed to do to America what the Arabs and Muslims vow to do to the Jews of Israel. Your comparision doesn't mean anything.

Posted by: Zak at December 28, 2006 06:21 PM

DPU: You're suggesting that because he has trolls in his comment section he is a bad person. The same logic and judgment would then apply here to our host.

You know that's not what I mean, and that's why I find you so utterly annoying.

If you go to "Jewish chat" on yahoo you will find a hell of a lot of anti-Semites, yet surely you know it doesn't mean yahoo "Jewish chat" is therefore some sort of anti-Semitic website simply because it attracts Jew haters.

Please do not waste my time. If you want to discuss substance, we can do that. If you want to play your games, I will ignore you.

The anti-Semites on Angry Arab's site are there because they like what he has to say; they come to MJT's site because they don't like what he has to say.

I know you know this, and I can't understand why you persist, so what's the deal? You are acting trollish.

Posted by: Zak at December 28, 2006 06:25 PM

DPU: You're suggesting that because he has trolls in his comment section he is a bad person. The same logic and judgment would then apply here to our host.

You know that's not what I mean, and that's why I find you so utterly annoying.

If you go to "Jewish chat" on yahoo you will find a hell of a lot of anti-Semites, yet surely you know it doesn't mean yahoo "Jewish chat" is therefore some sort of anti-Semitic website simply because it attracts Jew haters.

Please do not waste my time. If you want to discuss substance, we can do that. If you want to play your games, I will ignore you.

The anti-Semites on Angry Arab's site are there because they like what he has to say; they come to MJT's site because they don't like what he has to say.

I know you know this, and I can't understand why you persist, so what's the deal? You are acting trollish.

Posted by: Zak at December 28, 2006 06:26 PM

Your comparision doesn't mean anything.

Sure it does. You are claiming that having the potential to destroy an enemy means victory, no matter what the actual outcome. Which is kinda bizarre.

Most wars, including Israel's invasion of Lebanon last year, have well defined goals. Israel's goals were to recover its soldiers that were being held prisoner by Hezbollah, and to inflict enough damage on Hezbollah that it became militarily irrelevant. Instead, Hezbollah managed to survive and to increase its popularity, hence also its number of potential recruits and funding sources.

While Israel was certainly not defeated by Hezbollah, but it failed fairly spectacularly to meet even one of its stated goals in Lebanon, and the result has been paradoxical.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 28, 2006 06:32 PM

Oh, Zak. Should I even dignify your inconsequential tripe with a reply?

thinking...thinking...

Ok, just this one:

Ahem, Hezbollah did not beat Israel. Israel has the power to carpet bomb the entire south of Lebanon into rubble, easily. They didn't because they have morals.

This is a joke, right? Ok, I'm dumb. What's the punchline?

Israel didn't carpetbomb Lebanon because they're moral?

I admit it, I went for the low-hanging fruit. It was also the most idiotic assertion you made.

As for your assumption, these articles ought to clear things up for you:

http://www.twq.com/07winter/index.cfm?id=232

http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/060817_isr_hez_lessons.pdf

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HJ12Ak01.html

The latter article is summarized on my blog for your convenience.

As for everything else you said, just assume it is so below my bullshit threshold that it doesn't merit a reply.

Posted by: abraham at December 28, 2006 06:34 PM

...they come to MJT's site because they don't like what he has to say.

Nonsense. Go back and read what they were saying in July.

I will ignore you.

Please do.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 28, 2006 06:34 PM

You may very well be right about Hizb'Allah's popularity...

No, he isn't.

If Hezbollah represented the majority of Lebanon they wouldn't be asking for a mere blocking minority in the cabinet. They would have won the last election. The Syrians would still be in Lebanon. And there would be no crisis in Beirut today.

Hezbollah only represents (some of) the Shia. The Christians, Druze, and Sunni -- which make up the overwhelming majority of the country -- are opposed. Only the Aounists (20 percent of the Christians at best) are allied with Hezbollah, and that is merely for tactical reasons.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 28, 2006 07:07 PM

I said that I admired what MT does - and you said that Cole is right because he has a bunch of degrees. One is an appeal to authority, one is expressing a preference based on product. You figure the difference.

Fine, you may admire what MT does, but I was saying that I don't because his reporting is biased and presented in a propagandistic style. I then compared him to Cole, who I believe is more competent to be discussing Middle Eastern affairs and is a proven reliable reference source. You then expressed your preference for Totten's "product", as if your personal preference means Totten is more competent than Cole. This is what I am disputing. Your attempt to frame my contention as a logical fallacy was misguided, and missing the point.

Continuing:

Totten's appeal to a wide audience doesn't make him right - but it does make him useful, since his readers can be exposed to ideas they might not otherwise get, since at least a good chunk are unlikely to devote their lives to reading Prof Cole's writings.

I dispute your characterization of Totten's writings as more useful than Cole's. Cole, in a methodical and scholarly manner, backed up by decades of study and immersion in the cultures that he studies, provides factual analysis based on logical conclusions. Totten admits to doing biased reporting. You're right, it's a personal preference: I prefer to rely on people who actually know what they're talking about and have the credentials to back it up, whereas other people like to get their information from sources of dubious reliability.

Let's look at traffic statistics:

Michael Totten - traffic rank: 197,133, daily reach: 15 million (currently)

Juan Cole - traffic rank: 36,016, daily reach: 70 million (currently)

Both very respectable numbers, any way you look at it. But obviously, more people find Juan Cole's analysis and writing more useful, otherwise the traffic statistics might tell a different story. Totten and Cole have been at this for about the same amount of time. I've seen or heard or read Cole interviewed or called upon as an expert in numerous television and radio programs and in newspaper articles (i.e. PBS, NPR, etc). I only heard about Totten by a passing reference on the Angry Arab blog.

And:

Also, unlike Cole, Totten actually gets out and spends time on the ground, seeing things with his own two eyes.

...which I've already pointed out is patently false, again demonstrating that you know not of what you speak.

Your opinions of Juan Cole notwithstanding, I think the data shows that he is highly respected, and that his opinions count amongst a much larger and more influential audience than Totten's. I'm not saying this proves that Cole is right and Totten is wrong--heck, millions of people still pay attention to the dumbed-down drivel that Tom Friedman produces--but Cole's material sure seems to be more "useful" to me.

Not getting overrun as quickly as Arabs usually do = kicking ass? ROFLMAO! Talk about defining victory down.

Considering Israel, a 1st rate military power, with the most advanced weaponry and the full backing and support of the greatest military power the world has ever known (the US), was not only held off for as long as it was but had losses almost at parity with those of its enemy, you cannot call that a victory for Israel. If you evened the battle by taking away Israel's air force, their defeat would not have been in dispute. Israel scored points only because it's impressive array of air capabilities looked really scary on TV and made a mess of Lebanon's civilian infrastructure. But for all the millions of munitions they rained down on Lebanon for over a month, all they could do was kill 250 Hizballah fighters (or 500 if you believe the Israeli propaganda) and over 1,100 civilians, and they never accomplished their immediate military goal, which was to establish a front on the Litani River.

Finally, if you take into account Israel's primary objective, which was to completely wipe out Hizballah, then they suffered an indisputable loss.

Israel lost. Big.

Re Hezb'Allah - I was expressing the hope that Arabs (including Shi'a) could be...something other than terrorists and terrorist supporters - you seem to want to disagree and argue that Shi'ism is synomymous with the world's nastiest terrorist group.

No, actually, you're saying exactly that. Your bias and bigotry lain bare for all to see.

Posted by: abraham at December 28, 2006 07:43 PM

If Hezbollah represented the majority of Lebanon they wouldn't be asking for a mere blocking minority in the cabinet. They would have won the last election. The Syrians would still be in Lebanon. And there would be no crisis in Beirut today.

Oh, come on, Michael, that's specious. The last election is ancient history. It happened before the summer war. Hizballah's popularity has shot up significantly since then, with a large number of Christian's and Sunni's expressing their admiration for Hizballah's defense of the country. It doesn't register on your radar becaue you talk primarily to people in factions aligned against Hizballah politically. Certainly, some of their support has dwindled due to events since the war, but to say that Hizballah isn't popular ignores the hundreds of thousands of people--a significant proportion of the country's 3.9 million people--currently protesting against the government.

Hezbollah only represents (some of) the Shia.

Please define "some". It's easily more than a solid majority and you know it.

The Christians, Druze, and Sunni -- which make up the overwhelming majority of the country -- are opposed. Only the Aounists (20 percent of the Christians at best) are allied with Hezbollah, and that is merely for tactical reasons.

You are implying that Hizballah represents a small minority of Lebanon. According to current estimates of Lebanon's population, 39% are Christian, 35% are Shia, 21% are Sunni, and 5% are Druze. Accepting your assumption that 20% of the Christian factions are aligned with Hizballah, that gives them a plurality, clearly at odds with your characterizations.

If elections were held today, Hizballah would end up with a considerably stronger political position, which is why Hariri and friends are trying their damnedest to avoid a dissolution of the current government at all costs.

Let's settle this once and for all with a new census, since Lebanon hasn't had one since 1932. Then we can actually talk about majorities and maybe even instate a political system that doesn't cater to the minority parties.

Posted by: abraham at December 28, 2006 08:12 PM

Clearly you don't understand how a logical fallacy works, and I grow weary of trying to educate you. You did not compare MT's work to Cole's work - rather you just compared credentials and detirmined on that basis that Cole was better. Classic appeal to authority, and useless here ince there is no dispute about who is more credentialed. All that said, Cole has been known to shoot from the lip (or the keyboard) on a few occasions - producing some amusing gaffes:

http://www.geocities.com/martinkramerorg/2005_07_09.htm

http://sandbox.blog-city.com/juan_cole_noble_enterprise.htm

http://beirut2bayside.blogspot.com/2005/07/terror-and-experts.html

At any rate, this is becoming increasingly pointless since you refuse to address key points, and instead answer the question you want to answer. I point out that MT's site attracts a wide variety of readers, many of whom would not otherwise have access to this sort of reportage - and you answer that it doesn't matter because Cole is smarter, more credentialed, etc - even if that were all true, it's not the point since only a minority of the folks who come here are going to spend time reading Cole (pace D P U). Perhaps you think that everyone should read your sainted Cole, but the point is they don't. Sure Cole gets more traffic, but it is, in the main, folks who already agree with him (and presumably you, though Cole isn't quite the barking moonbat that your blog reveals you to be).

You could legitimately describe this summer's fighting as a political and/or propaganda victory for Hezb'Allah, because they didn't all die and because Israel refused to articulate clear and achievable goals - mostly as a result of Israel's unwillingness to fight like they actually meant it. It was frankly pathetic, but it in no way amounts to "kicking ass" - just getting killed more slowly than the Arab norm. Yay - go you!

HF: Also, unlike Cole, Totten actually gets out and spends time on the ground, seeing things with his own two eyes.

AB: ...which I've already pointed out is patently false, again demonstrating that you know not of what you speak.

You pointed out where exactly that Cole spends time on the ground in the middle east? I'm sure he goes to the odd conference in Gulf, but where is the street level reportage? Asserting a rebuttal is not a rebuttal. Maybe you are right, but I don't see it in any of your posts.

HF: Re Hezb'Allah - I was expressing the hope that Arabs (including Shi'a) could be...something other than terrorists and terrorist supporters - you seem to want to disagree and argue that Shi'ism is synomymous with the world's nastiest terrorist group.

AB: No, actually, you're saying exactly that. Your bias and bigotry lain bare for all to see

Again, you are attempting to answer the argument or point that you expect your opponent to make, not the one at hand. It's like you are arguing against a script in your head, not the words that I typed. I suppose it is easier if you simply stereotype and pigeonhole all who disagree with you. Further, you are the one that asserted that Hezb'Allah represents all Shi'a Lebanese, not me. Oh, and way to Dowdify.

Posted by: holdfast at December 28, 2006 08:23 PM

Just a PSA: Anyone even remotely paying attention to Abrahams rants should drop on by his site for a glimpse into where he is coming from. After reading that tripe, it is astounding that he has the balls to accuse MT of being unfair or uncritical. After all, we all KNOW the kikes are Swine right?? If not, click on his website, that will explain EVERYTHING. Apparently, if you speak Arabic, you can slavishly reference Juan cole with a straight face. Me, I am too stupid to understand that sites like electricintifada.com represent serious and unbiased news.

Thanks for playing Abraham. You are a bore and a tease. And you only get the tease moniker for being such a tool. G'night mate.

PS. Thank you for the glimpses into the middle east MJT. Most of us come here for your views, and ignore the trolls/tools. FYI, your CIA/JEW MONEY is at bank 134223. Use your de-coder ring, some Arab guy was eyeballing me so I had to mix it up. Please destroy the PS before anyone reads this post. Thanks.

Your friend in Zionistic World DOmination,
George

Posted by: George at December 28, 2006 08:55 PM

Hizballah's popularity has shot up significantly since then

Keep telling yourself that, Abraham. I'd like to know which former Hezbollah opponents now support Nasrallah after he dragged the country into a war. Your wishing does not make it so.

If you want more war, don't complain to me if your house gets bombed by the Israelis. You either want war or you don't.

I prefer peace and prosperity for all Lebanese (including the Shia), but I'm just a Zionist imperialist propagandist, so you can dismiss what I say out of hand.

Let's settle this once and for all with a new census, since Lebanon hasn't had one since 1932.

That's fine with me, but I'm not the one you need to convince.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 28, 2006 09:13 PM

MJT - look at it this way, if you are correct then there is hope for a peaceful, prosperous Lebannon. If Ibrahim is right, then eventually there will be a Hezb'Allah government, and the US or Israel will have to flatten the country. Either way he loses.

Posted by: holdfast at December 28, 2006 09:20 PM

Clearly you don't understand how a logical fallacy works, and I grow weary of trying to educate you.

Thanks. Clearly, you are a dumb-ass, too.

You did not compare MT's work to Cole's work - rather you just compared credentials and detirmined on that basis that Cole was better.

Ok, fine. Since you've got a hard-on to press your stupid logical fallacies point, I assert that Juan Cole's work is more compelling, factual, influential, etc. than Totten's. Satisfied?

...useless here ince there is no dispute about who is more credentialed.

Right, credentials are meaningless. Why go to a credentialed dentist when any crackpot on the internet advertising teeth repair will do, right? Ad nauseum...

All that said, Cole has been known to shoot from the lip (or the keyboard) on a few occasions - producing some amusing gaffes:

Blah blah blah. I assume you can find quite a few of these critical "calling outs" because Cole represents a threat to all the morons that want to believe Iraq will work when he's been saying all along that it wouldn't. I disbelieve them for the same reason you believe them, i.e. the source. Cole's reputation stands on its own. If you want to get technical, compare one for one his predictions against the entire rightwing blogosphere and media punditry, and you'll find that he was right a vast majority of the time, and the right-wing pundits were wrong about practically everything. If you doubt this, I point to Iraq. Settled. Let's move on.

At any rate, this is becoming increasingly pointless since you refuse to address key points, and instead answer the question you want to answer.

Bullshit. I can make the same claim against you. I'm not giving in to your argument for the same reason you're not giving in to mine. We both think we're right, but one of us might not be.

I point out that MT's site attracts a wide variety of readers, many of whom would not otherwise have access to this sort of reportage - and you answer that it doesn't matter because Cole is smarter, more credentialed, etc

No, I answer that I don't believe the reporting Totten is giving is entirely factual and therefore not useful to those readers. His writings are admittedly biased and, from what I've read, don't necessarily represent a truthful treatment of his subject. So in effect, readers of his blog are being done a disservice. I've consistently found Cole's reporting to be more in line with the facts, history, conventional wisdom, and, most importantly, actual outcomes. So I am saying here, as plainly as I can, that Totten's website, even though it may attract people that wouldn't visit Cole's site, is doing a disservice to those readers because they are receiving erroneous, opinionated articles that don't necessarily resolve with actual facts.

Sure Cole gets more traffic, but it is, in the main, folks who already agree with him

I have no idea where you got this assumption. I can only assume you have made it up. At any rate, it's a logical fallacy. Since you're an expert at that, maybe you can tell me what type it is.

(and presumably you, though Cole isn't quite the barking moonbat that your blog reveals you to be).

LGF code words. If you have a specific disagreement, please comment about it on my blog and I'll respond.

You could legitimately describe this summer's fighting as a political and/or propaganda victory for Hezb'Allah

Of course.

because they didn't all die and because Israel refused to articulate clear and achievable goals - mostly as a result of Israel's unwillingness to fight like they actually meant it. It was frankly pathetic, but it in no way amounts to "kicking ass" - just getting killed more slowly than the Arab norm. Yay - go you!

1, 10, 100, 1000 excuses. Whatever. Israel got its ass handed to it. Read the analysis papers I posted. Each from different political persuasions, but all of them come to similar conclusions.

You pointed out where exactly that Cole spends time on the ground in the middle east? I'm sure he goes to the odd conference in Gulf, but where is the street level reportage? Asserting a rebuttal is not a rebuttal. Maybe you are right, but I don't see it in any of your posts.

Please explain what "street level reportage" is, and why it seems to be a gold standard in your book. Cole visits the mideast regularly. I can't tell you when and where because I'm not his secretary nor am I his travel agent. At any rate, Google is free. Use it.

HF: Re Hezb'Allah - I was expressing the hope that Arabs (including Shi'a) could be...something other than terrorists and terrorist supporters - you seem to want to disagree and argue that Shi'ism is synomymous with the world's nastiest terrorist group.

AB: No, actually, you're saying exactly that. Your bias and bigotry lain bare for all to see

Again, you are attempting to answer the argument or point that you expect your opponent to make, not the one at hand.

No, you said, "I was expressing the hope that Arabs (including Shi'a) could be, and could be presented as, something other than terrorists and terrorist supporters". Those are your words. To clarify your comment, I simply removed the "and could be presented as" part. If you misspoke then say so, but otherwise I assume you meant that Arabs are terrorists and terrorist supporters. This is what you said. I'm not putting words in your mouth.

It's like you are arguing against a script in your head, not the words that I typed. I suppose it is easier if you simply stereotype and pigeonhole all who disagree with you.

Now you are projecting.

Oh, and way to Dowdify.

Blah blah blah. I don't speak your dialect so that's meaningless to me. I remain unimpressed by you so either way it wouldn't mean anything to me.

Posted by: abraham at December 28, 2006 09:37 PM

Here, a hamster in a little Santa hat. If that doesn't improve the thread, well, I don't know what will.

Thank you. Hamsters always help.

By the way Abramham's blog is as bad as you would expect. Sample headline: "Mahmood Abbas: Tool of Israel"

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 28, 2006 09:40 PM

Anyway you have my vote to ban him just for being an annoying windbag.

You can be rude or you can be long winded, but for God's sake spare us being both!

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 28, 2006 09:43 PM

Hizballah's popularity has shot up significantly since then

Keep telling yourself that, Abraham. I'd like to know which former Hezbollah opponents now support Nasrallah after he dragged the country into a war. Your wishing does not make it so.

The Aounists, for one. But your history is completely backwards:

Israeli strikes may boost Hizbullah base - Hizbullah support tops 80 percent among Lebanese factions. (Dateline: July 28, 2006)

The stakes are high for Hizbullah, but it seems it can count on an unprecedented swell of public support that cuts across sectarian lines.According to a poll released by the Beirut Center for Research and Information, 87 percent of Lebanese support Hizbullah's fight with Israel, a rise of 29 percent on a similar poll conducted in February. More striking, however, is the level of support for Hizbullah's resistance from non-Shiite communities. Eighty percent of Christians polled supported Hizbullah along with 80 percent of Druze and 89 percent of Sunnis.

To Arabs, he's the new Nasser, but to the West he has become the new Bin Laden (Dateline: July 29, 2006)

Such resistance has electrified not just the Arab world but also Lebanese voters of all stripes. A new poll shows that 80 per cent of Lebanese Christians, 80 per cent of Druze and 89 per cent of Sunnis support Hezbollah, even though it remains Shia to its core.

Poll Finds Overwhelming Majorities in Lebanon Support Hezbollah, Distrust U.S. (Dateline: August 2, 2006)

Most Lebanese—including majorities across all major religious groups—support Hezbollah in its conflict with Israel and distrust the United States as a mediator, according to a recent Lebanese poll.

Yes, they all point to the same poll, but this shows that Hizballah received unprecedented support amongst ALL religious factions within Lebanon once it was clear that Hizballah was kicking ass, and once it was revealed that Israel used the captured soldiers as a pretext to launch a war that was in the planning for over a year. Support for Hizballah continued to grow as Israel started inexplicably bombing Sunni and Christian areas. Or do you dispute this, too?

As I previously stated, their popularity may have waned since the war ended due to ensuing events coupled with constant meddling of outside forces as well as the typical confessional strife, but your statement is clearly false.

I'll be interested to see how your reporting compares to my cousin's when he returns from Lebanon next month.

If you want more war, don't complain to me if your house gets bombed by the Israelis. You either want war or you don't.

Dude, the Israelis are going to exercise their penchant for aggression regardless of what I want.

I prefer peace and prosperity for all Lebanese (including the Shia), but I'm just a Zionist imperialist propagandist, so you can dismiss what I say out of hand.

No, you're just another idealistic American on a misbegotten crusade.

I still don't understand why you feign to care so much about Lebanon and its people.

Posted by: abraham at December 28, 2006 10:06 PM

George slanders me:

Just a PSA: Anyone even remotely paying attention to Abrahams rants should drop on by his site for a glimpse into where he is coming from. After reading that tripe, it is astounding that he has the balls to accuse MT of being unfair or uncritical. After all, we all KNOW the kikes are Swine right??

Please point out ONE place, JUST ONE, where I even remotely express an anti-Jewish sentiment as you insinuate above.

If you cannot do so then I will instead be awaiting your apology.

Posted by: abraham at December 28, 2006 10:10 PM

Either way he loses.

That is the main thing I don't understand about islamic fundamentalist terrorism in general.

They're not powerful enough to achieve their long-term objectives. Their methods are not capable of achieveing their goals. What they do to the countries they sieze control of prevents them from ever becoming powerful enough to achieve those goals.

All they are really capable of is killing enough westerners to make the rest of us very, very angry. When that happens, they lose. It's a self-defeating program.

Why do the jihadis not see this?

Posted by: rosignol at December 28, 2006 10:11 PM

Why do the jihadis not see this?

They're too blinded by hatred to see anything. Some day I expect to see a study proving that hatred lowers effective IQ by 50 points.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 28, 2006 10:16 PM

Abraham: I still don't understand why you feign to care so much about Lebanon and its people.

Because I used to live there.

And I'm not feigning it.

You don't know anything about me. And I will ban you if you post one more asshole comment on this Web site.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 28, 2006 10:29 PM

i condemn everyone who condemns hizbollahs resistance. if you claim hizbollah brings destruction to lebanon, then you are too much of an idiot to argue against. this is BECAUSE, the people who hizbollah want to drop out of government are the same people who turned lebanon from the paris into the mugadishu, not hizbollah. while every state was having a pound, not forgetting the weapons testing, in lebanon, hizbollah split from the amal militia and formed what is now an officially government-proclaimed national resistance. all of a sudden when the national resistance ie hizbollah has a different opinion witht he government, they become a militia. ANYWAYS. just incase you are not lebanese and do not understand lebanons history, which is clearly the case with the owner of this blog, then i have something to say to you. LEBANON had 15 years of civil war, right? now tell me who was fighting this civil war? It was Jumblat leading the druze, gemayel leading the phalanges (christians), GaeGae leading the lebanese forces (christians). These are the main militias, all of whom were allied with israel or had SOME kind of link with israel or america ie supplied trained financed etc. the most notorious of them all was GaeGae who butchered 3000 palistinians in an hour at the sabra and chatilla refuge camp under the allowance of IDF. ANYWAY. while all these militias forgot who the true enemy is, and who truly brought this choas to lebanon ie israel, they allied themselves with the enemy because they considered fellow lebanese to be greater enemies than the invader. all these militias are present in the government. other militias include Aouns militia (which was the segregated army at the time, mostly represented christians but had some sunnis and shia) and AMAL (shia). NOW while all these lebanese fought against each other, a group of people woke up and realised that killing fellow lebanese was not the way to go because after all it was the plan of the zionists and neo-cons so that lebanon is weakened for ever. Thus, hizbollah was formed. Hizbollah has never participated in ONE operation against a lebanese other than the ones working with the SLA in south lebanon. this sla was a proxy army found at the base of every IDF checkpoint. they were used as human shields if you like against any hizbollah attempts to infiltrate any base. Therefore, hizbollah actually became hizbollah (after breaking from amal) because of the civil war. Now every1 will agree that the civil war which was spearheaded by the 'civilized' people that totten talks about, when it was both avoided and stopped by the 'uncivilized', shia for the former and the syrians for the latter. everyone knows tha the civil warlords cost lebanon 150,000 civilian lives and HUNDREDS of BILLIONS of dollars in destruction, not hizbollah. now thee same warlords, who used to actually bitterly fight each other, are in government making the decisions of the future of lebanon, with the backing of the democratic and civilised west, while the people who prevented and stopped the civil war are not even allowed to participate, not lead, and are mocked by idiots by the likes of tottens. these same people are also even blamed for the destruction of lebanon and lives lost in it for all the wars which is pathetic!

Posted by: hizbollah lover at December 28, 2006 10:31 PM

Yes, fine, but this is foreign political pressure applied through the use of a terrorist army.

If Hezbollah were a non-violent political party I would scrap the use of the word putsch.

And when I say Hezbollah used deadly force against fellow Lebanese, I'm talking about August 2006, not the 1980s.

Michael J. Totten

Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you? In many peoples eyes, Israel is a terrorist state which is denied legitimacy or even existance! Name me how many countries are on Israel's enemy list, or Israel is on their enemy list or at least it does not exist. I can think of at least 30. Hizbollah is considered to be a terrorist organisation by a meak 6 countries. Not surprisingly, they are the same countries with the most neo-connic loonies that have walked on grean eath. Namely, the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and two more i forgot. The EU and all countries in it do not identify hizbollah as a terrorist entity, neither does the UN, or any other arab/persian/asian country. So PLEASE do not bring this terrorist BULL round here maaaan. Your a REPORTER, you should be better than claiming Hizbollah used its power against ANY people of lebanon, especially not in august 2006 because the whole damn point of hizbollah going to war was to SAVE some lebanese lives from israeli dungeons, then they were forced to war by america, govmnt and israel and they faught back because they were DEFENDING their fellow citizens. Why the hell got hrough all that trouble to then harm the same people you lost 93 fighters for? YES 93 fighters, the 250 hizbollah people that some hizbollah leader claimed to have lost were OTHER hizbollah MEMBERS including the fighters. Not every single hizbollah member or fighter was in south lebanon fighting the IDF, others had families to take care of. So, 93 were lost through the actual hand to hand fighting, 250 overall including members such as political, organisational, economical etc you get the idea. ANYWAY, be smarter than that mr toten, im sure you are ;) PS didnt you see the demostration os sunday? everyone acknowledges that it was the biggest ever and PLZ dont argue with me mr totten. 4 arenas were filled along with the bridges ad roads around the arenas. Even the government have akcknowldged it believe it or not and have come now to claim that we are like sheep (YES, they condemned 2/3 of the countries citizens to actually be sheep, not humans) and claimed that it is not about size or QUANTITY ANYMORE, but rather the QUALITY. this is racism and double standard hgemony at its peek from your civiliced friends mr totten, what have you got to say?

Posted by: hizbollah lover at December 28, 2006 10:50 PM

Save Hizbollah Lover's post, it's a gold mine for any humorist who's interested in parody. Forward it to any comedians you know, they'll thank you.

And who knew that the Lebanese civil war was caused by "neo-cons"?

Are you feeling neoconic yet? If not then it's time to "consume mass quantities"

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 28, 2006 11:15 PM

And read his last couple of sentences twice, it's worth it.

It's not the rediculous propaganda that the poster believes (for instance that Hezbollah supporters are now 2/3's of the population), it's the masterfully funny misuse of words like 'hgemony' [sic] as in "Even the government have akcknowldged it believe it or not and have come now to claim that we are like sheep (YES, they condemned 2/3 of the countries citizens to actually be sheep, not humans) and claimed that it is not about size or QUANTITY ANYMORE, but rather the QUALITY. this is racism and double standard hgemony at its peek from your civiliced friends mr totten, what have you got to say?"

I still haven't caught my breath.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 28, 2006 11:39 PM

It never ceases to amaze or frighten me how illogical, factually innaccurate and childish are the arguments of fundamentalists...

Posted by: Zak at December 28, 2006 11:48 PM

"Hegemony" and "Neo-Con" are favorite words of people of his ilk. Too bad they have no idea what the words mean.

Posted by: Corinne at December 29, 2006 12:04 AM

"ANYWAY. while all these militias forgot who the true enemy is, and who truly brought this choas to lebanon ie israel, they allied themselves with the enemy because they considered fellow lebanese to be greater enemies than the invader."

The official Hezbollah guide to the Lebanese Civil War:

Chapter 1: All was well.

Chapter 2: Israel invades.

Chapter 3: All is no longer well. The baddies ally with Israel. Many innocent Palestinians attacked without provocation.

Chapter 4: Hezbollah butchers American marines, but Israel knew about it in advance. (Israel always knows everything in advance.) Therefore, it's not Hezbollah's fault.

Feel free to fill in the rest.

Posted by: M.Corilianus at December 29, 2006 01:28 AM

It would be WAY too much to ask for HL to understand the meaning of the word 'hegemony' if you consider that the same quote shows that he or she can't parse the metaphoric use of the word "sheep" even in context.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 29, 2006 02:04 AM

M.Corilianus, apparently someone taught you fiction rather than anything even slightly related to what actually happened:

Wikipedia entry on the Lebanese Civil War

Notice the timeline, the civil war started in 1975, and Israel responded to PLO attacks from Lebanon with a short invasion in 1978, and attacks by the PLO inside Israel (barely mentioned in the article, which unfortunately relies on Chomsky and Alexander Cockburn as its sources for this time period) lead to more fighting between the PLO in Lebanon and Israel, and the second invasion in 1982.

But notice, civil war since 1975, attacks on Israel leading to invasion in 1982.

When was "all was well" again?

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 29, 2006 02:21 AM

A poster above lectures Israel about what Israel can do to improve relations with Lebanon. One item was to release prisoners. The most notorious of these prisoners is one Samir Kuntar. He came to Israel and murdered a father and child while, as I recall, another child hid under the bed. Do you want us to release him too? Then this poster chirped about the so-called Shabaa Farms. This area was never part of modern Lebanon, as a UN border survey team certified after the Israeli withdrawal in 2000. The Hizb was simply using that area as an excuse to keep up the war with Israel.

Another poster boasted that Israel was defeated in Lebanon. Israel left Lebanon in 2000 for two main reasons. Not military defeat but 1) internal pressures from the fake "peace camp" led by the sinister EU-funded Yossi Beilin and a whole set of tricks that Beilin deployed, including the so-called Four Mothers movement [named after our four Matriarchs, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, & Leah].
2) these internal maneuvers were seemingly coordinated with outside intervention by Western powers that seem to have favored Syrian-Hizbullah hegemony in Lebanon. To explain (2), as far back as 1976, the US sec'y of state, then kissinger, praised Syrian intervention in Lebanon as "constructive," whereas Syria had worked to undermine the Lebanese central govt and bring about civil war, although Syria eventually fell out with arafat in those years. In the 1990s, the USA, France, etc. had intervened to stop Israel from defending its troops in Lebanon against the Hizb, and likewise to prevent the South Lebanese army of General Lahad from retaliating against the Hizb. Bear in mind that Chirac was pro-Syrian until Assad had Chirac's friend Hariri murdered. The current baker-hamilton report in the USA signifies an effort by certain influential persons in Washington to ensure Syrian control of Lebanon, as well as to humiliate Israel. Propagandists & fanatics like Chomsky & juan cole claim that US policy is and has always been pro-Israel. This is an illusion cultivated by fools and crooks and propagandists, as well as by some decent folk who have not studied the history enough. In short, Western intervention to tie Israel's hands vis-a-vis the Hizb made Israel's situation in Lebanon more difficult.

Posted by: Eliyahu at December 29, 2006 02:24 AM

Josh,
I think Corilianus may have been trying to be tongue in cheek.

As far as when the Lebanese civil war began, the PLO/Fatah forces kidnapped Ibrahim Gideon, head of the Phalange militia [kata'eb] before 1975. I don't recall whether this kidnapping took place in 1971 or 1972, or perhaps in 1974. The Fatah starting provoking the Kata'eb not long after they got established in Lebanon with the consent of the Lebanese govt [Cairo agreement].

Posted by: Eliyahu at December 29, 2006 02:37 AM

Josh,

"M.Corilianus, apparently someone taught you fiction rather than anything even slightly related to what actually happened...the civil war started in 1975, and Israel responded to PLO attacks from Lebanon with a short invasion in 1978...When was "all was well" again?"

Uh, dude...you've been hanging around WAY too many of these warped blogs. That was sarcasm. I was ridiculing hizbollah lover's claim that Israel was responsible for the civil war.

Posted by: M.Corilianus at December 29, 2006 02:38 AM

It's impossible to tell parody from the spewings of the many fools who've been fed disinformation.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 29, 2006 02:44 AM

It's impossible to tell parody from the spewings of the many fools who've been fed disinformation.

Au contraire, sir- the parody is usually more coherent.

Posted by: rosignol at December 29, 2006 03:37 AM

And better spelled, and not nearly as funny.

"So PLEASE do not bring this terrorist BULL round here maaaan."

Comedians would give their eye-teeth to be able to write like that.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 29, 2006 03:47 AM

Michael Totten is courageous, knowledgable. His low-key, gentlemanly depictions of the world's worst megalomaniacal sociopaths, flaunting their Communist and Nazi colors in preparation for another pending Holocaust, are unbearably poignant... the "angry child" portrait in particular moves one to tears. How could any parents worthy of the name lend their most precious, trusting little one to such atrocious ends? Neither politics nor any sectarian dogma could possibly justify drawing innocence into such cesspools of malevolent bigotry and violence.

Decades ago, in 1964 (!) we hitch-hiked overland from Northern India through Pakistan, Iran, Iraq to Damascus on its heights, then barely sixty miles to Beirut on the sea. What have all the perfervid animosities since then accomplished, except to make such peaceful journeys inconceivable? And for what-- to satiate a rabid Salafist death-cult and its Wahabi paymasters? Only dust assuages such death-eaters (apologies to J.K. Rowling)... only dust.

One Michael Totten is worth more than two, three, a hundred APs and Reuters "services". To those disparaging Mad Mike on his descent into eerily latent infernos, we only ask: Where are the so-called "professionals", whose corporate sponsors dispose enormous resources on behalf of "the public's right to know"? To be blunt, they would no more dare track Michael Totten than acknowledge their invariably terror-friendly, dictator cozening, anti-democratic biases. Since 2001 if not before, it has become sadly evident that mass-media in all forms (broadcast and print) has embraced a PCBS death-cult ethos of its own.

Posted by: John Blake at December 29, 2006 06:57 AM

"Israel didn't carpetbomb Lebanon because they're moral?" - abraham

a)Nothin' that occured bombing wise in Lebanon is equal to carpet bombing. And Israel wouldn't do it anyway because carpet bombing is a waste of ordnance.

b)Dude. Israel has nukes. They have thermonuclear weapons. Really really big explosive devices. They can wrap a cobalt jacket around them and make an area uninhabitable for about 15 years. If Israel wasn't moral, and really wanted all of you dead, well, then you would be.

Posted by: Spade at December 29, 2006 07:57 AM

Journalism is a detested profession. Americans view journalists less favorably than they view used car salesmen.

You are too honest to be a journalist.

Posted by: Carlos at December 29, 2006 08:11 AM

I know you know this, and I can't understand why you persist, so what's the deal? You are acting trollish.

You're trying to have an intellectually honest discussion with the DPster? LOL. You must be new.

Posted by: Carlos at December 29, 2006 08:26 AM

You're trying to have an intellectually honest discussion with the DPster? LOL. You must be new.

I'm not new, I'm just stubborn.

Posted by: Zak at December 29, 2006 09:51 AM

LOL some people here are hillarious, im so serious. None of you here know that lebanon and Israel's first war (israeli invasion, notice lebanon never invades) was actually in 1973, which was two years before the civil war. Now please do not convince me that it was a coincidence that the civil war started 2 years of the first invasion after living so many years of peace and quiet, even from syrian interference.

It is a well known fact the Gemayel was armed and financed by America, GaeGae by Israel and Jumblat by both because his militia was a kind of assasin cells rather than a typical army. Secondly, i did not blame the Israelis for the civil war, even though it would be logical to do so, but rather, if you read my articl;e properly and have an IQ higher than 20, you would notice that i blamed it on the few lebanese who counted on the enemy for support rather than each others. The biggest and most clossical example of this is the SLA. They were left like a man leaves a rotten dog to die after he has no use for him. Some were so desperte that they tried to evacuate lebanon by sneaking from one border to the other, only to be shot by the IDF who classified them as invaders. Though, because of the humanity of hizbollah, who are nothing like al-qaida or taliban who would butcher any agent, Hizbollah sentenced the collaborators to one year in jail, a VERY generous offer since in America i believe it is punishable by 15years of jail.

Anyways, i will be noting down some quotes and commenting. "Chapter 4: Hezbollah butchers American marines, but Israel knew about it in advance. (Israel always knows everything in advance.) Therefore, it's not Hezbollah's fault." M.Corilianus.

If you need a hostory lesson, i will give it very briefly. USA was sent on a peacekeeping mission along with the French and The Italians. USA and France went to lebanon in combat and comouflaged gear, while the italians went in white uniforms and vihicles, to represent peace. As usual, the USA got itself involved and made the big mistake of taking sides, oviously it chose israels and contributed to some of the most severe bombing ever experienced in lebanon by one the omost powerful warship america had at the time. France also made a mistake by taking the side of the christians, which obviously made the rest of the muslims feel unprotected or less worthy of the rest. So, here you have USA defending Israel + allies, and france protecting the christians. Were do the muslims go? Im talking about both sunnis and shi'as. They obviously had nowhere to go exept to mass graves, which they were sent to by the christian militias, Israel and USA. The bombing is therefore justified since they, the USA and French were occupying forces for taking sides. You know NOTHING of the THOUSANDS that America butchered in Lebanon. You know NOTHING of them. But your self-taught (or mayb fox news-taught) hatred of muslims or arabs or justice, or maybe the culture of double-standards that the west is so good at, is the reason why you only care for the loss of the US MILITARY personnels and not the civilians killed by them. They were all criminal occupiers who murdered our people. We killed the soldiers, not civilians. Us lebanese known what humanity is. Civilisation was born in mesopotania, so please do not come on this fancy blog to tech me about something my ancestors invented. Anyways, you have no proof what so ever that hizbollah did this bombing, im sure hizbollah would have been proud to claim it had carried it out, but didn't because it wasn't them. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility and i have the proof. First i need to find the link to the statement made and signed by them claiming responsibility. PS Italian troops weren't attacked because they stuck by the rules, didn't take sides and didn't engage in any type of combat.

"Not military defeat but 1) internal pressures from the fake "peace camp" led by the sinister EU-funded Yossi Beilin and a whole set of tricks that Beilin deployed, including the so-called Four Mothers movement [named after our four Matriarchs, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, & Leah]." Eliyahu

HAHAHAHA. Now this my friend, is a top joke. You are now officially a joker. HOW, just tell me HOW can you really sink this kind of crap in your brain. Im worried about alot of people, but you, sir, have made the headlines. Since when, sir, does Israel give a crap about peace campaigners or internal pressure? Why did Israeli soldiers leave under fire from the resistance and suddenly withought any agenda or timetable setting the dates etc. You know, as well as everyone else does that Israel has NEVER ever left Arab lands that it has conquered. Some might argue about the Sinai, but go to it now, half of the people living their are Israeli jews, not even a police officer is allowed in Sinai, let alone a soldier (egyptian). Air and sea are controlled by the israelis and the list goes on and on. This officially 'unoccupied' land has no soveriegnty. The egyptians have to ask the Israelis before entering their own land! What kind of liberation is that? Everyon knows that south lebanon was the only piece of land to be liberated/re captured from the israelis by force, full stop, period, hence no more arguement.

"Dude. Israel has nukes. They have thermonuclear weapons. Really really big explosive devices. They can wrap a cobalt jacket around them and make an area uninhabitable for about 15 years. If Israel wasn't moral, and really wanted all of you dead, well, then you would be." spade

DUDE, you are really stupid. Sorry to break this to you, but you really are. And VERY at that matter. You do know that the WHOLE WORLD would turn against Israel if this happens, 2) israel would commit suicide if this happens, you forget that Lebanon is hardly the size of london, a Nuke consumes a much bigger land area than that. Therefore, if Israel was to use a nuke even on IRAQ, they would be affected. Let alone them using it against lebanon. If they were stupid enough to do that, they would sacrifice the lived of the 1.5 million israelis living in northern Israel, thats a quarter of the population dimbo. Another reason why they wouldn't dare is because everyone knows that Israel would NEVER win a missile war with the arabs, especially not if iran get involved. The biggest reason being that israel is much smaller than all other countries in the arab/persian world except lebanon and bahrain. LASTLY, i'd be surprised if iran didn't pull a trick of its own, or even pakistan. Im sure then would be the FINAL world war, not the third because im POSITIVE that every muslim mufti and scholar would proclaim jihad aginst you and everyone that resembles or looks like you. KAPEECH ME AMIGO.

You all have a very nice day, and try to think before you talk. I personally am a VERY critical anlyist. I ALWAYS argue against/for all theories i come across, even if i agree or disagree. This way i am no-one's sheep. I my friends draw my own conclusions. You all don't, you are like a herd of sheep being led by one propagadist or the other.

PEACE OUT PEOPLE, AND REMEMBER, STEP OUT OF THE BOX OF OPINIONS BEFORE YOUR FINGER TOUCHES A BUTTON ON A KEYBOARD.

Posted by: hizbollah lover at December 29, 2006 09:58 AM

That's a first. A lucid sounding Hez supporter. Truly, that is a first. Most Hez supporters explode onto the page all irrational and wild-eyed making no sense whatsoever. I look forward to the historically-based rebuttal by someone more knowledgeable than myself.

Posted by: Carlos at December 29, 2006 10:39 AM

Wow, that really is a first. So Israel still occupies the Sinai! Classic! And the proof is because it's possible to still find a few Jews there on vacation. I guess that can be upsetting when your life's ambition is to drive the Jews into the sea.

Also interesting to learn that Hezbollah's war against Israel has been so much more successful than Egypt's peace treaty with Isarel. Cause Jews apparently still fly their planes over Egypt! Fascinating. They would never dare do that to Lebanon what with brave Nasrallah, and his internet cronies who write IN REALLY SCAREY CAPITAL LETTERS.

Posted by: Mertel at December 29, 2006 10:59 AM

I personally am a VERY critical anlyist.

Thank God for that.

Anyway HL has convinced me that we need export restrictions on spell checkers. Imagine if they fell into the wrong hands.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 29, 2006 12:43 PM

I'm glad a tango supporter like HL has little knowledge of nukes.

Lebanon is smaller than London, and nukes consume an area bigger than that, eh?

Goddamn, you're stupid.

Posted by: Spade at December 29, 2006 12:58 PM

This was perhaps the best piece I have read in a long time. Regardless of political opinion, once I started reading I couldn't stop. I look forward to the next installment. Amazing job!

Posted by: Bandit at December 29, 2006 01:00 PM

Thanks for that bandit, you can read my comment on the "Hezbollah’s Christian Allies" hehehe. And thank you carlos for at least listening and not being stupid. But i was really not very impressed with Josh Scholar, Mertel or Spade. You chat like little children. I talk to you like adults, so the least i deserve is the likewise treatment back please, not tango mumbo jumbo lol. I did not say Israel occupies the Sinai, i can bet your IQ is 5, maybe and a half. I said Sinai has lost its sovereignty and now lives withought dignity or sovereignty.

Josh Scholar, im not going to even argue back because you sound worse than my lil brother, and im 17 years old.

And spade, go to wikipedia and search the effects that a nuke has on the environment on the long term. If you are not so stupid, you would know that at least the radiation would affect the israeli population, ESPECIALLY if the wind blows the right direction, correct? good.

Posted by: hizbollah lover at December 29, 2006 02:29 PM

and im 17 years old.

We will remember that. 17 year olds don't have enough experience to make much sense of politics and history. It takes decades of painful beating your head against the wall to understand the all of the millions of gradations of exaggurations and lies that form most political discussions. If you haven't been disillusioned a few times, realizing that someone you trusted has been dishonest all along, then you don't have the beginnings of political maturity.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 29, 2006 02:48 PM

Interesting, how Michael Totten's observant, terse, original posts tower above his typical respondent's adversarial, intemperate and vitriolic pieces. (My own not excepted, though we do attempt to maintain civil if not genteel facades.)

Since about 1956, after Macmillan's failed reprisal against Gamal Nasser's "nationalization" of the Suez Canal (a ploy to divert toll revenues to his kleptocracy's depleted coffers), the geopolitical legacies of T.E. Lawrence's hate-affair with Ottoman Turkey have suppurated in endless open sores throughout the Muslim world. Anti-Semitic, regressive to the core, regimes from Libya and Egypt to Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria even today wave scimitars at anyone remotely heir to the Enlightenment. (After 9/11, Afghanistan and Iraq were seen to have overstepped their bounds. Even Annan's UN, terminally feckless and abominably corrupt, admitted that after a decade's lumpen-resolutions, Saddam Hussein [of sacred memory at 10:00 PM this evening] would simply have to go.)

Why anyone would care to live threatened by Hezbollah's death squads, Ahmadinejad's delusive Caliphate ("Allah the merciful, the compassionate, directs us to make an exception in your case"), is an open question, but those safely outside such purviews are welcome to them... as Kim Jong-il welcomes burgeoning throngs of applicants to his Socialist Paradise manque (that classic "lights out" satellite photo says it all).

We have a lot to learn from the Mideast, most especially how not to wind down the imperial mandarinate's Colonial Office in 1918 - 1922. But must so many of Michael Totten's readers express themselves in obscene, profane terms? Bad language signals lack of seriousness, profound failure to see torture and murder, genocidal incitements of all stripes, as the barbaric vestiges they are.

Michael Totten reports from the trenches. No use lamenting that killing fields lie on either side.

Posted by: John Blake at December 29, 2006 04:11 PM

>> "Guts" isn't the first word that comes to mind when describing the massacre of an apparently peaceful demonstration.

"apparently" is the keyword here. if they are staging the putsch, as michael postulates, appearances should be discarded in favor of substance.

> And, I hate to break it to you, but that demonstration doesn't include the majority of Hezbollah members. So the result would be a civil war with massacre after massacre following.

since, again, nizbollah is going to start civil war no matter what, why not get a head start and kill some of the enemy?

i am big believer that warfare should be considered rationally, with emotions detached.

Posted by: Poul at December 29, 2006 06:34 PM

i am big believer that warfare should be considered rationally, with emotions detached.

I agree completely, so I have to guess that your problem isn't lack of intent to think rationally, but lack of ability.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 29, 2006 07:03 PM

I like some of the photos on your blog though, if not your "bomb the crowd" idiocy. At least there's something you're better at than military strategy.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 29, 2006 07:09 PM

Josh Scholar, yet you are unable to provide a rational argument against my suggestion. how typical...

Posted by: Poul at December 29, 2006 09:01 PM

Josh Scholar, yet you are unable to provide a rational argument against my suggestion ...

A rational arguement against bombing a crowd? Oh dear. The problem is that there are SO many things SO drastically wrong with that suggestion that I feel a bit helpless on where to start.

The fact that no good would come of it, the fact that human beings are known to respond to violence with violence (and funny thing, Hezbollah is already armed DOHHH!).

I can only conclude that you have absolutely no useful mental model of the way human being feel, act and respond. I think there's some psychiatric term for that. Aspergers syndrome or something (at least that's what it's called when it's comorbid with mild autism).

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 29, 2006 09:23 PM

I see Abraham has left the field, which is nice. Then comes Hezzy Lezzy, welcome to the party, you fargin lunatic.

Posted by: george at December 29, 2006 10:37 PM

>> The problem is that there are SO many things SO drastically wrong with that suggestion that I feel a bit helpless on where to start.

just as i thought.

Posted by: Poul at December 30, 2006 08:54 AM

Good reporting,please keep it up

Posted by: steve at December 30, 2006 10:54 AM

Poul, if you think that the survivors of a huge massacre, their families, and their organization (which happens to be a terrorist organization, and better armed than the army) could refrain from getting revenge, rational or otherwise, then you know less than nothing about human nature, let alone about middle eastern culture. Your plan is as impossible as dropping a ball and expecting it to fall upward and into the sun.

I have to admit that I've never met anyone as empathically deficient as you are, and that's why I suggested, in all seriousness, that there must be a mental deficiency in your case.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 30, 2006 12:27 PM

"The fact that no good would come of it, the fact that human beings are known to respond to violence with violence (and funny thing, Hezbollah is already armed DOHHH!)."

FINALLY somebody says something like this. IE mr totten, if hizbollah is NOT armed, whos going to protect lebanon? You see this person, josh, didnt mind th lebanese army or police, he skipped them as if they are irrelevant, which i agree with. they both have hardly achieved anything throughout their bleak history. if anything, they did lebanese more bad than good in their creation in the first place. What i mean by that is in the civil war both were completely neutralised and divided on sectarian lines. insteadof keeping order both were too busy planning havoc for the other. the army has never fired a single bullet at the israeli army for nearly 3 decaded now. they only participated in war against the israelis ONCE, and never did it again (as proven by the recent war in which they were fired at and retaliated by serving...TEA, and then got counter-served an airstrike which decapitated the mayors wife) whereas the police has never solved a single crime, however big it is or small it is. Hardly ANY assasination has ever been solved or any of the culprit responsible for them rooted out. i mean, the martyr ahmed mahmood who died during the protests was shot nd killed by 4 people whom everyone SAW and reported, until this day they are not in custody. why? the police force and army are both corrupt, hizbollah isn't, and they have proved it more than once. they are our only protection, i dont know WHY you do not like them, but as a lebanese person i feel that my country can not be made to look weak by having the crapest army the world has seen, and then be humiliated by leaving our occupied lands within the israeli annexed territory. some say the UN's maps say that this land is syrian ie sheba farms belonging to golan, but the UN has maps which prove that the 7 villaes, thats their names they are 7 villages called 7 villages, which were occupied by israel from lebanese territory since 1948! now please do not blame that on the palistinians or the syrians. im talking about israel tinvading, occupying and annexing the 7 villages which are lebanese by orginin. they lie just past marwaheen which itself is split in half between israel and lebanon which proves that there was an israeli presence since BEFORE any recent war involving any faction, resistance or army.this is the same fate of shebaa farms. once everyone is silent about them israel will annex them too then claim its their territory thats it no way back, when the lebanese learn to accept it israel will capture another 14km squared piece of land then tell the lebanese to find maps to prove their existance, let alone them belonging to lebanon, lebanon will seek the maps from the UN, britain and franc who MADE the lebanese borders, but i bet they will say we are studying, and finding, and searching, and trying to blablabla but ill never admit its lebanese unless israel says so. everyone was silent over the 7 villages, why israel felt big, why not another couple of villages, they didnt do shit about the first 7! but no we have enough of that crap now, every single lebanese is proud of the bravery, heroism, patriotic, fierce but polite and reserved hizbollah soldiers and respect them. what you are doing totten is mxing up the claims of hizbollahs political agenda with their men on the ground. thats very dangerous, don't do it otherwise you'll find youself with tony being the only lebanese who acompanies you, smoking that water-pipe in the midle of downtown where you found those two wierd awnists.

Posted by: hezbollah lover at January 1, 2007 08:47 AM

FINALLY somebody says something like this. IE mr totten, if hizbollah is NOT armed, whos going to protect lebanon? You see this person, josh, didnt mind th lebanese army or police, he skipped them as if they are irrelevant, which i agree with. they both have hardly achieved anything throughout their bleak history. if anything, they did lebanese more bad than good in their creation in the first place...

Obviously you haven't been reading the conversation and have no idea what I meant.

I was arguing with some idiot who suggested that the solution to Lebanon's problems is to bomb the protesters and kill them all!

But I find your own dismissal of everyone who isn't Shia as completely unimportant even more disturbing than Poul's madness, because he's an outlier and you represent a huge number of people who will insure that Lebanon never becomes a peaceful, democratic place.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 1, 2007 03:12 PM

In any case your point is nonsense, you don't need to protect Lebanon from Israel which really wants peace [keep in mind "peace" means no violence, no raids, no bombs, not even little ones, no rocket attacks, no incitement to create more hatred and violence and no smuggled weapons to other fighters]. Your sort thinks peace means that the other side stops attacking and that your side can cause mischief forever.

It's Hezbollah that's refusing to be peaceful. And thus it's only Hezbollah that Lebanon needs protection from.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 1, 2007 03:18 PM

So to make my first point clearer to you, when I said that people can't avoid revenge, I was talking about revenge that would happen if March 14th was idiotic enough to bomb the protesters (as that Poul idiot suggested). Obviously if they bombed the protesters Hezbollah would get revenge and there would be a civil war!

You, on the other hand, seem to have taken me to mean that it's understandable that Hezbollah will have an eternal vendetta (war forever) against Israel and that you will support that vendetta forever because it's revenge for percieved past wrongs.

Look, I understand completely that vendetta describes the horrible state of middle eastern society, but I do NOT find this sort of thinking acceptable. It must be crushed. The rest of the world learned, centuries ago, that forcing future generations to fight vendettas is a horrible crime that causes only death and pain to generation after generation of innocents. It's no less horrible a crime than Saddam and his gas attacks on villages.

Your sort of thinking must end, if you have any love of humanity at all, it MUST end. Hated should NOT be taught to the next generation. It is an unforgivable crime.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 1, 2007 03:27 PM

Listen my friend, i do not need you to lecture me of what YOU want and what YOU don't want, understood? I lived my life and witnesed what was to be witnessed and i have felt what needs to be felt to conclude whats to be done with israel.

Yes, i was one of those kids who saw mothers chased by apache helicopters during the invasion of tyre. Yes, i was one of those kids who saw his apartment building which had his lifelong home in being bombed to peices by a merkava, despite the residents beging the crew not to. This is the same home my dad had to be employed three jobs in order to buy and fix

Yes, i am of those kids who again had to flee tyre in 1996 because the israelis were invading. Yes, i was also one of the kids saved by god and god only because if we had taken the taxi earlier, we would have been bombed and burnt alive while evacuating. I was in the bus behind the taxi when it was bombed by IDF warships dispite it being obviously holding civilians and on top was a white flag. On top of that we were in a UN convoy, but that didn't stop the wicked IDF from killing those innocent people.

Yes, i was one of those kids who from his flat could see apache helicopters flying around, bombing nearly everything in sight. Mothers, fathers, elderly, teens, children or todlers didn't make any difference. The criteria of targets wasn't militants or armed persons, it was all lebanese looking people withought distinction. I was one of those kids who many rallied across the world in the name of in order to halt the continuing assaults, massacres and occupation, only to be ignored by people with the minds like, unfortunately, mr J Totten. While my childhood was being ripped out of me, you were at home under your AC enjoying your little game with your father while mines was either trying to find work in order to feed us, or fighting for the sake of our safety, nation and liberation with dignity and pride with fearlessness alongside his cusins, brothers, brothers in law and friends since childhood.

My childhood was robbed with bombs, but my dignity was rebuilt with katyusha's. You my friend, don't have any right to tell me what you, or i, want or don't want. Who are you to even THINK about having the right to say that. I was the one who instead of played football with mates in parks, was looking out not to step on dead corpses or unexploded sub-munitions and unexploded missiles or live booby traps in the shape of cell phones or dolls.

I witnessed what and how the israelis treated us, the people of the south. Whenever we wanted to visit our village, we were harrased by not accepting some people, not allowing any man over the age of 18 in or out, with ques around 50 people long sometimes took 3 hours to let in. We were the ones who were terrorised to absolute fear by the SLA and IDF troops in our own villages. Stones were used to break any window of any nice looking house or villa, bussinesses were not given permits to open in the south, we were subjected to insane humiliation sometimes a dad was beaten to a pulp in front of his daughter just to prove to her that hes actually a pussy. Live shots would be fired in the air in the middle of a game any children would have which would strike our hearts with fear and turn our faces pale, only to see that the soldier was having some fun and thought it was a good joke.

I was one of those very children who was ignored humanity by the international community, i was that very child whom america didn't think of, nor britain, nor canada nor australia nor even my own government who left us to our own fate and certainly not israel. I was that child whom the only people did care about was the great and honourable resistance who fought like fearless divine lions for my safety, for my well-being, for my dignity, honour and pride. They were the ones who reserved those for me and everyone who is the likes of me. They re captured our lands and gave it back to its rightful owners. They would retaliate for me when i seeked vengence for my dead friend or dead cousin whom both were mercilessly butchered in Qana 1.

While the israelis drove us off and away from our lands, the heros defended it to make it ours again, while the israelis killed and wounded our families and friends, hizbollah would build hospitals to treat the injured, while israel used to bulldoze the dead people off the streets because there are so many of them, which i saw in my own eyes glimsing faces of neighbours and school mates, hizbollah would make graveyard to bury the dead in honour, while the israelis humiliated us with their abusive power, hizbollah never made us feel as if any of their men were above us, but vice-versa being correct. Us, the children of the mighty south, felt like the resistance answered our prayers and replied to our calls of justice and dignity free of occupation or hegemony. While the israelis destroyed our houses, hizbollah rebuilt or compensated for them. While israel killed our youthful men, hizbollah would pay the family monthly until someone else in the family was responsible enough to get a job. I can assure everyone the list can go on for a very long time.

Just remember though. Humans can build stones, but dignity builds the human.

I, who was a child in the south, saw what the so called internation community did to help me, i saw what america did to help me and i saw what my own government did to help me. The international community ignored me, america sent more troops to butcher the likes of me and my government left me to my own fate. Hizbollah was the only organisation to protect and help and treat me. No one else. Not you scholar, nor you totten, nor march 14, nor harriri, nor jaejae, nor jumblat nor gemayel nor israel, nor america, saudi arabia, britain or israel. It was hizbollah go rebuilt my house, hizbollah who treated my wounds, hizbollah who made sure water and electricity reached me and i can carry on. The most inportant of all, it was hizbollah who recognised me and defended my dignity, pride and honour. They were the only ones who made me feel that i should lift up my head because i am lebanese. Why else should i lift up my head, because harriri and seniora jacked me, or jaejae for butchering me or what, you tell me. Last but not least, hizbollah freed whats rightfully mine, lebanese soil.

Posted by: hezbollah lover at January 2, 2007 03:07 PM

Let me see if I understand the flow of this conversation correctly:

I say that forcing war on future generations, teaching them to hate and want war is a horrible evil, a crime that causes only death and pain to generation after generation of innocents.

And you respond that you had such a horrible childhood, were such a victim of the Israels, that you were helped by Hezbollah and so you owe them your soul...

Excuse me do I understand you correctly, do you mean to imply:

1. You need revenge so much that you defend the idea of vendetta. You do demand that future generations kill people yet unborn, and die (en mass, given modern weapons) and the survivors suffer more horribly than you did, just so you will have your revenge? You are defending teaching hatred and warfare? Did I understand?

2. So Hezbollah helped you. Are you defending their teaching hate, and preventing peace (and by the way, their refusal of peace is the reason that the prisoners will remain in jail forever - it's Hezbollah's fault the war never ends and therefor that the prisoners are never exchanged)?

Look, you are saying that whatever horrible things Hezbollah does, no matter who they do it for, you will defend them and always find someone else to blame instead? Because you OWE them?

Look children may give up the truth out of loyalty, not adults. You're still a child, and they're using you. That's wrong.

And all that self pity in your story. You're still a child. An adult understand that self pity blinds, hatred blinds, even loyalty blinds and so an adult would come to understand what happened without being blinded. You have no sense of perspective yet.

Look, if someone tells you a story and that story is emotionally simple, with the same good guy all of the time, then that person is manipulating you.

Propaganda is easy to understand because it's a story; it is a story that was deliberately designed to be emotionally satisfying. But the real world isn't simple, and it's rarely emotionally satisfying.

I can tell that you don't know why anything happened, yet.

Let me say this again, if someone tells you a story and that story with the same good guy all of the time, then that person is lying to you. Or worse, they're a just tool of someone else, and they've been lied to and believed it all.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 2, 2007 04:30 PM

Sorry for clumsy writing and bad grammar, I was missing sleep when I wrote that last post.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 3, 2007 02:58 AM

Seriously, there are some dumb peoplehere. I urge you totten to block every handicaped idiot here, please. It make my blood pressure rise :P

Listen, go scroll up joshua and read again what i said. It was a simple message about me, not a reply to you or anyone else, well in a way it's a reply to everyone who convicts hizbollah of being murderes or hate teaching criminals or terrorising butcherers or whatever. They have never, or tried to, murder me, or my mum, or any family member of mines, or any of my friends, or any of my class mates or any of my neighbours. They didn't teach me to hate but they taught me to never give up struggling, wether with the sword or the pen, for whats rightfully mine just because they are stronger than i am. And they have certainly never ever terrorised anyone i know or heard of, or anyone my friends know or heard of, or anyone my family members know or heard of etc etc

And just in case you think hizbollah is just caryying on the vendetta clueless of the consequences then you are wrong, they do not accept anyone to be in their organisation withought an education and a wife. This shows significant signs about them and who + what they are. This shows they are educated and disciplined men to get to a stage where they recieve a diploma or a degree. It also shows their love of life. They want all fighters to pass on life to a next generation. Marriage also means the feeling of reponsibility rather than being a mad kid with no responsibility or knowledge who throws himself on enemy soldiers.

These people are highly educated, highly qualified highly responsible, highly reasonable, highly respectable/respected and highly calm, patient and mature soldiers who are very highly trained and disciplined. They do not want a vendetta and no-one in lebanon is looking for one, but you miss the reason and skip to criticizing the reaction. Everyone here agrees hizbollah was a reaction to an action. The action being assault and occupation of the mother land, reaction being resisting it. We, ladies and gentlemen, have skipped a very crucial stage of life because of the media, we now live in a time and generation that criticizes both the victim and aggressor, and in this case, attck and criticize the victim all the while ignoring or even praising the aggressor. And this is very dangerous.

Just like calling any-one who opposes israel's policies an anti-semitic, which will in time make the term respected or honourable, the same will happen when the wrong people are being attacked.

Hizbollah is innocent unless proven guilty of carrying out ANY type of criminal attack against anyone. I challenge anyone here to bring me one example or instance in which hizbollah has carried out any operation or campaign in order to benefit any nation other than their own? Or evidence of any crime commited by them. I have heard alot of insults and accusations but all are baseless and hollow.

PS anyone wants to argue that the july war is one instance where hizbollah carried the operation out because of the iranian nuke program i point back to october 2000 when hizbollah did the same operation, and 1996 and 1993, were they all also for the iranian agena? or to flex muscles? or an iranian-syrian plot to destable lebanon/region? or an iranian-syrian agenda to prove their might? I don't think so. I don't know why the patrons of USA in beirut say so, it becomes a fact. Think about it. ALSO there was the ghajar too, their was no standoff between iran and west back then either.

Posted by: hezbollah lover at January 3, 2007 06:05 AM

HL, I for one don't believe that all the experiences you describe were actually your own. But it's effective propaganda. On the other hand, your Qur'an [sura 9:29] instructs Muslims to humiliate Jews and Christians [ahl al-Kitab] as kufar [unbelievers]. So I doubt that you oppose humiliation in principle. It's just a matter of who gets humiliated, isn't it?

Posted by: Eliyahu at January 4, 2007 02:40 PM

Too bad the gentrification of Lebanon can't go any faster.

Posted by: Alan Goldstein at January 7, 2007 10:41 AM

"HL, I for one don't believe that all the experiences you describe were actually your own. But it's effective propaganda. On the other hand, your Qur'an [sura 9:29] instructs Muslims to humiliate Jews and Christians [ahl al-Kitab] as kufar [unbelievers]. So I doubt that you oppose humiliation in principle. It's just a matter of who gets humiliated, isn't it?" Eliyahu

Well, i just read the sura, i also read the sura before and after it, which is what yu are supposed to do so you understand whats happening in that sura, otherwise it would be taken out of context. The sura you mentioned is something about god calling on the believers to fight the people who do not believe in the prophets and in god and in the divine laws blablabla, i was kind of surprised, but when i read the aya's before and after that aya, i found out that god was calling on prophet muhammed to rage war on these people, and what was said i.e. do not believe in god, in prophets, in divine laws etc was actually the description of the people whom were to be faught against by the prophet. So, what you are trying to say didn't even exist in those aya's, all that was said about christians and jews, is that these people whom god ordered the prophet to attack, were orrupt christians and jews whom were claiming to be christians but whose acts didn't match any of the true christian but more matched those whom are astry.

Anyway i dont know why am explaining myself, all needs to be said is that no such thing you said is true because it wasn't said in the aya or any other aya in that sura. Please stop lying and trying to give references to either decept yourself into thinking you're clever or decept others to fall into your trap. You have your religion and i have mines, so let it be. My religion does not call a human god nor any human to be his son, nor does it tell me that my race is over and above all other races and nor do i believe that a man once defeated god in a fight, so please leave it their because i hate going into religioun fights because i end up insulting people by speaking the truth about their religion, truth they acknowledge but don't like being exposed and never or hardly ever admit. This is politics not religion, i like to believe everyone from every religioun is my brother in humanity and my brother from divinity (if his religioun is one of the four sent down by god officially) otherwise they are just brothers and humans who have different beliefs and opinions which im tottally fine with.

The quran has an aya which says you have your religioun and so do i, so be it - this is the biggest proof of co-existence being taught and another aya we have made you into tribes and nations so that you may one day come and meet each other and learn from each other... I can go on if you wnt with stories but im sure everyone doesnt want that either. nite.

Posted by: hezbollah lover at January 7, 2007 06:51 PM

MJT wrote, "By the way, the obnoxious commenters are coming here from the Angry Arab blog."

I'm familiar with the blog. It shows one of the problems: In political or religious matters, Arabs are ALWAYS angry (at Westerners, Jews, etc.). Their problems are NEVER their own fault, though occasionally one of their blogs does give a slight whiff of self-criticism and an even slighter whiff of criticism of their governments.

Another of the problems is that "Progressive Muslims" (Google it) aren't. They continue to hate Westerners, Jews, Manji, Sultan, Rushdie, etc. virulently.

Posted by: ScoialistZionist at January 13, 2007 06:17 PM

Sorry! My signature should have been properly spellt as "SocialistZionist," and the Sultan reference was to the famous Wafa Sultan, not to a prince of any sort.

Posted by: SocialistZionist at January 13, 2007 06:19 PM

Josh wrote, "Naw, it's just the bitterness of extreme hatred, and all it does is mean that the fuckhead who wrote it is seething with hatred ..."

http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k225/ECMarm/brain2.gif

Posted by: SocialistZionist at January 13, 2007 10:26 PM

HL claims that Hiz helped him and that their social agenda excuses their offering up Lebanon on the altar of miltarism.

We've heard this argument before.

Indeed, Hitler gave Germany pride and put it back to work, and Mussolini made the trains run on time.

And IG Farben made diapers and prams as well as Zyklon B.

Posted by: SocialistZionist at January 14, 2007 12:32 AM
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