July 19, 2008

Triangulation, Lebanon Style

In yesterday’s piece I said Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Seniora’s and Druze chief Walid Jumblatt’s pretended support for the released terrorist Samir Kuntar was an act of triangulation. For those interested in how, exactly, that works, and why someone like Jumblatt thinks it’s necessary, Michael Young explains it in detail.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at July 19, 2008 10:54 AM
Comments

Thanks, Michael, for Michael Young's explanation of his 'support' for Kuntar being an act to ensure pro-Syrian Kuntar doesn't get too strong in local Druze politics.

It would be nice, but it's unrealistic to expect, to have a Lebanese leader show some better 'liberal' tolerance for Jews and against child murderers. Maybe next generation, or after the next Israel-Hamas war.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad Author Profile Page at July 19, 2008 12:19 PM

Tom,

I don't know if Michael Young is supporting it. Seems to me he is just explaining it.

He's right about the internal dynamics. I still think Jumblatt was a damn fool for doing this. His actions have consequences and ramifications beyond his own little fiefdom.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at July 19, 2008 12:24 PM

Jumblatt is no better than any other Arab leader.

Posted by: jonorose Author Profile Page at July 19, 2008 12:37 PM

jonorose: Jumblatt is no better than any other Arab leader.

Arguably, he's no better than Nasrallah himself.

Michael, all triangulation aside, I think recent events demonstrate that "Walid Bek" (as you referred to him the last time we discussed him) is a scumbag in his own class.

Posted by: Edgar Author Profile Page at July 20, 2008 7:03 PM

If I may play devil's advocate here.

What small Druze community can do? I am sure they wouldn't want to share faith of Lebanese Jews.

Posted by: leo Author Profile Page at July 20, 2008 9:52 PM

Edgar,

I don't think I have ever called Jumblatt "Walid Bek."

Did you read Michael Young's piece? What Jumblatt does is both understandable and logical. I don't always like it -- especially not this time -- but I "get" him.

He would be more respectable if he lived in a more civilized country.

One thing I really hate about Lebanon is that it chews up normal people and makes it almost impossible for them to live there for long periods. They have to either leave or adapt to its jungle rules. I find my own thoughts going to darker and darker places if I spend too much time there without leaving and coming up for air somewhere else.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at July 21, 2008 12:39 AM

MJT: I don't think I have ever called Jumblatt "Walid Bek."

You did back in October

And the discussion then was about whether he should get away with claiming the Jews controlled the world and making racist remarks about blacks. I thought not, though others disagreed.

One thing I really hate about Lebanon is that it chews up normal people and makes it almost impossible for them to live there for long periods. They have to either leave or adapt to its jungle rules.

I think that average people can get by fine without adapting to "jungle rules" virtually anywhere. Politicians are a different story, though, and in that sense I agree. But politicians should not be immune from criticism either, even "Walid Bek." Fine, he's been dealt a tough hand as a Druze leader in Lebanon, but he rarely takes a stand out of a moral desire to do the right thing. He simply does whatever he can to stay in power, no matter how slimey and despicable it looks.

Posted by: Edgar Author Profile Page at July 21, 2008 2:55 AM

Edgar,

Ah yes, I see that I did. I had forgotten. I was arguing with a punk named Ethan who lives (or lived) in Beirut and hates every normal person in the country and reflexively defends every creep who stinks up the joint.

Jumblatt is indeed very shifty. It's pretty much in his job description as the leader of the Druze. He's great when he's on your side, but he has a terrible tendency not to linger there long and to triangulate at the worst possible times.

He could be a great leader, but he isn't. During the civil war he was a war criminal, and a war criminal for the wrong side at that. Some of our allies in Iraq are just like him. What are you gonna do? I don't like it either, but it's the Middle East. It's fucked up, and I am so glad I can leave when I want to. I meet people all the time over there who wish they could get out. Most don't make it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at July 21, 2008 3:14 AM

I should have been more clear:
Michael Young's explanation of Jumblatt's support for Kuntar... Druze politics

The real problem is that the most "decent" folks in politics, usually disidents, can't seem to cooperate enough with others to make needed compromises to use power effectively, and especially are unwilling to bend rules to help friends.

Jumblatt, like most successful politicians, doesn't suffer such limitations.

Normblog makes a point about how Israel trading such a murderer for coffins keeps Israel on a higher moral plane.

[The Obamamaniacs are beginning to see that Obama is more pragmatically power-hungry than principled -- which certainly reduces my own fear of catastrophe with him, and I never expected any politician to be a saviour. Or even particularly great at creating a gov't solution -- most gov't solutions, like Fannie Mae, become problems over time.]

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad Author Profile Page at July 21, 2008 10:03 AM

Did you read Michael Young's piece? What Jumblatt does is both understandable and logical. I don't always like it -- especially not this time -- but I "get" him.

He would be more respectable if he lived in a more civilized country.

Right, and Hizballah would be more respectable if it hadn't been born out of South Lebanese torture chambers and Israeli-supported Christian massacres.
But we pick and choose who we give Get Out of Jail Free Cards to for their immoral acts.

I don't even call us wrong for doing so in every possible circumstance. I just wish we'd be more freakin' honest about it. And I wish we'd stop pushing analysis that exaggerates the distinctions, because it's harmful.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at July 21, 2008 6:30 PM

I suppose, to balance criticism with praise, I should mention that I like Young's piece.

It's not that I have a problem with you explaining why nominally good people do nominally bad things. I'm just impatient with your careful selection of when to do that, and when to fall back on the Commentary world of angels and devils.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at July 21, 2008 6:32 PM

I knew we could count on glasnost to make excuses for the child-killer but I'd like to point out that he crushed that little girl's head with his rifle years before Israel invaded Lebanon.

"the Commentary world of angels and devils."

As opposed to the magnanimous fair and balanced world of Israel's enemies.

Posted by: Gary Rosen Author Profile Page at July 22, 2008 12:44 AM

i.e. years before Israel invaded Lebanon.

Thus, he was not in any way part of Hizballah.

What was the subject of my.. rhetorical example? Was it Hizballah? Thus, was I not talking about Kuntar at all? In my rhetorical example. Of how Mike Totten could use his occasional interest in explaining bad things instead of sermonizing them.

Always helps to correctly identify the target when you go out to get together the lynch mob.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at July 22, 2008 4:44 PM
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