Thursday, July 27, 2006

The View on the Ground

I've crawled out from underneath my rock long enough to post some quotes from a few interesting blogs you might wish to check out for further perspective on the latest Mid-East crisis.

Slices of life in Middle East Blogistania:

First, from Back to Iraq 3.0 (who has been in Lebanon these past few months):
"Bombs and Politics
BEIRUT — Why, oh, why do people with access to really big bombs continue to think they can change people's loyalties by dropping those big bombs on their homes and families?

Israel's strategy in Lebanon is pretty clear now: Make the pain of "supporting" or "harboring" Hizbullah so great that the Lebanese will deal with the group. That was also the idea behind the attack on Gaza and Hamas as well as the so-called Bush Doctrine - the U.S. will make no distinction between the terrorists and those who harbor them. It's also the hot air for the trial balloon often floated in D.C. regarding regime change in Iran: Bomb the mullahs and watch the pro-American youth embrace the Pax Americana!

Except- it almost never works. I mean, George Bush was considered barely qualified to make coffee at the White House in August 2001. (Remember that?) And then, boom, 9/11 hit and he's suddenly the best wartime leader since Churchill. Was there a rethinking of American policy on the part of the masses and a call for changing those policies? Or even, dare I say it, removing the Bush Administration from office because the consequences of having a nincompoop in office had grown too painful? Hell, no! Americans rallied around the flag and the leader. In fact, the only incident that I can think of that involved bombs leading to the victims blaming their leaders and punishing them was - Madrid.

So why do Washington and Tel Aviv think Arabs would react any different? (Maybe a bit of cultural chauvinism?) Did the Iraqis turn on Saddam Hussein through 13 years of sanctions? No. Did the Palestinians turn on Fatah after the start of the 2001 intifada? That's a negative. The Gazans this year? Nope. Will the Lebanese turn on Hizbullah? Not likely, and certainly not in the short term.

Another reason the "bomb 'em and they'll love us" strategy won't work here is that Hizbullah is not the PLO. An historical digression, if you'll allow me: Israel invaded Lebanon in 1978 and 1982 in two attempts to dislodge the PLO from Lebanon, where it was using the country launch attacks on the Jewish state. The Palestinians had developed a state-within-a-state in the south, which was often called "Fatah-land." (Sound familiar?) In 1983, Israel finally pushed the PLO out and Yasser Arafat and his followers fled to Tunisia. Still, the Lebanese war dragged on for another seven years as various militias - some supported by Israel, others by Syria and Iran - before finally ending in 1990 from exhaustion. Lebanon was shattered and Israel ended up occupying parts of the country for 22 years, spawning Hizbullah.

This is important. Hizbullah was not started by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. It was organized by them out of the disparate Shi'ite groups that popped up to resist the Israeli occupation. Iran helped merge them together, but they're a Lebanese creation.

This means Hizbullah is an indigenous group, not a foreign body like the PLO was. Saying that Lebanon "harbored" Hizbullah is like saying the United States "harbors" white supremacists or anti-government militias. You probably hate them and despise their goals, but you can't they’re alien parasites on American society. Like Hizbullah in Lebanon, they're an integral if extreme part of the political and social fabric. Ending of expelling Hizbullah is akin to amputation rather than lancing a boil."

From Kerblog, a Lebanese blogger:
that's it!
i can't anymore!
please do not contact me for any interview anymore.
i am beginning to freak out repeating 5 times a day the same things. if your interested in what i am doing, please write yourself a story about it (it's easy, you'll see).
anyways, everything i am asked is already on the blog. or worst, on tv.
i should by the way keep record of these interviews, some are incredible. i was asked twice so far: "don't you think that your piece of music and bombs is of a bad taste?
i answered twice: "do you think that it is of a good taste to throw a bomb on a bus with civilians escaping their village?"
it is incredible that some people, listening to this piece in their living room in london or in paris, ask themselves if they like it or not. i think that some people should never stop seeing cnn and fox news. it is made for them. it is "good taste" news."

And next, Live from an Israeli Bunker:
"We had 10 sirens today, and finally a new instruction came to stay at least 15 minutes down there after a siren. This might be obscure so I'll explain. What happened in the past few days, and I've talked about this already, is this: Siren goes off, people go down into the bunker, all clear to come back up after a few minutes, then they rapidly fire again. You almost never hear a lone siren by itself, always in pairs or more with short pauses in between. This is designed to hit people when they come out of the bunker. So now we wait for 15 minutes and sure enough, while in the bunker we hear yet another siren again. But since everybody are down there nobody gets hurt the second time around. That's why recently we had relatively few casualties. STAY DOWN THERE. It will save your life, your completely safe there.

But we are spending more and more time down there. And some of you asked what it's like, and whats going on. Well this is from the last time: We are down there and after ten minutes another siren hits, so this means that we'll spend at least 25 minutes down there. The radio puts on a song to pass the time, it's "I want to be loved by you", Marilyn Monroe singing circa 1959 from a wonderful movie called "some like it hot".

Anyway, the scene was to me at least, surreal. Just imagine: "I wanna be loved by you, just you", somewhere three dozen miles away two rockets are inbound, "And nobody else but you", in your minds eye your flying behind them, seeing the green valleys of south Lebanon below you, "I wanna be loved by you, alone!", your passing over Israeli troops now, seeing them building up in a few locations, "Boop-boop-de-boop!", you for a second glimpse a dozen special op soldiers moving bend over on the ground unaware that behind the next hill there are three Hezbollah terrorists, but your not going to see the outcome of that because your moving on..."

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