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October 31, 2007

Making a bold statement

The King of Saudi Arabia visited Britain yesterday, and the guard of honour played an interesting musical selection to announce his arrival to meet the queen...

June 26, 2007

A short history of Israel

It's not surprising that the world has such a misguided understanding of Israel, given the state of the media today. This 10 minute flash presentation on the history of Israel should be watched by those whose memories have been clouded by excessive exposure to the CBC.

(Via Mitchieville. Again)

May 17, 2007

Life in Gaza

Reporting from the Middle East seems just to be about numbers these days. In your typical short newscast, you hear a report about 2 dead here, 5 dead somewhere else, and occasionally -- and all too often -- a larger atrocity in which the numbers climb into the double digits. But little is reported on the day-to-day horrors that must be endured by the innocents trapped in the war zone. In Gaza, where two flavours of Islamic fascists are fighting it out for supremacy, life is miserable:

But in Gaza, night and day, the city is a ghost town. Hardly anyone dares step outside. There are rumours Fateh gunmen are simply shooting at anything that moves, and some families have been trapped in their homes for four days. Electricity supplies are low, and fuel shipments were cut off following Tuesday's violence at the Karni checkpoint, Gaza's only supply line.

Following a strike by the municipality over unpaid wages, rubbish is piled high in the streets. It's set alight every night, filling the air with an acrid smoke. Now, even if the city's cleaners wanted to return to work, the streets are too dangerous.

Dr. Musa El-Haddad - a retired doctor living in Gaza City - went on to the streets yesterday to buy enough bread for three days. His family have already run out of coffee. All but a few shops selling essentials are closed in the strip's capital city after masked gunmen - on a rampage through the streets and shooting into the air - harassed most shopkeepers into locking their doors.

...

We hear reports that residents of several high-rise residential towers in Western Gaza City are trapped inside, their buildings taken over by unidentified gunmen. They've set fire to some of the buildings, burning residents' cars and firing at ambulances. Gunmen are searching every flat for suspects. It's impossible to evacuate any of the wounded.

We manage to contact a woman named Um Muntaser in Borj El-Saleh, a residential tower in the west of the city. She tells us over the phone that some children in the building are wounded, and her son passed out from smoke inhalation. Nobody can move, and gunmen are paying no attention to the innocents around them.

"We have been living in our kitchen for the past two days," says the 42-year-old mother of seven. "Eleven or 12 apartments have been burned... There are snipers everywhere... We are human beings. What's our fault in all this?"

Well, you possibly shouldn't have elected these guys. But I think with the money, arms and rhetoric Iran has been sending in, this probably would have happened anyway. What a nightmare.

May 11, 2007

'The road to Heaven-on-Earth passes through Hell and never re-emerges'

Front Page magazine has a great interview with Canadian poet David Solway, who dramatically shifted his worldview after 9/11. In it, Solway warns of the threat of militant Islam and berates the modern left for their tacit support of this ideology. Because of his command of language, he is able to do this very well. Here he describes the Canadian political scene:

Ignoring the supple manoeuvring of the enemy within and the gathering storm of the enemy without, we concentrate instead on tiny tempests in the nanny-state teapot, cozily swaddled within the cocoon of our facile self-preoccupations. The majority of those who constitute our political elite would steer the country toward a flaccid accommodation with a grimly Hobbesian world, seconded by our dial-a-cause literary organizations with no grip on the way things are. A new government may, hopefully, alter this trend, but the malaise is deep-seated. A telling illustration of this penchant for denial, this flight from reality, was the repealing of anti-terror legislation in the recent parliament at the hands of the pacifist opposition parties, an act for which we are likely to pay a heavy price in the future.

Canada is not only an incoherent country but a country gone soft, more than half its citizenry believing that world peace is achievable through parliamentary posturing, expressions of highfalutin sentiment, unquestioning support for the corrupt and ineffectual U.N., the admission in principle of the equality of all cultural perspectives (with two exceptions: our own and Judaism’s), the enunciation of good intentions and impetuous calls for immediate ceasefire. It is a country that has enfeebled its military to the point at which, as historian Jack Granatstein has indicated in Whose War Is It?, it would be unable to respond effectively to a national catastrophe. It is a country which believes that soldiers are meant to keep the peace even if there is no peace to keep, but that they are certainly not meant to risk their lives on the battlefield. The job of the army is to build schools, hospitals and bridges, but not to prevent the enemy from blowing them up the moment they are in place. Canadians tend to be deeply concerned that the terrorist detainees in Afghanistan—those who plant roadside bombs, kill wantonly, mutilate and behead—may not be receiving proper treatment from the Afghan authorities to whom they have been turned over. That these are members of the same Taliban organization which sheltered al-Qaeda and enthusiastically endorsed and abetted its project to murder and maim as many innocent civilians as possible, including those who piously wish to defend the terrorists’ rights and wellbeing, seems of little or no importance.

RTWT, there's plenty more where that came from.

See also: Nick Cohen.

(Hat tip: Dust My Broom)

September 16, 2006

The press fans the flames

The Ottawa Citizen's David Warren describes in his column today how the BBC twisted the Pope's remarks to provoke the latest storm of outrage passing through the Middle East:

The BBC appears to have been quickest off the mark, to send around the world in many languages, including Arabic, Turkish, Farsi, Urdu, and Malay, word that the Pope had insulted the Prophet of Islam, during an address in Bavaria.

He had not, of course. Pope Benedict XVI had instead quoted, carefully and without approval, remarks by the learned 14th-century Byzantine emperor, Manuel II Palaeologus, in debate with a 14th-century learned Persian. He was trying to provide a little historical depth to present controversies about the meaning of "jihad", and his very point was that on their own respective theological terms, Muslims and Christians were bound to talk past each other today, in the same ways as they did seven centuries ago. But in the most conscientious media reports I have seen, even the Byzantine emperor is quoted out of context.

By turning the story back-to-front, so that what’s promised in the lead -- a crude attack on Islam -- is quietly withdrawn much later in the text, the BBC journalists were having a little mischief. The kind of mischief that is likely to end with Catholic priests and faithful butchered around the Muslim world. Either the writers were so jaw-droppingly ignorant, they did not realize this is what they were abetting (always a possibility with the postmodern journalist), or the malice was intended. There is no third possibility.

From the start, the BBC’s reports said the Pope would “face criticism from Muslim leaders” -- in the present tense. This is a form of dishonesty that has become common in journalism today. The flagrantly biased reporter, feigning objectivity, spices his story by just guessing what a man’s enemies will say, even before they have spoken.

While I don’t mean to pick especially on the BBC, when other mainstream media are often as culpable, they are worth singling out here to show the amount of sheer, murderous evil of which this taxpayer-funded network is capable.

The fact that the Pope was not insulting Islam is very clear if the context of his speech is understood, but the chance to stir up trouble by the BBC was too much to resist. The truth was simplified, and the suggestion was made that there was something to be outraged about. Warren predicts how the story will play out over the next week:
From now on, the reporting will be about the Muslim rage, and whether the Vatican has apologized yet. That is the “drama” the media will seek to capture -- the drama of the cockfight -- because they know no better kind. That the Pope said nothing intrinsically objectionable will be overlooked, in deference to the Muslim rage, just as the media hid the Danish cartoons from their viewers -- preventing them from discovering how mild they were.

But again: even without the BBC doing the devil’s work, with unbecoming enthusiasm, the story could have carried to the Muslim world, where a new wave of anti-Western, and specifically anti-Christian hysteria is now rising, similar to what was enhanced by tendentious misreporting after the Danish controversy. There are enough other agents provocateurs both in my business and outside it; and surely, enough radical Muslims digging for grievances to extend their own power.

The manufacture of grievances, to justify strident demands for their redress, is the tyrant’s stock-in-trade. It is what took Adolf Hitler to power over the Germans, and it is what today’s Islamic fanatics depend upon to control the Muslims, and push them towards an apocalyptic jihad against the West. Moreover, the basic tactic of bullying is to demand apologies for exaggerated or imaginary offences. It is to make the decent kneel before the indecent.

That the BBC provoked this latest 'scandal' should in no way absolve the Muslim world from their hyper-sensitivity to these imaginary slights. But pouring gasoline on a fire is not responsible journalism. People are going to wind up dead because of this.

August 31, 2006

Wise words from Rumsfeld

I'm currently reading Cobra II, so far the best book on how the war in Iraq was conceived and executed. Maybe someday I'll even finish it. For enemies of the Bush administration, the book was widely used as a cudgel to whack Donald Rumsfeld: he ignored the advice of senior generals, he was inflexible, he was intrusive, etc, etc. My reading is that he saved the lives of thousands of Iraqis by his insistence on an early ground war and fewer troops. If he listened to the advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Iraq would have been pounded flat in a 40 day air offensive so the infantry wouldn't have to risk any stubbed toes on their march to Baghdad. And as to the personality conflicts and power games, well, no big and complicated project can be completed without a lot of them.

But then I like Rumsfeld, so I'm eager to let him off the hook. He's a straight shooter that sees the big picture and doesn't forget about it. He gave an good speech to the American Legion the other day about the cultural side of the 'war on terror' -- the part of the war I think we're losing. Here's the meaty heart of it:

That year -- 1919 -- turned out to be one of the pivotal junctures in modern history with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, the creation of the League of Nations, a treaty and an organization intended to make future wars unnecessary and obsolete. Indeed, 1919 was the beginning of a period where, over time, a very different set of views would come to dominate public discourse and thinking in the West.

Over the next decades, a sentiment took root that contended that if only the growing threats that had begun to emerge in Europe and Asia could be accommodated, then the carnage and the destruction of then-recent memory of World War I could be avoided.

It was a time when a certain amount of cynicism and moral confusion set in among Western democracies. When those who warned about a coming crisis, the rise of fascism and nazism, they were ridiculed or ignored. Indeed, in the decades before World War II, a great many argued that the fascist threat was exaggerated or that it was someone else's problem. Some nations tried to negotiate a separate peace, even as the enemy made its deadly ambitions crystal clear. It was, as Winston Churchill observed, a bit like feeding a crocodile, hoping it would eat you last.

There was a strange innocence about the world. Someone recently recalled one U.S. senator's reaction in September of 1939 upon hearing that Hitler had invaded Poland to start World War II. He exclaimed:

"Lord, if only I had talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided!"

Continue reading "Wise words from Rumsfeld" »

August 18, 2006

A dark time for Israel -- and us

George Bush said Hezbollah was the loser in its war with Israel. On paper it looks that way. Hezbollah was pounded, hard, by the Israeli Air Force. They were forced to retreat everywhere that the Israel army attacked, and suffered disproportionate loses. They only survived by cowardly hiding behind women and children, and depending on the decency of their enemies. I want to believe that Hezbollah lost. It's important that they lose.

But they didn't.

Ralph Peters sums up the war like this:

  • Despite the physical damage the Israeli Defense Forces inflicted, Hezbollah's terror-troops were still standing (and firing rockets) when the bell rang.
  • At the strategic level, Hezbollah's masterful manipulation of the seduce-me-please media convinced the region's Shi'a and Sunni spectators alike that Hassan Nasrallah is the new Great Arab Hope. He's got a powerful Persian cheering section, too.
  • While Israel couldn't plan or execute a winning campaign, it also failed to think beyond the inevitable cease-fire. But Hezbollah did. The terrorists had mapped out precisely what they had to do the moment the shooting stopped: Hand out Iranian money, promise they'll rebuild what Israel destroyed - and simply refuse to honor the terms of the U.N. resolution.
But the damage goes even deeper. Arthur Herman compares UN resolution 1701 that ended the war with Chamberlain's capitulation to Hitler in Munich, and sees it sending a dangerous message:
But other states in the region will have learned their lesson. Faced by an internal terrorist organization, especially one with links with Tehran, they will have to make accommodations. No white knight in the guise of U.S. Marines will ride to their rescue; no Israeli tanks and F-16s will do their dirty work for them. Appeasement will be the order of the day.

That includes Iraq. The disarming of Sunni and Shia militias, the necessary first step to ending sectarian violence there, will be postponed - perhaps for good. On the contrary, this crisis has taught Iraq's Shia minority that extremism pays, particularly the Iranian kind.

For everyone in the Middle East knows Iran is the clear winner. Only the diplomats and politicians, including the Bush administration, will pretend otherwise. Iran has emerged as the clear champion of anti-Israeli feeling and radical Islam. The Iranians have their useful puppet in Syria; they have their proxy armies in place with Hezbollah and Hamas. They have been able to install missiles, even Revolutionary Guards, in Lebanon with impunity. Sunni regimes in the region will move to strike their own deals with Iran, just as Eastern European states did with Germany after Czechoslovakia. That includes Iraq; the lesson will not be lost on Russia and China, either. And all the while, the Iranians proceed with their nuclear plans - with the same impunity.

The 'War on Terror' -- or, as it should properly be known, the War on Islamic Fascism -- is similar to the cold war in that it's a war of ideologies. Propaganda victories are more important than military ones. And Hezbollah just won a huge propaganda victory, there's no question about it.

August 10, 2006

And now the other side of the story...

The National Post's Sonia Verma offers a far gloomier future for Lebanon than Béhé:

The Lebanese government estimates it will take between 40 and 50 years to rebuild the country's infrastructure.

Young people in their late 20s and 30s, who are old enough to remember the violence of the civil war and Israel's occupation of the south are also young enough to leave and start fresh somewhere else.

Local observers fear the trend of university-educated people leaving will only radicalize those who are left.

"Those who are leaving are those who can afford to leave and generally speaking these are politically liberal people," says Minia Boujaoude, a columnist with the left-leaning daily As-Safir.

"We need these people to rebuild Lebanon as a modern country. It can't fall to Hezbollah," she said.

At Ashrafieh Mall, a shopping centre in an upscale part of Beirut, the end-of-summer sales have started early, but nobody's buying. Inside, the air-conditioned shops, designer clothes and imported linens seem a world away from the war raging outside, but it is always close to people's hearts.

"When I see my friends leaving, I think this place will be thrown back 60 years in time," says Sami Zakhi, a young doctor who just opened his orthopedic practice.

Oh come on. Sixty years? While I can believe Béhé was being a little optimistic, this is absolute nonsense. And what about this: 'The Lebanese government estimates it will take between 40 and 50 years to rebuild the country's infrastructure.' Anyone with the slightest knowledge of the restraint Israel is showing and how much international aid will be flowing to Lebanon after this is over knows that this is ridiculous. But the statement is made with absolutely no skepticism or further investigation.

Adding more smoke to an already smokey scene is wrong, certainly; but this kind of willfully blind pessimism is far worse, surely.

August 09, 2006

The Lebanese voice we don't hear

Ezra Levant at the Shotgun has linked to an eye-opening essay on a Lebanese point of view that the MSM is strangely reluctant to air. Michael Béhé says the Lebanese knew something like the Israeli invasion was going to happen, that their spineless political class is to blame, and that most Lebanese are rooting for Israel to give the country a good scrubbing.

Lebanon a victim? What a joke!

Before the Israeli attack, Lebanon no longer existed, it was no more than a hologram. At Beirut innocent citizens like myself were forbidden access to certain areas of their own capital. But our police, our army and our judges were also excluded. That was the case, for example, of Hezbollah’s and the Syrians’ command zone in the Haret Hreik quarter (in red on the satellite map). A square measuring a kilometer wide, a capital within the capital, permanently guarded by a Horla army, possessing its own institutions, its schools, its crèches, its tribunals, its radio, its television and, above all… its government. A “government” that, alone decided, in the place of the figureheads of the Lebanese government – in which Hezbollah also had its ministers! – to attack a neighboring state, with which we had no substantial or grounded quarrel, and to plunge US into a bloody conflict. And if attacking a sovereign nation on its territory, assassinating eight of its soldiers, kidnapping two others and, simultaneously, launching missiles on nine of its towns does not constitute a casus belli, the latter juridical principle will seriously need revising.

Thus almost all of these cowardly politicians, including numerous shiah leaders and religious personalities themselves, are blessing each bomb that falls from a Jewish F-16 turning the insult to our sovereignty that was Haret Hreik, right in the heart of Beirut, into a lunar landscape. Without the Israelis, how could we have received another chance – that we in no way deserve! – to rebuild our country?

Each Irano-Syrian fort that Jerusalem destroys, each islamic fighter they eliminate, and Lebanon proportionally starts to live again! Once again, the soldiers of Israel are doing our work. Once again, like in 1982, we are watching – cowardly, lying low, despicable, and insulting them to boot – their heroic sacrifice that allows us to keep hoping. To not be swallowed up in the bowels of the earth. Because, of course, by dint of not giving a damn for southern Lebanon, of letting foreigners take hold of the privileges that belong to us, we no longer had the ability to recover our independence and sovereignty. If, at the end of this war, the Lebanese army retakes control over its territory and gets rid of the state within a state – that tried to suffocate the latter –, it will only be thanks to Tsahal [the Israeli Defense Forces. Translator’s note], and that, all these faint-hearted politicians, from the crook Fouad Siniora, to Saad Hariri, the son of Lebanon’s plunderer, and general Aoun all know perfectly well.

Béhé doesn't direct all his anger at his country's politicians. He saves some for the international media as well:
Beirut, all the rest of Beirut, 95% of Beirut, lives and breathes better than a fortnight ago. All those who have not sided with terrorism know they have strictly nothing to fear from the Israeli planes, on the contrary! One example: last night the restaurant where I went to eat was jammed full and I had to wait until 9:30 pm to get a table. Everyone was smiling, relaxed, but no one filmed them: a strange destruction of Beirut, is it not?
He goes on to say that Hezbollah is getting clobbered and predicts their defeat is imminent. Like anything you read on the internet, take what this essay says with a grain of salt. I'd like to believe everything Béhé says, but some of it may be wishful thinking. But given the blatant propagandizing the MSM has recently been shown to be engaging in, it has more credibility to me than the rewritten wire piece on the front page of tomorrow's Globe and Mail.

What are you waiting for? RTWT.

August 06, 2006

Google pulls Obsession

Well, that didn't take long. Obsession, a revealing film on radical Islam that I linked to last week, has been pulled down by Google Video. I'm sure there was a complaint that it was 'racist', even though -- as I said -- it clearly offered a positive view of Muslims and separated the religion from the fanatics. Sadly, it doesn't take much to silence a voice that challenges our comfortable assumptions.

Then again, it could be a copyright issue. The trailer is still up, and the website for the movie is still trying to sell DVDs.

UPDATE: Then again, I might not know what I'm talking about. The movie is still up under a different filename.

August 03, 2006

What 'cease-fire' means in Hezbollese

Hezbollah's patron Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeated his call for an immediate peace in Lebanon today -- and he also gave his reasons for wanting it:

In a speech during an emergency meeting of Muslim leaders in Malaysia, Ahmadinejad also called for an immediate cease-fire to end the fighting between Israel and the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah. "Although the main solution is for the elimination of the Zionist regime, at this stage an immediate cease-fire must be implemented," Ahmadinejad said, according to state-run television in a report posted on its Web site.
In other words, Israel is ruining all their prep work and has to stop if the great dream of another holocaust is ever to take place.

He didn't mention whether he appreciates the help of such useful idiots as Jack and Alexa in the NDP, but I'm sure he does.

(via Dust My Broom)

Putting a sock in them

It seems the Lebanese-Canadian Coordinating Council didn't want to follow the opposition party's plan. As everyone knows, on the issue of Israel's invasion, hyphenated Canadians from the Middle East are supposed to be singing from the same songsheet as the Liberals, Bloc and NDP. But Elias Bejjani, who was invited to speak to the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs committee, turned out to have another perspective. So they prevented him from speaking. Here's the LCCC's statement:

The LCCC, an umbrella organization for six non-profit Lebanese Canadian groups, strongly condemns the undemocratic political tactics that the Opposition Liberal, NDP and Bloc Quebecois parties executed yesterday during a hearing session for the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. The session was initiated by the Opposition parties to challenge the Conservative government’s Middle East policy and the evacuation of Canadians from Lebanon. Several groups and individuals applied to be witnesses and were accepted by the Clerk of the Committee. These witnesses traveled to Ottawa from across the country, but were unjustly prevented from delivering their statements. Among them was Mr. Elias Bejjani, LCCC Chairman and the Canadian Lebanese Human Right Federation (CLHRF) Spokesman, (a member in the LCCC coalition). It is astounding that although the hearing pertained to Lebanon, Opposition MPs deemed it appropriate to silence Lebanese witnesses.
To read the heresy that all three of Canada's opposition parties refused to allow to be entered into the Parliamentary record, follow this link. Hopefully, due to this sleazy bit of procedural trickery, Bejjani's words will get even more mileage.

(via the National Post)

UPDATE: The Canadian Coalition for Democracies was also told to go away by Alexa McDonough and friends. And you can see why if you read their prepared statement that they didn't get a chance to deliver. It pulls no punches:

In today’s terms, Prime Minister Harper recognizes that sacrificing Israel to the demands of a fascist enemy will not bring peace. Just as Hitler peddled his self-inflicted and self-serving grievances to gullible Western leaders and peace activists while pursuing his well-publicized charter, so too will Hamas and Hezbollah. And they will be further emboldened by the apparent weakness of today’s gullible Westerners.

In contrast to Prime Minister Harper’s moral clarity, we now hear former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defence, Bill Graham, tell the Guardian newspaper on July 18, "Mr. Harper is proud of the fact he wasn't nuanced … Nuance has kept us in a position where we could help.”

Nuance? Does Mr. Graham actually believe that nuance will curb the homicidal ambitions of an organization that has amassed over 10,000 missiles and sent 1,500 of those missiles packed with flesh-shredding ball bearings into Israel, and done so from positions within densely populated Lebanese cities and towns? Does he believe that nuance is an effective weapon against an organization that is the heavily financed and armed proxy of Iran, whose president has called for the nuclear annihilation of Israel? It would be laughable were it not for the slaughter of innocents and the threat to Canada that flows from Mr. Graham’s deadly naiveté.

Mr. Graham actually believes that Israel should negotiate with an organization that his own government has designated as a terrorist entity. He is telling Israel that she must deal with Hezbollah, whose opening demand is the release of hundreds of prisoners with Israeli blood on their hands, starting with Samir Kuntar, a Palestinian whose gang kidnapped 4-year-old Israeli Anat Hanan and his father, and took them to Gaza where they smashed in the head of the child in front of his father before shooting the man to death. For this atrocity, Kuntar is a Hezbollah hero.

It is Prime Minister Harper, not Bill Graham, who is the honest broker, for honesty demands that we not be impartial between the fireman and the arsonist, to paraphrase Winston Churchill.

July 30, 2006

Obsession

I'm sure this video is busily being linked to around the blogosphere, but that's because it's very, very good. Obsession tells the story of modern radical Islam. It's over an hour long, but it's very much worth your time. There is a huge fascist movement building in the world, and the impression given by our media is that it is only small minority committing terrorism and that they are acting out of legitimate grievances. Hopefully this will open a few eyes.

It's also a very pro-Muslim film. It features many Muslim speakers and ends by countering the many examples of Islamist hate it had shown with exhortations from Muslim clerics and leaders to stand against fanaticism.

July 29, 2006

Choice adjectives

NDP MP Alexa McDonough: "slightly obscene and morally bankrupt..."

Steve McKinnon, the national director of the Liberal Party: "depraved..."

Liberal leadership hopeful Gerard Kennedy: "crass" and "offensive."

Khaled Mouammar, president of the Canadian Arab Federation: "shameful and appalling."

Who? The Tories. Why? They sent an email to Conservative party members requesting donations, and referred to Stephen Harper's lack of dithering in the Middle East in a positive manner.

Kennedy further said, "The implication it makes is that this is just another political issue to make hay out of." Obviously it's not, as can be seen by the Liberal's and NDP's decision not to use the conflict to score cheap political shots.

July 27, 2006

Work cut out for them

A comment on a story at the Globe and Mail:

P W from Canada writes: It's going to be tough for Israel to eliminate all of Hezbollah, since a good number have already been evacuated to Canada.....

Who's to blame?

Some online polls in the Middle East suggest Arabs are not quite as united behind Hezbollah as coventional wisdom would suggest and the media portray them.

Online surveys by two Middle East news sites offer different answers [to the question of 'Who's to blame?'].

Israel, said a slight plurality of 93,000 plus readers who responded to a poll done by Aljazeera.net, Web site of the Arab TV channel based in Dubai. Thirty percent said Israel was "mainly to blame," while 24 percent cited Hezbollah and 22 percent cited Syria and Iran. Twelve percent said the United States was mainly to blame.

Hezbollah, said a slight plurality of more than 6,500 readers responding to an online survey by Beirut's Naharnet News. Forty-two percent agreed the Shiite militia was to blame for the conflict, while 37 percent faulted Israel. Eleven percent named Iran and 10 percent cited Syria.

Though the Washington Post might like to spin these results as 'different answers', to me they are pretty much the same: about 40% blame Israel (and the US), and about 50% blame Hezbollah, Syria and Iran.

Compared to Quebec, where 57% percent say Israel is unjustified in it's actions (different question, I know), that's pretty good. True, online polls skew towards the more educated and weathly, and can be manipulated; but I think they at least show that there is no broad consensus against Israel. Most Arab countries will be content to sit back and let the Israelis do their thing.

July 26, 2006

The propaganda war heats up

As a rule, I try not to watch much TV news. It's too vapid, too emotional and too stupid for the most part. But I have seen a bit of the coverage in Lebanon, and I'm pretty disappointed. Much of it seems to be concerned with trying to cram as many crying women and bloody children into a two minute segment as possible. Israel may have the advantage in military might, but they always get creamed in the propaganda war.

Of course, this is all due to the media-terrorist feedback loop. They both need each other, and work together well. A CNN reporter has even admitted his coverage was the result of working with Hezbollah. James Taranto suggests this kind of coverage creates a danger for civilians:

Israel, unlike Hezbollah, is constrained by human decency. By using civilians as shields, Hezbollah hopes to limit the Jewish state's military options. Hezbollah wins either way, since if Israeli strikes do hurt or kill civilians, the international media, including CNN, depict this as the result of Israel's, rather than Hezbollah's, brutality.

A report like Cal Perry's, in other words, provides Hezbollah with an incentive to endanger Lebanese civilians further. CNN, then, must bear some degree of moral culpability for the suffering of Lebanon's population.

It's clear Hezbollah is using innocents to win the propaganda war. Israel has dropped leaflets advising civilians to flee, but Hezbollah has worked to prevent this. Their bodies are a military asset, and may be needed (in a mangled form) to appear on TV behind some blow-dried blowhard from Atlanta.

Cox and Forkum illustrates this attitude perfectly:

July 24, 2006

Morning chuckle

I got a nice laugh reading John Kerry's vital thoughts on the events in the Middle East this morning:

"If I was president, this wouldn't have happened," said Kerry during a noon stop at Honest John's bar and grill in Detroit's Cass Corridor.

Bush has been so concentrated on the war in Iraq that other Middle East tension arose as a result, he said.

"The president has been so absent on diplomacy when it comes to issues affecting the Middle East," Kerry said. "We're going to have a lot of ground to make up (in 2008) because of it."

[...]

Hezbollah guerillas should have been targeted with other terrorist organizations, such as al-Qaida and the Taliban, which operate in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Kerry said. However, Bush, has focused military strength on Iraq.

"This is about American security and Bush has failed. He has made it so much worse because of his lack of reality in going into Iraq.…We have to destroy Hezbollah," he said.

So now he's suggesting America should have invaded Lebanon instead? I'm sure that would have went over well.

During his Presidential run, Kerry was unable to lay out a plan for what he would have done in Iraq, even with the benefit of hindsight. Now he suggests he could have avoided having Israel invade Lebanon, if only he was President. But how? His coma-inducing website somehow neglects to mention it.

UPDATE: Bush is sending Kerry to fix things.

July 18, 2006

Justify

That's what George Jonas tried to do to the news that eight Canadians, including young children, were killed by Israeli bombs the other day. It's not easy to do, probably impossible. Jonas took a pasting in the letters page of today's National Post for trying.

But I've got the Israeli flag up on the sidebar of this blog, indicating I support what Israel is doing. I can't take that support back because something went wrong. And I don't want to -- I want them to continue and be successful in their attacks. So here's my justification:

At the end of the Lebanese civil war, all factions were supposed to disarm, and all of them did -- except Hizbullah. No one in Lebanon wanted to reignite the civil war, so no one pushed very hard for them to abide by the terms of peace. The international community also looked the other way. Hizbullah was laying low, and they only know how to react to crisises.

Hizbullah used this freedom to rearm, recruit and raise money. They turned southern Lebanon into their own kingdom. They used their intimidation of the Lebanese government and their alliances with the worst of the Mid-East's regimes to build an impressive terrorist infrastructure. The rockets they had been accumulating (and occasionally using) before Israel's strikes are useless as military weapons and can only be used to kill civilians. The threat hanging over Israel could not ignored much longer.

Hizbullah, like all terrorist organizations, use civilians for cover. They depend on the decency of their enemies to prevent retaliation. Their weapon stockpiles and their command centers are all mixed in with civilian buildings. It's inevitable that in fighting such an enemy there are going to be civilian casualties. But if blame has to be assigned to these deaths, assign it to those that use the innocent as a shield to attack from.

July 14, 2006

Living in interesting times

There have been real wars before, there will be real wars again. I think many people have forgotten this -- I know I have. Sure, I can understand the thought intellectually; I've studied history and think I have a fair understanding of the international tensions in the world today. But the idea has never really sunk in.

Up until now in my adult life, wars involving the great powers have largely been against isolated, weak regimes with the result not in doubt. Only the Iraq war -- or rather the Iraq 'insurgency' -- bears any similarity to a 'real' conflict. But even there, there is restraint -- on both sides, I think -- to keep the battle from slipping the borders and becoming a greater confrontation.

But the possibility exists now that that may all change. Israel may want to confine its attacks to Lebanon even though they know it is Syria and Iran that are controling Hezbollah, but Syria and Iran may decide to overtly aid Hezbollah enough that Israel has no choice but to expand operations. This would be the cue for Jihadist movements throughout the Middle East -- and the Arab governments that fear them -- to join the fray. Another '67 war could be right around the corner. As it stands today, I can't see Israel backing down, and Hezbollah seems to be itching for a fight.

What would the US do if the war expands? Actively support Israel? They should, but could they? What happens if Iran attempts to close the Strait of Hormuz? How will China side? Russia? How does it end? The difference between now and the Six Day War is that then Israel was fighting armies organized by nations. Nations can be occupied and can sue for peace. Today they are fighting terrorist groups don't fight for land but for an ideal. They don't have those old 20th century restrictions.

Personally, I blame the media, the Democrats, and the international elites for what's happening. After Iraq was liberated, Iran and Syria were terrified that they were going to be next. But after three years of incessant criticism from those three groups the message has gone out loud and clear that the United States is divided and Bush is diplomatically isolated. Iran and Syria feel that they can get away with whatever mischief they can come up with, so the masks they hid behind to carry out their proxy wars are starting to slip. I think they've underestimated the power and the resolve of the US, though I'm not sure if I want that belief to be put to the test.