It’s the uranium all over again

No, not Iran folks, but Israel in Lebanon. It is possible that you know this already but it is always good to wake up in the morning and read that some places in Lebanon may now be radioactive. You always thought stuff like that happens on TV or in faraway places but no, now, thanks to Israeli “cleaning-the-south-from-the-terrorists” plan (once backed by Lebanese government and orchestrated by American administration):

The samples thrown up by Israeli heavy or guided bombs showed “elevated radiation signatures,” Chris Busby, the British scientific secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, was quoted as saying.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence has confirmed the concentration of uranium isotopes in the samples, the newspaper said. In his initial report, Busby said there were two possible reasons for the contamination.
“The first is that the weapon was some novel small experimental nuclear fission device or experimental weapon (eg. a thermobaric weapon) based on the high temperature of a uranium oxidation flash,” it said.
“The second is that the weapon was a bunker-busting conventional uranium penetrator weapon employing enriched uranium rather than depleted uranium,” Busby was quoted as saying.
A photograph of the explosion of the first bomb shows large clouds of black smoke that might result from burning uranium, the newspaper said.


Americans playing the "blaming the other" Lebanese game

Now that’s really pitiful:

A well-known U.S. official said Thursday that Syria was preparing an “intimidating political campaign” to overthrow Premier Fouad Saniora’s government through Gen. Michel Aoun and his allies.

Quick bullet points:
– This dude is so “well-known” that we don’t even know him.
– How in the hell is Syria going to “politically intimidate” Saniora’s government? Dropping scary pictures of Syrians with sun-glasses coming after the Lebanese? Unleash the Syrian proletariat working at Sukleen, in construction companies, or in the agricultural (mm that would be nice, only if they could control them)?
– Why do people often seem to forget that the real anti-Syrian to the bone was Aoun? He was so uncompromisingly anti-Syrian that I seriously did not like the guy. I remember when he used to fly to the US in order to get some congressmen’s attention on getting Syria out while Hariri wasn’t even dreaming of drafting 1559.

Now seriously, when the “14th of march” day happened, I was practically sure that Aoun would be one of them dudes talking on the podium. I mean to my knowledge he was the only anti-Syrian who could have symbolized this gathering (except Amin Gemayel but here you have a zero-popularity problem). Yet all I saw standing and speaking were these Syrian age-old vassals.

You know if you thought about it, the Lebanese could have had a “nation” by now just by having such a heated collective history. They have enough symbolic artefacts in order to keep themselves together, at least with slogans like “we fought each other so much that this makes our Lebanese specificity”.

Two most fundamental problems in Lebanon: Historical amnesia, and blaming “the other”.

Israel used bombs with helium (not only phosphore)

Whatever that is it looks pretty scary. So while the American ambassador was assuring the Lebanese government that the Israelis will “clean the mess” (or the “shit at the border” to use Bush’s expression), he basically knew why the Israelis had the potential to be quite destructive. These weapons are US made.
Do you remember when we use to see all these people with defigurated faces? Well that was the Americans (with Israeli subcontractors) cleaning…

Bush ‘death’ applauded

Before you dance around in your pyjamas with glee & guilt (because enlightened people don’t condone killing), the headline describes how the new film Death of a President was received, a whodunit documentary which takes as its central premise the fictitious assassination of the (unfortunately) real George W Bush.

Speaking of George, it seems fences and fallibility are flavours of the month.

US midterm elections are looming, which leads me to wonder: 1. why do I know more about the US electoral system than my own; & 2. how come I don’t get to vote for the “leader of the free world” (our real leader by proxy)? But the backwater can wait, because I’ve come to terms with the fact that none of you really care about this banana republic (well, we would be a republic but for the fact that the monarchists, Queen love’em, kicked our un-royal a*ses at the 1999 referendum).

So, the point was, Washington’s ventriloquists have added fallibility to George’s repertoire. Well, sort of.

And the super-sized great American dream is materialising with the coming of the Mexico (white picket?) border fence. A fence whose beauty will be rivalled only by that of the Israeli fence.

OK, let’s call a spade a spade, and a wall a wall. This wall-building frenzy is unnerving. At this rate, RIP our lefty “artificial borders” argument.

Russia’s deep political thinking

The Russian ambassador in Lebanon retorted to a question on whether Hezbollah was getting weapons from Russia via Syria saying that the resistance group is getting weapons from god knows where including the US and Israel. It is good to receive a political basic knowledge update from a Russian, something all the Israeli (or Lebanese for that matter) and US intelligence-cum-media-leakers did not succeed in doing. It is called: black market.

Al-Akhbar overdid it this time

Ok let’s continue on the list of unexpected criticisms. Today Al-Akhbar ran a front page story on the traffic jams following the “Eid”. It could have been a stand alone picture, but no, there a guy rambled on for I don’t know how many pages describing a usual traffic jam. Why you might ask? Well to blame the government. As if the government today can take care of traffic jams. Why not blame for bird migratory diversion because of the change in the Lebanese ecosystem due to hunting practices? Why not blame the government for the absence of facilities for the disabled? Why not blame it for quality control on food and other essential goods. why not and why not? The list is endless. In this case you can just blame the whole political economic policy of the successive governments of the country called Lebanon. Today the government should at least settle its scores with the other part of the political forces (some of them are part of this government we are criticizing!) and solve some basic security and power issues at hand. Then well of course go solve all the problems that only a functioning government (which is not the case yet) has the capability of solving. I don’t think this story needs to be on the front page. Actually, I think that Al-Akhbar followed its usual urge to find a story everyday that puts the government into question. And in this process it risked lowering the quality of its articles.

I defy anyone to claim that he read the whole piece in one go (except me because i wanted to see where the guy was going in order to write this post). Most people opened it, read the title that mentions the keywords traffic jams, eid, and government incompetence and then maybe read one sentence, saw that the guy was going on a poetic ride (like most Lebanese journalists do) on the whys and hows of a traffic jams, then jumped to the next article. There you have it, wasted ink and space on a newspaper that promises to be the biggest intellectual revolution of Lebanese prints if not the Middle East.

Patriotic Lebanese songs

This post is being re-worked on to reflect the discussions that are taking place in the comment’s section.

The main point of this post was to deconstruct some of the main images that are present in nationalistic songs and criticize a general culture of the nation fed by “art producers” when reality is much less eloquent. Unfortunately, I was wrong with the example I took, not knowing the background of the song of Julia Botross who actually took a speech made by Nasrallah in the beginning of the war and made a song out of it (with the consent of Nasrallah according to commentators). The fighters in the movie are effectively Hezbollah’s and the kids are from Bint Jbeil. I still don’t like kids tranforming themselves into fighters but that’s fine.

The final fate of this point is simply unknown as of now. For now I wish to keep the post in order to finish the discussion and also as a self-inflicting punishment for my failure of getting the context right! it is also funny to see how everything I thought suggested in the clip was actually real (nasrallah speech, soldiers were fighters etc). So laugh at my expense for now as I started this post with a laugh!

Nothing makes me laugh more (and cry if I really try to think seriously about the matter) than what I would call “artistic profiteering” (i.e. making money and a name out of stupid songs just because appealing to vague nationalistic slogans) from the latest events in Lebanon. By the way, nowhere maybe in the world you had that many patriotic songs where the facets of patriotism are endless and contradictory.
This clip by Julia Botross is just replete with non-sense statements about the people’s victory, unsubstantial nationalistic slogans, all along a horrible musical composition (like practically all nationalist music compositions, at least for Lebanon).

Still maybe I should clarify what is laughable:
1- You have Lebanese soldiers (of whom you can just see the silhouette) parading here and there amongst the woods (what?). I thought Hezbollah fought against the Israelis. Nevermind. It reminds me of Future’s TV never mentioning the very existence of Hezbollah as an entity fighting Israel (only the “Lebanese nation”).
2- People’s faith, beliefs, dignity are called upon. People are “the promise”: Is this plagiarizing Nasrallah’s speech or am I mistaken?, “mountains of sun coming victory” (I don’t understand why the mountains are always invoked in Lebanon, why not the plains too. Is it just because it’s high that it becomes more imposing? This in any case contradicts the reality of where the resistance came)
3- It seems that according to Julia it is from the people that the Lebanese prisoners will be liberated (yeah the people are eagerly waiting for that, mm, which prisoners, which jails? this can become very confusing). Does anybody know who are the prisoners in Israeli jails (I mean all of them)? By the way, if yes this blog is looking for a complete list.
4- The central concern in this song is who’s talking to the people. Because Julia seems to address the people directly saying sentences like “you are… for us”. who is “us”? Is it also the people? A sort of circular narcissistic apraisal of the people? or is it an abstract concept of nation in which the people can feel safe?
5- Oh and let’s not forget the incontournable mentioning of the “cedar” (again what?). It seems that we are still not moving out of basic traditional beginning twentieth century maronite ideological artefacts. Well someone could say that it is, after all, in the flag so we’re stuck with it.

If only these songs could mirror 2% of the Lebanese reality then they could act as propaganda for nationalistic ideology build-up. But no, even this is too much. In this case, the contradictions can be summarized quickly: there is no “one” people you can address (for example amongst other issues, who really cares about issues like the lebanese prisoners, where and who) and Hezbollah is the only party that has fought against Israel and no abstract national identity.

So I don’t know if this is not just a non-Hezbollah attempt to desperately acquire some credit for the recent Israeli humiliation. If yes, than this is my message to these dudes: you better not use ideological artefacts that are alien to Shiite reality (like the mountains the cedars, etc.) and start abiding by the new meaning-making frameworks that Hezbollah is offering. Of course you don’t need to do that. I’m just saying that if you want to be the patriots you are talking about. Or else just be simply Lebanese and be welcomed to schizophrenia land.

Nota Bene: I would want to specially praise Hezbollah songs of propaganda (please don’t think that I am being biased it’s only natural and you may discover this for yourselves 🙂 They just remind me of the Manga songs (you know like Dragon Ball, Ken the Survivor, “Les chevaliers du Zodiaque” for the frenchies in Lebanon) we used to listen to when we were kids (and still now for some). Same instruments, sounds, rythms and cadence. It’s like video game, but actually it’s real and some dudes are really dying. As a dilettante pseudo-intellectual (maronite if you may) hiding in the now-famous-and-often-cited mountains, it made my daily shot of adrenaline during the war in July while listening to Eza3at el Nour.