Walid Bek at AEI: 10 Thoughts

1) Begging is becoming of no man.

2) I think I counted three attempts to compare the Syrian regime to the Nazis. His passing reference to the annexation of Austria was my personal fave. The hawkish pro-Israel crowd at AEI must have been delighted to discover that a Lebanese would join Netanyahu in setting the time machines for 1938. I wonder, though, if they would feel as comfortable if they knew what an anti-Semite Jumblatt is. Actually, we know such things don’t matter at all to this crowd (half of whom are anti-Semites, even if they have the good sense not to mention as much in public).

3) Jumblatt sounds more comfortable and more knowledgeable when talking about the role of “mortars” in urban warfare than “rule of law” or “democracy.”

4) For non-Americans, let me say that the comic value of hearing an institution like AEI (where pictures of Ronald Reagan french-kissing Margaret Thatcher adorn every office) introduce someone who heads a party whose name includes the words “progressive” and “socialist” cannot be understated. It is almost as funny as, I dont know, imagine — if you can — a feudal lord adopting a modern revolutionary slogan of social and economic justice.

5) Radio Farda must be stopped.

6) In truth, the questions from the audience were often more ridiculous than anything Walid Bek said (Hizbullah thugs, how did Iran kidnap Lebanon, etc.). When al-Arabiyya is the only news source asking tough questions, we are in a bad place.

7) Jumblatt was smart enough not to speak about Palestine and Iraq before this audience, lest he fall afoul of the party line.

8) It’s fun to hear Jumblatt speak of the “silent” Shia majority, but I am more curious these days about what the silent Druze will say as to his fate. I am serious on this point. If HA finds a way to cut a deal with Hariri, Jumblatt may find himself in a spot so tight that even he, a true master of reversals, cannot back himself out of.

9) Jumblatt knows the window is closing and is perhaps the most desperate of the March 14 crowd (Geagea and what he represents will live on as long as there is intra-Christian feuding, i.e. forever). Why has Jumblatt put himself so far to one side? This stands in direct contravention to most of his political career and may cost him Mukhtara if things go badly (a bit much maybe, but ??). Unwise, strange, and frankly not very Lebanese.

10) AEI is scary.

10 Replies to “Walid Bek at AEI: 10 Thoughts”

  1. Just got through listening to this. Jumblatt was self righteous and blustery, but I suppose that’s to be expected.

    Some of the questions, however, were really, really dumb. But then again, I suppose that’s also to be expected, seeing as where the talk was hosted…

  2. Bech,

    Not an expert, an amateur, empasis on the amo …


    I sort of disagree. Jumblatt used to be a lot more cocky, weird and fun, but now he just repeats boilerplate bs with the flair of a moaning dishwasher. I am a bit obsessed with him — check the rest of the site — but it seems a profound psychological shift has accompanied his latest political flip-flop.


    Gladly, you learned about Radio Farda? Euf … Sometimes it is better not to know … 🙂

  3. I know, I know, but where to find the time? I am also getting a very weird vibe that things dont end as I thought they would.

  4. You’re right about the change in the long run, for sure. But based on his and Geagea’s comments earlier this month, I wasn’t expecting the level of discourse to be record breaking.

    If you haven’t already read it, Charles Glass has a portrait of him in the March issue of Harper’s. If you want, I can forward you a (poorly) scanned copy of the article that a friend sent me. Otherwise, I was at Virgin in ABC the other day, and I came across a long documentary about Comrade Kamal Bey. Have you seen it? Is it worth checking out?

    It’s unfortunate that you’re not in Beirut; we’d have to go talk about our favorite zaims while having a beer.

  5. Sean,

    No I have not seen that movie or read the Glass piece.

    As for the beer, yeah, well, too bad, but I am always there in spirit .. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s