Sleeping with the Enemy …

Elias Muhanna, the man behind the blog Qifa Nabki, is a Lebanese blogger whose commentary has appeared in The National, Foreign Policy and other publications.

Et-tu, QN?

Just teasing.

If there is any instance of celebrity deserved in the Lebanese blogosphere, this is surely the case. Funny how he apparently emerged from the dungeons of Syria’s Comment to such commanding heights.

Ph’d-schmee-h-deee is all I have to say.

On the bankruptcy of the Israeli war machine

Whenever I am angry, I hope that Jamal has written. Because he just can express anger in such a better way  (in arabic we say “bi feshelleh khel’eh”). And here they are, two new posts(1 and 2) after a long absence.

Special dedication to Haqid who loves the practice of the raised arm

Following an intense conversation with EDB the one and only (who vowed to re-start the writing from the Banana republic), I thought that this scene pictured below showed that Hizbullah looked like a bunch of punks compared to these dudes. Discuss amongst yourself!


And this time haqouda, it goes hand in hand with the uniform! Funny that L’Orient le Jour puts the picture on its front page and does not feel that there is something fishy about it. Here is their caption: “Une foule monstre acclamant et saluant le chef des Kataëb au cours de la 2e commémoration de l’assassinat de Pierre Gemayel”. This is what I call internalization. Say, where are we with the plan of bringing down their offices? Ask Sean.

There is a good article in Al Akhbar on the changes undergone within the party and the merging of Samy Gemayel’s Loubnanouna into Amin Gemayel (his father)’s kataeb. We are marching towards a brighter future.

Why Aren’t We All Like That Old Bird …

A wise old owl lived in an oak
The more he saw the less he spoke,
The less he spoke, the more he heard,
Why aren’t we all like that old bird?

Morning thought …

Sometimes, when I go around my morning blog tour, I feel like I live in a parallel universe (or that they do – but that’s all relative) …

I wonder. Am I the only one who feels that way?

Attn: Warning to Bloggers …

Gillian Dowling, technical consultant at Croner, said the situation was similar to the widespread introduction of e-mail in the 1990s.

She said bloggers had to take care that they were not lulled into “a false sense of security” by the informality and ease of posting their thoughts and opinions.

Does This Mean …

(Me, Gemayzeh, and the beer, are waiting for the explosion)

is now famous? Or was before, and more so now …?

Hersh, Redux …

I have already posted my take on Sy Hersh’s most recent article, but I wanted to collect what others are saying with respect to Lebanon. So, from first to worst:

1) Easily the best supplement and/or critique has been the anonymous post on the Josh Landis blog (some of the comments might be interesting, too). He hits the mark by saying:

“Just a final note on Seymour Hersh: he may be very good at researching the US side of a story and exposing bureaucratic debates and infighting over important policy issues. His research and analysis on foreign countries is less impressive.”

2) Also serving as somewhat of a supplement is Bilal Saab’s post on the Landis blog and this article from Brookings. Bech finds it intolerable, but I find it interesting if you can hold your breath while reading inanities about the explanatory power of velayat e faqih, a paean to a lesser light known as Nizar Hamzeh, and a slew of rhetorical, syntactical and grammatic devices that while working contrary to the central thrust of the piece remind the reader that Hizbullah is a sinister force in the universe and that the US and Israel are blameless angels in world affairs. Some of this is downright humorous as one learns that: 1) HA is “legitimately” engaged in domestic politics — how long do you think HA has been waiting for Brookings imperial sanction for its activities; 2) HA’s victory during the war was a “self-proclaimed” one — tis funny that Israeli leaders can say they lost the war, but Brookings cannot; 3) HA poses some ill-defined “challenge” to the United States and Israel, even though the “ambitions” of the US and Israel exist only in the mind of HA and thus are always isolated in knowing and nodding “quotes.” Fortunately, the content of the piece actually runs against the form of these devices, but if you cannot stand US think tank groupspeak on strategic affairs (terror), then avoid the article.

3) Most fun is Tony Badran’s take. Tony calls Hersh’s piece “shrill” and “ideologically skewed” in a post that can only be called shrill and ideologically skewed. In fact, it is classic Tony (no, I don’t know him) in that he is right in correcting some of Hersh’s missteps but those corrections are overwhelmed by his blind fury toward any idea or possibility that will impede, even tangentially, a US-led nuclear assault on the Syrian regime. As always, Tony casts himself as a lonely muhajid against the vast Syrian propaganda machine (‘Helena Cobban, Juan Cole, Josh Landis and Imad Mustapha must be stopped before they take over the world!’). Of course, he is only armed with only the “modest” means and “scarce” political and media resources of the FDD and finds ideological concert only with some related groups whom you probably have not heard of (i.e. pro-Israel lobby, the entire US defense lobby, the vast majority of US foreign policy establishment, etc.). In truth, he is a sharp guy, but I just wonder how someone can blog on and on about Syria and Lebanon without ever mentioning the state of Israel, because the last time I looked at a map … Onward, Christian soldier, it’s truly fun to watch.

4) Some blogs, which I refuse to link to as a matter of public health, are relieved that Tony has spoken for them, and will be again when Michael Young says the same thing in the DS in a couple of days.

5) God’s blogger, The Pentagon, had a strange response:

“The United States is not planning to go to war with Iran,” (spokesman) Whitman says. “To suggest anything to the contrary is simply wrong, misleading and mischievous.”

It is strange because of the word “mischievous.” To my paranoid mind that word choice suggests that, as I have joined others in saying before, the Leeden-esque wing of the WH is actually delighted to have media reports of its recklessness in the Middle East. I would also add here that Bush is on record calling Hersh a “liar.”

I will add takes as I find them, unless I get bored with this …

Whence Fair Reader…?

Don’t get paranoid, because we don’t (and would not) spy individual ISP’s, but I find it fascinating to see from where the readers of this blog come. Indeed, I always like seeing a new country or state pop-up on our bargain-basement counter. Some basic facts:

  • About 40 percent of our daily readers come from the United States, with California and Texas doing the heavy lifting on most days (although we get periodic spikes from the DC area, New York and Illinois);
  • After the US, Lebanon, the UK, and France each make up about 15 percent on any given day;
  • Half of the remaining 15 percent come from Australia and the other half are truly spread around the globe.

For me, blogging is mostly psychotherapy (and cheaper than a shrink), but thanks for reading.

Oh Brother, Big Brother …

We just a few weeks ago, for the first time, engaged in Arabic on blogs. We have what’s called here a “digital outreach team” . . . that is actively going on the Arabic blogs and responding to misinformation and disinformation and propaganda and rumors with facts. And we’re very above board that it’s the digital outreach team of the State Department.
How many people are on the team?
I think it’s about four or five, and they’re supervised by a foreign service officer. And they are all Arabic speakers that do that. Then we have one young man in the rapid response center who goes on the Web sites and monitors and watches and surfs …