Thursday, October 7, 2010

Differing Reports from Hezbullahland

In 1981 I had the educative experience of spending a few days in a Police State. The glory of medieval Prague couldn't be held back even by the oppression of the Soviet stars and uniformed men, by the grime and rotten infrastructures, by the single-channel radio we couldn't turn off, nor by the apparatchik who didn't even pretend he wasn't spying on us at the restaurant table. A few years later I was in Budapest, which was vastly better, but that merely emphasized how truly depressing Prague had been; and eerie; and a bit frightening in spite of our American passports. What a relief it was to cross the border after a few days... to Germany.

So I can emphasize with Jonathan Spyer and Michael Totten when they swap stories about the oppressive all pervading fear that lies over the Hezbollah-controlled areas of southern Lebanon. (Actually, Michael has written about this repeatedly; it clearly made an impression.) And for the life of me I cannot explain how a New York Times reporter can travel to the same areas and quite totally not see any of it, as demonstrated in today's report. Is he a fool? Blind? Impervious to whatever he's not conditioned to see, or conditioned not to see? A crass propagandist? What's going on?

It's an important question, since vastly more people are informed by the NYT than by Michael Totten, more's the pity.

And then of course there's the small matter that the story demonstrates - but never mentions: the total failure of the UN and the so-called international community in enforcing conditions they felt important as recently as August 2006, when Security Council decision 1401 laid down rules ensuring Hezbullah wouldn't be able to re-arm. In Hebrew UN is pronounced Oom, and David Ben Gurion famously remarked once "Oom Shmoom", which doesn't need much translation does it.


Anonymous said...

Thanassis Cambanis ... I've long ago decided he isn't worth my reading time, he is what I call a delusionalist. I dimly remember he writes either about Israel and/or the Palestinians also in best forget it style.

"my" Lebanon source Michael Young besides Michael Totten (there is one of the long and informative Totten talks with him also) sounds to me much more worried than usual.

and here is a piece from the TNR which doesn't spell it out but which makes me wonder, if all those shifts described in there are the real reason for Turkey currently throwing tantrums. Because the way I understand it Turkish dreams of a Turk people union of whatever have evaporated in the Great Power re-shuffle.

The End of the Great Game
Obama pulls the plug on America's empire in Central Asia.


Anonymous said...

I emailed Thanassis, I'll give you his response once received.

RK said...

Wait, so now any article on Lebanon—even one, like this one, which has to do with Hezbollah's rearming and not with describing life in southern Lebanon—has to describe how terrifying life is in a totalitarian state? Anyone who doesn't tick all the boxes in the Yaacov Lozowick List of Talking Points is a liar or a fool? Come on.

That's not to say the Totten-Spyer interview wasn't fascinating, aside from the giant overestimation of the Green Revolution's significance.

Barry Meislin said...

Lebanon is being sacrificed (or has already been) on the altar of the planned-for destruction of the Jewish State.

Of course, that's fine for some people, who are willing to pay the price (or who are more than willing that others pay it) to achieve the greatest virtue in the world today.

Anonymous said...

He does see it. Just if he reports it then he never gets to go back. Given this is his job...


Michael J. Totten said...

He might see it. Nothing he wrote contradicts what I wrote. I write first-person narratives, though, and he doesn't.

You can't, I say, write properly about totalitarian landscapes without being at least a little subjective.

Anonymous said...

I am glad you write first person narrative because I think the claim that objective writing can exist is a canard.

As to the NYT piece it makes me think of what certain teachers liked to ask us in school:

"what is the poet trying to tell us here?"

(I "enjoyed" Cambanis' observation that Hisbollah is copying Israel's ambiguity)

Also I might have appreciated it, if it had included a wee hint at Hisbollah's unease about the Hariri-trial. Or is Michael Young all wrong about that? It doesn't sound to me like he's dreaming it all up and everyday life teaches that cornered beings are dangerous and unpredictable.


Anonymous said...

now here is Khaled Abu Toameh telling the story in a way that also doesn't leave me scratching my head trying to figure out what I am supposed to have read.


Yaacov said...

Hi Folks,

It's not a talking point. It's the single most important characteristic of Hezbullah, that it's an ideologically driven anti-human movement. The people under it's rule are its own people, yet Hezbullah needs to rule them with police-state threats; the movement is carefully laying the ground for a blood bath in which masses of its own people die when Israel tries to get at the rockets stored in their basements. Hezbullah is not simply one more faction or party in a raucous and diverse Lebanese political arena; they're the enemy of anyone and everyone who doesn't fit into their plans. They're far worse than the sclerotic Soviet Union which made Prague look so depressing when I was there in 1981. Not making this the center of any report on their area and intentions in southern Lebanon is intellectually dishonest, if not worse, it misses the entire point.

Barry Meislin said...

Yaacov, it is you who are missing the point.

Since the declared goal of Hezbullah is to destroy the Zionist Entity, we must, even if we may not feel, um, entirely, um, comfortable with its, um, totalitarian, um, aspects, cut it some slack.

(Even as we deny that its goal is to destroy the Zionist Entity.)