New at Reason

Michael Young, Reason's man in Beirut, gives the first-hand and top-down reports on the goings-on in Lebanon.

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    Lebanon is such a weird place -- Sunni militants funded apparently by Shiite Syria (the leadership only) fighting the mainly Sunni Lebanese army from Sunni vilages, cheered by mainly Sunni civilians who resent the Palestinian refugee camps.

    Does Occams razor ever apply here? Could it be these Sunni radicals robbed a bank, the Lebanese Army went after them in the refugee camps which are city-states apart from Lebanons control and things spun out of control and maybe the Syrians are happy about events, not preventing their resupply, etc. but not directly responsible for their actions?

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    Superb article, Mr. Young. Keep 'em coming.

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    Superb article, Mr. Young. Keep 'em coming.

    I'll second that. BTW refreshing to see an article on this topic without any mention of Israel.

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    Excellent article, Mr. Young.
    I know a bit about Lebanon, being married to a Lebanese, and having been there twice since Hariri's murder.
    Lebanon must not be sacrificed at the altar of Ibn-Hafez al-Assad, for this small polyglot country is the proverbial canary in the coal mine; if it fails, the Near and Middle East will surely be in turmoil.
    A functioning Lubnan is the sine qua non for relative peace and stability in that troubled part of the world. The international community must ensure a tribunal be established to investigate the Hariri assassination.
    Not to do so is to placate tyrrany and criminality of the highest order.

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    Mike Young -- any comment about this article:

    Counterpunch is libertarian in that its anti-state leftists/libertarians with Jesse Walker occasionally contributing an article.

    I expect no response from Mr. Young.

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    Egypt allows the formation of a new party dedicated to liberal values:

    Mr Harb has said he hoped his new party would "fill the great void" which had opened between the NDP and the banned opposition Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood.

    The academic and writer, who remains a member of Egypt's upper house of parliament, the Shoura Council, said in July the front would be based on building a "true and complete democratic system" and a free market economy.

    He also said Egypt needed a "new social governance based on the rule of the people by the people, and which relies on the transition of power and the limitation of terms".

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    This is the same Michael Young who cared so much for fragile Lebanon that he didn't seem to mind Israel bombing the living sh#t out of it last summer and undermining its legit government, right? Whatever...

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    Though I would just as soon ignore an idiot, this is one comment I will respond to. Here is what I wrote in Slate at the beginning of the war last year:

    "For the Lebanese, this will mean more suffering. Lebanon's prime minister, Fouad Siniora, said yesterday that 500,000 people have been displaced, and most schools, public facilities, convents, and other refuges are overflowing with refugees. The Israelis have not-or not yet-bombed the electricity grid serving Beirut and the areas north of it, so there is still running water. However, they have begun to attack large trucks, on the grounds that they might be carrying Hezbollah rockets. As a result, truck drivers are terrified of taking to the roads, making the movement of medical and other emergency supplies all the more laborious.

    "I lived through Israel's appalling siege of West Beirut in the summer of 1982, and this latest round is more bearable but also much more alarming. Bearable, because in most parts of the country the lights are still on, there is water, and one can still find fresh food, gasoline, and can even sleep. During the West Beirut siege, the inhabitants had virtually none of this, even as the Israelis bombed the city at will.

    "But this time, the attacks are also more alarming, because they are not limited, as they were then, to a sector of the capital. All of Lebanon is a target; all access roads, airports, and ports have been blocked or are in constant danger of being attacked, and a much larger swath of civilians are in danger. According to eyewitnesses in southern Lebanon, including journalist friends of mine, the destruction of villages is the worst they've ever seen-both intense and systematic-and it's not Hezbollah that is usually on the receiving end of the ordnance, it is civilians. Much the same is taking place away from the cameras in the northern Beqaa Valley, another majority-Shiite area. As for the Hezbollah stronghold in the Haret Hreik quarter of Beirut's southern suburbs, it has been reduced to dust. While this may have made it a legitimate objective, the suburbs have probably the highest concentration of inhabitants in Beirut, and virtually everybody has fled...

    "The politics of a settlement are complicated. Israel initially said its attacks were an effort to secure the release of its two kidnapped soldiers and to disarm Hezbollah. The latter objective, as even Israeli officials now recognize, is not achievable. No state will try seizing the party's arms by force, nor is that feasible at this stage, and Hezbollah will not surrender them willingly. That's why the Israeli strategy at first hand appears to be much simpler: to impose an abysmally high blood tax on the Lebanese in general, and Shiites in particular, so Hezbollah will not again think of kidnapping its soldiers or bombarding its territory."

    No I didn't mind at all Ken; or maybe I did, but there are just a trifle too many smug and lazy cretins out there who think self-righteousness can substitute for ignorance.

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    It seems to me that Ken's characterizations of Mr. Young's comments, while exaggerated, were not that unfair. Certainly not unfair enough to deserve labels like "idiot" and "cretin." And there is a serious point to be made here. Hezbollah is unquestionably an awful organization and prejudices any sane settlment in Lebanon, Palestine, and elsewhere. Like Al-Quaeda in Iraq, or Hamas in Palestine, or similar organizions all over the Middle East and elsewhere, Hezbollah deserves eradication. That is precisely what Israel was trying to do in lebanon and Palestine. That is precisely what Bush has been trying to do in Iraq and Afghanistan. But how to do it without making matters worse? Inaction, such as the American left has been advising (under the cover of "diplomatic solutions") does not hold much promise. Even Mr. Young's own balanced and sane suggestions hint at a despair lying just under the surface. In an area where there are no good solutions, and even the partial solutions are not very apparent, it does not do much good to brand those looking for something between capitulation and "bomb the shit out of them" as idiots or cretins.


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