Across the Bay

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Idiotarian Round-Up

What's the common denominator in these three pieces? Well, let's find out!

The first is a piece of junk in the Village Voice, marked by an unmistakable contemptuous tone. The analysis is utterly stupid so I won't even waste time on it. But who does Kareem Fahim, the author, rely on? Here's the line-up: Patrick Seale (that same piece I linked a few days a go), "Angry Hair" As'ad AbuKhalil, and some Arabist at St. Joseph's, Bassam Haddad.

What's the whole point if you're writing for the Village Voice? To say that Neocons, the Bush administration, and Israel are plotting to destroy Syria and they'll use the Lebanese protesters, who become nothing more than a tool in the hands of nefarious forces. For that, of course you go to Patrick Seale. Seale's pathetic and gassy piece never once mentions the thousands of Lebanese protesters who took to the streets to voice their protest against the Syrians and their Lebanese cronies. It shows you how Seale thinks. These third-worldist morons (Seale, Fisk, Cobban...) never really view "Arabs" as more than passive tools constantly manipulated by Jews and Americans or some other colonialist bogeyman. They always need to twist events in order to finally fit them into that framework. So if the Lebanese (or the Iraqis) essentially turn this worldview upside down, something else must give. Well, not really something else. It's those damned Jews and Americans again.

So it makes perfect sense that the Lebanese don't really factor in Seale's analysis. Who the hell cares? What matters is Syria's interest! So really the whole point of the piece (besides the rants against the US, Neocons and Israel) is the following:

Syria has certain vital interests in Lebanon. It cannot allow its neighbor to conclude a separate peace with Israel until its own claims have been addressed, notably the recovery of the Golan Heights seized by Israel in 1967. Nor can Syria allow Lebanon to become a base for hostile operations against it.

This in fact is the central ideological cornerstone of all these types (Seale, Fisk, Cobban, et al.): Palestine. That's why you hear people like William Quandt (Cobban's husband [not her ex as I had previously written]. Cute little circle isn't it!?) and others calling for people "not to rush" Syria out of Lebanon, regardless of the will of the Lebanese people! Why? Patrick Seale said it. In their heads this is how they interpret it: Israel cannot be allowed to conclude a separate peace when the Syrian and Palestinian tracks are unsettled! Mind you, no one is talking about signing a peace treaty with Israel, but it doesn't matter. This is blind ideology.

A friend of mine put it well in a recent email:

The thinking of these guys -- Quandt, Seale, Leverett, Cobban -- is dominated by the Palestine question, which they consider, with varying degrees of vehemence, as the pivot of Middle Eastern international relations. They are fearful that if Syria collapses, there will be no counterbalance to Israel, and, especially, to the Israel lobby in Washington, which they consider to be the greatest obstacle to progress in the Middle East. In their view, the only thing that keeps the Israel lobby in check is the influence of the Arab states, which forces US policy back toward true US national interests, rather than the artificial ones dictated by the Israel lobby. "Don't go too fast" is code for "Don't forget to take care of Palestine first," which translates into "No democracy for Lebanon until the Palestinians live in prosperity and peace."

So once again, they are dominated by matters totally unrelated to the will and well-being of the Lebanese people! Like Makiya once accused Edward Said, these guys are willing to sacrifice the Lebanese people (Makiya was of course writing about the Iraqis) to the unappeasable god of "Palestine first." That ideology is the darling of Western third-worldists and Arabists. You can read Makiya's devastating critique in his masterful Cruelty and Silence.

That's why they have (and always had) nothing but contempt for the Lebanese. So now hearing Jumblat or even the pro-Palestinian (and occasional anti-Semite) Orthodox (not Maronite!) Archbishop George Khodr saying "there is absolutely no pretext for the Syrians to stay here until peace is reached in the region, because that will not come until all the knots between Tel Aviv and the PA are solved, and that might take long years and the Lebanese patience will run out." Khodr in fact broke another Arabist idol, and I remind you, he is an Arabist: "there is an ignorance of history, because Lebanon was never a Syrian sanjak that colonialism torn away from its mother. Just as a reminder, present Syria was never independent since the 3rd millenium BC until the French mandate and did not include Lebanon for it to be torn away from it. ... That we are culturally and socially close that has certain everyday-life as well procedural expressions within a context dictated by laws, and emotion remains only emotion."

You can be sure this kind of talk will draw nothing but contempt and derision from these folks. In fact, the third-rate poseur As'ad AbuKhalil has ridiculed the Lebanese revolution as "the Hummus revolution." But what ought one expect from a rambling fool whose ideology so drives him as to annihilate any semblance of Lebanonness, as he did in the intro to his Historical Dictionary? And we still don't know what As'ad really wants in Lebanon! We sure as hell know what he's against (everything). But what is he for? No one knows. It's all in the hair.

So what is As'ad's Hairmeneutical contribution to Fahim's piece? "The Americans are playing with fire. The Lebanese never last in a multi-sectarian coalition." Reading his blog you sense that he is dying to see it fail! Or even read his statement quoted in the Seattle PI piece (third link above): "This won't be Ukraine of 2004, but maybe Lebanon of 1975."

The same goes for Cobban's blog of misinformation and outright lies. But the Hair displayed his superior understanding of world politics when he made the following statement, quoted by Fahim: "US is willing to sell Lebanon to buy Iraq, and Syria is willing to sell Iraq to buy Lebanon." This may very well qualify as the dumbest statement of the month. It shows how fitting the term "third-rate poseur" really is.

Then there's Bassam Haddad. Haddad told the LA Times (second link above) "what's missing from all the pictures we're seeing is the 50% of the Lebanese public which is not supportive of the opposition." If you remember, the Angry Hair conducted a census while we were all napping and found out that the Shiites of Lebanon made up "at least" 55% of the population!! It only takes a simple mathematical equation to show how stupid this statement is. But then again, as I said back then, this is Angry Hari statistics. So Haddad is apparently repeating that. He doesn't say it's the Shiites, but that's somehow implied. Unless of course he's grouping all the political forces on the ground who are not formally part of the opposition. What Haddad doesn't tell you is that even among those people, who might have a problem with some of the agenda of the formal opposition, calls for Syrian withdrawal can be found in abundance. So where Haddad gets that 50% statistic from, I'm not quite sure. But considering how close it is to "Weird Al" AbuKhalil's number, I'd say he pulled it out of his hair.

But these people's aim is to pooh-pooh any movement by the Lebanese, because the Lebanese are basically crazy animals ready to kill each other as soon as the Syrians pull out (that's why As'ad put a picture of "an armed man" on his blog [from the brief riots in Tripoli] as an example of that. Similarly the hateful Cobban put up an egregious lie that the Maronite Patriarch is saying he will pull out of the opposition if it continues to be peaceful! Both are dishonest misrepresentations.) It's telling that their line echoes Bashar's derision in his La Repubblica interview.

Finally, Sam Ghattas' piece in the Seattle PI. It's so funny to see the people he quotes: Omar Karami, Sleiman Frangieh, Mahdi Dakhlallah, and As'ad "the Hair" AbuKhalil! Now what kind of picture do you think will emerge? The only balance to this is a brief line from Farid el-Khazen and a comment on the optimism of the commander of the Lebanese Army on the unity of the Army! And to be sure, the Hair has slammed the credibility of Farid el-Khazen (who, in academic terms, is in a differentl league than that poseur AbuKhalil who would be lucky to reach his ankle. Maybe if he changes his hairdo from a "Weird Al" to a "Don King" he'll be able to reach just above the ankle). Why? Because Farid is "founding member of the Maronite right-wing oppostion."

You get the picture, so I'm not wasting any more time on these fools. The greatest thing about it all -- which is something that drives all of them crazy, I'm sure (well in the case of AbuKhalil, he's already there, so it's kind of more of the same) -- is what my friend said to me in an email: "On the bright side, I couldn't think of 4 people who are more totally, utterly irrelevant to the people of this country than these guys right now."

Thank God for that! 

Update: It seems the Angry Hair theory of a 55% Shiite majority in Lebanon has found a sympathetic ear in this ridiculous piece by Nicholas Frayn. Don't you love it when journalists do their homework?