Across the Bay

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Groupie Gone Wild

If you want an example of how Helena Cobban's writing on Lebanon is little more than ideological advocacy, laughable fantasy, topped with selective or erroneous data (with a dash of missionary contempt), take a look at this post on Aoun.

It shows just how little Cobban understands the topic at hand, and how she substitutes that with silly Third-Worldist advocacy for Hizbullah (if there were emoticons, you'd see hearts and flowers every time Hizbullah is mentioned).

I repeat, Cobban's commentary on Lebanon is practically useless. You could instead just read Hizbullah's website or watch Al-Manar TV. You might in fact get better insight into what the Party actually says, as opposed to what Cobban wants it to be.

Addendum: For more details as well as important insights from readers, please check out the comments.

Update: Stacey picks up the discussion on the supposed similarities between Hizbullah and the FPM, and the difference between secularization and deconfessionalization.

Let me highlight again what I pointed out in the comments. Aoun has stated that secularization is first a "cultural project" before it is an electoral or administrative law. I.e., you don't eliminate sectarianism in society by changing the law! In fact, the latter option without the former would be extremely dangerous, as it would mean sectarianism without a mechanism of sharing power in a multi-communal country.

Also, on the issue of cooperation between Hizbullah and Aoun in parliament, it will depend on priorities. Priorities now for Hizbullah are its weapons. Aoun just reasserted his position on CNN last night: "Hizbullah needs in the end to hand in its weapons to the Army, because we cannot unite the country with two armies and two decision-making processes on Defense. There should only be one. Afterwards, we can deal with the external aspect of the problem."

In light of that, it's no wonder that Naim Qassim (Hizbullah's #2) opposed the removal of President Lahoud, who has given the Party political cover, and supported the completion of his term!

Update 2: I found this very interesting story in Al-Hayat today. Apparently, Lebanon's top Shiite cleric Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah is very upset at the abuse of religious "legal obligation" (taklif shar'i). I'm almost certain this is in reference to what I mentioned in the comments about Hizbullah using those "legal obligations" to instruct voters on how to vote (i.e., you are religiously required to vote for this list and not that one). Fadlallah's relation to Hizbullah is a bit of a mystery. While commonly referred to as the Party's spiritual leader, his role, and in fact his relation overall to the Party, is uncertain. Some have said that he's been at odds with the leadership and has been sidelined.

Anyway, so much for Cobban's secularization!