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09 December 2006

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arbogast

Mr. Feltman's most recent assignment was at the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem, where he served first as Deputy (August 2001-November 2002) and then as Acting Principal Officer (November 2002-December 2003). He served in the US Embassy Tel Aviv as Ambassador Indyk’s Special Assistant on Peace Process issues (2000-2001). He served in the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv from 1995 to 1998, covering economic issues in the Gaza Strip. He studied Arabic at the University of Jordan in Amman from 1994 to 1995...He speaks French, Arabic, and Hungarian.

One year of Arabic, and he's fluent?

All of the above I find completely congruent with the policies of the Bush administration.

What I am frankly amazed by, on the other hand, is the fact that the report of the Iraq Study Group was not cleared by AIPAC (Ambassador Feltman clearly was). For a report emanating from James Baker to step on the toes of AIPAC is seismic. Seismic.

So, I wonder. I wonder if there are people in the corridors of power who are beginning to wonder whether the enemy who attacked us on 9/11 is actually the real enemy. That he was a cowardly murderer there is no doubt, but perhaps he was, after all, a red herring dragged across the trail of the real enemy.

And, you know, there actually are questions about what happened on 9/11. For example, after what was surely the worst mass murder in the history of the US, all the forensic evidence was destroyed.

There may be hope for Lebanon, but not under the current administration. James Baker might make an excellent Secretary of State under President Webb.

geoff

What are the prospects in your or other readers opinions of conducting an actual census in Lebanon? And after a census, a workover or better yet an end to the consociational system that limits the current and past governments so much.

Why doesn't Hez and Nasrallah call for a new census? Or have they?

W. Patrick Lang

Geoff

An attractive idea which yet further de-stabilize the system. pl

Matthew

So if we are afraid of fair counting of voters because it would "destablize" the system, what does that say about the legitimacy of the current of the current Lebanese government? One person, one vote. Isn't that what modern democracy is supposedly all about?

MarcLord

Yeah, I speak Hungarian too, all it took was a couple of weeks listening to tapes on the morning commute. Now I'm thinking of learning Arabic through "Hookah'd on Phonics" software.

All this reason and restraint from Nasrallah; what must we do to stir things up? Start bombing churches and stamping the shrapnel "Made in Syria?"

Leila

Ok, the Lebanese-American girl is going to vent from the American side of her mouth. Several things I don't understand about my father's country (and he couldn't explain to me) - one was why they didn't disarm Hizbullah when everybody else laid down their arms in '91. And for the 17 years before that, why they didn't buy some d**n anti-aircraft guns and shoot at those d**n Israeli planes when they violated airspace. What country rolls over and lets its neighbor bomb it for two generations without buying some d**n self defensive weapons that work? WTF? That's why Hizbullah could claim to be defending the country, the actual government wouldn't.

And another is why they don't just take a d**n census. Why is it destabilizing to learn the truth? My Lebanese relatives and I sometimes hit up against this brick wall with each other about personal matters as well. I am the American and I want to know the truth. (NOt that all Americans are like this - viz G. Bush II) I think that even if the truth hurts, it's better for everybody to know where you stand. You can make better decisions if you have ALL the facts.

And it's criminal that they don't give Palestinians citizenshp - 60 years in those d**n camps, they're down to the third generation of stateless persons, while three generations of Lebanese have emigrated to other countries and acquired new passports. Hypocrisy and ethnic hatred, the worst of it. And my own father, may he rest in peace, was no more coherent on this topic than any other Lebanese. It's more destabilizing to have so many 3d class citizens than it is to have a bunch of new Lebanese of the "wrong" religion.

Thank you for listening. I'll stop now. Sorry to swear so much on your site. Maybe I'll go back and delete...

Leila

And by the way, after that bear story on a later post, I am embarrassed that I even apologized for saying damn so much. Damn!

Marcello

"And for the 17 years before that, why they didn't buy some d**n anti-aircraft guns and shoot at those d**n Israeli planes when they violated airspace."

The resources necessary to mount an air defense capable of standing up to the IAF are vastly in excess of what Lebanon can afford.For all practical purpose Hizballah provides the biggest bang for the available bucks.

confusedponderer

to close Marcello's argument: '... and even if they did, the Israeli's would say it's an attack on their armed forces and thus, a provovation', Lebanese airspace or not.

For what it's worth, Israel is very good at busting air defenses. The best thing Hezbollah could to is to get themselves some more modern generation MANPADS and do what they do now: Wait for a good shot, and then move out fast and keep a low profile in the meanwhile.

Exposure to an targeting complex as good as Israel's means death. Hezbollah's relative success against Israel, however, shows they found suitable tactics to deal with that. Hezbollah, compared to the Palestinian dilettants two decades before, hits harder and is harder to find and harder to kill.

Mo

Col,
While the demonstrations make a big deal about this being Feltmans govt. it is by no means the only issue. The far greater issue right now is the copious and unchecked amount of corruption going on; There are currently hundreds of millions of dollars, donated after the summer war to the govt. to help the country that are totaly unaccounted for. The amount of aid that Lebanon, one of the samllest countries in the world,has recieved in the past 10 years would have been enough to pave the pavements in gold! And yet there isn't even the guaranteee of 24 hrs electricity! The people are sick of being saddled with a huge debt while the politicians siphon off the cash!

In fact, from what I hear, many in the govt. refuse to step down without assurances that they won't be charged and tried for their corruption.

Goeff,
A census is immaterial and the Colonel is right, its the wrong thing at the wrong time. Proving that the Shia are the majority will only make the Chrisitian and Sunni communities that fear HA feel even more distressed.


Leila,
to answer your questions:

In 91 Israel still occupied Lebanon and the ressistance, namely HA, were fighting to get them out.

The 17 years before that there was the small matter of a civil war. But anti-aircraft defenses need batteries, radar etc. all of which can be easily taken out (which in fact the Israelis did do in 82 to the anti-aircraft defenses the Syrians had set up in the Bekaa.) Furthemore, decent anti-aircraft equipment has, until the last few years, been manufactured in the West and Russia. Western govt. would never have been allowed to supply it and Russia had, until recently, wanted to keep the West onside.

In regards to the Palestinians, I think your wrong about citizenship. What they could and should be given is residential rights that allow them to freely work and own homes. However, in order for this to happen, the Palestinians have to surrender their arms which they will not do.

Leila

Mo - circular argument on the anti-aircraft and disarming Hizbullah. In 91 why didn't the Lebanese government fight the damned occupiers? Why let Hizbullah fight the proxy war?

Marcello's arguments make more sense. Still pisses me off. Israel doesn't go around bombing Syria, Jordan or Egypt, do they? Why not make it a little tough on those bastards when they VIOLATE INTERNATIONAL LAW by bombing Lebanese soil (and people on it, by the way)

Re: Palestinian citizenship - Mo, you have not explained to me why the third generation born in Lebanon should not have citizenship. Armenians get citizenship. Kurds even. Why not Palestinians? You say I am wrong but why am I wrong? And are all Palestinians armed? I don't think so. You are saying that no Palestinians living in Lebanon today would "lay down their arms" to get basic human rights to vote and have a passport in the country where they have lived for 60 years now? Then what about the Palestinians who don't carry arms? Why won't they accept citizenship, in your opinion?

MO, you sound just like my father, whom I love and respect. You have a blind spot on the subject of the Palestinian residents of LEbanon. Please examine your arguments and come up with better logic as to why the third generation should not get citizenship.

How about the girl I read about in the Daily Star, whose mother is Lebanese and father Palestinian. Because of the way the law works in LEbanon (directly violating a treaty Lebanon signed re: equal rights) the girl has no right to citizenship in Lebanon. Only the father can pass on Lebanese citizenship. So she, born and raised in Lebanon, of a Lebanese mother, cannot vote or work or have national health insurance, etc. Whereas I, born and raised in America, have a Lebanese passport because my Lebanese father got me one. If I visit Mieh-Mieh during an election, I can vote. This is not fair.

Mo, do you have a passport from another country? If so, why do you deserve this passport but a Palestinian whose grandfather fled Palestine to settle in Lebanon does not deserve a Lebanese passport?

I'm only arguing with you because I want to point out to the rest of the readers this Lebanese blind spot. I don't think I'll change your mind, Mo, any more than I changed my father's (allah yirhamou).

By the way, the fear of the census is also another irrational, illogical argument. Don't take a census because it might make people afraid? That's silly. Just get the facts on the table. Vagueness causes fear. Clarity lifts the fog and helps everybody make good decisions.

larry birnbaum

"I wonder if there are people in the corridors of power who are beginning to wonder whether the enemy who attacked us on 9/11 is actually the real enemy... perhaps he was, after all, a red herring dragged across the trail of the real enemy."

Apropos arbogast's comments here, did anyone see Saturday Night Live's parody trailer for Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto" this weekend?

"And, you know, there actually are questions about what happened on 9/11. For example, after what was surely the worst mass murder in the history of the US, all the forensic evidence was destroyed."

And FDR knew that Pearl Harbor was going to be bombed.

Pardon me for calling this what it is: Paranoia and anti-Semitism.


Will

1. census. don't need it. if you're doing away with confessionalism. don't need it for the confessionalism reasons, need it for the other economic planning traditional reasons.

2. air defense. very, very, expensive. to shoot down hi altitude planes need truck mounted expensive surface to air missles and radars. Cheaper to have deterrence like HA had. Israelis blew off the detterence and a third of their population was in air raid shelters for a month. Mutual deterrence only works with reasonable people.

FM Tsiopara Livni was ready for a ceasefire after six days but Dumbya kept July War going for a month trying to pull out an Israeli victory like a magician would pull a rabbit out of hat. It just wasn't there.

3. Palestinian citizenship is coming as Sunnis scheme to pad their votes with the end of confessionalism. And the Xtians will seek to extend the vote to overseas Lebanese for same reason.

Youssef

Leila,

the main reason palestinians are denied the citizenship is not to upset the so called demographic balance. since most of them are sunni muslims, the Christians and to a lesser degree the Shiites are opposing giving them citizenship.

mo

Leila,
You answer your own question in regards to fighting Israel and disarming of HA.

While Jordan and Egypt arent bombed because they have peace treaties Syria isnt bombed because it has an army, air force, tank divisions etc.

In 91 the lebanese army hardware consisted of 20 Korean war tanks, 4 vietnam era helicopters and some 30,000 ill trained poorly equipped soldiers. Taking on the Israelis would have effectively been condeming 30,000 men to death as armies dont do guerrila warfare very well.

HA already had 9 years experience of doing it at the time and doing it successfully. Letting HA carry on doing it was the only way of punishing the Israelis.

If there were no HA, believe me, Southern Lebanon would today be a series of Israeli settlements and the Litani would have been diverted long ago.


Re. the Palestinians (and the census), you get me wrong. I am not giving you my thoughts but the general reasoning in the country. I am not against them getting citizenship as a moral argument. The solutions you present are great in an ideal world and country were so many people aren't so sensitive to their sects.

Unfortunately, Lebanon is not ideal and granting the Palestinians citizenship would be very dangerous to the country as it would effectively double the Sunni population.

It was this very fear that caused the Christians to start the civil war in '75.

Therefore the consequences to both the Lebanese and the Palestinians may turn out to have more negatives than positives.

That is why I say that giving them residential rights would allow them to live freely while avoiding the political hot potato.

Of course, the second problem is the right of return issue. Many Palestinians dont want citizenship simply because it would dilute their claims on the right to return to Palestine, but off course that is a Palestinian problem not a Lebanese one. The pov of many Arabists is that if Palestinians are incorporated into Lebanon, then the Israelis have won and the struggle is over.

In regards to the arms, as the Israelis have found out, when there is no formal military organisation, there is now way of knowing who is armed and who isnt.

I agree with you that the law regarding nationality is wrong.

As such, I am not as you say so much in need of a change of mind as I am reflecting the reality on the ground.

The fear of the census is an irrational, illogical argument?

Welcome to the world of Lebanese politics!

Leila

All right, Mo, good arguments. Thank you.

Leila

I know the demographic reasons why Lebanese deny Palestinians born in Lebanon citizenship. I just think it's dumb and shortsighted. They are creating a second class of people - multiple generations now. And if Sunnis are allied with Christians today then don't they need more Sunnis to swell their numbers? Now that Crhistians are down to 35%.

I think the economy will actually improve if you give citizenship to the Palestinian-descended Lebanese. All those doctors and engineers who aren't allowed to work - and other kinds of entrepreneurs. Giving them their natural human rights to work and vote and participate in society will liberate a whole lot of economic energy, as well as relieve some of the pressure that causes problems inside the camps.

Yes, yes, I know the "arabist" argument that Israel wants them absorbed into Lebanon, so we can't let that happen. But the situation is completely absurd. Why should a young person graduating from college today in Lebanon be stateless and trapped inside the camp?

Mo's idea is a compromise - residency. Hmmm... I think it's still unfair. It just seems to me that it's the same tribalism our neighbor to the south is guilty of, and it causes the same problems.

But it's easy for an outsider to criticize. I am aware that America has many similar absurdities that cause great suffering to parts of its population. (how about our healthcare delivery system, anyone? how about our crumbling public schools in inner cities?)

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