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07 June 2009

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arbogast

You are right, in my opinion. Can Obama do it? Who knows.

What I do know is that this is the background. It used to be that it was "the economy, stupid". Well, it ain't the economy any more. It's the stock market, which no more mirrors or predicts the economy than the tooth fairy.

Cramer

That article is simply must reading. In my opinion it is duplicitous, specious nonsense. But whatever it is, it's the very center of American life.

How many Americans even know where Lebanon is?

William R. Cumming

I will not only be interested in the result of this very very important election to future of Lebanon but the voting percentages across the board. Most of my American Lebanese friends (all citizens) are all Christians. I always found that of interest.

curious

Anti-Syrian bloc celebrates Lebanon election win

http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE55609720090607

The outcome was also welcome news for Saudi Arabia and Egypt, which back Hariri's "March 14" alliance - the date of a 2005 rally against Syria's military presence in Lebanon.

"We have lost the election," conceded a senior politician close to the bloc of Shi'ite groups Hezbollah and Amal and Christian ally Michel Aoun.

"We accept the result as the will of the people."

The vote will be viewed as a stinging setback to Aoun, who held the biggest bloc of Christian MPs in the outgoing assembly and had hoped to seal his claim to speak for the Christians.

A source in Hariri's campaign predicted a decisive victory, with his bloc taking at least 70 of the assembly's 128 seats.

Perhaps 100 of the seats were virtually decided in advance, thanks to sectarian voting patterns and political deals, with Sunni and Shi'ite communities voting solidly on opposing sides.

The real electoral battle centered on Christian areas, where Aoun was up against former President Amin Gemayel's Phalange Party, Samir Geagea's Lebanese Forces and independents.

Lebanon's rival camps are at odds over Hezbollah's guerrilla force, which outguns the Lebanese army, and ties with Syria, which dominated Lebanon for three decades until 2005.

Patrick Lang

All

It appears that I may have guessed wrong again. That makes three times. pl

Jose

All, isn't better for Hezbollah to remain in the opposition?

Had it won, wouldn't there be sanctions, attacks, disarm, etc.

Col, three times?

Patrick Lang

Jose

Once in Guatemala in the mid-60s. I underestimated the effectiveness of local government brutality.

Then there was a stock I was way ahead on until a year ago. I did not sell.

Now, there is this. pl

Mary

It's all for the good.

(1) The neocons said that if Hezbolla won, it would be a big loss for Obama! Waiting for them to acknowledge his big win!

(2) Israel will have a harder time justifying another attack?

Colonel, that's a pretty good record, considering.

Leila Abu-Saba

You have only been wrong 3 times in your life? Or have only made 3 wrong predictions? Dang, I had better find out how to invest with you!

Leila Abu-Saba

This time I am feeling a *tiny* bit like the Angry Arab, who says the Lebanese think they are more important than they really are. I predict more of the same tension, arguing, occasional explosion, negotiations, moneymaking, betraying, backscratching, disco-dancing, real-estate-developing, and general Lebanese monkey business.

Just please God no more all out wars. Thank you.

My mother's church is celebrating World Peace in Palestine and Israel week - I visited by chance today. Prayer is really the only workable plan.

arbogast

A friend just returned from visiting Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon.

He says that Egypt is very much a police state.

Syria is fascinating but poor.

And Lebanon? Lots of Ferrari's and scantily clad women.

Yes, women in burka's too. But the Ferrari's and scantily clad element are in control.

Probably, Israel's problem with Lebanon is that it's a successful modern country, unlike Israel, which is a militaristic, looney country.

Clifford Kiracofe

Lebanon elections -- well, I suppose per usual there was a lot of foreign money spread around to various groups and voters. Also, didn't Biden threaten a cut off in US aid to Lebanon if the opposition won, or some such?

Hizbollah has shown it is a very disciplined organization and they appear to have considerable patience based, in part I imagine, on demographic trends.

Suppose we will have to await a detailed breakdown of votes for analysis.

"top down" -- absolutely. But this would entail the dominant factions of the US foreign policy elite decoupling from foreign influence and thinking in terms of the US national interest. By foreign influence I mean not only Zionist but also delusional visions of some sort of American "Raj" Brit style or imperium Roman style. Presently our foreign policy elites seem to be overcome by a witches' brew of all three.

The US is capable of a "smart" policy in the national interest. We have plenty of specialists, experts, and whatnot in academics and in government. The problem is POLITICAL and is lodged in the foreign policy elites...

arbogast

Ferrari's beat phosphorus bombs every time. The average civilian wants nothing to do with the likes of Hezbollah or Israel...who are mirror images.

The really dangerous people on earth are the Cheney's, Rumsfeld's, Bush's who love killing and death and hate healthy nations at peace.

Bellicosity is America's weak point. Perhaps it was Rome's too.

Leila Abu-Saba

Re Ferraris and scantily clad women - I guess if you are in Beirut & points north and up hill (east).

In Sidon this year I saw more money than I've ever seen in my life in the South. Scantily clad is not okay with either conservative Sunnis or Shi'ites. But tightly clad, yes, yes, yes. My friend and traveling companion Laura (middle aged mom like me, who teaches at an elite NYC school for girls) just said last night that she wishes we'd photographed the Hizbullah babes of South Lebanon in their Ramadan finery. Laura lives in Brooklyn near the big mosque and sees a lot of hijab, NY Style. She said she had no idea veiled women could strut their stuff so salaciously. Veiled girls in Sidon at the cafes wore jerseys, corsets, tight jeans or long skirts that twitched, and elaborately layered veils color- coordinated to their blaring tops, purses and high heels. The elders don't approve much but can't stop them. The parents seem to be perfectly proud of them.

Women are breaking out all over the Arab Muslim world, and they aren't letting the veil stop them. I didn't see burkas in Hizbullah land. I did see banners all up and down the highways of South Lebanon advertising new technical colleges, some of them with fake American names (Hizbullah owned). Get your degree! Pictures of women in black graduation robes, black headscarves and mortarboards.

Girls of Hizbullah gone wild. Of course there are many who dress modestly and consider themselves of better quality than the girls in hot pink or bright yellow. But these more serious women, in long tailored jackets and skirts, are going to college too. Hizbullah bluestockings.
Bikinis and burkas don't tell the whole story. You ignore the changing Muslim women's world at your peril.
Of course it's the Christian villages in the South and the Chouf allied with Hizbullah that were the battle ground for the opposition. I don't know yet how my village voted. In October a cousin estimated it would have been 70-30 Aoun-March 14 (i.e. in favor of the opposition). But things change. And it was the Beirut suburbs that made the difference anyway.

I can say this - the March 14 types in my village HATE Hizbullah with a passion.

As an American with a long memory, i can't imagine why my countrymen are happy to be associated with the likes of Samir Geagea, a war criminal. Aoun also did bad things in the war, but he wasn't an outright murderer as was Geagea. I blame Geagea for the destruction of my village in '85 and the death of my grandmother. That does not mean that I favor Aoun though. Again, I'm an American and I am on the fence. But please remember that the "bad guys" in Lebanon are not worse than the so-called "good guys" and in some ways are much better. Hizbullah at least has the reputation of being the only faction in Lebanon which is not corrupt.

J

Leila,

Can you enlighten us on what you see regarding the various factions (i.e. Hizbollah, Government, etc.) and their providing/or not the normal social infrastructure items (i.e. hospitals, clinics, community centers, etc) to the people that make for their better living within the various communities of Lebanon.

curious

The basic grouping of large factions in Lebanon is exactly the same as it has been. (Money or no money, the core alliances has not change much.)

These were the factions that Israel go to war with.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1982_Lebanon_War

# PLO
# Syria
# Hezbollah
# Lebanese Communist Party
# Amal Movement
# Syrian Social Nationalist Party


-

I think Lebanon is one of the most fascinating place in term of how global geopolitics crash against diverse and cosmopolitan are. I can't think of any other place similar to Lebanon. In most places we only have two forces, 3 at most. But Lebanon?

a) Israel (PLO/palestinians)
b) US (plus british/france interest)
c) All major Islamic groups are represented. (sunni, shia, druze) All have weapons
d) maronite, various christians.
e) Palestinians


I am sure if we revive a 15th century lebanese, he would just laugh and say ....still going? Things hasn't changed much has it? maybe there is nationalism, anti colonialism, modern organization of radicals. but the religious factions are more or less the same.

Leila Abu-Saba MacLeod

No I can't enlighten you on your question, J. I was just visiting in South Lebanon for a couple of weeks, one step up from a tourist. I speak the language and have family in the area. I was not there to research infrastructure or Hizbullah. Just reporting what I saw as I drove or walked around Sidon, Tyre, and on a brief social call in Upper Nabatiyeh.

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