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31 October 2016


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Which makes this all the more puzzling. One wonders about the Saudi policy capacity under MbS and the internal jockeying.

The Porkchop Express


Ha ha. No, I don't find the Christians ("Phoenicians") to be any less Arab than their Muslim counterparts, either. Despite their very, very desperate desire for it to be so.

Re: Durant. I did take "oriental" as a broader civilizational descriptor than Said's more narrow view. Literally, though, one could call it "making a grilled cheese sandwich" as long the general idea remains the same.

My point was that if you call an Arab (and especially a Lebanese)--with any exposure to Western education or to the Frankfurt school acolytes--an oriental they'll brand you a racist. And likely while they're concurrently in the middle of denigrating a rival confessional group.

Out of curiosity, what do you make of people like Said? Either in the Occident or the Orient? Some form of Stockholm syndrome? Education certainly plays a role, but it seems like there's still more to it. Naturally rebellious folk? Knew a number of Americans in the region, of tenuous Arab ancestry, that were also more than willing to shed their American culture to adapt another one. Though I got the sense they never fully understood or respected it. It came across more like a toy to be played with. Though I'm sure you were likely accused of having "gone native" often enough, particularly by pernicious bureaucrats.

"exactly right on all the vectors of their spleen." Fantastic expression. Never heard it before. I like it. Am going to appropriate it, if you don't mind.



I was rarely accused of such a thing anywhere on earth, not just in the Islamic World. I am basically indifferent to foreign cultures and their issues. I just worked there. The people who did not like me in the extreme were those of all nationalities whose oxen, monetary or otherwise, were being gored by my reporting on the inefficacy of the support and sales done by the US.

I think people like Said were in search of a secure identity. I can understand that. pl



"Herodotus,wrote 2500 years ago that the Phoenicians were everyehere.Some things never change"

As long as they bring Kebabs, Hummus, Koftas, Leb Bread and Falafel they can keep coming :)



You may be right, it certainly seems like GCC influence is trying to roll back Modernity in the Sunni states. But in the Resistance countries we might see a different phenomenon. The SAA doesn't allow their troops to say 'Allahu Akbar' in battle, they are discouraged from growing long beards, and from carrying Islamic symbols. The resistance to Saudi regression will naturally try and differentiate itself from Islamic fundamentalism. Whatever Assad is offering the Syrian people, they are buying it with their lives so it must be worthy.

Everyone knows Sykes–Picot is dead, so the map is up for grabs (hence the blood). If the Resistance wins in Syria, they will win in Iraq and Lebanon. For me the best case is that Syria, Lebanon and the rump Iraqi state join together in the true Arab Republic; a multi-confessional, cosmopolitan and democratic (under strong presidential control) country for all its people. Iran will naturally have influence, but they cannot directly lead the Shia Arabs without exacerbating regional tensions; better if the don't from a propaganda point of view. A modern Arab Republic is the worst-case scenario for the Anglo-Zionists, which is why they have spent 40 years trying to prevent it.

Some day soon a fiery Phoenix is going fly up out the rubble in Aleppo and spread her wings over all the Arab states. Maybe the winds will carry her all the way over here too.


"formerly homogeneous homelands"

You must be joking. There is always the Other. Always. And if they are not there they are invented. Countries are only seen homogeneous in the past after a new group has become the Other.

mike allen

Colonel -

Can you tell us more of Virginia Calvados? Can I get some legally as I am 3000 miles from the Blue Ridge? I have experimented with making my own cherry brandy, but so far it has much too much sugar content. Although SWMBO and her friends rave about it.

PS - found the article below on Aoun's election but have no idea of its creds. The author Antoun Issa is apparently Aussie-Lebanese, but do not know any more of his background. He claims Aoun had to strike a deal with Saad Hariri to get to be Prime Minister. Also claims that although Nasrallah agreed, he (Nasrallah) will try to keep the central government weak and ineffective. Any thoughts?



Not a very long time. That the majority of people speak French in Brussels is only something recent. The language border was 300 years ago somewhere in Northern France


Different part of the family tree is maybe why the Hariris would be cut off.

Babak Makkinejad

Said was a Christian Arab, of a civilization almost entirely predicated on Quran and whose core state was neither Arab nor orthodox Muslim. He was educated in a different civilization and castigated one for not recognizing it the other as being a worthy civilization; all the while living in that foreign civilization.

Babak Makkinejad

There were many people like Said among Algerian Arabs; who voted with their feet and left the independent Algeria for France.

On the other hand, there was Rene Guenon, who converted to Islam and left France to live in Egypt.

Babak Makkinejad

Well, imagine yourself as Syrian Christian and you are sitting across the table with a Sunni Muslim who hails from Raqqa.

Would you not be wondering when and if that fellows inner Jihadi - with the urge to behead an infidel - emerge during the course of conversation?

That is what has changed in Lebanon, in Iraq, in Syria, in Pakistan, in Afghanistan and even in Iran.

Babak Makkinejad

If Arabs leaders were rational, they would have settled with Israel in 1948.

They would not have gone to war with one another; as though Progress and Development were not the highest priorities for a population that had spent 500 years in abject poverty.

If they were smart and rational, they would dropped like a ton of brick on Saddam Hussein in 1980 when he attacked Iran.

And if they were truly capable of anything but a predator's innate cunning - really, a brigand's - they would not have joined in the effort to unseat Al Assad in Syria or the Houthis in Yemen.

Babak Makkinejad

Koreans are regularly harassed and insulted in major Iranian cities


Colonel Lang, I agree and I know from personal experience, and I did not mean it that way. Nevertheless, IMO, with regard to individual scholars of this field, there is a difference on their individual mentality, attitude and perception on how they view the orientals, and as such, their contribution to the man' civilization. IMO, and my believe, this attitude/perception is not as obvious to a western scholar (mostly innocently) of this field as it is to a oriental/middle easterner one. And I do not know, if this same attitude exist with regard to far easterner' culture and contributions to human. My father used to say, some individual western historians of this field, would rather discount some historic facts, than to considering it.

Babak Makkinejad

In what manner did Lee save the South?


In reply to turcopolier 31 October 2016 at 04:39 PM

"I found that Lebanese are a lot less European than they want you to think they are. IMO that is true of all of them including the various kinds of Christians."

Yes, absolutely, I did a big part of my growing up there sir as you know and felt even as a child that I wasn't in Europe - that even though I was very happy and they were formiddably generous and kind hosts that it wasn't home like in the way that pretty much anywhere in Europe was homelike.


mike allen

The good stuff is sold by farmers in bib-overalls around Montebello in Nelson County. Maidenhead falls and Crabtree Creek are up there. It really is delivered in Mason jars. Failing that, Laird's I suppose. Some of it is distilled in Virginia. pl


A good article by Abdel Bari Atwan on why Hariri agreed to this presidency:

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you for your comments.

I think if you look at the history of Syria after World War II, or Egypt, or Iraq during the same period, those countries deteriorated in any measure of political, economical, cultural, and religious freedom as time went on. The Western European legacy, decayed and could not and did not survive - what thrived was some caricature of Eastern European communism. Those were all self-inflicted wounds, in my view.

David Habakkuk

Babak Makkinejad,

I thought Said an Arab protestant prig.

From his account of the Abbot-Lama in ‘Kim’ in ‘Culture and Imperialism’:

‘It is the greatness of his [Kipling’s, supposedly] achievement that quite without selling the old man short or in any way diminishing the quaint sincerity of his Search, Kipling nevertheless firmly places him within the protective orbit of British rule in India. This is symbolized in Chapter 1, when the elderly British museum creator gives the Abbot his spectacles, thus adding to the man’s spiritual prestige and authority, consolidating the justness and legitimacy of Britain’s benevolent sway.’

Nothing either in the text, or in any of Kipling’s work, suggests that being given glasses did or could add to a Buddhist monk’s ‘prestige and authority’ with anyone. This is Said projecting his own hurt onto the text. Likewise, ‘quaint sincerity’ is his response – it has nothing to do with Kipling’s.

Moreover, what actually happens in the museum is an exchange of gifts. In return for the glasses, the curator – modelled on Kipling’s father – receives the Lama’s antique pencase, and the drawing of the Wheel of Life, a central symbol around which the novel revolves.

I cannot comment on Said’s understandings of the Middle East. But as far as the complexities of British rule in India is concerned, he seems to have had little understanding of culture, and not all that much of imperialism.

Babak Makkinejad

The sad part of it was his influence on the thinking of so many Near Eastern contemporaries; giving them, in effect, a "false consciousness" as Gramsci would have said.

Timbre Sick o' More

My view of Arab nationalism is that it is one of the most valid anti imperial national liberation movements of the last two centuries, and that its success is necessary for the peace and progress of the mena region and the world. The tap root IMHO of the fever of Islamism that has since the late 1970s adversely affected the politics and societies of most Muslim majority countries (and Europe, lately) ultimately stems from the Arab region and its failure to escape from imperial domination.

As an Iranian (?) you may know better, but I think that the fever was actually abating by 2001, but the wrong direction (Iraq) that the neocon dominated Bushies took in the 911 aftermath re energized the Wahhabi Ikhwan groups and...well, here we are. I may seem naive, romantic and optimistic, but if Turkey and other regional US allies continue on course we may have set back the Arab world by merely a few hundred years.


I think Marx coined the term "false consciousness," in context of "religion" being the "opiate of masses," and contrary to popular view, Marx actually had a high regard for religions, in the sense that they provided comfort for the masses in a world that was basically terrible, unwelcoming, and bleak, even though Marx was ultimately an atheist who thought all religions were "false" (thus the "false" consciousness.) Dostoevsky had a similar take, although he was rather more of a "believer," compared to Marx and Gramsci, certainly, but with a more complex worldview--he had more contact with the "oriental" mindset than Marx or Gramsci, who were much more "occidental" in their thinking.

Much of it, as Colonel Lang noted, rests on a sense of "belonging," of finding people who, for whatever reasons, are willing to find a common cause with us, of following fellow "tribals," if you will. "Culture" is usually the obvious source of tribal membership: you look like a member of a tribe, who know the folkways of the tribe, you can go through the rituals, so you have credibility as a tribal. What exactly these rituals and folkways, I suppose, depends on whom: religious ties are, as far as I can tell, in the Levant, and from what I know of the Lebanese, even more than elsewhere in the Middle East (where most people are of Sunni, tribal/clan ties struck me as more important, fwiw--but my contact with Middle Easterns is very limited, compared to everyone else here). The Far Easterners have yet different ways of defining tribals--the multiethnic, multicultural Chinese being quite different, even if subtly, from much more ethnically homogeneous Koreans, Vietnamese, and Japanese. And the same I suppose is true in United States: bicoastal liberals have developed their own culture, folkways, customs, and rituals through which they identify their own, as have others. People like Said (and, in a way, I suppose myself, too) who don't like the "obvious" tribal membership that, superficially, we should belong to, have issues with this tribalized worldview, but it is a losing battle that we fight. (although this seems very common experience among (East) Asian-Americans...)

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you for correcting me.

As you know, Vietnamese are not considered real "Han" people by Chinese, Japanese or Koreans - but I think it is fair to say that those 3 main Han people have no grasp of religion as understood in the India, in the Near East, and in Europe and her offshoots in the Western Hemisphere.

I think this absence of understanding (really mutual understanding) makes it easier to get along with the Han people by Europeans, Near Easterners, and Indians.

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