The US and Siniora seek to push back against Hizbullah and the Opposition

(Analysis by Joshua Landis)

Hizbullah will not return to the status quo ante. Ensuring that the Lebanese Army will not challenge it new position within Lebanon will remain Hizbullah's main demand in ongoing negotiations over a new government. 

The following story in the LA blog (copied blow) strikes me as sound analysis of the Lebanon situation. Paul Salem, who is always smart, has been trying to explain cabinet paralysis in terms of Hizbullah-Syria tensions over the last few weeks. Intra-opposition rivalries and anxieties are not causing major splits withing opposition ranks. The opposition gets along and its alliance is solid, even as the three principal associates must make sure that they are on the same page.

Other analysts are blaming the cabinet paralysis on Aoun's stubbornness and ego, which is undoubtedly a problem.

But the real factor, as suggested in an LA Times blog post, is that Hizbullah and the opposition will not return to the status quo ante. The US and Siniora are acting as if they can relegate Hizbullah's presence in the new government to a few insignificant cabinet positions that will be shunned by Western diplomats and dignitaries. This is what Hizbullah had before it walked out of the government in 2006.

Hizbullah just swept aside Hariri's people in West Beirut and threatened to take Junblatt's Mountain stronghold and deal a blow to his Druze militia. This was done at considerable cost to itself. It will not be content without making considerable gains. Hizbullah will demand that the resistance can no longer be challenged. The US persists in acting as if it can blithely continue to build up the Lebanese army as an instrument to undo Hizbullah.

A number of journalists and analysts have asked me in the past few weeks if Hizbullah and Syria have become over-confident since Doha. I would say the reverse is true. It seems that the US has not understood the significance of Hizbullah's actions in West Beirut and the extent of the Lebanese army's complicity with Hizbullah.

The refusal of the US to absorb the extent of its failure means that further conflict is probably inevitable. Hizbullah will be forced to make it clear once again that its position in Lebanon cannot be challenged by the West or its allies in the Lebanese government.

Sami Nader nails Hizbullah's concerns on the head. It cannot afford to work at cross-purposes with the army. It will insist that the Army appreciate its position in Lebanon. How that can be demonstrated is not clear, but having the Ministry of Defense in the hands of someone who will not challenge Hizbullah if not in the hands of an ally will be important.


LEBANON: More violence and worry
Times Blog by Raed Rafei in Beirut

Nasrallah_wipesDespite the fanfares of peace over the last few weeks, the Lebanese are realizing that it is still premature to celebrate the end of their troubles.

It is true that a high-profile political accord was reached in Doha last month putting an end to a descent into civil violence. But the recent renewal of armed clashes in some parts of the country, and the delay in forming a national unity government, are raising questions about the intentions of the feuding political parties.

Hezbollah appears to intent on consolidating its political victory. The militant organization will make up one-third of the of new government. But Hezbollah is now pressing to ensure that it controls all of the country's security institutions.

In a speech on Saturday, Hezbollah's Foreign Relations officer, Nawwaf Al-Moussawi said: "There won't be at the head of any security apparatus in Lebanon or any army position someone who does not enjoy the trust of the resistance… Nobody will be able to appoint at any position someone whose allegiance to the nation is doubtful or who is conspiring against the resistance."

Some analysts think that with talks between Syria and Israel on the horizon, the regional political machinations are not in Hezbollah's favor. According to Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, Hezbollah pushed in May for a new political situation favorable to them:

"Hezbollah is concerned about Syrian Israeli talks. They have an interest in a normalized and stabilized country where the balance of power is in their favor. This would prevent Israel from attacking them and Syria from selling them off." 

For Sami Nader, a professor of International relations at Beirut's Saint Joseph University, Hezbollah's main challenge today is to ensure "harmony" with the army: "The core issue today for Hezbollah is the country's security system. In 2005, Hezbollah lost its complete harmony with the army. They now want to regain their full trust in the allegiance of the army to them."

One dispute blocking the formation of a government is Hezbollah's refusal to accept that the Ministry of Defense remains in the hands of Minister Michel Murr; he is regarded as too pro-US by the Hezbollah-led opposition.

In the face of Hezbollah's growing sway, its western-backed opponents are attempting to minimize their political losses in the current process of dividing of power.

But amid the continuing political struggle, violence continues in the country awakening old-time rivalries. According to the national news agency, 10 people were killed in the last two days in the north of the country as a result of heavy clashes between supporters of the western-backed majority and a pro-Syrian group allied with Hezbollah.

The battles, where mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns were reportedly used, have reportedly quieted down since the Lebanese army redeployed its troops in the streets.

— Raed Rafei in Beirut [end]

AFP)–The White House Monday said Syria must fully cooperate with U.N. nuclear experts on a mission to inspect a mysterious site bombed by Israel last year. The team is to submit its findings to the U.N. watchdog's next regular board meeting in September.

IHT, here EU Studies Iran more Sanctions "…The bloc is also studying sanctions against Iran's oil and natural gas sector, but such a step would probably take several months to carry out, diplomats say…"

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Sunday, at the start of a three-day visit to Israel that Middle East peace cannot be achieved unless Damascus is brought to the negotiating table.
"If we do not talk with [Syrian President Bashar] Assad there will not be peace in the Middle East," Sarkozy told President Shimon Peres during their meeting. Sarkozy is on his first presidential to Israel, accompanied by his spouse, Carla Bruni. The French president landed in Israel Sunday afternoon and was welcomed with a red-carpet reception, as Peres and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert eagerly awaited him along with a full army band and honor guard.

In his welcome speech, Olmert said, "In all my meeting with the French president I have encountered a deep understanding for the security needs of the State of Israel and the complex challenges it faces, as well as a personal, strong and unconditional commitment to Israel's security and the preservation of its qualitative edge in the region.

For his part, Sarkozy said that he "has always been and would always be a friend of Israel," though quickly turned his attention to the staggering peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians, saying: "I believe that the path to peace lies there before us, that the path to peace is not blocked. I have come to bring my support and that of France and the European Union, your partners in the negotiations.

"An agreement is possible, tomorrow, and that agreement would allow the two peoples to live side-by-side in peace and security," he added.

Sarkozy stressed that the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority should progress. "Those who will make peace in the end will be Israelis and Palestinians," the French president said.

"Only the Jewish people who have suffered so much know and understand how important it is for the Palestinians to establish a state of their own,"
Sarkozy added.

Referring to the settlements, Sarkozy said that, "I am a true friend of Israel and have never been ashamed of it, but it must be said loudly  the decision to build in East Jerusalem is not good for Israel."

On the question of Iran, Sarkozy described it as a matter of primary
importance for the entire world "and Israel is not alone in this matter. We will protect Israel and we will stand by your side."

Peres discussed Syria with Sarkozy and applauded him for inviting Syrian
President Bashar Assad to a meeting of the Mediterranean nations in Paris on July 13.

"I do not know if Assad and Olmert will sit at the same table but this is an important process," Peres said. "Tell Assad that he needs to learn from [former Egyptian president Anwar] Sadat and come to Jerusalem for face-to-face talks with Olmert."

Sarkozy agreed and said that, "I intend to mention this to Assad during our meeting the day before the conference." The French president noted that, "In addition to negotiations, there needs to be a change of mentality in Syria."

At a joint press conference with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert later Sunday evening in Jerusalem, Sarkozy said that Paris supports every initiative for peace in the Middle East and would never compromise on Israel's security.

France has promised Israel that it would put the brakes on its rapprochement with Syria until Damascus shows willing to distance itself from the axis of extremists, in particular Iran.

Sarkozy: No more 'yellow patches' for Jews
2008-06-23 08:55 (New York)

JERUSALEM, June 23 (UPI) — French President Nicolas Sarkozy praised Israel Monday as the only place in the world where Jews "will never be forced to wear a yellow patch." Speaking before the Israeli Knesset, Sarkozy said there was a special bond between France and Israel and honored the country's role as a the Jewish homeland by quoting a Bible verse, reported. Quoting the Book of Numbers, Sarkozy said, "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Go up this mountain in the Abarim range and see the land I have given the Israelites,'" adding that Israel provides "the only place in the world where everyone is certain that Jews will never be forced to wear a yellow patch, where Jews will not be banned from traveling on buses, visiting the cinema and theater and holding certain roles." Earlier Monday, Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni, visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, accepted a Israeli-made bottle of wine and received two candlesticks as a gift from the Knesset speaker, said.

 Ready for peace? — Shlomo Ben-Ami

Good relations between an Arab state at peace with Israel and Iran are not necessarily a bad thing. Syria’s stance might limit, rather than extend, the reach of Iran’s strategy of regional destabilisation

The resumption of peace talks between Israel and Syria after eight years of sabre-rattling is not a diversion from the political troubles of Israel’s lame-duck prime minister. Nor are the talks a Syrian ploy to avoid facing an international tribunal on the assassination of Lebanon’s former prime minister, Rafik Hariri. An Israeli-Syrian peace deal is strategically vital for both sides, and both sides know it.

The two major formative experiences of Syria’s Ba’ath regime have been Hafez al-Assad’s loss of the Golan Heights in the 1967 war with Israel, and the loss of Lebanon by his son, Bashar, who was forced to withdraw his army under irresistible American-led international pressure. Recovering the Golan Heights and protecting Syria’s vital interests in Lebanon are not only major strategic concerns for Syria’s president; they are also crucial to the regime’s drive for national legitimacy, and to Bashar’s assertion of his own leadership.

Peace with Israel is not Assad’s priority. Rather, it is the prerequisite without which superior goals — rapprochement with the United States, legitimisation of Syria’s special status in Lebanon, and avoidance of a potentially devastating war with Israel if the Golan Heights are not recovered by peaceful means — cannot be attained. Indeed, the regime has hinted that it may be willing to compromise on the issue — the delineation of the 1967 border along a tiny piece of land on the Eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee — that wrecked the negotiations eight years ago.

An Israeli-Syrian peace is a weighty strategic necessity for Israel, too.

Syria should forge Arab unity

By Duraid Al Baik, Foreign Editor
Gulf News: June 22, 2008

It is clear by now that Syria has managed to get out of diplomatic isolation imposed on the country and the ruling regime by the West following the assassination of former prime minister, Rafik Hariri, in February 2005.

that Syria has managed to get out of diplomatic isolation imposed on the country and the ruling regime by the West following the assassination of former prime minister, Rafik Hariri, in February 2005.

that Syria has managed to get out of diplomatic isolation imposed on the country and the ruling regime by the West following the assassination of former prime minister, Rafik Hariri, in February 2005.

عبد الله الغضوي     الحياة     – 20/06/08

في عام 1977 أمضى الرئيس الراحل أنور السادات يومي 16 و17 شباط (فبراير) في دمشق وكانا من أهم الأيام في العلاقات التاريخية بين مصر وسورية، حينها أمضى السادات وقته بإقناع الراحل الرئيس الراحل حافظ الأسد بأهمية زيارته الى القدس وعقد سلام مع إسرائيل بعد حرب أعادت للعرب جزءا من كرامتهم المسلوبة. وكل ما كان يرجوه السادات من هذه الزيارة هو التأييد السوري، وفي الحدود الدنيا ألا يقوم الرئيس الأسد بمهاجمة السادات وتشويه صورته أمام الرأي العام العربي.
تقول بعض الروايات إن بعض الضباط السوريين اقترحوا على الرئيس الأسد اغتيال أو اعتقال الرئيس السادات لدى زيارته الى دمشق لمنعه من السفر الى إسرائيل، والبعض الآخر فكر في تفجير طائرته، لكن الأسد رفض كل هذه الاقتراحات الجنونية، واكتفى بفصل العلاقة المصرية السورية واتهام السادات بالخيانة.


اهتمام أوربي بأسباب هجرة الآشوريين من سورية

المثقفـون والمخابـرات والمؤامـرات

Intense clashes involving automatic weapons, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades resumed in the Bab al-Tebbaneh and Jabal Mohsen areas of Tripoli on Monday, and involved mostly Sunni March 14 partisans and Alawite members of opposition-affiliated groups.

A security source told The Daily Star on Monday that the intensity of clashes and "reported incidents of sniper fire" forced the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and Internal Security Forces (ISF) to halt an initial deployment in the neighborhoods before waiting for "political cover" from local figures.

With both camps trading jabs over the deployment of the LAF in the conflict zones, a well-informed source said that the LAF presence, "while not welcomed enthusiastically, was tolerated in Bab al-Tebbaneh, in contrast to a more difficult move toward Jabal Mohsen."

U.S. Network Falters in Mideast Mission 

By Craig Whitlock
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, June 23, 2008; Page A01

CAIRO First of two articles

The Egyptian bureau of al-Hurra, an Arabic-language television network financed by the U.S. government, boasts a spectacular view of the Nile River and the capital's bustling streets. But inside, all is quiet. …

"If some problem happened on the air, people would just joke with each other, saying, 'Well, nobody watches us anyway.' It was very self-defeating." …. "It's a glitzy operation, a costly operation, with very little impact." …..

In 2004, when an Israeli airstrike killed the spiritual leader of Hamas, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, virtually all Arabic news channels interrupted their regular programming. Al-Hurra continued with a cooking show. ….. The most recent figures show that an estimated 25.8 million adults in 13 countries, with a combined population of more than 200 million, tune into al-Hurra at least once a week, according to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the U.S. agency that oversees it. It is difficult to verify those numbers, however. …. Arab journalists and viewers say al-Hurra has a basic problem: It is boring. …..

Salameh Nematt, a Jordanian journalist based in Washington, said that al-Hurra, like many of its competitors, has ignored controversial issues such as financial corruption involving Arab leaders and the use of torture by security forces. "Al-Hurra would have been the number one station in the Arab world had they done one-quarter of what they should have covered," Nematt said. "People say if it's an American station, nobody will watch it. That's crap. If it's an American station that does a good job, everybody will watch it."…

According to former al-Hurra staffers, Harb filled the newsroom with Lebanese employees, many of whom had thin journalistic credentials. Anchors spoke in heavy Lebanese dialects, turning off viewers from other countries. On-air reporting errors were common. "He hired his friends — this was the problem — and they didn't have any experience," said Magdi Khalil, a former producer who clashed with Harb. "I told him, 'We need to improve the quality.' He said, 'No, no — we need to fill the air.' He had no idea what being a news station means." …  Harb said it wasn't easy to persuade leading Arab journalists to come to Washington to work for a station funded by the U.S. government. … "In their view, al-Hurra was a propaganda channel which only really covered Lebanon," Register said. "They wanted me to help it become more like a real newsroom." There were a lot who were just there for the paycheck and the green card."

In an interview, James K. Glassman, chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors since June 2007, acknowledged many of the problems. "Some of the basics had not been well established," said Glassman, who is a former publisher of the New Republic as well as a former business columnist for The Washington Post. "I'm not sure it was clear to all the journalists what the rules were." He said training has increased since then and the caliber of work has improved.

In June 2007, Register was forced to resign after the Wall Street Journal editorial page disclosed that al-Hurra had broadcast the unedited speech by Hasan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader.

Since then, al-Hurra's news operations have been led by Daniel Nassif, another Lebanese native. Nassif had previously served as news director of Radio Sawa, a U.S.-financed FM radio station that broadcasts pop music in the Middle East. Before that, he had worked for a Washington-based advocacy group that sought to end the Syrian military occupation of Lebanon.

Nassif described his position as a "consultant and activist" who helped Lebanese generals and other anti-Syrian figures meet U.S. lawmakers and policymakers. He said that he stopped doing advocacy work in 2002 after he was hired by Radio Sawa and that his lack of formal journalism experience had not hindered him.

"You don't have to go to Columbia Journalism School to be a good journalist," he said.

In Israel, a truce with Hamas is greeted with fear and anger.

Column One: Israel's darkest week

The Olmert-Livni-Barak-Yishai government's liquidation sale of Israel's strategic assets opened officially this week. Iran's proxies have pounced on the merchandise.

The first asset sold was the security of southern Israel. The Olmert-Livni-Barak-Yishai government's "cease-fire" with Hamas transferred all power to determine the fate of the residents of southern Israel to Iran's Palestinian proxy. ….

But the Olmert-Livni-Barak-Yishai government apparently doesn't care. Israel's leaders actually don't want anyone to isolate or boycott Hamas anymore. The government's reported negotiations regarding the deployment of an all-Arab "peacekeeping" force in Gaza in a later phase of the "cease-fire" make clear that Israel is pushing for Hamas's international legitimization. …

Israel's decision to embrace Hamas is so outrageous that even the US State Department apparently hasn't had a chance to get its bearings….

This week the government conducted its second round of negotiations toward the surrender of the Golan Heights to Syria. Speaking of the surrender talks to a group of Israeli diplomats, Terje Roed-Larsen, the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1559, condemned the move, arguing just by holding the negotiations, "Israel has given Syria a huge gift, without thus far receiving anything in exchange." ..

In its rush to obliterate Israel's defensive positions, the Olmert-Livni-Barak-Yishai government apparently doesn't care that Iran may well attack Israel with nuclear warheads launched from a post-withdrawal Golan Heights. What is most important to the government is to make Syria look good. And so, following the second round of negotiations with the Syrians, Olmert practically got down on his hands and knees to beg Assad to meet with him face to face when they visit Paris together next month…..

Far from displaying alarm or anger over US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's decision to visit Beirut and give the US's blessing to the new Hizbullah-controlled Lebanese government, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert joined her defeatist bandwagon. He announced that he wishes to open negotiations with Iran's Lebanese proxy and to that end he is willing to surrender strategically critical Mount Dov – or what Hizbullah refers to as Shaba Farms – to Hizbullah. So eager is Olmert to surrender, that even after Hizbullah's puppet Prime Minister Fuad Saniora rejected his offer, he reiterated it. …

As the Israeli public stares at the wreckage and danger that has marked this disastrous week, hopefully it understands that this is what happens when we elect bad leaders. All of this was eminently predictable in 2006 when Kadima and Labor both ran for office on capitulationist platforms. Choices have consequences. And we will be suffering with the consequences of the 2006 elections until its winners are finally thrown from office.

Comments (174)

Pages: « 1 2 3 [4] Show All

151. Alex said:

Where Zenobia?

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June 29th, 2008, 2:15 am


152. Zenobia said:

Ok, i am an idiot.
i have no idea what that was. Everything was in italics and bold…
did i cause that? or fix that? all i know was that on a prior comment after the words “civil right”…i didn’t close the bold out or something…and then after that…
but EVERYONE’S comment was in italics…?

did you fix that?

what the hell…

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June 29th, 2008, 2:16 am


153. Alex said:

: )

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June 29th, 2008, 2:18 am


154. Zenobia said:

Ok , stop playing the man behind the curtain Alex.. very funny.

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June 29th, 2008, 2:19 am


155. Qifa Nabki said:

Yes, there was a reason for the bold. You forgot to put the /b tag at the end of one of your really FORCEFUL points to me.



Americans suck at geography.

They also suck (compared to Finns) at math and science.

They suck (compared to Finns, Koreans, Japanese, etc.) at pretty much the entire curriculum except for Physical Education.

But, my Finnish friend, this doesn’t make America a non-democracy.

(I can’t believe I’m here defending America. Someone change the channel, please.)

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June 29th, 2008, 2:23 am


156. Zenobia said:

: ) yes, i know about the tag, QN. I saw it too late. I tried to go back and close it, and the time had expired so I couldn’t get to it. but I had no idea that this would affect EVERY comment after that. I just learned that…

It was your day to defend America. : ) I have a day like that every once in awhile.

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June 29th, 2008, 2:31 am


157. Alex said:

OK, QN I will help you defend America.

Despite what happened the past 7 years, despite all the faults … America is still a country to love.

If Obama turns out to be a Jimmy Carter (minus the economic mess) the world will quickly forgive America for electing the neocons (Twice).

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June 29th, 2008, 2:32 am


158. Zenobia said:

ok, Alex, well… if it is still a country to love, then how come you refuse to come over the border..?

: ) maybe she is just on probation…

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June 29th, 2008, 2:36 am


159. Shai said:

Zenobia, Alex is afraid AIPAC and CAMERA will grab him once he crosses the border… And then make him run for office… 🙂

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June 29th, 2008, 3:49 am


160. EHSANI2 said:

“Americans suck at geography.

They also suck (compared to Finns) at math and science.

They suck (compared to Finns, Koreans, Japanese, etc.) at pretty much the entire curriculum except for Physical Education.”


The natural follow up question:

How come America has the world’s highest GDP and some of its wealthiest people?


It is home to the freest economic system.

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June 29th, 2008, 4:06 am


161. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

How many Finns could name the 13 original colonies?
How many Finns could find Arkansas or Oklahoma or Delaware or Rhode Island or Virginia on the map?
How many Finns know the capital of Vermont?
Americans know the goegraphy that is pertinent to them.

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June 29th, 2008, 5:05 am


162. Zenobia said:

I guess if we are supposed to assume that having the highest GDP and the greatest number of the wealthiest persons on earth is the highest form of accomplishment… it really does make one wonder why american use of of antidepressants has tripled in the last decade.

One in ten women take an antidepressant, 5% of men, and about 6% of children.
Perhaps, one could conclude that these measures of our greatness (GDP and famously rich citizens) simply have nothing to do with the level of well-being of the people.

Americans are not expected to know the geography of Finland. But one might think that Iraq is “pertinent”.

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June 29th, 2008, 5:26 am


163. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Most Americans know Iraq is in the middle-east. What does that exact location matter?

The Finns have the highest suicide rate. Why is that? Probably not enough anti-depressants…

There were no anti-depressants 30 years ago so it is now wonder people are taking more.

And with all these “statistics” one keeps wondering, why do people fight tooth and nail to get to the US? Why are most immigrants happy to be in the US? Why do so few return to their homeland where bliss reigns eternal and people live a simple but joyful life?

In the US “you can be all you could be”. The US is what you make of it for yourself. It is the one true land where no matter who you are, you can attain your full potential. I wish one day Israel would be like that.

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June 29th, 2008, 5:46 am


164. Alex said:


Capital of Vermont??

You have a problem with comparing apples to apples?

No one asked if Americans know the population of Jyväskylä or Lappeenranta.

How many Finns know where is Iraq, Iran, Syria or Lebanon?

And How many Americans know the same information?

And when the American people are supposed to elect a president that wants to go to war against “Iran” (or “Ayran”) … I think Iran is quite relevant.

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June 29th, 2008, 5:47 am


165. Zenobia said:

Because Finns get depressed when it is dark and the sky is perpetually gray….

god, i’ve seen that video before, or some part of it. It is sooooo killer. so funny and embarrassing at the same time.

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June 29th, 2008, 7:03 am


166. SimoHurtta said:

How many Finns could name the 13 original colonies?
How many Finns could find Arkansas or Oklahoma or Delaware or Rhode Island or Virginia on the map?
How many Finns know the capital of Vermont?
Americans know the goegraphy that is pertinent to them.

Well AIG why should Finns in general need to know in such details USA, when even most Americans (not to mention the Haredi Israelis) can do it. We have a good schooling system, but so not so good that we would read for years US history and geography. Certainly over 90 percent of Finns can point from the world map where USA is or where Israel is. Very few Finns know where Judea and Samaria are supposed to be. Israeli Jews have the best knowledge of those “lost” provinces. 🙂

You says that “Americans know the goegraphy that is pertinent to them”. Well if over 50 percent cant point out their major states, there is certainly something wrong. If knowing one’s home street’s name and home town is enough geography for Americans that is OK for me.

By the way AIG Finns learn in school that Delaware was once a Swedish colony for a short while.

The natural follow up question:

How come America has the world’s highest GDP and some of its wealthiest people?


It is home to the freest economic system.

Eshani2 are there studies how much to the accumulation of US wealth has been produced by the exploitation of their countless indirect colonies? Much of European wealth was “collected” in the past from their colonies. Holland did not get rich by growing tulips and making wood shoes. Or Belgium by making chocolate and small fire arms. Holland had Indonesia and Belgium Congo.

By the way Eshani America doesn’t have the world highest GDP. Remember or discussion in the past? Do we measure the total GDP or GDP per capita?

US GDP (nominal) per capita is ranked on the place 8 – 10 depending on the source. US GDP (PPP) per capita is ranked on the place 5 – 8 depending on the source.

US nominal GDP per person is lower than Finland’s (by IMF rankings).

I don’t want to undermine US economy’s achievements, even subprime instruments were invented in USA. I want to emphasis that also social democratic “systems”, like Norway, Sweden and Finland, which are less free trade oriented as USA are extremely successful and prosperous. Despite the good social security and high taxes. And without colonies like the Banana republics, Philippines and Iraq. 🙂

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June 29th, 2008, 7:06 am


167. Zenobia said:

dear Simo,
please migrate over to the post on “An Economic Plan etc” because there is where the real debate on the above economic matters is going, and you are desperately needed to offer some clarity.

Ehsani is over there saying ‘Bravo’ to Majed who was singing the praises of the “free market” and giving it full credit for the glorious success of American economic prosperity.

Warning: there are two very long winded people writing.
I did my best.


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June 29th, 2008, 7:10 am


168. trustquest said:

Dear sim, we ended up in agreement, I did not say Syrian should seek US help to remove dictators and bring democracy.

Dear Zenobia,
If one only learned in the US to admit when he is wrong and not to be shy from admitting and saying it, this is would be the best practice of democracy.
This puts you above the crowed of all SC commentators and no one come close to you in this democratic value. I salute you and I’ll always be proud US citizen for this only reason.
And for world map knowledge discussion, please everyone consider the age of the country, like American only 300 years old while all the other are ancient. For AIG in case he raises the question, Israel is special case and it is not new, ask the Palestinians.

Alex, from what I know, this video can be produced anywhere in the world, and by the way in some places they might not know of the “Map” concept, not to mention electron. :))
And by the way those guys who did not know where is Iran, they are busy making albums.

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June 29th, 2008, 6:00 pm


169. Alex said:


True, I remember in Egypt (where I lived for few years) they were not good at all in geography.

But … Egypt can not do a small fraction of the damage that America can do when people elect a McCain who is surrounding himself with neocon advisers again.

Americans have a big responsibility to know. Their leaders can mess up large areas of our planet.

And it is not enough for Americans to know that Iran is in the Middle East … Americans need to also know that the size of Iran is much larger than the size of Iraq .. that the population of Iran is 3 to 4 times the population of Iraq … and moving from geography to history, Americans need to know that in the 1980’s when Iran and Iraq were fighting each other, Iran sent one wave after another of soldiers … Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army was much better equipped with American, French, and soviet weapons, but they could not stop the endless supply of Iranian soldiers who were ready to die.

Americans need to know that in 2000 and in 2004 they elected an administration that was guided by a group of people who prepared a report to then Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu called

“A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm”. A report that led to the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis.

Americans need to know what will come out of McCain’s faorite foreign policy advisers David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser …

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June 29th, 2008, 6:12 pm


170. Shai said:


The majority of Americans are not interested in foreign policy. Even while their sons and daughters are returning daily in body bags from Iraq, most Americans cannot tell you what their soldiers are really doing over there, who the warring parties are, what their military’s goals are, nor what their government’s current policy is (either in Iraq, or in the region). Fact is, most Americans want to live in their good ‘ole US of A, without knowing, understanding, or being affected by foreign nations. They are as xenophobic today as they were a hundred years ago, and seeing those Muslim faces on the FBI’s “wanted” lists after 9/11 certainly didn’t help.

Very few Americans understand that they’re living in a global island, affected by action taken by others, as well as by their own both on the local, regional, and global arenas. Most Americans just don’t understand this. Knowing where Iraq, Iran, or Finland, are located, and what their population sizes are, is simply not enough.

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June 29th, 2008, 7:05 pm


171. Zenobia said:

aye, it is not enough. But when you look at a map and realize that Iraq sits right in the middle of Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria (and a bit of Jordan, and that it sits in a direct line between Israel and Iran, well… then you can seeeeeee a lot more meaning in the madness.

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June 29th, 2008, 7:38 pm


172. Shai said:


When I lived in the U.S., and would say to someone that I’m Israeli, half the time they’d confuse that with Iranian… That’s how much they know about our region. You’d think that after two Gulf wars, most Americans would be able to recite the 10 largest Iraqi cities by heart… but like that video Alex posted earlier, if you put an “Iraq” sticker over the Australian continent, and ask an American to find Iraq on the map, 9/10 won’t even catch the switch. The Isolationist mentality is still quite prevalent amongst most Americans.

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June 29th, 2008, 7:44 pm


173. trustquest said:

Alex, I would like to say that Americans also gullible but on political levels they are completely different. The political game is full of conspiracies, tricks and decisiveness but never forthcoming. A friend of mine strong democrat supporter registered on Republican Party to serve his party well (as insider and as influential on the RP). Media is the strongest factor which also reflected by power and money. My wife and daughter are voting for Mac Cain because Hillary out of the race. If you want Obama to win, you have to keep low profile, he is very vulnerable and his chances are very low, every time you show your support you make him loose a vote.
BTY, Alex you have been teaching expats how to play the game, so you should know better how to play the American game by not reminding Americans what they should be and what is their responsibility but by contributing to change, through logical criticisms. ))

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June 29th, 2008, 9:05 pm


174. Alex said:


Many Americans on SC can teach me things about Syria I did not know.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), What you and I write here is not going to find its way to CNN and Fox.

It won’t make a difference if “Alex” supports Obama.

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June 29th, 2008, 10:55 pm


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