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.

[End]

LEBANON: More violence and worry
LA
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, Ynetnews.com 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
https://exchange.ou.edu/owa/redir.aspx?C=b79d26b0d4e84f86b0093c0af5e6d982&URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.all4syria.biz%2fDetails.aspx%3fArticleId%3d13835

المثقفـون والمخابـرات والمؤامـرات
http://www.all4syria.biz/Details.aspx?ArticleId=13811

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)


offended said:

The truce with Hamas is greeted with more killing in the West Banks.

Smart move on Israel’s part to exploit the Palestinian divide. Who can blame them?

June 24th, 2008, 8:59 am

 

ausamaa said:

From al-Akhbar newspaper:

Abbas ” entrusts” Assad with looing after Palestinian intersts (the dialoug between Hamas and Fateh.!!)

عبّاس يفوّض الأسد رعاية المصالحة الفلسطينيّة!
ـــ أ ف ب)
دمشق ــ الأخبار
غزة ــ رائد لافي
رغم قلة التفاؤل بحدوث انفراجة فلسطينية داخلية عقب دعوة الحوار التي أطلقها الرئيس الفلسطيني محمود عباس، يبدو أن الأخير يرغب في تفويض دمشق برعاية هذه الدعوة.
فقد أعلن مصدر فلسطيني مطّلع في عمان أمس أن عباس سيزور العاصمة السورية دمشق الشهر المقبل، موضحاً أنه سيطلب من الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد المساعدة على إنجاح الحوار مع حركة «حماس» الذي قد يبدأ في القاهرة الشهر المقبل لرأب الصدع الفلسطيني.
وقال المصدر إن عباس يتوقع موقفاً سورياً إيجابياً من قضية الحوار، «رغم تحفظات دمشق على الكثير من سياسات أبو مازن». وأضاف إن «هناك قناعة فلسطينية تامة بقدرة دمشق وتأثيرها على الدفع باتجاه إنجاح اللقاء الفلسطيني المقبل بين مختلف الفصائل الفلسطينية».
إلّا أن عملية إتمام المصالحة لا تزال غامضة، إذ علمت «الأخبار» أن «الفصائل لم تبلغ بأي برنامج للقاءات بين عباس وقيادات الفصائل بما فيها حركة حماس»، وأنه «إذا كانت هناك نية لعقد لقاءات، فسيتوضح هذا خلال الأسبوع المقبل». وتوقعت مصادر مطلعة أنه إذا حصلت لقاءات بين عباس وقادة الفصائل الفلسطينية، فستهدف إلى «التمهيد للحوار الوطني الشامل، وأنه سيتم التركيز على نقطتين أساسيتين، الأولى تتعلق بالبحث في خطوات إعادة الوحدة الفلسطينية الوطنية وإعادة الوحدة بين الضفة الغربية وقطاع غزة، وإعادة ترتيب الأوضاع داخل السلطة وتوحيد أجهزتها، والنقطة الثانية تتناول البحث في إعادة ترتيب منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية».
في هذا الوقت، أعلن رئيس الحكومة الفلسطينية المقال إسماعيل هنية أنه «من المبكر الحكم على مدى التزام إسرائيل بالتهدئة»، معتبراً أن «الوضع في غزة سيشهد تحسناً إذا نفّذت إسرائيل ما عليها من التزامات». وأضاف «دعوا الأيام تمضي، لأن سقف التفاهم يمضي بعد عشرة أيام، وبعدها سنقرر ما مدى الالتزام الإسرائيلي بهذه التفاهمات، وسنرسل التقارير اليومية للأشقاء المصريين التي تبيّن مدى التزامهم بتنفيذ بنود الاتفاق».
ورأت حركة «حماس» أن «قرار محكمة العدل العليا الإسرائيلية بحظر تغيير الأوضاع في المعابر مع قطاع غزة بناءً على التماس قدمه والدا الجندي الإسرائيلي جلعاد شاليط لا يعنيها في شيء، وأن ما يهمها التزام إسرائيل باستحقاقات التهدئة التي تتضمن فتح المعابر». وقال المتحدث باسم الحركو، فوزي برهوم، «إذا أراد الاحتلال بقرارات المحكمة أن يتحلل من استحقاقات التهدئة أو ينهي بنودها، فنحن أيضاً التزاماتنا مرهونة بالتزام الاحتلال وتنفيذ الاستحقاقات».
إلى ذلك، كشف وزير الداخلية الفلسطيني في الحكومة المقالة، سعيد صيام، عن أن أجهزة الأمن التابعة له «ارتكبت بعض الأخطاء خلال عام من سيطرتها على قطاع غزة»، إلاّ أنه أشاد في الوقت نفسه بدور أجهزته في تحقيق الأمن.
وقال صيام، في مؤتمر صحافي في مدينة غزة أمس لتقويم أداء أجهزة الأمن بعد عام من انطلاقها، إنه «تم ارتكاب بعض الأخطاء، فنحن لسنا ملائكة، ولا نعمل في السماء ولكن على أرض صعبة». غير أنه امتدح كثيراً أداء الأجهزة على صعيد «تحقيق الأمن في ساحتنا الفلسطينية التي كانت تفتقد هذا الأمن حين كان رؤساء الأجهزة الأمنية في الأجهزة السابقة يستغلون السلطة كمشروع استثمار، بل إن ضباطاً صغاراً أصبحوا من أصحاب الملايين».

عدد الثلاثاء ٢٤ حزيران ٢٠٠٨

June 24th, 2008, 9:21 am

 

ausamaa said:

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

I think the header is a bit misleading. It should have been:

“SAUDI and Siniora seek to push back against Hizbullah and the Opposition”

The US is currently busy with other more important worldly matters such as the SOFA in Iraq and the internal scene in the US, so forget Lebanon for now. Rice had actually said it during her last visit to Beirut last week: “In every compromise, there sre compromises”. In my opinion that means: “We have to accept the new changes” and it indicates a “resignation” to the new situation in Lebanon and such a decleration was the kiss of death to active US interest in and support for and bets on Feb 14 and the “old agenda”.

As to the new government formation, seats and composition, that is the usual Lebanese pickering over such matters which we have wittnessed for decades. It may take days, weeks or months, but wont change much on the ground. The basic facts: the Opposition camp & Comopany won, the Feb 14 camp & Company have lost, and it is taking time to Feb 14 and its regional patrons to adjust to shattered dreams and lost hopes.

Let us not waste too much time holding our breath for “new” events and expectations as relates to Lebanon. Time to move on to other things.

June 24th, 2008, 9:46 am

 

ausamaa said:

From the Friday Lunch Club and the WaPo:

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Senior STATE Officials: “.. to open a US interest section in Tehran..”

If this happens, it should cause some severe heart ailments to many in the US and the Middle East … Fred Hiatt, in the WaPo, here
“….Senior officials at the State Department and beyond are mulling a proposal to open an interest section in Tehran, similar to the one the United States has operated in Havana since 1977. This would fall short of full diplomatic recognition, but it would open a channel to the Iranian people and, maybe, eventually, to the regime as well.
Beneath the debate is an effort by the administration to bequeath to its successor a foreign policy on something of an even keel, and a belief that Iran may be the relationship furthest from achieving that. …”
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/22/AR2008062201548.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

June 24th, 2008, 9:55 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Joshua

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.

Where are you getting this from? The opposition has a blocking veto in the cabinet, eleven ministers, and the same number of sovereign portfolios as the majority. For all intents and purposes, they can block anything they want for the next year until the 2009 elections. How does this represent the status quo ante?

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.

I remember you making this point before. We’re talking apples and oranges. Yes, Hizbullah just swet aside Hariri’s people in West Beirut. Big deal. What does this have to do with the cabinet alignment? You seem to be justifying the use of force to achieve “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.

God forbid anyone build up the Lebanese army. Sometimes I feel like following Lebanese politics is like chasing one’s tail, day after day, month after month, year after year. Hizbullah sets the following prerequisites for disarmament:

1. The Lebanese Army needs to be strong enough to defend Lebanon.
2. Shebaa needs to be returned to Lebanon.
3. Prisoners need to be returned.
4. Landmines, etc.

Joshua, don’t you find it slightly troubling that every time theh slightest glimmer of progress is made on any one of these fronts, Hizbullah cries out that people are trying to dismantle the resistance? The U.S. can’t build up the Army because that would be tantamount to challenging the resistance. Lebanon can’t take up Israel’s offer to return Shebaa because that targets the resistance. Prisoners can’t be returned because that is a pretext for attacking the resistance.

And so it goes.

The slightest bit of cynicism, PLEASE, ya Joshua?!

June 24th, 2008, 1:14 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Qifa Nabki:

“Joshua, don’t you find it slightly troubling that every time theh slightest glimmer of progress is made on any one of these fronts, Hizbullah cries out that people are trying to dismantle the resistance?”

And you Qifa, you dont think that this is their real intention? Dismantling the resistance????

June 24th, 2008, 1:28 pm

 

Observer said:

In summary what is happening now in Israel and the US is an all out effort to convince the population of the region that “resistance” is not the way. With the failure of the sticks in Iraq and Lebanon and Palestine, the carrots are being produced.
Thus peace is breaking out, business deals are blossoming, promises of investments are in, and a wedding with the all powerful West is in the planning stages.

I call all of this the beginning of the ordered withdrawal from the ME. Now some nuts in both countries would prefer going out with a bang and a fire. Let us see what happens.

June 24th, 2008, 1:53 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ausamaa,

What do you mean “real intention”? Of course it’s their real intention! It’s not a secret. They are basically taking Hizbullah at its word.

The U.S., Europe, Israel, the Sunni Arab states, and March 14 didn’t create Hizbullah’s disarmament conditions. Hizbullah did. In other words, they have already announced that the resistance would be dismantled one day, once the conditions are met.

Dismantled, that is, and replaced with a national defense strategy. But we can’t reach that point, ya Ausamaa, if we never make any progress on the various fronts.

June 24th, 2008, 1:58 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Observer

In summary what is happening now in Israel and the US is an all out effort to convince the population of the region that “resistance” is not the way. With the failure of the sticks in Iraq and Lebanon and Palestine, the carrots are being produced.
Thus peace is breaking out, business deals are blossoming, promises of investments are in, and a wedding with the all powerful West is in the planning stages.

I agree with your analysis.

What is your estimate of the chances of success?

June 24th, 2008, 2:00 pm

 

Observer said:

Zero

June 24th, 2008, 2:41 pm

 

norman said:

I second Observer,

June 24th, 2008, 2:55 pm

 

Tarek said:

When will Israel stop feeling sorry for itself?? How is it that a leader in Israel finally gathers the necessary courage required to meet with Israel’s foes, and this is thought of as selling out on the people’s interests?? Is it not clear to you that after these 60 years of death on both sides, the Arabs and Israelis, that peace with ALL sides is the only solution. How can negotiations with Syria be thought of as ” a gift” to Syria? It should be seen as a gift to both the people of Syria and Israel…a gift possibly later on to the people of Lebanon if the winds of peace blow into that country…to the people of palestine when Syria sees that its peace agreement with Israel alleviates the necessity for funding and supporting Hamas and Hizbollah….its like this…once you take away the reasons for conflict…there will be no conflict, and if there are still some conflicting parties, like Hamas, Hizbollah, or Iran, these can be dealt with in a more comprehensive manner, with more allies like Syria…remember, even though Syria opposed attacking Iraq 5 years ago, it supported it in 1990…because it stood to gain something from that…why is it so different now?…my advice to the people of Israel is to stop feeling sorry for themselves, war is not the only thing that requires courage…peace does too…and it seems that the only leaders that have ever taken that “plunge” towards peace were Izthak Rabin, and now Olmert….courage, faith, and logic…thats all you need

June 24th, 2008, 5:07 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Qifa,

Hizbullah has given everyone its word: We see our selves as a resistance movement until our Rights ( Occupied Lands, Jerusalem, and Palestinian refugees) are regained and Israel stops being the military aggressive entity is.

If you think they will drop their weapons once Israel returns Shabaa and Al Ghajar and the captured are released, then you are not reading Hizbullah correctly despite Hizbullah attempt to make it as clear as it can be on more than one occasion.

If you dont believe it, then you tell me what the heck you think the term Stratejiya Diffae’iya (Defence Strategy) was coined “for” by Hizbullah a couple of years ago???? THEY ARE that defense strategy, or the core and spearhead of it! If the Lebanese Army wants to fight Israel alongside them, they will be more than happy, else, they will be the Detterance and the Army can take care of other things it can handle.

Come on, they will remain an armed Resistance Movement until the whole ME issue is solved. And I dont think they believe that it is going to be solved entirely peacefully! So, go figure…

June 24th, 2008, 5:25 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ausamaa

If what you say is 100% accurate (and I’m not saying that’s it not… your guess is as good, and probably better, than mine), then the peace talks with Syria are a joke.

But you already think that they are!

So at least we are both consistent, even if we disagree.

June 24th, 2008, 5:47 pm

 

Seeking the Truth said:

AnotherIsraeliGuy said
The Syrian regime will support terrorism when it fits its interests. It will do so after a peace process also…

Please explain to me how supporting “terrorism” would be in the interest of the Syrian regime, even after signing a peace treaty with Israel if one could be reached.

June 24th, 2008, 5:49 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

I agree with Q.N. analysis,and the chance of success is 0, that is why I think M14 has won.

June 24th, 2008, 5:59 pm

 

Shai said:

Seeking,

Ehud Olmert, Israel’s current Prime Minister who is speaking with the Syrians right now, voted against the return of the Sinai to Egypt, even AFTER being presented with a peace agreement in Knesset! Imagine that. He, like most Israelis beforehand, believed like AIG that Egypt (and Syria) would not really live up to the peace agreement, and would continue supporting anti-Israeli activities even after receiving their land back. If Olmert could have rationalized his disapproval of peace on “those terms”, how can you be surprised that AIG is doing the same?

June 24th, 2008, 6:11 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Seeking,
Very simple. Let’s take a reasonable scenario. Israel and Syria sign a peace agreement but economic reforms in Syria do not work. The regime is under constant pressure and has no one to blame. In this case, Syria may decide to heat up the conflict with Israel by supporting terrorism from the Golan or Lebanon. It will of course use plausible denial: No, we are not supporting these terrorists, we are trying to stop them, but these things take time etc.

And of course most people in the middle east will believe them and say: What do you expect, there are people that are still angry at Israel, and you cannot erase 60 years of grievance in a few days etc. etc. Israel should understand and not react etc. etc. and in the meantime rockets will be falling in Israel.

We heard it all before and we know how it works. The Syrian regime is in the business of staying in power. They are not philantrops.

June 24th, 2008, 6:51 pm

 

offended said:

Hello Shai, what did exactly happen today at the Ben Gorion airport?

June 24th, 2008, 6:51 pm

 

offended said:

AIG, what a lopsided arguement!

How would the Syrian regime benefit from those ‘terrorist activites’ when it can’t claim responsibility for them?

You haven’t thought this one thru, have you? 😉

June 24th, 2008, 6:57 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
I supported the peace agreement with Egypt for many reasons, non of them are applicable in the case of Syria now:
1) The Cold War was on going and Egypt’s huge flip from Soviet to US backing was hugely important to the US and Israel.
2) Egypt was the first Arab country to make peace with Israel.
3) Egypt agreed to demilitarize the Sinai and because of its geography, Egypt has no problem monitoring all traffic into the Sinai.
4) Egypt is the leading Arab country.

June 24th, 2008, 7:02 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Offended,
Really? It is quite simple. Rockets are fired from the Golan to Israel. Once, twice many times. The Israeli government is pressured to act. What can it do? At first it will demand the Syrians put a stop to it. The rockets do not stop. Israel then demands from Syria to stop them with strong language. The Syrians answer back in strong language and denounce the Israeli “arrogance”. The “struggle” begins. Then Israel bombs militants on the Golan with rockets. Syria gets angry at Israel and the “struggle” and ressistance are in full swing.

The scenario is clear and obvious.

June 24th, 2008, 7:18 pm

 

offended said:

Yeah but the obvious loopholes in your scenario are as follows:

1- Why can’t syria do this now, if it benefits her that much?
2- Why would syria take the trouble of negotiating peace when it knows that such activities could revoke the whole thing, and that those very activities are inevitable?
3- How such activities are going to help the slow economic reform?

Katsa, your paranoia makes me feel sorry for you.

June 24th, 2008, 7:25 pm

 
 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Offended,
1) It does it now with Hizballah and Hamas and makes sure that in this way it is not attacked. Lebanon and Gaza pay the price.
2) Yes, since it feels pressure now and wants some respite.
3) These activities will be because the economic reforms will fail or won’t happen because the regime will perceive them as too much risk.

Syria is responsible for backing Hizballah and Hamas. These are undeniable facts. I feel sorry that you cannot see simple facts that are under your nose or maybe you are just choosing to ignore them.

June 24th, 2008, 7:33 pm

 

offended said:

Well AIG, you still have not brought up one good reason as to how those will help the regime any?

I mean how will they cover up for the hypothetical failure of the regime on the economic front?

June 24th, 2008, 7:37 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Offended,
By reigniting the “struggle” with Israel and explaining that again the priority must be defense and national dignitiy and not economic prosperity because a war with Israel is quite possible even though there is peace.

June 24th, 2008, 7:43 pm

 

offended said:

But AIG, by then we would have resolved these issues once and for all, no?

I mean why would your average Syrian be convinced then that confronting Israel is a priority if a comprehensive and dignifying peace was in place?

or are you not capable of delivering such peace?

hmmm, I haven’t thought of that actually. You got me there, katsa.

June 24th, 2008, 7:46 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Offended,
Don’t play dense. Let’s say that after several months that the Syrians “are not able” to stop rockets from the Golan to Israel, Israel attacks militants about to attack Israel on Syrian soil and also by accident kills a Syrian civillian. Will the Syrian government have any problem convincing its people that again the priority must be defense and national dignitiy and not economic prosperity because a war with Israel is quite possible even though there is peace?

June 24th, 2008, 7:54 pm

 

offended said:

sure it won’t have any problem convincing the stupid syrian people.

why does it have to convince anybody anyway? it’s a savage totalitarian regime no?

obviously AIG, your mind is still set on the binary mode. (syria:bad, peace: bad, rockets: good, weaponry: good…etc..)

June 24th, 2008, 9:47 pm

 

norman said:

This should make us Syrians proud ,

US official hails Syria refugee aidPublished: Wednesday, 25 June, 2008, 02:33 AM Doha Time

DAMASCUS: Senior US official James Foley yesterday held talks in Syria on the growing needs of some 1.5mn Iraqi refugees in the country and praised Damascus for its “generosity.”
“We salute Syria, the government and its people for its generosity in welcoming” Iraqis who fled the US-led 2003 war, said Foley, the State Department co-ordinator for Iraqi refugees.
“We recognise the considerable burdens that are shouldered here by the Syrian government and its people… (and) are appreciative of the co-operation that we have on this issue,” he added.
Foley made the remarks after talks with Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Meqdad — the second meeting since last October – “to assess the needs of the Iraqi’s refugees… and the burden that we face.”
“It is the conviction of the US that we have a deep responsibility to… these refugees,” said Foley who is on a regional fact-finding mission. – AFP

June 25th, 2008, 1:40 am

 

karim said:

This is what we need in Syria.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jun/23/turkey.islam

Islamic scholar voted world’s No 1 thinker

June 25th, 2008, 11:48 am

 
 

majedkhaldoun said:

I still think that USA WILL NOT attack Iran,there are some who thinks Bush will hit Iran after the election, this will be extreme crazyness, his advisers will advise against it.

As for Israel ,I have doubts that Israel will hit Iran, even that they love to do that, the danger of retaliations by HA is very high danger, you have to be crazy to do it, in 2006 Israel knew that HA has enough rockets to destroy cities in Israel, causing tens of thousands of death, HA has more weapons now.

Any changes in the Middle east will take few months and the risk of war will diminish, except in Lebanon,and Turkey, In Lebanon the conflict between Sunni and Alawi will get worse, and in Turkey the power of consititutional court will diminish, the military is staying quiet for some reason.

June 25th, 2008, 8:01 pm

 

Tarek said:

Again the issues at the very core have been missed and it is sad…no on is denying that Syria supports Hizbollah and Hamas…the Syrian strategy has been that, in the absence of military superiority against Israel, and with the “Coaltiton of the Willing/America, at its doors in Iraq, and with the the lovely slumber of the rest of the “great Arab nations like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan” as to the atrocities committed since the start of the “War on Terror”, Syria needs playing cards like Hamas and Hizbollah, and a strong country like Iran as an ally. Yes, for these very things, Syria has been villified in the world by the U.S and Europe, however it has kept Syria alive till now, till someone with the presence of mind in Israel would say “Hey, you know what? Maybe its time we talk to these “spoliers”, maybe we accept the fact that Syria and Bashar Al Assad do still weild some influence in the Middle East…maybe peace is possible with them”…once a peace deal is signed between Syria and Israel, with the sponsorship of a truly democratic U.S under the likes of Obama, and with honest mediators like Turkey (God bless them), Syria will no longer see the need to align itself with the likes of Iran (militarily and politically), and Hizbollah, and Hamas…the sturggle has changed from a pan arab one to a survival of Syria as a nation, as the “great” founders, Sykes-Picot, would have wanted it almost a century ago….give peace a chance…think of it this way…you sometimes find opponents in the last place you would expect them to be…and you sometimes find friends in he last place expected….

June 26th, 2008, 2:06 am

 

Tarek said:

Also, in terms of economic reforms in Syria….lets be very clear on this…economic reforms in Syria have failed miserably due to its generosity…with 1.5 million Iraqi refugees living in Syria today, inflation has gone up through the roof…real estate, food, water, electricity and so on…furthermore, Syria needs peace to show its friends in the Gulf that its is truly a hotspot for investment…the banking sector has opened and is in full swing in Syria, but without a stock exchange market, will not, and cannot stoke the wheels of economic growth, and will only do so when Syria is able to reassure investors worldwide, but most importantly from Qatar, Kuwait and Dubai, that a war with Israel will not break out…Syria needs and wants this peace agreement more than you would like to admit…
Oh and one more thing, for over two decades now, 80% of the government budget is spent on the military, and that sems to be getting Syria nowhere in terms of “defeating” Israel. Israel shall always remain to have the edge in conventional warfare over Syria…so why would Syria want to provoke Israel into a war…remember, Syria did not respond after the Israeli planes arrogantly violated its airspace back in 2007…it knew that if it did, it would lose again, as it has in the past…there is no shame in admitting that your foe is stronger…indeed it has been admitted time and time again by top Syrian government officials…war with Israel, provoking the great big Israeli war machine is definitely not on Bashar’s agenda, and if need be, he will move against any violaters of the peace agreement in the Golan if such a scenario would prevail, which is close to impossible….if it were to happen, it would have happened before, with or without the Golan in Syria’s control

June 26th, 2008, 2:18 am

 

why-discuss said:

QN

>The U.S. can’t build up the Army because that would be tantamount to challenging the resistance.

The US can’t build up the army because Israel is opposed to a militarily strong Lebanon. Look at the miserable help the army got during Nahr El Bared. Even Suleiman complained and threatened to buy weapons from Russia.. This will happen, I am sure once there is a government that does not crawl and kiss the bloody feet of Condie Rice. It is time Lebanon look East and diversify its sources. Bashar al Assad is showing the way: a Chinese company will install the Internet high speedin Syria, India will help in IT development: That is the way to go.

June 26th, 2008, 3:33 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

w.d.
Lebanon buy weapons from russia or China? now?

By the way I am strong believer that Syria must dig many wells,next to Lebanon, it is not to pump water,at this time, but in case Israel attack Syria, we need to get ready to reduce the water in Jordan river, it should be used Only in a state of war

June 26th, 2008, 4:58 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Why-D

Hizbullah and its allies criticized even the U.S. funding that Israel did not block. So it’s not all Israel.

A breakthrough in Beirut?

Partial Agreement on Cabinet Line-Up, Controversy Revolves Around Service-Related Portfolios

Despite the progress made in the new cabinet line-up with respect to distributing portfolios, two service-related posts, however, continued to spark controversy.
News reports said that while it was almost certain that Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun will get the deputy PM cabinet post, controversy still revolved around the service-related posts – telecommunications and public works.

Prime Minister-designate Fouad Saniora has suggested that Aoun gets, in addition to the deputy PM post, the public works portfolio.

Hizbullah and AMAL Movement, the pillars of the opposition, however, want the telecommunication post instead.

Meanwhile, Aoun was not willing to give up a key sovereign portfolio.

The daily As Safir on Thursday quoted Saniora sources as expressing optimism over the cabinet formation, saying it is likely to be announced before week’s end.

It also quoted President Michel Suleiman as telling visitors that in the event the new cabinet was not formed “within two or three days,” he would shift to Parliament to hold it to account in order to reassess the content of the Doha agreement.

Beirut, 26 Jun 08, 09:15

June 26th, 2008, 10:11 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

till someone with the presence of mind in Israel would say “Hey, you know what? Maybe its time we talk to these “spoliers”, maybe we accept the fact that Syria and Bashar Al Assad do still weild some influence in the Middle East…maybe peace is possible with them”…once a peace deal is signed between Syria and Israel, with the sponsorship of a truly democratic U.S under the likes of Obama, and with honest mediators like Turkey (God bless them), Syria will no longer see the need to align itself with the likes of Iran (militarily and politically)

Tarek,

Israel would love to sign a peace agreement with Assad. Unfortunately, democracy is not a prerequisite when making peace with the GOI. If it was, Israel would have to wait generations.

However, it is not clear what peace Israel gets in return. Do you know something we don’t?

June 26th, 2008, 10:56 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

French sources: Syria ready to ‘reconsider’ its ties with Iran

By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent

Syria has signaled that it is ready to “reconsider” its relations with Iran, French officials told the a-Sharq al-Awset daily in a report published on Thursday.

The officials said that Syria and Iran do not see eye to eye on a number of regional developments, something that is likely to cause a rift between the two countries.

One of the main points of contention is the situation in Iraq. According to the French sources, Damascus opposes the idea of a Muslim Iraq standing under full Iranian influence.

Also threatening the states’ relationship are the bubbling tensions in Lebanon. Syria does not feel that it is in its interest to get involved in the crisis there, now that it is buffing its ties with western states.

It also does not want to strengthen the Lebanon-based Hezbollah militant group to a point in which it could stand on its own, the officials said.

Syria is also concerned that its recent renewal of negotiations with Jerusalem will turn it hostage to any conflict between Israel and Iran.

As such, Syria is turning to the alternative option of strengthening its ties with the west and negotiating with Israel, the officials said.

Damascus is also prepared to sign an agreement of association with the European Union, the sources said. Should the EU approve the move, it will be the first fruit of developments between the bodies.

June 26th, 2008, 10:58 am

 

ausamaa said:

Qifa Nabki,

“French sources: Syria ready to ‘reconsider’ its ties with Iran”

You finish with Al Siyasa’s Jaarralah and Tony Badran stories and then you guys come up with a newer source to find solace and hope.

Ya habibi, do not waste your time. No one is considering anything except how to close the gates of hell and trouble that seemingly goodwishers (fooled supporters of Fake reform and freedome and independence and Bush-style democray like you) have opened and prayed for by supporting the Bush and his neocon agenda, then, when the Dream Shattered, they doubled back trying to cover their tracks and put a new face on things.

Do not bother so much with what is happening, do not imitate AP and AIG who are more interested in Syria’s well-being than us Syrians. Just relax. All is back to normal as before the Cedar Thing in 2004-2005, and life goes on. Just do not keep wishing for certain dreams, they aint gonna come true. Not when Oil is allready at $ 140 (while stuff has not started heating up yet), and not when Bush and Olmert have expreienced first hamnds what their military can and can not achieve. Do not keep betting against the house, and stop sweet-wrapping it in sophisticated expectations, scenarios and formulations.

Just relax, things are back to Old Normals, but in a better way for the other camp. Give it a rest for a while. Enjoy the summer. Pray if you like, but what has happened has happened. Some lost, some won. Even Rice and Sarkozy and Olmert and Junblat and Ghassan Tuini have given up themselves. Forget it man. The Lebanese thing has done its job, too bad it did not help the Big Plan especially with Hizbullah coming on top than being dismantled. The Syrian thing did not crumble, the Iranians are too dangerious to fool around with, the Palestinians and the Israelies have both faild us, and let us at least hope to get that SOFA thing in Iraq moving before we get out of the Whilt House. That is what I think they are thinking, Bush and Gang, so do not be more enthusiastic and hopefull than they are.

Relax man…

June 26th, 2008, 12:20 pm

 

why-discuss said:

QN

“French sources: Syria ready to ‘reconsider’ its ties with Iran”

Wishful thinking for Israelis consumption only. Is the media in Israel launching a campaign to sweetened the return of the Golan to reluctant Israelis, by dreaming how Syria will move away from the Number One Israel nightmare, Iran?
Maybe a good idea.

June 26th, 2008, 1:06 pm

 

Alex said:

QN,

You Bush supporter! .. stop dreaming.

: )

Yoav Stern (his birthday is today by the way) finally got convinced to stop taking Al-Syassa seriously. I’m hoping one day he will stop taking Asharq-Alawsat seriously too.

Last time he quoted Asharq, it was the story that Ahmadinejad is furious at Syria for talking to Israel.

I hope it is obvious by now that Asharq is taking over after Al-Syassa got discredited. The main theme? … There are two:

1) Syria and Iran are working together to make the whole area Shia
2) Syria is ready to dump Iran!

Here are some old variations on that same story

http://www.thisissyria.net/2007/02/11/syriainthemedia/10.html
Tehran asked Assad to delay his visit .. they just met with Saudi Prince Bandar and they were about to dump Syria for the more profitable relations with Saudi Arabia!

And this one:
http://www.14march.org/index.php?page=nd&nid=6910
That Bashar is telling the Americans he is ready to sell Hizbollah in exchange for establishing relations with him.

الأسد يتهافت على إعادة العلاقات مع أميركا مقابل تنازلات صعبة بينها التخلي عن “حزب الله”

And this oldie theme which seems to be forgotten these days
http://leb4all.yix.org/index.php?showtopic=1988

The Iranian ambassador in Damascus became the true ruler of Syria … Bashar the Iranian puppet does not know what to do!

سفير إيران حاكم سورية الفعلي وبشار أسد واجهة

Posted: 03, 2007 03:35 pm

دمشق ¯ »السياسة«:

أكدت المصادر المطلعة وشديدة الخصوصية ان بشار أسد رئيس النظام السوري لم يعد قادرا على إدارة شؤون الدولة قبل الرجوع إلى السفير الإيراني في دمشق محمد حسن اختري الذي أصبح يعتبر الحاكم الفعلي لسورية.

ونقلت المصادر ان بشار أسد لم يقدم كالعادة على اجراء المناقلات والترقيات المعتادة في محيط الجيش السوري وقطعاته العسكرية. وتعتبر هذه الظاهرة, ظاهرة المناقلات التي اعتاد عليها المجتمع السوري بمثابة دليل على إمساك رئيس الدولة بمقدرات النظام, وبموازين الولاء فيه.

أما وقد تجمدت وأصبحت مرهونة بارادة السفير الايراني اختري, فإن الامر أصبح يوحي بأن الإيرانيين هم الذين يمسكون بالزمام, ولايقبلون بالمناقلات والترقيات العسكرية بالاسلوب القديم, لانهم بدأوا يزرعون الموالين لهم في الجيش, ويشددون قبضتهم على مفاصل السلطة والنظام, بعد ان اخذوا ينشرون المذهب الشيعي في المحيط المدني السني مقابل دفع أموال, لتتم لهم السيطرة على الدولة والمجتمع في آن واحد.

وأكدت المصادر ان بشار أسد تحول الى واجهة حكم يتستر خلفها الايرانيون عن طريق سفيرهم في دمشق محمد حسن اختري, وانه لم يعد قادرا على اتخاذ قرار, مهما كان صغيرا, من دون العودة لسعادة السفير.

كما ذكرت المصادر ان اي محاولة تململ او اعتراض قد يقوم بها بشار أسد ستواجهها طهران بتهديده أنها ستكشف أنه هو من قتل الحريري, وستتخلى عن دعمه في مطالبته, عبر أزلامه في لبنان, بتعطيل تشكيل المحكمة ذات الطابع الدولي المرجح ان يكون اول الماثلين أمام قضاتها.

June 26th, 2008, 2:21 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Alex,

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t even notice the source (al-sharq al-awsat)… I wouldn’t have posted it if I had. Next time I’ll read more carefully.

Ausamaa,

Don’t worry, I’m relaxed. 🙂

The reason why? Because the current situation is as far away from the “old normals” as possible. Syria is tripping over itself to advertise its peace talks with Israel, its desire to break out of its Western isolation, its desire to effect a rapprochement with the U.S. allies in the region.

It doesn’t need al-Siyasa or Sharq al-Awsat to help with this publicity! Faisal Miqdad works just fine!

But I suspect that you will still be carrying the torch for the old normals even after Syria and Israel are at peace and Hizbullah has been integrated into the Lebanese Army… coming soon to a theater near you!

Right Alex? 😉

June 26th, 2008, 3:06 pm

 

Alex said:

Qifa,

Ausamaa is not against peace or against integrating Hizbollah inthe Lebanese army after a comprehensive peace agreement is reached. He is only against the stupid propaganda that does not seem to have an end …

Ausamaa,

Qifa Nabki is really not the type you imagine him to be. I think he is a very reasonable and open minded Lebanese.

But for some reason the two of you love to see eachother as stereotypes Baathis and M14s

June 26th, 2008, 3:36 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

But he started it…

*pout*

🙂

June 26th, 2008, 3:41 pm

 

Alex said:

Yes, he started it.

Just like Israel started it (invading and occupying the Golan) … but both Syria and Israel need to work together to end it : )

June 26th, 2008, 3:46 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

but both Syria and Israel need to work together to end it : )

You Zionist collaborator!

June 26th, 2008, 3:53 pm

 

Alex said:

Baseeta Qifa Nabki

This is not the first time you Lebanese “reward” your Syrian friends who try to help you.

See starting from 1:40

June 26th, 2008, 4:03 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Walla ya Alex, be honest: how much time do you spend on YouTube per day?

June 26th, 2008, 4:10 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Why do you keep saying Ausamaa is not against “peace” when he clearly said many times that he is against talks with Israel?

And as for Israel “invading” the Golan, the six day war is considered by 99% of philosophers, politicians and historians as a paradigm of a just war from the Israeli side. The Syrians were the agressors and lost the Golan because they lost a war they began. But don’t worry, once Syria becomes a democracy, it will get the Golan back.

June 26th, 2008, 4:11 pm

 

Alex said:

Qifa … everyone sends me links the whole day .. I receive about 50 emails per day with links to articles and you tube videos …etc

I save them and I use them : )

AIG

You are absolutely right my friend … 99% of pholosophers agree Israel did not do anything wrong by stealing the Golan lands.

But Moshe Dayan says that Israel invaded the Golan mostly becasue of greed.

June 26th, 2008, 4:42 pm

 

Nour said:

Wow, AIG must be privy to some highly confidential information. So not only politicians and historians believe that Syria has been the agressor against poor little “Israel,” but philosophers too. And 99% of them!!!! I wonder how AIG was able to gain access to all politicians, historians, and philosophers in the world so that he may conduct this highly scientific poll. What a joke. But farcical information has never stopped the AIPAC types, have they?

June 26th, 2008, 4:44 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Sure, that is what you claim Dayan said. We already discussed this incorrect interpretation of an obscure source.

Nour and Alex, why don’t you be clear. Do you DENY that almost all philosophers and researchers having looked at what happened think that Israel was justified? Do you DENY that Syria made an agreement with Nasser against Israel and that Egypt and Syria started the war by kicking the UN peace forces from the Sinai and closing the Tiran straits?

June 26th, 2008, 5:22 pm

 

Nidal said:

AIG,

Open your mind a bit. What don’t you read this new book by Zeev Maoz, “Defending the Holy land, A Critical Analysis of Israel’s Security and Foreign Policy”.

“Zeev Maoz was head of the Graduate School of Government and Policy at Tel-Aviv University. He also served as the Head of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies (1994-1997), as the Academic Director of the M.A. program of the National Defense College of the IDF (1990-1994), and as Chairman of the Department of Political Science at the University of Haifa (1991-1994).”

So you can’t be more knowledgeable than him, right AIG? He’s an expert on the Israeli security establishment.

Let me quote him:

“Most of the wars in which Israel was involved were entirely avoidable, the result of deliberate Israeli aggression, flawed decision-making, and misguided conflict management strategies. None, with the possible exception of the 1948 War of Independence, were what Israelis call “wars of necessity.” They were all wars of choice-or, worse, folly.”

Despite having read the book, I am not very good in writing a summary. So let me copy the description on the book’s cover:

“Demonstrating that Israel’s national security policy rested on the shaky pairing of a trigger-happy approach to the use of force with a hesitant and reactive peace diplomacy, Defending the Holy Land recounts in minute-by-minute detail how the ascendancy of Israel’s security establishment over its foreign policy apparatus led to unnecessary wars and missed opportunites for peace. A scathing and brilliant revisionist history, Defending the Holy Land calls for sweeping reform of Israel’s foreign policy and national security establishments. This book will fundamentally transform the way readers think about Israel’s troubled history.”

AIG, do us all a small favor: READ THIS BOOK!!! Then come back and put your comments. And don’t tell us that you’ve read it, because you haven’t.

June 26th, 2008, 5:40 pm

 

Alex said:

Nidal,

Zeev Maoz is a known ultra left delusionist, thats why no one in Israel subscribes to his point of view.

AIG is indeed more qualified to tell us what REALLY happened.

You need to understand that because the Arabs did not immediately respect one UN resolution in 1948, Israel has the right to continue to steal lands from all the Arab neighbors combined forever and ever… the Arabs started it .. now Israel can also ignore all UN resolutions… it is quite understandable if you think about it.

June 26th, 2008, 6:06 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Nidal,
No, I didn’t read that specific book but I have read several books of that kind some written by Israelis. For every expert you find, I can find you 10 that say the opposite. In the end you have to read what everybody writes, examine the TOTALITY of the evidence (not only the books that you agree with) and make up your mind. Has Israel made mistakes? Of course it has. Israel as I have said many times is a demcoracy muddling along in a very complex environment. Israel cannot afford to lose even one major war, and therefore it cannot take many risks. When Nasser says he plans to throw the Jews in the sea, we have to take him at his word, especially when he kicks out the UN out of the Sinai and closes the straits of Tiran.

What I never read and was never able to find was a book written by an Arab academic or part of the Arab security apparatus analyzing the mistakes Arabs have made over the 60 years conflict. Can you for example, recommend a book to me written by an insider Arab that discusses the mistakes the Egyptians, Syrians or Jordanians made leading to their defeat in the six day war?

Do you understand that I cannot take you seriously if all you can point at are books written by Israelis analyzing Israeli mistakes? If you are sincerely for introspection and learning from mistakes, where is this effort in the Arab side? Where are the books? Until I read or find those, what you are doing looks like propaganda and not a sincere effort for improving both sides.

Now that you have pointed the book out to me, I will read what Zeev Maoz has to say. I think the process of introspection and learning from mistakes is very important. But do you really believe that also?

June 26th, 2008, 6:14 pm

 

Nidal said:

Alex,

Perhaps Arab rejection of the 1947 Partition Plan is more understandable when it is recognized that 37% of the population was given 56% percent of the land of which they owned only 7%.

Would you accept that deal?

As for Zeev Maoz an “ultra-left delusionist”, wow! That’s some description. So are Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Shlomo Ben-Ami, Uri Avnery, Raul Hilberg, Ilan Pappe and others, who come up with more or less the same conclusions, delusionists?

AIG,

Once you read the book, we’ll share comments about it. Want books written by Arabs? Read those by Georges Corm, Albert Hourani, Edward Said, Saree Makdisi, … That should give you criticism of arabs (and Israel) from an arab point of view. Believe me, you can’t find an arab that criticizes arabs more than me. I always seek to learn from history’s mistakes. But I don’t think you are learning from Israel’s past mistakes, since you say that the 1967 war was necessary and just for Israel.

I think you should search more seriously for books written by arabs. They’re all out there. Reading your many past comments, I think what you say is more propaganda than what I just said. Especially your last comment: “the six day war is considered by 99% of philosophers, politicians and historians as a paradigm of a just war from the Israeli side. The Syrians were the agressors and lost the Golan because they lost a war they began.” I am sorry, this is not a serious comment. It sounds more like propaganda to me, or simply brainwashing.

June 26th, 2008, 6:18 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

Read Saad El-Shazly’s book about the 1973 War. He was the architect of the war for Egypt, and has criticized Sadat in such fashion, that until today his book is banned in Egypt.

Here’s a link for you: http://www.el-shazly.com/book_pages/page1.htm

June 26th, 2008, 6:37 pm

 

Alex said:

Nidal,

I was just trying to predict what AIG will say.

: )

He made those points in the past.

June 26th, 2008, 6:37 pm

 

Nidal said:

Alex,

Sorry, I misunderstood your point. Cheers. 🙂

June 26th, 2008, 6:39 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Nidal,
Do you want a serious discussion or not? I want a book written by someone in the Syrian army analyzing what Syria did wrong in getting into the six day war and in preparing and excuting it. Where can I find such book?

I would like to read a book by a Syrian politician examining the mistakes Syria made in not being able to reach an agreement with Israel. Is there such a book, or are all the mistakes on the Israeli side?

I have extensively about what happened in 67 and there is zero doubt in my mind that the war was necessary and just. Why don’t you answer a specific question: What exactly should Israel have done after Nasser kicked out the UN peace keeping forces from the Sinai and closed the Tiran straits for Israeli shipping? What would you have done differently than Israel?

June 26th, 2008, 6:41 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
Thank you for proving my point. Was this book read at all in the Arab world?

June 26th, 2008, 6:43 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
As for the issue of international law that you raised, you lost the argument before and you will lose it again. Why? Because you cannot answer the question whether you follow international law in principal or because of pragmatic concerns. The reason you cannot answer is because it is clear that the Arabs have used international law in a pragmatic manner, only when it suits there interests. You cannot bring yourself to admit this truth because then Israel is also allowed to use international law when it suits its interests.

The Arabs have oppresive regimes that ignore completely international law when it comes to dealing with their own people. They dismiss completely the Declaration of Human Rights. The Arabs “discovered” international law when they came to the conclusion that they could not beat Israel by force. You want to use arguments based on international law? No problem, be my guest, but do not expect anyone to take you seriously.

June 26th, 2008, 6:49 pm

 

Nidal said:

AIG,

It’s no use getting in a discussion with you until you read Maoz’s book and, for an arab perspective, Georges Corm’s “Le Proche-Orient Eclaté”, or others. And btw, I am not Syrian nor Egyptian nor Jordanian. I am Lebanese. Even though many arab books are prohibited in the arab world (except Lebanon, which is much more open), they’re not prohibited in Israel. So no excuse for you not to read them.

So, until you read some of them, I’ll spare these useless exchanges for more meaningful ones in the near future.

Cheers.

June 26th, 2008, 6:53 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Does our “friend” below get paid by the “word”, by the “hour” or by the number of posts per day, or by the amount of disruption and diversion he creats? Can someone lure him into a more receptive blog for God’s sake? Can Alex get him a fully paid membership in an on-line vedio club thing to keep him away? What a waste of time!

Can someone tell him that he is always hurting his cause (and wasting the goodwill created by others such as Shi and others), which is Fine by me, but he is also wating our time which is NOT.

June 26th, 2008, 6:55 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

And by the way, Nidal’s answer is a great proof of it. He provides excuses why the Arabs should not have accepted the 47 UN partition resolution. And the reason basically is, that the Arabs do not think it is fair and believe it is against their interests. Thank you very much. When you like UN resolutions you follow them, when you don’t you have the right (but of couse not Israel) to ignore them.

You are making a joke of international law and then use arguments based on it. Hilarious.

June 26th, 2008, 6:55 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

Ah, yes. It was published in Arabic, in Algeria.

June 26th, 2008, 6:59 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Nidal,
Thank you for admitting that most books introspective books are not allowed in the Arab world (except Lebanon).

Well, I could easily say that I will not get into a discussion with you until there is freedom of speech in the Arab world and a true introspective process. I could say that I will not get into a discussion with you until the Arab governments, like the Israeli one open their archives and let researchers look at them and see what really happened. And you know what, I will be fully justified in demanding this.

So let’s agree, peace only when the Arab states become democracies. After all, if you won’t discuss with me until I have read one specific Israeli book among many, why should I discuss with you until the relevant books have been written and widely read in the Arab world?

June 26th, 2008, 7:01 pm

 

ausamaa said:

OK, ring us back when Arab States become Democracies and leave us alone till then.OOOOOOF

June 26th, 2008, 7:03 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
Right, and banned in Egypt. So what is the use of that? It was an introspective Egyptian book banned in Egypt, thus no introspection.
Any other examples you have? How about a book about the six day war?

June 26th, 2008, 7:03 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I see that Nidal has run away from the discussion. What intellectual cowardice. I ask him specific questions which he can’t answer and he runs away. What are you afraid of? Most of the readers of this blog support your position. I am the minority yet you still run away.

June 26th, 2008, 7:13 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

I often tell fellow Israelis that our Occupation of the Palestinians, is like America’s Slavery. It is what corrupted our nation and divided us more than anything else perhaps, much as slavery has done for America in the 1800’s.

Your chivalrous calls for democracy and freedom in the Arab world seem to me almost like you’re a Northerner in 1860, fighting to end slavery in Africa! You care more about other people’s problems, than about your own. I imagine most find that quite odd, don’t you think?

June 26th, 2008, 7:22 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Does our “friend” below get paid by the “word”, by the “hour” or by the number of posts per day, or by the amount of disruption and diversion he creats? Can someone lure him into a more receptive blog for God’s sake? Can Alex get him a fully paid membership in an on-line vedio club thing to keep him away? What a waste of time!

Before I have been sprightly against banning people with an opposite view as the “majority”, but in AIG’s case I have changed my mind about the issue. If a person is completely incapable to discuss about real issues and has only one goal = to provoke people with his endless propaganda, it is time to ban him for “forever”.

Basically AIG’s only message is that Arab country’s must be democratic (at once). Well now when he has repeated that democracy demand 2000 times, isn’t that enough. If you let AIG to continue he will spoil completely this blog’s comment section. Who in hell wants to read those thousands messages written by a Jewish “businessman” with a Klu klux clan members mentality and vision of democracy.

AIG is a blog terrorist, if we let AIG continue we support terrorism. 🙂

June 26th, 2008, 7:27 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Shai, “he” is destroying all you are you are trying to build. Besaider, do us all a favore, try to talk some sense into him.

June 26th, 2008, 7:27 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
Do you want to debate the issues or when you lose do you want to change the subject and debate my motives? This is not the first time you are doing this.

I care very much about Israel’s problems but the fact that there is no democracy in the Arab world creates most of Israel’s problems.

But thank you for bringing up the example of slavery. Let’s say you were a northerener and most people in the the north were for war to abolish slavery, wouldn’t you be the one saying: No, let’s not go to war over this! Why do we need to change them? Peace is more important!

Isn’t that EXACTLY your argument about democracy and oppression in Syria? Isn’t your argument that we should have peace with Syria even though the regime oppresses its people?

June 26th, 2008, 7:29 pm

 

Shai said:

Ausamaa,

I’ve tried… I’ve tried. I can’t understand why he is so stubborn, and so afraid to change his mind, as his own party’s legendary leaders have done (Begin, Sharon, Olmert, and even Netanyahu). I can’t imagine AIG views his attempts as being terribly successful in whatever goals he has set himself here on SC. I’m still puzzled by his real purpose here – having “fun” just doesn’t seem right… that is, unless he’s a true “glutton for punishment”.

June 26th, 2008, 7:36 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
You tried? I haven’t heard one convincing argument from you. All you are pushing is some unfounded belief that things will be good because that is how you want reality to be.

By the way you misunderstand Ausamaa. He wants you to convince me to shut up because otherwise he will think also badly of you. Why is there a connection, ask him. How can one Israeli voicing a different opinion than yours wreck what you are doing?

June 26th, 2008, 7:48 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

I didn’t know this was about “winning” or “losing”. Is that why you’re here? To “win”? How about to “change”, or to “discuss”, or to “bridge”, or to “build”? With no intention of defeating anyone, or surrendering.

I’m soon going to start using Simo’s “amusing” terms. I find it amusing that you’re going on day and night about how the Arabs are using the biggest excuse in the book – Israel – for their ineptitude and lack of freedom, yet you’re now clearly suggesting that, in your own words, “… the fact that there is no democracy in the Arab world creates most of Israel’s problems.”

No, in my example of the Slavery issue, I didn’t share with you another scenario, and that is that we’re getting closer and closer to 1861, and I’m not at all sure the Settlers aren’t already preparing their “Jefferson Davis”. If I’m considered a Northerner (anti-Occupation), and someone comes up to me today and says “Shai, let’s go to war against the Settlers (Southerners) over ending our Occupation…” – how would you, AIG, like me to react? I have a feeling this is one war you’d rather I didn’t fight, right? No, your example is wrong. The right one would be to suggest that if I was England, I shouldn’t have peaceful relations with the United States until they’ve worked out their slavery issues, and made blacks free (like in England in those days). Of course, that’s nonsense. If the world ran according to AIG’s Lux-et-Veritas, the United States would not have peaceful relations with China since the early 70’s, with Saudi Arabia, and with another half of this world that doesn’t have freedom available to its people yet.

During the Cold War, the Unites States had very close relations with the Soviets, exactly because it feared what would happen if they didn’t have them. Israelis, unfortunately, don’t fear enough the status-quo, and war. We need peace, not so that the Shais out there will put daisies in their hair and go hug the first Arab they see, but so that our children and theirs will finally have a chance not to worry about Qassams, and Scuds, and WMDs, and military nuclear programs.

June 26th, 2008, 8:03 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
As ususal you sidestep the issues. Is slavery a good enough reason to go to war or not? Should have the North accepted the South as a new country in order to avoid war? What is your view?

Of course countries make pragmatic decisions. You believe that giving legitimacy to a non-semocratic Syria is in Israel’s interest. But of course it is you who are not listening to the Syrian opposition that are aginst it. Bashmann was very explicit on this. By making peace with Syria now and giving legitimacy to the Asad regime your are giving democracy in Syria ZERO chance, and for that most Syrians will never forgive Israel. You are going to repeat in Syria exactly what happened in Egypt.

Do you really think that with the “peace” you have in mind, peace with dictators and NOT with the people, Israel will not have to worry about “Qassams, and Scuds, and WMDs, and military nuclear programs”? How naive can you be?

And if you think Israel should go to war against the settlers just say so and then we can discuss the pros and cons.

June 26th, 2008, 8:21 pm

 

Zenobia said:

By the way you misunderstand Ausamaa. He wants you to convince me to shut up because otherwise he will think also badly of you. Why is there a connection, ask him. How can one Israeli voicing a different opinion than yours wreck what you are doing?

answer: because YOU (aig) give a bad name to being an Israeli. You are building hatred is what you are doing.

I second Simohurtta’s call for a permanent ban on AIG.

I find his entire ‘contribution’ and supposed discussion utterly in bad faith at this point.

he is completely disingenuous in his apparent interest in engagement on this blog. It has become consistently a tactic with utterly negative aims.

I think it not only disrupts but is at the point of ruining the blog for other people.

I vote for permanent banning. And I think others should express their opinion to Alex or Joshua on this matter because I don’t think Simohurtta and I are in the minority in our opinion. As Simo knows, I too am generally all in favor of allowing disagreement and conflict in dialogue and gave AIG the benefit of the doubt (in terms of his motivations), but I think this has gone too far in terms of quantity of useless and bad faith conversation designed only to lead into a mental brick wall and degrade the entire enterprise of SC.

Lets put a stop to it. His participation is toxic.

June 26th, 2008, 8:39 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

What right do you think you have, to fight the Syrian people’s war for them? YOU, of all people, care so much about their freedom, that you’re willing to remain at war with them, because this they’ll remember fondly and respect? Syria’s internal battles are not ours to fight, they’re theirs. I know some Jews have long noses (and also Arabs, and Indians, and…), but there must be a limit to how far and where we stick it, no? Democracy in Syria, or anywhere else for that matter, is a ridiculous excuse that’s never worked anywhere. Yes, you have to be pragmatic in life. That’s why you make peace with ANY Syria, democratic or not, and let Syrians work out their own problems, and create their own future. I haven’t seen any Syrians here asking to consult with you about democracy in Syria, have you? But I have seen Syrians here telling you to stop pretending you care about them, and instead to go do what’s right, and that is giving back their land.

What kind of ridiculous argument is Egypt? Are you suggesting the Egyptians hate us because we signed a peace treaty with a dictator, and didn’t wait for them to first be truly free? Is this what you think Egyptians feel? Has any Egyptian told you this? And if this notion was even remotely true, why aren’t half the expatriate Syrians visiting here on SC telling us the same? They’re free to say whatever they like, no one’s going to arrest them late at night. Why don’t we hear more than one or two voices saying “Don’t make peace with Syria!!! Not until all Syrians are free!!!” You yourself have said that the Syrian regime is using Israel, and the resistance, and the Golan, as an endless excuse to not installing true reform systems in Syria. So make peace, and help remove that excuse out of their hands. They’ll no longer be able to rule under emergency law, because there will be no more emergency.

By not making peace with Syria, you’re dooming the Syrians to a far worse fate (and also Israelis). How can you possibly see time as running in anyone’s favor here?

June 26th, 2008, 8:40 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

You have a wonderful tendency to believe that you are winning conversations non stop!

Do you ever wonder if, perhaps, at least once in a while, you do not win those conversations?

Simo … we need to know our “enemy”, not silence our enemy …

If we only listen to ourselves and our friends, we turn into … robots

June 26th, 2008, 8:53 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Zenobia,
Don’t be a bigot. How can one Israeli voice make all Israelis look bad? That only happens in minds of racist and bigotted people. And if a person comes to hate all Israelis and Israel just because of what one Israeli says, then that person is not worth talking to anyway.

And as for attributing “bad faith” to me, you are completely wrong. The issue of democracy is pertinent to many of the arguments we are having. Raising it is not bad faith.

June 26th, 2008, 9:01 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
So tell us again why you support a regime in Syria that supresses freedom of speech if you think that may make one a robot?

June 26th, 2008, 9:02 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
Let’s start with Egypt. The main reason the peace is not a real one is because most Egyptians feel it was “forced” on them by a dictator. Furthermore, following this peace, the US was not in a position anymore to press Egypt for democratic reofrms and these never happened.

I would like to see democracy take hold everywhere but especially in the middle east because I believe it is in the interest of Israel. I want democracy in Syria mostly for Israel.

What I see on this blog a lot is people giving Israelis advice on what to read, what to believe, what to do while at the same time showing themselves to be complete failures at implementing such advice in their own countries.

As for calling Syria’s bluff and making peace with it, that is not even possible. The Syrians will most likely always find excuses not to make peace by blaming Israel for not making enough concessions. And if by some chance there is peace, I already explained how Syria will resort back to terrorism if its interests dictate.

June 26th, 2008, 9:11 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

I do not want to ban you, but I do not want to make you ruin the blog, do your full-time propaganda work, or bother most other contributors.

Do me a favor .. try to limit your contribution to my 3.2 comments per day for example… after all I am the moderator of this blog and 3.2 comments per day was more than sufficient for me… enough to act as a moderator (like I am doing now) or as a busy regular commentator like I did earlier today.

It will good for Israel (less negativity from you) .. good for you (less people who can’t tolerate you) and better for your story .. that you are NOT a full time AIPAC employee as everyone here seems to believe but a democracy lover.

Finally … when a “Nidal” stops arguing with you, it may well be because he has a graduate history class to teach, or it may be that he really does not feel like continuing a discussion with you … and NOT because of what you suggested:

“I see that Nidal has run away from the discussion. What intellectual cowardice. I ask him specific questions which he can’t answer and he runs away. What are you afraid of?”

No banning for now … but slow down.

June 26th, 2008, 9:13 pm

 

Zenobia said:

AIG,
don’t you ever ever say that to me again.
what I am saying is that you bring that out in me despite the fact that I am not. I feel angry at you that you are ruining the blog.
And I am sure I am not alone in that.

You are in bad faith. It doesn’t matter how relevant your favorite issues seem to be.
this is my statement, and I am sticking by it.
We’ll see what happens.
The democratic system on this blog might see you to the door.

June 26th, 2008, 9:21 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

I’m starting to wonder what stuff you’re taking… Peace with Egypt isn’t real because Egyptians feel it was “forced” upon them??? No, it’s because Egyptians see how Israelis are treating the Palestinians!

Arabs on this blog are giving “Israelis” advice on what to read? That’s a bad thing? Should we fear reading “their” stuff? The reality is, that in our childhood, we were taught nothing about what we now know. For instance, in what Israeli schoolbook have you ever read about 400 Palestinian towns and villages being erased off the planet, and about hundreds of thousands of Palestinians being forced out of their homes and sent into exile? Nowhere! So yes, maybe it’s good our “enemy” is sending us to read a few things we might have an innate tendency to dismiss… Just as it is good for them to read certain things they were never told, for instance, about Judaism.

The idea is to communicate, to share, to build, and to bridge. It is not to “win”, or to “defeat”. The whole idea is exactly the opposite of that.

June 26th, 2008, 9:21 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG .. I support many things about “the Syrian regime” .. mostly its exceptionally smart regional policy… and the endless cases of generosity towards refugees from all religions and all ethnic backgrounds that ran away from mad wars started by not-very-wise wars started by Syria’s neighbors.

I do not support their suppression of freedom of speech .. just like I don’t support AIPAC’s and CAMERA.org’s attempts to influence or to fight those who dare to criticize Israel.

When was the last time AIPAC and CAMERA supported an anti-Israel opinion piece in some major media outlet? .. when was the last time they allowed an ex-American official to peacefully promote a book that included stories about his occasional bad experience with Israel?

I wrote a thousand times to express my respect for Haaretz and for the way they are free to write what they want in Israel.

But “Israel’s friends” in the United States are ROBOTS… programmed at the factory … can not be reprogrammed apparently.

June 26th, 2008, 9:24 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex, I think I too should aim at 3.2 comments/day… Yalla, good night! Enjoy the rest of the movie… 🙂

Zenobia, don’t despair about Israelis. In Hebrew we have a saying, “ze ma yesh”, which means “that’s what we have.” So, that’s what we have…

June 26th, 2008, 9:27 pm

 

Zenobia said:

I should have said he gives humanity a bad name. That would be more accurate.

June 26th, 2008, 9:33 pm

 

Alex said:

SHai

Your number of comments is ok … but you need to learn how to be polite. Your problem is that you are very rude.

yeah.

Just like Qifa Nabki.

I’m joking of course!

Since no one complained about you, you are welcome to write as much as you want.

Good night.

June 26th, 2008, 9:36 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Zenobia,
How can I bring out what is not there already? If you are forming racist ideas about Israelis because of what I write, then you better examine yourself more carefully.

The way I see it, I am making this blog much more interesting by presenting an alternative point of view. The comment section has become much more lively since I arrived and I wouldn’t be surprised if more people read the blog, but that only Alex can tell us for sure.

June 26th, 2008, 9:40 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
If Arabs giving Israelis advice is not a bad thing then why is Israelis giving Arab advice a bad thing? First you criticize me for giving advice and then you say it is good.

You want to build bridges with oppressive regimes, then please do. I want to build bridges with the people that want a democratic and free Syria and want a real process to get there and not some vague process that starts 7-14 years down the road.

June 26th, 2008, 9:44 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
The reason I need more comments than most, is simply that very few people among the commenters support my view and therefore I am left alone to answer everybody else. Plus, I am usually attacked the most thus necissitating more comments to defend myself.

June 26th, 2008, 9:49 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Why the uproar about AIG’s pro-democracy stand?

The man must be a fan of Natan Sharansky and his “The case For Democracy”. No other than the U.S. President fell in love with the book and made it central to his foreign policy views of the Middle East. Urging his subordinates to also read the book W said:

“”If you want a glimpse of how I think about foreign policy, read Natan Sharansky’s book, The Case for Democracy… For government, particularly — for opinion makers, I would put it on your recommended reading list. It’s short and it’s good. This guy is a heroic figure, as you know. It’s a great book.”

Sadly for AIG, Natan and G.W.Bush, taking a concept from a book down to the streets of Baghdad, Cairo, Riyadh and Damascus turned to be not as easy as writing or reading a book from the comforts of their study rooms.

AIG,

Your pro-democracy calls are fine and dandy. I am sure that you can sleep better at night believing that you have embraced such a noble cause while the rest of us are too ignorant to have discovered the concept. Regrettably, the real world is a little more complicated and nuanced than those dreams of yours have you believe.

In effect, I see no problem with your comments. I just believe that you are wrong and a little naive.

June 26th, 2008, 9:57 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Ehsani,

I agree “taking a concept from a book down to the streets of Baghdad, Cairo, Riyadh and Damascus turned to be not as easy as writing or reading a book from the comforts of their study rooms”.

Of course it is not easy. But you from what I have read so far, have given up completely. I am sure that you understand the concept of democracy and enjoy living under the priciples of democracy in the US. However, once you begin to think of Syria, you undergo a virtual lobotomy. Suddenly democracy is not important or not achievable or even not a worthwhile goal.

And as for being naive, I am well aware that democratization may take decades in the Arab world and have said this often. But it will never happen if you and others don’t do anything to push it along.

June 26th, 2008, 10:03 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

The last sentence of your comment proves to me again that you are too naive.

June 26th, 2008, 10:09 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

Your presence adds value to the discussion here .. sometimes. When you engage is reasonable discussions about topics relevant to you.

Try to stick to 4 or 5 comments per day. No need to win arguments. Simply make your point and let readers decide who “won” without the help of your final judgment… less people will attack you if you don’t try to turn every topic into a hunt for antisemites or an occasion to score points.

You understand what I am trying to say I’m sure.

Stick to 5 comments per day.

June 26th, 2008, 10:13 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Ehsani,
You mean this sentence:
“However, once you begin to think of Syria, you undergo a virtual lobotomy. Suddenly democracy is not important or not achievable or even not a worthwhile goal.”

Why is this naive?

Let me ask you, is there anything you are doing that you think will help democratization in Syria? Or do you believe nothing can help?

June 26th, 2008, 10:15 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

AIG, if you leave then I’ll be the punching bag.

😉

Where is Norman, by the way? And Enlightened? Most peculiar…

June 26th, 2008, 10:51 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Simo … we need to know our “enemy”, not silence our enemy …

If we only listen to ourselves and our friends, we turn into … robots

Indeed Alex it is good to know the “enemy’s way of thinking”, but do not we all know what AIG is thinking? He thinks that Israel is the belly button of the world. The West loves democratic Israel. Israel is a tolerant democracy without problems. Jews are a race, not followers of Judaism. Israel has the best technology. Maccabi plays on Nokia Stadium. Israel is a democracy and Israeli Arabs love that democracy and are rich. Jewish nukes good, Muslim nukes bad etc. Most importantly we have heard that “democracy here just now you stupid Arabs” demand at least one thousand times.

Reading this AIG’s comments factory begins to be equal torture as you would be demanded to listen 48 hours in row George Bush’s speeches.

Of course nobody can argue against the need of democracy in Middle East (including Israel) demand. AIG knows that perfectly well as also the US regime knows. Both use that democracy demand purely for propaganda reasons. Israelis uses this democracy claim to hide that in reality Israel is not democratic or a real democracy. USA, well it is as democratic as China would be with a two communist parties (the little less conservative and the real conservative). Using the word democracy doesn’t make a person a real democrat. Robert Mugabe uses the word democracy almost as often as George Bush. I believe AIG’s democracy lectures when he can explain how in the Jewish State everybody can be equal which is the core principle of democracy.

June 26th, 2008, 11:35 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

USA, well it is as democratic as China would be with a two communist parties (the little less conservative and the real conservative). Using the word democracy doesn’t make a person a real democrat.

Simo, what makes someone a real democrat?

June 26th, 2008, 11:53 pm

 

Nidal said:

Alex,

Thanks for your comment to AIG about me. I was indeed working and did not have time to return to the blog.

And I apologize for not catching the sarcasm you made above (http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=764#comment-177834). Since I am new to this blog, I did not know your stand on this issue. Good sarcasm.

June 27th, 2008, 12:41 am

 

Zenobia said:

Alex,
don’t you get it by now that the man cannot follow your directive. that he cannot control himself and WILL not control himself. He has no intention of keeping his comments to some reasonable amount.

His ideas about democracy are total subterfuge. The tactic going on… is about a certain interaction with people and the blog – not the content of it. Although, as Simo said, the same content is repeated ad nauseum…. over and over in the same and different forms but with the same meaning and intent.
I am sick of it..
it is incredibly boring after a while. And with other people, as much as one might not like certain ideas and comments, it is possible to scroll over them or ignore then. But this person is constantly trying to engage almost every single writer in the most provocative way possible… just as he was doing with me above, seizing on anything they say and twisting it all over the place to provoke them and bait them into talking to him.
He is so successful at this, that everyday, and every thread now is a conversation involving AIG.
This is pathetic.

Just because you fall for it most everyday and every thread yourself Alex…. and try to say that his presence adds value to the discussion doesn’t make this ok. He did add value in the beginning, but now it has all been heard over and over and it is simply obnoxious and boring.

June 27th, 2008, 12:57 am

 

trustquest said:

Ehsani, two important economic subjects went by without comments. The first is the issuing of the new law for foreigners ownership is Syria, law number 11 which was signed this week by the president. http://www.syria-news.com/readnews.php?sy_seq=78666
It is kind of distort correction to the 1952 law regarding this issue. The strange things are the new law deprives the foreigner’s legal succession to their children. The other surprise in the law, that foreigner can only own one property by long legal and approval procedures involve the minister of interior.
My question is that the smart way for attracting investors. The authority in Syria still can not look further than their noses and they do not know how to encourage investment while all over the world foreigners can buy and invest. I have a worry thou about what going to happen to second generation of immigrants children, are they going to loose their ownership for their ancestors inheritance.

The second economic subject was reported by the Syria labor organization in their conference saying that the fund which left the country since the new open market economy started is about 80-120 billion dollars. Report on Syria news.

If this is the case, why the Syrians government looking for investors while they can not accept them, they should make restriction on funds transfer and go back to old days and let us set and wait.
Ehsani, would love to see you comment.

June 27th, 2008, 1:56 am

 

EHSANI2 said:

AIG,

It is not enough to lecture people about the merits and advantages of democracy. Democracy is good and dictatorship is bad is something that even my 6 year old gets. It ia a waste of your time to keep repeating the line over and over.

Where you fail is to articulate the “process” and “path” to that Nirvana. You would earn my respect when you post a full and detailed article that would spell out how the Syrian people can transform their society into a democracy.

We all know that what we have is not democratic. Please tell the 20 million of us what it is that we must do to get there. We need practical and specific steps that apply to the status quo and the Syria of today.

Trustquest,

I have glanced over the laws that you mentioned. I would like to do more than that before I reply to your good question.

June 27th, 2008, 2:07 am

 

norman said:

QN,

I am so happy that you were looking for me .
I do not know where the Enlighted one but probably in the war zone

( Lebanon )

Aig ,

We all want Syria to have politecal reform but not your kind of reform or at the speed that you like we are worry in Syria of forign intervention in the election and that is the reason why Syria want peace in the middleast that will guarantee free election ,

Some of us want representative democracy and some like i want districts and a republic like the US .

Democracy as you should know need a large middle class and Syria is working on that through economic reform .

Democracy needs educated consumers and electorate and Syria is working on that .

So , The bottom line AIG , you want Democracy in Syria then stabilize the Mideast and let Israel have peace with it’s neighbours .

June 27th, 2008, 2:10 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

Simo, what makes someone a real democrat?

Well QN do you ask that question because you do not know what democracy and democrat mean?

Wikipedia says about democracy:
Even though there is no universally accepted definition of ‘democracy’,[3] there are two principles that any definition of democracy is required to have. The first principle is that all members of the society have equal access to power and the second that all members enjoy universally recognised freedoms and liberties.

As said many times before Israel doesn’t fulfil the second (and partly the first) principle of democracy. Sure in Israel the citizens can vote and have political parties. But so can people vote in Zimbabwe. Nobody however describes Zimbabwe as a democracy.

A politician like Bush who is demanding democracy can’t be a real democrat when he demands democracy to countries which “he” doesn’t like, but is approving non-democracy in countries which play by US rules. That in itself is proof enough that USA uses democracy simply as a propaganda tool. Same with AIG when he approves the inbuilt lack of equality in Israel and on the same time is demanding equality (=democracy) elsewhere.

As political system a European style democracy is relative difficult to achieve for underdeveloped countries with no democratic past and structures. It is rather naive to believe that for example Syria could be a democratic country in “a day”, because outsiders like USA and Israel demand it. It is much more realistic to believe that when Syria becomes richer and more educated the internal pressure will make Syria democratic.

Americans say that now Iraq (and Afghanistan) is democratic, because they made it a democracy. Well sadly Iraqis seem to miss their former dictatorship and hate the “democracy deliverer”. Democracy can be build only in a relative stable society and the local people must understand and support that democracy demand. South Africa managed to jump to democracy, but not because US demanded it.

—–

Trustquest for example Finland had strict restrictions with foreign ownership of companies until long in the 80’s. Foreigners could buy Finnish land only when Finland joined EU.

Most less developed countries have restrictions with foreign ownership, which is mostly wise, because otherwise the consequences could be rather dramatic and unhealthy for the country. A wast US agriculture company could now easily buy most Syrian agriculture lands with relative small investments. When Syria is developed and the land price level would be in line with “western” land values selling would be “realistic”.

Full free trade and free ownership for foreigners is “luxury” possible only for developed countries. Underdeveloped countries have to open their markets slowly.

June 27th, 2008, 11:57 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Well QN do you ask that question because you do not know what democracy and democrat mean?

No, Simo, I ask that question because you said:

USA, well it is as democratic as China would be with a two communist parties (the little less conservative and the real conservative). Using the word democracy doesn’t make a person a real democrat. Robert Mugabe uses the word democracy almost as often as George Bush.

In other words, you are implying that the United States is not a democracy.

I find this to be an overblown statement that is out of touch with reality.

It is true that the U.S. uses the concept of democracy in a propogandistic way vis-a-vis other countries. However, this has little to do with its OWN system of government, which is unquestionably democratic, in my opinion, despite the abuses and occasional failings of the system.

June 27th, 2008, 12:19 pm

 

wizart said:

Excellent insight, Simohurtta.

Thanks for your dedication to helping the region 🙂

You bring much needed intellectual integrity in the face of hypnotizing sound-bites, hypocrites and media savvy propagandists.

June 27th, 2008, 12:24 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sim,
You are of course wrong about democracy in Israel as can be attested by many objective organizations that rank democracies, but let’s make it simple then, if Israel and the US demand that Arabs in Syria have as much rights as Arabs with Israeli citizenship, will that be ok? Is that propoganda?

June 27th, 2008, 2:06 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Norman,
You worry that without peace there will be foreign intervention in Syrian elections. What does this have to do with Israel? Will peace with Israel make the Saudis more or less likely to support certain parties in Syria? In my opinion peace will make it easier for the Saudis to support certain Syrian parties because after peace Syria will not be in a position to agitate the Arab street and call the Saudis Zionist collaborators. So you see, peace will only make your problem worse.

June 27th, 2008, 2:10 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Ehsani,
I do not know enough about Syrian society in order to spell out a realistic plan that will bring democracy to Syria. That is why one of the things I am arguing would be helpful is for there to be real data about Syria collected by objective people. That is why more open reporting from Syria is sorely needed.

But even if I did, isn’t it really your responsibility, as a Syrian, to come up with a realistic plan, not mine? It seems that you have given up on this possibility, that you think such a plan is not possible. Am I right?

June 27th, 2008, 2:16 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

You want data in order to spell out your plan?

This is the most absurd thing I have ever heard. Did you think this is an IBM balance sheet you are analyzing?

If you don’t know enough about Syrian society to spell out a realistic plan, then I suggest that you get educated on the subject at hand before you come back.

When did I ever say that I believed it was possible before I gave up on it?

June 27th, 2008, 2:52 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Ehsani,
“When did I ever say that I believed it was possible before I gave up on it?”

I didn’t imply you said that. I was asking whether you thought it was impossible to put together such a plan and therefore, since you think it is impossible, you are not trying to put such a plan in place.

Regarding the data, no we are not analyzing an IBM data sheet. But there are basic things I couldn’t find reliable data on:
1) How big is the Syrian middle class and is it growing or shrinking?
2) What are the real skills of workers in the Syrian workforce?
3) Would Syrians mostly vote along sectarian lines only or not?
4) Would a committee for reconciliation like in South Africa have a chance of working in Syria?
5) and the list could go on for quite a few pages

There is a catch 22 that I am well aware of, that in order to get this data you need some miminum of openess in the society that is not there yet. But maybe, agreeing to get the information is a first step in the democratization path.

June 27th, 2008, 3:15 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

AIG,

I suggest that you stop writing.

“Would a committee for reconciliation like in South Africa have a chance of working in Syria?”

You are making a fool out of yourself now. Forgive me but I cannot put it any kinder.

After this exchange, I am now certain that you don’t know what you talking about.

June 27th, 2008, 3:22 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Ehsani,
You are being just to literal. You can phrase the question as “what conditions are necessary so that a reconciliation committee has a chance of working”?

But why don’t you tell us what you really think and be clear about it? Do you think there is any possibility of putting forward a realistic plan for democracy in Syria?

I would love to learn as much as I can about Syrian society and its economy. Which books would you recommend, or is the only solution to go live there?

June 27th, 2008, 4:20 pm

 

trustquest said:

Sim: thank you for your explanations but let me tell you that the new call for market economy by Syrians regimes and the calling for investors to invest do not go well with laws like the one I mentioned. You, or may be me, does not like to see the world getting under the laws of US interest its corporation (who are only looking for cheep labor under the current free world competitive market) but they already won the cold war and even the old protectionists like China, now are not afraid from selling everything and anything and the whole world trying to find a rule in this economy. In the end in my opinion the regimes like Syrians, they are only protecting themselves passing these law.
I mentioned this law not to expose them but to point to a very important point regarding the Syrian populace. There are 17 millions Syrians immigrants roaming the world according to Expats Ministry. Most of them in the next generation or third generation they will be foreigners and they will loose there property. I’m not sure if such law is issues just to gain political status and steel those people.

Sim: on democracy in Syria, there are common misconceptions here regarding this issue. Most Syrians intellectuals are aware that we do not need democracy the way you have defined it. Most of them are calling for the phase before that, they are calling for the lifting emergency law, they want to remove the duct tape from their mouths placed on intellectuals, writers, ordinary citizens for the last 60 years. It is enough suffering for them who are now dying either in prison, Diaspora or less than humans in their own country. We wish for the Syrian people to come close to Zimbabwe who at least let the oppositions run for office.

June 27th, 2008, 5:38 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

No, Simo, I ask that question because you said:

USA, well it is as democratic as China would be with a two communist parties (the little less conservative and the real conservative). Using the word democracy doesn’t make a person a real democrat. Robert Mugabe uses the word democracy almost as often as George Bush.

In other words, you are implying that the United States is not a democracy

Well QN compare the US Democratic and Republican party. On European political map they would be both right-wing conservative parties. US political system has for example never allowed a workers party to achieve wind under their wings. USA is because its political system in reality a two party system. And these two parties represent more the elite of the country than big portions of the country. That is why in USA the workers rights compared to Europe are mildly said laughable. Not to mention the social security.

An other reason why US is more a republic than democracy is the voter registration system performed by the parties. As we all know that allows in USA an astonishing amount of manipulation. Also some states block from voting wast amounts of people (people with criminal record). In Finland all voting aged are automatic registered as voters (minus those convicted for treason = I suppose now zero). We have also over ten parties representing the political scale form right to left.

QN what if the Syrian elite would form Baath party A (democrats) and Baath party B (republicans) and would put as candidates a party A millionaire and party B millionaire and the system would have US rules in elections. Would you call the outcome a real democracy? I would not.

The US system, winner takes all, has advantages. It makes the ruling relative easy compared to European democracy model (or even Israel’s Jewish “religiosy”).

With these arguments I stay behind my claim that USA is a PepsiCola / Coca Cola democracy, where the options are extremely limited.

June 27th, 2008, 9:05 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

You, or may be me, does not like to see the world getting under the laws of US interest its corporation (who are only looking for cheep labor under the current free world competitive market) but they already won the cold war and even the old protectionists like China, now are not afraid from selling everything and anything and the whole world trying to find a rule in this economy.

Trustquest trust me, USA (and Europe) will take an U-turn in the next decade when Oil producers and China buy their crown jewellery. We are now seeing an unseen shift in the financial power in the world. If the US and European government will allow free trade to “down to the bitter end” we westerns will all work for Chine, Arab, Russian, Brazilian owned companies in buildings owned by them. It is certain that western countries will / have to begin to protect their assets, the era of free economy is nearing its end.

Oil producers have every day worsening wast dilemma. They need to invest billions daily and only a part can be used in their own countries and the region. They can A) by obsolete US weapons, which Israel doesn’t like or B) buy western assets.Arab funds already have huge parts of the core of the western economy, the major banking institutions, and when US economy sinks more in troubles these banks have to get new capital (=investors). From where come these investors, well from oil producer funds and Chinese funds. Arabs will be modern days Rothschilds (=Jews).

June 27th, 2008, 9:36 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Simo

I disagree with your assessment.

Well QN compare the US Democratic and Republican party. On European political map they would be both right-wing conservative parties.

This may be true, but it is not an indictment of the democratic system. Plus, you are assuming that “democracy” is limited to the upper echelons of federal politics. What about state and city-level politics? Communities? School-boards? There are abuses of the system everywhere, but it is a democratic system by and large: citizens elect their representatives. Money surely plays a major role, but there are plenty of politicians who came from non-elite backgrounds, I guarantee it. Barack Obama is just the latest example.

US political system has for example never allowed a workers party to achieve wind under their wings.

Simo, for decades the Democratic party was the workers’ party. Many factors — historical and economic — have worked to transform the identity of the left in America. Again, this is not really a trenchant indictment of the system. I do believe, however, that reforms are necessary to facilitate third party politics.

That is why in USA the workers rights compared to Europe are mildly said laughable. Not to mention the social security.

For every argument about laughable workers’ rights in the U.S., there is another argument to be made about “laughable” unemployment rates in Europe.

An other reason why US is more a republic than democracy is the voter registration system performed by the parties.

Simo, America IS a republic. It’s not “more a republic than democracy.”

QN what if the Syrian elite would form Baath party A (democrats) and Baath party B (republicans) and would put as candidates a party A millionaire and party B millionaire and the system would have US rules in elections. Would you call the outcome a real democracy? I would not.

First you said that the U.S. cannot really be distinguished from China; now you’re saying that it can’t really be distinguished from Syria. Simo, if all it takes to become a ‘fake’ democracy like the United States is two versions of what you already have (Chinese Communist Party, Syrian Baath Party, etc.) then why don’t we see more countries doing it?

I think that you’re taking things too far.

June 27th, 2008, 10:32 pm

 

trustquest said:

Sim, we wants to live this moment, not the future which been promised with since the creation of our country. We fid up with promises and we need to be realistic not dreamers.
I think you are not only generalizing but also forgetting that the Arabs you mentioned in your respond are not the Arabs who care about their own nationals and they are the Arabs who looks down on their own people. Our future does not lie in those people, our future lie in the civil society who is currently under attack from the people you are defending. The recent rise of some Gulf countries that finally started investing in their region is just anomaly. The rest of the countries and specially those big mouths who have been calling for national Arabism, and who robbed their own countries are investing their monies in the west. Just imagine that in Syria in 2005, one person, not entrepreneurs not industrialist, just a brother of the president (one of thieves who count in the tens) died leaving to his family 5 billions dollars, 250 kg gold and 900 houses. This is when the budget of the country was around 18 billions dollars. So, please tell me who are you defending?. Do you think those Arabs you mentioned will be the modern days Rothschilds. For give me for this, but sometimes I wish those people you defend have the same protectiveness of Jews to their own people.

June 28th, 2008, 2:36 am

 

Enlightened said:

QN: and Norman

I am still here, been a little bit busy with work, and renovating a house we bought three weeks ago, just read the entire sections of comments.

Be back next week ( ps Norman) I am in Australia (still) Lebanon can wait for the return of its prodigal son (me) when it sorts out all its problems! (LOL)

June 28th, 2008, 2:42 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

That is why in USA the workers rights compared to Europe are mildly said laughable. Not to mention the social security.

For every argument about laughable workers’ rights in the U.S., there is another argument to be made about “laughable” unemployment rates in Europe.

Well QN the unemployment ratios in Europe and USA are calculated using different criteria. Now for example now there is no big difference between US and European unemployment ratios. Next year when the regression really begins to take effect in US economy we can discuss again about unemployment ratios. Also it is a very stupid argument to say that workers rights produce unemployment, which you de facto said. One could say that a slave society is the best with a 100 % employment ratio.

One of the main goals of a descent society is to offer all members certain rights. Such as workers rights, social security and free education. In these important sectors the European democracy model has much to show. USA very little.

An other reason why US is more a republic than democracy is the voter registration system performed by the parties.

Simo, America IS a republic. It’s not “more a republic than democracy.”

QN republic and democracy are not synonyms. North Korea is a republic. Syria is a republic.

—-

Our future does not lie in those people, our future lie in the civil society who is currently under attack from the people you are defending. The recent rise of some Gulf countries that finally started investing in their region is just anomaly. The rest of the countries and specially those big mouths who have been calling for national Arabism, and who robbed their own countries are investing their monies in the west.

I am not defending anybody Trustquest. It is rather stupid to say like that. How on earth am I defending somebody when I say that oil producers get richer with these oil prices. How the wealth is dived inside the country (and the region) is a different issue of which I did not write much. Though as we can in the Gulf countries when the general education and wealth level increases there are some signs of more democracy (= the internal pressure for more right grows).

Is this your 5 billion story really true or do you mix the facts with Hariri family? I doubt that your 5 billion story. On the other hand you can ask how Rotschidls (Jews) or Rockefellers (non Jews) made their fortunes and how generously they divided that wealth to “their” people. Or did they – divide the wealth. What about the Russian Jewish oligarchs? Did they “work” for themselves or for their Nation (as AIG says)?

Tustquest naturally I would like all Arab countries to become democratic on July the first 2008. However watching the Iraq and Afghanistan disasters I seriously doubt that a US democracy importing method is working. So what is likely to happen, will Trustquest make a revolution? I as realist (I think) suppose that a gradual shift toward a more democratic governing style is more realistic scenario than a sudden popular uprising in Arab countries.

Trustquest who arms and trains (and in some cases also finances) the loyal Arab regimes police and military? The same guys who trained the Asian and Latin American dictators’ and lets not forget the Shah’s secret police? Well democracy – what a nice word, but so difficult to achieve in reality.

June 28th, 2008, 7:04 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Hi Simo

Well QN the unemployment ratios in Europe and USA are calculated using different criteria. Now for example now there is no big difference between US and European unemployment ratios. Next year when the regression really begins to take effect in US economy we can discuss again about unemployment ratios.

Ok, we’ll return to it then. 🙂 However, if we look at the data, on average most European countries have had unemployment rates that are roughly double the U.S. rate.

Also it is a very stupid argument to say that workers rights produce unemployment, which you de facto said.

I actually didn’t say that, de facto or not. My point is that we are dealing with two different economic outlooks and sets of priorities. You are suggesting that the United States is a glorified dictatorship (like China or Syria) on the basis of workers’ rights. Respectfully, I find that completely overblown.

Furthermore, your argument about both American parties being the equivalent of “right-wing”… have you ever considered the possibility that the U.S. population is on the whole more right-wing than European ones? Americans are more conservative in general, Simo, not because their political parties tell them to be! 🙂

One of the main goals of a descent society is to offer all members certain rights. Such as workers rights, social security and free education. In these important sectors the European democracy model has much to show. USA very little.

Americans have social security and free education. Many American secondary schools may be suffering, but 95% of economists agree that this is due to the stranglehold of the teachers’ unions, who refuse to allow payment to be tied to performance. American universities, on the other hand, are among the best in the world.

But what does this have to do with whether America is a democracy or not? Americans vote their representatives into office and hold them accountable. If they fail to live up to their brief, they are tossed out. If they are caught in their briefs (!) they are tossed out.

QN republic and democracy are not synonyms. North Korea is a republic. Syria is a republic.

Simo, so is the U.S. Here’s the beginning of the Pledge of Allegiance: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the REPUBLIC for which it stands…”

So it is formally a republic, not a purported democracy that is actually more like a republic.

My single overriding point is that it is disingenuous and false to compare the U.S. to Syria and China. You may not like its foreign policy, its priorities when it comes to social programs, and its record on education, environmental policy, etc. But this has nothing to do with whether or not the U.S. is a democracy.

… in my humble opinion. Anyone else care to weigh in?

June 28th, 2008, 12:02 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Simo, have you ever been to the US ? How, where do you form your opinion and veiled claims of righteous erudition ?

June 28th, 2008, 12:27 pm

 

wizart said:

There’s plenty of evidence that America today is behaving in very undemocratic and highly authoritarian ways on the world stage.. Elected politicians are only able to do so by advocating lies.

Naomy Chomsky convincingly argues how America is becoming an increasingly undemocratic place where the elite abuse their power, not unlike many third world countries.

Simo’s point is very well taken and not only in my opinion.

Thom Jefferson would be depressed by the state of American democracy today. It’s big on rhetoric and short on execution.

The American public would never have supported invading Iraq nor would they support invading Iran if they knew the truth and nothing but the truth. Unfortunately, they’re being manipulated and lied too. Real education includes the right to know the truth so perhaps Americans today get what they pay for with the “free” education part which produce the voting majority who now tow the media line which is in the pocket of governing elites and lobbies.

Internal lies produce oil, housing and credit crisis, etc. Foreign oriented lies produce giant military budgets and persistent wars.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVGZSH3X45s&NR=1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6zDb7jx4gw&feature=user

June 28th, 2008, 3:09 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wizart,
Arguing that the American public are stupid is not going to make you very popular or right.

Americans have much more access to information than Syrians for example. And there are so many alternative media options nowadays so the excuse that Americans do not have options is just not true.

June 28th, 2008, 3:50 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Ok, we’ll return to it then. 🙂 However, if we look at the data, on average most European countries have had unemployment rates that are roughly double the U.S. rate.

QN as I said that unemployed people are “put in statistics” in USA and Europe differently. If you do not understand the situation what can I do?

But what does this have to do with whether America is a democracy or not? Americans vote their representatives into office and hold them accountable. If they fail to live up to their brief, they are tossed out. If they are caught in their briefs (!) they are tossed out.

Like Bush and hence men with the Iraq lies and an incredible amount of wasted taxpayers dollars (or better said Chinese dollars = money borrowed from China -> state debt = future taxes)? 🙂 🙂

That will be the day when Bush is held accountable for the crimes done around the Iraq adventure. And the amount of crimes done by the domestic and international laws is astonishing. The day when Bush and his hence men have to pay for this I begin to call USA a real democracy.

QN my point is that a two party system where both parties have almost the same program doesn’t give people much options. Would the Baath party A and Baath party B system change much Syria? I doubt that.

When we look at the power right of US president, they resemble nowadays those of an autocrat. Can any other president or PM in democracies declare war so easily as Bush now could? If we watch the rapid decline with US civil rights and the enormously grown influence of different “mukhabarats” in US it is fair to say that USA has moved closer to China’s and Syria’s situation. When USA has taken big steps in the wrong direction, China and Syria have taken modest little steps in the right direction.

We could QN also speak about the voting registration problems, vote counting problems using those computer vulnerable systems, world record amount (also proportionally) of population in prisons etc.

QN I do not claim that USA despite of the extremely unhealthy power rights of the president and the two (almost same) party system is a dictatorship. I would describe USA as a democracy with serious problems with its democracy.

QN you begin to sound like AIG. He thinks that Israel is a perfect democracy, you that USA is an example democracy. Hmmm

June 28th, 2008, 4:39 pm

 

wizart said:

AIG,

Doing public good doesn’t mean striving to be popular in your eyes. I’m angry at the media and political abuse in America and I’m here to expose the public abuse which you seem to cheer for.

Telling lies through access to mass media and educational institutions is a violation of the tenents of democracy that the American public deserve. Our human rights are massively violated when elected officials don’t trust us in knowing the real truth.

Having options is not enough when public attention is diverted and bombarded with half-truths by well capitalized organizations whose narrow agendas don’t necessarly serve the American public. That doesn’t mean people are stupid. It means they’re overpowered by assymetric access to valuable information that politicians hoard.

As I stated or implied many times before I’ve rarely trusted your intentions or found much reliable arguments behind your comments. Shaming those participants who dare to expose abusive policies in Israel or the US is not going to make you popular nor right anywhere except perhaps in your self-proclaimed democratic nation.

June 28th, 2008, 5:19 pm

 

Zenobia said:

Actually, I will weigh in that I think QN is talking like someone who has not seen very much of the United States except the high school library and the tiny intellectual world he occupies.

I am not going to stand behind a comparison that equates China’s government to the US.

but point for point about education, economics, media, and political power, Simohurtta is not far off. And I think QN should stick to lecturing us about Lebanon, a place he knows about through and through.

examples: the US official unemployment rate does not in any respect accurately calculate the number of unemployed and underemployed – it only captures those who are collecting unemployment for a limited period and those who are on record as looking for work.

two: you say Americans have social security and free education and the best universities in the world.
answer: the social security is pathetic and something no-one could live on decently. no middle class or above people live on it for certain, you have to work your ass off and save all your life to in order to make it to the end.
PUblic education completely sucks. Far behind other industrialized countries.
And those excellent Universities are serving the cream of the crop. While slews of things that call themselves “University” and “College” on every street corner practically offer a pretty lame excuse for college education. Or I should say- they do not make an educated public.

three, you say: Furthermore, your argument about both American parties being the equivalent of “right-wing”… have you ever considered the possibility that the U.S. population is on the whole more right-wing than European ones? Americans are more conservative in general, Simo, not because their political parties tell them to be!

I have to respectfully totally disagree. This is absolute nonsense. American’s may talk the conservative talk yes… but the voices do not reflect the majority. the mainstream media is dominated with the conservative rhetoric and framing of debate, but I truly think this is not reflective of the diversity of views.
I believe that the conservative decisions that people often vote for are a reflection of extremely effective propaganda that sways voters. However, are people conservative in their daily lives????? No, they act like out of control children. It is a totally infantile culture built on consuming junk (food, entertainment, shop, drink and drug, run your credit card up_) nothing conservative about that.

The two party system is a sham. Simo’s point is correct – this is result of total consolidation of power by competing sets of elites. You are correct QN that the democratic party was for a time – the people’s party, the worker party if you will, but FDR made it so for a short period of time during a depression. That was it. and he did so precisely to squash the possibility that a truly left movement – like communists or socialists (today , now practically taboo slur words) would be killed off forever. He was interested in saving Capital from decimation by a depression.
From this point on (with maybe a tiny respite in the late sixties and early seventies), all we got is capitalist parties down the line… and the supremacy of corporate power.

QN, I think you live here but you have not seen through the veneer enough. No, it is not china, or russia. But what has happened of late with the power of the executive and the criminal behavior.., yes, shows a very troubled democracy.

June 28th, 2008, 5:41 pm

 

trustquest said:

Dear Sim, I have no objection on any of your comments when you respond to others and play the role of defender of small states against strong ones, or third world against the imperial act of the US. But, this is does not apply to our discussion. your position which makes the world consists of bad imperials with their allies and good small states fighting for their rights does not apply to the people who are already under oppression from their governing thieves. You did not believe my example, this is the link on the Syrian government Site regarding one theft: http://www.syria-news.com/readnews.php?sy_seq=7038
And as you see it is true and you should know that on the guy who trumpet these facts was Dr. Dallila, who is Alawite and a professor in UN of Latakia, is still in prison serving ten years for what he said in 2002 that 10 people from the regime have 100 billion dollars in western banks. This is in 20002 when all Syrian state budget was around 5 billion dollars. I feel that I owe this country even after immigrating to expose those who allege defending it while their acts are thief ting and silencing people. It is not only what they say, it is what they do which matter to people.
Many times it looks to me that you are buying their claims of nationalism while they are robbing the country and derail its improvements. I think Syria status on oppression scale way worse than Zimbabwi and people should work to make the regime to recognize their rights of “speaking”, that all what I’m asking for while your are defending those oppressors who carry out atrocities, imprisoning freedom loving people and preventing intellectual from “speaking”. You think that democracy will come naturally and no need for effort on part of the people to bring it about. Here where I do strongly differ with you.
And I did not say that I want to have democracy tomorrow, I’m asking to stand behind those people who are fighting to have their rights to speak is this too much to ask. The wrong act of US in Iraq does not make the right of the people for getting rid of oppression is invalid, contrary it makes it stronger.

Sim, knowing the devil is not enough, how and what you should do about it what is matters. South Americans countries passed the period of knowing and they are getting wiser not listing to dictators promising them victory they can not do. People start to get empowered and deal with their economic and social problems more intelligently and they knew not to rely on dictators to achieve their goals but rather on the collective work of intellectuals of the civil societies.

What hurts me the most, is that in Syria we passed the first train when large corporation started going global and reaching for cheap labor around the world, only smart countries like China and India took this advantage. Now stupid regimes like the one in Syria are going to pass the second train which created by the high rise cost of energy, moving big corporation production and processing to the areas close to energy production to keep it profitable, because the laws at work is the capitalist laws.

I heard about imperialism as the last stage in capitalism and all those predictions, but I’m not going to buy this untill the change really started which I think a long long time from now.

June 28th, 2008, 6:14 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Hi Simo

QN I do not claim that USA despite of the extremely unhealthy power rights of the president and the two (almost same) party system is a dictatorship. I would describe USA as a democracy with serious problems with its democracy.

This sounds significantly different from your original statements, which made America’s system of government more or less equivalent to China’s, Syria’s, and Zimbabwe’s. I find the quote above more reasonable. Your criticisms of Bush are valid, in my opinion. But they are not a justification of your earlier insinuations, if I understood them correctly. You mention just some of the many problems that the U.S. has (which are accurate) … but anyone could marshal lots of similar examples in other countries, in Europe. Does this mean that they are not democracies?

Simo, just because Finland is a democratic paradise that comes first in every ranking, doesn’t mean that anything that comes short of Finnish standards may as well be Mugabe-land! 🙂

Zenobia,

Actually, I will weigh in that I think QN is talking like someone who has not seen very much of the United States except the high school library and the tiny intellectual world he occupies.

This is quite offensive. How do you know what proportion of the United States I have seen, Zenobia? I think you need to breathe deeply before you hit “Submit Comment” next time… no need for such statements, especially if you agree completely with my basic point: “I am not going to stand behind a comparison that equates China’s government to the US.”

To pick up on a few of your points:

Public education completely sucks. Far behind other industrialized countries.

Why is this, Zenobia? Is it because the U.S. is not democratic enough? Is it because we don’t spend enough money on education? The U.S. spends more money (per capita!) on education than any other country in the world, but it lags behind most of the G8 in academic performance. Can you explain this, and link it to the democracy/non-democracy argument?

And those excellent Universities are serving the cream of the crop. While slews of things that call themselves “University” and “College” on every street corner practically offer a pretty lame excuse for college education. Or I should say- they do not make an educated public.

Wow, who is the elitist now? The excellent universities that I was referring to are not in the Ivy League. I’m talking about University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin, University of Oklahoma, University of North Carolina, Ohio State, USC, Wash U, UT Austin, etc. All of which are excellent schools that educate much more than the cream of the crop. Hundreds of thousands of people come to America every single year from abroad so that they can get a college education… not at Harvard and Princeton and Yale, but at NYU, SUNY, BU, BYU, Bama, etc. And, if you are one of the millions of kids who goes to your excellent state school, tuition is very cheap, and financial aid is highly accessible.

Next, on the issue of American conservatism, you say:

I believe that the conservative decisions that people often vote for are a reflection of extremely effective propaganda that sways voters.

Zenobia, can you imagine if George W. Bush divorced his wife after taking office and married a singer/supermodel who posed nude, and who released albums with songs about all the hard drugs she did and all the men she slept with?

Would that fly, in today’s America? I don’t think so. There was a national uproar over a wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl. How do you think Americans would react to a First Lady Bruni?

QN, I think you live here but you have not seen through the veneer enough. No, it is not china, or russia. But what has happened of late with the power of the executive and the criminal behavior.., yes, shows a very troubled democracy.

You have said two important things: (1) It is not China or Russia; this was what Simo was saying it was, more or less, and what I was arguing against. (2) what has happened OF LATE with the power of the executive… this is the key point. Bush carried out, after 9/11, a huge usurpation of power. Neither of you have even mentioned the most egregious example, in my opinion: the death of habeas corpus (only recently resuscitated)!

But this is a recent development, and we already see a backlash against Bush and all of the damage that he did. I don’t think that he will be thrown in prison (as Simo, quite rightly, would like), but I don’t discount the possibility that many of his top people in the administration (lawyers and other elected officials) will be prosecuted in the future, for war crimes, crimes against humanity, etc.

But by now we’re probably beating a dead horse.

June 28th, 2008, 7:22 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wizart,
If you think some media is lying, then create your own media. What is the problem? Your claim that CNN and ABC and (another 100 outlets) are colloaborating together to skew the news is just not believable.

As for universites, is UC Berkeley “lying” to its students? If the US universities are in the business of lying, why do so many foreigners come to the US to study in its universities and colleges?

There are two ways to play the democracy game. One way is when you lose an election or in the field of public opinion you say: I will try harder next time or I will keep going till I convince people.

The other way, which you seem to choose, is to accuse the other side of cheating and the media of being biased.

June 28th, 2008, 7:54 pm

 

Shai said:

Zenobia,

I’m sorry… elitist or not, there’s a reason QN is apparently an Ivy League/High school student…

I know who I’d vote for President (if I was American), after Obama. QN, I hope you don’t have a Muslim-sounding middle name… that could apparently be problematic… 🙂

June 28th, 2008, 7:58 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Zenobia,
You say:
“However, are people conservative in their daily lives????? No, they act like out of control children. It is a totally infantile culture built on consuming junk (food, entertainment, shop, drink and drug, run your credit card up_) nothing conservative about that.”

From where does this scorn and disrespect for the average American come from? How is it that America has achieved some much relative to other countries if Americans act like little children?

Yours is a clearly elitist attitude. You somehow claim to know better than the American what is good for him.

June 28th, 2008, 8:00 pm

 

wizart said:

AIG,

You give Israel a bad name when you claim to know more about America and more about Syria than both Americans and Syrians alike.

Israel doesn’t need your help to look worse than it already does when it continues to sabatage America’s foreign policy towards the middle east. People like you are part of the problem because they use every opportunity they get to shift the blame away from Israel.

You come across like a thought supervisor trying to ensure every discussion is tilted to support Israel’s disgraceful occupation policy, to justify its constant resource theft and to perpetuate the exploitation of America’s friendship at the expense of American and world public at large. We heard you loud and clear.

I agree with Zenobia’s recent assessment and I lived there some 20 years. There are about 4000 colleges and universities in the US. The handful we hear about don’t reflect overall conditions.

Sure brand name universities do a great job marketing their products overseas and many of them deserve their reputation.

Meanwhile millions of people around the world still smoke Marlboro, drink Pepsi and Budweiser. That doesn’t mean these are the best choices. America does a good job marketing services like education but it does a poor job promoting peace, democracy and healthcare. Record number of Americans now suffer from incredible fat and diabities problems thanks in part to bad lifestyle choices and materialism not to mention record number of bankruptcies, etc.

Sure you care more about destroing Iraq and Iran for their oil as if people all over the world are a bunch of clueless idiots.

June 28th, 2008, 9:30 pm

 

Zenobia said:

AIG,
DON’T TALK TO ME. I DO NOT WANT TO TALK TO YOU, SO DON’T TALK TO ME.

Qn,
I stand by what I said. And I didn’t say you were elitest so I am not sure why you are acting like that is what i meant. I felt that from the way you responded to Simo’s points (not the one that america is not a democracy – which I would also disagree with…but the point by points) that you have a superficial appraisal of the United States. I still stand by my point that we appear much more educated than we are. The people who are educated may be more so than the average somewhere else or even in Europe, but the average person is not very educated at all. And there are a lot of people that look like they went to college, but they went to these things calling themselves college or even University, but they have extremely poor liberal arts and social, cultural programs that give adequate analysis of our country.
I am talking about in the large suburban swaths of the US.

Public education completely sucks. Far behind other industrialized countries.

And you then said:

Why is this, Zenobia? Is it because the U.S. is not democratic enough? Is it because we don’t spend enough money on education? The U.S. spends more money (per capita!) on education than any other country in the world, but it lags behind most of the G8 in academic performance. Can you explain this, and link it to the democracy/non-democracy argument?

my answer: yes it is because we are not ‘democratic’ enough in some sense. Meaning the supreme court in case after case, although striking down the separate but equal notion that allowed for segregated education, still they would not argue (or in essence define the law) that there must be parity of funding in public education. They would not go so far as to guarantee education as a civil right using the equal protection clause -as they have with many other things. Therefore, the result is that there can be vast discrepancies of funding between schools in different geographic and socio-economic areas.
It may be… that the USA spends more per capita on education than anywhere in the world, but this says nothing about the distribution of the money that is spent. If one school spend 20,000 dollars a year on their students and another spends 2,000, how exactly is that democratic??

Of course, in this last description, I am implying that true democracy requires a distribution of resource with some regard to equality, especially when we are talking about public resources.
I think Simo was pointing something like that out- that there is a lot of wealth in the USA, but it is very concentrated, and this is in essence a concentration of power. In turn, one can argue that distribution of power is a function of how democratic a country is.

Also, I agreed that the public discourse of conservativism and so called morality etc, is dominant, (although comparing it to France- is a bit unfair) but what I was saying is that there is some dissonance between the appearance of conservatism and what people actually do in there homes and in their lives. They are hypocrites basically.

The republicans shifted the left that there was to the center for a long time now so that the quoted Liberal is not even liberal. Simo is correct that what passes for a liberal in the USA would be conservative in Europe. But what I think shifted was not peoples actual domestic behaviors or what they allow in the culture, but that the conservative movement and the religious right- dominated the cultural framing of so many issues and literally have created a climate in which people are painting pictures of morality and restriction even when they don’t abide by it.
Case example – the Jerry Falwells or the New York bureaucrat who had to resign because of the outing of the upscale call girl he was frequenting (even using some public funds). Rush Limbaugh doing his social rampage and then being outed as a narcotic junkie. Stupid stuff like that.
I guess all this depends on what we mean by conservative and whether we are talking about social or fiscal conservatism. But I just think there is incredible contradictions going on in the States and that people give a lot of lip service to morality, while being completely out of control in so many ways.

anyhow, this is all way beyond the initial subject. I wasn’t agreeing that America is not a democracy, but I do think that there is a bigger and bigger gap between how people often vote and how they actually live their lives..in terms of conservatism. And the way that the two parties’ candidates present themselves always has to pander to the right, even though I don’t think people really live up to their apparent conservative talk. It is lame.

People are not that moral when it comes to letting our soldiers get killed in a sham war, but they can get all upset about whether a candidate wears a flag pin. And the establishment owned media foments this crap making it appear relevant.

I didn’t intend to be offensive to you, but I was very surprised to hear you respond to Simo’s characterizations the way you did. It seems like the account of someone who doesn’t have a very deep understanding of the United States and who has only seen one layer of it. Thats my opinion, no matter how brilliant you may be in your analysis of the middle east or of other things.

Simo was being hyperbolic, but you swayed way over the other side without seeing the aspects of his view that are unfortunately true.
As for the initial point, yeah, of course the USA is democracy, but so are a lot of places that function nothing like the USA.

June 28th, 2008, 10:29 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wizart,
Your problem is simple. Since most Americans support Israel, they must be stupid or ill informed, or deceived by their education system and their media.

In this discussion, there was no mention of Israel or of occupation until you brought it up. Get used to it. Democracy means that ideas can be freely promoted and the ideas that have most public support win. You think you are right, work to change public opinion, do not blame the public of being stupid.

By the way, Europeans (even the Finns) drink and smoke much more than the Armericans. The Russians are basically comitting suicide drinking.

June 28th, 2008, 10:36 pm

 

CuriousCanadian said:

For what it’s worth I’d like to contribute something to the debate as I deal with Americans every day.
1. The discourse on employment in America as in my country is quality rather than quantity. The outsourcing of high paying HT and manufacturing jobs and their replacement with lower paying service sector jobs is a far greater problem for North Americans than absolute unemployment.
2. Americans have what should be the purest form of democracy in the world. Many public officials in America including judges and police chiefs are elected and must perform to their electorates expectations or lose their jobs. The fact the Federal level of elections has come to what it is, is not a reflection on the democray in the US, but a serious issue that many thinking Americans have commented on and know needs to be addressed (campaign funding for example).
3. There is a great divide in American education in that reform of the system is caught up in the politics of the big teacher’s unions. The best schools are amoung the best in the world, at the other end of the scale the bad ones are awful and will continue to be so until someone has the balls to reform them.
4. Americans by virtue of their successes over the past century or so have become so insular and inward looking that only people with a higher education or who are an academic have any knowledge of what goes on in the rest of the world. They don’t care and I don’t think that is going to change. Reading the local newspapers you are lucky if their is a half a page on World News and that will be strictly about the lastest adventure of the American government.
5. Having said all that my experience is that most average Americans are very generous and conservative in a religious way if not in their cultural and other habits. They have contributed far more relief to victims of natural disasters than most other countries. Also, remember that many of the Universities of the ME were established by American missionary societies.

June 28th, 2008, 10:47 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Zenobia,
If you don’t want to answer me don’t. I find your whole approach of generalizing about the US quite superficial. If I have learned one thing about the US it is that you cannot generalize about it.

And how did you come to the conclusion that the average American is not well educated? And what is your standard may I ask? Do you think the average Chinese, Indian or Russian studies more liberal arts than the average American? Or even the standard European? For your knowledge, it is the US and the UK that pioneered the idea of a liberal education. The Continent always had much more technical schools and did not really believe in very general higher education. Take the French elite which come from ENGINEERING oriented schools unlike the US elites that come from liberal arts colleges.

June 28th, 2008, 10:57 pm

 

Zenobia said:

1. Generalizing is not my “approach”; it is an affliction of this blog comment section and this form of engagement. It’s the trend and there is no way around it unless we limit every point to a very very specific subject and maybe not even then. Talking about ‘Democracy’ or “America” or “conservatism’ leads to generalization unless we want to present a dissertation or a book. Period

2. I wasn’t doing a cross cultural comparison.

3. don’t talk TO me or ABOUT me either. Thanks.

as for CuriousCanadian, good points.

June 28th, 2008, 11:20 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Zenobia,
Generalizing is bad even if some people on this blog do it.
Good and bad in education are all relative. Do you know of an absolute standard for education or liberal arts education? If so what is it?
Don’t answer if you don’t want to.

June 28th, 2008, 11:27 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

And as you see it is true and you should know that on the guy who trumpet these facts was Dr. Dallila, who is Alawite and a professor in UN of Latakia, is still in prison serving ten years for what he said in 2002 that 10 people from the regime have 100 billion dollars in western banks. This is in 20002 when all Syrian state budget was around 5 billion dollars.

Come-on TrustQuest from where did those guys get 100 billion. With your example they would have had to steal steal the whole country’s government budget for twenty years. Not a single penny for the salaries of the civil servants, army etc. That is simply not possible.

Sim, knowing the devil is not enough, how and what you should do about it what is matters. South Americans countries passed the period of knowing and they are getting wiser not listing to dictators promising them victory they can not do. People start to get empowered and deal with their economic and social problems more intelligently and they knew not to rely on dictators to achieve their goals but rather on the collective work of intellectuals of the civil societies.

Tustquest Latia Americans have learned and USA (=US regime+ companies) doesn’t like that. With what name is US calling those left-wing presidents like Morales and Chavez? They are called dictators even they have won democratic elections and are much more popular in their countries as Bush in his. Why, because now the raw materials are not so cheap for US companies and the former tiny elite who ruled the systems is pissed off. Venezuela for example has produced oil for almost a century, did that make them rich or democratic. No it did not. Bolivia is counted mineral reserves one of the richest countries of the world. Also they in the neighbourhood of the great democracy have suffered of constant stream of military juntas and extreme poverty.

My point is that only the people of Syria can create for themselves a democracy. USA and others will not deliver it. Neither will free markets.

—–

QN some here is an opinion of American world view

PS
QN we could talk more about the education level in USA

http://www.cnn.com/2006/EDUCATION/05/02/geog.test/index.html
* nearly two-thirds of Americans aged 18 to 24 still cannot find Iraq on a map
* half or fewer of young men and women 18-24 can identify the states of New York or Ohio on a map.

but I think it is unnecessary, the study tells the facts. Honestly QN how many of 10 randomly picked Americans can point Lebanon on if you show them the world map and give them no hints? (do not make the study on yards of Harvard or MIT).

June 28th, 2008, 11:36 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Zenobia,

I felt that from the way you responded to Simo’s points (not the one that america is not a democracy – which I would also disagree with…but the point by points) that you have a superficial appraisal of the United States.

If you go back and read my conversation with Simo, I think you’ll see that it began with an overblown statement by him which I challenged, to which he responded with several points that – even if true – I found to be unrelated to the central issue (i.e. whether America is a democracy, and whether it is more democratic than China).

I happen to agree with many of Simo’s criticisms of American politics and society, as I repeated throughout our conversation. However, as I said several times before, they do not lead inexorably to the conclusion that he began with.

That’s it.

Then you jumped down my throat and began surmising all kinds of things about the superficial level of my understanding of American society!

Khalas, this is getting silly.

June 29th, 2008, 1:23 am

 

Zenobia said:

Ok. Sorry I jumped down your throat.

I’m probably quite sensitive to the subject, as my country pisses me off these days and feels like a big disappointment. I do have scorn and disrespect (as I was accused) and i do think a very large number of people are very stupid (elitist a thought as that may be) considering what could be possible given the wealth and resources available. I also feel that given our (America’s) disproportionate level of power and influence on the world stage, it is practically a crime that our citizenry is as ignorant about the rest of the world as it is. We are voting for representatives and leaders, but we don’t really have the awareness to know if those representatives know what they are doing or are making good decisions. We wouldn’t know if they are or aren’t. In turn, they (our representative) plead ignorance about their knowledge of what the current president and the vice president and the ones behind them were doing.
How could this happen??

I feel ashamed of it. Horrified.

How do I feel about my country? It’s a love/hate relationship. Just like many people around the world feel about America. But things have gotten worse (it seems like) in terms of the accumulation of wealth and power on a level that erodes democracy. So, maybe it will turn around. But as Simo said somewhere above, there is a massive shift going on in the world, and because this is so threatening to American corporate power – desperate measures start being taken that bring no good for the common people. So, I fear that the erosion will continue, and that worse times are ahead.

Hillary Clinton gave some quote yesterday in her rally with Obama where she quoted Churchill ( I believe) that ‘Americans always get around eventually to doing the right thing, after they have tried everything else’. I think there has been truth in that in the past. But I am concerned that maybe this is the end of the days where we know how to do the right thing.

The Supreme Court has saved us many times…. but look at the vote holding forth the strength of Habeus Corpus. It is still five to four!… By such a slim margin, the right thing prevails…

June 29th, 2008, 2:04 am

 

Zenobia said:

ps,

Is there some reason why everything is in italics and bold???? Is everyone else seeing that?

what do you know , i fixed it….!… i had no idea till now..that my not closing it off three comment back would cause that…

June 29th, 2008, 2:10 am

 

Alex said:

Where Zenobia?

June 29th, 2008, 2:15 am

 

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…

June 29th, 2008, 2:16 am

 
 

Zenobia said:

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

June 29th, 2008, 2:19 am

 

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.

🙂

Simo,

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.)

June 29th, 2008, 2:23 am

 

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.

June 29th, 2008, 2:31 am

 

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).

June 29th, 2008, 2:32 am

 

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…

June 29th, 2008, 2:36 am

 

Shai said:

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

June 29th, 2008, 3:49 am

 

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.”

QN,

The natural follow up question:

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

Answer:

It is home to the freest economic system.

June 29th, 2008, 4:06 am

 

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.

June 29th, 2008, 5:05 am

 

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”.

June 29th, 2008, 5:26 am

 

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.

June 29th, 2008, 5:46 am

 

Alex said:

AIG

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.

June 29th, 2008, 5:47 am

 

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.

June 29th, 2008, 7:03 am

 

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?

Answer:

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. 🙂

June 29th, 2008, 7:06 am

 

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.

Zenobia

June 29th, 2008, 7:10 am

 

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.

June 29th, 2008, 6:00 pm

 

Alex said:

Trustquest,

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 …

June 29th, 2008, 6:12 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

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.

June 29th, 2008, 7:05 pm

 

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.

June 29th, 2008, 7:38 pm

 

Shai said:

Zenobia,

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.

June 29th, 2008, 7:44 pm

 

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. ))

June 29th, 2008, 9:05 pm

 

Alex said:

Trustquest,

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.

June 29th, 2008, 10:55 pm

 

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