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Candide Recommends: Tuesday, August 1, 2006
All Qana on the Eastern Front
Serya Hama, whose home once was Bint Jbail
  • 6 p.m. Update: Baalbek, from where no missile could reach Israel, is under attack: "Lebanese army and security officials," Harretz reports, "said a major Israel Defense Forces operation was underway against suspected Hezbollah positions near Baalbek in eastern Lebanon's Bekaa Valley late Tuesday. IDF troops thrust deep into the area, landing troops by helicopter in the Hezbollah heartland." AFP doesn't see it that way: "An Israeli helicopter made  a brief landing near the eastern city of Baalbek as battles raged  between Israeli air forces and guerrillas of the Lebanese Shiite  militant group Hezbollah late Tuesday, police said. Gunships hovering at low altitude tried to land on hilltops  overlooking Baalbek, a main Hezbollah stronghold, but faced fierce  resistance from Hezbollah guerrillas who opened up with  anti-aircraft batteries, they said." The New York Times: "Thousands of Israeli troops pushed into Lebanon on a wider front on Tuesday after the Israeli cabinet decided to widen its offensive, aiming to push Hezbollah back from the border before a cease-fire is declared and a multinational force is deployed there." Herodotus Jr: Learning from past mistakes has never been a Mideastern specialty. Israel is repeating the futilities of 1996, of 1982 and 1983, of 1978. How many hezbollah militants will it eliminate, kill, maim? Fifty? A hundred? Two hundred? Do I hear five hundred? Hezbollah isn't an army it can destroy. It's more of an idea that, however retrograde when left to its own Islamic devices, gains credence as a resistor of Israeli aggression the longer the assault lasts, the more Israel shows its barbaric colors, the more terror is rained on Lebanon. Unfortunately for Lebanon and Israel, Hezbollah will regroup easily, more easily than Israel and Lebanon will. Hezbollah thrives on what Israel inflicts, Lebanon suffers, and the United States and Iran, its partner in complicity by proxy, don't give a damn.
  • It wasn’t a truce. They were just reloading. Giving those arms shipments from Texas a chance to get to Tel Aviv. “ Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's political-security cabinet voted in the early hours of Tuesday morning to expand Israel's ground operation in south Lebanon,” Haaretz reports. “Under the plan, and similar to last week's operation carried out in Bint Jbail, IDF forces will mount raids on villages that have served as Hezbollah bases.” Note that Bint Jbail never “fell.” It was only leveled. So more such vacuuming operations are on tap. But what is a “political-security” cabinet? “Homeland security” was taken. They settled for the merely redundant, as opposed to the faintly fascist American version. Striking how these security-frilled politbureaus in Israel and the United States have so much rank violence for effluents.

  • When all else fails, go for the standard cliché: Bush links Lebanon fighting to war on terror. "The current crisis is part of a larger struggle between the forces of freedom and the forces of terror in the Middle East," Bush said in a speech at the Coast Guard Command in Miami. "When democracy spreads in the Middle East, the people of that troubled region will have a better future, the terrorists will lose their safe havens and their recruits, and the United States of America will be more secure." But this was the best part: What he described as “what so many around the world want to see” was “the end of Hezbollah’s attacks on Israel,” but only “the suspension of Israel’s operations in Lebanon.” Israel, you see, is not attacking Lebanon. Only Hezbollah is attacking. Israel is only carrying out something you’d see on ER or on Marcus Welby MD: operations. For the good of Lebanon. For the good of mankind, freedom and democracy. “A politician,” Shakespeare once said of Bush, “one that would circumvent God.”

  • Baalbek, great Roman ruin and Hezbollah stronghold, now an Israeli bombing zone even though “it lies more than 100km (60 miles) from Israel's northern border and poses no threat as a rocket launching area.” This was where the 50 th anniversary of the annual summer Baalbek festival was to be held beginning on July 12, the day Israel’s bombing campaign began. The concerts would be held in the open air, between the Temple of Bacchus and the Temple of Jupiter, they were to feature Fairuz, lebanon’s greatest singer, and Deep Purple, “ Diane Schuur meets Dizzy Gillespie All Star Big Band” and many others. A grim message of war and refunds now greets visitors to the festival’s web site.

In Other Worlds

  • More than 23,600 noncitizens serve in the U.S. military. “Although they're expected to fight and possibly die for the United States,” ex-Knight-Ridder reports, “they can encounter a daunting bureaucracy when they attempt to naturalize.”

  • Lawrence Kaplan on the future in Iraq: “[T]he Bush administration has only bad options: It can either maintain force levels in Iraq and face political ruination at home, or it can bring the troops home and watch Iraq burn. But in the Pentagon's desire to hold up the deployment of additional brigades one may glimpse the future of Iraq. There is none.” From the Beirut Daily Star…

  • If Pakistan hosts terror camps, as the Times of India reports based on US satellite imagery, what’s the United States still doing by a) calling Pakistan an ally, b) not bombing those camps and calling out Pakistan PM Musharraf, and c) not invading Pakistan?

  • MySpace, Our Censors, Everybody’s Imaginary Predators: “Chatroom websites including MySpace, Facebook and Friendster could be banned in America's schools and libraries under legislation aimed at sexual predators that is working its way through Congress,” says The Guardian. “The deleting online predators act (DOPA), which was passed by an overwhelming majority in the House of Representatives last week, had been expected to go before the Senate this week, but opponents appeared yesterday to have postponed the battle there until next month. The bill identifies "social networking websites" as hunting grounds for paedophiles, and requires federally funded schools and libraries to limit access to them.” And all this is based on what evidence? The FBI claims that “one in five of the country's 24 million child internet users have received sexual approaches, and that as many as 50,000 sexual predators are prowling for children online.” But those numbers are meaningless: They’re based on Justice Department stats that make no difference between the idiot eighth grader IMing his school pals with obscene come-ons and the predator trying to set up a trap. Predators aren’t imaginary. But their numbers, and the extent of the problems, are unknown, although based on actual cases of predations, the numbers are vastly lower than advertised on voyeuristic shows like Dateline’s “To Catch a Predator.” And the solution is senseless—chasing with censors, in public spaces like schools and libraries (where the federal government shouldn’t be playing Big Brother anyway) what might only end up blossoming behind closed doors: the self-fulfilling prophesies of a culture obsessed with its sexual hang-ups.

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