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Candide's Latest: Thursday, August 10, 2006
The Terror Not Foiled

An offensive on pause.

Israel dares Nasrallah and bombs the heart of Beirut: Israeli warplanes have continued their raids on Lebanon, hitting a historic lighthouse in densely populated west Beirut and killing one man in the eastern Bekaa Valley,” al-Jazeera reports. “ The strike was the first on Beirut proper since Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hezbollah, issued a warning to Israel on August 4, saying that his fighters would fire rockets at Tel Aviv if Israel hit the Lebanese capital.” And this is happening when Israel has allegedly paused in preparation for its “wider” offensive on Lebanon . Funniest Associated Headline of the day: “Israel Pauses to Give Diplomacy a Chance.” The Beirut Daily Star has the irony pegged: “Columns of Israeli tanks  thrust into Lebanon on Thursday and battled Hezbollah fighters but  Israel said it had put a broader offensive on hold to give diplomacy  a chance to end the month-old war.” And the propaganda offensive trundles along, with the Jerusalem Post headlining complaints that the BBC isn’t reporting the war “fairly.” The Angry Arab agrees: “ It is not critical enough of Israel and its war crimes.” Actually, that’s not the BBC’s job as a news organization. It’s the editorialists’ and the bloggers’ job.  

A day of heavy losses for Israel: 15 Israeli soldiers killed in South Lebanon fighting. Hezbollah rockets score direct hits on homes in northern Israel, killing a mother and a two-year-old girl. “ Some 160 rockets were fired at Israel from Lebanon on Wednesday, with 66 landing in the area of Kiryat Shmona,” says Haaretz. What was that about Israel not going deeper inside Lebanon than the Litani river? Thursday morning, the Israeli army was taking up posts in Marjeyoun, north of the river. The Israeli military said “ ”the operation in the eastern sector is not part of the plans made Wednesday to expand the ground offensive, but merely a tactical maneuver.” Add that to your list of euphemisms. The Vietnam War, too, was not an invasion but a tactical maneuver to keep Ho Chi Minh from trailing it to Thailand and San Francisco , as I recall. Memorialists, start your walls. And don’t bother shoring up Condoleezza Rice’s uselessness, as the New York Times attempt to do this morning. She’s beyond repair.

Juan Cole has a dead-on post on the absurdity of Israel's claim, parroted and abetted by the Bush junta, that the war is about taking care of Hezbollah or going after "Islamic fascism" (in Bush's words). The proof is in the bombing. Cole relates the extent of the bombing campaign on such places as Jounieh, a resort town some fifteen miles north of Beirut, basically the capital of the Lebanese Christian heartland (and where, full disclosure, I used to hang out as a child, but only as an invited guest, at Kaslik, the yacht club with more presumptuous nouveau riches per square inch than the Hamptons in the late 1990s). Nothing can popssibly justify the bombing of Jounieh other than a strategy of crippling Lebanon well beyond Hezbollah both as a show of force ("never challenge us or this is what you'll get") and, as a bonus to the Israeli economy, a smashing of Lebanon's tourism industry, which will mean an up-tic in Israeli tourism once European travelers resume their treks eastward. "Then there are other problems with what Bush said," Cole goes on:

He contrasted 'Islamic fascism' to 'democracy,' presumably a reference to the Lebanese Hizbullah. This point is incorrect and offensive for many reasons. It is a misuse of the word "Islamic." "Islamic" has to do with the ideals and achievements of the Muslims and the Muslim religion. Thus, we speak of Islamic art. We speak of Islamic ethics. There can be Muslim fascists, just as there can be Christian fascists (and were, in Spain, Italy and Germany, and parts of Central and South America; the Spanish fascists and the Argentinian ones, e.g., were adopted by the United States government as close allies.) But there cannot be "Islamic" fascists, because the Islamic religion enshrines values that are incompatible with fascism.See Cole's full post…

As if the United States needed more anti-American sentiment on its stripes: From the Christian Science Monitor: Even as Israel continues to pound Beirut's southern suburbs, and agreed Wednesday on plans to expand its four-week-old offensive as far as 18 miles into southern Lebanon, many here increasingly blame the US for its extensive military and political support for the Jewish state. ‘ Israel wants to stop the war, but America orders them to continue,’ [a sheikh who’d just led a funeral for 30 civilians killed in an air strike on Monday] asserted later in an interview. ‘This is the American freedom?’” If the sheikh had kept up with Bush-style freedom and democracy, he would not have asked the question. Here are the latest tallies, facts and figures of the war so far.

But what do you expect, with conditions like this: “More than 700,000 people who've left their homes are now confined to schools, mosques, public parks or the crowded apartments of friends and strangers generous enough to offer them shelter,” McClatchy reports. “Bathrooms and kitchens are in short supply in the temporary shelters set up in Beirut and other cities. Hygiene is suspect. Many children are developing scabies and other infections, aid workers say. Many of the thousands squatting in homes are running out of money, and aid agencies are struggling to find them to deliver mattresses and blankets.”

About That "Foiled" Transatlantic Terror Plot...

“We have foiled mass murder on an unimaginable scale,” say British police: “A major terrorist plot to commit mass murder on an unimaginable scale by exploding up to nine aircraft in mid-flight between Britain and America has been thwarted, Scotland Yard announced this morning,” the UK Times reports. “So far 21 suspects - believed to be British citizens, many of Pakistani origin - have been arrested in overnight raids in London, the Thames Valley and Birmingham, but police stressed that the huge, complex, security operation was still ongoing and that there may be further arrests.” The details are sketchy, so don’t panic: most announcements of that nature have proved to be far less dire than first advertised (as in the Miami bomb plotters, the Brooklyn Bridge destroyer, the Lebanese Lincoln-tunnel blaster, who must have read advanced galleys of John Updike’s Terrorist and thought a lousy novel could produce a good bomb plot). We’ll know soon whether this is another one of those conceptualized attacks or, as American authorities were salivatingly quick to say, “the real deal” (it’s as if those freaks at the Department of Homeland Security want a mass-murdering attack, to justify their existence). But early reports suggest that there’s less to the plot than meets the MI5’ers: “ This is a precautionary measure ,” Britain ’s Home Secretary told the country. “We are doing everything possible to disrupt any further terrorist activity. This will mean major disruption at all UK airports from today. But as far as is possible we want people to go about their business as normal.” A major plot, an imminent threat, and he wants people to go about their business as normal? Either the plot is being oversold, or the Home Secretary is playing Russian Roulette with transatlantic flights. (Here’s the full text of the statement by Scotland Yard.)

That’s not keeping news outlets all over the place from salivating along, with slight exaggerations: The Washington Post had the number of planes targeted for bombing at ten. Do I hear fifteen? By the time the news reaches Australia , we’ll be up at 20.

Romantic Talibanists on the Thames: The inimitable Eteraz, who knows a thing or two about the Pakistani soul and the Muslim oversoul, has an ample and amply scintillating essay already wondering why "Something is rotten among the state of British Muslims." The fanatics, he writes, will always find their stage regardless of the West (or Britain in this case) complying in foreign policy with Muslim wishes. But why are young Muslims turning to fanaticism to begin with--wealthy third-generation immigrants given to all first world seductions and Beamers? Eteraz's answer:

So when they turned to the fanatic ideology, they are doing it 1) to acquire meaning, 2) to belong to a group, and 3) to exorcise their existential ennui. They remind me a bit of the otaku, the I’m alone but not lonely anime-worshipping post-modernists of Japan who don’t know what they are, only what they aren’t (see last paragraph of piece). However, unlike Japan, which is a very limited and small society (when compared to the entire world of Islam), these British-Pakistani post-modernists have numerous external forces they must answer to: people like Anjum Choudhary, Bin Laden, Israel/Palestine conflict. The reason I draw the parallel is because Japan has unusually high rates of suicide. The willingness with which British-Pakistanis are committing suicide-attacks, entering war-zones where they are most likely to be killed, is that same suicide impulse. These kids are steeped in a sort of meaningless nihilism with no way of getting out. Nihilism can be defeated with Belief. However, the only form of belief thaty are drawn to, is the murderous kind. The post-modern Nihilism of these youth meets the regressive Nihilism of Islamic Fanaticism. Read Eteraz in full ...

In Other Worlds

Why New York Times Columnist David Brooks is one half of a vaudeville act that never found a partner: “On last weekend's Chris Matthews Show,CJR Daily writes, “New York Times columnist David Brooks made the following loose-lipped declaration: "One of the things I've found in life is that politicians are a lot more sincere than us journalists and we are more sincere than the people that read and watch us."

The Saudis have a funny way about them: Finance world terrorism abroad, repress the hell out of people at home, then host an international tourism conference.

Blogs To The Rescue

QUOTE OF THE DAY Jamal's Propaganda Site

"The war rages on with no end or gas in sight. At this pace, sometime next week I'll have to start blogging using smoke signals."

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