Tag Archives: lebanon

Abu Muqawama

As those with some basic knowledge of Lebanese politics, but apparently not Abu Muqawama, know, Lebanese politics is currently divided between a Sunni-Catholic coalition (supported by Saudi Arabia and France) and a large Shia party (Hezbollah, supported by Iran). Sunni and Catholic Lebanese are more integrated into the global economy and form much of the Lebanese middle class, while the Shia form much of the underclass and like Iran battle globalization and its consequences.

Thus, the Sunni-Catholic government is progressive in the most important way imaginable: they are on the side of economic development.

abu muqawama: Future TV
Did Tom Friedman really just describe Future TV as “progressive”? Really? Progressive in, uh, what way? Because it has the word “future” in its name?

Abu Muqawama thought Hizbollah shutting the station down was just as cowardly and thuggish as anyone, but let’s be honest — Future TV and al-Mustaqbal newspaper are sectarian propaganda organs for March 14th and the Hariri family.

Friedman then went on to say that Hizbollah shut down Future TV so that its “propaganda machine could dominate the airwaves.” Are you kidding me? Is that the way it works in Lebanon, Tom? Have you been back since 1984? There are only two news stations there now, huh? Did LBC fold up shop and emigrate to France? And are al-Arabiyya and al-Jazeera unavailable?

To paragraph Abu, stupid stuff like this in the first three paragraphs of a blog post column is enough to make those who us speak in the first-person-plural quit reading. So if Abu Muqawama said anything smart in the rest of the column, let us know.

Disconnecting Lebanon from Syria, Disconnecting Syria from the Syrians

Key US legislator says will block aid to Lebanon, by Adam Entous, Reuters, 27 August 2006, http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060827/ts_nm/mideast_usa_lebanon_dc (from Democratic Underground).

Islamic Revival in Syria Is Led by Women,” by Katherine Zoepf, New York Times, 29 August 2006, A1, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/29/world/middleeast/29syria.html.

Tom Lantos, a California Democrat who not only supports a McCain-Lieberman foreign policy but also married a first-cousin of Zsa-Zsa Gabor, pushes for the continued separation of Lebanon from Syria:

A key U.S. legislator said in Israel on Sunday he would block aid President George W. Bush promised Lebanon and free the funds only when Beirut agreed to the deployment of international troops on the border with Syria

The international community must use all our available means to stiffen Lebanon’s spine and to convince the government of Lebanon to have the new UNIFIL troops on the Syrian border in adequate numbers,” said Tom Lantos, the ranking Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives’ International Relations Committee.

Syria, showing the same stupidity that got her expelled from Lebanon in the first place, promises to play into her enemies’ hands

Syria has threatened to shut its border with Lebanon if U.N. troops deploy there. Israel says it will not lift a sea and air blockade of Lebanon unless a U.N. force helps ensure that no new weapons reach Hizbollah in the south.

Meanwhile, women less glamorous than Zsa-Zsa (and not of the liberal Muslims kind) do their bit to hasten their brothers and submit Damascus to the Koran

The Fate of the Baath Arab Socialist Party

At those meetings, participants say, they are tutored further in the faith and are even taught how to influence some of their well-connected fathers and husbands to accept a greater presence of Islam in public life.

These are the two faces of an Islamic revival for women in Syria, one that could add up to a potent challenge to this determinedly secular state. Though government officials vociferously deny it, Syria is becoming increasingly religious and its national identity is weakening. If Islam replaces that identity, it may undermine the unity of a society that is ruled by a Muslim religious minority, the Alawites, and includes many religious groups.

Syrian officials, who had front-row seats as Hezbollah dragged Lebanon into war, are painfully aware of the myriad ways that state authority can be undermined by increasingly powerful, and appealing, religious groups. Though Syria’s government supports Hezbollah, it has been taking steps to ensure that the phenomenon it helped to build in Lebanon does not come to haunt it at home.

For many years any kind of religious piety was viewed here with skepticism. But while men suspected of Islamist activity are frequently interrogated and jailed, subjecting women to such treatment would cause a public outcry that the government cannot risk. Women have taken advantage of their relatively greater freedom to form Islamic groups, becoming a deeply rooted and potentially subversive force to spread stricter and more conservative Islamic practices in their families and communities.

Mr. Abdul Salam explained that such secret Islamic prayer groups recruited women differently, depending on their social position. “They teach poor women how to humble themselves in front of their husbands and how to pray, but they’re teaching upper-class women how to influence politics,” he said.

(It is not surprising that radical Muslims are exploiting women in this way. Christians did the same thing to spread their ideology and conquer Rome. Women are not somehow opposed to religion. They are the vehicles for religion.)

Arab National-Secularism is in collapse. Since Sharon took power in 2000, and Bush took power in 2001, Lebanon and Iraq have been freed from the National-Secularist yoke. Now we see the Syrian National-Secularists increasingly isolated from their former-client and from their own people.

Like the Qaedists, the National-Secularists are losing. The dreams of our generational enemies in the Middle East are falling apart. Good.

A New Middle East, Part III: Israel

The question is which is preferable… 2000

Israel Surrounded by Arab National-Seularist Regimes

or now

Rollback of Arab National-Secularism

The first map, the world as it was before George Bush and Ariel Sharon, shows an Israel surrounded by Arab National-Secularist regimes: Yasser Arafat’s Fatah-led PLO in the east, and two states controlled by the Baath party, Lebanon and Syria. The situation gets even worse down south, as another Arab National-Secularist regime, Egypt, borders Israel on the Sinai. The only half-way normal neighbor Israel had was the tribalist Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

Arab National-Secularism was one of the worst products of the twentieth century, the intellectual offshoot of German National-Socialism and an ideology may have done less harm if it ruled for a few bloody years (as the NSDAP did in Germany) whether than perverting generations of minds.

If Arab National-Secularism merely left lifeless, frozen states in its midst, fine. But National-Secularism has done worse than freezing the cultures of the states it takes over, but it begins destroying the culture. Arab National-Secularism, by taking away the traditional meaning of life while not replacing it with economic growth, leaves behind a murderous rage. In states like Egypt and Syria it has so-far been contained by massacres and political repression. In countries where it can break free, such as Iraq and Lebanon, the consequence is state failure and civil war.

Israel’s greatest enemy has been the National-Secularism and, because of its wise actions, Israel is in the final phases of destroying Arab National-Secularism as a political force.

The recent Israel War in Lebanon did not succeed in destroying Hezbollah as a fighting force — it failed as a war in the context of war — but it succeeded in further rolling back the Arab National-Secularist block that has been Israel’s main enemy. The War in Lebanon succeeded as a War in the Context of Everything Else<. In the context of war, Isarel’s failure to disarm Hezbollah makes Hizbullah stronger. In the context of everything else, Israel’s failure to disarm Hezbollah weakens Syria (which was forced to stay out of the fight due to fear of Israeli retaliation and Muslim Brother reaction).

Lebanon is now even further away from Syria’s sphere of influence than before the Hezbollah War. All actors see yet another failure by an Arab National-Secularist government, and another success by a Shia Theocratic government.

Lebanon will now be contested between the country’s indigenous, globally-oriented, Catholic-Sunni majority, and a smaller but well armed Shia minority. It is important that whatever country leads the SysAdmin effort in that country, be if France, Italy, or someone else, that the Catholic-Sunni majority’s interests are favored. Yet it is a mistake to believe that just because Hezbollah won the war Israel must lose the peace. On the contrary, by further weakening its primary 4GW adversary, Israel is closer to “peace” than ever.

A New Middle East, a tdaxp series
A New Middle East 1: Our Vanquished Enemies
A New Middle East 2: Iran
A New Middle East 3: Israel
A New Middle East 4: Islam is the Answer

A New Middle East, Part I: Our Vanquished Enemies

The Big Bang spreads . . . the rough way,” by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 7 October 2005, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/002427.html (from tdaxp).

President’s Radio Address,” by George Bush, White House Radio, 19 August 2006, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/08/20060819.html.

As George Bush assumed power in January 2001, the Middle East was in a dire state. The al-Qaeda backed Taliban government ruled Afghanistan, while the noxious rule of the Arab Nationalist-Secularist governments (some in uneasy league with America, others opposed) ruled Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria. If al Qaeda was a rapist, doing damage quickly and violently, the Nationalist-Secularists were parents with Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. While al Qaeda was more mindlessly violent, the National-Secularists had been disastrous for their states, rolling back the traditional governments and traditional societies that once existed in those lands. The National-Secularists, from the Ba’ath, to Fatah, to the rest, were politically and intellectually bankrupt.

Red = National-Secularist, Green = Shia, Yellow = Tribal, Black = al Qaeda, Blue = Globalist

Since then the situation has changed for the better. In three states the National-Secularists have been driven out: by the US military in Iraq, by the people in Palestine, and by a combination of internal factions and external pressure in Lebanon. And Afghanistan, of course, was liberated in Operational Enduring Freedom.

Red = National-Secularist, Green = Shia, Yellow = Tribal, Blue-Geen = Contested between Iran and Globalist, Blue = Globalist, Purple = Muslim Brothers

That these places are unstable is not proof that Bush’s plan is failing, but that it is working. As the President recently said

It is no coincidence that two nations that are building free societies in the heart of the Middle East, Lebanon and Iraq, are also the scenes of the most violent terrorist activity.

The same is true, of course, when Palestine, where the Muslim Brother’s local branch, Hamas, is squeezed between a justly hostile Israeli and unjustly hostile National-Secularist dead-enders.

If we are to judge the Global War on Terrorism by the standards of Thomas Barnett:

In the end, what will have to change for all this violence in the Middle East to stop is not our withdrawal, but political reform in the region. Keeping this fight suppressed, or having it exported to our shores like it was on 9/11 is certainly a safer route for the local authoritarian regimes. Then again, I think 9/11 put us past caring about those regimes’ stability like we used to.

Bush basically runs a race with Osama: who can destabilize the region’s regimes first? Both sides want change, but only one wants to replace the current autocracies with a religious dictatorship. What Bush wants solves the problem. What Osama wants merely extends it.

Then we are clearly winning this Long War. We destabilized Afghanistan, throwing al Qaeda out of their only State. We destabilized National-Secularist Iraq, and now contend with Iran (not al Qaeda) in seeing which of us has the most influence in that State. We destabilize National-Secularist Lebanon, and now content with Iran (not al Qaeda) in seeing which of us has the most influence in that State.

In this New Middle East we are building, we will have to be careful. We will have to deal wisely with the new regional indigenous hegemon, Iran. But we will not have to fear al Qaeda or the National-Secularists. They will be killed. That is why we can leave Iraq now.

A New Middle East, a tdaxp series
A New Middle East 1: Our Vanquished Enemies
A New Middle East 2: Iran
A New Middle East 3: Israel
A New Middle East 4: Islam is the Answer

Israel as 4GW Victory Machine

The Israelis are expert at 4th Generation Wars. This style of war, which focuses on changing the mental orientation of opponents, is normally dangerous for state powers. France lost 4G Wars in Vietnam and Algeria, while the United States was previously set back in Vietnam, Lebanon, and Somalia.

Yet the Israelis are the exception. With a patience often associated with non-state actors, the Jewish State destroyed the nationalist-secularist Palestine Liberation Organization. Exploiting internal divisions among the Palestinian population originally seen during the First Intifada in 1987, Jerusalem began increasing the moral, mental, and physical isolation of the PLO. The first major attack was the Oslo Peace Accords in 1993, a controversial move to delegitimize the PLO by removing its reason for being. Low intensity war (with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat repeatedly maneuvered into the role of the senseless aggressor) waged for more than a decade, with Israel ever working to isolate the PLO from its tools for power.

David’s Patient Nation

Israeli Victory came on January 25, 2006, when Hamas (a spin-off of the technocratic-fundamentalist Muslim Brothers) trounced the PLO’s main political party, Al-Fatah, in free Palestinian elections.

It appears that Israel is using a similar strategy to build victory in Lebanon. Israel recognizes that isolation leads to defeat, so she attempts to maximize her connectivity while minimizing the connectivity of her enemy, Hezbollah. In particular, Israel is attempting to maximize Hezbollah’s physical disconnectivity. Israel’s airstrikes against roads and bridges that lead to Syria are widely recognized, but attacks on infrastructure by themselves could not do much. There is no “systempunkt” — the mythical list of physical infrastructure targets that can permanently destroy an enemy — so Israel instead focuses on changing the long-term correlation of forces.

Behind the scene diplomacy by Israel and her lobbies forced the military expulsion of Syria from Lebanon. Indeed, Dawlat Israil is turning the security situation of Lebanon on its head, from a Hezbollah-friendly state in the Syrian orbit to a country that faces a French anti-Hezbollah invasion. That prospect was viewed by some as impossible when it was first floated last year, but momentum is building.

In summary, Israel is destroying Hezbollah just like she destroyed the PLO: patiently. Israel is excelling at dual-use attacks, not just degrading Hezbollah’s firepower in the short-term but changing the facts on the ground that allow Hezbollah to thrive in the long-term.

Bravo Israel!

Gap Debating Society v. Core State

OIC is concerned over the UNSC failure to halt Israeli aggression on Lebanon,” Syrian Arab News Agency, 3 August 2006, http://www.sana.org/eng/22/2006/08/03/54464.htm (from Democratic Underground).

Some at that toothless talking club, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, has (predictably) joined the anti-Israeli chorus:

Participants at the emergency meeting of the executive committee of the 56-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference vehemently condemned the constant Israeli attacks on Lebanon and Palestine.

The conferees, in a final statement Thursday, held Israel the full responsible for the loss of innocent lives particularly in Qana’s second massacre that claimed lives of some 60 innocent persons mostly children and women.

” The OIC is deeply concerned over failure of the UN Security Council to take necessary measures to impose a cease-fire in Lebanon and end the Israeli brutal onslaughts on Lebanon,” the statement said.

” The U.N. Security Council is demanded to undertake its responsibility without any further delay by deciding on and enforcing an immediate and unconditional comprehensive cease-fire in Lebanon,” the participants underlined.

On Palestine, the Islamic states’ leaders demanded of the Israeli complete and unconditioned pull out of the occupied Palestinian territories including western Jerusalem, underscoring necessity of setting up the independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

Why predictably? Because the OIC is a defining part of the Gap. We should expect nothing less in this fight of the Core in the Gap — this Core intervention in a Gap civil war.

Israel is a New-Core State Fighting in the Gap

As the anyone-but-Israel crowd (I’m looking at you, Adam, Eddie, and John) heats up its demonization of the Dawlat Israil, some context is needed. Particularly, an understand of the levels of power. These are essentially the levels of anlaysis that were devised by Waltz in his book Man, the State, and War, and since elucidated elsewhere.

In general, a power on one level can meaningful effect those on lower levels, win or lose “fairly” against those on the same level, and very weakly influence the level above.

To understand the Israel-Hizbullah conflict, we must understand where the actors are:

Knowing this, most criticisms are blown away (they were already hot air).

The most important thing to remember about the Israel-Hezbollah War is this: Israel is a State, not the System, not an Alliance of major powers, but a state. Because most of the blogosphere’s criticism is directed against the Jewish State, I will spend this post on the implications of the Levels of Power on it. (Bloggers apparently have a more nuanced or sympathetic inclination toward Hezbollah).

Israel is not The System. She does not have the power to change rulesets in regions, and this means that she is unable to choose which rulesets she fights under. Israel cannot shrink the Gap to fight the war she wants, and cannot shrink the Gap to make problems go away.

The world-system provided over by the United States is composed of the Core and the Gap, The Core of the “developed world” and the Gap of the “developing world,” with finer grades running from the Old Core of North America, Europe, and Japan to the Non-Integrating Gap of the African and Islamic worlds. The system is pleasant for New Core states and unpleasant for Gap states. The greatest project of our time, which is sometimes called “Shrinking the Gap,” current means pulling up the Seam to the New Core and not letting it fall back to the Gap.

Intervention within the old Core is relatively easy (the Katrina “debacle” did not lead to a single loyalty militia or terrorist-group attack, though much smaller things routinely do so throughout the Gap). However, intervention in the Gap opens eyes to the sadness of that world. It doesn’t create the sadness — life was bad in Somalia before the Rangers walked Mogadishu, and life was bad in Rwanda before UN peacekeepers fired on refugees.

Many of the attacks on the Democratic State come from a belief that Jews should spill blood and treasure to move Hizbollah’s territory up to the New Core. The absurdity and futility of a State spending its resources to change the Systemic nature of another is clear: it violates a simple understand of the levels of power, but functionally equivalent states are common in the anti-Israeli press. As Eddie of Life from the FDNF says

There is no honor in bad intelligence taking lives over and over again in a short period, no honor in killing children and blaming it on the other guy. You shouldn’t have bombed the shelter then. Send some troops, if you have the courage (which is increasingly in question among Israel’s political leadership), and take Hezbollah out.

This is in an atmosphere where Hizbullah hides among the human population. Must one then respond to Hizbullah’s use of human shields with surrender, as apparently any action that could lead Hizbullah to kill civilians?. That belief, which attempts to export New Core-level rules of hostage rescue to the Gap, is insane.

Changing local rulesets through force is extremely hard. The United States failed doing in so Vietnam, Lebanon, and Somalia, yet here bloggers advocate a State knowingly apply an inappropriate rule-set — New Core hostage rescue tactics — to an inappropriate theatre– the Gap.. The same level of moral sophistication would demand Core-level rulesets of triage for hospital-shacks in the Savannah, or Old Core-level minimum wages in the New Core, for that mater. The alternative, we are told, is lack of “courage.”

Attempting the impossible is not courageous. It is suicide. That’s why newspapers don’t talk about courageous attempts by teen-agers to live with lacerated wrists. They talk about suicides.

Pundits who demand that Israel apply inappropriate rulesets to a fight in the Gap do not understand resilience. Pundits who demand that a single state try to change System-level rulesets do not understand resilience. They desire an unresilient Israel, which applies inappropriate rulesets in an inappropriate theatre.

An Israel that used hostage-rescue techniques in Lebanon would be fighting the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time. But Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, his government, and his Israeli Defense Forces are wiser than that. They are wisely applying the right rulesets in the right fight. That’s why they are winning.

Hezbollah v. the Lebanese Nation, Hezbollah v. the United Nations

Hezbollah v. the Lebanese Nation, Hezbollah v. the United Nations

In a recent post, Mark described the violence Hezbollah intentionally inflicts on the Lebanese people

As Hezbollah is a semi-4GW organization, it obeys no recognized rules of warfare yet escapes much in the way of blame, and intentionally seeks maximum civilian casualties among Lebanese Shiites from Israeli retaliation, there are certain political realities that cannot be ignored:

Yet the common people of Lebanon are not the only victim’s of rejectionist violence in Lebanon’s Civil War. The Party of God is also targeting United Nations missions:

Sites of Terrorist Attacks

The geographically-aware Catholicgauze has blogged on the War in Lebanon before.

A Modest Proposal for the Middle East

Pull out of Iraq while having the air force bomb the Ba’athist government in Syria and the Party of God in Lebanon.

The net results (viz. the April 2003 invasion of Iraq)

  • No more minority (Sunni Ba’ath) government in Iraq
  • No more minority (Alawite Ba’ath) government in Syria
  • No more minority (Hizbollah) government in Lebanon

Our legacy is three rational states, a huge improvement over the mess with British and French made.

AfroIslamic Gap v. New Core, Reloaded

Earlier, after terrorists exported trouble from Pakistan to India, I urged readers to view the event through PNM Theory and particularly the PNM/tdaxp synthesis that sees the world divided into several zones

1. The Old Core (North America, Western Europe, Japan)
2. The New Core (Brazil, India, China, etc)
3. The Seam (Cuba, South Africa, Philippines, etc.)
4. The Non-Integrating Gap (Congo, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, etc)

The higher your country up in this list, the nicer your citizens’ lives are, the less likely they are to die of starvation, the less likely your women are likely to be raped as a tool of warfare, the less likely your child will die of starvation. All in all, it’s fantastic to be born in the Old Core, pretty good to be born in the New Core, somewhat acceptable to be born in the Seam, and a Hobbesian nightmare in the Gap.

A State in the Hobbesian Gap

Part of the Terror of the Gap is that it exports terrorism, death, and disease from the Gap to the Seam and the Core. Lebanon’s Civil War’s envelopment of Israel is yet another example of this example. We are not seeing in Lebanon “collective punishment” or a “lethal care wreck.” We are seeing something that has always existed in the world: the attempted destruction of the good by the bad. Lebanon’s export of violence and death to Israel is analogous to Afghanistan’s export of violence and death to America, or any of the other recent acts of terrorism against civilized countries.

Fortunately, the success of global capitalism teaches us how this will end: the spread of the Core to the four corners of the world, and the eradication of war as we know it. Between now and that end of history good decisions can be made, and the nature of that final peace can be tweaked this way and that. Much work is to be done, and billions of lives hang in the balance.

Yet when we see specific cases like the current Lebanon-Israel conflict, we know what’s going on: the Gap is exporting violence to the Core. If you want a true end to this mess, don’t worry about shuttle diplomacy and magic bullets. Instead: Shrink the Gap, primarily through structural economic and security connectivity.