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December 04, 2006

Comments

R

I think you are spot on Ammar. As a lebanese, I am quite worried about hte future of my country. Unfortunately I am also quite certain that Lebanon would never be free unless Syria is democratic - Samir Kassir's famous equation.

I am afraid that the tension is too high, already a person has been killed in a clash between Sunnis and Shiites (with the shot fired conveniently from far away - possibly a rooftop)... While I agree with you that restraint on March 14's side is commendable, I doubt that it will hold. My suggestion was that March 14 should take its crowd and march up to Baabda for two reasons.
1- Psychologically, its crowd would have some goal to achieve, rather than sit around in beirut and clash with the visiting horde.
2- It puts the pressure back on the opposition and forces the equation, prime minister for president... otherwise back down.

Well those are my two cents...

عشتار

Very sad Ammar
Is it the death of moderation or the death of lebanon as a concept
Its evident now that Nasrallah is using his "devine victory" to impose more power and spread his Iranian entity from south to north and change the whole face of Lebanon.

howie

Ammar-

You me you addressing several at least 2 salient issues:

a. Morality vs. pragmatism

b.Trying to predict human behavior/the future

And in this current situation, the two grandly overlap. Do you capitulate or bargin with evil, hoping they will be reasonable and see the error of their ways and try to be fair? Or do you just hope to hold them off for a time and see what happens. Or...do you take a stand, knowing taking a stand will almost certainly lead to horror. One could take the moral argument and say "you should always stand up against evil? Well, if four of the school bullies have you in a corner and demand you lunch money...where will standing up to them get you? And if you give them the lunch money...what is likely to occur tomorrow?

If we could look clearly into the future, we could always make good decisions, but of course, we cannot. So ladies and gentlemen...place your bets.

I often test myself..."if I were king"

Geez...I don't know what the heck I would do...maybe rob the treasury and head for Tahiti? What would I do in Iraq, what would I do about Iran, how would I try to settle the Israel/Palestinian conflict?

Iron fist, olive branch? Both could work, both have failed.

As Jackson Browne sang "there are lives in the balance".

My prediction though...the situation has to deteriorate and ain't nothing gonna stop it.

Now if we could find a way to give all combants hemmoroids, maybe they would become preoccupied with other things.

howie

Kind of relates:

http://www.muslim-refusenik.com/letters.html

Zenobia of the East and West

Well to begin with, I don't accept the word "EVIL".

The notion of 'evil' belongs to the religious believers, and I am surprised you would use it.
George Bush and company like to use such words. Evangelicals use this word.
This word....used about others... reduces them to beings without rationality. but this would be the antithesis of being a human. so, you are saying they are not humans, without human motivations.

It seems to me ALL the players here have both irrationality and rationality in their actions.
but to call them evil is a rhetorical labeling gesture that means we refuse to consider their possible rational reasons for acting or for possibly resorting to violence.

But in this instance, where exactly is the violence in this recent protest/demonstration by the Hezballah crowd? I didn't hear about any violence at this event.

I will be back later with my other complaints...
sincerely,
zenobia

howie

Zen-

I don't have problem with the word evil and I will tell you exactly why I use it.

Your reaction is knee-jerk because you associate it with George Bush's "access of evil". I don't.

I think HA ultimately would support some or all of the following that I associate with EVIL:

Terrorism
Repression of Human Rights
Repression of Women
Torture
They associated themselves with movements, like Iran, that support floggings, murder of dissenters, crushing free press and free speech.

Shall we approach honor killings, clitoraldectemies?

So my guess is that if HA got their way in Lebanon...they would attempt to creat a Taliban-like society so nope I don't have any problem at all with that word.

EVIL EVIL EVIL EVIL

oh..

and EVIL

And you can throw the Assad regime right in there though they don't pretend to hide behind God to do their dirty work.

Anonymous

Though i walk in the shadow of death er i mean hezbollah , I shall fear no evil!

Zenobia of the East and West

dear Howie,
give me an f-ing break.

"clitororectomies"?

the HA is nothing like the Taliban, Mr.

And, by the way my point is....there are evil acts, but not evil people in my mind.

Israel engages in Torture. Does that make the Israelis evil???

Zenobia of the East and West

You really have a serious problem accepting the fact that unlike the Taliban, Hezballah is not running across the land weilding weapons at the people., stealing their children,...and demanding that they change their clothes or join up, or submit or otherwise be killed.
No, quite the contrary.. HA is actually viewed with gratitude in part because they are quite the humanitarians and represent the only social support system around for the people of south lebanon.
So, what are YOU talking about.

You cite these things.....backwards practices...all over the middle east and far east, asia, and africa that have to do with women... mutilation, honor killings, oppression of women.
I couldn't agree more that these are unacceptable practices. But this has nothing specifically to do with Hezbollah. They occur in many tribal and traditional cultures across the globe.
Maybe patriarchy leads to evil practices, but this isn't a very compelling argument about the evilness of real people in HA or the islamic religion.
I wouldn't defend Iran. There are plenty of Iranian women who want to challenge the oppression of women there - but they don't hold their entire religion responsible for the problem.

Israel is a huge huge huge Human Rights abusing nation..in most of the world's eyes right now.
The security forces of Israel have engaged in assasinations as well imprisoning people for political purposes, and violent occupation. This is considered state Terrorism.
why don't you take a mirror to your own country's "evilness", rather than barking about...what Hezballah might do if they had more power.

If they received the political power that the southern lebanese are entitled to.... we don't know what will happen....but...I think that this would dramatically DECREASE any inclination toward armed conflict.
Maybe people should think about what kind of justice in Lebanon would bring about a situation where the Hezbollah leadership didn't feel the need to receive support or empowerment from Iran. seems like a more productive consideration than who is EVIL and who is Good.

howie

Zenobia-

I think HA is a lot like the Taliban...or at least potentially so. They take orders from Iran which;
Murders
Tortures
Represses women
Kills newspaper reporters
Flogs
Denies rights
Horrifically represses dissent

People that do evil things are evil. Don't give ME this f..king "oh..they are just catharting their feelings BS".

Israel? You want to get into that? OK...

Free press'
Complete women's rights'
Freedom of speech
Integration
No floggings
No honor killings (except among Palestinians and Boudoins)
Freedom of religion
Freedom to vote for women and minorities

Want to test something...ah..run over to Saudi Arabia with "jew" on your passport and see what's up. Or just try to go on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem...though Arabs are free to visit the Western Wall.

There are differences...but you brought up Israel...not me.

Torture? There has been some and it ended up in the courts. Ah...what has the HA or Iranian courts done to prevent torture.

So you can react as emotionally as you wish and close your eyes and knee-jerk protect those guys...but me...I think they are up to evil. Let's watch how this plays out as they help save "Lebanon".

But I love you.

howie

Alex-

Come on Alex..jump in on her side...where are you?

howie

Zen-

One last point...if Israel's ran around with Moral Police (and they have tried in some religious communities) and flogged couples for holding hands in public...I would brand them evil and I would happily turn the key on their jail cell...personally.

Zenobia of the East and West

Dear howie,
i made my point....and I dont' need to start analyzing your type of response
please cease and desist from being condescending to me and saying that i am having a "knee jerk" reaction...or "closing my eyes" and I am reacting "emotionally".....
I find these comments..off point and very condescending....why dont' you just tell me...that I can't possibly have my opinions from thought or reason.
and you aren't 'emotional' in your response?
give me a break...
lets just drop the extra jabs...and stick to your arguments...and I will do the same...otherwise I won't be responsible for the descent of the conversation.

"Torture? There has been some and it ended up in the courts."
thanx, for making me laugh....

there are "difference" but not enough to distinguish between good and evil i am afraid.
and ...
again.. my point is not to defend reprehensible practices in the middle east. There has been torture across every country in the region.
my point is that.. this isn't specific to HA or the Iranians for that matter....
and if this is your criteria...then you had better designate the entire area of the world as "Evil."
And this result seems to render the word... meaningless and absurd.

Zenobia of the East and West

On happier note: why don't we marvel at Turkey.
Turkey is no less complicated and culturally complex, historically troubled, and politically muli-varied ... and religious and secular both..

How does Turkey do it, I'd like to know?
Turkey should be a beacon of light....for the rest of the middle east to follow....
seems to me... they have a lot of intellectuals, and the desperate desire for economic participation and inclusion ...which is forcing the country to adapt to many things including European expectations.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/05/world/europe/05turkey.html?hp&ex=1165294800&en=3af390a071b606d0&ei=5094&partner=homepage

Zenobia of the East and West

the link didn't copy right..but front page New York Times....has feature article...

"Where Tradition and Modern Meet and Sashay Along" .... about good ol'e Turkey

R

Ok, I tend not to participate on many of the discussions on this blog because I am Lebanese, but this one hits home.

Zenobia, while HA did an arguably commendably thing by liberating the south of Lebanon. They did it over the bodies of many people who had been resisting before them. As a matter of fact, noneother than the Syrian regime cleared the arena of Communists and Syrian Nationalists for them to fight solo...
In any case that is not the point. The point is that you are defending Hizballa as if they are some godsend when they are far from it. Many of my Shiite friends live in areas that have become controlled by HA, and when I say controlled, I mean in every possible way.
Liquor stores were shut down, and certain tv and satellite channels are banned. Moreover, the areas are saddled with pictures of Khomeini, Khameniei... Add to that, you cannot criticize them in public, because they have informants, literally who will report on you. What else? If you check out the recent demos, tehy have a friggin discipline unit, a proto-police. Now go ahead and couple that with their armed wing, foreign support, funding and training as well as extra-state actions in terms of waging war, and conducting negotiations and presto you have the reason why everything you are saying is - excuse my honesty - irrelevant.

You may argue that they have support from a large majority of their constituents, and I say you are right. But so what? If a certain percentage of the population wanted to exist and operate outside the bounds of a state and establish its own set of rules and regulations in the areas it controls that is called independence or self-rule. I am not aware that we have such a system in Lebanon. As such, and until we do, they have to abide by the law which they are not...

Alex

Howie,

Last week I exceeded my quota here, and ... to make a long story short, Ammar asked me to take two weeks off, or to at least refrain form adding my excessively long comments. Which is cool. I understand.

Six more days to go.

I will not be able to get into the details, but yes it is true that in general (not here) I like 95% of what Zenobia says, and only 70% of what you say... she wins.

By the way, are we still getting the Golan back (as we agreed last month) if we "support" our Lebanese friends in their call for a more "balanced" Lebanese government?

howie

Alex-

The day the Lebanese kiss and make up you can frekin have Tel Aviv.

I think my money is safe on that bet. But how about if they start fighting we keep the Golan?

howie

R-

Thank you for your second reply...I am prone to take a little poetic lic. just to get a rise out of Zen or Alex...but I do stick by my basic point.

HA and their ilk have a clearly evil side. Am I talking about a 17 year old boy that wants to die for glory and all that...of course not. But what you describe is evil...it is not just misguided good intentions.

I have been a psychologist for over 30 years. Some of what Zen seems to be trying to say reminds me of the 70's. We used to tell some really rotten people, "I know you are good, it is just your behavior that is not nice".

Well...to me...behavior is THE issue. If you want to hate me for being a Jew or an American...fine...I care, but not too much. However, don't flog me for it. I care much more about what you DO. When people consistently do very bad things, I call that evil. What R described are evil actions and these are actions by a people that have not even obtained much power yet.

Did nobody learn anything from Iran? Have you not read books like Reading Lolita in Tehran or Peresoplis. A close Iranian friend of mine just left my house minutes ago and we have talked about this often. Khoemini LIED and mislead his people which was evil and then the things he did were even more evil.

Is "evil" a spectrum. Of course it is. I can't tell you exactly where the line is crossed between bad and evil. But I listed several things I feel are the actions of evil people and I stand by it. Especially when perpetrated against others that merely DISAGREE...or just happen to be Bahai's, or Christians or Women.

Not it is not relative, or in the eyes of a culture. These things at there very essesence are evil.

Alex

Howie that was a trick question!

Of course I do not want Tel Aviv, even if I won the bet!... we just want the Golan back .. and a "friendly goverment" in Lebanon.

Do you know that Zenobia is also a psychologist?

Me too! ... not really, but I did publish in an applied Psychology journal last year.

And I will not get into any serious comments here other than to suggest to you that you, like me and zenobia, are also seeing things from your perspective. For example, I find it rather obvious that an optional war that resulted in the killing of hundereds of thousands of Iraqis is the ultimate evil... much more evil that anything the Syrians, Israelis, and HA did combined.

You have done your homework to justify to yourself that you are really not biased in a very obvious way, but you are. We all are.

The "truth" is not easy to define, and if it was, it would be some sort of a mix between everything you, and Zenobia said.

So nothing beats talking in a civilized way... without calling anyone evil, no matter how convinced we all are.

howie

Alex-

I agree with 90 well 80% of what you say, but there is a very significant point of divergence.

I talk about this a whole lot and that is the idea of moral relativism. Torture is torture, war is war, it is all bad, it is all the same.

I disagree completely and I do believe there are evil people with evil intentions.

Let' take something we might be closer to argeement on...the torture, rape and ethnic cleansing of Muslims in the former Yugoslavian Republic. I believe Melosovic was EVIL...not misguided, misunderstood, just venting his feelings, the product of poor mothering. I believe he was fully evil.

Again...I am not referrring to George Bush's hyperbole about the "Evil Empires"...sounds like frekin Star Wars. But war against the likes of a Melosovic was a battle of good and evil. Does that make all of his solidiers bad and all the soliders on the other side good. Of course not.

But I guess we obviously see this MUCH differently.

We talk about Iraq too if you like. But I don't want to take up too much space.

howie

Alex-

By the way...of course I know you are an engineer and not a pyscholgist. After all, we have our ways........

Zenobia of the East and West

Please don't accuse me of being a psychologist.
i don't live or work as a psychologist, and i may never, so lets leave it at that.

R, I am not trying to paint HA as a 'godsend'... my choice to describe certain roles they have played and not describe the more negative ones... was in response to the baiting by Howie (who has now admitted that he is deliberately trying to "get a rise out of me"..how mature).
I am simply illustrating why HA would never fit any definition I have of 'Evil'. One cannot ignore that (although maybe there has been the experiences by some that you describe) - there are also the thousands of supporters who cannot all be brainwashed and coerced.
Therefore, one has to account for HA's popularity and the needs that they are fulfilling for that segment of the population. And any solution to the divisions in the country are also going to have to take that into account.

In sum, I am not interested in debating - as I am being dragged into it- whose actions are most evil or most defining of evil within this context (middle east/ lebanon etc).
I am outright rejecting the use of the term. I think it is a completely counterproductive and demeaning term that dismisses those who it is used to designate, thereby eliminating any need to understand them or their actions. The use of the term has no place in politics. Save it for ethics or religion... and I don't mean political ethics or law.

When i first brought up the word evil...it is true that Howie had just used it in his comment, but truthfully I was not intending to engage Howie on this subject - I was more interested in why Ammar had used it.
and i intend to post a different comment about that...

R

Zenobia ...,

I understand what you are saying now, and perhaps the use of the word evil is well useless or counterproductive. How about we instead use teh words "cynical", "with little regard to human free will or life" :).

On the other hand, like I said, there is no denying that Hizballa has the support of thousands of people. I am sure many of them make that choice of their own free will. I am also sure that many thousands if not more people supported the likes of stalin and pol pot (not to mention our own arabic brutal ideologies, your own being no exception) of their own free will. That does not make it right or morally justifiable, though it is explainable in context. But there is a difference between explainanble and justifiable.

Ok, I am losing coherence so I am gonna stop :).

howie

R-

Hooray for R !!!!!!!!!!!!

You got it.

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