Friday, August 25, 2006

Hey! It's Friday!

Amir Taheri in today’s WSJ: Hezbollah Didn’t Win.”

The way much of the Western media tells the story, Hezbollah won a great victory against Israel and the U.S., healed the Sunni-Shiite rift, and boosted the Iranian mullahs' claim to leadership of the Muslim world. Portraits of Hassan Nasrallah, the junior mullah who leads the Lebanese branch of this pan-Shiite movement, have adorned magazine covers in the West, hammering in the message that this child of the Khomeinist revolution is the new hero of the mythical "Arab Street."

Probably because he watches a lot of CNN, Iran's "Supreme Guide," Ali Khamenei, also believes in "a divine victory." Last week he asked 205 members of his Islamic Majlis to send Mr. Nasrallah a message, congratulating him for his "wise and far-sighted leadership of the Ummah that produced the great victory in Lebanon."

By controlling the flow of information from Lebanon throughout the conflict, and help from all those who disagree with U.S. policies for different reasons, Hezbollah may have won the information war in the West. In Lebanon, the Middle East and the broader Muslim space, however, the picture is rather different.


Politically, however, Hezbollah had to declare victory for a simple reason: It had to pretend that the death and desolation it had provoked had been worth it.


The tactic worked for a day or two. However, it did not silence the critics, who have become louder in recent days. The leaders of the March 14 movement, which has a majority in the Lebanese Parliament and government, have demanded an investigation into the circumstances that led to the war, a roundabout way of accusing Hezbollah of having provoked the tragedy. Prime Minister Fuad Siniora has made it clear that he would not allow Hezbollah to continue as a state within the state. Even Michel Aoun, a maverick Christian leader and tactical ally of Hezbollah, has called for the Shiite militia to disband.

“Rather different” is an understatement. Mr. Taheri cites and quotes dissident voices in Lebanon and elsewhere, many of them Shiite, to what has become the common wisdom in the West, i.e., “Hezbollah won,” “Hezbollah is popular amongst the Lebanese,” and so on. This op-ed is the perfect antidote to the “mainstream” analysis and aftermath reporting of the Israel – Hezbollah conflict, as seen on the Beeb and CNN and read in wire service reports. As a matter of fact, Mr. Taheri’s op-ed is so positive I became a bit suspicious, wanting to know more about him and his credentials. His Wikipedia bio is here. I’d say he’s qualified to express his opinion…much more so than the idiots reporters on the Beeb and elsewhere.

Iran plays the “moderate” card, and Captain Ed calls “Bullshit:”

For those who have studied the coordinated diplomacy of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in the late 1930s, this sounds depressingly familiar. Some people compared UNSCR 1701 to Munich, but this is much closer to that infamous Western collapse. In 1938, Britain and France rushed to dismember Czechoslovakia -- a democracy with highly defendable borders -- in order to assist the "moderate" Mussolini in appeasing the radical Hitler and keep him from waging war. Italy got what it wanted by appearing to be a rational actor, while Hitler got the Sudetenland and the most formidable natural defensive barrier in central Europe.

This sounds almost exactly the same, even playing on the West's analysis of Iran as two separate entities. The mullahs and the hard-line Islamists comprise one portion of the Iranian ruling class, while men like Mohammed Khatami supposedly offer a more reasonable partner for negotiations. It's hogwash. The ruling class in Teheran all share the same goals: an Islamist Caliphate in Southwest Asia with its seat in Teheran. Some of them just happen to have a better sense of Western public relations than Ali Khameini and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but that does not make them more rational or less supportive of Islamist triumphalism.

I think the good Captain is spot-on. Unfortunately, a significant number of folks in the West will latch on to the “moderate” myth and urge us to go slow with regards to meaningful sanctions or other appropriate action. There’s nothing, nothing moderate at all about the regime in Tehran. To believe otherwise is indulging in magical thinking.

This makes me sad: Tower Records files for bankruptcy. And here’s an interesting column on the subject.

Readers of a certain age will remember the days of record stores with listening booths and the big downtown department stores having their own record departments.

Readers of a less slightly advanced age (that's you, baby boomers) will remember the emergence of national chains such as Tower, Peaches and discount, as well as the discount department stores that stocked records.

And readers still decades away from an advanced age may come to regard record stores only as a historic curiosity -- and may someday be asking, "What's a CD?" the way some now ask, "What's a record?"

Well, yes. I’m “of a certain age.” I remember, quite well, in fact, making the short trip from Torrance to Tower’s Hollywood store on weekend nights in ’61, ’62, and ’63 to listen to new releases in the listening booths…until the clerks kicked us out. My love of record stores began with Tower and it’s not ended yet. The best thing about my year-long sojourn in Berkeley was the great record stores, specifically Amoeba Music and Rasputin Music. I visited those stores, which were within walking distance of my apartment, on a weekly basis. And I actually bought music in those places, too, unlike the “listen only” forays to Tower during my high-school days. Record stores will always be with us, especially in college towns. But it looks like the days of chain music retailers are marked. And that’s kinda sad, isn’t it?

I didn’t mention the fact yesterday that SN1 was away from home on his birthday. He’s in San Diego, in fact… for another short boondoggle school. But he wasn’t alone. Buck celebrated his birthday by having dinner with his Aunt Jo (two years his junior), her family, and Grandma Pennington, who made the short trip from Hemet to San Diego for the birthday dinner. I’m told it was a great night out. Too bad I missed it!

Today’s Pic: Another shot from the Brownsville Air Show (03-2000)…this time it’s a B-17. I have a soft spot for the great old Boeing bomber, because my Dad flew in them in Big Bang II. That and the fact they are simply beautiful machines, arguably the “prettiest” bomber, ever. And there were two of them at Brownsville that year. It was a great weekend…


  1. "prettiest bomber ever"?

    I dunno about that one...I've always been a big fan of the Bone. It definitely ranks up there though.

  2. Mike sez: I dunno about that one...I've always been a big fan of the Bone. It definitely ranks up there though.

    The B-1 is pretty sleek, Mike, and pretty in a "Jetsons" sort of way. But the B-17 has that "classic" beauty, sort of like the difference between an elegant older woman in an evening gown and a perky young thing in cut-offs. Both are easy on the eye, but it's the Lady, not the girl, that I want...

  3. Heh, and there's the difference between you and me. I figure I can keep chasing the perky young thing in cut-offs for another few years, till I'm out of college at least.

  4. What would be considered somewhere in between the young thing in cutoffs and the elegant older lady in evening gown?

  5. Mike sez: "I figure I can keep chasing the perky young thing in cut-offs for another few years..."

    Were I in your shoes, Mike, I'd do the exact same thing!

    Laurie: Bombers? Or women? There aren't that many bombers to choose from, and most aren't that pretty, given their purpose. The B-47 would be my second choice.

    Now women are an entirely different subject... :-)


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