Friday, July 21, 2006

Friday’s Frivolity

Interesting and related… First: Saddam Hussein warns Syria:

Amman - Toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has issued a warning to the Syrian leadership 'not to go too far in its alliance with Iran,' blaming Tehran for the current flare-up of violence in the Middle East, the head of Saddam's defence team claimed Tuesday.

Iraqi lawyer Khalil Duleimi told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that he and another member of the defence panel, Ziyad Najdawi, met with the former Iraqi president at his place of custody in Baghdad on Monday for three and a half hours.


'I am convinced that the Iranian and US agendas have met in Iraq and elsewhere in the Arab world and Arabs are now placed between the US-Israeli hammer and the Iranian anvil,' Duleimi quoted Saddam as saying.

Yeah, that Saddam. Weird, eh? Not so very, according to Josh Manchester in his article “Shaken and Stirred,” at TCS Daily.

In fact, Saddam is quite astute when he notes that the Arabs are placed between the US-Israeli hammer and the Iranian anvil. Before the US invasion, Iraq was the geostrategic pivot of the Middle East. All of the fault lines in the area's politics converge there. The Sunni-Shia split; the Arab-Persian split; the Ba'athist-Wahhabist split; and the Muslim-Israeli split: each of these ran through Iraq via its ethnic and religious makeup; its geographic location; and its former interests, alliances, and enemies.

The 'big bang,' as invading Iraq has sometimes been called, was meant to reorder the nature of politics in the region. This has been accomplished in a fundamental way. The idea of dividing an enemy force into its constituent parts and then dealing with it piecemeal is at least as old as Caesar's actions in Gaul. It applies no less to US strategy in the Middle East. Every faction there has been made to reconsider its relationship with every other. Rather than there being a monolithic clash of civilizations, thus far the US is dealing with the area in pieces -- in whatever way it sees fit to do so -- whether making it tacitly clear to Syria that what happened in Iraq could more easily happen to it, or threatening Iran on behalf of the region and world, or seeking cooperation with the Saudis in hunting down al Qaeda.

Far from being a bit of belated triumphalism about the invasion, all of this has immediate and direct consequences. While the success of Iraq's democracy hangs in the balance from an operational perspective, the strategic advantages created by the invasion of Iraq are working very favorably for the US in the current Israeli-Lebanon crisis in very tangible ways.

And one of those “tangible ways” is the imminent destruction of Hezbollah, Mr. Manchester goes on to note. It remains to be seen whether or not Israel can run Hezbollah to ground in the face of the increasingly negative reporting coming out of Lebanon. The clock is ticking…

TigerHawk has additional comment on Manchester’s essay. He makes good points.

I’ve taken to watching BBC World News (courtesy of my local PBS station) every evening since the war began and their editorial slant isn’t so much pro-Hezbollah as it is anti-Israel. Last night’s offerings, for example, included heavily edited snippets of Kofi Annan addressing the UNSC. By “heavily edited” I mean the emphasis was on Annan’s remarks about the “disproportionate nature” of Israel’s attacks on Hezbollah/Lebanon while omitting Annan’s condemnation of Hezbollah (I later saw Annan’s complete address to the UNSC. The BBC’s heavy-handed editing was all too apparent, in retrospect.). And then there were reports from four BBC correspondents in the area, one in Beirut, one in Tyre, one in Amman and one in Northern Israel. The reports from Lebanon featured lots of video of destroyed infrastructure, particularly in south Beirut, and the BBC reporters’ narrative focuses primarily on civilian casualties while bemoaning the lack of a cease-fire. The demands for a cease-fire will increase with each passing day. One couldn’t help but think the Israelis are on the wrong side of this war, morally speaking, if the BBC was your sole source of news about this conflict.

I also watched a half-hour Lebanese TV newscast on C-SPAN last evening for another perspective. This newscast was on C-SPAN several times last night, but I couldn’t find a link on the C-SPAN site. I found it most interesting that the Lebanese were more objective than the BBC in their reporting, particularly when it came to their editing of Annan at the UNSC; Annan’s anti-Hezbollah remarks were included almost in their entirety. This newscast was billed as originating from an independent, privately-owned network—as opposed to a state-controlled medium, as is often the case in the Arab world—and seemed quite even-handed. I hope C-SPAN continues to run these broadcasts.

This is RICH! The Sun reports, in that wonderful British tabloid style:

EXILED preacher of hate Omar Bakri has begged the Royal Navy to rescue him from war-torn Beirut.

The Muslim cleric who fled Britain last year, tried to board a ship full of women and children yesterday but was turned away.

He also wrote to the British embassy asking to be allowed back on “humanitarian grounds”.

In an email to officials, dole scrounger Bakri pleaded: “The current situation in Beirut left me without any choice but to appeal to you to grant me a visit visa to see my children for one month.”

But his bid to sneak on one of our ships was blocked at harbour gates by sharp-eyed officials.

Bakri, 46, left his family in Edmonton, North London, last August and went to Lebanon after a Sun campaign to kick him out.

He can preach hate and jihad from his pulpit but when his tired ass is in a sling who does he run to? Two words come to mind: “collateral damage,” as in deserving of same. Hot Air has more, including a lot of the back-story.

Your typical blogger… The Pew Internet/American Life Project reports:

The ease and appeal of blogging is inspiring a new group of writers and creators to share their voices with the world.

A national phone survey of bloggers finds that most are focused on describing their personal experiences to a relatively small audience of readers and that only a small proportion focus their coverage on politics, media, government, or technology. Blogs, the survey finds, are as individual as the people who keep them. However, most bloggers are primarily interested in creative, personal expression – documenting individual experiences, sharing practical knowledge, or just keeping in touch with friends and family.

The Pew site features a link to a 33 page pdf file with extensive findings, most of which one would, or should, intuitively know, if one reads more than a few blogs. Still, I found the report interesting reading. (via The Hotline’s Blogometer)

In other news… Have I mentioned it’s hot lately? Oh, yeah…I guess I have. It still is. I’m waiting with great anticipation for that slight break (with rain!) that’s supposedly in store for tomorrow. We’ll see…


  1. Frivolity? If that is frivolous, then I'd hate to see you in a serious mood, Mr. P. I did just read elsewhere about the good sheet head being denied passage by the British.

  2. You're right, Laurie, most of this ain't frivolous in the least. But I had difficulty coming up with some sort of alliterative combination for "Friday." More work was obviously needed...

    "Sheet head." You're good!!


  3. Hmm, how about Friday Funk (the old definition, not the music style) or Friday Fracts (like facts, but sorta not). Friday Fuzz (stuff that makes you feel warm and fuzzy.... or not). Facetious Friday. Friday Flops. I could go on. ;)

  4. the BBCs anti-israeli bias is well known in these parts. its a shame because it was at one time a well regarded news agency.


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