Impressions, views, and steam-blowing by a lonesome cowboy.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Walid Joumblatt is Cool, NOT!

This post is as much about Walid Joumblatt, as it is about the Lebanese intellectuals and journalists that make it easier for Joumblatt to say irresponsible things, at great cost to Lebanon (and the Druze community). This time its Michel Hajji-Georgiou from L'Orient-LeJour.

Joumblatt has a long history of incoherence and of saying "white" in the morning and "black" in the afternoon. In the last year or so, he flipped from wanting Americans dead in Iraq, to realizing that he US presence in Iraq had some liberating effect on the Lebanese scene. He went from telling us that Lebanon had to fight to the end for the Palestinian cause, to telling the Palestinians they could forget about Liberating Jerusalem from Lebanon, back to being worried about the Arab identity of Lebanon. He was also willing to have relations, POST Hariri murder, with ANY Syrian regime in order to preserve Lebanon's Arab identity (whatever the hell that means).

The most recent outrage, Joumblatt had nothing better to do than to pay tribute to Ghazi Kanaan, the recently "suicided" Syrian Interior Minister. Kanaan, if nothing else, was the main architect of Syria's security apparatus in Lebanon for over 20 years. Kanaan was also responsible for debauching the Lebanese security institutions. In short, Kanaan was responsible for the very apparatus that killed Hariri, and repressed the Lebanese for years, and instituted widespread high-level corruption. These were the very things that Walid Joumblatt said were unacceptable and why Syria had to leave Lebanon.

So now Joumblatt wants to pay tribute to Kanaan, and say that the poor man was "betrayed" by his successor Rustom Ghazaleh. Reading between the lines of his tribute (PDF French, shorter English version here), one could easily conclude that had Kanaan stayed at the helm running Lebanon, and had Lahoud not been extended, Walid Joumblatt would still be very happy with Syria's occupation.

The problem for the Lebanese is this: unfortunately Joumblatt is not some rock singer or some Hollywood actor, who can shoot his mouth about politics, and it won’t matter much. Unfortunately Joumblatt is a major player, and one who can and has on many occasions inflicted tremendous harm on the body politic and on the nation. Joumblatt is a divider because that is the position that he thinks fits him best. Divide the country, and with very little weight (his small community), if you stand in the middle of the seesaw, you can shift the balance by merely shifting your small weight.

People's attitude in Lebanon tends to be "hey it's Joumblatt being Joumblatt", wink wink, "isn't he cool or cute?"... No he is not. He is toying with lives and the future of Lebanon. And journalists at least should call him to task. They cannot stop him, but they can make it more difficult to indulge in this destructive behavior

Romanticization of Walid

In L'Orient-LeJour of October 14, (PDF French), Michel Hajji-Georgiou (barely) criticizes Joumblatt and then goes on to using cute expressions to describe him: "enfant terrible", "eternel rebel", "at his best in the midst of battle [my translation]". Georgiou concludes: "Joumblatt's dilemma is poignant because it reflects the terrible battle taking place inside him" [My translation]. Now we have to feel sorry for Joumblatt? What battle is Georgiou talking about? Joumblatt hasn't yet figured out what is good for Lebanon?

I am sick and tired of people letting Joumblatt off the hook under inane pretexts: "oh he is a man of contradictions (like his father). Ain't it cool and interesting he is a feudal lord, yet he is also a socialist? He wears jeans to important meetings. He's like Fonzi of "Happy Days"; he speaks his mind, wears a leather jacket, and rides a motorcycle, wow man!" It's not always cool to live out contradictions, and to act like a twenty-year old.

This silliness has got to stop. This stuff may be acceptable from a publicity seeking movie star, not for a man who has affected and still affects the political future of the country. Someone (other than Aoun) has to attack Joumblatt politically. Furthermore intellectuals and the despicable Lebanese press ought to start asking him (and others) the hard questions.


  • At 10/15/05, 9:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    In a country afflicted by collective amnesia, it's nice to know that someone is keeping score. Thank you for writing what has been on my mind and the minds of countless other Lebanese! Every time jumblat (j minisculed purposely) opens his mouth, he insults scrores of Lebanese, I only wish next time there are less microphones...

  • At 10/15/05, 11:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It's Palestinians, not "Palis", you racist idiot.

  • At 10/15/05, 1:24 PM, Blogger JoseyWales said…

    Anon 9:31, Thx for the nice words.

    Anon 11:53, Thx for the great PC insight. Must be tough going thru life being that sensitive.

  • At 10/16/05, 11:44 AM, Blogger Lazarus said…

    JW - good post. The politicians we have must begin to at least feel some responsibility with the words they use.

  • At 10/17/05, 3:01 AM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said…

    Your error is that you actually listen to Jumblat. Big mistake, that idiot feels like he's important when people listen to him. You should do like I do: whenever I see the letters JUMB in the heading of an article, I stop reading.

  • At 10/17/05, 3:07 AM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 10/17/05, 3:07 AM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said…

    "Now we have to feel sorry for Joumblatt? What battle is Georgiou talking about? Joumblatt hasn't yet figured out what is good for Lebanon?"

    The battle is between the sick part of his mind and the sane part of his mind.

  • At 10/17/05, 6:54 AM, Anonymous acrobat said…

    i am not anonymous 11:53, and i am not palestinian, and i take just as much offense as he did to your use of the word "Palis".

    anyone who has lived in the UK or elsewhere where racism is ripe can recognise in it a similar tone to the word "Pakis" which is a negative short of "Pakistanis" used by white english skinheads and nationalists, and almost as offensive as the "nigger" word to describe black people.

    it is racist, immature, and slightly idiotic (because it makes you sound you think you're clever for finding this word) and takes away much of the integrity of the rest of the post.

    you want to talk about jumblat being divisive and un-cool, don't be divisive yourself by thinking you are cool.

  • At 10/17/05, 7:24 AM, Blogger JoseyWales said…


    Appreciate your comment. However, should I worry about every word I use because it sounds close to a slur in some country, or in some language?

    "Pakis" is in your mind and maybe the previous anon's.

    It's a bit like PC people who won't use the word "niggardly" because it sounds like the "n" word.

    "Pali" is just short hand (web full of them) that I and others have often used in fast and short blog comment. The exact way some of use "Leb" or "Lebs" for short.

    Having said all that, you are right that it is apparently distracting some from my main point. I have edited the post.

  • At 10/17/05, 2:21 PM, Anonymous acrobat said…

    see, it now reads so much better and sounds that much more authoritative, and hence more prone to make readers think instead of brushing it aside.
    no point preaching to the choir, right?

  • At 10/17/05, 2:33 PM, Anonymous acrobat said…

    as for the word "niggardly", i had never heard it before so i googled it and found that not only over-PC people freak out over it, it has actually caused people to resign from public office for "causing offence by using it". which is for all intents and purposes the same as using it knowingly and causing offense, since one can just as easily use more common words such as "miserly", or "palestinians".

    and to answer you, yes, i think you should worry about every word you use in a blog, as this is what makes the difference between a great blog i would want to read regularly, and a juvenile rant i would totally avoid.

    bottom line is, stop thinking like a "yank" and remember there is a whole world outside the good ole u s of a and of lebanon of course.

  • At 10/19/05, 2:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I"m speechless! you couldnt have put any better. frankly i think the guy is deranged.

    PS: I got your article fro ma friend in the US who responed to a write up which i forwarded to him on the same issue.

    Well Done!

  • At 10/22/05, 2:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The problem with you guys is your IQ I guess Joumblat is the one who gave you your freedom not the Great NapolyAoun,read the history you will see a guy with guts not like NapolyAoun who left his palace after the first bomb.Read history and forget your ego. I think Joumblat is smart, strong and frank and he knows how to play it and apologies when he needs 2 (Mountain war)not Like the bloody war that Aoun is proud of using the Christian blood.

  • At 10/22/05, 9:27 AM, Blogger JoseyWales said…

    Anon 2:09

    And the problem with you is personal attacks instead of arguments.

    BTW, my condolences to you and Walid on the death of Ghazi (May he rot in hell).

  • At 10/24/05, 10:10 AM, Blogger Walid71 said…

    You keep on heaping insults on Walid Jumblatt, but you never seem to stop to explain to readers why exactly you are doing so... You talk about him contradicting himself.... Can you give clear exmaples of how he said "white" and then changed it to "black"?... Can you?... You should have the mental capacity to realise that politicians do revisit or adjust cerrtain positions in fast changing environments.. witness G.W. Bush and his team reassessing the involvment in Iraq, or Tony Blair reformulating on foreign and domestic UK issues....or even J. Chirac, becoming virtually anti-Euro when the French voted No.... So, do us all a favour and give us evidence... It's Walid Joumblatt who was the lynchpin of the popular movement that swept Lebanon after the assassination of R. Hariri... People like Aoun were only able to come back to Lebanon because of this movement, come back and unfortunately, ally himself with the likes of S.Franjieh, M.Murr, O.Karameh or T.Arslan!!!..It's true that the Aoun activists took full part in the March movement, but nowhere can they come close to be considered as the people who sparked it into existence....

  • At 10/24/05, 2:29 PM, Blogger JoseyWales said…


    You keep on heaping insults on Walid Jumblatt

    Name ONE insult.

    I called him incoherent and called his recent statements destructive. I also criticized the press that lets him (and others) off the hook, though they seem to have more affection for Joumblatt than for others.

    My piece obviously assumes some familiarity with Joumblatt and Lebanese politics, but does cite more than one recent example (his Hezbo position, his "Arab" position, and Syria position).

    His most recent flip-flop was about Syria's role and Kanaan. Kanaan put in the system that attempted to kill Hamadeh and killed his "friend" Hariri, besides killing Lebanon's independence. It is that system which he, Joumblatt, belatedly rose against.

    We are currently trying to shake off Syria and its Mukhabarat (still). From an independence and political maturity perspective, you think it is helpful for Joumblatt to come out and give tribute to Kanaan?

    To simplify a bit, and whether intended or not, the implication is Hafez/Kanaan OK, Bashar/Ghazaleh not OK.

    Do the Lebanese look mature and like they know what they want with statements like that?

  • At 1/18/06, 7:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Guys u must realise that while Walid Joumblatt is always changing his mind, he is the only one who says what MUST be said: someone has to question hezbollah's motives, someone has to tell the palestinians their fight is not a lebanese one. Furthermore everyone was worried about the US's invasion of iraq not just him, but he is a smart politician and then later on manipulated the iraqi situation for lebanon's benefit...he was the single most influential figure in the opposition for god's sake!!! And he doesnt contradict himself by saying lebanon must maintain its arab identity...what he is doing is slowly changing the meaning behind arab identity...he is changing it from a 'dictatorially ruled ppl who go to any length to kill jews and 'liberate' palestine' to 'a freedom loving people who are proud of their arab heritage and who can reach agreements thru peace'...
    As for ghazi kanaan, he was in lebanon in a time when lebanon NEEDED foriegn peace keeping forces...of course there was laundering and opression back then...but not as much...and if ghazi kanaan was no different from other syrian politicians...why was he killed? he was killed because he was different...and did not agree with syria's agenda in lebanon...so maybe he does deserve some respect...

  • At 6/7/06, 11:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Well,this is WALID JOUMVBLAT,the full moon of our black sky.people do not critique stars but they talk a lot about the moon.i wonder if walid joumblat wasn't here it will b desert land and other politicians would b sqeletons with all my respect from nasrallah"minuscule" to aoun and others,yet thank you

  • At 12/18/06, 6:12 AM, Anonymous Ramy said…

    When any of you people actually do the research properly, you will soon realize the reasoning behind Jumblut ("J" minisculed purposely). I am indeed Lebanese by background, but a proud Australian. I have been to Lebanon 5 times and I know the overall opinion about Jimblut. I can unbiasdly say that around 60% of Lebanese understand his cause, even though they might not follow it. So realistically, people are denying there own true feelings and emotions, because of the pressures that are put on the Socialist Party and of Walid Jimblut.


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