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

Friday, June 30, 2006

Read This And Weep

From the Daily Star:

Lebanese leaders fail to resolve domestic disputes but agree on need for intervention in Gaza Strip

BEIRUT: Participants in the ninth session of Lebanon's national dialogue failed to solve any of their own country's problems on Thursday, but they did manage to agree that the international community should step in to halt Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip. The Gaza crisis loomed large as leaders of the country's rival political factions held discussions on a strategy against any potential Israeli attack.

I could not, nor wished to, read past the first paragraph. For the gutsier types, here's the rest.(LINK)

Ditty, with apologies to T.S. Eliot:

We can't fix electricity in our own country,
But we know what's good for Gaza

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men

Shape without form, shade without color,
Paralyzed force, gesture without motion;

This is the way Lebanon ends
Not with a bang but a whimper

Monday, June 26, 2006

Behind The Arabs' Failure

An interesting short piece and roundup by Amir Taheri in the NY Post. I'd probably prefer to have different or other "success" criteria. The main point of course is Arabs better go with what "works". (Getting to what "works" seems much harder in the Lebanon-Syria-Palestinian arena).

June 26, 2006 -- WHAT should Arabs do to meet the challenges they face in a world not made by, or for, them? Debated in Arab countries since the middle of the 19th century, the question has been posed with even greater urgency since the 9/11 tragedy persuaded many in the West to regard all Arabs as enemies. Remarkably, the answers given today are more or less the same as those of 150 years ago.

One answer, long the one most popular with the elites, is that Arabs should Westernize as fast as they can. Abdul-Rahman al-Kawakibi, the father of modern reformism in the Arab world, saw traditional political, cultural and social structures as the principal cause of what he branded as "the historic decline of our nation."

A second answer was that the best hope of Arabs, indeed of all Muslims, lay in finding a benevolent despot who, rather than spend time enriching himself, would lead them into creating a modern society.

The third answer is that the secret of Arabs' "decline" lies in the fact that they have distanced themselves from Islam. The magic formula, therefore, was simple: Return to Islam, which in practice means imposing the shariah, and all will be well in no time.

All three views share one problem - the assumption that there is an ideal form of government that can be adopted by any society at any given time. The real question, however, is not whether this or that Arab system is good or bad, compared to any real or imaginary model, but whether or not it performs its proper functions.

In other words, what is lacking was a pragmatic approach. Before asking whether something was good or bad, right or wrong, modern or traditional, we have to ask whether it works

THE REST IS HERE (New York Post)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Your "Next" President (and Lahoud)

Or: Fun with Emile Khoury

In a piece by Emile Khoury, in today's Nahar (Arabic, PDF) and L'Orient-LeJour (French, link good one day) we "learn" a few things.

A "candidate" to the Lebanese presidency who is not named in the piece tells Emile Khoury (see if you disagree):

-He hopes Syrian Lebanese relations improve. If tensions persist the security situation in Lebanon would suffer.

-There is a French-Saudi-Egyptian-US effort to help Lebanon apply UN resolutions 1559 and 1680

-The Brammertz report contains clues which need to be pursued.

-If Syrian-Lebanese relations do not improve, applying those UN resolutions will be difficult.

-Only when we have a new president can we move away from stagnation and paralysis.

WOW! WOW! WOW! Does it get any more obvious than that?

Have you had your fill of the plain-blah-vanilla-obvious-to-a-5-year-old for the next 10 years? And so the man thinks he has something to say. OK, but what about you Emile?

Even if it is a very slow day Emile, and you have a page to fill, why not tell us WHO this very discreet man is, and WHAT his ideas might be for the country? Or is the latter also a secret like the candidate's identity?

What kind of candidate anywhere in the world wants to remain anonymous? I realize that Lebanon is a very strange place. However this is getting weird, even by Lebanese Twilight-Zone standards.

But wait! I can beat that. In the same Nahar today another story had President Lahoud saying: "No Room for Judas in Lebanon."

And now, to make myself feel better, please excuse me while I go bang my head against a brick wall.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

"We Muslims have work to do"

Obvious to some but not most. Thus worth repeating.

We [muslims] keep assuring ourselves and others that Muslims who violate Islam are a minuscule minority, yet we fail to hold this minority accountable in public.
[Emphasis in bold mine]

BINGO, one of the better lines in this piece, in the Toronto Sun.

We Muslims have work to do (By Salim Mansur)

Muslim Canadians, as Muslims elsewhere in Western societies, have felt increasingly besieged for some time now, both from outside their community and from within.

This sense of isolation, of being misrepresented and misunderstood, will inevitably deepen as the full story unfolds of the arrests of 17 Toronto-area Muslims on terrorism charges.

But whose fault is this? Let us, Muslims, be brutally honest.

We have inherited a culture of denial, of too often refusing to acknowledge our own responsibility for the widespread malaise that has left most of the Arab-Muslim countries in economic, political and social disrepair.