Aoun is the New Lebanese president

"During Lebanon's civil war, Aoun's battalion fought pro-Syria forces. He became the country's president in 1988, although some factions disputed it. He was then forced out of the presidential palace and into exile in France in 1990.
He returned to Lebanon in 2005 and has served as a member of parliament since then. He signed a memorandum of understanding with Hezbollah in 2006.
The Republican Guard Brigade welcomed Aoun back to Baabda Palace outside Beirut with a 21-gun salute, the state-run National News Agency, an arm of the Information Ministry, reported.
The U.S. State Department considers Hezbollah a foreign terrorist organization. In 2012, the U.S. Treasury Department also designated Hezbollah a terrorist group for its support of the Syrian regime.
"This action highlights Hezbollah's activities within Syria as well as its integral role in the continued violence being carried out by the (President Bashar) Assad regime against the Syrian population," said David Cohen, then-Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence."  CNN
The US government caused the deadlock in Lebanese government over the last 29 months.
We did that by allowing the neocon faction in the Obama Administration to conduct an obstructionist political campaign in Lebanon designed to prevent the assumption of power by the elected parliamentary coalition of Hizbullah and Aoun's small Maronite Christian Party plus a few other small factions.
We did this for the purpose of blocking any participation by Hizbullah in Lebanon's government.  It has been the fixed policy of the US to accomplish that goal just as it has been the policy of the US to block the functioning of the elected Hamas government in Gaza.
Can anyone doubt that we have done this in both places because of our servile attitude toward Israel's desires?  In Lebanon our policy seems to have failed for the moment, but I have no doubt that President Clinton would continue and intensify the effort.  pl

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81 Responses to Aoun is the New Lebanese president

  1. I was preparing a post about this, as well. These are my comments on the development.
    As far as I’m concerned, This is the best outcome for Lebanon. In the photo above, Michel Aoun seems every bit the stately elderly statesman, even boring. But there is a lot more to this stately statesman. I first saw his name in the 10th SFG(A) isolation area listed on a butcher paper briefing chart as the new commander of the newly reorganized 8th Brigade. Before long I was watching Aoun and his Brigade develop and enter combat. He defended the ridge of Souk al Gharb against the Syrian supported Druze militias of Walid Jumblatt. The fighting was bloody, loud and desperate.
    He continued to fight that war long after I was gone both as commander of the 8th Brigade and later as commander of the Lebanese Army. In my opinion, he saved Lebanon.
    If that wasn’t enough, he was later installed as head of an interim military government, declared a war of liberation against Syrian occupation, fled to France in exile, and reconciled with Hezbollah and Syria upon his return. He’s no wallflower.
    All the old names are still there: Jumblatt, Berri, Frangieh, Nasrallah and Geagea. I’d like to think that deep down these now old men are concerned about the Lebanon they will leave to their grand children. That Johnny-come-lately, Saudi tool Hariri is also in the thick of it. Israel and the Saudis are not at all pleased. Tough. Live with it.
    Rule well, my brother.

  2. This young Lebanese medical student offers a detailed take on the politics leading up to Aoun’s election. It’s a fascinating read.

  3. BraveNewWorld says:

    Thanks for the article. While I have a pretty good idea of most of the countries I am way behind on my knowledge of Lebanon. Mostly because they have had so much history over the last half century.
    Auon isn’t ready to let Israel steal the Shebaa Farms any more than Assad is ready to let them steal the Golan Heights so expect the State Dept to label a Auon a terrorist and an anti-semite any day now.

  4. turcopolier says:

    I spent ten years as a part time Lebanese after I left government in 1994. The company was mainly Lebanese Sunni owned and made building materials in a lot of countries. I spent quite a lot of time in Lebanon and with Muslim, Christian and indeterminate Lebanese. I met Aoun a couple of times. I was struck by how tiny a man he is. You say he is a good fighter and leader of combat troops. I accept that. I don’t know. In general I found that Lebanese are a lot less European than they want you to think they are. IMO that is true of all of them including the various kinds of Christians. The executive group in the company hung out together when people were available in Dubai, Beirut, London or Washington. Very cosmopolitan group, eh? Not really. I found that the old Arab was very close to the surface whether they had British, French or American degrees or not. For example, I speak French as did most of the wives in the seniors group. I was always at overseas dinners alone and talked to the women a lot at table. It became very apparent that if you talked to their women for any period of time the men became progressively more silent and brooding. Much the same thing applied in a family foundation I helped design and set up. All went well until the thing became operative. At that point all the men involved took the reins away from the women for no good reason and just let them do the work. that was typical. are they charming Yes? are they fluent in conversation? Yes? Are they really very Western? No. pl

  5. Ali says:

    That’s a really interesting take that I hadn’t heard before. Why do you think his involvement in the civil war saved Lebanon? Did it prevent (even) further fracturing?
    I am inclined to agree that he seems to be more of a leader of substance than the rest of them (although when your competition includes Saad Hariri and Walid Jumblatt, that might not be saying much).

  6. Phil Cattar says:

    Colonel,The immediate thought that comes to my mind after reading your comments is the Lebanese will play the East card when in the East and the West card when dealing with the West.After all many of them are descendants of the world’s first travelling salesmen,the Phoenicians.They have a DNA that helps them get along with various types of people so they can do what they really want to do the most,close the deal.

  7. Phil Cattar says:

    Thanks for that link.

  8. turcopolier says:

    Phil Cattar
    I have known a lot of Lebanon born Lebanese of all varieties. It is true that they have many of the characteristics of the chameleon but IMO at root they are oriental and should not be expected to be other than that. pl

  9. Amir says:

    What is the definition of oriental (-ism?)?
    Would someone with tendency to see intentional bombing of anti-DAESH forces by USAF (last year near Fallujah and Ramadi and this month near Deir-az-Zour) be called an Orientalist Conspiracy-Thinker or is one ready to revise it’s view of Orient(-alism)?

  10. mike allen says:

    Slightly off topic but perhaps pertinent is the discovery of an ancient cemetery recently unearthed in Batroun Lebanon. Although not the home of President Aoun who was from south of Beirut, Batroun is considered an extremely important site for Maronites. And is also a place of pristine beaches and beach resorts. It is said to be one of the oldest cities in the world, perhaps even older than the Phoenicians. The old Phoenician seawall there is still standing, millenia later.

  11. Earthrise says:

    Many Lebanese came to Australia in the 70’s and 80’s during the civil war. My children’s godmother is a Leb, and I worked for her family in one of my first jobs delivering pizzas. They are a very family-based culture, a little mafia-esque at times; they play hard and look after their own. They treat their guests well, to whom they are very generous. You do need to keep your wits about you though; there is always a business angle they are trying to develop which requires your assistance.
    In Adelaide there are mainly Christian Lebs, in Sydney and Melbourne mainly Muslim. 11 years ago this country had our worst race riots at Cronulla beach in Sydney. Lebanese males were harassing girls going to the beach, and the local surfer gang came to the rescue. Everyone called their people, and within hours thousands of angry young men were rioting on the foreshore. I still cringe at the memory of my countrymen wearing our flag as a face mask while shouting racist obscenities. Both communities showed their ugly face that day, and we all learned how bad it can get.
    Lebanon is part of Syria, the Lebanese know it. Some of the minorities will protest, and the scars of the civil war run deep. But if a new Syria emerges from this smoking rubble, an even more cosmopolitan and secular one, then there will be little difference between them. And if Hezbollah become the dominant political force in the country, considering their many sons buried in Syria, this will also assist. All those damn map lines are Western anyway, about time the locals got out their own red pens.

  12. The Porkchop Express says:

    “It is true that they have many of the characteristics of the chameleon but IMO at root they are oriental and should not be expected to be other than that.”
    Colonel–isn’t that horribly racist of you to say so? Surely the progressive Lebanese that frequent the coffee shops of Hamra or the Francophone cafes of Tabaris would never stoop so low as to engaging in blatant tribalism if/when confronted with a reality that is not to their liking? No, I’m shocked.
    But seriously, spot on.

  13. Mishkilji says:

    GEN Awn saved Lebanon like GEN Lee saved the South. He did seem to garner the same degree of fierce loyalty from subordinates.

  14. Mishkilji says:

    The real fireworks begin with the negotiations of a new Election Law to replace the National Assembly.
    Awn must sign it for it to become law.
    After the elections, Nasrallah will want his blocking third in the Cabinet.
    We will see how much street cred Hariri has with the Sunnis. My guess, without Saudi money, not much.

  15. Mishkilji says:

    This narrative overlook the role the Syrian Civil War played on this process.
    Lebanon in many ways is a canary in the Syrian coal mine; Awn’s ascendancy is a Saudi setback and an indication that the region is coming to terms with Bashar remaining in Damascus.

  16. Ali,
    The 8th Brigade’s stand at Souk al Gharb prevented the Druze militias, with their Syrian armor and artillery, from reaching Beirut and the International Airport at a critical time. I firmly believe this would have led to a much broader war and the spread of sectarian killings further into the Christian villages. Speaking just as a soldier, this would have a much grander tragedy that what eventually unfolded.
    Aoun’s strength lies in his devotion to the Lebanese Armed Forces and to Lebanon. This devotion is stronger than his factional devotion. I know this may be unusual for the Lebanese, but in his case, I think it’s real.

  17. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think the new Syria that emerges from the Civil War would be less civil, less free, and more religiously oriented in her makeup.
    The effect of the Civil War in both Lebanon and in Syria has been to drive non-Sunni sects towards one another for mutual protection and succor and has emphasized the sectarian mosaic of both countries. This election of Aoun is an example of it; the European-oriented Christians of Jouniyeh owing their physical existence to the poor humble Shia of the South Beirut.
    Furthermore, I think the Civil War in Syria finally destroyed the last remnants of Arab Nationalism and Arab Socialism – those European-inspired ideas are now dead and buried.
    By the way, I heard about some altercation decades ago in Denmark between young Iranian men – political refugees there – and the Danes. It was over females.
    What can I say – and then Americans want their women to be fighting on actual battle fields and become POWs.

  18. Amir says:

    Any different than the Cosmopolitan Flemish collaborating in harmony with their beloved Walloon neighbors, in Belgium? Indeed truly European equivalent or has the Oriental in the European Mind taken over from the Occidental due to unrestrained immigration?

  19. ToivoS says:

    Why is referring to Lebanese people as oriental considered racist? The mideast has its own cultures that are different from those in western Europe and the US. Why recognizing that obvious fact makes one a racist? I would think that failing to recognize those real differences would make one a colonialist or imperialist (i.e. all we have to do is civilize those barbarians and turn them into western clones).

  20. esq says:

    You really are gross if you “cringe” at Christians defending women from pack-rapes and abuse by Lebanese migrants who should never have been admitted to OZ.
    Should be kept out of US and Europe too. Maronites and Greeks are OK.

  21. Lemur says:

    Proximity + difference always causes fissures and conflict, which is why we evolved nation states. Our elites seem determined to turn formerly homogeneous homelands into places for everyone, and thus for no one; with all the alienation, resentment, and ressentiment that entails. “Racist” (the Orwellian newspeak for ‘preferring one’s own kin’) obscenities (which are always fun tbh) are the symptom, not the cause. Majorities have a right to vocally oppose their dispossession. Indeed, its hard to imagine we are forced to contend with a system that ostensibly exists for the benefit of a designated people (Australians, New Zealanders, etc), but is in fact so evil it wants to replace us Ship of Theseus style – a stealth transition. Why should we have to sacrifice the space that safeguards our unique traditions and spiritual-organic communities for the anti-human dictates of big business (immigration is nothing more than the reserve army of capital), or the cultural left’s deeply perverted obsession with ‘the other’?
    As Carl Schmidt taught us, the ‘friend-enemy’ distinction is fundamental to socio-political solidarity in the Westphalian world. Mobilizing rhetoric follows along those lines.
    After our bang-up job dividing the post-Ottoman ME without regard for cultural, religious, and linguistic differences (as you point out); we’re now repeating the exact same error in the West. Won’t it be great when we have a internecine civil war going in Syria AND France?

  22. Porkchop, “Oriental” isn’t a racist word .. it’s neutral, like saying Asian or black .. as someone who is Asian, Oriental, it’s neutral to me so Pat isn’t racist in using it ..
    Oriental or East Asian culture places family & education as #1 due to the primary influences of Confucian, Toaist & Buddhist philosphies (all 3 are actually agnostic secular, spiritual philosphies that have a tolerant & pluraistic view– some but not all Buddhist sects later added dieties some sects of Buddhism)
    a “live & let live” philosophy when it comes to letting other people live their lives however they want instead of imposing their religious values on others
    theocratic laws which is why most Oriental/East Asian cultures easily adoppt or assimilate into Western values & almost always have had secular governments/laws for thousands of years
    tolerate/acceptt homosexuality/LBGT (but note the exceptions of South Korea & Phillipines who had 500+ years of Spainish Catholic colonial rule or centuries long Portuguese missionaries or hundreds of years of rule by Muslims in Malaysia & Indonesia)
    –so while East Asian/Orientals share Middle Eastern values of family as #1, East Asian/Oriental culture is the opposite in that while most religious Muslim Middle Easterners value religion as #1 & thus most want theocratic government/laws,
    Orientals/East Asians prefer a secular gov/laws that let people live however they want instead of imposing their religious values on others

  23. Phil Cattar says:

    Earthwise,Actually a number of Lebanese migrated to Australia in the late 1800s.The same time they started coming to the US.These were mostly Christian Lebanese ,mostly Maronites,from Mount Lebanon.Today there are twice as many people who are Lebanese or part Lebanese in Brazil as in Lebanon. The Greek historian,Herodotus,wrote 2500 years ago that the Phoenicians were everyehere.Some things never change.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  24. Tigermoth says:

    No, not “racist” but probably a “culturalist” thing to say. (I’ve been in South Africa too long!)

  25. turcopolier says:

    Culture is real. Culture is important. Culture endures. If you don’t come here for the benefit of my experience unburdened by PC nonsense, don’t come. pl

  26. turcopolier says:

    I had this conversation repeatedly when I was Professor of Arabic at West Point. My office mates the first year I was there were the two officers who taught Chinese language. They knew little of Middle Eastern culture and as they learned of it from me were struck by just what you say, i.e., that in the ME religion both as path to salvation and also as sectarian identity matters a great deal while in the Far Eastern cultural matrix other factors prevail. The desire to believe that in the ME religion does not really matter is endemic in the West and that idea is completely wrongheaded. In Lebanon religion as sect is the backbone of personal identity and on that base political leaders assemble followers, Aoun is a Christian leader. He has made common cause with Nasrullah’s hizbullah in order to be able to successfully oppose what are essentially Sunni controlled forces headed by Hariri and backed by Saudi Arabia. Are there cross sectarian groupings in Lebanon? Yes, but they are notable for their scarcity. pl

  27. turcopolier says:

    For me, “oriental” does not denote little people with light brown skin, black hair and slanted eyes. No, it denotes the culture or cultures that are noticeably different from that of modern Europe and North America and which predominate across North Africa, the greater ME and the Asian land mass to the east of that. With regard to your point about similar divisions among groups like the Walloons and Flemings in Europe, you are correct. These difference are an exact analog but without the specific cultural content of similar divisions in the ME. The European divisions have nothing to do with present immigration. They have existed for a very long time. pl

  28. turcopolier says:

    What was the sectarian composition of the 8th Brigade at Souq al-Gharb? pl

  29. turcopolier says:

    The Hariris have always had a river of Saudi money to employ in Lebanon and Syria. why would that be different now? Saudi budgetary difficulties would not IMO be a barrier to that. pl

  30. pl,
    It was mostly Maronite Christian with another 20% Sunni Moslem, so it had a lot of reasons to hold the ridgeline.

  31. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I agree; indeed if one refuses to acknowledge empirical facts, that would be just plain stupid.

  32. turcopolier says:

    That was what I remembered of the brigade’s composition. IMO Aoun is a Lebanese patriot but he sees Lebanon as an essentially Christian country. He has reason to see it that way. The French created Lebanon as a Maronite enclave carved out of the side of the Syrian Mandate specifically as a kind of “reservation” for the Maronites for whom they had repeatedly intervened as protectors in the 19th Century. Unfortunately for this intention, the French found it necessary to include large numbers of Sunni and Shia Muslims within the boundaries of the new state. That and the influx of Palestinian refugees in 1948, many of them Muslim completely unbalanced the original demographic design of the Lebanese state. for the Maronites, for whom Aoun is such a standard bearer, he is a hope of preserving what they see as the essential character of Lebanon. Intelligent Muslims there agree that the Christians are essential. What they have often said to me is that without the Christians, especially the Maronites, Lebanon would be just another part of Syria. pl

  33. LeaNder says:

    , but is in fact so evil it wants to replace us Ship of Theseus style – a stealth transition.

  34. Hood Canal Gardner says:

    “Culture is real. Culture is important. Culture endures.” Yes!
    It “evolves/renews itself” as well (ie) is not static…especially when whacked, something the WDC pointy heads flush at our peril. IMO cultural anthropology/sociology, cultural geography has a central (yet developed) place in METL.

  35. kao_hsien_chih says:

    The Chinese differ rather sharply from Koreans, Vietnamese, and the Japanese, though. The Chinese are much more cosmopolitan and “accepting” of outsiders, at least in the big picture sense–individual clans, groups, etc. might be very inward looking, but they are willing to coexist with other groups on some agreed-upon long term compact. Not quite so with the more homogeneous ethnic groups that have superficially adopted Chinese cultural trappings. They have much more ingrained sense of “propriety” when it comes to defining a Korean, Vietnamese, or Japanese, and are not so willing to accept deviations. They will be polite towards those who are obviously “outsiders” but much less tolerant towards those who look like one of them, but not acting like they “should.” It may not show up as much on “cultural” matters (Koreans are less tolerant than Taiwanese, say, wrt LGBT, but generally more tolerant than Westerners, for example), but on matters of politics, history, and ideology, go against the conventional wisdom…look out. (As Babak reminded us in another thread, two mayors of Nagasaki were assassinated, in 1990s and 2000s, respectively, for saying that the Japanese emperor had some responsibility for World War II–in a society where firearms are uncommon.)
    I don’t know if the boundary between the West and the Orient is nearly as neatly defined as one might think, in some aspects, at any rate. On matters of laws, institutions, and “family/clan,” South Italians and Greeks, and even Cajuns in United States (this, I know from personal experience–my “other” family who are Cajun are more like my Korean family than anyone else I’ve known in their way of thinking, in some sense–but not necessarily in other senses.) can behave very “oriental” manner. The culture that we associate with the “occident” strikes me as not quite even “European-North American,” but really Northern European/Northeastern U.S., with a huge gray area.

  36. phodges says:

    The short answer is that Aoun is a Lebanese patriot. He has fought for Lebanon as opposed to some faction within Lebanon.
    While it may have started out “secularist”, and it is certainly painted in the West as such today, Hezbollah also concerns itself primarily with the welfare of Lebanon as a whole. Lebanese must stick together if they wish to have an independent Lebanon. The alternative is forever killing each other with outside support, while ultimately giving up parts of Lebanon to Israel.
    They are today learning this lesson all across the Middle East. The Neocon wars are bringing more factions together, than dividing them. And teaching them to resist.

  37. Tigermoth says:

    Col Lang,
    My apologies, I did not mean to offend. The comment was intended to be a bit “tongue in cheek”. As an explanation:
    Here in SA, the “PC nonsense” can be overwhelming with regards to everything being blamed on the racism of the past, and the present. The “new” 1994 government kept “race” as the boogieman, only the method of application is different.
    SA is a wonderfully culturally diverse country and I find the continuation of race based policies undermines the natural movement towards cultural harmony here.
    IMO, we are all first and foremost human beings, and as such what one’s physical appearance is does not alter the commonality of humanity. A viewpoint where a person’s physical features becomes the reason to differentiate one from another dismisses this common connection we have as a species. As such, differentiating people by “race” is implying that we have no commonality with each other. This is a simplistic view IMO.
    This country has a long history of this type of view and the repercussions have been, and continue to be detrimental to it. After 30 plus years living here, surrounded by all this diversity, I came to the conclusion that it is one’s “culture” that sets us apart.
    As you mention, a culture is made up of many facets that have evolved during the course of its existence. Since there are so many different cultures here in close proximity, the uniqueness of each is fairly easy to see. For the most part, there is a tremendous tolerance of each other here where in other parts of the world the same cultures are fighting each other.
    Possibly due to the apartheid system where races were kept separated, the cultural cores here are very strong, communities and traditions are still maintained, even under the new system which doesn’t require this.
    What we do get here is what I call “culturism”. Which simply means that we all generally have a preference for our own culture over another one. I have lived more than half my life over here but still have many of my “American culture” views and attitudes, I haven’t fully integrated into the SA culture, but strangely enough I no longer fit into the American culture either.
    So the degree to which one individual’s “cultural preference” can tolerate another’s “cultural preference” varies. In secular societies, and it appears from above, in the Eastern Asian cultures, there is a high tolerance, while in the more extremist societies there is little or none.
    I tend to see human interactions through this lense.
    I read Porkchop Express’s comment as a bit of a “leg pull”, and was trying (not so successfully) to point out it was about culture not race.

  38. Will says:

    To expand on TTG’s remarks on the 8th Brigade, there is a good wiki article on it. (in reading about the Lebanese Civil War, one has to distinguish that LAF=Lebanese Armed Forces (Aoun) from LF=Lebanese Forces (militias, JAJA=Gaegea for one)).

  39. The Porkchop Express says:

    I agree with the Colonel’s assessment, particularly their well honed ability to camouflage true beliefs–especially for the benefit a western audience.
    It’s not racist to say so. At least I don’t think so. Sarcasm, dude. But go ahead and call a western educated Lebanese “oriental” (Lebanese in particular and to a lesser degree other Arab peoples) and see what happens.
    Generally includes one or more of the following: charges of racism, a presentation of selective historical facts based on sectarian beliefs, postcolonial progressive talking points, Edward Said/Frantz Fanon quotes, and a whole litany defenses and/or ad hominem attacks. It’s something of a game, really.
    Their culture is not our culture and vice versa, to pretend otherwise is silly and counter productive. Doesn’t mean it’s better or worse. It’s just not the same.

  40. turcopolier says:

    The Porkchop Express
    You have it exactly right on all the vectors of their spleen. I am used to it. BTW, “oriental” in my usage is as in “Our Oriental Heritage” by Will Durant rather than las in “Orientalism” by Edward Said. I liked Said’s book until I realized that what he was saying is that Arabs are no different than anyone else. He had an odd background. Perhaps that is why he denied the existence of his own people’s culture. BTW I don’t find that the supposedly westernized Christians are less Arab than the Muslims. The Phoenician thing is funny. The Phoenicians are as long gone as the ancient Philistines. pl

  41. kao_hsien_chih says:

    I wonder if Said’s view in “Orientalism” is rather like my own view about (East) Asian Americans–although, unlike Said, I strictly limit my view to Asian-Americans and NOT Asians. I think one blind spot introduced by PC-ness (I wonder if it inflicted Said too) is that Americans who come from a given ethnic background see themselves, who, often are more American than a “foreign ethnic” (even if there are cultural residues) and apply the American mold that they fit into to “their own (alleged) people back in their (alleged) homeland.” But Asian Americans are, by and large, people who left Asia behind and chose to be Americans. We are more foreign in Asia than we are here, and we don’t care much for those who insist that we are “Asians.”
    We had this conversation before, but my take on Bobby Jindal is that he is basically a Louisianan with some Indian background, not an Indian in Louisiana. I often wondered Said was attributing his own New Yorkerness to the Middle Easterns (although Said was probably too old when he settled in New York to be a fully assimiliated New Yorker…but what do I know?).

  42. Fred says:

    ” then Americans want their women to be fighting on actual battle fields and become POWs.”
    See #13:

  43. Kooshy says:

    Once an old Iranian man asked me why then they call us I ranians,(trying to insult us)? and I replied why then you call them Ammerikai and not Americans? It’s the same thing? He had no answer.
    IMO, orientalist, redneck, rag head, towel head, camel driver etc. are all the same, meaning less, point less insults, for those incapable of having reason for dialogue. IMO, considering the recent history of ME, Israel Palestinian issue, ISIL, etc. the world has past the age of orientalist name calling, we are way beyond that. And not necessarily in the way ES elaborates.
    As I have come to understand at least in Iranian media, and regular street people westernization ( which doesn’t include Christianity, religion, technology, modernity, but is about gay, racism, hegemony) is as demonize as here some westerners’ view the orientals.

  44. norlurking says:

    Very informative and interesting info….a middle finger to the American empire….nice

  45. turcopolier says:

    Traditional Oriental Studies does not call anyone names. It merely describes them. pl

  46. turcopolier says:

    I received one of my all time favorite nastygrams today from someone in Paris, France who resents my overall impression of the Lebanese. The best bit described me as a “senile old yankee drinking himself to death in the gutter outside a bar in Appalachia.” The hurtful part was being called a “yankee” since I have worked so hard for so long to live down the stigma of my colonial ancestors in the Deep North and my birth in the Bay State (albeit on a federal military post). And, there are not that many bars in Appalachia. A still would be easier to find and I could always find a source of apple brandy (Virginia Calvados) around Maidenhead Falls in the Blue Ridge. pl

  47. Mishkilji says:

    Normally, I would agree with you but there is a new sheriff in Riyadh
    Saudi return on investment in Hariri Inc has been dismal in the last twenty years.

  48. Timbre Sick o' More says:

    All of the outside powers who meddled in Iraq, Libya and Syria are certainly hoping that they are driving the final nails in the coffin of Arab nationalism. The Israelis loudly & proudly claimed to have accomplished the task in 1967. The last I heard, the motherland that the Syrian soldiers say they are fighting for is still the Syrian Arab Republic and its President is still a Ba’thist, whose ideology is anti imperialist and antisectarian…in other words, in opposition to the exact evils that have revealed themselves in all their naked horror in the last 13 – or 90 – years.

  49. turcopolier says:

    I hope you are right and some degree of rationality has emerged in Riyadh, but it does not show yet in Yemen or Syria. pl

  50. Mishkilji says:

    Awn is the new Christian warlord. His cross-sectarian version of Lebanese nationalism, like its older brother Arab nationalism, has been swept aside by the new sectarian narrative.
    Hafez Assad use to think of Lebanon as part of Greater Syria. With a million new Syrian refugees Lebanon may well become just that, although that is not what late President had in mind.
    The paradox reminds me of the saying “Man plans; God laughs.”
    BTW, the neocons have been trying to break Lebanon since 2003, when Syria looked at the American project in Iraq and realized its danger.

  51. Mishkilji says:

    Which makes this all the more puzzling. One wonders about the Saudi policy capacity under MbS and the internal jockeying.

  52. The Porkchop Express says:

    Ha ha. No, I don’t find the Christians (“Phoenicians”) to be any less Arab than their Muslim counterparts, either. Despite their very, very desperate desire for it to be so.
    Re: Durant. I did take “oriental” as a broader civilizational descriptor than Said’s more narrow view. Literally, though, one could call it “making a grilled cheese sandwich” as long the general idea remains the same.
    My point was that if you call an Arab (and especially a Lebanese)–with any exposure to Western education or to the Frankfurt school acolytes–an oriental they’ll brand you a racist. And likely while they’re concurrently in the middle of denigrating a rival confessional group.
    Out of curiosity, what do you make of people like Said? Either in the Occident or the Orient? Some form of Stockholm syndrome? Education certainly plays a role, but it seems like there’s still more to it. Naturally rebellious folk? Knew a number of Americans in the region, of tenuous Arab ancestry, that were also more than willing to shed their American culture to adapt another one. Though I got the sense they never fully understood or respected it. It came across more like a toy to be played with. Though I’m sure you were likely accused of having “gone native” often enough, particularly by pernicious bureaucrats.
    “exactly right on all the vectors of their spleen.” Fantastic expression. Never heard it before. I like it. Am going to appropriate it, if you don’t mind.

  53. turcopolier says:

    I was rarely accused of such a thing anywhere on earth, not just in the Islamic World. I am basically indifferent to foreign cultures and their issues. I just worked there. The people who did not like me in the extreme were those of all nationalities whose oxen, monetary or otherwise, were being gored by my reporting on the inefficacy of the support and sales done by the US.
    I think people like Said were in search of a secure identity. I can understand that. pl

  54. Earthrise says:

    “Herodotus,wrote 2500 years ago that the Phoenicians were everyehere.Some things never change”
    As long as they bring Kebabs, Hummus, Koftas, Leb Bread and Falafel they can keep coming 🙂

  55. Earthrise says:

    You may be right, it certainly seems like GCC influence is trying to roll back Modernity in the Sunni states. But in the Resistance countries we might see a different phenomenon. The SAA doesn’t allow their troops to say ‘Allahu Akbar’ in battle, they are discouraged from growing long beards, and from carrying Islamic symbols. The resistance to Saudi regression will naturally try and differentiate itself from Islamic fundamentalism. Whatever Assad is offering the Syrian people, they are buying it with their lives so it must be worthy.
    Everyone knows Sykes–Picot is dead, so the map is up for grabs (hence the blood). If the Resistance wins in Syria, they will win in Iraq and Lebanon. For me the best case is that Syria, Lebanon and the rump Iraqi state join together in the true Arab Republic; a multi-confessional, cosmopolitan and democratic (under strong presidential control) country for all its people. Iran will naturally have influence, but they cannot directly lead the Shia Arabs without exacerbating regional tensions; better if the don’t from a propaganda point of view. A modern Arab Republic is the worst-case scenario for the Anglo-Zionists, which is why they have spent 40 years trying to prevent it.
    Some day soon a fiery Phoenix is going fly up out the rubble in Aleppo and spread her wings over all the Arab states. Maybe the winds will carry her all the way over here too.

  56. charly says:

    “formerly homogeneous homelands”
    You must be joking. There is always the Other. Always. And if they are not there they are invented. Countries are only seen homogeneous in the past after a new group has become the Other.

  57. mike allen says:

    Colonel –
    Can you tell us more of Virginia Calvados? Can I get some legally as I am 3000 miles from the Blue Ridge? I have experimented with making my own cherry brandy, but so far it has much too much sugar content. Although SWMBO and her friends rave about it.
    PS – found the article below on Aoun’s election but have no idea of its creds. The author Antoun Issa is apparently Aussie-Lebanese, but do not know any more of his background. He claims Aoun had to strike a deal with Saad Hariri to get to be Prime Minister. Also claims that although Nasrallah agreed, he (Nasrallah) will try to keep the central government weak and ineffective. Any thoughts?

  58. charly says:

    Not a very long time. That the majority of people speak French in Brussels is only something recent. The language border was 300 years ago somewhere in Northern France

  59. charly says:

    Different part of the family tree is maybe why the Hariris would be cut off.

  60. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Said was a Christian Arab, of a civilization almost entirely predicated on Quran and whose core state was neither Arab nor orthodox Muslim. He was educated in a different civilization and castigated one for not recognizing it the other as being a worthy civilization; all the while living in that foreign civilization.

  61. Babak Makkinejad says:

    There were many people like Said among Algerian Arabs; who voted with their feet and left the independent Algeria for France.
    On the other hand, there was Rene Guenon, who converted to Islam and left France to live in Egypt.

  62. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Well, imagine yourself as Syrian Christian and you are sitting across the table with a Sunni Muslim who hails from Raqqa.
    Would you not be wondering when and if that fellows inner Jihadi – with the urge to behead an infidel – emerge during the course of conversation?
    That is what has changed in Lebanon, in Iraq, in Syria, in Pakistan, in Afghanistan and even in Iran.

  63. Babak Makkinejad says:

    If Arabs leaders were rational, they would have settled with Israel in 1948.
    They would not have gone to war with one another; as though Progress and Development were not the highest priorities for a population that had spent 500 years in abject poverty.
    If they were smart and rational, they would dropped like a ton of brick on Saddam Hussein in 1980 when he attacked Iran.
    And if they were truly capable of anything but a predator’s innate cunning – really, a brigand’s – they would not have joined in the effort to unseat Al Assad in Syria or the Houthis in Yemen.

  64. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Koreans are regularly harassed and insulted in major Iranian cities

  65. kooshy says:

    Colonel Lang, I agree and I know from personal experience, and I did not mean it that way. Nevertheless, IMO, with regard to individual scholars of this field, there is a difference on their individual mentality, attitude and perception on how they view the orientals, and as such, their contribution to the man’ civilization. IMO, and my believe, this attitude/perception is not as obvious to a western scholar (mostly innocently) of this field as it is to a oriental/middle easterner one. And I do not know, if this same attitude exist with regard to far easterner’ culture and contributions to human. My father used to say, some individual western historians of this field, would rather discount some historic facts, than to considering it.

  66. Babak Makkinejad says:

    In what manner did Lee save the South?

  67. Dubhaltach says:

    In reply to turcopolier 31 October 2016 at 04:39 PM
    “I found that Lebanese are a lot less European than they want you to think they are. IMO that is true of all of them including the various kinds of Christians.”
    Yes, absolutely, I did a big part of my growing up there sir as you know and felt even as a child that I wasn’t in Europe – that even though I was very happy and they were formiddably generous and kind hosts that it wasn’t home like in the way that pretty much anywhere in Europe was homelike.

  68. turcopolier says:

    mike allen
    The good stuff is sold by farmers in bib-overalls around Montebello in Nelson County. Maidenhead falls and Crabtree Creek are up there. It really is delivered in Mason jars. Failing that, Laird’s I suppose. Some of it is distilled in Virginia. pl

  69. LG says:

    A good article by Abdel Bari Atwan on why Hariri agreed to this presidency:

  70. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank you for your comments.
    I think if you look at the history of Syria after World War II, or Egypt, or Iraq during the same period, those countries deteriorated in any measure of political, economical, cultural, and religious freedom as time went on. The Western European legacy, decayed and could not and did not survive – what thrived was some caricature of Eastern European communism. Those were all self-inflicted wounds, in my view.

  71. Babak Makkinejad,
    I thought Said an Arab protestant prig.
    From his account of the Abbot-Lama in ‘Kim’ in ‘Culture and Imperialism’:
    ‘It is the greatness of his [Kipling’s, supposedly] achievement that quite without selling the old man short or in any way diminishing the quaint sincerity of his Search, Kipling nevertheless firmly places him within the protective orbit of British rule in India. This is symbolized in Chapter 1, when the elderly British museum creator gives the Abbot his spectacles, thus adding to the man’s spiritual prestige and authority, consolidating the justness and legitimacy of Britain’s benevolent sway.’
    Nothing either in the text, or in any of Kipling’s work, suggests that being given glasses did or could add to a Buddhist monk’s ‘prestige and authority’ with anyone. This is Said projecting his own hurt onto the text. Likewise, ‘quaint sincerity’ is his response – it has nothing to do with Kipling’s.
    Moreover, what actually happens in the museum is an exchange of gifts. In return for the glasses, the curator – modelled on Kipling’s father – receives the Lama’s antique pencase, and the drawing of the Wheel of Life, a central symbol around which the novel revolves.
    I cannot comment on Said’s understandings of the Middle East. But as far as the complexities of British rule in India is concerned, he seems to have had little understanding of culture, and not all that much of imperialism.

  72. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The sad part of it was his influence on the thinking of so many Near Eastern contemporaries; giving them, in effect, a “false consciousness” as Gramsci would have said.

  73. Timbre Sick o' More says:

    My view of Arab nationalism is that it is one of the most valid anti imperial national liberation movements of the last two centuries, and that its success is necessary for the peace and progress of the mena region and the world. The tap root IMHO of the fever of Islamism that has since the late 1970s adversely affected the politics and societies of most Muslim majority countries (and Europe, lately) ultimately stems from the Arab region and its failure to escape from imperial domination.
    As an Iranian (?) you may know better, but I think that the fever was actually abating by 2001, but the wrong direction (Iraq) that the neocon dominated Bushies took in the 911 aftermath re energized the Wahhabi Ikhwan groups and…well, here we are. I may seem naive, romantic and optimistic, but if Turkey and other regional US allies continue on course we may have set back the Arab world by merely a few hundred years.

  74. kao_hsien_chih says:

    I think Marx coined the term “false consciousness,” in context of “religion” being the “opiate of masses,” and contrary to popular view, Marx actually had a high regard for religions, in the sense that they provided comfort for the masses in a world that was basically terrible, unwelcoming, and bleak, even though Marx was ultimately an atheist who thought all religions were “false” (thus the “false” consciousness.) Dostoevsky had a similar take, although he was rather more of a “believer,” compared to Marx and Gramsci, certainly, but with a more complex worldview–he had more contact with the “oriental” mindset than Marx or Gramsci, who were much more “occidental” in their thinking.
    Much of it, as Colonel Lang noted, rests on a sense of “belonging,” of finding people who, for whatever reasons, are willing to find a common cause with us, of following fellow “tribals,” if you will. “Culture” is usually the obvious source of tribal membership: you look like a member of a tribe, who know the folkways of the tribe, you can go through the rituals, so you have credibility as a tribal. What exactly these rituals and folkways, I suppose, depends on whom: religious ties are, as far as I can tell, in the Levant, and from what I know of the Lebanese, even more than elsewhere in the Middle East (where most people are of Sunni, tribal/clan ties struck me as more important, fwiw–but my contact with Middle Easterns is very limited, compared to everyone else here). The Far Easterners have yet different ways of defining tribals–the multiethnic, multicultural Chinese being quite different, even if subtly, from much more ethnically homogeneous Koreans, Vietnamese, and Japanese. And the same I suppose is true in United States: bicoastal liberals have developed their own culture, folkways, customs, and rituals through which they identify their own, as have others. People like Said (and, in a way, I suppose myself, too) who don’t like the “obvious” tribal membership that, superficially, we should belong to, have issues with this tribalized worldview, but it is a losing battle that we fight. (although this seems very common experience among (East) Asian-Americans…)

  75. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank you for correcting me.
    As you know, Vietnamese are not considered real “Han” people by Chinese, Japanese or Koreans – but I think it is fair to say that those 3 main Han people have no grasp of religion as understood in the India, in the Near East, and in Europe and her offshoots in the Western Hemisphere.
    I think this absence of understanding (really mutual understanding) makes it easier to get along with the Han people by Europeans, Near Easterners, and Indians.

  76. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Today the international Indian is everywhere – to be joined by the international Chinese.

  77. LeaNder says:

    Esquire (esq, magnificus, your highness), interesting topic. Earthrise doesn’t refer to “gang rape” but to “sexual harrassment”.
    Any explanation that neither sexual harassment nor gang rape are reported in the police report? Rape only surfaces on talk radio in a study of the contribution to the chain of events.
    From the original report, page 30 of 112, linked in the Wikipedia article:
    The Road go Public Disorder
    The Role of the Media
    Following the incident at North Cronulla Beach on Sunday 4th December, 2005 involving lifesavers and Middle
    Eastern youths, a media release was distributed by the Police Media Unit on Monday morning, 5th December,

    page 34 (talk-back radio):
    Commentator: Lets not get too carried away Bertha; we don’t have Anglo-Saxon kids out there raping women in Western Sydney Let’s not get carried away with all this mealy mouth talk about there being two sides I can tell you because my correspondence here from mums and dads I’m inundated and I don’t hear people complaining about Catholics and Protestants and Anglicans, I’m sorry but there is this religious element in all of this and we’ve got to make sure we welcome people into our community but we welcome them in on certain terms and certain standards and those standards are not being met so let’s not have this mealy mouth talk about everyone’s to blame. AN across Sydney there is a universal concern that there are gangs, the gangs are of one ethnic composition and they have one thing in mind and I have read some of the correspondence from here. These people are not stupid so they are actually at the coal face, they see it and they hear it. We have to respond to that and we have a Police Force that is armed and equipped to do that job, we’ve got to give them the chance to do it”.

  78. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank you for your comments.
    It was not just Arabs.
    As Muslim governments set about eradicating political opposition, they destroyed the political middle; the wishy-washies of this world, the relaxed-and-the-cynical, the realists-and-the-middle-of-the-roaders, the liberals and other fellow-travelers.
    This process, in every single Muslim country, evacuated the political arena from men like Mossadegh and the National Front types, leaving it to the politicized and Muslim-oriented parties and organization to fill.
    That is why there is no Liberal Politics in any Muslim country that you can care to mention. In Iran, for example, “Liberal” is a political swear word, subject of derision by the Muslim Revolutionaries.
    I agree that political developments as well as social ones in Turkey (and in Iran) could have a profound effect on the rest of Muslim world – and not just Arabs.
    I would not discuss Turkey – a Seljuk country – with other Arab allies of US in that region. She is qualitatively very different and in fact superior; it is like comparing Austria with Bosnia-Hercegovina.

  79. Mishkilji says:

    Tongue in cheek comment, Lee didn’t save the South and Awn did not save Lebanon.

  80. Earthrise says:

    Cheers Lemur,
    Problem is the carve up of the Ottoman Empire into these dysfunctional states was imperial policy. The British always did this; draw a line around a majority living with a minority. They put the minority in charge, then they can be assured that the whole population will never unite against them.
    I am a citizen in the world’s most successful multicultural experiment. I have seen the Greeks and Italians, after three generations, consider themselves Australian. I saw the Vietnamese come here in the late 70’s, followed by the Cambodians. And lately the Sudanese and other Africans. It takes three generations for people to assimilate (unless they put themselves in self-imposed ghettos). Muslims are going to be our greatest challenge, because they oppose Secularism and refuse to keep religion in the Private realm. Watch this space, I guess we all are.
    I have a greater appreciation for cultural harmony these days. This is a key feature of Secularlism; that we all keep our individual cultures private, and we all share a common culture in the village square. As the West rolls back, this is one of the many civilisational advances we developed which we cannot lose. Time is coming good people to circle the wagons around what is best about the West. The storm is almost upon us.

  81. Tigermoth says:

    Confirmed Hariri is PM.
    DAMASCUS, SYRIA (1:15 P.M.) – Minutes ago, the newly elected Lebanese President, Michel Aoun, announced that Saad Hariri will be the country’s Prime Minister after almost every political party endorsed him.

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