The political commentator and activist Saleh El Machnouk, whom I discussed in a recent post about Saad Hariri’s declining relevance among Lebanese Sunnis, sent me a response over email a couple days ago which I publish below with his permission. As you’ll see, it reinforces the point I made earlier about the possibilities for public dissent in the Future Movement, of which Saleh was (is?) a member, especially in this moment of disenchantment and anger with the situation in Syria.
If you have questions for Saleh, post them in the comment section and maybe he will be persuaded to respond there as well.
Saleh El Machnouk:
Of course I am flattered by the many kind things you said about me in the article. I have reached a point where I believe Hariri has far exhausted his “fatrit sameih” (grace period) and the amount of popular contempt for his leadership has become unbearable.
That said, I think I should point out a few things.
1- There is a tendency among commentators and analysts to assume that my “popular base” is primarily made up of “young, poorer, urban Sunnis”. Ironically enough, these are Hariri’s strongest constituency, and getting them to move away from him is perhaps the toughest (maybe also because they rely more than others on Hariri for financial support).
Friends and I always joke at the fact that, as ridiculous as it may sound, my most “loyal and enthusiastic” supporters are upper middle-class people of our parents’ generation (like “Beirut’s finest madames” [mentioned in a previous comment]). We could go on and on analyzing why this is the case, but surprisingly enough it is.
I think this says something about how disappointment with Hariri’s leadership runs across social classes, levels of education, age groups, etc; from Zaim el Zaroubeh to major business owners.
2- Although I understand why, unfortunately, every article about me has to have the word “Sunni” a good twenty times, I take a lot of pride in the fact that I have never (ever) played the sectarian card. I have often (jokingly) dared March 8th supporters to find one evidence to the contrary, and they have repeatedly failed. I know you don’t say that I do, but I’m always surprised others would say so. It’s sad. We once spoke about how tough it is to take the “national track” versus a sectarian one but I am still firmly decided on the former.
Saad’s problem is not that he lacks populism or is not “Sunni enough”, it’s simply that he is fundamentally unqualified for the job. Don’t get me wrong, an absolute majority of the people that support me still love Saad Hariri and think of him as their leader. They are simply disappointed and have lost all faith in his ability to improve.
3- Side note: For whatever it is worth, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, a good 30% to 35% of the fans on my Facebook page are Christians.
Editor’s note: Thanks to Saleh for responding. Since my original post about him last week, his Facebook page has added 4,000 more followers. Saad Hariri’s remains the same.
I have often maintained that the bane of Lebanese society is its sectarianism. Your positions that are arrived at through the logic of what is good for the state and not a sect in the state is commendable. I would say that line of thought is our path to salvation, if this experiment called Lebanon is to continue and prosper. Why is it so difficult for us to develop a political identity that is not dominated by sectarian beliefs? Is it possible for a Lebanese to look into the mirror and not see herself as a Maronite, Sunni, Shia … but as a citizen?
I wonder whether you can take the time to share with the readers of this blog and your FB the chances of transforming the Future Movement or even March 14 gathering into a cohesive ,democratic, national political party whose only allegiance is the good of the state.
I am actually writing a book whose main focus is on creating a political identity that is first and foremost Lebanese. It discusses in length our problem with identity which, I believe, is our deepest impediment to progress. It should be out by the end of this year and hopefully then we could all discuss it here.
Mr saleh El machnouk, very strong man and intelligent. Mr Elmachnouk confident man. And with al the best to u mr El machnouk.
I am already looking forward , with great anticipation, to read the book. I am also sure that many would also welcome the opportunity to discuss your thesis and exchange views on the subject matter. Good luck.
Dear Saleh, by pure chance, I stumbled upon your Facebook page and immediately “liked”it. What you write there and your above article go to show that something is happening in Lebanon politics. It seems to me that slowly (but surely), the new generation is realizing that “Citizenship” versus “Sect” is the solution for problems of Lebanon. I look forward to reading more of your excellent postings.
If Beirut’s finest Madames are your greatest supporters, and Hariri’s strongest constituency is the poorer, younger, folk… I’m surprised he was not able to get those riots under control!
I’m also not sure how your support for the (I assume young, poor) protesters of Tripoli to “block roads”, does not qualify as playing a populist sectarian card.
I clearly stated how “disappointment with Hariri’s leadership runs across social classes, levels of education, age groups, etc; from Zaim el Zaroubeh to major business owners.” Therefore, of course, Saad Hariri no longer has the power to “get riots under control” since everyone (including the young and poor) have lost faith in his ability to lead.
The point I was making was that Elias’ article implied that my “constituency” was restricted to the “young and poor”, which I don’t believe to be the case.
Regardless of whether or not my support for the protesters qualifies as “populism” (I don’t agree), I cannot possibly imagine how it relates to sectarianism. You might not agree on their right to block the road, and I respect that, but sectarianism has (clearly) nothing to do with it.
I just read the news Saleh, I don’t write it. Sunnis are battling it out against Alawis. It’s a sectarian conflict by definition: Even if the reasons behind them may ultimately not be sectarian.
[PS- I wasn’t arguing whether your constituency was the young and poor- you know better what your own constituency is, I was simply suggesting that the young and poor could not possibly be flocking to Hariri either, given that he apparently has little control over them… Therefore, who the young and poor truly flock to may remain an open question for now!].
Your position regarding the riots are populist by definition: You openly supported the rights of the Common People in their Struggle against the Privileged Elite (both the Governing State, as well as “Hariri” Opposition). If that is not populism, I don’t know what is!
I do realize that it is already past 6:00pm and so I wonder whether you will have the chance to comment on one more issue. I contend that the new “political understanding” in forming a cabinet in Lebanon is a major obstacle to effective governance. The new arrangements essentially strip power from the PM and allow each cabinet minister to rule over his/her fiefdom What is even a greater cause for concern is the fact that the cabinet has effectively taken away the function of the chamber of deputies that has rubber stamped all cabinet decisions. Do you feel that the laws governing the political structure need to be revisited?
EM – Why do you mention the number of Facebook followers for both SM and SH? Despite a lack of proper polling surveys carried out in Lebanon, I don’t think Facebook “Likes” and “Followers” are a necessarily reliable way to gauge a politician’s popularity.
SM – In a nutshell, and without having to wait for your book to come out (though I applaud you for taking the initiative to write one), could you explain what would be your fiscal and economic policy?
Would you tend to stick to more socialist or free market policies?
Strange But True
Dr. Pipes and Dr. Landis are in complete agreement?
It looks the the “Pipes Rule of Arab Elections” scored another hit in today’s news from Egypt.
This rule is looking more dependable than TI-60 LCD calculator…
Thank you for your question. I don’t have an economic program ready, since i’m not running for any elections. And I also don’t claim to be an expert in economic policy. But i’l try to briefly discuss some ideas.
I definitely believe in the free market. But I don’t like to say I will opt for more socialist or more capitalist policies. It would be a misleading cliche to just choose one, and Lebanon needs both. People that are ideologically on the far left in Lebanon are just as terrible as extreme capitalist obsessed with growth with no regards for basic socio-economics rights.
My main concern is that the state in Lebanon does not fulfill its most basic responsibilities towards its citizens.The state should guarantee decent health care and education for all. Its responsibility is to have a modern infrastructure, functional telecommunications, a successful public transportation system, electricity, etc. It also needs to provide the necessary conditions for the private sector to succeed, primarily to create jobs and fuel growth.
What we need is effective reform, a real war on corruption, a diminishing of the size of the state, more taxation on bank deposits and real estates gains (definitely not more VAT), as well as more partnerships with the private sector. We also need more state involvement in development in underprivileged areas. Just a few ideas I thought i’d put out there.
You are confusing two different things, although they overlapped in both time and space, and hence making a faulty assumption.
The blocking of the roads (that I supported) had nothing to do with the ongoing battles between Jabal Mohsen and Beib El Tabbeineh. I’m not going discuss whether or not the battles are a “sectarian war” (some people even call what is now happening in Syria not a “revolution” but a “sectarian war”!), but I didn’t say anything about the battles on my page. The road blocking was directed against the (syrian-backed) security forces that arrested Shadi El Mawlawi, and had nothing to do with the Alawites of Jabal Mohsen.
On your other point, if “populism” means “openly supporting the rights of the Common People in their Struggle against the privileged elite”, and not what it’s usually said to mean in political slang, then YES I am definitely a (proud) populist!
Thank you for your questions. I don’t agree with both assumptions you make. I think there can be effective governance as long as the government displays a minimum amount of unity concerning its political and economic program. As for your second point, this is the case in all parliamentary democracies. It’s the opposition’s role to watch over the government and the more the people are educated and responsible, the more MPs need to hold ministers of their own parties accountable as well.
Obviously parliamentary democracies have downsides, but that’s a whole other topic of its own.
Thanks for making time to reply Saleh. Appreciate the quick turnaround also.
Saleh El Machnouk = Young Lex Luther
Sa’ad Hariri = Batman
Fouad Saniora = Robin
Walid Jumblatt = The Joker
Nabih Berri = Two Face
GMA = The Penguin
Musbah Al Ahdab = Clark Kent-Superman
Please feel free to expand and contribute.
Haifa Wehbe = Wonderwoman
Well yes, that’s what it means.
And I don’t know if your constituency comprised previously the young and poor, but adopting populist measures is a sure-fire way of making sure that some time, in the very near future, they will form part of your support base!
Elias Muhanna = Grendizer
Ziad Baroud = Ziad Baroud
Mr.Machnouk, I’ve read about you before following some unconventional and feisty comments you have made regarding the Lebanese situation, but now I had a chance to visit your Facebook page. Although I admired your boldness, I didn’t click the like button for 2 reasons: firstly I didn’t want to be another number in your page stats and secondly, because I disagree with your approach on sectarianism and Lebanese politics in general.
As a Master’s student myself writing about the Lebanese political system and the Lebanese identity I realized that there are three forms of negative sectarianism in general: Silent, Outspoken, and “Lebanese”. The last form is a mix of both and our politicians and commentators have mastered it. Lebanese negative sectarianism disguises itself with liberal and progressive language to transmit a sectarian message. In Arabic we call this “Nifaq”, I believe the right translation would be hypocrisy. Nifaq has become so embedded in our culture that people who are practicing it are unaware of it.
The average Lebanese are more candid about it and the more homogeneous the environment the more straightforward it becomes. Therefore, when they read comments such as yours they press the like button because it speaks to them, to their fears of the other, and their phobias. You are an outlet to them, a well spoken one I might add. Your stance, on the far right of March 14th, will get you 70k+ fans from different sects (Although I didn’t see any stats for Shiite sect up there), ones that are already victims of the fear mongering media. While you do express their views, and this is healthy to a certain extent, you are not really raising their awareness about a civic culture, but only reaping what the media is sowing. In other words, your are not practicing what you are preaching.
The real challenge for any Lebanese that wishes to uproot or “civilize” negative sectarianism is to build a popular base around liberal ideas that speak to all Lebanese. Ideas that would treat the society as it should be and not as it is. Ideas that would deal with the roots of the socioeconomic and political problems instead of amplifying its ramifications as if they came from thin air. Ideas that stand out because they are truly civic and humanitarian, and not because they’re implicitly sectarian.
70K or 700K are signs of popularity but not necessarily signs of a progressive thought or practice. There are two dominant views in the country today, both with a belief that they hold what’s best for Lebanon. History taught us that eventually no camp prevails, we will have our pitiful and absurd civil wars but at the end of the day the sectarian equilibrium is restored. Therefore, it is only logical to move away from extreme polarization and account for the other view and discuss it constructively; given, of course, the existence of a true intention to create a Lebanese civic identity.
Correction … Fouad Saniora is Batman’s butler.
Oqab Sakr may be his Robin.
Although your post was specifically addressed to Saleh Machnouk I hope that you do not mind a comment from other readers since your remarks were not Saleh Machnouk specific.
I understood your remark to be an eloquent defense of sectarianism since it appeared that one of your major concerns is the restoration of the sectarian balance. If that is so then allow me to reject that thinking in its totality. Sectarianism is discriminatory and any decision making based on ones faith or method of prayer or non prayer for that matter is irrational. Whether one is a believer or not says nothing about ones ability to perform a complicated surgery, design a structurally sound bridge or administer an organization. The last thing that we need in Lebanon is more of what in my view is the disease that has prevented this experiment , ever since its inception, from becoming viable.
I am in agreement with the part of your remarks where you ask for a radical transformation of society, a real paradigm shift. But as soon as you say that you fall back on the model of sectarian balance instead of secularism. Allow me to suggest again that there ought be no place for sectarian beliefs in the public square. These ought to be totally private matters. I guess what I found very unacceptable in your remarks is your willingness to adapt to sectarian beliefs instead of suggesting that they ought to be extricated. You want to restore sectarian balance while I want to eliminate sectarianism from its roots.
In Lebanon, everyone is apparently non-sectarian until such time that they are sectarian. I have yet to meet the first Sectarian Lebanese 😉
On that note actually, what is Saleh’s position on this question. It’s not everyday we have an up-and-coming political figure gracing these forums.
Saleh- are you a proponent of doing away (immediately) with the confessional assignments of the post of Presidency, Prime Ministership, etc?
Ghassan, thank you for your comment. I think you misunderstood me. In no way I defend sectarianism, what I meant by sectarian equilibrium was a historical analysis of the political system in Lebanon whereby sectarian forces have reinstated the confessional system. Hence I advise against extreme polarization whereby the two dominant views in Lebanon clash leading to a civil war. Instead, the youth and political activists and commentators should thrive to provide a viable alternative rather than deepening the cleavages through taking the current positions to the extreme, for one reason or another.
In my personal view civic democracy is the way to go for Lebanon but in order to achieve it we have to deal realistically with the problem of sectarianism and depoliticize it.
Nadim Shehade = GI Jane
Bi kaffi ba2a.
Monolith = Mickey Mouse
I don’t know what it is with Monolith, but he sure as hell makes me laugh.
With your permission … just one more.
Bashar = Magneto
SHN = Iron Man
As for my comment on Nadim:
I’ll believe that he is closely in touch with rural Syrians and “knows” … once he acknowledges he doesn’t even know that a Lebanese cannot change his registry at will within Lebanon without massive “wasta”.
This is slightly off topic but I was shocked to learn that Lebanon is still offering retirement at 54 and is considering raising the retirement age to 58 when some countries are considering raising retirement age to 70. This , in a government that is essentially bankrupt and a country whose sovereign debt would have been in default had it not been for its sensitive geopolitical location.Isn’t there anyone in this government that is not in denial? Did you also know that the regularly scheduled cabinet meeting was postponed two days ago because one of the ministers was not feeling well?
That is childish and unconscionable.
Saleh Al Machnouk = aka Kojak
Welcome to the blog.
Saleh, don’t bite the hand that feeds you. People never forget a traitor.
MONO….Stop spamming Blease!
You’re cracking me up.
Wonderwoman is my favorite.
Rico sauve Saleh, how do you estimate that “30-35%” of your 77,259 strong FB fanbase is Christian?
Elias, thanks for this great opportunity, its great to have Saleh, BH and many others here.
I know this is a different topic and a complicated issue but it would be nice to hear your views on the Arab Israeli conflict and what Lebanon’s role should be now, after paying a heavy price over decades being used by all the regional forces as the only willing and available playground
I know you call for disarming Hizballah. Are you for a peace treaty with Israel? What do you think about giving the Palestinians their right to Lebanese citizenship? Do you parrot the same slogans of “Israel is our only enemy” and “lan narka3 Abadan lan narka3″ for the sake of being viewed by M8 as Arabist as they are. Like Mr. Saad H and all Lebanese M 14 leaders always submit to this test.
Do you agree that this conflict is forever used by most Lebanese to cover their sectarian and political divisions?
We need leaders with courage to differently address this main issue. Thanks and I understand if you prefer not to indulge in this topic now.
The June 25 , 2012 issue of The Nation has a fascinating article by Chris Hayes that has introduced me to the thoughts of Robert Michels a German social theorist (I have not read Michels yet). It is an interesting and well structured presentation that argues that eventually “Organization is oligarchy” and that “Meritocracy is oligarchy”. If one is to buy into that concept Michels is actually saying, and rather convincingly, that no part or organization can avoid oligarchic. There is a lesson there for all of us.
Saleh, if you are not already familiar with the ideas of Michels then it might prove worthwhile to take a look at his hypothesis. That can be very helpful for those that have an interest in politics and building political parties.
Never played the “sectarian card”? Really?
This from Saleh’s facebook page:
اعذرني دولة الرئيس, و لكن قتل الرئيس الشهيد رفيق الحريري و جرائم 7 أيّار لا يتم التعاطي معهم بهذه الطريقة المذلّة. و رفضك اتّهام حزب الله بالجريمتين اهانة لنا جميعا و لشهدائنا. مش ناقصنا ذلّ, راجع موقفك.
But where is the sectarianism in the quote that you posted? If you want to label a person opposed to HA a sectarian then any criticism by the most ardent secularist would be sectarian also. Can one oppose the views of Jumblatt without being accused of sectarianism or label the Kataeb as neo fascists without being sectarian? I sure hope so. (BTW, this is not a defense of Saleh, whom I do not know, but is a reaction to the content of the above post).
The fact that you use this quote to accuse me of using the “sectarian card” is ample proof that I have never used it. I’m very glad you did! No matter how much anyone tries to find a sectarian comment I made, they won’t.
Hezbollah assassinated Rafik Hariri and invaded Beirut in May 2008 and no one (including Saad) has the right to plead their innocence on these two matters. They should pay a very heavy price. I am very proudly and fundamentally opposed to Hezbollah and I fail to see how sectarianism has anything to do with it.
Again, thank you for spreading the quote. It’s one of my favorites.
You can be opposed to something without trying to use your opposition for political gain. Playing the part of the impartial nationalist works only as long as you resist playing the part that your confessional supporters demand. Where is the sectarianism in the quote above? The sentence و رفضك اتّهام حزب الله بالجريمتين اهانة لنا جميعا و لشهدائنا is full of it. First, citing a “refusal to accuse” signals that Saad has somehow deviated from the mainstream in so refusing – this is only the mainstream for March 14th members. Second, the fact that Saleh condemns Saad for not “accusing” the Hezb implies the polemic that blind justice should give way to blind accusation. Last, the phrase “an insult to all of us and our martyrs” should be self-explanatory.
My argument is not that Saleh is any more sectarian than anyone else in Lebanon, or that he should not criticize the Hezb; only that the “national track” that he purports to take would require him to at least attempt not to alienate the majority of the country’s population. If he’s trying, he’s not trying hard enough.
In all what you have written, there is absolutely no proof that I said something with even a sectarian undertone to it. You just disagree with my politics, which is fine.
I am NOT impartial, nor do I wish to be. I have very clear stances on the issues I believe in, and the people who believe in these stances belong to various confessions. As you (should) know, the “martyrs” I speak of are mostly non-Sunnis (Samir Kassir, Pierre Gemayel, Gebran Tueni, Basel Fleihan, etc).
I’m not going to discuss what you think of my politics or my style, since this is not the topic at hand. But taking a “national track” versus a “sectarian track” has nothing to do with alienating or not alienating your political opponents. It has to do with not using sectarian language or taking stances that are primarily sectarian, which I clearly don’t. I believe Hezbollah should be eradicated, and by force. Is that a sectarian thing to say? Obviously not.
I actually do not disagree with your politics, and I am no fan of the Hezb. But as a Lebanese, you have to understand the implications of your language for people who are not from your camp. Unbridled and unnuanced attacks on Hezbollah sound, to most Shi’a, like an unbridled and unnuanced attack on all Shi’a. Positive change in Lebanon – whether based on the national or the sectarian unit – cannot occur without the buy-in of the Shi’a community. You may justifiably be proud that 30% of your facebook members are Christian, but the true measure of success for a “national track” politician like yourself should be your ability to draw supporters from across the aisle.
“I believe Hezbollah should be eradicated, and by force.”
It is a very sectarian thing to say. Who will eradicate Hezbollah by force? Obviously mostly non-Shia forces in Lebanon. Therefore, you are basically advocating a military confrontation between Shia and non-Shia forces. How can that be non-sectarian.
Yes, you will argue that you are also calling for the Shia to fight Hezbollah and therefore your talk is not sectarian. But that is similar to union leaders demanding that everyone’s salary be above the average one. Right, who can disagree with that, except that it is impossible? It sounds great though. For all practical purposes, your talk is sectarian.
Your input is appreciated and now you’re making a point which should be discussed.
But that’s like saying in 1939 : Do not attack the Nazi party because most Germans belong to it, and Germans think of an attack on Hitler as an attack on Germans. I refuse to adhere to this logic. There are numerous Lebanese Shia patriots who are on the front line of the political battle against Hezbollah and who share my views.
These are my allies and my supporters, and our only objective should be that those increase in number and influence. It’s actually the failure of March 14th as a national organized movement that alienated these patriots since 2005 and they have now become few and demoralized, but that’s another topic.
Either way, point taken.
I respectfully object. This logic is completely unacceptable, even dangerous.
What you’re saying is practically this : Since Hezbollah is a sectarian party and has the support of the majority of Lebanon’s Shia, any confrontation with them is inherently sectarian. So basically we should all refrain from even criticizing the party, because even this critique is by nature also sectarian. Therefore if you are not a Shia, and you want to confront Hezbollah, you ARE sectarian. This is CRAZY.
Such reasoning is completely flawed, encourages sectarianism and sectarian parties, and is even dictatorial. I think we ought to primarily discuss what “sectarian” is and what it implies. One is only sectarian if he/she attacks Hezbollah BECAUSE they are Shia, or BECAUSE he/she is of a different sect.
But anyway, thank you for your input.
Hezbollah is not even close to being the Nazis. And your analogy is completely misplaced. While the Nazi party was acting only inside Germany, no one outside discussed fighting it. When they started using the German state to change the map of the world, then people started fighting it. As for internal opposition, are you really advocating another civil war in Lebanon? That is just plain crazy. Even partitioning Lebanon which is a bad idea, is about 100 times better than fighting another civil war.
The Shia in Lebanon have a valid historical argument that when they were weak, they were treated like shit. Hezbollah has done wonders to for the self esteem and status of the Shia in Lebanon. The Shia in Lebanon have a valid current argument that their political weight is not proportional to the size of their population. Show the Lebanese Shia that they will be treated fairly even without weapons before advocating civil war.
“What you’re saying is practically this : Since Hezbollah is a sectarian party and has the support of the majority of Lebanon’s Shia, any confrontation with them is inherently sectarian.”
That is absolutely not what I am saying. Saying that Hezbollah should disarm as should all parties in Lebanon is not sectarian.
Just put yourself in place of a Shia who does not support Hezbollah but lives in a village where most do. Maybe he wants Hezbollah gone, but does he want fighting in his village? Of course not. He wants Hezbollah gone without a civil war, especially in his home.
AIG is defending Hizbullah.
It never gets old.
Saleh, I would appreciate your input regarding another issue:
Assuming that the fear of Israeli aggression is behind the creation of HA and its massive cache of arms and that the same fear calls for creating a well armed and effctive Lebanese army why shouldn’t Lebanon accept credible international guarantees against Israeli agression and thus devote its resources to more productive activities. If the goal is secure borders then what is wrong with secure borders at a lower total cost. If this logic is good for Europe and Japan then shouldn’t it be good for a small coutry such as Lebanon.
Hezbollah should be dismantled because they take their orders from OUTSIDE the Lebanese government.
The same thing happened in Israel when the Hagganah battled the Irgun for the Altalena. The Irgun backed-down and integrated with the Hagganah/IDF.
Sectarianism is only in the mind. One man, one vote, one military, and as many political parties as the constitution allows.
VERY glad to finally hear someone admitting that Hezbollah’s weapons are related to the fact that “the Shia have a valid argument that their political weight is not proportional to the size of their population”. Finally!
Anyway, I disagree with everything you said but I will not engage in lengthy political discussions. The only point I wanted to make was that my battle against Hezbollah has nothing to do with sectarianism, and I think I was clear on that.
I don’t mind international guarantees. They are an added value. But I do believe we should build an army ready and equipped to face Israeli aggression if and when it happens. Our army should have a “resistance battalion” that uses guerrilla warfare in the face of a potential Israeli attack against Lebanon.
This,however, is irrelevant to the need to disarm Hezbollah NOW because they are an illegal militia and their armament is a violation of our national sovereignty.
Anyway, to sum up now. First I wana thank Elias for writing about this. Second and more importantly I wana thank you all for your comments and questions. I had a great time discussing all of this with you.
Hopefully when the book is out we’l do more of this!
Best wishes to all
Thanks Saleh for joining us. Much appreciated.
I’ll be in Beirut next week.
Where have I defended Hezbollah or their weapons? Just show me the quote. Your accusation is baseless. I would be very happy to see them disarm and become just like any other political party in Lebanon or just disappear altogether as an organization.
Really, when any Lebanese writes nonsense like “party x has to be eradicated, even by force”, it does not matter what x is. Any reasonable Lebanese needs to call out this dangerous populism. In my opinion, Saleh’s rhetoric is inflammatory and extreme. Also, you know how much love I have for all those that advocate using force, but do not plan to take part in the fighting themselves.
Do you plan going to fight Hezbollah yourself or are you advocating a civil war in Lebanon?
This blog has gone MAD!
MAD! I tell you!
AIG.. you have me on the floor rolling with laughter. Maybe those duds will come in handy soon.
You didn’t answer: Are you a proponent of immediately doing away with allotments of political posts based on Sect? Yes or No? If Yes, is this position clearly stated in your Platform and FB page and whatnot?
“But I do believe we should build an army ready and equipped to face Israeli aggression if and when it happens. Our army should have a “resistance battalion” that uses guerrilla warfare in the face of a potential Israeli attack against Lebanon.”
Yes, good luck investing the billions of dollars per year that are required to “face Israeli aggression if and when it happens”. Maybe having electricity 24 hours per day is more important? I am sure people will line up to lend Lebanon money to invest in its military.
And what is the “resistance battalion” and what is it good for exactly? You need to be able to stop the Israeli air force. Or maybe you should just listen to GK.
I were you I wouldn’t be laughing. SM is counting on you to come and “eradicate Hezbollah” and he is not even offering life insurance! I heard QN is joining the “resistance battalion”.
This is an alternative to Hariri???
Surprising and disappointing indeed, it is one thing to call for disarming HA and a totally different thing to call for “eradication by force”
Perhaps we should blame Lally for encouraging such bravado on Saleh’s part 🙂
Military solutions don’t work in Lebanon. Even Hizbullah has had to learn this the hard way.
For me the major problem is not that he is proposing a terribly bad solution, it is that he never plans to be the one risking his life to “eradicate” Hezbollah. Good leaders care for the people they represent. They don’t view them as cannon fodder. Good leaders lead from the front, not from the beach.
When are you going to burst out of that bubble you seem to live in? Credible international guarantees? You do make me laugh sometimes.
As for Mister SM,
Oh dear, another potential warlord politician in the making.
Hizballah should be disarmed by force? Is going to call in NATO after they are done with Syria? Or is he going to arm up his “popular base” and eradicate Hizballahs arms with his own illegal arms?
And a classic Lebanese example of talking out of both sides of your mouth – “im not attacking Hizballah because they are Shia” – Yeah cuz if it was the Morabitoun that were in the position Hizballah is now…..
[Comment moderated for language/etiquette]
And yeah like it or not, when you talk about taking on Hizballah by force, then you are taking on the Shia and whether you like it not it will be seen as secterian.
But lets face it, thats not a statement meant at Hizballah or the Shia. Thats the kind of machismo that so many young Lebanese boys will be enamoured with and will flock to his flag when the time is ripe for him to challenge for the leadership of M14. But hey, if Im wrong about that, Mr Machnouk can always give it a go, everyone else pretty much has, and failed.
But well done QN on outing him, thanks for that.
We have attempted a couple of times over the years to deal with this issue but always failed. Let me give this one more try. You dismiss my point about international guarantees only by saying that it cannot be done. That does not answer my question. I am asking the question of whether one can secure these credible international guarantees fro Tehran, Moscow,NATO or even Marsians then would Lebanon feel safe from potential Israeli aggression? I do not see why Lebanon should not. The important issue is safety of borders either by making the country into a Troy or by accepting an international guarantee that is much less onerous in its demands on the resources and accomplishes the same exact goal.If we agree that this is an acceptable solution, in theory, then we will have ample time to discuss whether such guarantees can be secured.
No, eerily, I found myself siding with you. I had my PomPoms out and all.
You made me proud. (If only you extend that sort of analysis to Israel, you’d be quite a remarkable fellow).
I don’t think QN deserves full credit. I mean he deserves full credit for providing a lovely canvas. But Josh and BM deserve a standing ovation for a masterful performance.
Since we have you back for brief moments, I would like to clear up something on the “Sectarian” question.
Suppose I was vacationing in Tyre one day, and I fell violently sick (I do typically get stomach bugs, vomiting, etc while vacationing in Lebanon).
Suppose I got sick and I was rushed to one of those “Iranian/Hizballah” funded hospitals.
Will they deny me treatment if I were not a HA supporter?
Will they ask me if I am a Shiite?
Or will they just get on with the business and provide me with treatment?
Mo baby where ya been?
LOL Vulcan. Whatever it takes………;)
Don’t you think that Saleh has been so intemperate as to have advocated exterminating HA by force before now?
AIG wasn’t defending Hezbollah as much he was defending LOGIC. He is an Israeli, after all…. so the dream of using force to eliminate HA is more understandable from his perspective. That was THE goal of ’06 Operation Just Reward and is still a fantasy fancied by those whose boots will remain firmly planted under their desks.
The bit about the “resistance battalion” was far-fetched in that the only entity that could possibly fill that role would have already been wiped out per SM. Unless, a bunch of Chechen fighters could be recruited to serve an ad hoc role within the LAF. Nope, only the battle-tested warriors of God will do….
If Lebanon wants a viable military, the first order of business would be to cut mil-to-mil ties with the US and start to invest in Russian and/or Chinese platforms and training.
Since Mo has always been so nice to me, I have to point out that the onus is on you to show that “credible international guarantees” are possible. Why waste time discussing some fictional thing? It does sound like an oxymoron to me. If Bill Clinton did not stop the genocide in Rwanda, what can the international community guarantee except a deadlock in the UN Security Council?
I analyze Israel in exactly the same way as I analyze anything. I am willing to fight and die for Israel’s defense and I don’t propose eradicating any group in Israel.
“If Lebanon wants a viable military, the first order of business would be to cut mil-to-mil ties with the US and start to invest in Russian and/or Chinese platforms and training.”
Such nonsense. How well did the Russian technology do in stopping Israel from bombing the Syrian nuclear reactor deep in Syrian territory? You do know that China and Russia want to buy Israeli military technology?
I should clarify.
For a brief moment, I got in touch with my feminine side when I read the following coming from you:
I didn’t think you had it in you to see such layers and levels of complexity!
I love you. Can I say that?
What complexity are you talking about? I am describing a very simple thought.
“For a brief moment, I got in touch with my feminine side”
It is the first time I was made aware you had anything but a feminine side. I will make a note of that.
Thats the bubble I’m talking about. “International guarantees” against agression boil down to one thing and one thing only and that agression will be met either by agression or crippling sanctions. Now shall we do a count on the number of countries that would be willing to go to war against Israel? No I cant think of any either. So lets count the number of security council members that would veto anything that caused any kind of sanctions or hardship of any kind to Israel.
Theres really no point in talking about what is acceptable to the Ressistance and its supporters if from the outset we all know that there will never be a sanction against Israel no matter what it does.
I can guarantee you from experience that you would not be asked anything regarding your religion or political affiliation. In fact I suspect that were they to discover you were not Shia or a HA supporter they would actually like the fact that you felt you could go to one of their hospitals.
Trying to stay out of trouble dude. Also focus is a little east of Lebanon these days!
That simple thought seems to elude many! I dare say, a few posts ago, it seemed to me it eluded you as well!
LoL…. or is that Ouch!?!
I gather from your responses that the logic of the hypothetical argument that I have proposed dictates that yes Lebanon should accept such guarantees.
I happen to agree with you that such guarantees are not easy to come buy but they can be arranged. BTW, the example of Rwanda has absolutely nothing to do with this. It was the experience of Rwanda that has encouraged the discussion of adopting something similar to R2P. Sadly Rwandas will happen and no one has a legal obligation to do anything about it , up untill now. Let us suppose however, that a special assembly of nations can be put together to offer such guarantees and I would not rule out that possibility, then I want to find out whether then we can agree that such an arrangement would suffice. I think that it should.
Gabriel, Logic is based on hypthetical relationship in order to test the conclusions of statements. You seem to have it in reverse. I do not have tp prove anything except the validity of a conclusion if certain conditions are met.
Gabriel, before you jump all over me I think that my last remark was in response to AIG and not something you said. Sorry about that.
You lost me there. I didn’t bring up logic. Are you addressing something specific that I wrote? Or were you intending to address someone else?
“I dare say, a few posts ago, it seemed to me it eluded you as well!”
Of course your “seemings” are completely wrong. And as usual you make accusations without showing any quotes or making an argument. Either back your allegation with an argument, or don’t make it.
The truth conditions of an hypothetical is a huge area in philosophy. My position is that an hypothetical that is true is a tautology. And the others are just indeterminate. So yes, if any country had guarantees that no one would attack it, no country would have an army. But lo and behold, countries have armies, even the Swiss. I wonder why this is the case.
The R2P is BS. I hereby declare that you have the legal responsibility to come to the aid of civilians in distress. Why aren’t you in Syria yet? You are just pushing the problem one level up. The American tax payer is not paying for any R2P and almost no one else can do it. Rwanda is an excellent example because do you really need to have some legal mumbo jumbo in place to stop a genocide? That is your problem? That no one wrote a book about R2P before?
The only people that can talk credibly about “international guarantees” are people that can project power and are willing to fight wars for other people. I apologize for being blunt, but you seem only willing to send others to fight these wars.
Furthermore, the balance of power shifts all the time. Any guarantees today are worth nothing tomorrow. Just ask the Czechs and the Poles how their guarantees from the UK helped.
Don’t make silly statements that have no basis in fact. R2P is NOT a legal obligation. It is so far merely a standard that I hope will advance to become even more binding. It is NOT and probably will NOT become a legal standard anytime soon.
When a country can secure credible guarantees then that does not mean that they have to dissolve their armed forces totally because the contractual guarantees are directed towards only one party. What it means though, is that the country will no longer need to allocate a large proportion of its GDP to the wasteful defense spending. That was and still is the case with Europe and Japan.
Erm no. My point was we should not simply because history has proven that no single country in the world is going to sanction Israel for anything it does and therefore I would view any “guarantees” to be no more than a ruse. But i’ll happily talk “guarantees” the next time Israel suffers any fallout whatsoever for killing a 1000 Arabs here or there.
You, Gaby my Phoenician Prince, can say anything……….
Here’s the deal, AIG. America controls what weapons et al the Lebanese are allowed to have/purchase based largely on Israeli wishes. Congress has enormous clout in the decisions made in that regard and is key in vetoing sales of items that Israel finds threatening.
The Russians and Chinese don’t care about maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge; regretfully it’s firm American policy to do so, no matter what. You may not be as alarmist as your leadership; their candyass girlyman screeching over the prospect of the Russians providing their S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to Iran and/or Syria was positively deafening.
You see, Hezbollah’s accumulation of thousands and thousands of missiles and rockets (ie “deterrence”) is an end run around the onerous foreign (largely American) restrictions place on the Lebanese ability to defend herself. As father of the Arrow, Uzi Arad was reported to have said; “the enemy has achieved aerial superiority without aircraft”. Those who know what they know are not at all dismissive of the enemy’s capabilities. Israeli military planners don’t give a big one about hubris-induced hasbaristic fantasies; which is why there are of late, public discussions about evacuating Israelis from locales formerly thought of as “safe”.
Beware the fools in DC and TA who would risk it all.
“Sadly Rwandas will happen and no one has a legal obligation to do anything about it , up untill now.”
What is this legal obligation then that you are talking about? I assumed from what you wrote that you meant R2P.
But let’s call it a “standard”. What is its use if no one is willing to implement it as we see in Syria and we saw in Rwanda? Are you willing to fight such wars and pay for them? Who will this standard of yours bind and how? Will we have international guarantees that the international guarantees will stand? Yeah, that will work.
How is the case of Germany and Japan relevant? Did they have a choice in the matter? There are still American bases in both countries. They have no guarantees, they TRUST the US not to attack them, for good reasons I would say. But the last country Hezbollah would trust to protect it from Israel is the US. Russia and China not only cannot project power they will not give these guarantees.
All those battle-hardening years have left you… well the word escapes me. Dig deep, I’m sure there’s a funny bone there somewhere. Lighten Up. Smile. Have a Substandard Israeli Falafel.
A MO sighting. Anyone who remotely “attacks” the divine party…and viola; the wrath of mo.
Reading saleh’s comments I only can understand that he is a lightweight. He does not map out any economic strategy or a national one at that… He says Hariri’s honeymoon is over but he offers no alternative vision. Sorry Saleh but empty slogans do not turn people on. We need the new generation to come up with creative solutions to the problems not just rehashing what we all know. I am no fan of HA; on the contrary I consider it to me a terrorist organization trying wrap itself in religious mumbo jumbo….having said that I expected someone who professes to have a wide popularity base to come up with peaceful solution to the disarming of HA. Civil war is not an option. Everyone would lose. Maybe you should show people some ideas about the constitution and tackling of the sectarian issue. Redoing Taef maybe? There has to be a balanced approach to your thinking.
ghassan can wait for your book; however why would anyone read it? What’s your accomplishments or input into the country’s advancement so far? Are you a member of FM? If yes why are you not working with the youth in reforming it?
Just a few thoughts. I hope you take all these constructive criticism with an open mind. BTW; don’t take everything our friend mo says to heart. 😀
In a world that is still enamoured by the idea of sovereignty which is used at times to commit the most heinous of crimes most of the agreed upon rules of behaviour are not legally binding. The UNDHR is not legally binding and has no mechanisms of implementation. Does that mean that the world does not need it. Far from it. Arguably it is the single most important document that the world has produced in the field of human rights and international obligations. A right is often not legal. It could be moral and often is only a goal. So yes, it is not legal but one hopes that as the international community develops then many of what is currently a standard would become legal obligations backed up by strong implementation. All of this is so elementary that I don’t believe that we are discussing it:-) You can have the last word on this.
Who is denying that Hezbollah can fire thousands of rockets into Israeli cities? They sure can.
So can the Syrians, just that their missiles are larger and have more range and they have many more missiles than Hezbollah. So how exactly did that help Syria stop the Israeli attack on its nuclear plant? And how did that help them get the Golan?
“Beware the fools in DC and TA who would risk it all.”
Risk what? Israel has exactly what it wants since 2006. The border has never been more quiet and the Hezbollah weapons have only been used against other Lebanese. What happened to the Sheba Farms? Seems Nasrallah forgot about them in the last 6 years. You seem to think Israel wants to invade Lebanon but that is just a fantasy on your part. We want a quiet border. That is it. That is why we withdrew in 2006 and had the UN mark the border way before Hezbollah had thousands of rockets.
So you see, we are exactly were we should have been after the Israeli withdrawal in 2000 except that on the way we had to have a war in 2006 and all sorts of other shit because Hezbollah wanted more. What have the thousands of rockets gotten Hezbollah that they didn’t have in 2000? You tell me. Look at the situation one day after the Israeli withdrawal in 2000 and show me how Lebanon’s security is better.
I have a sense of humor just as much as the next guy, but there is nothing funny about the unsubstantiated allegations that you make. If you want to accuse me of something back it up instead of making childish excuses using pseudo psychological babble. If you can’t or don’t want to back your allegation just say so.
Having normative discussions is really a waste of time. We all know what should be; peace on earth and everyone happy. I don’t want the last word, I want you to convince me that what you are suggesting is not some pie in the sky. So give it a try.
Populism does. Revisit this issue in a few months, as the regional situation shifts and changes. Lebanon will become more radicalized, and the various groups will become more and more entrenched.
[Comment moderated: silly ad hominem attacks are not cool.]
Hizballah needs to open some of those pressure valves in Lebanon. Or we’ll soon be facing new monsters in town.
No AIG. I take exception to this statement! Not “as much”. Not as much as Monolith. And nowhere as much as me! I’m King! [Or Queen! if you prefer ;)].
Now on another note. I made no allegations. I don’t want to back up any allegations. I’m just enjoying a little bit of banter with my favourite Israeli on the blockg.
Of course you made an allegation. Just check above, you wrote:
“That simple thought seems to elude many! I dare say, a few posts ago, it seemed to me it eluded you as well!”
You allege that the thought I articulated to SM eluded me in the past. Of course you don’t want to back this allegation, because you can’t.
Of course I can back it up. For one, I use the word “seem”.
I could well have been wrong.
I may well have been wrong.
In fact, you downright accused me of being wrong: “Of course your “seemings” are completely wrong. ”
Anyways, for the record. I was not wrong. I found it amusing that you do not grant SM the same luxury you grant the Israelis.
For SM, the Sunni:
He should be mindful of the Shia in the South. He should recognize that not all of them support Hizballah. He should be aware that there are those who don’t support Hizballah. But that nonetheless will likely not support his war-mongering.
For AIG, the Jew:
Who cares if he drops 480000 duds in the South of Lebanon, which may or may not kill/maim those Shia who don’t like Hizballah much.
Who cares if the Israelis do the same in Palestinian towns.
And yes, yes. There’s a distinction. You pushed out the Palestinians you didn’t want there, created a little State called Israel. Occupied portions of this state, which are “Occupied Territories”. But they are not officially “Israel”. So the distinction between you, the Jew, and SM, the Sunni, is that you have license for your acts of barbarism because you don’t do them in “Israeli territory”. And SM, the “Sunni”, “Lebanese” is condoning acts of barbarism on “Lebanese” soil.
But we went through this before. No need to keep playing the same record over and over and over again. You have different rules for Jews and for non-Jews.
Again you do not understand the argument. I explained to SM why even the Shias that support Hezbollah may think he is attacking them with his call for force. I explained to SM that his argument is sectarian because it influences almost all Shia detrimentally including those that do not support Hezbollah. Where did I say that he had to care about those Shia?
SM can mind whomever he wants, I did not tell him what to mind. I was arguing only against his assertion that his argument was not sectarian.
Unlike you, I care about Jews and am prepared to give my life to protect them. You are a universalist, you are not willing to do anything for anybody, and therefore have the same rules for everybody. Did you help clear the bomblets in Lebanon? Are you helping the Palestinians? No and no. But you sure like to bitch and invent childish rules. There is mass murder in Syria and you also plan to do nothing. Of course, that is how to treat everyone the same.
If you think we are perpetuating “barbaric acts” against Palestinians, why are you doing nothing to help them?
The Candian government, your government, is one of Israel’s greatest supporters. What are you doing about that? Nothing also. In short you are a bull shit artist. And why would Canada support us if we are “barbaric”? Right, you know better than countless Canadian parliaments and governments.
Re: Sentence 1, You did a masterful job @ that. You were of course preceded by Josh and BM. You get 2 thumbs Way Up for educating SM about why sectarianism is not simply measured by one’s language. Something that eludes many.
You don’t need to explain it to me.
You also wrote another gem:
“As for internal opposition, are you really advocating another civil war in Lebanon? That is just plain crazy. Even partitioning Lebanon which is a bad idea, is about 100 times better than fighting another civil war.”
You, for some brief but true moments, shone. You rose above the occasion! That’s when the tear came rolling down my cheeks!
For brief moments, you were a champion of what could be: Co-existence. Peace. Harmony.
My cheeks went rosy pink reading your posts!
Please let me remember you as that person….
Not the person who prided himself for dropping 480000 duds in Lebanon!
Why do you have to turn something so beautiful into something so ugly. Why does your commitment to Jewry and love for them. Your willingness to die for them. To protect them… have to translate to dropping 480000 duds?
That is what you have yet to explain.
Where did I pride myself for dropping even one dud on Lebanon? You are making false accusations as usual. Back up this accusation if you can.
And of course I had to explain the argument to you, because based on your accusation, you simply did not understand it.
Technology sometimes backfires and that is what happened with the duds. No one had the intention of there being so many duds. I said countless times that given the fact that the bombs were not effective, with hindsight, I would not use them. But there was no way of knowing this before. Israel had better good method to hit “fire and run” squads of Hezbollah, so it was legitimate to try the cluster bombs as they are an area weapon.
Since you have never taken arms to protect anybody or anything in your life, you live in some childish bubble without any knowledge of what that means. It is so easy to write words like: “Co-existence. Peace. Harmony.”
I find it rich from a person whose family had to leave Lebanon because of a civil war. Where were all your hollow slogans when Lebanese killed Lebanese, 200,000 of them? Where are your hollow slogans now, when Syrians are murdered? Will you even move your ass if there is war in Lebanon because of what is happening in Syria? Of course not, you have no life insurance.
In the end, you are just a simple coward, with idiotic slogans.
I take Israeli military analysts’ words over yours on Israel’s security situation. You are too embedded in the narratives of past glories of hasbarlandia to be able to do a credible job in discussions of this nature. Get
Here’s a little help to get you up-to-speed from Maj.-Gen Amir Eshel:
“On the military level, every component of our national security strategy
faces challenges. First, there is the need for deterrence, with countries in
the Middle East working to acquire weapons of mass destruction (and some
have already acquired them). The growing numbers of surface- to-surface
missiles and rockets are another major challenge to our deterrence.
Our early- warning capability in the past was meant for a large-scale war.
Today one needs a warning for a single terrorist, and this presents a new
Another component being challenged is Israel’s ability to achieve a decisive
outcome from any conflict. We have the capability to hit any adversary very
hard, but the last rocket may well be fired from the other side. There will
be no more knockouts. In future conflicts, we may be exchanging fire until
the last minute, and we will not see a white flag being waved. Today,
achieving a decisive outcome is not like it used to be, not because it is
not decisive, but because the image at the end will be different.”
re “risking it all”
Some fools in DC and TA have convinced themselves that because Assad didn’t respond to the attack on the Box-on-the-Euphrates and other cross-border IAF actions, he won’t retaliate with force in the case of pre-emptive strikes to destroy Syrian capabilities. Additionally, they hold similar opinions about whether or not Iran would retaliate in any great measure because of the Israeli/American assets (defensive and offensive) that could/would be deployed against Iran. It’s thought that the threats to destroy Lebanon will similarly restrain a politically weakened Hezbollah. Thus Ehud Barak’s infamous calculus that Israel would only suffer a few hundred civilian mortalities in a war with Iran et al.
(Ehud and bibi are not alone in their Messianic notions; you Israelis really need to reign in the American Diaspora nutjobs & their crypto Zionist “friends” who would support Israeli warmongering to the last reservist. The same idiots worked hard to unsuccessfully convince a skeptical Ariel Sharon that ridding the world of Saddam would be good for the Jews.)
Obviously, these risky assessments of minimalist retaliation is not convincing to a very wide segment of those professionally tasked with Israel’s defense and security.
What glory are you talking about? How does anything I said contradict what Eshel said? Of course we face challenges and they change all the time. That is why we are all the time developing new weapon systems and concepts. That does not change the fact that Israel’s border with Lebanon has never been more quiet and it has been quiet for years. 2006 was not decisive in any way but it has stopped Hezbollah completely in regards to Israel. Just compare their attacks between 2000 and 2006 to their no attacks after 2006. They did nothing when Israel went into Gaza and they did nothing to avenge Mugniyeh. How do you explain that?
And it seems that you have quoted Eshel but not read what he wrote. He clearly says that Israel cannot accept a nuclear Iran. This has nothing to do whether Iran retaliates or not. Israel should prepare for the worst after it attacks Iran. Yes, many missiles will fall in Israel. But it is worth it to stop a nuclear Iran if that is the only choice.
….and the love affair continues…gabby let him off the hook for a few days please. !!!!!!
Danny, I can’t help it. I’m weak.
AIG… If you don’t mind me asking, how old are you?