Saturday, August 18, 2007


The power of the internet today is often misunderstood; no, information does not flow freely and uncensored, thanks to “Great” walls here and there. But information flows fast, thanks to the growing interconnectedness of the networks.

Back in the Day

A politician’s trade requires much “reductive thinking”, in which they focus on local issues in an attempt to balance “one's ethics with the reality at hand”. In the Middle East’s context of an absence of ethics, politicians tend to focus on pandering to local audiences. And it used to be that politicians were only talking to locals when they used local venues.

Not anymore. Now, the entire world is a potential eavesdropper on all conversations and speeches. Even limiting yourself on “local” languages or “local” media is not enough; everything is connected, and automation tools are plentiful, though this still make the odd mistake.

But Politicians Can Be Slow Learners.

Those practitioners of one of the world’s oldest professions have been slow to learn the new technologies, and even slower to understand its true limitations.

Some may recall how Arafat was caught stating different things in different tongues.

On August 17th, the same happened to HassAoun, who supplemented his (kinda OK) August 14th performance with a display of allegiance to his Iranian bosses. He may have felt the need to show gratitude, and the quote may have been meant for Farsi speakers, but few Lebanese would appreciate being reduced to dismembered limbs to keep Iran strong and dignified”, and fewer still would think that “we are strong if Iran is strong”.

Nasrallah may be free to be but “a small soldier for Imam Khamenei”, but a lot more of us have already chosen a prophet to follow, and we no do look forward to being mere “عضو”-heads for Farsi Mullahs, no matter how cool the video games they inspire, or how many toys they send us.

Then, on August 18th, Syrian Minister Shara’a came up with his little “local” piece, in which he criticized Saudi Arabia. He may have been pandering to local Umayyad nostalgia, and he may have expected this to stay “local” and not be accessible to “outsiders”. However, communications today are such that the Saudis were forced to respond “hot”, as the “data” leaked on front pages. And so they did, “with great surprise the distasteful statements recently made by [...] Sharaa, which included numerous lies and fallacies aimed at harming us”.

Because of Syria's growing isolation, that’s gonna hurt on the long run, no matter who they’re talking to; his boss Bashar already learned the price of such slips of the tongue….

The Lost Wisdom of the Ancients

The tragedy of Lebanon is that secular forces are so poorly represented and so confused that they have to rely on the mistakes and miscalculations of Lebanon’s hubris-driven opponents. They have a saying in Tripoli, which I censored/altered a little (just one word);

كلّ شي مشّ من دمّك

كلّ ما جنّ

إفرح لو!

As far as foreign dictators go, few would mind not interrupting their self-destruction, as long as they keep piling the mistakes.

But when it comes to HassAoun, like him or not, he is still Lebanese, and so are his mistakes. So we’ll all end up paying for them on the long run, like we did in the past war he’s so proudly celebrating.


amir in tel aviv said...

Interesting issue indeed.!
I wonder what could have been WW2's
faith, if there was an Internet
back then.
If British and Germans could have
read and understand one another intentions
before '39...
No doubt the Internet changed the ways
peoples around the world interact.
It's much better, and comforting to
know that it became quite impossible
to hide secrets.

Anonymous said...

It is Hazbani
Sorry to spoil the great ponderings of another Isaeli. It is still very possible to hid secrets in some places. I will just say Dimona, Some radioactive places in Persia and the 4% stolen from Lebanon. I can add more if need be. I am also not 100% sure that Nasralla wanted his saying in Persia to be a secret. They put fear in some people in Israel and Lebanon and is not that what he wants, any how?

ghassan karam said...

A classic case of Blowback and a dictator who has put in motion a series of events that could culminate in his own demise is the sisterly regime next doors. When Bashar Al Assad orchestrated the extention for Emile Lahoud and the went further to get the Syrian regime involved in the assassination of PM Hariri he set in motion 1559, the Syrian withdrawl from Lebanon and all what has followed and is likely to happen within the next few months. The outcomes have been totally unintended by the Syrian Baath. Why did the Syrian Army agree to the quick exit from Lebanon? I have not seen anywhere a credible explanation for that departure. Obviously they diud not leave willingly otherwise why would they be trying so hard to come back? In an interview with Fouad Ajami that Elaph conducted with him recently he reveals what might be the best and arguably the true explanation to the Syrian actions. The Syrian regime became totally convinced that if they do not pull out their troops from Lebanon then the US would do to them what it had done to Saddam. (Remember that this occured more than 2 1/2 years ago). When Syria found out later on that their assumptions were wrong and that their withdrawl was not warranted they could not just move back in but had to improvise through their agents/allies in Lebanon.The rest is history. Lebanon is in turmoil, Syria is isolated both internationally and within the Arab League. Their likely involvement in the Hariri affair is about to be exposed, Israel refuses to talk about the Golan and even the European have suspended the association with the EU. History will not be kind to Bashar; it should never be kind to a dictator; but contrary to what some people in the opposition in Lebanon think, the man has been an unqualified disaster. All his actions have backfired. The ultimate blowback will be the demise of this murderous regime which will happen and ironically as a result of all the bad calls that the leadership has made.. I am looking forward to that

Bad Vilbel said...

Good post, Jeha.

And I agree with you, Ghassan. Interesting comment about the Syrian withdrawal.
And you're right that Bashar's reign has been a complete disaster for his regime and for Syria. His father would be pretty ashamed if he were still around. Hate him as we may, at least the father knew how to play this game.

Sam said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bad Vilbel said...

Syria is pursuing the Golan?

Where? How? When?

All I've seen is Syria pursuing Lebanon. Lebanon has taken up a very large chunk of Bashar's speeches, resources, comments, and attention.

The Golan seems like an afterthought.

Put down the crack pipe.