The ruins of Lebanon

The dilemmas faced by Filipinos in Lebanon are severe; evacuation plans seem to be stymied -but 500 Filipinos have been evacuated (Toots Ople breaks down the number of Filipinos potentially involved in what happens). The President is trying wheedle oil out of Colonel Qaddafi.

Once again the blogosphere and online news proves its importance -and mettle- in global crisis situations such as the one unfolding in the Middle East.

Pajamas Media and The Truth Laid Bear both have a flurry of roundups on the situation. A reader kindly points to an article in The Observer, on how troubling the situation in the Middle East is becoming; another extremely unsettling analysis on what’s going on is in Vital Perspective:

The problem is this: While Syria does not want to get hit and will not make overt moves, so long as the Syrians cannot guarantee supplies will not reach Hezbollah or that Hezbollah won’t be given sanctuary in Syria, Israel cannot complete its mission of shattering Hezbollah and withdrawing. They could be drawn into an Iraq-like situation that they absolutely don’t want. Israel is torn. On the one hand, it wants to crush Hezbollah, and that requires total isolation. On the other hand, it does not want the Syrian regime to fall. What comes after would be much worse from Israel’s point of view.

This is the inherent problem built into Israel’s strategy, and what gives Hezbollah some hope. If Israel does not attack Syria, Hezbollah could well survive Israel’s attack by moving across the border. No matter how many roads are destroyed, Israel won’t be able to prevent major Hezbollah formations moving across the border. If they do attack Syria and crush al Assad’s government, Hezbollah could come out of this stronger than ever.

The Arab News newspaper, in its editorial, presents its view on the Lebanese government’s dilemma. Mike Cohen points to alarming statements by Newt Gingrich and former PM Mahathir of Malaysia -it’s World War III!

The Papal Nuncio lays out the Vatican position on killings: stop them! There’s that other problem, simony.

An analysis of the political psychology of Thaksin: eerily reminiscent of someone here at home.

A thought-provoking special report in The Manila Times on whether automating vote-counting will really deter fraud.

The Smithsonian Institution is in trouble: lacking money, is it having to sell its soul to corporations?. The tact and diplomacy of Prince Philip. Did you know Art Bell is living in Makati?

In the punditocracy, my column for today is Prima donna monologues.

Bong Austero has a sobering column on how those who run educational institutions aren’t just managers, but custodians of tradition and culture (and how the latter responsibility is dangerously being ignored).

Amando Doronila says the bishops have uh, skirted issues they should have confronted. Dan Mariano focuses on bishops accused of taking bribes.

Efren Danao suggests, if executive and other officials can be subjected to investigations by the Ombudsman, then members of Congress should be investigated, too.

A trial balloon? The hitherto-moribund idea of Congress holding a constituent assembly is revived, and here are Rita Linda Jimeno’s calculations:

The House, through Speaker Jose de Venecia, contends that since the Constitution is silent on whether or not the Senate and House of Representatives should vote separately to attain a vote of three-fourths, then it means that the number of congressmen, which is 236, should be added up to the number of senators, currently 23, to come up with a sum of 259. The three-fourths of this sum, the speaker says, is 194—the number needed for the two Chambers, taken as one, to comprise a constituent assembly that will propose revisions or amendments to the Constitution in a plebiscite. He therefore believes that if the required number of 194 is obtained even in the House alone, the constituent assembly will be deemed constituted and, amendments or revisions in the Constitution may then be proposed to the people.

Alas, the the Senate sees otherwise; so Jimeno quotes a retired judge:

Justice Mendoza strongly criticized this view … First, he said, the Senate’s view has reduced the amendment process to an ordinary legislative process of passing laws, which would, in effect, be a legislated form of Charter Change. This interpretation, Justice Mendoza said, blithely ignores the fact that ours is a rigid Constitution, which means that it cannot be amended by the ordinary process of legislation.

Second, he continued, the Senate interpretation is inconsistent with the pattern of other provisions of the Constitution… which suggests that when performing nonlegislative functions, the two houses must meet in joint session and then vote separately or, sometimes, jointly.

Among the instances when the two Chambers meet in a joint session to act on nonlegislative tasks are: When Congress declares a state of war; or when it confirms the President’s nomination of a member of the Senate or the House to be vice president of the Philippines, in the event of vacancy in that office; or when it sits as a Board to canvass the votes for President and Vice President and declares the winners.

In fact, the good justice added, when Congress decides to revoke the President’s declaration of Martial Law or suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, not only must the two Chambers meet in a joint session, but they must likewise vote jointly as well.

Given all these provisions in the Constitution, Justice Mendoza said there is no reason why the same requirement and procedure should not be applied in determining the manner of sitting and voting of the two houses when Congress acts as a constituent assembly. Indeed, he added, citing the case of Javellana vs Comelec (21 SCRA 774) “Senators and members of the House of Representatives act, not as members of Congress, but as component elements of a constituent assembly.”

The Polo Club as heritage site. The Pope’s opinions on music and liturgy (as to be expected from a classical pianist).

In the blogosphere, buzz on Bolante continues. Uniffors says the Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles is hiding something; an OFW Living in Hong Kong tackles the theory that detaining Bolante in America is a good thing for the Palace; Coffee With Amee points out that Bolante’s visa cancellation is no minor matter, and while the full info isn’t out, something serious must be afoot! Ellen Tordesillas also thinks the Bolante affair is going to get more serious as time passes.

Personally: this is a hot, hot story for enterprising Filipino-Americans in the West Coast. Will they manage to hunt down the leads?

Ricky Carandang has been doing research on the internal dynamics of the Philippine episcopate. The factions seem to be as follows: doing the lobbying for the Palace, Archbishop Diosdado Talamayan of Tuguegarao; against the Palace, a group clustered around Archbishop Oscar Cruz. Mongster’s Nest blogs about a bishop’s account of what took place during the CBCP meeting.

Iloilo City Boy puts forward why wages in this country are so low.

Ethan Zuckerman has a fascinating entry on how the internet is growing, and how the idea of the “digital divide” is giving way to the concept of “digital opportunity.”

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

124 thoughts on “The ruins of Lebanon

  1. MLQ,

    In yesterday’s issue of the Bangkok post mentioned that Thaksin is drafting a royal decree for the King’s approval on holding another round of parliamentary election in October.

    I am posting below the letter from caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra dated June 23 to US President George W Bush and Bush’s answer letter to the Thai premier dated July 3 (just in case you missed it) The letters has been widely publicized both in print and tv media here.

    I guess both letters were first published in Thai-language Matichon newspaper’s Wednesday edition (July 12)

    1. Letter from caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to US

    George W Bush.
    Office of the Prime Minister,
    Government House,
    23 June B.E. 2549 (2006)

    Dear Mr President,

    I write to you on the basis of my high personal regard for your leadership to explain the current political situation in Thailand, where I recently assumed responsibilities as caretaker Prime Minister . It is my goal to prepare the best possible democratic path for the next government following new national elections this fall.
    There has been a threat to democracy in Thailand since early this year. Key democratic institutions, such as elections and their observance of Constitutional limitation on government, have been repeatedly undermined by interest that depend on creating chaos and mounting street demonstrations in Bangkok as a means to acquire political power that they cannot gain through winning elections. Having failed to provoke violence and disorder, my opponents are now attempting various extra Constitutional tactics to co-opt the will of the people. If our democratic institutions prove strong over the next several months, these too will be unsuccessful.
    On April 2, my Party, Thai Rak Thai, won a convincing majority in countrywide elections. Having led Thailand’s government for over five years and won decisive victories in two previous national elections, I was confident of strong popular support and the voters confirmed the view. My political opponents because they know they would again lose, boycotted the April elections and left the political situation in Thailand in deadlock. With the imminent celebration of the 60th Anniversary of our King’s coronation, I would not responsibly allow this political stalemate the mar this historic occasion . In order to restore calm so that preparations for the royal celebration could proceed, I stopped aside to take a leave of absence, assigning my Deputy Prime Minister with acting executive responsibilities.
    In keeping with their independent status, Thai courts have since annulled the April elections on technical considerations and ruled that a new national vote be scheduled, probably in mid October. Most objective observers believe that my Party will again receive the people’s mandate to form a government. In the meantime, I could not allow my country to drift without leadership. Our ongoing war on terror must be prosecuted, our economy must be managed, and the basic functions of government must be carried out. For these reasons, I have heeded the calls of many Thais – both within my Party and among the oppositions as well – to resume an active role as caretaker Prime Minister.
    During this period, I want to assure you that I will take steps to help got the country ready for free and fair elections, and to work to shift the national debate from one that is emotionally charged to one that reasonably discusses the central questions of Thailand’s future, including whether the country’s political governance will be decided through the ballot box or in the street. The answer to that question, Mr President, will have an important impact on the future course of democracy in Asia. I know that your agree with me that the rule of law and Constitutional order in Thailand and in Asia more broadly must prevail over demagoguery and mob action.
    Finally, Mr President, please accept my enduring confidence that the relationship between Thailand and the United States, based on shared democratic values and vital national interests, will only grow in the months and years ahead.

    Yours sincerely,
    (Thaksin Shinawatra)
    Prime Minister of Thailand

    2. Letter from US President George W Bush to the Thai premier

    July 3, 2006

    His Excellency
    Thaksin Shinawatra
    Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailnd

    Mr. Prime Minister

    Thank you for your letter, and your optimism about the road ahead in Thailand. The United States has watched events in your country with some concern, and as an ally and a friend it is my sincere hope that all parties can find a way forward that respects the great achievement of Thai democracy and sees a fully vested government up and running in Bangkok as soon as possible.
    Our two nations’ friendship remains strong, and I appreciate your assurance that our good cooperation on issues of vital importance to us both will continue, Free and open political systems can be unpredictable, but the Thai people are resilient and Thai democracy is strong, and I know that your country will emerge from the current situation with a renewed focus on that which makes Thailand great.

    George W. Bush

  2. World War III? Geez, I hope not. But developments in the Middle East are sure getting out of hand. The Americans have allowed Israel too much slack. Now the Americans can’t rein their monster in. And the more Israel goes berserk, the stronger the radical Islamists get. Yet, Israel has the final option . . . it has nuclear arms. America is in a Catch-22 situation. At the same time, it’s stuck in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Analysts on BBC were saying that $100/barrel oil isn’t too far off anymore. And if things get much worse in the Middle East, and Iran gets dragged by Israel into the war, we could be looking at $150-$200 per barrel of oil. Even if it weren’t World War III, that would be a thermonuclear blast at economies like ours.

  3. It is disgusting that the so-called democratic free world should allow Israel free rein to invade a sovereign nation.

    Carl correctly points out, “The Americans have allowed Israel too much slack. The Americans have allowed Israel too much slack. Now the Americans can’t rein their monster in. And the more Israel goes berserk, the stronger the radical Islamists get.”

    Why is the US its coalition of invaders in Iraq quiet while Israel is on a massacreing spiel in Lebanon? Why?

  4. Banner in Le Monde French (apologies for the liberal translation):

    “Israël poursuit ses frappes sur le Liban, Villepin doit se rendre à Beyrouth” (Israel pursues its attacks on Lebanon, Villepin is scheduled to visit Beyrut)

    “L’aviation israélienne a mené, dimanche soir et lundi matin, de nouveaux raids notamment sur Beyrouth, Tripoli et Baalbeck. Six jours après le début de l’offensive israélienne, près de 170 civils ont été tués, dont sept Canadiens. Dominique de Villepin doit se rendre dans la journée à Beyrouth pour “exprimer la solidarité de la France”.

    Israel air force went on raids anew on Sunday evenig and Monday morning notably on Beyrut, Tripoli and Baalbeck. Six days after the Israeli offensive, close to 170 civilians were killed, 7 of whom are Canadians. Dominique de Villepin (French Prime Minister) is scheduled to go to Beyrut today to express France’s solidarity (with Leabanon).

  5. Justin Raimondo, who runs a right wing antiwar website believes that American foreign policy has been successfully hijacked by Israel’s allies within the US government. He says that the Iraq war was less about oil and more about eliminating Saddam as a security threat. Now that’s done, Israel is moving on to the next phase which is to eliminate Syria and Iran as security threats. Since the American public has lost the taste for another conflict after their experience in Iraq, Israel seems to be doing all it can to force the issue by way of Lebanon.

  6. Verzola offers these examples of enhancing openness:

    Sen. Serge Osmeña’s proposal to use digital-imaging technologies to make many copies of the election returns (ER) at the precinct level. The more copies of the ERs circulated, the more difficult for cheats to cover up their crime.

    Sexy, but terribly impractical. Can you imagine putting scanners and personal computers in every precinct where counting takes place all over the country – even in places where electricity can be described as spotty at best? While the “the-more-the-merrier” theory is sound enough, it’s practical application promises to be prohibitively expensive.

    System expert Manu Alcuaz’s proposal for LCD projectors at the municipal level. Projecting ERs on a big screen enables more people in the audience to audit the ongoing exercise. this is a good idea, except is it really manu’s? this was done before in Cebu at the initiative of a COMELEC field official. We are working hard for this best practice to be adopted everywhere.

    A citizen’s tally proposed by Halalang Marangal. Under the plan, nonpartisan volunteer precinct watchers will use cellular phones to text the results to Halalan’s databases, where some 250,000 precinct results will be stored. The public can then request the individual precinct results by text/SMS or via the Internet. Anyone can download the entire database or get it on a compact disc. aaaaah. There’s the rub, eh? Kaya pala. Anyway, this SMS idea? One word: Namfrel.

  7. The Civilian Population of all countries involved in the current turmoil in the middle east, would rather see and hear not a single sound of explosion over their heads, especially the Lebanese, who thru no fault of their own are taking the brunt of all the punishment. But as always, the very people who are safe in their bomb protected palaces and can get out of danger zone faster than the “flying rocket” itself are making these decision, so others will perish and suffer the never ending agony that is known as the Middle East.

  8. Lebanon is still recovering from civil war, thus it cannot antagonize a powerful political group like Hezbollah.

    I believe them when they say,they have no conttrol of hezbollah which is pro Syria, and the the Lebanese government is basically anti Syrian.

    GWB dutring a press conference asks Syria to exert its influence over Hezbollah, what does GWB want Syria to do,ask hezbollah to lay own their arms?It is a messy situation,indeed.I hope Cimatu has an exit plan for our country man,unlike what his previous wait and see posture,and travel bans which won’t work.

    As to Israel wether or notr it is over reacting or not, should not be allowed in its rampage, the collateral damage is so big(for lacking of a termm).

    Lets see how the G8 will be handle this and I am sure this was not in their agenda,they thought they will be talking about Korea.

  9. The problem is Israel is nuke capable.
    I see the start of the novel/movie “SUM OF ALL FEARS”.

    israel has long been nuke ready, but no one will dare have them sanctioned,just because they are not in the so-called axis of evil.

  10. Waht is GMA,doing negotiating cheap prices of oil with Libya and Brunei,just in case of a worst case scenario.

    What she must do is save her money and talk to her congress to pass the biofuels bill,which may not even be the be all end all solution to the scary 200$ a barrel oil.

    Her negotiating will only subract 20 $ at the most.
    (how I wish that that I am overly exaggerated.)

  11. Israel bombed the power plant in Lebanon. Crime against humanity na yan The attack although ostensibly a reprisal for Hezbollah attacks is meant to harm the civilian population. The Nazi occupation forces used to do that to civilian populations in occupied territories whenever a German soldier was killed. The Japanese army did that here too.

    Hezbollah is the enemy of the Israelis not the Lebanese people nor Palestinians who are not members of Hezbollah.

    Why is it that the victims of the one of the greatest inhumanities in history have become the perpetrators of inhumanity ?

    And if one looks at how Israel came into being, the strategy and tactics that Zionists used… well it wouldn’t be out of the question if some of those rocket attacks were coming from “Hezbollahs” funded by the Mossad.

    The cruel reality of that conflict is Israel will never be able to rest as long as there is one Palestinian alive. In order for Israel to live, Palestine has to die. It’s an ongoing genocide from the victims of genocide.

  12. With Bush at the helm, it is likely that America will be sucked into a wider regional war. This may hold true even with a change of leadership as the pro-Israel lobby also has the Democrats covered. The prudent thing for us to do is not to take sides and eject all American troops from Philippine soil as they are currently toxic. We don’t want a repeat of what happened in World War II where we got caught in the middle.

  13. cvj,

    When the powerless are being attacked we have to speak out on their behalf even if we’re powerless ourselves otherwise our silence will mean consent. Don’t you think we should at least condemn the attacks against civilians and civilian installations ?

  14. There is thing in America that can never be questioned by the people or by its government. Israel.
    It doesn’t matter if you’re a bleeding heart liberal or a Bible belt right wing extremist. Israel is the last sacred cow of America.

  15. how can bombing a power plant be a crime against humanity? and it could be argued that aside from imposing a blockade on lebanon, israel is still holding back, as is syria. it would really depend on israel, syria and iran if they want things to escalate into actual war.

  16. The Power Plant (and the airport) is part of vital infrastructure used by Lebanese civilians. Despite Israel’s ‘restraint’, 140 civilians are dead since last Wednesday.

  17. Mlq3,

    It seems Bush will not say anything to offend Israel. Don’t ask me why or why not but he certainly wields his might with fanatical gung-hoism even vis a vis his collegues who are chief executives of their own country in their own right.

    In the following dialogue which was caught on record while the two leaders were having a cross-Atlantic conference, any person possessing the slightest self respect and dignity would be amazed at how Bush seems to have taken it upon himself to be the de-facto world president.

    Well, I am glad that President Chirac and the French nation had the dignity and the courage of their convictions to say “Sod off!” to Bush and certainly to his poodle and lackey, Blair!

    Here’s the transcript of the dialogue which was provided by Sky News

    Bush: Yo, Blair. How are you doing?
    Blair: I’m just…
    Bush: You’re leaving?
    Blair: No, no, no not yet. On this trade thingy…[INAUDIBLE]
    Bush: Yeah, I told that to the man.
    Blair: Are you planning to say that here or not?
    Bush: If you want me to.
    Blair: Well, it’s just that if the discussion arises…
    Bush: I just want some movement.
    Blair: Yeah.
    Bush: Yesterday we didn’t see much movement.
    Blair: No, no, it may be that it’s not, it may be that it’s impossible.
    Bush: I am prepared to say it.
    Blair: But it’s just I think what we need to be an opposition…
    Bush: Who is introducing the trade?
    Blair: Angela [Merkel, the German Chancellor].
    Bush: Tell her to call ’em.
    Blair: Yes.
    Bush: Tell her to put him on, them on the spot. Thanks for [INAUDIBLE] it’s awfully thoughtful of you.
    Blair: It’s a pleasure.
    Bush: I know you picked it out yourself.
    Blair: Oh, absolutely, in fact [INAUDIBLE].
    Bush: What about Kofi? [INAUDIBLE] His attitude to ceasefire and everything else … happens.
    Blair: Yeah, no I think the [INAUDIBLE] is really difficult. We can’t stop this unless you get this international business agreed.
    Bush: Yeah.
    Blair: I don’t know what you guys have talked about, but as I say I am perfectly happy to try and see what the lie of the land is, but you need that done quickly because otherwise it will spiral.
    Bush: I think Condi is going to go pretty soon.
    Blair: But that’s, that’s, that’s all that matters. But if you… you see it will take some time to get that together.
    Bush: Yeah, yeah.
    Blair: But at least it gives people…
    Bush: It’s a process, I agree. I told her your offer to…
    Blair: Well…it’s only if I mean… you know. If she’s got a…, or if she needs the ground prepared as it were… Because obviously if she goes out, she’s got to succeed, if it were, whereas I can go out and just talk.
    Bush: You see, the … thing is what they need to do is to get Syria, to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it’s over.
    Blair: [INAUDIBLE]
    Bush: [INADUBILE]
    Blair: Syria.
    Bush: Why?
    Blair: Because I think this is all part of the same thing.
    Bush: Yeah.
    Blair: What does he think? He thinks if Lebanon turns out fine, if we get a solution in Israel and Palestine, Iraq goes in the right way…
    Bush: Yeah, yeah, he is sweet.
    Blair: He is honey. And that’s what the whole thing is about. It’s the same with Iraq.
    Bush: I felt like telling Kofi to call, to get on the phone to Assad and make something happen.
    Blair: Yeah.
    Bush: [INAUDIBLE]
    Bush: We are not blaming the Lebanese government.
    Blair: Is this…? (at this point Blair taps the microphone in front of him and the sound is cut.)

    The transcript is published in The Times today.

  18. MLQ3,

    You said, ” it would really depend on israel, syria and iran if they want things to escalate into actual war.”

    I suppose you are right.

    So far, Lebanon has not made an official declaration of war on Israel (because it can not, much too weakened by the civil war) but Israel’s act is an act of war. Invading a sovereign nation, attacking its vital infrastructures, killing Lebanese civilians and furthermore, boosting Israel’s aggression on Lebanon with a military blockade is WAR.

    The international community must condemn Israel’s current acts of atrocity on Lebanon and must prevail on world leaders to stop this act of war before it spreads in the Middle east and escalates to a World War.

  19. In 1948, a new republic was born and joined the family of nations.

    And the Philippines was among the first to recognize the new Jewish state.

    The root of the conflict in the middle east is and always will be the Israeli-Palestinian feud over the ancient land of Canaan.

    Radical islamists in the region are after one thing: the destruction of the state of Israel.

    Co-existence being out of the question..they do not recognize Israel’s right to exist.

    What’s happening in Southern Lebanon is unfortunate but is part of the reality.

    Lebanon’s prime minister asserts the Lebanese Army is powerless against Hezbollah who happen to have two of their members holding cabinet positions in the current Lebanese coalition government. He explains that any attempt to restrain Hezbollah would be to risk civil war– and a Lebanon torn and divided is not something he’d like to go through again.

    Granted, the Israeli offensive may be seen as overkill on the part of the Jewish state..but what does one expect? Israel’s enemies will not stop until Israel ceases to exist.

    Arab vs. Jew..

    I’d still like to think that peace in the middle east is attainable albeit seemingly elusive.

    Radicalized elements like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade..and yet again the Tehran-backed Hezbollah has made peace in the region seem almost impossible.

    For now, Israel is now engaged in two fronts and it doesn’t look good.

    And for all intents and purposes, I would have to agree with the Arab League’s secretary general: the peace process is dead.

  20. Bombing a power plant is a crime against humanity because it begins a chain reaction that ends in untold suffering for untold numbers of innocent civilians when such a vital infrastructure is taken out. The purpose of the bombing was to cause civilian suffering so that the Lebanese will throw oout the Hizbollah. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if the next thing the Israelis bomb is the water supply of Lebanon Innocent Lebanese are being punished by Israel for something that the Lebanese government is unable to do.

  21. MLQ3,

    Ceretainly not by making the civilian population of Lebanon suffer that Israel (and indirectly the US of A) get the HEZBOLLAHs obliterated from the face of the earth.

    What I don’t understand is why the US and Israel could not conclude a modus vivendi with Palestine’s demoratically elected Hamas government when it was less arduous and more feasible to do so.

    The UN and the whole world required a democratic election be held in Palestine yet when it happened and the Palestinians for the first time in their history freely and democratically elected their government, the world turned their back on them at the mere instigation of Israel!

    The weakening of the infant democracy in Palestine re-enforced HEZBOLLAH’s hold in that part of the world…

    Indeed, what is to be done?

    This is one time when Bush could certainly use his gungho, cowboy experience on the invasion of Iraq! He should swallow his pride and ORDER, yes, order the Israelis to stop their belligerent attacks on Lebanon and to ORDER, yes, order, sensible people from the newly elected Palestinian Parliament (HAMAS or NOT) to sit down together and work out a way till their toungues drop from exhaustion!

    This could be one way to weaken and ultimately destroy the remaining fibers of HEZBOLLA’s horrible influence in the Middle East.

    Obviously, Bush ain’t gonna do that… The Israelis could very well turn to him and say, “Who do you think you are? You did the same on Iraq on a flimsy excuse and now have the temerity to order us to cease our attacks? To hell with you!”

    Ah, but perhaps Condi Rice might succeed where obviously Bush would not… So I bat for Rice being sent illico to Lebanon and see if she can untangle this wen of mess and stop the war dead on its tracks.

  22. MB,

    If you’re to ask me, I’d say coz they’re fanatics and fanaticism is dangerous.

    America should know a thing about judo diplomacy.

    They could deal with the democratically elected Hamas and get them on side – use that force to throttle the adversary which is Hezbollah, a definite plague in the region (sure, sure, you’d say too simplistic but why on earth do these leaders complicate things when simplicity could be useful?)

  23. Ana,

    I thought they were fanatics about defending the rights of the Palestinian people. Are they fighting because they are religious fanatics ?

    You mean if they were to do the impossible and win they will turn Palestine into an islamic theocracy? If that’s the case then they are bad boys. But if they are fanatics about the rights of the Palestinians well we can’t knock them for that.

  24. MB,

    I think you’ll find that they are both but their overriding principle to ensure religious fanaticism to Islam along with the destruction of Israel.

  25. Ana,

    I think I’m beginning to understand the current crisis.

    The fanatical Hizbollah captures an Israeli soldier and lobs rockets into Israel thus provoking Israel into a frenzy of retaliation against both the Lebanese and the Hamas governments.

    Hizbollah does not want a Palestine unless it’s Islamic and Israel does not want a Palestine unless it’s jewish.

    Israel and Hizbollah shoot at each other but it’s Hamas and the struggle for Palestinian rights that gets killed. Because both Hizbollah and Israel would rather see a dead Palestinian than one who is not like either of them.

  26. MB,

    Well, your conclusion seems quite on the mark except I don’t think Israel really wants the current Palestine (or Palestinian land) to be all Jewish – bit unrealistic.

    However, I believe that Israel wanted Hamas to formally and publicly renounce and repudiate its erstwhile policy and ambitions of destroying Israel which, I reckon Hamas would’ve done in eventually had Israel and America not presented their demands one-sidedly

    …while Hezbollah, which had painstakingly inched their way towards some kind of “legitimacey” in Lebanon, clearly is hell bent on the destruction of Israel still. Incidentally, members of Hezbollah’s party have been elected democratically too, if that’s useful at all, but Hezbolalh continues to divide Lebanon. I suppose Iran and Syria are the cause. While Hezbollah refuses to close down their own separate army (distinct entity from Lebanon’s well, tiny national army) and work for and under one Lebanon, it’s impossible to consider them other than fanatics of the religious kind.

    I do believe that the Hezbollahs are the sort of attack dogs of Iran and Syria on Israel.

    Israel’s relentless humiliation of the Palestinian people is only going to strengthen the Hezbollahs of the world. And to make matters worse, they invaded a sovereign country which is only part Hezbollah.

    Israel’s entire armed forces exists and operates thanks in part to the 2 BILLION US DOLLARS in US FMF subsidies.

    America’s 2 billion dollars or more solid contribution to Israel’s existence is a good enough leverage for Bush to tell them to sit down with Hamas and to start talking!

  27. Anna, i hope i’m wrong but i don’t think Bush will do that as the neocons won’t let him. A crude, but close enough analogy to the current situation is found in George Lucas’ Star Wars universe. Just like Saddam’s Iraq before, Hezbollah (with Syria and Iran) play the role of the ‘Trade Federation’ while the USA (along with Israel) represents the Empire. Between the opposing parties, there are no good guys as the goal of both sides is to prolong the war to suit their respective purposes. That seems to be the logic behind Israel’s disproportionate responses to Hezbollah’s provocations.

  28. Yes, I guess you’re right cvj.

    Really a bit distressing – those poor children and other civilians caught in a violent power play. New extremists and future Jihad Islamists are born every single minute of this war…

    (Btw, cvj, you may find it incredible but I’ve never seen any of the Star Wars films. Have never been a sci-fi movie fan.)

  29. What is absolutely gobsmacking is how Gloria who purports to be the leader of the Philippines is out galivanting with Libya’s strongman in Libya while 30,000 OFWs are caught in the middle of a crossfire in Lebanon, most of whom are domestic helpers.

    What evacuation logistics have been put in place to save at least SOME of those domestic helpers?

    To boot, the Mayon volcanoe is about to errupt… while the nation’s so-called president leaves to chit-chat with Gadafi.

    European leaders have been personally giving orders, sending men and equipment for the immediate evacuation of their nationals from Lebanon and are absolutely on top of the situation while Gloria is out on a smiling, desert partying spree somewhere in Libya!

    How extraordinary!

    This woman who styles herself as the nation’s president is a complete non-entity, isn’t she?

  30. Don’t worry,
    She said Roy Cimatu is on top of things(yeah,right).
    Maybe she is after the long term,where Brunei ,Libya and Saudi and the rest of OPEC will treat us as a sacred cow and exempt us from high oil prices

  31. Israel’s a big boy.

    Let it suffer the consequences of its actions.

    As for Hezbollah, it was strategic move.
    I beleive they accurately predicted the Israeli response after the abductions, with the blessings I might add of Iran and Syria, Hezbollah being a mere proxy force.

    Meanwhile, Iran labors to achieve its vision of being a regional power following the downfall of Saddam after the US invasion of Iraq.

    Say what you want about Saddam but he did provide the vital balance to the hegemonic designs of the Shia Ayatollahs in Tehran.

    Now with Saddam out of the way ..ironically due to America..Iran is aiming now to flex its muscles and wants its own brand of Shiite islamic fundamentalism to extend throughout the middle east starting of course with Iraq and Southern Lebanon where large populations of of Shias outside of Iran are concentrated.

    The middle east is a powderkeg.

    Israel’s got nukes.

    Iran wants them too.


    The Sunni fundamentalist Al-Qaeda has been silent to date..they are no friend of Israel but neither do they want to see Shiite fundamentalism rise in the region. Iraq has been a battleground between both moslem sects with the Shia having the sizable majority.

  32. Yep, Karl! I said as much in Ellen’s blog.

    Cimatu can’t have the clout to EVEN BEG the other nations to help the Philippines evacuate their nationals from there.

  33. well, won’t helping filipinos evacuate from lebanon count as a humanitarian mission? if so, does cimatu have to have clout to ask for other countries to help in doing that?

  34. anna, i see. as far as those movies go (i.e. the prequels), you did not miss much. it’s just that in terms of geopolitics, we seem to be living inside Episode 2 (going into Episode 3).

  35. Antonio Walang….,

    I guess helping Filipinos get out of Lebanon because their frivolous government is totally incapable is humanitarian.

    You sure Cimatu is doing anything at all or for that matter the Philippine government?

    You will agree that he can’t very well have any clout unless he’s heard or seen….

  36. The main reason for the escalation in the regeion right now is definilately the over-reaction of israel. Israel has used the kidnaping of that israelian soldier as a pretext to fight again against the hamas dominated goverment in palestina.

  37. i don’t know if cimatu is doing anything, anna. but i don’t think that clout should count for anything at all in a humanitarian cause. this isn’t a social climbing exercise after all.

  38. Oh, it isn’t , Clout shouldn’t coutnt, should it?

    Hmmm…. then you’ve just baout condemned your 30,000 compatriots to oblivion. Unless of course there are good souls elsewhere – from other nations willing to use their clout to save a few of them.

  39. Hezbollah would not disappear with the invasion of Lebanon. It is as “stateless” as Al Queda. If Israel have to get rid of the “army of God” it should go after its sponsors which are Iran an Syria. Without these two sponsors the Lebanese could easily tackle the so-called army of God themselves. Or if the world body or The European Union want to end the crisis into blowing up to something nobody wants to see, then they have to look at these two countries too. The Lebanese just happened to be in the wrong part of the world at the wrong time.

  40. why anna? are you saying that if we don’t have influence our people won’t get rescued?

  41. Did I say that? Antonio Walang…..,

    Instead of going about in circles debating with me in a useless, futile exercise and since you are clearly one of the defenders of this incompetent, frivolous government, why not exert your effort in something worthwhile?

    Why don’t you boot Gloria’s friggin behind to get her moving, that is if she has some decency left. You could also tell them that their supposed Alert 2 for Lebanon is a lot of BS.

    Believe me, they’d appreciate your effort.

    Also, while you are at it, you could tell them that they should hire Chinese vessels instead of Cypriot or Greek flag carrying vessels – they’ll have more chances at getting Chinese flag carrying transport and they had better be damned quick about it too.

    Complete annery sending a ex general to “ASSESS” the situation in Lebanon and see if ithe danger warrants an evacuation of Philippine nationals. Never heard anything so idiotic. TV news have damned assessed the situation and for free and embassy people who could do that for him!

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