Blowback in Tripoli

A Lebanese mother mourns her soldier son

Last March, I noted Seymour Hersh’s alarming report on the efforts by Dick Cheney and his friends in Saudi Arabia to wage a proxy war against Iran, by enlisting all manner of Sunni fundamentalist jihadis, notably in Lebanon where they would be beefed up as a counterweight to Hezbollah. At the time I wrote:

These people have no shame, nor sense of humor or history, it seems: After all, it was a similar strategy in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that created al-Qaeda in the first place. This time, it will be different, Hersh’s sources insist, no doubt with a straight face:

This time, the U.S. government consultant told me, Bandar and other Saudis have assured the White House that “they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.”

All I can say is, it didn’t take long, did it? The radical Qaeda-oriented group fighting a pitched battle with the Lebanese Army at the expense of thousands of Palestinian refugees in Tripoli, Fatah al-Islam, appears to have been one of the beneficiaries of this strategy. Click here for the full story

Iraq: The Slimiest Benchmark

Political hegemony is achieved when a narrow group of people is able to convince a wider society that the group’s own, narrow interests, in fact, represent the general interest or the “greater good.” Nowhere is there currently a more visible (if artless) example of such a pursuit of hegemony than in Washington’s efforts to get Iraq’s politicians to pass the oil law drafted under U.S. tutelage. That oil law is packaged as the key to national reconciliation in Iraq, forcing the Iraqis to more equitably share oil revenues. What that packaging leaves out, of course, is that the bulk of those oil revenues, under the law’s provisions, would be controlled by foreign oil companies. Click here for the full story

Getting Sarkozy Wrong

Much of the U.S. media greeted the election of Nicolas Sarkozy as if the French had elected a White House ally to pull themselves out of their morbid decline. Guest contributor Bernard Chazelle explains why the White House will be disappointed by Sarkozy, and offers fascinating insights into everything from economics to anti-semitism to explain why the U.S. media doesn’t understand France in the first place. Click here to read the full story

A Palestinian Pinochet?

There’s something a little misleading in the media reports that routinely describe the fighting in Gaza as pitting Hamas against Fatah forces or security personnel “loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas.” That characterization suggests somehow that this catastrophic civil war that has killed more than 25 Palestinians since Sunday is a showdown between Abbas and the Hamas leadership — which simply isn’t true, although such a showdown would certainly conform to the desires of those running the White House Middle East policy. The Fatah-dominated security forces in Gaza answer to the warlord Mohammed Dahlan, long ago anointed by the White House to play the kind of role of a Palestinian Pinochet, and given the backing to beef up his forces to take down Hamas. Click here to read the full story

Why Blair Embraced Bush

So how could a British Prime Minister move so seamlessly from being Bill Clinton’s best friend on the global stage to being being ideologically and militarily joined at the hip with President George W. Bush? Guest contributor Gavin Evans believes the answer lies in a personality flaw that has been known to overcome liberals and lefties when they get too close to those who hold the real power. Click here to read the full story

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