Fiskâ€™s latest bit has an interesting fifth paragraphâ€”he claims that Hizbullah is encouraging erstwhile residents of the now flattened southern suburbs of Beirut to rent, not buy. Seems that someoneâ€™s thinking tactically here, and has decided that thereâ€™s no point in rebuilding quite yet.
Lebanon and Iraq are beginning to look like a giant fire sale, with Iran buying everything in sight, including the matches.
Saad Ibrahimâ€™s op-ed in the Washington Post is worthwhile complimentary reading. Ibrahim points out quite rightly that the White House and its clients are simply being outplayed by the Islamists, and declines to say that this is a bad thing. Not only does he manage to write about the Middle East without getting democracy and electoral politics hopelessly tangled up (check out Fred Kaplanâ€™s â€œWhat a moronic presidential press conferenceâ€� in Slate), but he even uses the word â€œinimical.â€�
Kaplan meanwhile treats us to a classic bit of Bush fumble-mouthed idiocy, but is unfortunately disingenuous in his presentation. He claims that Bush is too stupid to understand that terrorism and "democracy" (which Kaplan unhappily conflates with electoral politics) can, and do, mix. Face it: Bush knows the difference between democracy and electoral politics (heâ€™s made a career out of undermining the former with latter), and anybody who works with Karl Rove at home and "shock and awe" bombing campaigns in the great outdoors knows damn well how terrorism and electoral politicking go steel hand in velvet glove.
Unfortunately, Kaplan owns up to this in his last para, where he switches from his thesis (that Bush is a moron who canâ€™t grasp the basic flaw in his own spin) to admitting that it is in fact Bushâ€™s refusal to discuss, rather than his failure to understand, that is getting his goat. In the end it looks like Kaplan who doesnâ€™t see the tree for the forest.
Seems apropos here, if late in the news cycle, to congratulate beleaguered Brit Deputy PM, Stetson wearing Big John Prescott, for his characterization of Bush's handling of the Middle East: â€œcrap.â€�