The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.



Fisk’s latest bit has an interesting fifth paragraph—he claims that Hizbullah is encouraging erstwhile residents of the now flattened southern suburbs of Beirut to rent, not buy. Seems that someone’s thinking tactically here, and has decided that there’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 Ibrahim’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 Kaplan’s “What a moronic presidential press conference� in Slate), but he even uses the word “inimical.�

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 (he’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 can’t grasp the basic flaw in his own spin) to admitting that it is in fact Bush’s refusal to discuss, rather than his failure to understand, that is getting his goat. In the end it looks like Kaplan who doesn’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: “crap.�