Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Lebanon, Israel, Pakistan, India, and the Lizard People

"Lizard people?!" I'll get back to that.

Reading about Israeli attacks on Lebanon and calls for restraint in the Middle East, I realized that Lebanon and Pakistan aren't all that different in one way. I'll get back to that, too.

Israel and Lebanon and Palestinians: Same Old, Same Old

"Boilerplate" is text that's used over and over, with just a few words changed from the standard phrases. There's a lot of it in legal documents - and news stories.

News from the Israeli-Lebanese border is, as far as I'm concerned, almost all boilerplate. So are the opinions, openly expressed or not. The way I see it, the international community and the press have noted that:
  • Missiles from Lebanon hit Israel
  • Israel fired back
  • Israel had better be careful
    • Lebanon, too

Lebanon and Israel

There doesn't seem to be any question that rockets were fired from Lebanese territory into Israeli territory. Whether the government of Lebanon was involved or not seems to be debatable.

Hesbollah, a terrorist organization, seems to have gotten veto power in Lebanon in May, 2008. You wouldn't think it, looking at a list of political parties and leaders in Lebanon, which includes "Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc [Mohammad Ra'ad] (includes Hizballah Party [Hassan Nasrallah]); Nasserite Popular Movement [Ussama Saad];..." (World Factbook CIA) On paper, from a distance, it looks like Hezbollah is part of one faction of the Lebanese government.

But, since Hezbollah and company are well-armed, and seem to be on the Ayatollah's 'preferred' list, there's more to their power than what's on the organizational chart. Back in May, Lebanese government leaders were given an offer they couldn't refuse. "Government leaders said they had given way on crucial provisions because they felt the alternative to an agreement was war...." (International Herald Tribune)

And, of Course, the Palestinians

Some Palestinians have an issue with Israel over who owns what land. They may even have a point. However, instead of going through a judicial process (there are international courts, remember), they prefer to settle the disputes the old-fashioned way: by killing the families and acquaintances of those they disagree with. Or, failing that, anyone who might be in the neighborhood.

As far as the international community seems care, the trouble comes when Israel's government does something effective about stopping that sort of Palestinian self-expression.

And yes: I'll admit to being biased.
  • I'm inclined to sympathize with people who accept the world of the Magna Carta and transistors, and in many cases maintain beliefs which go back thousands of years
  • I'm not so inclined to sympathize with people who made suicide bombing into a religious practice
    • Although, from a Machiavellian perspective, that '72 virgins' incentive is great marketing

Israel and the 'Great Satan America'

It's true: America is one of the few countries that supports Israel.

This failure to accept deeply-held values of the international community isn't all that surprising: America is seriously out of step with much of the rest of the world when it comes to blaming the Jews for problems. That may be part of the reason that America is so high on the list of scapegoats. Not only is this country big and successful, it has the audacity to not blame the Jews.

Someone to Blame

There seems to be a widely-felt need to have somebody to blame. Preferably, somebody who's involved in a secret conspiracy. That way, lack of evidence is evidence that the conspiracy exists.
  • "There's no evidence that lizard people are secretly controlling Wall Street and the news media."
  • "You see?! That proves it! They won't let The Truth be published!!"1
There are several benefits from blaming dark forces for your problems. It:
  • Eliminates uncertainty
    • And having to think
  • Provides someone else to blame the problems on
Life is so much easier, when analysis of issues can be replaced by blaming it all on Zionists, capitalists, or lizard-people. (October 5, 2008)

Lebanon and Pakistan: It's Not All That Simple

Some countries, like America and India, have relatively strong, secure, central governments. I'm not all that pleased with the heavy centralization that followed the War Between the States, but that's a very different issue.

The point is that the central governments of countries like India and America have some control over what happens within their borders. At the other end of the spectrum are places like Somalia, where southern zealots and northern pirates shoot it out while the central government keeps its collective head down and sends delegates to the United Nations.

Lebanon and Pakistan aren't as badly off as Somalia, but they're not in the same league as India and America.

Lebanon's Balancing Act

Lebanon's big civil war, 1975-1990, is something that most Lebanese probably don't want to repeat. Since then, the country has had elections, which is nice; and Hezbollah (Hizbollah, whatever) maintained its armed militia, which isn't so nice. Meanwhile, Syria hasn't blown up a major Lebanese official for a while: which is good news.

Back in 2006, Israel attacked Hezbollah positions in Lebanese territory: including some in Beirut. I can't say that I blame Lebanese people for resenting that: but it would have been nice if the Lebanese government would have done a little more to discourage Hezbollah from killing Jews.

I can't fault the elected government, in a way:
  • Hezbollah's political arm is an established part of the civilian government, and its military can lean on the central government if necessary
  • I doubt that Syria has given up interest in controlling Lebanon's government
    • And even if it had, Lebanese leaders might be hesitant about defying Syria's preferences - and making themselves a target
On the other hand, I can see why Israel has been a bit 'unrestrained' in doing a job that Lebanon's own government can't - or won't - do.

Pakistan, LeT, and the ISI

Details are different in Pakistan, but the general situation is much the same. The civilian government doesn't control the tribal areas of the country, military leaders seem to have independent ideas about foreign policy, and Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, is financially independent of the civilian government - and the 'state within a state' doesn't seem interested in the civilian government's wishes, either. Actually, the ISI seems to be a real-world version of what the silly side of American liberalism thinks the CIA is: an independent entity, operating in the shadows, with its own agenda and minimal allegiance to the country that spawned it.

So, we've had
  • A Pakistani leader give orders to shoot coalition soldiers if they follow terrorists into what the map says is Pakistani territory
  • Indian officials insisting that the Pakistani government - or at least part of it - is responsible for the Mumbai attack
  • A Pakistani official making disparaging remarks about documentation from India
Pakistan's prime minister said: " 'All that has been received from India is some information. I say information because these are not evidence,' Yousuf Raza Gilani told Parliament late Tuesday, according to the Associated Press of Pakistan." (International Herald Tribune) In English, that's a rather fine distinction: but I suppose it may be a valid point from a judicial point of view.

Just the same, I don't buy the Pakistani insistence that no Pakistani government agencies were involved in the Mumbai attack.

And, I think that Indian officials should remember that the civilian government of Pakistan doesn't seem to have much say in what the ISI does.

I hope that Pakistan's civilian government can find a way to get control of its own agencies, and its country, before India's government decides to get at the Mumbai perpetrators the hard way. It's not because I'm an American and that (presumably) America is shielding Pakistan.

Pakistan has nuclear weapons. And, apparently, nut jobs who might use them. India has nuclear weapons, too. A regional nuclear war is something that, in my opinion, the world doesn't need right now.

Encouraging India to hold off attacking Pakistan isn't just 'shielding Pakistan.' It's shielding India, and everybody who lives downwind.

Forget Blaming the Jews and the Lizard People

Military force is sometimes necessary: but in the case of Pakistan, I hope that the civilian leaders can be forced to defy their own spies, generals, and tribal leaders: and start acting like a civilized country.

More-or-less related posts: In the news: Background: Related posts, on tolerance, bigotry, racism, and hatred.
1To be fair, one of the more mainstream 'lizard people' assertions does not focus on Wall Street and the news media.

In a much more inclusive, international, global, spirit, David Icke has steadfastly held that key people around the world are really space alien shape shifting lizard people: like George W. Bush and the British royals. I haven't discovered whether President-Elect Obama is one of Them or not.

2 comments:

Brigid said...

Found a typo.

"At the other end of the spectrum are places like Somalia, where southern zealots are northern pirates shoot it out while the central government keeps its collective head down and sends delegates to the United Nations."

You probably mean 'and' between zealots and northern.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Brigid,

I suppose they could be schizophrenic southern zealots, but you're right. And, thanks! I'm fixing it now.

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Blogroll

Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.