Saturday, July 15, 2006

A Savage and Unwinnable Gambit

Pierre's Latest: As Lebanon burns, Israel and Hesballah tango in A Savage and Unwinnable Gambit

The irony is that Israel’s conditions for a cease-fire are nothing if not reasonable: Return the two Israeli soldiers. Quit the rocket attacks on Northern Israel. Disarm Hezballah. Any Lebanese worth his cedars would gladly set out those conditions himself. But in the meantime, this? A nation taken hostage? Thirty civilians a day slaughtered in the bombing? An economy finally on its feet, ruined all over again? A blockade? This isn’t just a matter of disproportion. It’s sheer madness, the result of an Israeli prime minister with something of a Kennedyesque inferiority complex (Lebanon as a Bay of Pigs, but without the benefit of invasion interruptus) enabled and just about applauded by an American president who wouldn’t know the difference between a self-defensive war and crimes against humanity if Saint Augustin shouted it in his ears, deafened as they’ve been by his predilection for shock and awe. Read the full essay...

And Candide Recommends:

BEIRUT BLASTS: It may be Bastille Day, but it’s bombing time all over again for Lebanon, where it’s as if the rewind button’s been pressed back twenty years. David Ignatius in the Washington Post (Ignatius covered parts of the Lebanon war for the Wall Street Journal in the early 1980s): “Watching the events of the past few days, you can't help but feel that this is the rerun of an old movie -- one in which the guerrillas and kidnappers end up as the winners.” Not to be outdone by the movie analogy, here’s Thomas Friedman in the Times: “When you watch the violence unfolding in the Middle East today it is easy to feel that you’ve been to this movie before and that you know how it ends — badly.”

DEFICIT-MAD: Paul Krugman reminds us that there's more to Bush failures than the Middle East in "Left Behind Economics."

See what bloggers are saying in Lebanon, a round-up here...

Check in with the Notebooks' front page for updates from Lebanon and beyond throughout the day.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Israel's Malice

Pierre's Latest:

There is fair retaliation, then there’s malice: the destruction of the Qasmiyeh bridge on Lebanon’s coastal north-south highway by the Israeli army on Wednesday dispels any notion that the July 12 attack was motivated purely by Hezbollah’s capture of two Israeli soldiers. Malice, the kind of malice that’s been uprooting Palestinians’ olive trees purely as expressions of vindictive power for years (“terrorists” don’t grow on trees, nor have olives been known to be used as particularly effective projectiles by Palestinian insurgents) was at play in this latest “incursion,” the first serious one in six years. Not that the attack itself was justified retaliation: countries don’t generally invade other countries with tanks and bombing runs when a few of their men are captured. But we’re in the Middle East, where nut-mongering is the rule and the laws of war a punch line to something Cheneyesque. Invasions are Mideast history’s commutes. Israel's Malice in full...

And Candide Recommends:
  • ZIDANE SPEAKS! All excuses, zero regrets. See the Reuters report as well as, in French, how L'Equipe treats Zidane's interview on Canal Plus this evening. So boorish Materazzi insulted his mother and his sister. And this is how a grown man responds?
  • The war on immigrants continues to evolve brash and bigoted weaponry: The Wall Street Journal today reports on how “politicians from Massachusetts to California are drawing up laws and ordinances to limit illegal immigrants' access to jobs, housing and government services. The officials argue that illegal residents are overburdening local schools and hospitals and straining public finances.” The piece follows up on a similar take by The New York Times on Sunday, which focused on the racist mayor of Avon Park, Fla., who, like a brother-bigot mayor in Hazelton, Pa., pushing a similarly racist ordinance in his town, longs for the days when “nuclear families were the only occupants of single-family homes in their towns, every resident paid taxes and English was the only language heard on the streets.”

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Debt and Kryptonite

When the only way to go is up, it’s easy to make things look rosier than they are. But two things about pink: It’s still a derivative of red, whether we’re talking blood or red ink. On Tuesday, and in a ceremony fit for the USS Abraham Lincoln, President Bush declared victory against the deficit. My Tuesday column shows why that "victory" has so much in common with Bush's rolling "victory" in Iraq: Bush's Deficit Fog in full...

Frequent CN contributor and pop culture columnist Rick de Yampert takes on Superman's erectile shyness in Krypton and Nothingness...

And in other reads, Candide Recommends:

  • The Wall Street Journal's Peter Waldman reports on the FBI's favored tactic of corralling Muslim informants: use their Green Card to blackmail them and threaten deportation if they don't join up. As one FBI agent told Yassine Ouassif, the Moroccan subject of the story, "America is just like a bus, and you have a choice to make: Either you board the bus, or you leave." Emma Lazarus, R.I.P. The whole story here…
  • Zidane's self-implosion is still the story of the planet, the circling hurricane that won't abate. Leave it to Bernard-Henri Lévy, also in today's Journal, to tell us what led this man, "a man more admired than the Pope, the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela put together," to implode: It isn't the insults. "No. The truth is that it is perhaps not so easy to stay in the skin of an icon, demigod, hero, legend." The essay here...

CSI: Germany

Well, here it is: your complete World Cup postmortem in three easy pieces, including everything you need to know (and some of what you didn't) about that Zidane head-butt to Italy's sternum. Two pieces are from Notebooks contributors; you can see the front-page lay-out of the entire package by clicking here, or go to each individual piece:

And for those of you who are sick and tired of the World Cup, here are a few good reads recommended by Candide: