There used to be an old expression to describe a situation in which a behind-the-scenes power was manipulating a situation. That power was called a “fine Italian hand,” which spoke to the British scene that the Italians were all Machiavellian schemers. I’ve been thinking of that expression, suitably mutated, to describe the Iranian involvement in the current Middle Eastern conflagration. Robert Satloff’s article does as good a job as any I know to describe Iran’s involvement as puppet-master behind and partner with Hezbollah/Lebanon and Syria. Given Iran’s involvement, and Iran’s nuclear aspirations, this is not just a “little” struggle between Israel and her neighbors. This is the real deal, with the East v. West war being played out on a very real battlefield — which is why I think this war is so important.
Given its importance, I keep going back with my obsession about the Left’s inability to grapple with the big issues, and their consistent pattern of blaming Bush and the Jews. Even if one were to assume, solely for the sake of argument, that their anti-Semitism and BDS have any basis in fact, their analyses of the situation — which amounts to finger pointing — still fall far short, because in times like these, one needs ideas, not tantrums. Again, I think this paucity of understanding and ideas will harm them at the polls come Fall, but that my just be wishful thinking on my part. With this introduction, let’s turn to today’s chapter, as of 11:00 a.m. P.S.T., in “What the top Liberal blogs — as determined by Technorati — have to say on a pivotal moment in world history.”
The Daily Kos main page has no posts whatsoever about the Middle East, confining itself to domestic politics. (Kos, by the way, is the 4th ranked blog per Technorati.) The only allusion to the situation is a snippet in an “open thread” referring to a 2002 post which, in turn, quotes a 2002 speech to the U.N. from Gila Svirsky, Women in Black and Coalition of Women for A Just Peace, describing her women’s peace organization. It scarcely seems to reach the full blown situation taking place today.
Huffington Post, to do it credit, has as its front page news story the fact that Israel has gone straight to Beruit, and that it blames Iran for Hezbollah’s action. It has a lot of links to news stories on the subject. The bloggers, however, who make Huffington their home, have almost no comment, focusing their energies on domestic policies. The exceptions are Gary Hart and James Zogby.
Gary Hart says that, by disabling Afghanistan and Iraq, we left Iran with unfettered power. He also makes the (to me) weird rhetorical point, that the better known neocons (Wolfowitz, Perle, etc.), have been quiet, leaving Cheney and Rumsfeld in charge. Silly me, I thought that Cheney, as our VP, and Rumsfeld, as our Secretary of Defense, were actually supposed to be in charge. In Hart-land, Bush is nowhere to be seen (because, as we all know, he’s just Cheney’s puppet).
James Zogby is outraged that Bush would actually support the Israeli’s who have the asymmetry of power. I’ll just add that I’m a little confused by this upset over asymmetry. Yes, Israel has weapons. Israel is also fighting a war on two fronts, against two terrorist groups, backed by two major nations, one of which is going nuclear, in a region in which she is outnumbered by about 30 to 1. Pardon me if I’m a bit unclear on the asymmetry bit. After having read that bit, I’m afraid my mind drifted off, and I was unable to give Zogby’s outrage the attention it deserved. Scanning the article seems to say, though, that Zogby simply wants a return to the status quo, of Israel being bombed, but not retaliating. I’m not impressed. Zogby at least comes by his biases honestly, since he’s an American of Arab descent and the founder of the Arab American Institute.
Crooks & Liars has abandoned the Middle East situation altogether, focusing instead on Plame, Lamont, NSA and, yes, Plame (an ever fascinating subject, apparently).
Since I last checked (would that be yesterday?), the Wonkette hasn’t grown up much. She’s still posting high-school style little riffs on who’s cool and who’s not in American politics. And in the Wonkette world, that would be Republicans are, like, soooo uncool, and Democrats are really, totally bitchin’ hot. Her continued popularity in the big leagues perplexes me but, then again, I never understood the rubric of popularity in high school either.
Atrios, at Eschaton, is equally quiet on the Middle East front since my last visit to his blog. Who has time for Armageddon anyway when you can write about Lamont and Lieberman ad nauseum. It must be comforting at 3 a.m., when some people are worried about nuclear holocaust, to comfort yourself with attacking the Senator from Connecticut.
John, at AMERICAblog, is once again actually thinking about the situation in and around Israel. While I don’t agree with him regarding his feeling that Israel should continue to adopt a “you can bomb me but I won’t bomb you” policy vis a vis Hezbollah and Hamas, he’s actually thinking outside of the box (for a liberal) regarding Syria:
But the real culprits here are not the Lebanese, they’re Syria and Iran who have been causing hell in Lebanon for decades.
If Israel has concrete proof that Syria and Iran are directly responsible for supporting Hezbollah and supplying them weapons, etc. (and I’d be surprised if they didn’t), then it’s difficult to say that Israel can’t, or shouldn’t, counterstrike against two countries that are attacking Israel via proxies.
Controversial, yes. But while I’m not 100% committed to this strategy, particularly because of the possibilities of any attack on Damascus or Tehran possibly spinning things out of control, it surely makes a lot more sense than the approach we took to dealing with Iraq. Perhaps there’s a way to “contain” Iran and Syria.
Unlike John, his readers are not pleased with that thought, responding to his musings with such comments as these:
Is the Jewish State out to prove Hitler right? [I don’t get this one: Hitler was right that Jews are bad? Hitler was right that we ought to have killed on the Jews? Hitler was right that it’s a good idea to wipe out your enemy entirely? No matter how you look at this one, it’s on the outer limits of disgusting.]
Israel has been wanting to go after Syria and Iran for a long time. This is just the excuse they will use, and they are hoping to drag the U.S. into it, too. God help us if we really get suckered into this one. [This is the “Jews run the world” one. Naive and ugly.]
Hey, what’s a bunch of children dead anyway? Can’t become terrorists when they grow up. (they sure as hell don’t have inalienable rights, that’s reserved for the good guy’s children. [Clearly, he’s one of the dead Israelis, good; dead Arabs, bad. You know my views on this subject.]
By the way, John, I can’t believe you are falling for this. Anyone can connect these coutries if they want to do so. You don’t find it a little suspicious that these were the next countries on the neocon agenda and now Israel is talking up attacking them? [Another Jews run the world.]
i thought this was a liberal blog . . . r u f-ing serious that bombing is ok? by stating that its ok to bomb you are excepting the premise that there is some legitimacy to israels actions.
Israel is the occupying state and these resistance groups are acting against the violent occupier of palestine and still parts of southern lebanon.
instead of supporting further bombing in syria or anywhere else, you should support a rational dialog that treats Isreal as the illegal occupying force that it is.
And there’s more and more, all of it ugly, ugly, ugly, and so grossly ill-informed. I have to assume that the majority of Americans, even if they’re not big friends of Israel, have a better understanding of the situation than AMERICAblog’s readers do.
And that’s the news from the Left’s corner of the internet — almost without exception isolationist, ill-informed and ugly. And strikingly, the single exception came under virulent attack.
UPDATE: By the way, I’m aware that my blog has it’s own monomanias and limitations. But I’m a bit player. In this, I’m distinct from such places as the Kos and Huffington, which purport to be major players in the political sphere, to have significant personal contact with politicians, and to have an impact on the political scene. Frankly, I expect more from them.