I remember Aunt Muriel relating stories of living in Beirut when it was still thought of as the Paris of the Middle East. It sounded so beautiful and glamorous, before the war tore it apart.
[And hopefully will be again soon.]
Seeing the pictures and reading the stories about what is happening in Lebanon reminded me of some of the points that the "late" great Stephen den Beste made on his blog USS Clueless. He had such a perspective on issues in the Middle East and the forces at work there. Here are some excerpts from one such post - from September 2002:
To that end, we will in part work in Iraq to create a cosmopolitan society because it will be impossible for all the people in neighboring nations to ignore. America will arrive, it will fight a war and win, and then the people in Iraq will be much better off. And all the nations around there where the Traditionalists still rule will face rising internal dissent. Instead of it being heathen half way around the world, they will see other Arabs succeeding right next door.
We don't have to go in and directly change everything, and we're not capable of doing so. But by forcing certain key changes, we can set a process going which will become unstoppable which will, by itself, driven by the Arabs themselves, move them to where we need them to be so that they'll stop attacking and killing us. They can keep being Arab and Muslim, but they'll have to become tolerant and cosmopolitan.
Even if, for instance, it actually were proved that Iraq has no WMDs and was not developing nukes and had neither the ability to nor intention of doing so (which I don't happen to believe for an instant), we'd still need to take the place in order to start the overall process of cultural reform in the rest of greater Arabia.
He hung up his blog last year after finally having enough of the trolls and nay-sayers, but when I went there today, he had posted a new message in response to an e-mail from another reader who writes about a correspondence he had with a friend:
We exchanged about a half dozen long emails debating the entire episode. I must admit I quoted extensively from many of your posts leading up to the war. I also liberally "borrowed" from Bill Whittle (giving full credit, of course--no honor code violations from this cadet!). I looked back at those emails from the last year today, and I see many of them coming true almost before my eyes in today's headlines. I think you had a remarkably clear view of the grand strategy behind the actions taken by the White House.
Stephen then wrote:
Recent events have been very gratifying. Of course, any feelings of triumph are bittersweet. Even though the casualty rate has been astoundingly low by historical standards, there are still 1400 families out there in this nation grieving for loved ones whom they won't ever be able to hug again.
It is a tragic fact of life that sometimes we must sacrifice the best among us to preserve and protect that which we love most.
My greatest satisfaction now is knowing that their sacrifice was not wasted. I strongly argued in favor of this war, knowing full well that if we fought it that many, many good young men and women would die, whether we won it or lost it. That was always a very heavy weight. I felt and still feel that it was the right course for this nation to follow, and recent events clearly show that now to all but the most willfully blind.
But we cannot and should not forget the price that was disproportionately paid by a very few. Victory is never cheap. Liberty is the most precious thing we have, and it has been paid for in blood yet again.
[He still has the correct perspective.]
If I were ever to decide to try to sneak into Canada, February would probably not be my month of choice:
WINNIPEG – An American man faces a number of charges after he was found freezing on the Emerson Golf Course, trying to sneak into Canada.
The man was found by police on the golf course on Wednesday. Police say he had taken off his gloves, opened his jacket, and was babbling incoherently.
The 41-year-old man was rushed to Morris Hospital, where he is undergoing treatment for hypothermia and severe frostbite. Police say he may lose some fingers.
In their investigation, RCMP say they found the man had set out Saturday from Pembina, North Dakota – about four kilometres south of the border – with plans to walk to Canada. He was found some 100 hours later after travelling a total of about seven kilometres. Temperatures during the four days ranged from a high of around –10 C on Wednesday to a low of almost –30 C on Saturday night.
But why - WHY - would someone do this?
The man, who is from Los Angeles, was trying to sneak across the border because he had been previously denied legal entry to Canada. After arriving here, he planned to travel to Quebec to be with a woman he had met on the internet.
[Oh, well, THERE ya go.]
Quote du jour:
"I don't even know what street Canada is on."
-- Al Capone (1899 - 1947) US gangster
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