Saturday, August 19, 2006

You get what you pay for W.!

Yesterday W. decided to give the people of Lebanon some helpful advice on coming to "a sober realization of what forces create stability and what don't." You know, sometimes it takes a while to really sort things out and understand what's going on. For instance, right now most folks living in the south of Lebanon are of the mind that Hezbollah (or 'Hezbah' as W. likes to call them) were the victors in Israel's 34-day onslaught on Lebanon. W. cautions, though, that "the first reaction, of course, of Hezbollah and its supporters is to declare victory. I guess I would have done the same thing if I were them." [NPR] The thing they should keep in mind, he said, was that it was Hezbollah that destroyed their homes (not US bombs dropped from Israeli planes). I guess if anyone would know about declaring victory prematurely it would have to be W.

Lest we forget, on May 1, 2003 just one short month after overthrowing Saddam's regime, W. announced from the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln that, "major combat operations in Iraq have ended." Now, of course, after three years of fighting an intractable guerilla war in Iraq he's come to the sober realization that --- victory is just around the corner. So, listen up Lebanese civilians, W.'s telling you what's what.

Besides, how would anyone get the idea that Hezbollah came out of this disaster smelling like roses? According to the Israelis and W. Hezbollah has been basically destroyed, even though they somehow managed to fire 250 rockets into Israel on the last day of fighting, the highest number since the war began. As decimated as Hezbollah is they've some how been able to start paying out thousands of dollars to many of what they estimate to be the 15,000 families who lost their homes. The AP reported from Beirut on Thursday that "hundreds of people went from room to room yesterday to report damage to their homes from Israeli bombing attacks. Hezbollah agents with pens and notebooks promised to help them rebuild. Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah appeared on television (I thought the Israelis knocked al-Manar out? NO?) and promised to rebuild, pledging money for civilians to pay rent and buy furniture," for a year.

AP reported today that Hezbollah has started handing out "crisp $100 bills to residents who lost homes in the Israeli bombing campaign -- $12,000 to each claimant. The stacks of bills were pulled out of a suitcase." While the Lebanese government and UN agencies are "undertaking assessments countrywide" Hezbollah is providing assistance right now. Other reports say that in the south yellow Hezbollah flags are popping up everywhere in front of damaged or destroyed homes. These denote that their assessment teams have been there and that they'll be back with money. (Gosh, these guys are pretty damned efficient; maybe we should have contracted them to rebuild Iraq!)

While the US has so far pledged $50 million for relief aid to Lebanon, Iran is pumping money in like there's no tomorrow. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have pledged billions, too. The Saudis, in fact, almost single-handedly kept the Lebanese economy from collapsing pumping over a billion dollars into the Lebanese treasury at the beginning of the war. This prevented panicked investors from pulling all their money out, which would have devastated any chance of the country rebounding from the war. [IRIN]

Obviously, the Sunni Gulf Arabs are very worried about Iran gaining too much influence over Lebanon, a fear the Bush administration seems to be oblivious to. W. can spout all the nonsense he wants to about Hezbollah being a destabilizing force in Lebanon, but money talks. What the US is offering for aid is miniscule in comparison to the amount of military aid its provided to Israel in the first place to pulverize half of Lebanon. Judging by the mountains of rubble, the blown up bridges, the bombed out power plants and the 85 mile long oil slick along the coast; if you were a Lebanese civilian who would you consider the most destabilizing force?


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