Saturday, February 3, 2007

Robert Fisk on the fuzziness of the "terror" concept

Robert Fisk points out how the notion of "terror" is being applied to a wide variety of activities, real and imagined, in order to bamboozle the publics of Europe and America and other places as well: Please spare me the word 'terrorist' The Independent 02/03/07

Lebanon is as good a place as any to find out what a load of old tosh the "terror" merchants talk. For here it is that the hydra-headed monster of Iran is supposedly stalking the streets of Beirut, staging a coup against Mr Siniora and his ministers.
But he observes that Hizbullah leader, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, though hardly a nice guy, is making his presence known in some ways that scarcely qualify as "terror" in any normal sense of the word:

Now it's true that Nasrallah - an intelligent, former military commander of Hizbollah in southern Lebanon - is developing a rather odd cult of personality. His massive features tower over the Beirut airport highway, a giant hand waving at motorists in both directions. And these days, you can buy Hizbollah T-shirts and Nasrallah key chains. But somehow "terror" is not quite the word that comes to mind.
Fisk points out that the poor among the Shi'a are finding in Hizbullah a real vehicle for defending their interests. It should go without saying - though in America these days it apparently does not - that observing this fact does not constitute any across-the-board endorsement by Fisk of the Hizbullah organization. His reporting is notable for bringing out the negative sides of the groups he covers as well as observing their strengths realistically. He writes of this aspect of Hizbullah:

... the tens of thousands of Shia Muslims whom Hizbollah represents are staging a social revolution rather than a coup, a mass uprising of the poor who have traditionally been ignored by the great and the good of Lebanese society. ...

The bright lights of downtown Beirut were enjoyed by the rich and purchased by the Saudis and admired by the likes of Jacques Chirac but they were not for the Shia. For them, Hizbollah provided the social services and the economic foundation of its part of Lebanon as well as the military spearhead to strike at Israel and demand the return of Shebaa Farms.
Fisk also notes that, however overblown and cynical the war propaganda now coming from the Cheney-Bush administration about Iran, Lebanon is caught up in conflicts among countries outside its own borders:

Of course, the crisis in Lebanon is also about Iran and Syria, especially Iran's determination to damage or destroy any Middle East government which has earned America's friendship. In the growing, overheated drama being played out between Washington and Tehran (and Israel, of course), Lebanon is another board game for the two sides to use. America thus lined up to defend Lebanon's democracy - though it didn't care a damn about it when Israel bombarded the country last summer - while Iran continues to support Hizbollah whose government ministers resigned last year, provoking the current crisis.
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