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The Back Story

“With the aid of the Shiite revolutionaries in Iran and their allies in Syria, two Shiite groups emerged in opposition to Israel’s continued troop presence. In little more than a year, Hezbollah — the ‘Party of God’ — had become one of the most powerful guerrilla groups in the region. By 1985 the Shiites were locked in mortal combat with the same army that had ‘liberated’ them from the Palestinians three years before.”

Lessons about Shiites from Lebanon; from The Oregonian.

“No word yet from the newly liberated Iraqi people about some of them being summarily found guilty of theft, forced at gunpoint to strip, having a racist phrase written on their bodies, and then made to walk naked in public. No doubt the Arab/Muslim world is impressed by this display of ‘democracy,’ ‘freedom,’ ‘due process’ and ‘no cruel or unusual punishment.’”

Sometimes the Geneva Convention is useful, sometimes it’s not. Commentary on the U.S. military’s methods of punishing looters, from The Memory Hole.

“Syria, we might declare in our best John Wayne voice: You can run, but you can’t hide. Saudi Arabia, you overrated tank of blubber, are you out of gas? And Iran, watch it, we have eyes for you. You could be our next real meal. Because when we are feeling this good, we are ready to go, and go again. We must. We have had a real taste. Why, there’s a basket-full of billions to be made in the Middle East just so long as we stay ahead of the trillions of debt that are coming after us.”

Norman Mailer says we did it all for the sake of the White Male Ego. And we’ll do it again.

“[Howard] Zinn: [O]bserve the map device here — how the map is itself completely Gondor-centric. Rohan and Gondor are treated as though they are the literal center of Middle Earth. Obviously this is because they have men living there. What of places such as Anfalas and Forlindin or Near Harad? One never really hears anything about places like that. And this so-called map casually reveals other places — the Lost Realm, the Northern Waste (lost to whom? wasted how? I ask) — but tells us nothing about them. It is as though the people who live in these places are despicable, and unworthy of mention. Who is producing this tale? What is their agenda? What are their interests and how are those interests being served by this portrayal? Questions we need to ask repeatedly.”

What do Mordor and Iraq have in common? Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky ruminate on The Fellowship of the Ring. From McSweeney’s.

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