Posted by: cousindampier | 29 January 2010

Read this long interview of Lee Smith by Michael J. Totten, if you can spare the 30 minutes (and do spare, it is fascinating).

A particularly interesting statement:

I am not sure if that’s exactly how I’d explain 9/11. But let me start by saying that it’s true one of the ways that various groups compete against each other for shares of power is by going after third parties. For instance, I argue in the book that Hezbollah’s dominant, though largely obscured, issue is the region’s Sunni majority. There is no doubt that Hezbollah despises Israel and would very much like to bring about its demise, but their deeper, perhaps existential, concern is not the some 5 million Jews on Lebanon’s southern border, but the Sunni sea that has engulfed the Shia for more than a millennium. And so fighting Israel establishes this Shia militia’s credentials as genuine Arabs, even as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi argued shortly before his death that Hezbollah was actually a Zionist front that protected the Jews from the real, i.e. Sunni, resistance. So, here is some of the sectarian animus at work in the region, the clash of Arab civilizations.

The level of power politics here – and the level of acceptance of a bad to negate a worse by Israel – is astonishing. Hezbollah fights to establish and maintain their status as the ‘real’ Arabs; Israel tolerates it to keep the Sunni hordes away from the gate.

How he ends this is also provoking – to hell with the clash between civilizations, the clashes appear in “civilizations” (however one defines this grouping). There are so many connections between civilizations; the danger of one erupting catastrophically is more of a danger than two coming into conflict.

On another note, I both despair of and enjoy the feeling of thinking what I thought I knew is actually minimal. It’s simultaneously humbling and provoking, which, once over the shame, are two great feelings.

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