Friday, May 09, 2008

Nasrullah's press-conference remarks

The press-conference remarks by Hassan Nasrullah yesterday (Thursday May 8) provide a couple of pointers on the general topic of defense of Arab nationalism against the proponents of fitna and civil war.

The first point is the importance of an orderly exposition of ideas, locating the current crisis in the context of the overall defense of the nation. Following introductory remarks, Nasrullah said:
I will be talking to you about a number of topics. The first topic is the communications network, and it is our intention in this press conference to describe this issue as it is, not to deliver sermons or issue slogans. This stage is a difficult stage, but at the same time it is still susceptible to logic and reason, and to responsible decision-making. So the first topic is the communications network, the communications network of the resistance. The second will be the airport/General Shoukair; and the third will be the current political crisis and how to deal with it and how to end it.

On the first topic, I have a couple of definitions, because it is possible that in Lebanon people know the story of the communications network of the resistance, but it is possible that outside Lebanon some people think we have set up a telephone system to avoid paying fees and taxes...

So the first definition is this: In every army of the world, even in the old armies, there has been what is called a Signal division, whether this has been based on pigeons, or whether it has been based on voice, or on a number of different systems together, at every stage there has been developed, along with infantry and artillery and so on, a Signal division, and the meaning of that is communications....

Okay, now this communications function can take a number of forms...
And Nasrullah goes on to explain that a major reason they were able to prevail in the Israeli war of summer 06 was that they had a secure communications nework for command and control, and he reminds his listeners that the Israeli government's own Winograd report pointed out that very fact. Therefore, says Nasrullah, the demand, or even the suggestion, by the governing coalition that the Hizbullah electronics communications network was illegal and should be taken down, amounted to a declaration or war against the resistance. And naturally that had to be met with a firm reply.

It might seem that this point about orderly exposition of ideas is too simple to mention, so to grasp the importance of it, you should read the AP story today on the crisis, and you will see that the issue of the communications network is not even mentioned. Hizbullah control of important Beirut locations is presented as something almost completely unmotivated, as an aggression, so to speak, or a manifestation of fitna. That is the point about the deliberately fragmentary recounting of events. If you leave out the major causal events, or present them in some jumbled-up fashion, then events will look as if fitna is already upon us, and the way Nasrullah combats that is to re-tell the story from the beginning, to make sure that the context is well-understood.

There is a second point, and it is that Nasrullah also locates the current crisis in the recent history of the resistance. In his introductory remarks, he says this:
To be sure, the subject of this press conference, which is the first we have held since the end of the July war, is the recent developments and the dangers that have come over the Lebanese scene in the last few days. But first I need to say that since those decisions that were taken by the team in power on that dark night, there has begun a completely new stage in [the history of] Lebanon, so that the date of that session, as far as we are concerned, is as important as the 14th of February 2005 [assassination of Rafiq Hariri] and the convulsions that brought Lebanon into a completely new stage with ehe martyrdom of Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. We are now [similarly] faced with a completely new stage in Lebanon. Because Lebanon after that dark [or oppressive] session is not like Lebanon before that oppressive session, and it is incumbent on the team in power to understand that they have put Lebanon in a totally new situation, in view of the seriousness [or danger] of the decisions they have taken, and the background of them, and their scope.
And Nasrullah turns immediately to the explanation of the national-defense significance of the communications network that the governing coalition threatened to declare illegal.

So in addition to locating the crisis in the strategic framework of the defense of the nation, Nasrullah also puts it in a historical context. Where the Washington-based narrative is one of endlessly recurring outbreaks of fitna (together with generally incredible stories about US attempts to impose order versus outlaws), Nasrullah's account is a historical one in the modern sense.

For a complete summary of Nasrullah's remarks, there is an excellent translation of many lengthy excerpts by, posted on Naturally, reading the whole thing will better illustrate what I'm trying to get at.

My purpose in this post is merely to show how the remarks are structured, to indicate by contrast how the fragmentary reporting style of the AP, NYT and others is really not just a manifestation of sloppiness, but rather is part of the whole Washington-imposed background picture that says: There is nothing that happens in the region that isn't a manifestation of fitna, because fitna is already upon us.

To paraphrase Obama: No it isn't.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Badger, I looked at the NYT and it does make reference to the telephone communications issue. The thing is, though, it doesn't explain its importance and represents Nasrallah's response to the communications issue as irrational, I think, as you can see in the way that quotes are used in the NYT article:

'The clashes began Wednesday, a day after the government decided to take steps against Hezbollah’s telephone network. Lebanese officials consider the network a violation of the country’s sovereignty. The fighting escalated Thursday, after Hezbollah’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, said the government’s decision was “a declaration of war.” '

But another part of the article does highlight what it takes to be the sectarian nature of the conflict. I think that by describing what's happening in Lebanon as 'sectarian tensions between Muslims ... an ominous echo of the civil conflict in Iraq', the article skews the fact that what's happening in Lebanon is a political problem and has a political solution.

Instead of this, we see the conflict (through the NYT and other sources) as an irresolvable sectarian/religious-based conflict, a "humanitarian problem" that calls for an external source of order (like the American troops in Iraq) to come into Lebanon and make things right.

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, I thought it was worth pointing out that Marc Lynch tries to deflate the whole emphasis on the sectarian nature of the conflict in Lebanon.

He points out that most of the major Islamists in the region are calling for unification and denouncing Sunni-Shiite tensions. More evidence that this sectarian narrative is just being pushed by American corporate media for self-serving ends.

2:35 PM  
Blogger badger said...

Yes, but look who he cites for an account of the events in Beirut: fellow Democratic-policy groupie Brian Katulis who says basically, this is what can happen if the United States doesn't get sufficiently involved! Along with a hysterical screed against Hamas (!) and Hizbullah both, as agents of violence. How's that for skewing the story? You don't have to be pushing a Sunni-Shiite story to get into the right-wing "resistance=evil" "America-to-the-rescue" camp.

3:18 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home