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Greater Mideast Roundup
Of Photo-Opportunism and Hazmat Garbage Collection

As we teeter on the cusp of 2014, a whirlwind and partial summary, not so much on what’s been happening lately across the Middle East, but on what it all really means.

Published on: December 30, 2013
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  • TommyTwo

    “a country that is truly sui generis in the Arab world (but then they all are, each in their own ways)”

    Cute. 🙂

  • rheddles

    And there was no famine in the Ukraine because the New York Times said so.

    • ljgude

      My father was a New Yorker and an FDR Democrat, but he always angrily asserted that Stalin’s starving of the Kulacks in the Ukraine was real. I only realized he was angry at the New York Times after I read how Walter Duranty had lied in the NY Times to cover for Stalin and got a Pulitzer for it. And I discovered that the NY Times had portrayed Castro as social democrat rather than a full gospel Communist. As a High School kid I saw Castro through the eyes of youthful romanticism and was shocked to find I had been lied to by the NY Times. I recall that by the time of the Bay of Pigs I was indifferent to the fate of my bearded hero and just plain grateful that Kennedy stood up to Khrushchev and Castro in the missile crisis.

  • Blaton Hardey

    Yeah yeah very interesting. But I don’t see how any of the above matters when hamifraz looks like THIS. #Israel #Israel #Israel #Israel

  • Kansas_City

    Interesting stuff. I had not been here before. My one question regards the NYT story. The story clearly reached a conclusion that the video was a cause of the attack, but cited very little evidence to support that conclusion. The reporters allegedly talked to many witnesses and participants, but cited no witness to support the video causation issue. It was as though the reporters just concluded that was the case because it was shown on Libyan TV that day and some people around the embassy was talking about it. It seemed like a weak subjective conclusion perhaps designed to help Hillary. Also, the strongly stated conclusion of no al quaeda participation really was an exercise in how you define al quaeda and, again, a conclusion that benenfited Hillary and democrats. Part of this is a result of the NTY having lost their credibility over the years.
    Even assuming objectivity by the reporter (which I don’t believe, especially on issues with such political ramifications), I think a NYT reporter tying to inteview and assess conniving Libyans offering accounts to promote their own self interest is likely to be very overmatched.

    • ljgude

      I’m troubled by the video too. It could be a partial cause in that it would be possible that jihadis would use it as an excuse to riot as they had over cartoons and reports of Koran abuse. But as Fat_Man said, heavily armed men using military tactics which clearly shows planning and focused intent – all on a terrorist anniversary.

      • Kansas_City

        Good point. When you step back and think about it. Is that any real chance that heavily armed terrorists using military tactics would have been motivated because they took offense at a video shown that day on TV? It probably does take a leftist and/or naive mind to think that is a realistic possibility. I suspect the NYT reporter is both.

      • azt24

        Yes; if this was a protest spurred by the “Friday morning viewing” (which presumably took place on the 8th, three days previously), then why was there no daytime protest in either Tripoli or Benghazi? Why was there only the nighttime military attack in Benghazi?

  • Kansas_City

    More critical assessment of NYT report. Pretty persuasive.


  • Fat_Man

    Protestors at 3 am with small unit tactics and mortars? Why do you give any credibility to the NYTimes? It is a highly partisan rag that is clearly trying to make sure that Benghazi does not interfere with Hilliary’s coronation in 2016.

    In 2016 we will hear Hillary’s shills saying that the NYTimes has proved that the lies she told about Benghazi were true. And, the “moderators” will tell the Republican to stop criticizing the greatest woman in the history of the world.

  • qet

    The infamous “video” is about as red as a herring can get. Apropos Garfinkle’s trenchant comments about political correctness, only in the US (and also the UK) is such a thing taken seriously even by the Left. The most that can be said for it is that it served as a convenient smokescreen for the carrying out of an action that had already been planned and was going to be carried out at some time anyway. And I wish I’d thought of this way of stating what I have long thought but never managed to think in so concisely wonderful a form: “but lowest-common-denominator Enlightenment universalism is very bad at acknowledging the dignity of difference.” An entire book, plus its sequel, are packed into this statement.

  • pabarge

    Mr Garfinkle, did you vote for Barack Obama? Please reply.

    • Adam Garfinkle


  • pabarge

    These people always write about the NYTimes as though it’s a reputable source of information. It is not.

    You want to see tribal? Look no farther than the NYTimes and its sycophants.

    • Adam Garfinkle

      Am I one of “these people”? If you think so, you know nothing about my writing. I often criticize the MSM and do so even in this essay.

    • ljgude

      Ah, but you have admit that relaxing on the veranda with five pounds of Sunday Times to while the day away was one of the great moments in cultural narcosis – a gilded cage par excellence. Alas, now it is just a whistlestop on the great circular route that endlessly loops from one meme to another.

  • ljgude

    The issue that troubles me most about this analysis is that seems to me to underestimate the support this administration has given the Muslim Brotherhood – specifically in Egypt, but also in Tunisia and Syria. They had their supporters in the NY Times and the WAPO prattle on about the MB being moderate. The MB is the founding organization of Islamism, founded in 1928 and modeled on the totalitarian systems then contending for world dominance. I think the idea that Obama may be practicing some lessez faire, hands off approach to the Middle East fails to sufficiently explain his pro Muslim Brotherhood activism. I’ve also read that Obama may see the MB as the future of the Middle East and is simply trying to get on their good side by siding with them. I think, rather he is a post colonialist who sees the MB through the lens of Edward Said – who was one of his teachers at Columbia. He may not be as extreme as George Galloway who said that the radical Islamists were “the last best hope of the revolution”, but he is pretending that he can negotiate with them.

    • Adam Garfinkle

      I think the idea that the Administration actually wanted to support the MB, a knee-jerk anti-Obama cant I have heard now for years, is unsubstantiated anywhere and significantly overblown. Not wanting to alienate them because we may have no choice but to deal with them, yes, and down in the ranks that can bleed over into a lot of wishful thinking about the MB being moderate and so on. But real U.S. enthusiasm for the MB? Prove it; I don’t believe it.

    • Yet… he’s pretty much left the MB out to dry in Egypt, hasn’t he?

      • LizardLizard

        That was then. This is now.

      • azt24

        All of Obama’s promises come with an expiration date. (h/t James Taranto)

    • azt24

      The standing pretense of this administration is that you separate al Qaeda (“core al Qaeda”) from every other stripe of radical Islamist, and make friends with the latter while retaining only al Qaeda as an enemy. This has always been nonsense on stilts.

      • ljgude


  • pabarge

    Diversion, diversion, diversion, diversion.

    The outrage of Benghazi is not whether it was or was not orchestrated by Al Quaeda or whether or not the orchestrators had heard of some video.

    The outrage of Benghazi was the lack of preparation by Obama and Hillary Clinton’s Department of State and the reaction by Obama and Hillary during and after the event.

    While we are all a-buzz about the internal details of the attack, please note that the discussion is no longer focused on Hillary and her failures.

    Focus on Hillary. Focus on Hillary. Focus on Hillary.

    • LizardLizard

      Thank you. Big f’ing squirrel. Focus on Hillary. Focus on Hillary.

  • bannedforselfcensorship

    The problem with the claim that the video was to blame is that the Islamists can find all manner of justification for protests and riots and attacks. Freeing some Sheikh was one of the aims of the Egypt protests – there were ample photos of him in various protests. There is no limit on the supposed grievances.

    Now, the real problem with the video excuse by our political leaders:

    1) They went after the video-maker. As if its his fault. And in a country that supposedly protects free speech. Sure, they had their parole excuse and its totally normal to have police come in and arrest such a violator at midnight with cameras flashing. And they told the parents of the dead that they would get him, and they did not mention any other issues.

    2) They used it as an excuse. “How could we know some crazy video would rile up these people?” when they already knew the security was bad and the situation was tense.

    3) Most of the scandal about Benghazi revolves around the response to the attacks. The video does not excuse that. The media of course wants to focus on the video – because if they can justify what Hillary said she can run better in 2016. This exactly the problem with our media. They are more interested in helping Hillary than finding the truth. And this includes shading the truth to claim the video was a primary factor when it was not.

    • bannedforselfcensorship

      Also, its very convenient for the attackers to claim it was an inflammatory video that caused them to attack. Everyone wants to appear to be justified. Especially if you really just wanted to loot or kill Americans. When the press shows up, it sounds a lot better to say that it was the video.

    • azt24

      The video excuse is supposed to explain the non-response to the attack, because the video protest was supposed to be spontaneous and unpredictable. But the coordinated military attack on the compound in Benghazi was clearly neither.

  • teapartydoc

    Lawrence of Arabia understood this stuff better than anyone, and still had major difficulties. The only success he had was in mobilization against a common enemy. Take away the common enemy and they will go back to fighting each other. Like Mugabe silencing the Matabele with a genocidal slaughter.

  • B-Sabre

    “So far there is no information on what U.S. Navy ship this is and how it is decked out. There is no information on where this operation is going to take place.”

    Really? It took me about 5 minutes to find out.


    The ship is the MV Cape May, which is part of the US reserve mobility fleet.

    “Officials said the US ship would be equipped with a Field Deployable Hydrolysis System, a new mobile unit developed by the Pentagon earlier this year.”

    • amgarfinkle

      Good for you. When I wrote there was no such information I could find.

      • B-Sabre

        That article I cited is dated 2 December, which is the say day you “left off talking about this” (Syria’s CW Agreement). I found several articles dated between 30 Nov and 17 Dec discussing a the plan.

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