Walid's Wanderings

Reflections on life, good-and-evil, family, humanity, and anything else that occurs to me, usually when I travel. Right now I am on a 6-year trip through Lebanon, the homeland I had never really lived in before.

Monday, July 24, 2006


Now that the U.S. Embassy Urges Departing Americans to Proceed Directly to ... the processing center, the decision of whether to leave or not has become immediate and stressful. We are just playing at being refugees right now, while staying in the basement of the house my father built. We face some probability that food, gasoline and drinking water will run out, and an even smaller probability of being harmed by any new weapons or tactics Israel may want to use after the US declares that no Americans who "wish to leave voluntarily" are left in Lebanon. I suppose we face even longer odds that there will be looting or other forms of internal strife later on. All this we must weigh against a certainty of a tough journey with our three young boys, followed by possibly months of staying in other people's homes until we either return or find a new job. An objective assessment, uninfluenced by the stress first-hand eye-witness experience with destruction, leaves us quite conflicted. It all depends on how likely we consider the different possible next steps to be given the nature of the decision makers.

What might happen next

On the "be very afraid" side, exhibit A is the continued targeting of TV relay stations and individual press correspondents by the precision bombs of the Israeli forces. To put things into perspective, we have about 300 civilians killed out of 500,000 or more departing, and we have two or three ambulances shot at out of hundreds. But yesterday one out of the 20 or so journalists covering events first hand became a casualty, and other journalists reported warning air-to-ground missiles shot precisely to their left and to their right. What new things do they have in store once the world is really in the dark?

On the opposite corner is the convergence of the stated goals of the two chess players. From "elimination of Hezballah" to "disarming" to "20 miles of buffer" we are now down to a 3-mile buffer to be handed over to a NATO force working with the Lebanese army. This would leave Hezballah's missile deterrent to be negotiated over with a Lebanese government that has learned the hard way how badly Lebanon needs this deterrent. But it would eliminate the possibility of cross-border soldier-capture raids, for which the price would be the disputed ranch (It's not really a ranch, but a ranch-sized set of agricultural plots of land to which Lebanese villagers hold titles, but in which Syria was running the police force when Israel took it in 1967.) Meanwhile, Hezballah has already stated that merely surviving this round of fighting in any form would constitute victory in their eyes. So how about it, Condi? It's not just me saying it:

I was able to pick and choose higher-quality editorializing by looking at other bloggers' links, and in gratitude I added some links on the right side-bar, for anyone who wants a different perspective from people with a higher-bandwidth connection.

Off to work

I would have liked to spend the next two hours writing about how come I personally do not entirely distrust Hezballah, especially since so many of the other Lebanese bloggers are still expressing different points of view. But this will have to wait until tomorrow's post. I have to go down to Beirut to collect some items we need for the trip as well as information that might help us make up our mind as to whether to make the trip or not.


  • At 25/7/06 3:15 AM, Anonymous Jo said…

    I'm thinking about you while you make your decision of whether to leave now. As much as it's the logical and reasonable thing for a cease-fire to be reached asap and negotiations to begin, I'm not optimistic that logic will prevail. I'm also quite depressed about it. Keep safe.


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