“There are no clean wars and no intelligent deaths”

For those who may have forgotten our past, this guy has some intelligent narration of Beirut’s troubles at the moment… “There are no clean wars and no intelligent deaths, but civil strife certainly takes the prize for dirtiest and dumbest. Anything -anything- is better than civil strife.” His latest examines how the competing sides seem to be living in different tenses. Sound familiar?


  • Rory

    “.. Anything -anything- is better than civil strife.”

    Oh, I don’t know, I believe that Stalingrad wasn’t exactly a bundle of laughs and I can’t imagine that the citizens of Hiroshima on that fateful day consoled themselves with the thought, “Hey, it could be worse – we could be shooting at each other”.

  • RepublicanStones

    Big case of deja vu there Mick. Many people seem to forget that Nasrallah is seen as a moderate by some in the ‘Party of God’. The man he replaced, Subhi Tufeili, was a little more forthright in his views. Hezbollah have a mandate which should be respected, however distasteful that is to Israel and the USA. Of course the West and Israel keep insisting that Iran and Syria butt out of Lebaneze matters, whilst having their noses in the trough at the same time. Also the fact that only the military wing is proscribed in the UK, not the political entity reminds me of something too……

  • Billie-Joe Remarkable

    Yep! Piercing insights, alright. Let’s hope he has a book out….

  • Greenflag

    ‘Anything -anything- is better than civil strife.’

    Now had he said

    ‘Anything -anything- is better than 40 years of off and on civil strife and political uncertainty’ he might have struck a familiar chord .

    Stalingrad with respect to Rory’s valid point was razed to the ground by the nazis and rebuilt by the soviets within 20 years i.e half the time of the NI troubles . Admittedly the scale of destruction and lives lost at Stalingrad dwarfs the NI and Lebanese ‘troubles’. It’s at least a debateable point as to whether the ‘psychological damage ‘ to the people and politics of NI & Lebanon was greater in the longer term than Stalingrad or Hiroshima given the time factor and of course the ‘fudged’ NI & Lebanon solutions as opposed to the clearcut decisions /end results made at Stalingrad /Hiroshima?

    He got the part about there being no clean wars right . Never has been and never will be . A dirty business despite the Geneva Convention and ancient rules of chivalry which excluded non combatants .

    As an aside re ‘war’ it was the Japanese of all the larger industrialised ‘nations’ which actually tried to remove the ‘gun’ from politics and did so successfully for a couple of hundred years .

    Shortly after contact with the Portuguese in the 1600’s the Japanese quickly improved the rudimentary Portuguese weaponry . However the ruling elite i.e the Samurai warriors did not approve of such weapons as they removed at one fell swoop the Samurai’s ‘noble’ sword advantage as ‘decider’ in conflict. The ‘gun’ was seen as threatening the social and economic order of Nippon as well as the status of the Samurai lords themselves. Any peasant with a gun could potentially kill a samurai from 50 paces . Not cricket old boy as they’d say at Sandhurst:)

    The ‘gun’ was thus outlawed and manufacture was restricted and ultimately banned . Japan was able to continue on it’s feudal ways until 1856 when American gunboat diplomacy persuaded the Japanese that it would take more than swords to keep the foreigners from colonising /enslaving their people . The japanese went back to the gun very quickly and adapted so fast that within 50 years the Russian Empire was the first ‘european ‘ empire to be defeated on the battlefield and at sea by a non european emerging power .

    Japan presumably could get away with not having any guns due to it’s geographical isolation . One can’t magine any european state in the 17th/18th or 19th much less 20th century outlawing weapons manufacturing and restricting their defence forces to ‘swords ‘ ? Their neighbours would have walked all over them within a week or so 🙁 Such is the human condition .

  • Debbie

    It’s a great blog, and the one story linked is not his only good article. It’s worth looking through with some great insights.

  • susan

    You’re right, Debbie, it is a great blog: “Nasrallah speaks as if there is no future, but Jumblat, Hariri and Sanioura speak as if there is no past.” Razor sharp writing from Rami Zurayk.

    I don’t think that by decrying the idiocy and built to suit brutality of civil strife the writer meant to put his own conflict over and above the worst blood lettings of the twentieth century. I think he simply needed to acknowledge in passing the torturous and soul-deadening cruelty of watching people who know each other and share much in common perish one by one in an endless and eventually meaningless cycle of pain and retribution.

  • Mick Fealty


    Precisely so susan…

  • BfB

    Stalingrad /Hiroshima ?

    Dail Kos /Slugger O’Toole ?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Bfb: “Stalingrad /Hiroshima ?

    Dail Kos /Slugger O’Toole ? ”

    Now, Bob, I would readily acknowledge the breathless hyperbole that is casually bandied about, but there is no sense in you going along and getting swept up in the current.

    On the other hand, for those whom the specifics (or even the broad strokes) of both Operation Olympic and the planned Japanese counter are unknowns, I would point out that the Japanese were, at least in certain rarified circles, all but shooting at one another, with the militarist party trying to keep the war going at all costs and what passed for moderates trying to use the moral power of the Emperor to end the war. Secondly, there were far worse options than Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  • Dewi

    Fisk on Beirut Very Good as always

  • susan

    Mick F., thank you very much for bringing us the unique links. When I read the piece yesterday I was reminded of a quote from Herodotus I first encountered in a survey course many years ago: “Civil strife is as much a greater evil than a concerted war effort as war itself is worse than peace.” Can’t say I remember even half as much about Herodotus as I probably should, but that quote always stayed with me.