July 26, 2006

Home Towns in the Age of the Terror War

The image below is from Google Earth, of the south Lebanese town of Bint Jbeil (Bint Jubayl).

Bint Jbeil.jpg

I've included the snapshot because this is currently the site of intense "close quarter" fighting between the IDF and Hezbollah, covered by Stratfor in this podcast. Stratfor presents the conflict as a trigger for a critical debate beginning in Israel. The "internal debate" concerns whether Israel has the fortitude to continue fighting under conditions where its forces sustain heavy casualties. It's ironic, in some ways, that Bint Jbeil is the locus of such a "bloody angle", because the town has prospered during peace, rapidly developing into a small city and commercial/administrative center. It even has its own website here. The text is in Arabic, but there's an English version here. The large red iconic letters introducing the town to the world send the message: "Resisting!"

This is how small towns in the age of the Terror War are likely to present themselves, if their culture is what the philosopher and sociologist, Ernest Gellner, called "charismatic." These places have the promise of economic growth and prosperity that could create a middle class, and a substrate for civil society and democracy, but they've "resisted" that fate in favor of another. Where Israel stuggles with the hot dilemma that a legal/rational society endures when faced with horrible sacrifice in a war it would prefer never to fight, Bint Jbeil (a city whose name literally means "daughter of byblos") has a self-image, lodged in its deepest heart, of a miniature Stalingrad.

Posted by Demosophist at July 26, 2006 04:50 PM