Michael Totten

Patterns of Dictatorship

I am amazed all over again every time I meet a Westerner in Lebanon who admires Hezbollah or gets defensive on its behalf. Last time I visited Beirut I ran into an American journalist who said Hezbollah “is trying to raise awareness of Global Warming. Don’t you think that’s interesting?”
No, I don’t think it’s “interesting,” and my Lebanese friends found that journalist’s question contemptible.
My first reaction when I meet people like this is that, as Westerners, they ought to know better. Then I read articles like “Patterns of Dictatorship”:http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=119846 by Ana Maria Luca in NOW Lebanon, and I reconsider my initial reaction to thick Westerners. Luca lives in Beirut, and she grew up in Nicolae Ceauşescu’s Romania. As far as she is concerned, the differences between Hezbollah and the dictatorship of her youth are just details.
Eastern Europeans, rather than Americans and Western Europeans, are really the ones who ought to know better. And they generally do. They have real world experience with totalitarian politics, and they seem a lot less likely, as a result, to think a terrorist like Hassan Nasrallah is some kind of misguided liberal.