This piece on Hariri in the Washington Post by Jenine Zacharia suffers from the same problems that other articles on the Middle East in mainstream US press suffer from. 1) It cites Bruce Riedel on Lebanese affairs. I mean, the man (in the new book by Bob Woodward) is referred to as an authority on Pakistan and Afghanistan. In the Clinton administration, he was considered a whole Middle East expert. If you ask me, he knows nothing about the Middle East. People should refer to the their memory. Back in the 1990s in the Clinton administration, he was interviewed in the Daniel Pipes' Journal on the Middle East (Middle East Quarterly) and he said at the time that there is no evidence that people in the Arab world are upset over the tight and unjust sanctions on Iraq. Right then I decided that that guy is certifiable dumb on Middle East affairs and lacks basic ability to understand what one can read even with the help of translators. 2) the piece as usual does not interview ONE TOKEN PERSON from the other side. All are pro-Hariri voices (even the one who refused to be identified). 3) Hizbullah and its allies won, not half of the popular vote, but more (although the electoral system of Lebanon gave the majority to the March 14--which means they did win the election--I am not disputing that. 4) The stuff about Hariri cooking all-you-can-eat and in a variety of cuisines is the stuff that is fed by Hariri propagandists to unsuspecting journalists. Get me someone who has eaten an Indian meal cooked by Sa`d Hariri. I am not sure that he can tie his own shoes, and this piece wants me to believe that he is making Somosas and Chicken Tikka. 5) It does not mention that he is widely criticized for leaving the country for long duration when the country is on the verge of civil war. 6) It talks about the opposition blocking "key" infra structure projects when the opposition--read the courageous leftist Minister of Tele-communication, Sharbil Nahhas--is really blocking some of the most corrupt financial arrangements that Lebanon has ever seen. Not a word about Hariri corruption in this article. 7) Hariri did not get his BA from Georgetown. His daddy got him into the MBA program at Georgetown after making a big contribution to the school which is now named after him. 8) Hariri did not run a thing before his daddy die: his name was merely a letter head name as head of Saudi auger. Sit with him for 30 minutes and figure whether this guy can run a grocery store. 9) the article does not say a word about the changed rhetoric of Hariri regarding Syria and does not talk about how the Hariri family was a tool of Syrian mukhabarat for years.
PS An American colleague of Zacharia tells me that she is an ardent Zionist and is normally based in Jerusalem. She knows some Hebrew and knows no Arabic whatsoever. A typical American foreign correspondent in deed.
PPS Matthew sent me this: "Actually it is the building, not the school, which is named after Hariri. No matter how much money an Arab gives, the school will still be named after a White Man (Robert Emmett McDonough, in this case)."