An alternative exit strategy for Jacques Chirac

Who knew Chirac was so personally popular in the Lebanon? More popular than he is in France?

Marc Lynch carries the results of a poll of Lebanese public opinion with some fascinating results. Apparently, a majority of Lebanese admire El Presidente, although not a majority of Shia. They rather like Hugo Chavez! In fact, they admire Chavez more than Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, although they would rather have Ahmedinejad in charge than him.

Nobody has confidence in the United States. Neither does anyone believe in “spreading democracy”. The biggest level of support for an Islamic state, among the Sunnis, didn’t break 5 per cent. (Is that the famous Jihad Chill?) Everyone said they were Lebanese first. Only the Christians put their religion second. (Everyone else put Arabness second.) 71 per cent overall said an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 green line would improve their opinion of the US. Over 50 per cent of Shia (i.e. Hezbollah’s base) supported a two state solution.

When asked which nation should be a superpower for preference, France came out marginally ahead overall, with Russia in second place, then China, then the US. Germany drew 10 per cent of the Shia vote but no votes from anyone else. Britain wasn’t an option. Interestingly, the Shia were the only group not to pick France, with Russia no.1, then China, then Germany. Everyone except the Druze picked France as a candidate for emigration by a large majority. The Druze were the only group to go for the US, but only by a bare plurality. Asked where they would rather send a family member to study, France was the first choice of all groups but the Druze, who plumped for Germany. (Curiously, no two groups agreed whether Germany or Britain was more democratic, but everyone thought France was more democratic than the US, Germany, or Britain.)
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Chavez On Aznar

I recently posted on Afoe about the frivolous ways in which people tend to throw around the N*Z* word these days. Latest on the list is Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called former Spanish Premier Jose Maria Aznar a “fascist,” saying Aznar once told him to forget about the poor nations of the world. Chavez recalled late Thursday that Aznar had urged him to get on “the train of the future” and distance himself from Cuba’s Fidel Castro.

Chavez, who met Thursday with Spanish Labour and Social Affairs Minister Jesus Caldera, said he once asked Aznar what he thought of the situation of poor African countries and Haiti. “He told me, ‘Forget about them, those nations missed the train of history. They are condemned to disappear.'” recalled Chavez, saying such ideas remind one of Adolf Hitler. “He is a true fascist. That is the thinking of this gentleman who continues attacking us over there,” said Chavez, who also called Aznar an “imbecile.”

Obviously I am not privy to what Aznar may or may not have said, once upon a time to Chavez. What I do know – despite the fact I have very little respect for Aznar – is that he is no fascist. Neither for that matter is Chavez. Indeed the clip Spanish TV showed of Aznar criticising Chavez publicly was a model of reasonableness.

What is far less clear is what Caldera is doing in Venezuela, and why Zapatero has occupied his time selling arms to Chavez.