Lebanon, Iraq and other roundup news

DUBAI — Just a few thoughts and observations from the Vegas-meets-Singapore hotspot on the Gulf:

Tom Vanden Brook of USA Today writes yet another story for his growing clip collection on MRAPs, those big, expensive and lifesaving armored vehicles used by Marines in Anbar. The news in this story? Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates says they’re great. Seriously. Four hundred words for what should have been a single sentence in another story. Please stop, Tom. The Pulitzers have already been announced. You didn’t win.

Meanwhile, in Lebanon, I’ve heard from friends that Beirut is calm but tense. (I’m not there anymore so I can’t really report too easily.) March 14 is increasingly dispirited and hoping for a response from the world greater than simple condemnation. The SSNP has taken over Hamra, which is bizarre. And what’s up with Hezbollah advancing on the Chouf? And then whining when two of their fighters get taken by the Druze? You don’t mess with the Druze, man. And if you invade someone’s territory — and let’s be honest, that’s what’s going on — you’re bound to take some casualties. Hezbollah can’t have it both ways.

Some of the Lebanese blogs I’ve started reading are From Beirut To the Beltway, Lebanese Political Journal and The Beirut Spring. These are solidly March 14 blogs and the authors hold political views I don’t necessarily agree with, but at least there’s some on-the-ground postings going on.