THE INNOCENTS ABROAD.

In his continuing coverage of the NRO fabulist, Andrew Sullivan directs us to the Human Province, a Lebanon-based blogger who further disassembles W. Thomas Smith, Jr.'s fantastical tales of phantom Hezbollah brigades invading Beirut.

It just so happens that I live on the East side of town in one of the "Christian areas of Beirut," and I can guarantee that Smith's account is laughably untrue. On the day that Smith says Hezbollah "deployed" to East Beirut, I was doing some shopping. I live on the border of Gemmayzeh and Mar Mkhail and went to Sassine and ABC that day (all of which are Christian neighborhoods), and rest assured, there were no Hezbollah militants, much less armed ones, to be seen anywhere. Had what he described been true, there would most likely have been a civil war, or at the very least isolated street fighting. As it was, not only was there no fighting, but not a single journalist in Beirut, foreign or Lebanese, picked up on Hezbollah's alleged "show of force." There's a very simple reason for this: it never happened. If Hezbollah were to deploy a dozen armed militants to Achrafieh, that would be crossing one of Lebanon's red lines. Saying that there were 4,000-5,000 gunmen here is beyond farfetched; it's in the realm of the outlandishly comic.

Indeed. But it's only blogging, and we all know that blogging "tends to be less formal."

Interestingly, the HP sorts Smith's work into the same round file as "the ridiculous and sensationalist" reporting of Michael Totten, another conservative journalist who, like Smith, seems to consider the sworn enemies of Hezbollah a reliable source of information about Hezbollah, and who, like Smith, tends to produce work that invariably confirms conservative assumptions about Islamic political movements in general. (I commented on some of Totten's peculiar assertions here.) Given that Sullivan regularly links to Totten's work, I wonder if he bothered to click through?

--Matthew Duss

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