The two faces of Lebanon: Gynophobe "Nasrallah [above left] is the talk of the town and hot date this year" as the Islamic holy month of Ramadan shifts into high gear and "date stalls in the Egyptian capital are packed with 'Nasrallahs' and 'Nasrallah rockets,' priced at about $2 a pound [while] previous years' plumpest, most succulent dates were the Osama bin Laden and the Saddam Hussein," reports the WaPo. Market forces will out. Meanwhile, another son of Lebanon, Detroit shining star Yousif Ghafari (above right) -- Chairman of the American powerhouse Ghafari, Inc. -- is putting his money where his mouth is (see below).
"The risk of action is a much better alternative to the risk of inaction," said Cisco Chief Executive John Chambers, one of a select group of corporate leaders tapped by President Bush "to lead a private-sector rebuilding effort in Lebanon similar to ones the White House launched last year in Pakistan and Central America," reports the Wall Street Journal (subscription only):
While earlier campaigns followed natural disasters, the Lebanon effort aims to help the country recover from Israel's bombing during the war with the Islamic militant group Hezbollah.
. . . in an interview after meeting with President Bush, [Chambers] dismissed the idea that postwar Lebanon might be a politically tricky place for a CEO to represent the U.S. government . . . describing Lebanon as "the linchpin to many other opportunities around the world" . . .
The four executives handling the Lebanon project chipped in $1 million of their own money to the new U.S.-Lebanon Partnership Fund, while Citibank and the federal Overseas Private Investment Corp. created a $120 million loan facility to offer financing for home repairs, small businesses and long-term mortgages.
One of the four executives is Yousif Ghafari, a Lebanese Christian who came to the United States in 1972:
For years Mr. Ghafari donated to the Republican Party, but this year  he stepped up the pace, raising $350,000 to become a Ranger. He said that "the 9/11 situation was a bad situation for us" but that he supported Mr. Bush for "taking the initiative" to oust Saddam Hussein and believed that Mr. Bush had the capacity to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
"The Western-educated and business-motivated know that the whole Middle Eastern region has to change," said Mr. Ghafari, who collected donations from non-Arabs as well.
Nasrallah or Ghafari? Take your pick. Ghafari, who has served on several U.N. committees, floats our boat. This from his October 2004 "Statement on Human Rights":
We urge all governments in the region to fulfill the promise of the Doha Declaration for Democracy and Reform, which calls on all Arab countries to adopt modern, democratic constitutions, regularly hold free and fair elections, place limits on executive power, guarantee freedom of association and expression, permit the full participation of women in political life, and end extra-judicial procedures, emergency laws and torture.
However, in some countries in the Middle East region we continue to see no abatement in authorities’ use of torture; in the repression of free speech and of independent political and religious activity; no tempering of overreaching executive power, which works to the detriment of political and religious pluralism, civil society development, independent judiciaries and governmental accountability. The need for concrete reform continues in Syria. Iran’s already poor human rights record worsened when regime hardliners manipulated this year’s Majlis elections to ensure victory. We have encouraged Libya to demonstrate the bold leadership it evidenced in eliminating its weapons of mass destruction and MTCR-class missile programs, by undertaking fundamental reforms in the areas of human rights and political freedom. As President Bush stated last December, when welcoming Libya’s commitment to eliminate WMD, “should Libya pursue internal reform, America will be ready to help its people to build a more free and prosperous country.”
Hearts and minds come to mind.