Thursday, November 15, 2012

Time To Re-Arm in Lebanon

Everybody knows that in Lebanon every sect is armed or is re-arming. Ever since the Sunni-led governments of Rafik Hariri allowed Hezbollah to retain its weapons after Taef in 1989 under the charade of "resistance", the imbalance of power in Lebanon has been unsettling to say the least.

At the time, around the 1990s, Syria controlled Lebanon with its military and intelligence occupation, and allowing Heabollah to retain its weapons and run around free to "resist" as it pleased was one way for the Syrians to keep the Lebanese on a short leash.

Now that the Syrians have gone, the "resistance" charade has been uncovered for what it is - namely an Iranian occupation instead of a Syrian one - the time has come for the Lebanese to come clean on one fact: No one has completely disarmed. Not the Palestinians. Not the Sunnis. Not the Christians. And definitely not the Shiites. But of all these groups, only the Christians have kept their word and not used their weapons on the streets. Every protest or demonstration or street clashes or attempt at a power grab or challenges to the central authority was conducted by armed Muslims, including family gangs and smugglers, but never by Christians whose protests never include the use of weapons.

As events in the region are moving toward an escalation, it is time to stop the hypocrisy. The Christian militias should declare their level of arming and come out publicly stating that they too want to "resist" and defend their sect. Instead of playing poodles to the Sunnis (Geagea and Gemayel) and the Shiites (Aoun), the Christians should open training camps, recruit, and arm themselves because the 12th hour is fast appraoching. Cornered by a weakened Iran and Syrian regimes, Hezbollah is likely to engage in suicidal and openly confrontational politics that include military operations against other sects and groups in the country. For example, the current flare-up in Gaza is very likely to draw Hezbollah's 40,000 missiles pointed at Israel from South Lebanon, or even Syria's Assad. Both these parties have seen their base and ideological premises eroded by the Syrian revolution and a weakened Iran, and are therefore likely to see the current situation as a life-saving opportunity from which to regain the upper hand on the claim of fighting the "enemy".

But within Lebanon, nothing less than justice and fairness should drive the process of public re-arming by all groups. If the Islamic fundamentalists of the Sunni camp, the Alawites of Tripoli, the Shiites of Hezbollah and Amal, the pro-Syrian Palestinian terrorists, and every other garbage group or terrorist organization that the weak Lebanese government continues to allow to operate on its soil, if all these people can arm and engage in military confrontations that threaten stability and the progress of Lebanese society toward a modern State (rather than the decrepit sectarian division of power that has paralyzed the country for 4 decades), then the Christians have an equal right to do the same, and they might as well re-arm and be public about it.

During the 1970s and 1980s, the Christian militias (and their own resistance against Syrians, Palestinians, Islamic fundamentalists etc) were blamed for everything that happened in the country. Every son of a bitch in Europe, the United States and other jackass Westerners pitied the "poor" Palestinian refugees of Yaser Arafat who were burning Lebanon to the ground, or pitied the "Dispossessed" Shiites assholes of Hassan Nasrallah because they bore the brunt of Israeli retailations against the PLO in the south, or found reasonable the Syrian pretext of wanting to protect its flank by invading and occupying Lebanon, .... Now, 40 years later, the Shiites have dispossessed everyone else, have seized power in Lebanon and run the country as an Iranian province. The Palestinians remain armed and shelter more radicalized Al-Qaeda inspired Sunni fundamentalist terror organizations. The Sunnis have the ultimate political power in their holding the Premiership but have been weak and cowardly by not divorcing themselves from the Arab nationalist platform that has devastated Lebanon. But the Chrisitians have played by the rules since 1990, acting exclusively through the political process and not by military means, which has caused them to be sidelined and become irrelevant, at the risk of disappearing not only from the political map but also from the demographic map as thousands of young Christians continue to emigrate in a country that no longer tolerates them.

What did the Christians get in return of their playing by the rules? Assassinations of their political leadership; terrorist bombings such as the latest one in the heart of Christian East Beirut; loss of political power because it is not backed up by military power. Enough is enough. If the Muslims of Lebanon are not going to move away from terror, military solutions, and reliance on outside actors, and engage in a civilized political process, then the Christians will have to, sooner rather than later, return to the military logic of defending themselves and protect one of the last Christian strongholds still standing in the Middle East, with Syria and Iraq having lost most of their Christian population to killlings and emigration. Lebanon stands to be the next country to be fully de-Christianized if currents events maintain their momentum. Time for the Christians to re-arm and not be ashamed of it.

Hanibaal

10 comments:

Joseph said...

I don't really get the point of this post?

I thought all along you were heavily against religion and an atheist. Why are you encouraging the Christians to properly arm and defend themselves?

Anonymous said...

Out of a sense of fairness, and as a long term strategy to stiffle the Islamist run. It is a fact that the Muslims of Lebanon have ruined the country for minimal political gains (Tarf, at the expense of the Christians) or for no gains at all (all the Arab causes that the Muslims claimed to be fighting for, Arabism, Syria's Golan Heights, Palestine, etc.).
Not accepting religion as the vehicle of our system of governance does not mean I have no stake in the country. Allowing to re-arm the Christians does not mean I become a Christian fundamentalist either. Finally, despite their backward religious foundation, the Christians of Lebanon remain the closest hope we have for a Western style secularism that I would like to see in Lebanon one day, including the separation of church and state. It is far easier to sideline the primitive Churches and their affiliated feudals and warlords (Geagea, Gemayel etc.) than it is to sideline the equally primitive Muslims and their religious farms. I would even argue that a return to the small pre-French Mandate Mount Lebanon entity would be the best option to move this patch of land away from religious backwardness.
Hanibaal

Joseph said...

To be fair, I don't think it was muslims alone who ruined the country for minimal gain - even though i completely agree that the country was effectively ruined for noones particular gain.

A lot of Christians are also to be blamed. Christians who were behind leftist causes such as the communists as well as supporters of arabism and leftism who had Christians (or former Christians) amongst their ranks.

So what's the best way to seperate Church (or mosque) and state? Rearm all sects?

Based on your last sentence, are you effectively calling for federalism?

Anonymous said...

No. I don't federalism will work. It never worked in the Balkans, in the UK... The only place where truly distinct groups have survived federalism is Switzerland, and that is at the cost of lots of local autonomy.
It has been less than a hundred years that Mount Lebanon was enlarged artificially by the greedy Maronite Church (Meouchi et al) and we have been paying the price ever since. What I am advocating is a separation of the Mountain heartland from the Sunni cities and the peripheral Shiite and/or Druze. Smaller entities are the answer to the broad Arabist or Greater Syria fallacies: An alawite country, a Maronite country, a Druze country, etc... It might seem inconceivable at this point in time, but changes do happen. Why not go back to our national roots of antiquity? Everybody does it: Why are the Irish who now speak English allowed to claim openly their pre-English domination Celtic roots? Why are we the only ones made to be ashamed for wanting to be just who we really are, and not what others want us to be? Michel Aflaq once said: You are Arabs because I say so! But it ain't so. I fault the MAronite Church for having surrendered our national idendity to the benefit of our religious one, and that is why we no longer know who we are.
Hanibaal

Joseph said...

I've read otherwise regarding the swiss model of federalism, where local autonomy increased as a result of a decentralised system - with only the currency and neutral-army in the hands of the central government.

So how would you separate the Mountain from the Sunni cities and other peripheral areas? Under what sort of system? Do you mean complete new countries?

Anonymous said...

I do mean separate countries, although the Sunnis may choose to re-join Syria. It seems to me that very large entities (e.g. the Ottoman Empire) did not fulfill people's sense of autonomy and identity and required enormous military centralization to keep everyone under check. By the same token,the mid-sized nation states of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, etc... were a hodge-podge amalgam of ethnicities, religions, languages, etc.) that they have turned out to be equally ungovernable, as our present situation shows with endless civil strife and dysfunctionality. On the other hand, smaller entities such as the ones I am advocating will be pretty much what the Balkans look like today: Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia, etc. and the newly minted Kosovo. All these people are slavs, share related languages and so on, but are different enough (religion mostly, Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims) to want to live separately. It is hard to argue for long term stability, but the once the Yugoslav lid was removed, there was lots of fighting, but now everyone seems to be satisfied with running their own little affairs, and I don;t see any one of them becoming so powerful as to impose its will on the others (unless some major player from the outside interferes). Why not in Lebanon? Smaller entities would never be a threat to their neighbors, they would lead their own lives under their own laws, and as long no outside power throws a wrench in the landscape, there could be long term stability. As for the Swiss model, you misunderstood my point: Swiss federalism works because less power was left with the center and more power was give to the local autonomies. So you could argue that Switzerland is not as unified as it seems because the cantons have more power internally than the federal government would necessarily want. In the US, the federal government is more powerful than the States, even though the States have a certain measure of autonomy, but nothing like the Swiss model.
Hanibaal

Joseph said...

Check out rule number 3

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324735104578120953311383448.html?mod=wsj_share_tweet

Anonymous said...

Absolutely. This makes sense not only economically, but in many other ways. Rule 5: having a stake in the decision making. Also, bottom-up instead of top-down totalitarian governance. All the grandiose Arabist/nationalist/Islamist/Syrian NAtionalist, etc... ideologies of the Arab World are doomed to failure because the top elites tell people who they are, what they can believe, what they can or cannot do...I see a beginning of light at the end of the tunnel with the Arab spring revolutions. People seem to sense that only an atomization of power down to the level of the individual is what it will take to move these societies out of the Dark Ages. And this is nothing new. The West has gone through it and is right there in front of us to see. In Lebanon for example the notion of freedom, as espoused by all, particularly the Christians, is a reactionary freedom. It is a freedom that merely reacts to the perceived threat from the Muslims. BUT people do not understand that the freedom that we must work for is not the freedom of the community (e.g. the Christians to ring their bells on Sunday, or the Muslims to loudly pray in the public arena...), but rather the freedom of each individual, regardless of who he/she is or what community they belong to, to say and do whatever they like, including not believing in God or in any religion or believing in some other religion that the primitive Lebanese constitution does not recognize. We are still very far from seeing these concepts even being discussed in the Lebanese political arena, but that is where future generations ought to be headed for. THat is why I argue that the first step is to atomize Lebanon down to its constitutent communities, give each community the freedom to enact its own laws, and then once the field is level within each community (i.e. all Christians or all Shiite, etc.) reform away from religious-based governance can become a possibility. The ultimate goal should be the welfare of each individual above all other considerations of religion, nationality, etc...
Hanibaal

Joseph said...

Is there a way I can be added to your mailing list so that I know when you have posted a new blog - rather than randomly having to check in?

Thanks

Anonymous said...

I think if you include yourself as a "follower" or a "member" (see the column on the left), you will get notified. If not, I would need your e-mail address to include you through my settings.