| Lebanon, the imaginary nation
By Alan Caruba
"Before the Israeli attack, Lebanon no longer existed, it was no more than a hologram."
This is what the Lebanese journalist, Michael Behe, wrote on July 30. His commentary was posted on the website of the Metula News Agency in Beirut.
To understand the Lebanese situation, it helps to know that, despite a history that dates back to biblical times, modern Lebanon was literally the invention of Western powers, England and France, after WWI in 1920. It became independent of France in the early 1940s.
Then, in the 1970s, the Palestinians, driven out of Jordan and elsewhere, moved in. Doing what they do best, they started a civil war and, in 1978, after a Palestine Liberation Organization attack killed 37 Israeli civilians, Israel launched an offensive to drive them away from its northern border.
In 1982, Israel again invaded in response to attacks. Christian Lebanese troops entered Palestinian refugee camps and massacred hundreds. The era of the Palestinians was over, but by the next decade its successor, Hezbollah, was routinely shelling Israel, provoking Israeli military responses. After a long occupation of southern Lebanon, in 2000 Israel decided to withdraw its troops.
On February 14, 2005, Rafiq al-Hariri, a former prime minister of Lebanon, was assassinated in Beirut. His death points back to Damascus. He had become an outspoken opponent to the Syrian occupation of Lebanon that had begun 1976, a year after the outbreak of the civil war. In the years that followed, thousands of Lebanese were brutally imprisoned or killed by Syrian occupiers.
By 1991, the domination of Lebanon by Syria had been formalized with a defense and security agreement. This was followed two years later by an economic agreement in which Lebanon's true status as a colony of Syria was made official.
Hariri's assassination generated a rally in which the streets of Beirut filled with anti-Syrian Lebanese. It was dubbed the "Cedar Revolution" and lasted about five minutes. Days later, on March 8, 2005 Hezbollah was able to put over a million other Lebanese into the streets. This was followed by an election that was so gerrymandered only pro-Syrian candidates had any chance of being elected. Hezbollah had reinvented itself as a political party.
Under intense international pressure, Syria prudently removed its troops from Lebanon after the Hariri assassination. An earlier 2004 United Nations Security Council resolution 1559 demanding this action had been ignored. The various elected governments of Lebanon had turned a blind eye to the growth of Hezbollah. Funded and trained by Iran and supplied through Syria, Hezbollah was in charge.
As Behe noted, there were parts of Beirut where its own citizens, including its police and army, were forbidden access. "A square measuring a kilometer wide, a capital within the capital, permanently guarded by the (Hezbollah) army, possessing its own institution, its schools, its tribunals, its radio, its television and above all, its government." It was precisely this part of Beirut the Israeli air force destroyed. The rest of the city, as of July 30, was left intact.
The problem for Lebanon is the problem for the world.
Muslims resist or are restrained from living in a modern sovereign, secular nation. Iraq was secular because a dictator made it that way. Turkey was secular because its modern founder, Ataturk, turned it toward Europe in1925 and away from Muslim traditions and governance.
Modern Lebanon's problem is demography. In 1943 when its constitution was established, a "national pact" insured representation by both Christians and Muslims with top offices being allocated to each group. Today, Muslims are the largest part of Lebanon's population, easily 75 per cent or more. The Lebanese government failed its citizens and the Lebanese who voted Hezbollah politicians into power betrayed their nation.
Destroyed by the Palestinians led by Yassir Arafat, occupied by Syria, Lebanon is now nothing more than the tool of Iranians who are busy preparing their own people for a war with the Israelis, the British, and the Americans.And how long are we going to wait around until they achieve that? How long was Israel supposed to wait while Lebanon/Hezbollah/Iran continued to kidnap its soldiers and shoot rockets into their homeland? The Palestinians of Hamas were enough of nuisance in their own right, but Hezbollah was a real army and one that has been trained and armed by the Iranians. In the last world war, America, Britain, and other allied nations expended years and thousands of lives to win against the dictatorships of Germany and Japan. In the end, we demanded and got "unconditional surrender." That is what we are going to need to do in the Middle East to free ourselves from the threat of the Islamic Jihad.
Alan Caruba writes a weekly column, "Warning Signs", posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center. Merril Press has just published his new book, "Right Answers." © Alan Caruba, 2006
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