Thursday, February 24, 2005

Sturdy Wrists

We never have been fortunate enough to visit Lebanon, although our birth-givers were lucky enough to travel there as the guests of a Saudi businessman (about which, more, never!). We have only the most tenuous links to the region, although one of our antecedents once boasted of putting down a food riot in Tel Aviv on horseback in the 1940s, an event that strangely failed to gain renown in the annals of cavalry history. But we watched a lot of telly in the 80s, as we have previously attested.

And the memories keep coming back whenever we read the Instapundit and co calling the situation in Lebanon "interesting". Mr. Reynolds is a measured man, but we cannot help but think that the assumption on the right is that all of the agitating by "the Lebanese" against occupation by Syria is leading up to a repeat of the Orange revolution in Ukraine, or the fall of Milosevic in Serbia. But not the Intifada, no that would a different, bad type of people power.

See, Lebanon has ethnically-based kinks, and strange irrational rivalries to match anything that Israel/Palestine and Iraq have produced. Indeed, in the roll-call of Fiendishly Intractable Problems that cropped up on British telly in the 80s, Lebanon was frequently above the Intifada and below Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland got quieter as soon as both sides realised that they did not have the insane bloodlust necessary to derail development, peace, and a sideline in drug-running. Same probably went for Yanukovych's and Milosevic's gangster crew as well.

Now, how much do Hezbollah enjoy blowing themselves up in the service of spurious causes? Plenty. How much do the Syrians like holding on to verdant Mediterranean real estate? Plenty. This is not to say that there aren't a bunch of smart young, neoconservative followers ready to keep the Lebanese recovery alive, just that there are still plenty of nutters with Semtex tooling around in the interior. As someone with at least 800% more of a clue about this notes here, as part of a genuinely hopeful post:

When Lebanon’s many sectarian leaders do try to organize and channel the new sentiment and popular expectations toward their own ends, solidarity will be sorely challenged.

Yes, all this sounds like an apology for the occupation, a sense that, as one commenter on the above post says, Lebanon is "democratically immature". Not at all, but we share Henry Kissinger's grudging respect for Austria-Hungary, a barely benign agglomeration of warring ethnicities. Take away the brutes, and life sometimes gets short.


At 10:13 PM, Blogger Glenn said...

Things certainly could go wrong in Lebanon. However, the "we can't have liberalization in a land of ancient hatreds" line keeps being proved wrong. And even if things do go badly in Lebanon, they're likely to go very badly indeed for Syria, which is a pleasant thought in general.


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