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Who are Lebanon’s real friends? As the corrupt government falls apart, other factions are ready to exploit the situation

In Beirut, the people are tiring of their corrupt politicians. Credit: Daniel Carde/Getty

In Beirut, the people are tiring of their corrupt politicians. Credit: Daniel Carde/Getty


August 11, 2020   6 mins

Imagine Boris Johnson had visited a former British colony still jangling after a terrible and humiliating disaster, and told its people that he was giving their government three weeks to clean up its act, or else. That is precisely what the French leader did in Beirut last Thursday. His intervention effectively ensured the collapse of the Lebanese government last night.

The comparison is disappointingly abstract because there is no former British colony that is remotely similar to Lebanon. The bond that Britain has with Malta or Cyprus or Israel has nothing on what many French people feel for Lebanon, a country they ruled briefly between 1919 and 1946, but with which they share history going back to the crusades. The Ottomans recognised France’s ongoing interest in the region in the sixteenth century: it was as the protector of Christians in the region that the French came to the aid of the Maronite Christians during the massacres of 1860. The numerous French religious institutions in the region ran schools, which were enormously popular with ambitious locals. At Baalbek, the country’s most famous ancient site, there is old chalk graffiti done by long-gone Lebanese. The names are Arab, the handwriting distinctively French.

When I saw the footage of Macron being mobbed by beleaguered Beirutis, my instinct was to assume that some cunning strategic rationale underpinned his move. Since the collapse of the Iranian nuclear deal, the French president has been trying to position his country as Iran’s obvious intermediary. I wondered initially whether this explained his seemingly reflexive decision to swoop in, given how Hezbollah, the strongest political force in Lebanon, could provide another conduit to Teheran.

The reality is simpler. Macron is genuinely interested by Lebanon – he visited during his presidential campaign in 2017 and I know he enjoyed reading at least one book about the recent history of the region last summer (it was mine). When Macron went to Beirut to electioneer, the French ambassador at the time was Emmanuel Bonne. Debonair, thoughtful and hawkish, Bonne is now chief foreign policy adviser at the ElysĂ©e. Macron’s confidence stems in part from the fact that his conseiller diplomatique will have the numbers of all the key people in Lebanon on his phone.

Macron’s willingness to weaponise the history he knows became abundantly clear during his walkabout in Gemmayzeh, an area which was the social epicentre of the city until it was smashed by last week’s explosion, and where no member of the Lebanese government would currently dare tread, such is the degree of anger. There he said (in French) that he would be proposing a new “political pact” to members of the country’s political elite that very afternoon, and that he would be coming back on 1 September.

There is an enormous symbolism to the date and the word “pact” that will have passed most people by. September 1 2020 is the centenary of France’s establishment of Greater Lebanon as a discrete state separate from Syria, which it had been mandated to govern by the League of Nations six months earlier. The new state joined Mount Lebanon, which was (and is) predominantly Christian and Druze, to adjacent coastal and interior areas where most of the inhabitants are Sunni or Shia. Its proclamation was made by France’s first high commissioner to Lebanon from the steps of his official residence, La RĂ©sidence des Pins: it was a bone thrown very publicly to the Christians on whom French power would depend.

Successive French High Commissioners governed the Levant from the Residence for the next quarter of a century and the French saw no need to give up this piece of real estate even after Lebanon gained its independence. Now home to the French ambassador, it is the very place to which Macron summoned Lebanese politicians to talk about the future last week.
Five years after the French high commissioner brought Greater Lebanon into being, a revolt against French rule erupted in Syria, next-door. In 1926, in an attempt to stop the rot penetrating their bridgehead, the French granted Lebanon a constitution modelled on their own. This gave each of the main religious groups one of the top jobs: the president would be Christian, his prime minister a Sunni, and the speaker in parliament a Shia. This, and the allocation of seats in parliament, institutionalised Christian dominance. Power remained in the French high commissioner’s hands.

The reason why Macron’s deliberate use of the word “pact” will be so resonant is because of events that happened two decades later, during the second world war. In 1943, following significant British pressure, the French were forced to hold elections in Lebanon, which resulted in a nationalist triumph and de facto independence. The “National Pact” reached by the new president and his prime minister afterwards confirmed the confessional arrangements of 1926. The deal was that the Christians would no longer seek western support; the Sunnis gave up their dream of reuniting Lebanon with Syria. When both sides abandoned the agreement in the late 1950s, the result was a short civil war. What Macron is proposing is that a new government reopens, rewrites and then reseals this pact in time for the centenary next month. Given how many months it took to form the last administration, this is a very tall order.

In normal times, such casual interference in domestic politics by another country’s head of state would be extraordinary, but Lebanon is in dire straits. Coming on top of strikes, power-cuts and a banking crisis, the explosion is a symptom of the rotten state’s collapse. Significantly, it has devastated the lives of well-off Beirutis who have so far managed to insulate themselves from other aspects of the crisis. A friend I rely on as a barometer for the mood in the city described “living like you’re an animal” — in the sense of not really understanding what is happening around you. What she wanted to know most was whether there is a willingness in the West to help.

Anthony Elghossain, who is writing a book about Western policy in the Levant since the 1950s, and whose own flat in the city was wrecked by the blast, believes that the West needs to be careful that the support it does offer does not simply entrench the oligarchy responsible for the chaos. In his view “friends of Lebanon and its diaspora need to crowdsource and explore alternative ways of working through international and domestic organisations to help Lebanon rebuild”. That task is urgent because the different factions are already clearly trying to exploit the situation: by the weekend, medicines donated by Kuwait were reportedly already on sale in Beirut pharmacies.

Lebanon has long relied on foreign friends, but Macron’s tone last week suggests that the patience of one of its strongest champions is now running out. Elghossain hopes that his compatriots will finally confront the fact that there is a direct correlation between Hezbollah’s power and the outside world’s growing reluctance to help. “All Lebanon’s political parties are passively complicit and actively criminal,” he says. “All are problematic but some are more problematic than others. Hezbollah is the most powerful party; it is also the most problematic party on the international plane.”

Tackling Hezbollah is easier said than done. This deeply disturbing terrorist organisation serves the senescent president, Michel Aoun, like a Zimmer frame and its existence suits many other members of the country’s self-serving elite, if only to frighten people into supporting them. Lebanon is caught in a vicious circle: its corrupted politics have caused a crisis which means three-quarters of all Lebanese are now thought to live in poverty. In such a situation the patronage and protection their politicians offer them have an ongoing, if battered, allure. Moreover, other Arab states will be doing what they can to prevent the Lebanese government being ousted in a popular revolution, which might give their own citizens ideas.

Macron’s determination to muster an international coalition has a precedent. In 1861, following the sectarian killings of the previous year, the Ottomans gave the Christian Maronites a degree of autonomy. To reassure the Maronites, the Rùglement Organique – as it was misleadingly known, since it was the result of intense western pressure – was guaranteed by the five European powers: Britain, France, Austria, Russia and Prussia. Is Macron thinking of something of this kind to break the ruinous cycle Lebanon is in?

What are the chances of success? There is no question many Lebanese are desperate for profound change. Macron received a tumultuous reception. But the worst-hit areas, where he conducted his walkabout last week, are in the Christian east of the city, where he might expect plenty of goodwill. The big question is how Hezbollah — whose representatives attended last week’s discussions — will respond to the greatest threat to the power it has accumulated since fighting off the Israelis in 2006. “[A]ll of Hezbollah’s resources are at the disposal of the Lebanese state,” its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, said tellingly in a defensive speech last Friday, in which he accused others of blaming the group, which controls the port, reflexively for the disaster. His tone suggests that he knows he’s vulnerable.

As the 1943 pact demonstrates, Lebanon’s politicians have always had to navigate low levels of trust between the people they are supposed to represent. It is no longer working. Give it too hard a shake, however, and there’s a real danger that the entire country explodes.


James Barr is a historian specialising in the Middle East and author of Lords of the Desert and A Line In The Sand.

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Andrew Best
Andrew Best
3 years ago

Macron is on a foreign policy adventure.
He is rubbish on the domestic front and so to be a man of action and a serious politician he goes to another country to get involved
Step 1 of the failing politician hand book.
The very definition of a oily untrustworthy politician.
Also why would we get involved in the middle East again?
It never works out well, we will not be thanked infact we will be blamed for being imperialist and interfering and set ourselves up for more criticism and attacks

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

“He is rubbish on the domestic front..”
He came out of nowhere and won the Presidency and the parliamentary election with a new formed party.
He has ACTUALLY done many domestic structural reforms.
But you are right about “…involved in the Middle East…”
Give the Christian Lebanese (and only the Christians) refugee status in Europe. Spread them across the continent.

Andrew Best
Andrew Best
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Forgot about the year plus of protest by working class people?

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

Yes, people in France protest. So what?

Frederick B
Frederick B
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

No. The ancient Christian presence in the Near East is already sufficiently attenuated and imperiled. What they need is a country of their own in the region where they are secure and to which their diaspora can return which, sort of, is what Lebanon was always meant to be ( a Christian Israel?) The best thing that the West can now do is to help them to secure it, but Heaven knows how!

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Frederick B

Perhaps that’s the solution, is to evacuate the Lebanese Christians to Israel, if they will have them. They are similar in many ways and would prove an asset I believe.

Let’s face it Israel is the only truly ‘civilised’ (by our standards) place in the whole Middle East.

They have won at least four wars of survival, and haven’t gone berserk in triumphalism, as many others would have.

In reality, it is the new Crusader State, and one based on Western values. Not perfect, but closer to ideals of Ancient Greece and Rome than anyone else in the immediate vicinity.

We should be supporting them, surrounded as they are by brain dead Islamic nutters. They are the only voice of sanity in the apolitic hell hole that is the Middle East.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Why Israel?
Europe can use them. They are very entrepreneurial people.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Geographical proximity, similar Semitic cultural origins, and as you say “they are a very entrepreneurial people”, which the Israelis would also value.

Much of Europe would appear ‘hostile ‘ in terms of climate, geography and in some places even culturally. These are people of the Levant, bonded to the “wine dark sea”. Would they really to want to end up in somewhere like salubrious Scunthorpe for example?

Basil Chamberlain
Basil Chamberlain
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, himself a Lebanese Christian, remarked that in his youth, before the Civil War, Lebanon was considered part of the same Near Eastern Mediterranean civilisation as was Cyprus – which had, indeed, the same food, the same churches, the same red-roofed villages. Suddenly, when the war broke out, people started referring to Lebanon as part of the Middle East, and soon afterwards, Cyprus was part of “Europe”. “Needless to say,” Taleb remarks, “the people soon acculturated.”

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

You could even go skiing on floodlit slopes near Beirut in those halcyon days, and off course the Corniche was wonderful. As you say the architectural links were very strong, particularly with the Crusades. Even the Troodos Mts on Cyprus had been replanted with Lebanese Cedars during the period of benevolent British rule.

Sadly Cyprus hasn’t really recovered from its Turkish War either. The city of Varosha, a mere 120 miles from Beirut, still remains empty and abandoned after forty six years.
What a shame it can’t be put to better use, but neither Greek nor Turk would ever agree to that. For that, you need
“Imperium”.

By the way what is your take on the current unrest in Belarus?

Basil Chamberlain
Basil Chamberlain
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Good question – I don’t think I’ve quite got a handle on it; the coverage has been a bit ambiguous (i.e., hard to tell how representative the protestors are). When I was in Belarus people I met were mostly anti-Lukashenko, but at that point they didn’t seem to have a very developed sense of nationhood – at least, not a sense of being separate from Russia. I well remember one educated acquaintance scoffing at the Belarusian language, for instance.

I haven’t yet had a chance to talk to the one real friend I made there. But he’s very pro-Russian (lives in Russia and works for the state), so I think his perspective may not be typical.

Joseph Berger
Joseph Berger
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

because Europe today can’t appreciate people who might benefit it, Ms Merkel demonstrated that,

Nami Darghouth
Nami Darghouth
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

President Macron is a world’s statesman and leader. Not much can be said about other leaders except Angela Merkel.
He has passion, compassion, empathy, and determination, rarely seen amongst world leaders.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

There is no hope for any of these places and Macron’s visit only reveals the extent of his delusion. Western politicians should be focused on preventing the West dissolving into the same state of dystopia – something they are failing to do – instead of grandstanding in this way.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

You are right, the only solution is to get the Christians out of Lebanon. Give them refugee status in EU. Eastern Europeans will happily take their fair share. How willing are the Lebanese to select Poland over France is a different story.

martyn page
martyn page
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

I don’t know how many times you have visited Lebanon or indeed whether you have family there but I can tell you that the Maronites will never give up Mount Lebanon – their identity is intrinsically tied to the land in a way that is only seen in their neighbour to the south.

I agree that we certainly need a radical solution but refugee status is not the way to go. Therefore, I ask you to consider the idea of the Independent Maronite Republic of Lebanon. This would be given fast track membership of the EU (by Macron) and the euro would be adopted at a generous exchange rate to ameliorate the damage caused by the collapsed currency. The IMRL has a port in Jounieh, they can build a new airport, one that is not controlled by Hezbollah. They have talented, highly-educated people (the under 30s speak Arabic, French and English), great wine, superb food, a rich history, beautiful land and could follow the Oman model for upmarket tourism while developing technology hubs as seen in Tel Aviv and supported by a vast diaspora.

As a fellow Liverpudlian once said: You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

Basil Chamberlain
Basil Chamberlain
3 years ago
Reply to  martyn page

The wine is actually grown in the Muslim-majority Bekaa Valley (although I hear there are increasingly creditable vineyards in the hills about Batroun).

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  martyn page

Look at demographic profile of Christians in Lebanon.
The solution would have been to swap population with Syria (French Mandate). Too late now.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago

Some really informative details in the article.

The UK would have nothing to gain and a lot to lose. Many in the region still blame the French and British for creating the mess, which might be convenient way to absolve themselves of any responsibility for the past 70 odd years, but nevertheless contains a grain of truth. Furthermore any effective and cogent strategy in Lebanon would have to involve Hezbollah (as you say) and therefore Iran, which would alienate our most reliable ally in the region Israel.

The UK’s other main interest in the region – Turkey – would not want to increase Iranian influence any more either.

Looks like Macron is playing a game of kingmaking in an attempt to bolster his statesmanlike credentials. I hope he is able to have a good affect, if for Lebanon and not his ego, but hope has nothing to do with reality.

John Broomfield
John Broomfield
3 years ago

Better for the Lebanese to replace their corrupt politicians and incompetent civil servants themselves, starting with truth and reconciliation followed by trials to re-establish the rule of law.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 years ago

Slightly amazing to see the breezy advocation of ethnic cleansing on this forum, though it may be tongue in cheek. No doubt the Middle East has had for many decades some of the worst governments in the world. But it is also the case to any fair minded observer of history that Britain and France acted to carve up the former Ottoman territories in the most cynical way imaginable, not as 18th or 19th century colonialists, but incredibly in the 1920s. Yes perhaps a majority Christian Lebanese state would have been viable, but presumably France wanted the largest possible area as part of its client state, hence the inclusion of large Sunni and Shia populations in that country.

By the way, not all Christians are the same and there are many disputes between different sects in the Levant. The French have historically supported the Maronites, who are an Eastern Catholic and not an Orthodox Church.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

Who are Lebanon’s real friends? I don’t know, but with friends like Macron…

Ian Wigg
Ian Wigg
3 years ago

I would suggest that Lebanon is the west’s last chance to salvage any credebility in the Middle East. I would suggest that Lebanon is possibly the last Western leaning predominantly Muslim country in the area (I spent a number of years working with the Lebanon/UK chamber of commerce and the ties between our two countries are still strong added to the understandable French influence – Beirut being”The Paris of the East.”

We in the west lost any significant influence in Iran due to supporting the US coup to install the Shah, we screwed up in Iraq thanks to Bush and his lapdog Blair, again in Libya thanks to Bush and Cameron, and we’ve pretty much alienated the, let’s say “ambivalent” countries in respect to Israel by, whilst weakly denouncing the post 67 expansionist plans and actions of an increasingly hard right government, giving tacit approval. From a ME perspective – we sanction Putin for using military action to “reclaim” an area which is ethnically, historically Russian and to the most part wants to be but we support Netenyahu who wants to do the same thing to a region which is none of those things and hasn’t been for around a thousand years. Don’t get me wrong, the state of Israel needs to exist (it shouldn’t in this modern world but recent history proves otherwise) but it’s borders were set and agreed as were those of every other country. World conflicts were started for less. Don’t let Lebanon be the final nail in the coffin of western influence in the middle East.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Wigg

‘I would suggest that Lebanon is the west’s last chance to salvage any credebility in the Middle East.’

Any chance of any western credibility in the ME is long gone. I am more concerned with the West’s credibility in the West, which is fast disappearing.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Wigg

As a matter if fact, there was an treaty between Russia, Ukraine and Belarus in 1991. The annexation of Crimea was in breach of that. A subsequent rigged post facto referendum does not prove that this was what the majority of Crimeans wanted.

Israel’s borders have never been internationally agreed by Arab, Muslim and following suit a huge number of non Western other states, for example including India, which is of course one of the many reasons the dispute persists. If Arafat had accepted the 2000 Camp David proposals, or even proposed a concrete counter offer instead of walking away, then the Israeli right might not have gained more traction power in their (democratic) society.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago

The only solution is to :
1) stay out of Middle East
2) Give the Christians (and only the Christians) refugee status in EU. Even Eastern Europe will take its fair share, but I am sure not many will select Poland over France/Germany.

Malcolm Powell
Malcolm Powell
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

My motto is that wemust NEVER get involved militarily in a muslim country. Unlike the French in 1944 who saw us as liberators, in muslim countries we become infidels very quickly. Consequently, we can never facilitae the installation of effective and decent governnment

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Powell

I agree. Muslims have a diametrically opposite world view to Western countries. The more the West interferes with the Middle East, the more liable they are to externalize and blame their problems on us. Messing around with Middle-Eastern countries is like poking sticks at a hornet’s nest.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

The Arabs haven’t been able to rule them themselves from at least the ninth century, when they idiotically started ‘out sourcing ‘ defence to Turkoman slave soldiers, later to be known as Mamluks.

What hope have they know? None!

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Powell

“The French in 1944 saw us as liberators” ? Certainly not Charles de Gaulle. He thought they had actually ‘liberated themselves’!

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

People do believe in many crazy theories….you don’t have to go as far as France (WW2) about “we won the war” delusion.

David Radford
David Radford
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Yes but doing that will condemn the remainder of the Lebanese population to being effectively ruled by Iran

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
3 years ago

Hezbollah isn’t corrupt, they are not terrorists, and they are a part of the population and come from the popukation. They pushed an invading army out twice. They have way more influence than Macron because of these things. Hezbollah isn’t a problem. The West is the problem. They bring the corruption. They control financial market.

Joseph Berger
Joseph Berger
3 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Boylon

utter nonsense, hizbollah is the problerm, beginning and end of story, until they leave or are pushed out – which at present is EXTREMELY unlikely, Lebanon is a lost cause and Macron’s posturing won’t help.
Hizbollah has been diverting valuable economic resources towards it crazy fanatical hatred for Israel, left the country miserably under-governed and is hated by a lot of the population,
but it won’t leave of its own accord, dictatorships don’t,
the miserable palestinians certainly know that with their corrupt leadership

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
3 years ago
Reply to  Joseph Berger

Is it crazy for the people of Southern Lebanon to see Israel as an enemy? Israel invaded their territory twice. The Shia community of Southern Lebanon didn’t start this conflict. In fact there was no conflict before 1982. Israel had already existed for 24 years and there was no Hezbollah. Israel had a conflict with the PLO who largely lived in squalor and refugee camps after being pushed out of Israel. The Shia community hated them. They were poor. They stole. They didn’t have proper resources to maintain a community and generally made a nuisance of themselves. At first when the Israelis came they were greeted with cheers. They were happy to be rid of the PLO and the Palestinian refugees. As the roadblocks, curfews, and military outposts went up they came to realize they were about to become the next “Palestinians”. It has been a fight of survival ever since. They are not terrorists at all. In fact they are the farthest thing you can get from being a terrorist. They just want to keep their land and homes. There was no reason for this to happen. If Israel had withdrawn right away there would be no Hezbollah today. The PLO’s attacks on Israel’s northern border prompted a full-scale invasion by Israeli troops in 1982, a conflict which angered south Lebanon’s largely Shi’ia Muslim community ” which directly suffered the consequences of Israel’s military intervention ” and fueling the rise of the next generation of militant groups, Hizballah among them. “When we entered Lebanon, there was no Hizballah. We were accepted by perfumed rice and flowers by the Shi’a in the south,” Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak once noted. “It was our presence there that created Hizballah.” http://content.time.com/tim

Bullfrog Brown
Bullfrog Brown
3 years ago

Lebanon sits in a very dangerous neighbourhood, surrounded by Syria, Turkey and the Middle East, leaving it vulnerable to the violent forces which pervade the area.

I hope that Macron & other strong and determined forces can bring Lebanon to a safe lifestyle that it deserves.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
3 years ago

The 1920’s settlement around Lebanon is almost as far away from us as Napoleon was from that. The key historical facts affecting the Middle East were the Mohammeden Empire and then the Ottoman Empire…the 20th century, and our own time is an extended footnote to that in which the accelerating rate of technological change, air flight, mass communications, consumerism, mobile phones, digitisation of data and communication and so the internet has meant any settlements from previous times, even ones quite close to our own struggle to hold.

Russia will eventually regret it’s involvement in Syria and I feel, especially as the world moves more towards post-oil, that getting involved in Middle Eastern situations is always the worst option.

Macron is only doing it for purely domestic reasons, he’ll know as well as anyone that any attempt to actually engage and involve by France will misfire so the visit was, as the article indicates, mainly theatrical in purpose?

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
3 years ago

Get the Jordanians to intervene along with any Western powers that think they should have a go. The more well-governed native states that learn how to do humanitarian intervention, the better.

Then it will be harder to label it as “Western imperialism”.

David Radford
David Radford
3 years ago

A good thought. But the West as others have said has had it in the ME thanks to screwing up Iraq and then doing nothing to sort out Bashir Assad

Basil Chamberlain
Basil Chamberlain
3 years ago

Am copying this over having gone through to the “wrong” version of the article – the one you reach by clicking on the link from your Email account:

Dominique Eddé on Lebanon as microcosm of the world:

“Lebanon is both the centre of the world and a dead end. The broken little village of a planet that is sick [“Š] It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that in Lebanon, everything can be explained and nothing can be understood. All the decisions made for this country are made behind its back, and all that happens here epitomizes the rest of the world: the mix of populations, the vulnerability of borders, political lying at its worst, building the present by destroying the past, an utter lack of perspective […] We know more or less what constitutes Lebanon, but we don’t know how it works. If we had to send into space a country capable of containing the world, Lebanon would fit the bill. If we had to send one that did not contain what is needed to make a real country, Lebanon would also be the answer.”