July 17, 2007

A Reminder from Eli Khoury

By Noah Pollak

Eli Khoury, in my opinion, is one of modern Lebanon's great men. He is an ideologically tireless and physically brave advocate for Lebanese independence, a champion of Lebanon's nascent civil society, a successful businessman, and a sophisticated analyst of local and regional politics. Michael interviewed him for this blog in February, and Michael and I spent some time with him in Beirut last December.

I'm ashamed to say that I missed his op-ed in the Boston Globe last week, a piece that reminds us, amidst the swirl of events in Iraq, Iran, and Gaza, that the Cedar Revolution remains a fragile triumph, and that the new, post-Syrian Lebanon cannot flourish without steadfast international allies.

Today, Lebanon stands at a historic crossroads between being integrated into the international community or remaining under the heavy influences of external forces. Success requires that the government be willing -- and empowered -- to allow the people of Lebanon to freely put aside sectarianism and unite behind a common vision. It will mean securing borders from the trafficking of arms and terrorists from Syria and Iran. It will mean stopping the proliferation of Syrian-sponsored terrorist groups, particularly amongst Palestinian refugees. And it will mean confronting the rearmament of Hezbollah. ...
The United States and the international community must help sustain Lebanon's sovereignty and democratic progress. The United States must press the UN Security Council to follow through on its prior resolutions intended to prevent arms flows from Syria and Iran, push for disarmament of all militias, starting with those pertaining to Palestinians, and create the tribunal to investigate the Hariri and other assassinations in Lebanon. And it needs to support Lebanese democracy with resources to strengthen democractic institutions.
Most importantly, the United States and its European allies need to support the government in protecting the upcoming presidential elections from foreign intimidators, so that a free president can supervise the democratic progress, consolidate sovereignty, and neutralize Lebanon of regional conflicts.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Noah Pollak at July 17, 2007 10:37 AM
Comments

A good editorial.

Posted by: glasnost at July 17, 2007 12:09 PM

The belief in the great french hopes -- sarkozy and kouchner -- was, just as i thought, another wishful thinking. like the rest of the west, they capitulated to hezbollah -- see their declaration about hezbollah not being a terror org.

so my suggestion to khouri is to forget about meaningful western help. the cedar lebanese should consider their options in the absence of western help. unpleasant, but realistic.

we have started the post-west period.

Posted by: fp at July 17, 2007 12:45 PM

Perhaps the French have capitulated to Hezbollah. Then again, perhaps they are trying the approach that the British used to (eventually!) pull the Irish Republican Army from being an unquestioned terrorist organization to being merely the origin of a peaceful political organization.

It isn't easy. It isn't certain. But it may be possible. And if so, it might well be an effort worth making.

Is that what the French are actually doing? Only time will tell. But as long as one is being hopeful, might as well be hopeful about their reasons and intentions, too.

Posted by: wj at July 17, 2007 02:17 PM

i don't think hezbollah -- the iran proxy -- is the IRA. to islamists any kind of compromise or gesture is a sign of weakness that invites pounding. even if the french are trying the british approach, it's a delusion.

the west in general is weak, decadent, scared shitless and appeasing. the french are the worst, as they have always been disloyal and whores. they have grandeur delusions which have essentially buried them.

Posted by: fp at July 17, 2007 03:28 PM

FP, wish you would take your bile back to your database world. Even when you have valid points it is expressed in absolutist, negative terms, and with an apparent joy of hating the West.

Posted by: Ron Snyder at July 17, 2007 05:17 PM

so empirical evidence contrary to your predisposition, i should stop saying it?

reality is bile to you? pathetic.

Posted by: fp at July 17, 2007 05:33 PM

I agree with Rom about fp, even with valid points, is full of bile.

Like the weakness of the West. I fear, not that the West is weak, but that the West is lacking in the will to fight evil.

Until after Tel Aviv goes mushroom. At which time, enough leaders will find the will to use the power.

My hope/ dream/ wishful thinking is to avoid the mushroom cloud, even if radical transformation is slowed.

But while the article has reasonably good conclusions, it depends on: "Recent polling data from Lebanon indicates that the majority of people from all across Christian, Shia, and Sunni regions support a Lebanon free from the influence of Iran and Syria. They want all militias disarmed."

Hezbollah re-arming is a far more important fact than that a majority of Shia in a poll say they want all militias disarmed (if it really was a Shia majority, not fully clear).

Are the Shia who want Hez disarmed willing to identify who the Hez are in their town? If not, they don't want it enough to be considered much.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at July 17, 2007 05:55 PM

if reality is bile, then wishful thinking in the face of counter reality is ignorance and stupidity.

i'd take bile any time. it's the wishful thinking that has defeated the dreams.

Posted by: fp at July 17, 2007 06:25 PM

fp's style of verbal bare knuckles does not bother me in the least. The reason is that he comes in with logic, lots of referencial links, bluntness, and no wishful thinking. I'm just a reader here, and appreciate those who take the direct route to the heart of the matter on these convoluted subjects. Not that I don't relish someone who does the same, but with a modicum of panache. Pam and Mary have that way with their comments. Michael, of course, is a master at it.

Posted by: allan at July 17, 2007 07:08 PM

[...] Most importantly, the United States and its European allies need to support the government in protecting the upcoming presidential elections from foreign intimidators, [...]

How?

Posted by: rosignol at July 17, 2007 08:08 PM

Eli Khoury is just telling Americans everything they want to hear. He makes the following claims:

1. The majority of Lebanese are with March 14 and this challenges \"the prevailing myth that Lebanon is a \'divided\' country destined to live along sectarian fault lines.\"

2. \"[T]he majority of people from all across Christian, Shia, and Sunni regions support a Lebanon free from the influence of Iran and Syria.\"

3. \"Lebanon stands at a historic crossroads between being integrated into the international community or remaining under the heavy influences of external forces.\" And to do this, the United States must \"support the government in protecting the upcoming presidential elections from foreign intimidators.\"

4. \"History has proven that the people of Lebanon, despite all myths, have managed to create a nation. Now it needs help as it becomes a state.\"

First point 1: Estimates and eye-witness accounts (including my own) show that there were just as many people, if not more, at the pro-Hezbollah rally back in December that kicked off the sit-in against the government. March 14 can mobilize a lot of people, but then again, so can March 8. This is the very definition of a \"divided country.\" Furthermore, with the exception of the Christians, who are divided between Aoun and Geagea (with the majority aligning themselves with Aoun and Hezbollah), the division is very much sectarian, with the Sunni and Druze on one side and the Shi\'a on the other. Moreover, if the country weren\'t divided, the government could function, and there would be no need for an international tribunal to investigate assassinations in Lebanon.

Point 2: I\'m not at all convinced of this. I have seen no concrete evidence to support this, and Khoury offers none. The country seems pretty much evenly divided from here in Beirut, and if there had to be a slant to one side or the other, I\'d be inclined to think that March 8 has slightly more support than March 14.

Point 3: It is a typically Lebanese irony that people like Khoury call for independence from \"external forces\" on one hand while simultaneously seeking intervention by an opposing external force -- Syria/Iran and the US, respectively.

Point 4: This is perhaps the most laughable of Khoury\'s points. No one is arguing that there isn\'t a Lebanese state but that there ought to be one. But to say that history has proven that there is a Lebanese nation? I wonder what history he\'s thinking of. The history that I\'m familiar with (the civil war, recent divisions, sectarian bloodshed in the 19th century) all seems to point to the fact that there are a bunch of nations within Lebanon (or as Charles Glass would say, tribes with flags) but no Lebanese nation. This is the very problem with sectarianism; it strangles true equitable and pluralistic nationalism.

Eli Khoury tries to set himself (and his movement) up as an alternative to sectarianism and the Lebanese status quo, when in reality he\'s just offering more of the same. The March 14 movement is just as sectarian as is the opposition (if somewhat more prone to make disparaging remarks against the poor and Shi\'a). What Lebanon really needs is to find its own way. This means being not only independent of Iran and Syria, but also of the US and France. The confessional system needs to be done away with, and a truly secular state needs to be created. Perhaps if an independent state is created in Lebanon, a Lebanese nation might follow in its footsteps.

Posted by: hp at July 18, 2007 06:26 AM

"...The United States must press the UN Security Council to follow through on its prior resolutions..."

Like we had SOOOO much success with that in the past with anything at all, much less a MME situation. I assume by follow through he means send in the GIs to disarm Hezzies and guard the border.

I have some sympathy for the Lebanese but until they show more get up and go on their own part their's nothing much we can really do.

Like Rosignol asked, how are "the United States and its European allies need to support the government in protecting the upcoming presidential elections from foreign intimidators"??

Is this an invitation for the 4th ID and a French catering wagon to take up residence?

Posted by: AlanC at July 18, 2007 06:45 AM
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