Sunday, May 13, 2007

Aoun "Persiste et Signe"

He is crazy! And when he is lucid, he becomes stupid...

This delicious “Bon Mot” by a Western "observer" fits General Michel Aoun like a glove. He leaves few indifferent, the Leader of the Tayyar, the self-declared front-runner in the Lebanese presidential elections, our national NapolAoun.

Love Him?

Most of those of us who still root for the dear general will admit that he is indeed crazy. Actually, most of them will admit that they like him precisely because of this craziness; the Lebanese system is so hopelessly blocked that only a mad man can unblock it.

Those of us who stopped liking him do so precisely because of some of the new crowds that he seems to attract. Having spent all his life, and ours, fighting for Lebanon’s freedom, having refused to make any compromise, even in the face of all our sacrifices, the General has made the ultimate compromise, and made alliances with the enemies of the freedom for which we have shed so much blood. To his new allies, he is but a useful idiot.

But the general’s ego gets in the way of reality.

Still, I trust the man. I am confident that, with his proclivity in picking losing battles, he will drag his new allies into the abyss. The past 15 years were not pleasant to all of those who once supported him.

Those who are banking on riding his coattails will be lucky to survive that long.

Hate Him?

This is no idle menace.

The struggle in 1991 was among Arabs, and merely about Oil. The Americans sided with its “kind” of Arabs, and the others were soon ousted.

Lebanon was farmed out to Syria, and went on along the Taef adventure, and many hoped to find a compromise with the Syrians. But most of those who tried to adapt quickly realized that the nouveau-riches make poor masters; once they have touched the dough, the Syrians became addicted to the riches of Lebanon. And they became hopelessly corrupted by all that easy money.

On this, Aoun was proven right on the principle… but wrong on the practice, as he obstinately picked the loosing side.

The struggle in 2007 is between Arabs and Farsis with an added sectarian dimension, and about future regional hegemony. In this deadly game, the Americans and the West are no mere bystanders; thanks to Iran’s intransigence, they appear to have picked the Arab side.

This time as before, those who oppose the Americans will find themselves out of luck, sooner or later. Except for rabid leftists who will too stoned to vote in the US Democratic primary, everyone has the eery feeling that, oddly enough, Aoun appears to have picked the wrong side, again.

Who said Herr General was not consistent?

No One Is Indifferent…

In Lebanon, the struggle will see an interesting local twist. Back in the late 1980’s, we had 2 governments, and it looks like we’re back on a similar road.

When Aoun was ousted in 1990, he was indeed the legitimate Prime Minister of Lebanon, and some clever jurists could even claim that, legally, he still is. But no one ever bothered with such niceties.

Today, he finds himself opposing a legitimate Prime Minister, and using against him the same arguments he faces back then. There is indeed serious talk about Lahouss refusing to go, and appointing another Prime Minister to rival Siniora, and it seems the first choice was Aoun, again. But Herr General appears to have shied away from the honour, and the talk is about Sleiman Franjieh, who’s IQ is a known quantity.

Third Time’s the Charm?

There is one difference this time; PM Siniora is on the “right side” of the equation, be it sectarian, ethnic, or otherwise.

From a sectarian perspective, it is perceived that “the Shiites are not playing fair”. In the same way as “they” have imposed Berri on the other communities, and the Sunnis imposed Siniora (not a bad choice), the Christians want to impose the President. This is the essence of Bkerke’s stance, and the reasoning behind the Patriarch surprise visit to the President. This is perceived as an existential question, and the Sunnis appear to support the Christians in this, lest they be next.

From an ethnic perspective, it gets worse. Ever since they have begun their demonstrations against the government and their disingenuous denials, Hezb is increasingly perceived amongst Arabs as an Iranian tool, and a threat to Lebanon. Thanks to his wise actions and deft handling of the crises so far, it is Siniora who is increasingly perceived as a stalwart of Arabism.

And finally, the American and Western factor(s) come into play. They have farmed us out in the past, they have looked the other way when we were being bombed, and they will do both again in the future. But in the meantime, there is no one to sell us out to, and the Americans have made such a mess of Iraq that they need this government to succeed, for now.

And thank God for Bashar Assad, who constantly reminds Americans, the West, and the World that, for a durable peace in the region, it is in the interest of all for Lebanon to become, finally, at least a decent democracy.

To be sure, we’re not out of the woods yet, and we’re in for a helluva rough ride. The tribunal is no panacea to the deeper ills that plague Lebanon and the region, and anyone who suggests otherwise is deluding themselves.

But in the end, those of us who survive the ordeal will be “in like Flynn”…

Then again, I could be wrong. And in a wee bit hotter spot... Or place...


naja said...

"Useful idiot". Thanks for digging his one out, Jeha. This term's been on my mind for a while - indeed ever since The Mad General's return to Lebanon. But Lenin (who coined the term) would have struggled to find, even amongst the most rabid of communist sympathisers, someone who would have been as "useful" to him as His Madness to the Syrian regime.

ghassan karam said...

I have just noticed that my last post on your blog was made under "Beyond Chutzpah" when it was meant to be under " Aoun "Persiste et Signe"". Sorry about the confusion.

BTW, maybe sometime you can explain what is it that attracts people to Aoun. I ask this in all sincerity since I don't associate the General with any leadership criteria ( no charisma, no eloquence, no new ideas, no traditional inherited za'amah ...)
Another phenomenon that intrigues is loyalty of Lahoud to Syria. What caused that? What was the major reason for the transformation and when did it occur? Definitely he was a completely different person ideologically for the first 30-40 years of his life.

hani said...


I read your blog quite frequently, and i would like to know how would you describe your position... are you a pro-american, anti syrian-hezb-iranian, or i don't know. Cause as a reader i definitely don't find your description and analysis of events objective, yet i am still not sure where u're coming from.
i do apoligize in advance if my inquiry seems brainless but i can't stop my simple curiosity.

Jeha said...


There are no stupid questions, only stupid answers. My answer can only be "stupid" in the sense that it cannot ever be complete.

First, I do not claim to be objective, as I do not think it is possible in the context of a struggle that is about so many defining principles.

Second, I can state this; I am rabidly secular. I try to follow the "golden rule", to "do unto others as you want others do unto you", but it does not always work out.

I try to remain am mindful of a mental paradox; as a "believer", I understand that secularism and faith can have a hard problem getting along. I tend to err on the side of "caution", mindful that "Science needs without spirituality is lame, while religion without science is blind"...

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not necessarily anti-Hezb or pro-US.

To me, it all does down to how they act; I try to stick to the facts as I see them, and I do not expect people to agree with me. I hope that, when they do, they can make their objective comments, and I expect to learn from them, and maybe even agree...