Thursday, July 05, 2007

Spare the Canary

In coal mines, in addition to restricted air supply, miners have to contend with the accumulation of carbon monoxide, and the irruption of methane gas.

Miners relied on Canaries, who are very sensitive to those gases; if the level of methane or carbon monoxide got too high, the bird’s chirping would cease, and the end of the musical interlude would tell the miners that it was time to mosh kosh outta there.

1970’s Lebanon.

The 1975 civil war brought an end to this freewheeling republic. Heck, it was far from perfect, but it remains to date the only Arab experiment in freedom. In his quest to help establish an Arab democracy, Bush knocked (down) the wrong door.

The 1975 civil war ended the free exchange of ideas, reinforced the rise of monarchical republics, and accelerated the intellectual race to the bottom. Any pretension to secularism was dead.

And no, wearing a tie, or not wearing the scarf does NOT count as secular. Bashar is not secular. No, Massa; l’habit ne fera jamais le moine.

But I digress

No other valid ideas came to fill this void; the only thing the Baath and PSNS were able to fill was shelve upon shelve of obsolete newspeak, and the intellectual void was too easily filled by the reinforcing of Mullahocracy, first amongst Arabs, and then in Persia.

1990’s Lebanon.

By the end of the civil war in Lebanon, the Lebanese Middle-Class was gone, and the only Arab experiment in non-oil economics was over. OK, “services” were mostly based on banking, and so on oil revenues, but some early attempts were being made at diversification.

For all his qualities, the late Rafic Hariri had a crucial fault; he did not appear completely understand the need for diversification, which led him to "overestimate" the Peace Process. Whatever the case may be, he bet the farm, and our children’s futures, on a real estate play called “SOLIDERE”… 40 Billion $ and change later, with the Army fighting Fath-Al-Rats, Hezb and his goons are parking downtown, slowly smothering his achievements.

2007 Lebanon.

This time, the canary could die for good. The middle class is gone, the economy is exhausted, and a weak government besieged by terrorists and the Brainless-Braying-Masses.

The Syrians and Iranians did not give up taking over Lebanon, with “drained Americans, spineless Europeans, and debilitated Arabs” facing them, they could just as easily “strike using Hizbullah and drive your coup toward its logical conclusion: a new Pax-Syria in Lebanon, supported by Iran”. And they may be well on their way;

Note the parallels between Syria-Iran's Palestinian and Lebanese policy.

Step 1: promote a client group with funding, weapons and training. Urge it to violence.

Step 2: provoke a split between your client group and the others.

Step 3: negotiate a deal in which your clients have about half the power.

Step 4: use the deal to get stronger, then break it and take over completely.

The Value of Canaries

Some could be temped to sacrifice Lebanon for their own safety. Some would rationalize injustice, trusting in twisted news reporting or newfangled theory. But bear in mind; even with technological development, coal miners still trusted the Canaries well into the 1980’s.

One expert caver understood the role of canaries quite well; in his ABC News interview, on May 28th, 1998, a certain Laden, Ossama B. opined;

We have seen in the last decade the decline of the American government and the weakness of the American soldier who is ready to wage Cold Wars and unprepared to fight long wars. This was proven in Beirut when the Marines fled after two explosions.

When dealing with thugs, there are no small battles, no fights you can sidestep, and no compromises you can make.

You are only as strong as your last victory.

So hunker down; ‘tis going be quite a ride


ali bm said...

nice post jeha, but u forgot to mention that before the civil war, the lebanon u described only existed in beirut and the surrounding cost and mountains. lebanese in the south, beqaa, and north were poverty ridden which drove them into the laps of the leftist parties and palestinian factions and then into the lap of the islamic parties {hezbollah and salafi groups]. That more than anything else, brought the old republic down.
but i still don't see hezbollah carrying out a coup, as they will gain absolutely squat from it. the situation here is not same as Gaza and hezb know it better than anyone else.

ghassan karam said...

Sometimes it is very difficult to admit that the canary is dead, especially when you stand to gain from its demise. But what is troublesome is that even those who stand to lose are often in a process of denial. They just do not heed the signs that trouble is on the way until it is too late to save their own hide.

The above attitudes are not confined to the Lebanese political field only. Many have argued ,for over three decades, that the rivers on fire, ozone holes, global warming, deforestation, desertification and many other environmental issues are the canaries that we refuse to acknowledge. It is easy to brush off death of the canaries but when we do that we do it at our own peril. ( Ecologically we have failed to act upon these warnings; as a global society; that we have crossed into the phase where no action can reverse the disastrous outcome of the path that we are embarked upon.But that is a story for a different blog).

The Lebanese political quandary is no different. One party, HA et at, is hell bent on killing the canary and destroying the current management structure of the mine. Their aim is to create as much havoc as possible with the hope that they will become the owner managers of the mine once they get rid of its current leadership. What is so unfortunate about this case is that the March14 group, the representatives of the current mine management, has been blinded by the opposition from seeing the tremendous implications of the acts by the opposition. Maech 14 is te proverbial group that insists on misreading the signs and thus is prevented from taking adequate measures that are capable of dealing with the commensurate challenges posed by the opposition.Unless March 14 wakes up to the realization of the depth and strength of te crisis that it is facing then I am afraid that it will be complicit in its own demise.

Fortunately, the political dilemma in Lebanon is not yet as accute as the perilous global ecological situation, at least not yet. We in Lebanon have not entered the phase of the impossibility of a reversal in fortunes. March 14 still has the chance. but not for much longer, to stand up to its duties and responsibilities and frustrate the Syrian/Iranian project of using HA as the tool to implement their reactionary policies in the region. Pave the way for the election of an honest, forceful but independent Lebanese president according to the time limits and procedures prescribed by the constitution.

amir in tel aviv said...

Specially the 4 steps policy.
Indeed true.

Jeha said...

Thanks Y'all

The environmental policies and the Beirut-centered policies are the same product of the intellectually insular mindset that served us well so far, but it is fast reaching its limitations now.

Still, in the context of Lebanon, even the worse poverty stricken areas had some sense oit all; I hail from outside Beirut myself, where you could see trickle down effects, as long as clan leaders were not in the way.

The sad part is that even a limited experiment in Beirut was miles ahead of anything else in the Arab world. The more saddening fact is that the rest of the Arab world still lags the Beirut of the 50's and 60's...

No Arab or Persian ruler has any interest in changing things. For this reason, while I also agree with Ali that Hezb understands the specificty of Lebanon to some extent, they are only part of a "larger concern" with its own priorities. For this reason, like Ghassan, I fear that Hezb's minders will push him further along the lines of another coup, since they do not understand Lebanon as well. Or worse, they have no interest in accepting such a Lebanon.

Anonymous said...

Right now Syria is preparing the ground, on Lebanese soil, for war in the Beka. It look as if the chance is that the next Syrian Israei war will be conducted also or mostly in Lebanon. Also if one keep tuned to some talks in Israel,which I think are stupid and dangrous, one will hear people saying that it is a good idea if the west bank was to some how join, even partially, to Jordan and if Egypt will get more involved in Gaza. The same [stupid]people are saying that a Syrian army in South Lebanon is not a very bad idea, they do not say a thing about the rest of Lebanon. Every time in the past when Israel tried to mess in Lebanese, Jordenian, or other Arab affairs no good came out of it to any body, but there is no end to stupidities in the ME. Still who can say what will Lebanon and Israel look like after such war? Hzb or no Hzb, are the people of south Lebanon in particular and the whole of Lebanon in general realy interested in such war ? Should not this war and not the Muslim children eduction be a major topic for public debate in Lebanon?