Sunday, November 18, 2007

Lebanese Generals...

As I hear Lotsa talk about lists, candidates, paper maneouvers... I like to pause a little, and look back at the country’s past. Back when similar (though lower level) turmoil was averted with the rise of the Shehabis… The Lebanese elite is scared of them, but to most people, they evoke a golden age.

Chamoun's Golden Age

They are both right, in a sense. The genesis of the Shehabis dates back to the (almost) civil war of 1958, partly caused by the (otherwise great) Camille Chamoun’s overreach. The troubles ended quickly when the ascension of General Fouad Chehab to the presidency, another great man, but with a crucial shortcoming.

All his experience in the "troupes spéciales du Levant" and then the Lebanese Army did not prepare him to Lebanese politics. Faced with the country’s systemic corruption, his military mind came up with an early version of homeland security, the “Second Bureau” and all their “patriotic” excesses…

Some corruption was down under the Shehabis, but democracy was being increasingly impeded. So, in the 1970’s Lebanese politicos ended up voting for Suleiman Franjieh the Elder. Unfortunately for us, rather than using his fists, he used his mind and displeased the Americans (among many others); when he visited New York, they even had drug sniffing dogs check his luggage. His brilliant stewardship led us straight into the Civil War in 1975; yes, the fire was ignited by Kissinger’s conniving, Arafat’s intriguing, and Assad’s meddling, but it was fuelled and stoked by many a Lebanese “leader”.

Enter Sarkis…

The Shehabis made a timid come back in the 70’s with the presidency of Elias Sarkis. But the timing was wrong, and all he could do was to administer the destruction of the country. In the 1980’s, they pinned their hopes on Bashir Gemayel, only to see them blow up with him.

Today, they may be trying another timid comeback; hence the previous head of the Second Bureau Johnny Abdo, and his friend Minister of Justice Charles Rizk. And it looks like I am not the only Shehabi out there...

Still, for all ye skeptics, we could try for another general; how about General John Abi-Zaid?

He is Lebanese, he is a mensh, and he is smart… And as a Maronite, he is eligible.

... And he really freed Lebanon, countrary to other would be "liberators". Unless you think the Syrians would have been “dialogued out” of the lucrative Beirut rackets without the United States Armed Forces breathing down their necks next door in Baghdad. In which case, rest assured; Bashar would have still respected you in the morning, too…

Too bad Ol’Rummy screwed up so bad. But for all the hype, he was never from Missouri…

7 comments:

Blacksmith Jade said...

Jeha my dear, I do believe we have "twin posts" today.

:)

JoseyWales said...

Black and Jeha,

I am not sure what you are saying about the Chehabis. Sure there was a time better than Frangie's days, and sure the human mind easily romanticizes the "good old days" (and I know you are not exactly saying that).


Anyway, let's not forget however that the catastrophe went full steam ahead under a FULL blown Chehabi regime: the Cairo accord was pushed by asshole Karame and signed by double asshole Helou, both very-Chehabi creatures.

ghassan karam said...

A major problem in the short history of Lebanon has been its failure to have an effective president. Chamoun's term saw economic prosperity for the few and social injustice for the many, he sure enriched himself . Chehab was honest, tried to build institutions but exacted a heavy cost in personal liberty. Helou was not capable of governing or ruling; he was the epitome of incompetence and was willing to buy short term peace at the expense of the future. Franjieh was corrupt, ignorant, shortsighted and feudal...No wonder Lebanon is a failed state, although many of us would not admit it.

Would you believe that a large number of the Lebanese are PROUD that the elected officials of many countries are engaged in attempts to resolve the Lebanese mess??? I would have thought that this is precisely the kind of attention that no one needs.

Blacksmith Jade said...

Great summary Ghassan.

Bad Vilbel said...

Ghassan,

You are quite correct on this latter part. Lebanon IS a failed state (despite many Lebanese living in denial about it).

And it's not just the current logjam. It's the population's entire mentality.

That last paragraph of yours made me laugh. It's SOOO typically Lebanese to want to be the center of attention. So much so that appearances trump any kind of substance. "Look, the French are coming to Beirut to sort us out!" and so on. Pathetic. And this mentality is and has been endemic for decades. The Lebanese people clearly suffer from what would be termed by a psychologist as an inferiority complex, coupled with huge self-esteem issues.

Jeha said...

True,

But at this rate, I would not have it any other way. Imagine how worse it would be if those clowns were trying to add substance to their empty shells.

Smurf said...

John Abi Zaid would start having nightmares and insomnia if he'd come across this post :)