It is not for lack of smarts; on the individual level, they are a very resourceful and intelligent bunch. However, it is on the “group level” that they become potentially deadly.
With no vested interest in the emergence of a peaceful state, their interaction creates a cross between decision avoidance and emergent stupidity rises from the interactions of the combined egos of otherwise individually smart. Kinda like an ant colony in reverse, if you will… In comparison, even the herd mentality of the Béni-oui-oui “parliament” next door appears rational.
And the net result of all this is that Syria is back in force in the Lebanese political game. It has trodden a path cleared by this “emergent stupidity” of ours, and imposed itself as the supreme arbitrator of Lebanese politics. Do not be fooled by those French and American amateurs; take Sarko’s phoning and prodding add it to Bush’s blundering “impatience with Bashar”, you reach two conclusions;
1- In effect, by formally “pressing Syria to end the impasse in Lebanon”, they validate the current Syrian approach. So what if the Saudis, fed up with Bashar’s antics, finally cleared the way for the tribunal? The tribunal still has a long way to go, an eternity in politics. And possession being nine-tenth of the law, the Assad regime may still have something to trade when push comes to shove, especially if the presidential endures in Lebanon.
2- They publicly confirm the uselessness of the Lebanese, at least as a body politic. So what if we agree, on the individual level, that we want a “free” country? We still disagree on the clan level, where talk about “freedom” is nothing more than discussion about “comparative tutelage options”… .As a result, we remain imprisoned in a sectarian system in which one kidnapped sectarian group lives off the taxes paid up by the others.
However, it is not all rosy for the Assad clan, as demonstrated with their recent communication troubles with one of their key objective regional ally.
All the diplomatic jaw-jaw cannot hide fundamental divergence of interests; Syria has changed, and so has its environment. So, regardless of all the obfuscations and postponements, prey and predator are locked in a fight to the finish.
As a result, Syria finds some deadly hidden mines on its way back into Lebanese politics. And their effects can only be amplified by the presidential void as the figl eafs drop one by one… For one, the Hariri assassination has created a sectarian break that amplified the resentment caused by the destruction of Hama, and the current struggle is far too often translated as announcing a Sunni-Shiite conflict. For all the ambitions of the (dead?) Cedar Revolution, this overblown fear could still turn a self-fulfilling prophecy, and thus kill its promise. For another, they are relying on a web of self-contradictory and unnatural alliances; unless they jettison him, they may soon discover how bitterly many came to regret trusting Aoun.
...And finally, as the governmental void persists and the Lebanese come to realize how well they have “decentralized” and adapted to it, the incentives will rise to do away with a state bureaucracy heavily infiltrated by parasites and Syrian holdovers…
So the Syrians are their wish; they are back in Lebanon. This Christmas will see some happy (first) family...
But they better be careful what they wish for…