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July 28, 2006


Wow, Ara. I need to go back and reread this in a non-skimming way, but thank you. This is a look at Lebanon that you don't get in the newspaper front-pager.

Thanks very much, Ara - and thanks to Hilzoy for thinking of asking you.

Like Slarti, I'll need to digest this a bit before asking questions.

Could someone on the kitten please do me the favor of deleting the previous comment, made with a joke name that I forgot to edit out? I'd really rather not distract this serious thread with silly jokes like that.

Jes: done.

What a fascinating post. Particularly fascinating, justaposed with a news report I heard on NPR this morning, about how the Saudis are sending entire fleets of trucks with humanitarian aid to Lebanon - and how they're in such a hurry to get there, they're taking shortcuts through dangerous territory.

So, if the fate of Lebanon rests on those who are first in line for the reconstruction, it sounds like the Saudis are aware of that, and determined to be first in line.

Oddly enough, Ara's post puts me very strongly in mind of Tip O'Neal's famous dictum, that "All politics is local/"

Like the post. Since the Cedar days, I've been wondering when the Taif structure would be brought into sync with demographic realities. What do you think?

Nice post, and my thoughts parallel CharleyCarp's question. Is there any provsion for reexamining the division of power in the government at a future date based upon census (since consensus seems to be unlikely)?

Thank you very much for the post, Ara.

One question: Do you mean 'meddling' instead of 'middling' in the last paragraph? I guess it could be read either way.

Thanks, Ara. This is very informative.

Well, this is pretty much in accord with everything I ever heard from Lebanese Armenians I know. Short version: they don't blame Israel for anything and they don't like the quota system in Lebanon (refused a government job for being a Christian, etc.). Those I know usually emphasise more that they get along perfectly alright with all other groups - have no problem with Arabs, etc.

But thanks for reminding us once again that the people of Lebanon (including its Shia population) has the right to defend itself against Israel. For some reason this doesn't seem obvious to most Americans.

Ara, thanks for this. Another piece that might be of interest is Totten's longer discussion on Lebanon, though I didn't look at the comments, as there has been a very nasty troll infestation over there.

Thank you, Ara, and thanks Hilzoy for inviting this post from Ara.
It would probably be a smart move for us to be first or at least second in line with reconstruction money, but such a thought would never occur to this administration.

CSM reports: http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0728/p06s01-wome.html>Israeli strikes may boost Hizbullah base
Hizbullah support tops 80 percent among Lebanese factions.

The stakes are high for Hizbullah, but it seems it can count on an unprecedented swell of public support that cuts across sectarian lines.According to a poll released by the Beirut Center for Research and Information, 87 percent of Lebanese support Hizbullah's fight with Israel, a rise of 29 percent on a similar poll conducted in February. More striking, however, is the level of support for Hizbullah's resistance from non-Shiite communities. Eighty percent of Christians polled supported Hizbullah along with 80 percent of Druze and 89 percent of Sunnis.

Excellent post.

"Second, he is asking the Israelis themselves for reparations. There is some politics, not just rhetoric behind this. Proponents of a strong Lebanese central government would rather have that state propped up by Israel than by neighboring Arab states."

I wonder how Israeli reconstruction funds would be viewed by Hezbollah supporters - e.g. I can't imagine Syria would enjoy the Lebanon being propped up by anyone besides themselves.

deep ethnic distrust, a weak central government that borders on irrelevance, many middling foreign powers in a country that sometimes feels like two different nations superimposed on the same territory.

Has it occurred to anyone that this sounds like Iraq?

The major difference between Iraq and Lebanon is that Lebanon has (or had) a very strong civil society - or, depending on how you look at it, several loosely-interlinked civil societies (one for each sect, more or less). In Iraq, the central government is for shit, and there's nothing to take its place. In Lebanon, there is a vast network of private schools, private (or religious) hospitals, private charitable foundations, and so forth that pick up the slack. This is something that is mentioned a fair amount in stories about hizbullah, but I think it's important to note that hizbullah is a purely typical political party in the social services network it works with and is allied with - every other sectarian group has a similar network.

Great post; there's a lot to this that I haven't heard before. Thanks for helping remind me how complex the world can be.

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