Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Guest Writer: One Year On

By Marc

I wrote a piece for the Blacksmiths of Lebanon about a year ago describing my thoughts (and alarm) about the animosity that was beginning to boil amongst the partisans of the various factions of Lebanon (or is it simply the revival of the ancient Sunni-Shi’ite animosity being played out in Lebanon and beyond???). Shortly after, not more than two months later, violence did erupt. That day was indeed a turning point for me.

Prior to those events I had staunchly supported the Free Patriotic Movement’s (FPM) drive to implement their ‘agenda’; the secularization of the state, disarmament of Hizbullah alongside with the enforcement of the Lebanese Army and the development of effective defence strategies against our enemies, the anti-corruption drive, the revival of the economy, the elimination of poverty and the fair distribution of wealth, and so forth. I still support these ‘principles’, but no longer the real political agendas of the self-proclaimed champions of such ideas. I have come to realize that indeed those that I once supported are championing instead extremism, fostering even more animosity, and doing the exact same (or even more) things as their political enemies in terms of pushing forward the agendas of regional powers at the expense of Lebanon’s economy, institutions, sovereignty, and people. I had hoped that these factions that I supported with such foolish political zeal (alas! As so many of us have been infected with this social disease) would have somehow taken the lead in moderation, justice and reconciliation and now I am afraid I have been quite disappointed.

I do not wish to go into details about the FPM’s (and the General’s) statements, actions and policies in the last year or so that have greatly eroded my once strong confidence in them. Perhaps I am even quite late in writing this piece as I think much of the General’s strong support base from Christian moderates has also been eroded during this time for the same reason. One of my aims here is to point out that indeed most of the political factions in Lebanon are pushing for the return of Lebanon to tutelage and forward into a new era of sectarian extremism; sadly, foremost amongst these factions has been the FPM. I do not wish to speak of the FPM’s opponents; I have never supported them to begin with (and I don’t think I ever will) and thus I have no issue with them… its rather the leaders that we, as individual Lebanese citizens, support that deserve to be called to account by ourselves.

In conclusion, I hope that this piece does more than simply make a few March 14’ers, chronically affected by anti-Aounism, happy. Instead, I hope that Aoun’s lovers (and perhaps the blind followers of every wretched political movement and personality which claims to love Lebanon) would realize that the General (or their respective demigods) has deviated greatly (see the post ‘A word about Aoun’ for more) from the principles that won so many to his side in the first place. I also do not wish to raise the ire of FPM’ers, I rather hope that they would call General Aoun to account and demand explanations from him and realize that they are fast becoming captives of the very oppressors they sought to free Lebanon from; tutelage, corruption, sectarianism, extremism, political tribalism, ignorance and so much more. Perhaps they (all political zealots) made a mistake in expecting that our national salvation could come from any of these ‘messiahs’, don’t you think so?

[Please note that I wrote this essay about a week before the ‘Black Sunday’ of January 27th 2008. I also would like to explicitly declare that I am politically neutral in Lebanon and beyond. So long as I do not see responsible leadership amongst the so-called ‘leaders’ of Lebanon, none shall ever again have my vote or support; I can only wish all leaders of our beloved land good governance].


  1. I'm sure this was not easy for you to write Marc. It's always a difficult process to admit that your hero has feet of clay, and that you have been betrayed and used - that is the worst isn't it? You were used.

    I think the violence of January '07 was a turning point for many. It became clear then that the tent city was a failure, and the fact that the strike had to be a "forced" strike showed a real lack of support. All of it was hurting the country. It was all downhill from there.

    I would suggest to you that the beginning principles that drew you to FPM are still worthy and still valid, and there must be many more just like you. Find them, gather them from FPM or from other parties, and continue your goals for a secular Lebanon that does not pit brother against brother. There are many just like you, and I see a few each day. Try to let go of some of your pre-conceived ideas about leadership in Lebanon, and take a fresh look, just as though it was for the very first time. Perhaps you have been mistaken about more than just the General. Don't give up - I'm sure you are not alone.
    Good Luck

  2. I personally wish to all of you, Lebanese friends, to follow the same path. Lebanon unfortunately deserves better than its political class and than its preying neighbors. But it will only get it if its citizens fight for it (not with weapons, as it has all too often been the case, but with words and ideas). Lebanon is not the only country to suffer from tribalism, sectarian divide, foreign meddling and corruption. But it has the unique chance (yes) to have an educated population, a vivid culture and a position in the Middle East that is not only one of an anvil, also one of a crosspoint...

    Maybe Lebanese could try to build on that?

  3. Now you understand my world my friend... welcome to it.. the outside framework from both reactionaries will give you even more objectivity and clear sight

  4. Bad Vilbel2:15 AM

    Excellent piece, Marc. Very sincere. I wish there more people like you out there, willing to look past their blind allegiances, and willing to call their leaders to account. Sadly, that seems to be a minority.

    I'd add to your wonderful essay, that we also need to call ourselves, the Lebanese people to account. These false "messiahs" and demi-gods, as you call them, are only able to do what they do because enough of us, the people, support them, believe them, and fall for their lies. And what makes us even more hypocritical, is that most of us KNOW we're being lied to, used, and abused. But most of us still pledge allegiance to these leaders in the name of tribalism or sectarianism. And that, my friends, is the biggest sin of the Lebanese people, and the one who's responsibility lays solely at OUR feet. We are as much to blame as those leaders, if not more.


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