Thursday, May 22, 2008

Eulogize the dead, not the living

Following the announcement of the Doha Agreement, I’ve been struggling to write a post specifically about the reactions to it that I have read on my site, as on others. To that end, I thought I would draw on the words of fellow blogger Abu Kais who struck a tone I was struggling to project in my own drafts for this post. Below are some quotes:
This country, folks, cannot survive another civil war between its communities. Your commitment to an independent and free Lebanon cannot exist in vacuum. …

The battle for Lebanon is not over, but at least it's off the streets. … going to war was never an option. And if peace isn't achievable, then truce and "coexistence" is good enough, until those around us, friends and foes, figure out their place in this universe, and settle their scores outside our border. We are not alone, nor are we free. …
Calling this agreement a defeat misses the point, both ideologically [in terms of the drive for a sovereign, violence-free, democratic state – a civil war would have done away with the state for good], and politically [in terms of the regional nature of Hizballah’s weapons and the inability of any domestic party to deal with them as anything other than that]. Right now, there is nothing that can be achieved that is worth dying for – or more to the point, asking others to die for.

I’m not overly happy with this Agreement (nor am I overly sad) so I won’t stand here and defend it point for point [Hizballah’s newly-gained veto power – which it had hoped to use to block progress on the International Tribunal – will go to naught as the Tribunal's pace of progress will ensure that there will be nothing to veto before the elections of 2009]. But what I do know is that it will pull the country’s everyday citizens away from a [regional] front we have no business being on [and which Hizballah’s weapons, exclusively, place us on], and it will draw the country’s Shiite community back into the institutional fold which their ‘leaders’ sought to carve them out from.

To be sure, both of these results are for the moment temporary, but as things stand today, temporary is all we can afford.


  1. Essentially, this is a single, defeated battle for March 14 in perhaps a greater struggle; or perhaps even a tactical retreat on the part of March 14.

    But, like you and Abu Kais have said, it is not a TOTAL defeat... it rather a minor one that has spared the country, most importantly, further bloodshed... we hope at least.

  2. BJade,
    I agree with most of what you said; however, there are some assumptions made that are not necessarily correct.

    1- The assumption that this deal is the best deal (for the country) that M14 could have clinched. It may be the best deal that they could get for themselves, for example the parochial 1960 law.

    2- The assumption that avoiding civil war now implies avoiding a worse one in the future. In the end we have to ask ourselves whether Hizbulla's weapons are eternal, and if they are not, who plans to take them away, and how. They sure as hell aint gonna give them up. Moreover, now that they used them internally, the taboo has been broken.

    Its clear that everyone, including me, is relieved that the fighting hasn't started just yet. My problem is that I am left with a much bigger ( and fully rational)sense of foreboding that both the mini-war and the subsequent accord generated. Somehow the only analogy I can draw from this is one with a half-ass Cairo accord...

  3. Well I don't think the weapons were sanctioned - as the PLO's were in the Cairo Accord...they weren't discussed with any vigor, but they weren't sanctioned I think thats the major difference there.

    As for the electoral law, well it bears mentioning that it is what I refer to as a 'war-time law'. That is to say, it isn't one that is aimed at bringing people from different confessional groups together (as I think is called for constitutionally), but one that is dividing up turf ahead of the confrontation. The Butros Law, in which everyone gets a piece, along with the establishment of a Senate...those will be welcome 'peace-time' initiatives. But their time isn't now (although I wish it were).

    I'm not sure about assumption 2. What I meant by highlighting the regional nature of the weapons is that wars over them shouldn't in a domestic Lebanese matter. These are Iranian weapons, the only way they're going is if an arrangement is found with Iran, or if it gets the shit bombed out of it - which will mean we (and most likely the South, specifically) will get bombed as well.

    Our job as Lebanese is to avoid that fate, and the gov'ts job is to fight that fate, hence I think they will keep on pushing Hizballah to integrate their weapons, they'll keep on pushing for a diplomatic solution to the Shebaa issue, etc... Thats the best we can do short of war.

  4. Anonymous6:37 PM

  5. I have to agree with R here.

    Specially on his (2) point.

    To me, all this relief that we avoided civil war seems to be moot, because we've just laid the ground work for an even more violent conflict down the line. It's as simple as that.

    HA's weapons are not going anywhere. And the other sects are now definitely arming themselves. And the real issues haven't been resolved. If anything, they will be exacerbated next time HA butts head with the rest of Lebanon and exercises its veto power.

    We need to stop putting band-aids on the cancer patient and hoping this time it's somehow going to make his tumor go away. We make this same mistake every couple of years, it seems and it only makes things worse.


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