Friday, September 09, 2005

Lebanon? What Lebanon?

Dare I say it? I'm bored! I'm bored out of my ass! Lebanon's politicians and the news coming out of that place are simply repulsive! I was happy with two or three daily star articles... but that's that. There's no follow-up... they talk about one problem (in a little bit more detail than they're accustom to), but then move on to the next problem without informing their readers about what the government, civil society, and/or business community have done to remedy the first one.

Talk about stonewalling! Politicians are supposed to reel at news coverage of their incompetence, but in Lebanon no one gives a damn! There's a scandal for a day, and then everyone goes back to business as usual.

Then we have this obsession with the elite political game. Each person defines his political position by saying "I'm for Arabism" or "I'm for enlightened Arabism" or "I'm for 'the resistance'" or "I'm for a federation with Papua New Guinea," or "I'm for an alliance with Mars to fight Jupiter!"

These politicians play their little chess games with positions that mean a whole lot to their foreign patrons, but mean nothing to the average Lebanese who's trying to get through the day. The Lebanese will say I'm for Israel today, and I'm for Syria tomorrow just to get his belly filled by a politician and to save enough money to send his children outside of the misery of Lebanon! Oh but wait, "I'm an Arab!!!" We shouldn't forget that!

This kind of bullshit politics is designed to marginalize Lebanon's professional and technocratic elite. We all know how to manage the country better than a thousand Jumblatts, Berris, Lahouds, Aouns, Hariris.... But when the political discourse is designed to inflame popular passions with pathetic appeals to their "Lebanonism" or "Arabism," "Druzism," "Shiitism", we all just avoid the game because we're too good for it!

There are three winners I can identify who benefit from Lebanese politics as it is today:

1. The Zu3ama, of course! Their incompetence in managing affairs of the state is forgotten because they're "protecting the sect," or "they're standing up to those 'damned' Israelis," or "they're standing up to those Saudis who want to take over the country," etc...

2. Foreign Powers playing their own geo-strategic Chess Games who see Lebanon as an exciting yet conveniently small boxing ring where, really, anyone can overcome the other.

3. Brutes and idiots who are willing to kill for their political bosses; and who would otherwise be beggars on Lebanese streets!

There are two losers:

1. Lebanon: the country, the nation, the state

2. Us: the intellectual, professional and technocratic elite. We avoid politics; and in the worst of cases, we avoid Lebanon all-together! Why? Because we're too damn good for it! Because we're sick of sectarianism. Because we're sick of being powerless in our own country. Because we're sick of regional powers playing their geo-strategic games in our country. Oh but wait! "I'm an Arab!"


The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen ... and stupidity (Harlan Ellison - 1934)

6 comments:

Mustapha said...

Raja,

people are sick-and-tired of us being sick-and-tired.

let's be optimistic, otherwise we'll be stuck in a self fulfilling downward spiral.

Doha said...

You see, it's all about the momentum of things. The Mehlis report and waiting for that has brought about a vacuum, a standstill after the forceful momentum following March 14. There's more uncertainty, a lot of question marks. The number of people who used to read us, for instance, was by far larger. All the Lebanese from around the world were for God's sake "plugged-in". Now, it's not the same. Our leaders have lost the momentum and might just be losing those who have tuned in and now they just tuned off. This is where the frustration comes from. But we'll hopefully see it through. At least we're still writing...

Lazarus said...

Interesting point Mustapha. But where do we go from here? Optimism on its own isn't a useful force ...

Lazarus said...

And do we really avoid Lebanon because "we're to damn good for it", or because we are so frustrated by the fact we can't seem to push it forwards? Just a thought ...

Yalla, DH2G.

Abu Kais said...

I am frustrated by the absence of law enforcement, especially when it comes to traffic laws and public order. I think this is a serious problem that outweighs others and can explain why the Lebanese political process is so stationary and dependent on outside triggers or cataclysmic events.

Every time I visit Lebanon I get so frustrated with the lack of respect and civility that I start counting the days until my departure date. It's hard to believe I lived most of my life there. I am probably spoiled by my current living conditions, but having endured 17 years of war and at least 10 more years of frustrations and depression brought on by a general Lebanese resistance to overdue order, I decided it was time I did what other Lebanese are good at: being selfish. Being selfish for me, however, meant immigration.

I blame our educational system, of course. On the one hand it fails to educate us about our civic duties- simple things like picking up your trash, standing in line and not driving like a formula 1 driver- and on the other it prepares us for a career outside the country more than it bothers to show us how we could be creative on our own soil. It doesn't help, also, that it instills in us that destructive notion of pride by way of falsified national history.

I'll be positive, I want to be positive and forward-looking, but you can't be that without an examination of why we are so frustrated with a country that haunts our every step no matter how many passports we acquire over time.

Lazarus said...

One word: Law. With a decent judiciary system, it would be easier for people to come back, start their own businesses, or own branches ... with people coming back, more jobs would be created, better economic conditions...