Wednesday, April 16, 2003
For once I found myself taking issue with Thomas Friedman's NY Times column. I think the main reason is that he overrates the importance and potential influence of Lebanon in the Arab world. For one thing, the country has never been as trouble-free as he seems to think...even though it did have a series of elected leaders, Lebanese democracy seemed to bear a strong resemblance to that found in certain African countries, such as modern Nigeria. There was also always a fair amount of tension caused by using a decades-old census to determine communal representation. Even now, it's not entirely clear the country would remain stable were it not for the Syrian presence. Many also see Lebanon as a colonial creation which should rightfully be part of Syria, anyway, though I get the vague impression the current occupation is resented. Basically, the Lebanese situation is much, much more complicated than the "two-for-the-price-of-one" comments currently floating around our triumphalist euphoria.