Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Pearl of the East or the new Arab Yugoslavia?

Beirut, once described as Pearl of the East is starting to look more and more like another Yugoslavia in the making.
Was Thomas Friedman right?
Although the article this op-ed contributor to the NY times wrote in September 2002 was really about Iraq but the main idea seems to greatly apply to modern day lebanon. And I Quote:
" As I think about President Bush's plans to take out Saddam Hussein and rebuild Iraq into a democracy, one question gnaws at me: Is Iraq the way it is today because Saddam Hussein is the way he is? Or is Saddam Hussein the way he is because Iraq is the way it is?

I mean, is Iraq a totalitarian dictatorship under a cruel, iron-fisted man because the country is actually an Arab Yugoslavia -- a highly tribalized, artificial state, drawn up by the British, consisting of Shiites in the south, Kurds in the north and Sunnis in the center -- whose historical ethnic rivalries can be managed only by a Saddam-like figure?

Or, has Iraq, by now, congealed into a real nation? And once the cruel fist of Saddam is replaced by a more enlightened leadership, Iraq's talented, educated people will slowly produce a federal democracy."

Today I ask the same question about the Lebanon I got to rediscover because I think I am one of the few who really think that Politicians in Lebanon are the way they are because the Lebanese Population is the way it is.
Most people round here like to blame politicians for everything. I personally disagree, and lean toward blaming the population itself.
How do you expect politicians not to rob you , when you rob one another,in a society full of trickery, hate and where most people you meet try to rob you one way or the other:The bakery, the gas station,the cab driver,your diesel supplier, your car dealer and finally even your own neighbour. If you're looking for a sample of lebanese manners , simply look at the way people drive and you'll get a sufficient dose of reality.
Democracy is not for the weak minded.
Feel free to leave your comments and goodnight.


zerolando said...

Oh excuse me for forgetting the countless educated people who get paid minimum wage or even lower(that's 600$) while working like slaves and eventually end up running away to Dubai or "the West"

Tarek Hoteit said...

I agree with your observation. I think it all starts with education and basic order. Did we have have traffic lights in the past? If you go to Starbucks or the cinema, do people stand in line? In the past, did people have receive a bill statement that makes them fear not paying it?
I think it was all chaos and when there is chaos, there is a vacuum of disorderly behavior and opportunity to rob and trick one another. In the US for example,
people simply stand in a line without requiring any one to tell them to. It is not a socialist country but a democratic one and people follow the order. Why can't that be same in our countries? What's so different especially in time of peace? is it fear, lack of fear or arrogant behavior?

Zee said...

"In transition..." (Uebergang) - interesting blog.
I don't know why, but I do care about Lebanon a lot. You have it all, the mountains, the ocean, the cedar trees, the bakeries and cafes - I must pay homage to your country sometimes.
I love your analysis about democracy and driving a car through unruly streets. That's OK though. Traffic in NYC is not much better. If democracy is coined by the congestion of traffic jams, the US fairs very poorly... democracy that is.