Monday, August 07, 2006

Iraq LebanonThis article blew me away, I read it and had one of those "A-ha!" moments. If I may be permitted to briefly reiterate some things we already know about Iraq, just so everybody's on the same page. To say the situation there is beyond hope would be a stark understatement: an escalation in the frequency of insurgent attacks, a wobbly central government, purely symbolic elections for local Islamic radicals, a spike in Sectarian clashes and a grossly under-funded, under trained internal police force point toward the clumsiness of our occupation.

Now turn your eyes to the west toward Lebanon, not the upended Lebanon of today but the Lebanon before Israel's military action. Even though the country had had more than it's share of conflicts in the past (civil war, Israeli and Syrian occupations, etc.) many times it remained stable enough to welcome refugees as diverse as Jordanians, Druze, Palestinians and Iraqis - a virtual Middle Eastern melting pot. Not only that, but Lebanon sustained a vibrant nightlife. In Beirut one could readliy see scantily clad beauties walking the streets alongside veiled Muslim women. And with the demonstrations in the streets last year effectively pushing the Syrian government out of the country the fortitude of these people should not be forgotten. It stands to reason that with American support Lebanon's willingness to promote democratic ideals could have been smoothed into the world's first functioning Arab democracy. But instead we're mired in the money pit that has become Iraq and the toppled buildings and bruised landscape of Lebanon no longer resembles what was one of the world's most significant missed opportunites.

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