“Shed a tear for Lebanon, the beautiful country being destroyed by a war that is not of its own making,” writes Anton La Guardia in today’s Telegraph.
He goes on to say:
After earlier suffering 15 years of civil war, Lebanon finally saw the departure of Israeli forces in 2000, followed five years later by the withdrawal of Syrian troops. But just as Beirut was rediscovering its old joie de vivre, the spectres of the past have returned: the Israelis, the Syrians, the Iranians and the Americans, all fighting their wars on Lebanese soil and playing with Lebanese lives. Lebanon may mean “white”, but its colours have reverted to blood-red and burnt-black.
Fifteen years Lebanon’s travails are much longer than that. I went to Lebanon just before Christman in 1985 to write about that country’s struggles. I hung out mostly with Maronite Christians, who are often described in the press as “right wing,” meaning they have an intense desire to see their threatened civilization survive. In my jet lag, it did not immediately dawn on me that that the constant pop pop pop was not construction work it was a sniper down on the green line. “If you look out this window, you might be able to see him,” my host said. No thanks.
But what struck me most was that the Lebanese did have their old sense of joie de vivre. Life was going on in the midst of the pop pop pop. I had a number of pleasant dinners, met charming people, and will never forget the old woman, apparently a retired prostitute, who joyfully remembered the U.S. ships coming to save them under Eisenhower in some crisis past. So, yes, I do shed a tear for Lebanon. But here is something with which I could not disagree more:
“More unified big-power diplomacy will be vital in restraining Syria and forcing Iran to back down on its nuclear programme. And a concerted effort is needed to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that fuels radicalism elsewhere,” writes Mr. La Guardia.
Yes, the world has to tell Israel to give up the occupied territories. But at the same time it must hold the Palestinians to account for suicide bombers and rockets sent into Israel.
Israel must be made to retreat to internationally recognised borders for the sake of peace. But peace is only possible if those frontiers are sacrosanct. That is the heart of the matter in Gaza and Lebanon.
Peace, he no doubt means a “peace process” behind which those who have no desire for peace can hide. I do shed a tear for Lebanon. But how can this beautiful country hope to establish a decent government with Hezbollah in it? I had to leave Lebanon a bit early it was the beginning of the last Syrian incursion and my traveling companion and I were rushed to catch the ferry to Cyprus. This time I hope it will be Hezbollah that has to leave earlier than expected.