How to understand Gemayel’s assassination? A Christian perspective

I want to talk about a very simple idea I have in mind. I think killing Pierre Gemayel has many repercussions that we already talked about but the most important repercussion is on internal Christian feuding. I think this is where the core problem lies.

Just to make a long story short the traditional Phalangists were either for a State – where Christians clearly dominates the decision-making process – or federal structures. This is partly why they had a militia in case the turn of events got awry. Later on Lebanese Forces represented the abandoned hope of monopolizing the State (although the Hobeika branch of it represented the possibility of using the state as a cash cow just like most of the politicians who prospered during the post-war era). The brief period when Bachir Gemayel was capturing the presidential seat could have created the possibility of capturing the state and thus resolving the security dilemma of falling back on cantonized structures. But it soon fell into disarray and Amin Gemayel could not (and maybe did not really try) to create a strong State (and even if he would have succeded it would have been a strongly Christian dominated one, and this would not have lasted long).

Killing Pierre Gemayel is only a useful thing to do if such perception of the Lebanese state exist in the Christian Psyche. Why Gemayel? I would say why ‘a’ Gemayel? Because Gemayel is a highly symbolically charged name. Gemayel represents the perception of some kind of Christian glory. If Bachir Gemayel had really seized power then we would have probably had a couple of years of Christian ego boosted to the fullest. In reality all we were left with after his sudden assassination (Bachir’s) was a memory of longing for this Christian pride one day materializing (so much more ego boosting because present on fantasized level so much stronger because not realized). This is the ultimate danger, this is the ultimate dead end in which many Christians immersed themselves willingly or unwillingly during the past years. And it was transmitted from one generation (the war generation) to the other (the post war one).

The act of killing Gemayel has material repercussions (alliance shifting, stopping mobilization here and there, pushing for this or that political decision, weakening or strenghtening parties, etc.) but ONLY through the SYMBOLIC content it is charged with. This content would not have been existent if the Christians did not cultivate the myth of the prideful lost past. Only because of the material instrumentality of this symbolic content, the guy was killed. Do you realize, you bunch of egomaniacs that while you were fantasizing about the glory of a groups lost past, you made the killing of one of its product much more likely?

Christian weak points are being manipulated (I know, I sound like someone from the Lebanese Forces, but hear me out). It is only when the Christians will abandon the ego trip, that they will have everything to gain (a region!). But I reconfort myself in the belief that many Christians have understood this point. Let’s see what happens next.

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Who stands to gain from federalism?

If you think about it federalism is obviously not a good option in Iraq for the US because Iran would definitely get the upper hand. However, in the Lebanese case, it is the only option if the US hopes to keep some king of political leverage (especially when possibly working out the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict). The US would prefer either a federal Lebanon or one where Hizbullah is neutralized. This is why the 14th of March is definitely the best thing the US can have. Two of its leaders won’t mind having the country broken up. Actually federalism for Samir Geagea and Walid Jumblatt is one of the best way to have more political leverage. Even Mustaqbal leader Saad Hariri wouldn’t mind and will accept US demands to naturalize the Palestinians. Decentralization (even compartmentalization) works best for feudal and other elites and oligarchs who don’t have the popularity that elites have on a national scale. Geagea and Jumblatt also come from a deep seated culture that political cantons is the most efficient system (in which they enjoyed much more privileges (recall the civil war) economically and politiclaly then in a coalition).

Now although Hizbullah comes from the working of one canton, it does not have the federalist culture. This is important to understand. Hizbullah started working from a micro-setting and moved slowly to nation-wide goals (it still has to prove itself on so many issues of course). All the institutions Hizbullah has created (hospitals schools, construction, social assistance etc.) do not work with a civil-war-militia-mindset (these institutions are available to anyone). Also Hizbullah has come into existence because of an occupation problem that the State of Lebanon was too weak to address (and also because the regional situation did not let the State address the issue independently). So Hizbullah fought for a national cause. For Hizbullah, federalism is obviously not a first option.

But but but.. I would not be surprised to see Hizbullah say: “well if this is what you want, we’ll manage”. What I mean is, Hizbullah won’t be with federalism because it really doesn’t need this option to keep the course, but at the same time, it will be ready to work with it, if federalism is just inevitable. Hizbullah stands to gain in every way from a coalition government, but will probably not lose that much if it falls back on the non-state institutions it has in place (although it will be much more isolated, and sandwiched between Israel and a pro-US puppet government, so it will still loose more). The only party that will be the biggest loser in a federal structure the Aounist (Tayyar). Tayyar’s constituency spreads on different parts of Lebanon. And this is why Tayyar’s alliance with Hizbullah is the most important political phenomenon since Fouad Chehab’s mandate. And it works in the interest of Hizbullah whose only way to go from a non-state to a full national party is through such types of coalitions.

The Pope goes to Turkey

Two days ago, the Pope was rectifying his immature political stances towards Muslims by welcoming Turks into Europe (It’s not because you’re Muslims that you can’t be in the civilized world, that sort of argument), and calling Islam a ‘religion of peace’. But yesterday, next to the “house where the Virgin Mary is thought to have spent her last years” in Epheseus, the Pope praised the priest who was killed by some random Turkish guy following the Prophet’s Muhammad caricature debacle.

I don’t understand this guy? He is still in Turkey, and he praises a priest who’s only worth mentioning because he was killed by a Turkish national (i.e. the priest as a person has no special merit to be mentioned but his slaying has). Where does he take diplomacy courses? In the neoconservative corridors of power? Somebody should tell this guy that American foreign policy may change. Or maybe he’s just feeding the European extreme-right wing constituency. That was in yesterday’s Turkish press:

“It started beautifully: the Pope told the world from Ankara that Islam was a religion of peace,” the mainstream Hurriyet newspaper said.

I guess now it’s going to end in a rather nasty way.

Are Those Scissors I See Before Me …

Do puppets cry when the puppeteer cuts their strings?

On Vows: Saying I Do And Leaving the Rest Undone …

It seems the House of Saud’s Beirut-based hedge-fund manager, a.k.a. Lebanon’s Prime Minister, has vowed to stay in office to prevent the outbreak of civil war. How kind …

Along those lines and in the same tradition of disinterested obligation, I am now vowing to stay out of office to:

1) save the children;
2) prevent global warming;
3) advance world peace.

Aussies do it with a smile…


This gun-toting smiley-faced beer-bellied charmer is the very same Trevor Flugge who headed the Australian Wheat Board (AWB) when it was lining Saddam’s pockets to secure wheat sales during the oil-for-food program. The morally-unblemished-especially-in-Iraq Americans are outraged. But is it moral outrage or the smell of $$?

Hippity-Hoppity: LA and DC …


Palestinian-Filipino-American Hip-Hop Champs THE PHILISTINES & Notoriously Offensive Sudani / Syiran MCs THE N.O.M.A.D.S. are back from a groundbreaking performance in AMMAN, JORDAN…and ready to close off 2006 with a blast!

DEC. 9 – LOS ANGELES

The PHILISTINES, Omar Offendum, EXCENTRIK, & live funk band the LEGITIMATES ~
Also: DJ Myson, MC RAI, Souk Sonic and ZERA VAUGHAN

What: Levanine Center presents “THE ARAB STREET”
When: December 9, 2006 – 9pm (Restaurant open @ 8pm)
Where: Cafe Club Fais Do-Do
5257 W Adams BlvdLos Angeles, CA 90016
Cost: $12 in advance / $15 at door
*Call 310.559.5544 for tickets (www.levantinecenter.org)

_____

DEC. 2 – WASHINGTON, DC
The N.O.M.A.D.S. live with Ragtop of the Philistines & Comedian Maysoon Zayid!

What: Students for Justice in Palestine’s Hip-Hop Show Fundraiser
When: December 2, 2006 / Doors open 8:30 pm
Where: George Washington University
3rd Floor Grand Ballroom, Marvin Center800 21st St NW Washington, DC 20052

Cost: $15
*All Proceeds going to the Children’s Center at Jalazone Refugee Camp in Ramallah, Palestine

See: http://thephilistines.com/index.htm