For the record


There is something sad in this picture. See the guy behind Lahoud to the right? I know this guy. I don’t know his name, but I remember a couple of years ago, when Lahoud came often to this club (if not daily) to take a swim, I used to see him next to the swimming pool roaming around him, and from time to time divert his trajectory and pass through the various women that were sun bathing. Usually he would sit next to Lahoud and whisper in his ear some (I would guess) casual story of the day, and Lahoud, a hand holding his chin, would gently nod with a little smile. Who is this guy? I think he is the guy who kept a link between the highly misanthropic Lahoud and segments of the Christian influentials. I say segments because there was always one part of the Christian constituency, Lahoud would not be able to win over as he was aligned with the Syrians. But Lahoud’s character made it even worse as even those who weren’t die-hard anti-syrians or fiery right-wingers became so ‘anti-Lahoud’ that there was no possibilities for bridging. In a sense Christian elites have historically known a very sad legacy that ended up drawing them more and more towards the cheap petty mercantile interests of the Gulf.

But I am going too far, and I’ll go back to my initial point. For a lot, Lahoud was not a lovable creature. Nobody used to see him, he would rarely talk, and if he talked, it usually was to make these automated quasi-military speeches, where you would think he is exercising his facial muscles more than anything else. His first arrival to power was really greeted ‘with hope’. “He’s going to lift our head up”, people used to say, at least in Christian neighborhood. Plus he has a nice face, a good stature, people just loved him. And then nothing. Swimming and swimming and occasionally acting very pompous. People like glamor and sensational actions, at the very least, the business type. Energetic, successful, rich etc. the Hariri type. In direct opposition to that, Lahoud stays in his presidential palace, looks somber, does not make any public appearance. But Lahoud works like an ant. And that nobody knows it. Lahoud swims everyday, but Lahoud’s day starts at 5h00 in the morning. More importantly, this guy reinforced the very shattered links between the Lebanese groups that were totally alienated by Christian rule and the latter, such as Hizbullah. Indeed, one of the reasons why Hizbullah got more ‘moderate’ or less ‘paranoid’ was because of dudes like Lahoud. Or take the evolution of the army (not its strength in battle of course but its relation with other security institutions, and Hizbullah for example.

Of course I’m not saying it is thanks to him as a person, but it is thanks to his placement in this institutional position, and how this made a lot of people coalesce to work in this direction. There is a lot to be said about both of his mandate but my point is that Lahoud never blocked or initiated something that ended being detrimental to the stability of this country. Now that is already quite an achievement judging from the political pedigree of other political actors that are unfortunately staying for some time to come, and judging from the quasi-doomed institutional partitioned and confessional system in which this state continues to swim.

We think that ‘peace’, ‘stability’, is the natural order of things, and that hard serious political work starts really when there is a conflict or a war. This thinking derives from the fact that there is some kind of right to it, and so we should get it ‘naturally’, we take it for granted. Also, because nobody writes about the daily life of peaceful times people focus on moments of tensions. Nobody writes about the infinite numbers of social/political interaction constantly taking place that keeps people close to each other, or the policies and procedures carried on to that effect. But people should know better that peace and stability are hard won, they are the fruit of difficult processes of coordination and cooperation, of bridging gaps and sensitivities, of making both ends meet while preserving dignity for everyone. You will never hear of the people who really work in this direction in Lebanon. In general, they don’t appear much and when they do, they don’t ‘flash their badges’. But this work is a full time job in Lebanon. And there are few candidates!

This entry was posted in Hizbullah, Lebanese State, Lebanon Groups, Sectarianism. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to For the record

  1. Anonymous says:

    It is sad. And it’s usually like that, they are welcomed like kings and kicked out like thieves.
    But I’m sure in maybe 20 years, this guy will be cited among the rare politicians who tried to do something constructive, and who actually succeeded, even if it doesn’t look like it today.

    S.

  2. Anonymous says:

    bechir, btw, le mec auquel tu te réfères, si c’est celui à gauche de Lahoud, c’est Rafic Chlala. Je crois que c’est le porte parole de baabda ou quelque chose, et tres proche de Lahoud.

    S.

    Faut que j’arrête de squatter ton blog

  3. bech says:

    merci pour l’info cherie
    ta presence sur ce blog est plus que souhaite. x

  4. apokraphyte says:

    Good post. People always forget why Lahoud was chosen, twice. I think he is an empty suit (and very easy to make fun of), but sometimes in some places, that is about the best one could hope for. Lipstick on a pig, or something like that…

    More to the point, he is not outrageously disgusting, and that — for me — constitutes a badge of honor in Lebanese politics.

  5. bech says:

    Your more to the point cannot be stressed enough!

    In Lebanon, it is so easy to be disgusting. The system makes it so easy that it asks one a lot of self-restraint not to profit from all kind of abuses (material, moral, etc.).

  6. Liz says:

    Les libanais sont des cyclopes.

  7. Ibn Bint Jbeil says:

    here is a very passionate expression on President Lahoud.

  8. Anonymous says:

    “There is a lot to be said about both of his mandate but my point is that Lahoud never blocked or initiated something that ended being detrimental to the stability of this country”

    Bech are you kidding me? The fact that he agreed to stay on under a syrian imposed constitutional amendment that let to the unravelling of an already precarious situation in this country didn’t strike you as something detrimental? If he had any dignity he would have said no to constitutional ammendmant, no to extending his time, maybe he would have been offed by the syrians, but at least he would have kept his honour.

  9. bech says:

    anonymous the example you just gave is actually an illustration of what I am defending. Someone who does have time the to nurture his pride in front of the population is exactly the type of politician i am criticizing. Lahoud stayed because he had to stay, and he knew it was not really his call, this means putting pride aside and thinking in terms of stability. On the contrary, if he wanted to act proud he would have created a several security problems that could have been detrimental to the stability of the country.

    The Syrians did not extend Lahoud’s term just because they want to fuck things up. the time of his extension come when pressures were mounting on Lebanon and the Syrians to change drastically their policies, and when certain Lebanese groups were shifting towards the American side. in this case, ‘stability’ means keeping status-quo, especially when there is no alternative to that status quo.

    The subsequent instability spiral was provoked by the other camp who found other ways to mess up with the status quo.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Bech,
    going with your reasoning, since slavery was the status quo and provided the support for economic prosperity across the ages, one should have stuck with slavery to maintain stability, ’cause God forbid one tries to break out of something that is so fundementally unjust and disturb anything.

    The Syrians ruled us, the status quo was unjust, it was finally time for change, Lahoud didn’t agree, and he was wrong.
    Anon 8.02am

  11. bech says:

    Anon I simply we just see different things when we talk about political stability, historically, in Lebanon. To make things brief, to me, Syrian “occupation” has a historical precedent. There is something “Lebanese” to it.

    going with your reasoning, since slavery was the status quo and provided the support for economic prosperity across the ages, one should have stuck with slavery to maintain stability, ’cause God forbid one tries to break out of something that is so fundementally unjust and disturb anything.

    Slavery has to do with social structures. Syrian presence in Lebanon has to do with foreign policy imperatives. Two very different things. For one, slavery would affect your life in a very different way than Syrian presence in Lebanon. Second the causes of Slavery have nothing to do with the causes of Syrian presence in Lebanon.

    The Syrians ruled us, the status quo was unjust, it was finally time for change, Lahoud didn’t agree, and he was wrong.

    not that simple ya Aron. It is easy to find culprits to make a case, but in the real world there are not much clear culprits around. First of all the Syrians did not rule us. The Syrian ruled with Lebanese. And American and regional accord. Second, this ‘ruling’ happened for a reason, security equations etc. that are at the heart of the Lebanese fragmented composition. Lahoud in this context did what he could do best. Keep the links that’s my only point.

  12. Anonymous says:

    yeah right, and 14th of march and the US are our liberators and the tribunal for the only “martyr” Lebanon has known (of course, other people who die don’t count) was not at all politically driven. Mehlis is a really cool guy, not at all known in fucked up stories like that. They all love us, they want our DEMOCRACY.

    The status quo was no good, and no one will argue that, but the way things were done, the way things are being done right now are even worse. It was those same bitches who kissed Syria’s ass who today are being called martyrs and liberators, can you even see that ?
    I prefer the status quo to hariri’s militia… oups, sorry, INTERNAL SECURITY, to the parliamentary election law WHICH THEY WILL NOT WANT TO CHANGE, to trusting Joumblatt, to changing the whole landscape of the region which has NOTHING TO DO with freedom, but everything to do with US policy in the ME, with Israel and the palestinians, and with the fucked up notion that “shias” represent a threat to “democracy”. They use people like you. You’re a treat to neocons, you just don’t know it today.
    The way things are being done proves one thing : whatever Syria did, it’s 100% better than what Joumblat, hariri, geagea & co are prepating.
    In a couple of years, you’ll think of the status quo as the good old times, you have my word.

    S.

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