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  • prequel

    "Top blog/Renato Obeid's World/Today's pick: This rambling weblog is worth reading not so much for its satirical posts but more for its insight into the minutiae of life in Lebanon, including the etiquette of road accidents and how to hire a taxi.” -Jane Perrone, The Guardian

    Tuesday, May 13, 2008  
    -If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it probably is a duck

    Day seven of the new Lebanese civil war.
    Speaking of which, I’ve noticed a strange reluctance in both the local and foreign media to call it a war.
    How many euphemisms for war can you come up with?
    ‘’Unrest’’ my a***!
    Denial is not just a river in Africa, it also runs through Lebanon.
    I’ll leave the causes, details, blame game etc to the media (which I call ‘’the list’’ because they’re just a temporal list of events) but let’s just get one thing straight – this is a war.
    Are people not shooting guns and stuff at each other (that’s a good enough definition of a war to me)?
    Yes they are.
    Thus this is a war.
    They say that admitting a problem (‘’hi, my name’s Lebanon and I’m a waraholic’’) means that you're halfway towards solving it so, according to my calculations, we’re now (that I've declared that we're at war) halfway towards solving our problem and have another halfway to go.
    Although I must admit that there’s no hard-and-fast definition of war or exact amount of time that has to elapse before a fight becomes a bona fide war but if we look back through history we can find examples of shorter wars that were nevertheless still wars.
    This is day seven so, according to my calculations, it’s already lasted one day longer than the Six Day War (which lasted for six days).
    A war doesn’t have to last for fifteen years (like our last civil war did) to be a war.
    So the details and the duration are immaterial to the actual fact that we’re at war, we’ve already established that.
    Just like this anecdote about Winston Churchill.
    Churchill (to irritating socialite): Madam, would you sleep with me for five million pounds?
    Socialite: My goodness, Mr. Churchill… Well, I suppose… we would have to discuss terms, of course…
    Churchill: Would you sleep with me for five pounds?
    Socialite: Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?!
    Churchill: Madam, we’ve already established that. Now we are haggling about the price.
    So we’ve already established that it’s a war but we just don’t know how long it will last for and what the ‘’price’’ will be.
    Hopefully it won’t last for much longer.
    Admittedly, it can’t be a genuine dyed-in-the wool civil war without the Maronites who have so far uncharacteristically sat this one out (their invitation’s in the mail) although the Druze (Lebanon’s other warrior tribe) are involved.
    There’s a saying in the Arab world ‘’no war without Egypt, no peace without Syria’’.
    There’s also no Lebanese civil war without the Maronites.
    With a key Maronite faction (the mob that started the last civil war) just chomping at the bit to get involved, this Maronite pacifism could be short-lived.
    God help us if the Maronites join in the fray.
    That’s when the real fun starts.
    As for the impact of the war on my neck of the woods (the Mount Lebanon Maronite ethnarchy), there is none yet although there is a palpable sense of fear and foreboding that permeates throughout the entire country.
    Lebanon is curiously compartmentalized.
    In Lebanon it’s not uncommon to have war raging in one part of the country or even one part of the city and yet have life going on as usual in other parts.
    This I’m told happened during the last civil war.
    Even during my time here, I recall partying in East Beirut while West Beirut, Southern Lebanon, Northern Lebanon and Eastern Lebanon (and all other points of the compass) were being attacked by the Israelis during the 1996 onslaught.
    Abraham Rabinovich wrote in the Jerusalem Post (02/18/08) about a similar reaction to the 1982 Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camp massacres just 500 metres away from the camp outside the Kuwaiti Embassy.
    ‘’A dark-skinned custodian chatted outside with a Lebanese army sergeant. They spoke with us about the massacre in a detached manner, as if passing on gossip about unruly neighbors down the street.’’
    All this denial and all these euphemisms are not surprising considering that Lebanese refer to the last civil war as ‘’ the events’’.
    It’s like the Northern Irish referring to their civil war ‘’the troubles’ but even that is more accurate.

    There has been rightful across-the-board condemnation of the attacks on and occupation of the Future Movement's media outlets that silenced them for a few blissful days.
    The editor of the pro-Hezbollah Al Akhbar newspaper even said that he would buy a copy of the Future newspaper and force himself to read it when it was published again.
    Poor bastard – now there’s a media martyr!
    But, while we’re at it, one should also condemn the attacks on opposition property over the past months which these attacks were allegedly in retaliation for, the alleged use of these outlets as militia bases and also the sectarian rabble rousing that they engaged in.

    7:30 am

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