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Macron, Us and…Reality!

Macron, Us and…Reality!

Monday, 7 September, 2020 - 07:15

Some of us might not agree with everything that French President Emmanuel Macron did in Lebanon. Indeed, some want more, especially concerning Hezbollah’s weapons. But there is no harm in recalling some of what preceded his second visit:

On the official opposition level, there was no political engagement with the Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rai’s call for neutrality. The laxity manifested in the former prime ministers performance, especially Saad Hariri, the most prominent among them, impeded the formation of a solid bloc of pressure which Macron could've used.

On the popular opposition level, no real achievements were attained regarding the formation of a parallel power that is unified and cohesive. Sectarian configurations, once again, hindered the emergence of any other effective bodies.

On the level of those in power: they are in the gutter. They are unable to remove the rubble weighing down heavily on victims whose fate is still unknown. They are unable to prevent insults from being hurled on them. They are incapable of the slightest reform and lack the slightest bit of dignity.

Besides pain and collapse, what did Macron find in Lebanon? He found folklore and nostalgia, thus was his visit to Fairouz. The country was lying flat on its back on rock bottom. This absolute emptiness is what made the French president act as though he deputizes the Lebanese state and Lebanese society. He found himself facing Lebanon’s nothingness. But instead of paying attention to our responsibility for this, some found their opportunity to play the morbid game and repeat the same old rhetoric: the colonialism of France and Macron

The centenary celebrations of the French General Henri Gouraud’s announcement of the establishment of “Greater Lebanon” provided the perfect occasion to pour out this rhetoric. “Assad’s Syria”, which displaced its people, hosts countless occupiers, relies on Russian and Iranian forces to support its regime and, almost daily, is hit with Israeli strikes as it simply watches, threw its hat in the ring, celebrating the late Yusuf al-Azma, who fought the French and died in the Battle of Maysalun.

The destruction of Lebanon, Syria and a considerable number of Arab states, under the auspices of their very national regimes, did not change a letter in that dull criticism of what colonialism had done to us. The explicit and growing desire among our peoples for the “mandate’s return” (which will certainly not be coming back) did not impede the critics or compel anyone to contemplate the Arab independence projects’ fatal failure.

The arguments have not changed: the French and the British destroyed the Ottoman Empire (which was blown up in the climate of the First World War by its own gradual and prolonged disintegration), and they divided our region (which had not been united in any sense), and created artificial entities (more than three-quarters of the countries worldwide are artificial entities).

Have we provided alternative and viable frameworks for the models that colonialism brought us? No. Have we established sound models for governance, wealth distribution, civil liberty and reduced our dependence on the extended kinship system? No. This kind of criticism that maintains its loyalty to its canons is irrelevant. It is not struck by the fact that we have tried anti-colonial regimes in their different forms: We have tried the military and security regimes that raise the banner of nationalism. This happened in Egypt with Nasserism, and in Iraq and Syria, with the Baathists, and in Gaddafi’s Libya. We tried the Marxist-Leninist regime and the “leadership of the working class” in what used to be called South Yemen. We tried the Islamic rule that praises conflict with the West in Khomeinist Iran and the Sudan of Hassan al-Turabi and Omar al-Bashir.

In general, the results were devastating. Nationalists, Leftists, and Islamist regimes were all the same and could only be compared to one another according to the degree of devastation created. The global models that these regimes tried to emulate, from Southern and Eastern Europe, did not fare any better and were not any more viable. And because the old Lebanon presented, precisely due to its relations with the democratic West, a relatively refined parliamentary experience, militant and jihadist armed groups went about dragging it toward the swamp by its hair.

The time has come for us to review this jejune project in its entirety. To compare its replete failures to its meager and contested accomplishments. The fact is that, due to this dire scarcity of achievements, we have found nothing with which to define ourselves but anti-colonialism. When colonialism ended, we were left without a self-identity. Without meaning. We retrieve and repeat our old vocabulary, call on colonialism so that we may be called back into being.

Is it not very indicative that Macron’s visit came as Hezbollah and its subordinates were calling on us to “head East,” only to find that we, and Hezbollah, were heading West? This, as everyone agrees, hinges on the US and its presidential elections.

This is the reality of the situation, whether we like it or not. Let us live in the real world for once.

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