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Taking An Interest in Lebanon amid a Missile-Powered Re-establishment

Taking An Interest in Lebanon amid a Missile-Powered Re-establishment

Wednesday, 6 January, 2021 - 12:00

In his recent speech, Hassan Nassrallah expressed the view that the resistance and missiles with which Iran and Syria had endowed his party are what made the entire world take an interest in Lebanon and account for it. They put Lebanon on the world map.

The tone suggests the founding of a nonexistent entity from zero. Nothing worth mentioning had happened during the preceding century of Lebanon’s existence before Hezbollah came along. The country and its people had not done anything to deserve the world’s attention. The party did.

True. But in what sense?

Let us imagine, for a moment, a house from which nothing is heard but constant screaming from every direction because the head of the family assaults his wife and torturers his children every day. This house would inevitably draw all the neighbors’ attention. Either out of concern for the wife and children, or because they are irritated by the noise, or because they are contemplating how to save the victims from their grave suffering, or for all these considerations simultaneously, this house draws attention to that other, more stable homes do not.

Here, in this house, strange and mysterious things might be taking place. The wife could be killed, the child might die of a blow to the head, or the house itself might burn to the ground. It is a microcosm of the things occurring in Lebanon and calls for exceptional attention: For example, a pseudo-nuclear bomb going off in the Port of Beirut.

An Iranian faction has declared that Lebanon is on the frontline of Tehran’s battles. One of the parties has missiles that states do not possess. Statues of an Iranian leader are erected without being licensed by any local authority. An illegitimate army conducts occupation operations in another country…

These kinds of things are very captivating, and they have attracted the world’s attention, naturally. They focused lights on tiny Lebanon that a country as large as China might not receive.

The reality is that this attention for us is not new. It has foundational precedents: A third of a century ago, for example, when youths from among us would kidnap Western and Russian citizens then hold them in Beirut’s southern suburbs to strengthen Iran’s negotiating position vis-a-vis the US and European states. We received this kind of attention half a century ago as well, when some of our young men were setting off from Beirut’s airport to hijack civilian aircraft... At the time, our country’s news was on the front pages around the world. Beirut’s many hotels could not accommodate all the Western and Eastern journalists visiting us to “cover our big events.”

The world’s eyes, in this case, are turning to us and focusing on us under the same logic that drives it to pay attention to Kim Jong Un in North Korea when he brags about his missiles and nuclear tests. By the way, we can’t escape observing that treating “missiles” as an alternative to welfare, medicine and books is common to all the factions of that frantic internationalism around the world.

It is, then, a fascination with the bizarre, unexpected, unfamiliar and dangerous at the same time.

Hafez al-Assad, Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi kept stirring the world’s attention and putting their countries on the world map, as Kim does, in a sense similar to that which Nasrallah referred to, until their countries were brought to the brink of annihilation. Before Hafez, Saddam and Muammar, Gamal Abdel Nasser was “raising the head of the Arabs,” as the popular expression goes, until that head was hit hard in 67.

In all likelihood, the majority of Lebanese would prefer not to have received this kind of attention, to not have been on the world map in this image. Being forgotten and ignored is incomparably better.

It is also most likely that this majority would prefer for interest to be taken for other reasons: For the world to care about us because, for example, we have developed a democratic system, preventing Israel from being “the only democracy in the Middle East.” Or because we developed an advanced economy or an impressive education system. Or because we have come to possess patents. Or because we create artistic or cultural works that meet global production standards and compete with works of that standard.

For such matters, Lebanon ceased to draw the attention of anyone in the world.

Why? Because we have sacrificed all of this on the missiles’ altar. Because we obliterated everything that had been established before and it was plenty, rich and diverse, though uneven, to re-found the country as a missile site.

Here, there is no harm in noticing the extraordinary paradox we have reached in light of this missile oriented consciousness that governs us: While the Lebanese are burning to get their hands on dollars- the depletion of which leaves them in abject poverty- coronavirus vaccines- and most of them come from Western countries- at this time, in particular, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nassrallah and his comrades in Iran and Iraq raise the slogan of “expelling America from the region.”

It is not only the fact that Iran is the beneficiary of this slogan, which had been drafted to further its interests in the first place, that adds to the wretchedness of the situation. There is also that this slogan was raised to last for just a few days, those that will separate us from Joe Biden’s ascension to the presidency of the United States.

We have been made extremely cheap amid the concern for us haunting the world!

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