Why is it that we Lebanese fall into the same trap every time our instincts take control?
Since 2005 and the outrageous assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, we have seen Lebanon’s hard won equity eroded by political killings, instability, full- scale war, economic decline and civil unrest. During this period, Lebanon has lost a dozen brave reformers and national servants as well as — and here is where the really shocking figures kick in — 1,400 civilians lost to a war in 2006 that also saw the displacement of nearly one million people and the economy ripped to shreds. Today, we are still picking up the suffering, especially when one considers the subsequent deaths from unexploded cluster bombs that continue to litter South Lebanon.
And for what? All we do is pander to the same leaders whose performance, if judged in the boardroom rather than the street, would be dismissed quicker than you can say Lehman Brothers.
You see, it’s the same old story: Lebanon fights and suffers at everyone else’s expense. Now we witness presidents Barack Obama and Bashar Al Assad, not to mention the royal family of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, burying the hatchet. It is only at moments like this that we realize we have been taken for a very long and expensive ride. We negotiate for others but not for ourselves.
But that’s only half the joke. There are elections slated for June in Lebanon. With the decreased level of political tension in recent weeks and all the kiss-and- make-up that we witnessed in the news, one can only wonder how campaigns will look in the absence of all the hatred we are accustomed to. There will be no hatred campaigns, there will be no slogans, as our politicians know only one thing — how to segregate.
With our politicians clueless in economics, we will be back to square one with another set of dumb strategies that will take us nowhere.
In the meantime, in the rest of the region, Dubai, Iran and Iraq — yes even Iraq — are all getting their acts together. Dubai in particular, despite all the rumors of bankruptcy and recession, is still showing signs of life. New companies are not shying away. Why? Because the private sector has the experience and the nerve to look long term and to have confidence in the role of the state.
The rest of the world — our so-called allies, be they Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and even America — know that at the end of the day regional maneuvering should not affect national growth and internal development.
Only Lebanon believes that it can still take international posturing and bluster at face value and attach it to a national agenda.