World War three will not start here

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This black cloud has been a long time gathering: since 1996, in fact, when the sponsors of war unveiled their agendas. Until the end of 2005 – after the presidential extension, UN Resolution 1559, the assassination of Rafik Hariri, and finally the Martyrs’ Square demonstrations calling for a sovereign nation – the twin forces of conflict and prosperity had been sparring and trading jabs.

We were not free. When we woke up from our Independence-Revolution-induced-drunken-stupor, the forces of conflict had merely regrouped, and were still working to stymie progress at every turn and impose the state of war that feeds their very existence.

We have learned the hard way that Shebaa farms were of more use to Israel, who saw a land dispute as the perfect tool with which to keep its war options open.

And so the drums of war are getting louder. After tasting a sample of what this war is like, it is obvious that little Lebanon can neither take much more nor suffer the consequences. Now is the time to acknowledge that the only viable resistance is the one forged in the fires of economic supremacy. It is the time for every political party to subscribe to a new mission that will remove us from the well-worn regional agenda predicated on conflict and start to build a prosperous country, free from any affiliation or interests other than its own.

Refusing to allow others to wage their wars on Lebanese soil does not mean that we do not exist on the regional map. We are as much an Middle Eastern state as Switzerland was European during the Second World War, when its German, French and Italian cantons remained neutral and became a refuge for all that remained precious. Getting to this point will not be easy, but united we can make it.

And still there remains the hand of the assassin. Do not think that because Lebanon has entered a new, arguably more violent chapter in its history that those who shaped the dark days of 2005 have slipped into obscurity. National weakness is the perfect opportunity to sow the seeds of death and confusion. While death still looms, those who are still committed to freedom of speech and thought are not out of danger. Let’s pray that assassins will not reembark upon their deadly art.

Bridges and roads can be rebuilt, but lives are gone forever.