War Sucks. This is something we’ve lost touch with in the United States. It’s a central truth that’s become further and further from us since the middle of the 20th century. Not that our World War II experience was all that bruising either, compared to almost anybody else in Europe and Asia. Since Vietnam our military has been all-volunteer, and in the 21st century our death-dealing has become more remote, thanks to drones and smarter weapons. Our insulation from all of the consequences of war has made us more willing to use it as a tool of policy or economic stimulus.
Not for Lebanon. They don’t have that luxury. For fifteen years, it was their tiny country that was torn apart by the political fantasies of foreign countries. This video lays out how that horror has allowed them to save us from a broader war, both over the past six years and in the past month in particular.
Video Transcript after the jump…
Ladies and Gentlemen, Lebanon is a heroic country. The Lebanese people may be the only reason the entire Middle East isn’t at war right now and nobody is giving them credit for it. Today I’m going to give them that credit.
You may ask, isn’t the whole Middle East at war right now already? The answer is no! No it is not. There are ongoing and quite awful conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Libya, two of which I’ve talked about at length. This is all very bad, but it’s not yet a region-wide conflagration. It could be so much worse. And the conflicts in Syria and Iraq do seem to be dying down with the defeat of ISIS. Some people don’t want that to happen.
Saudi Arabia, the richest country in the region, is actively trying to start a war with Iran before Trump loses his majority in Congress next year. They’re well aware that Trump may be their last chance to confront Iran, and they are taking steps to make a wider war happen. Lebanon is at the center of that effort.
It’s a small country, with a rough history and a complex system. Folks share power in Lebanon along confessional lines. The Prime Minister is always Sunni, the President is always Maronite Christian, and other roles are dedicated to other Muslim and Christian sects. This system has existed in some form since 1943, and it has already fallen apart horrifically at least once.
When I was growing up, Lebanon wasn’t known for its heroism, it was known for a disastrous civil war and proxy war that lasted from 1975 to 1990. It killed over 120,000 people in a country that then amounted to around 3 million people. Beirut, the country’s capital, went from being known as the Paris of the Middle East to being an entire generation’s symbol for urban warfare.
The Lebanese people know what war is. And that’s what may be saving us today. Lebanon is a small country. Because of their difficult religious politics they haven’t taken a census since 1932, but we guess the Lebanese population to be around five million. Since 2011 they have taken in at least 2 million Syrian refugees.
Imagine that for a second. Turkey, a country of 80 million is having trouble digesting 2.5 million Refugees. Europe, a wealthy continent of hundreds of millions of people has been throwing a multi-year hissy fit over just a million refugees. Lebanon has taken in over a third of its population in refugees. And it wasn’t that stable a country to begin with.
For five years I have been expecting Lebanon to fall into Syria’s maelstrom. Lebanon’s politicians are not impressive, and their government is a mess, but the place just kept not failing. Because the Lebanese people know what war is. This success is extraordinary. Last month it got even more impressive.
At the beginning of November, Crown Prince MBS summoned Lebanon’s Sunni prime minister to Saudi Arabia and forced him to resign. Lebanon was supposed to fall to pieces, drawing Israel and the US into war with Iran. Instead the opposite happened. The country became more unified. Muslim and Christian, Shia and Sunni, they demanded their Prime Minister back, and they got him. Once again, the Lebanese people opted against war.
I don’t know enough about Lebanon to cover the country in any detail. It’s a tremendously complex place. But I can see that they know what war is. And their choice to avoid it, over the past six years, and over the past month, can only be described as heroic. The Lebanese people deserve more credit for that than they get, in the Middle East and in in the world at large.
Thanks for watching, please subscribe, and if you want to help me make more videos like this one, please click on the patreon link here to find out more about my crowd-funding thing.