City Journal Summer 2015

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Michael J. Totten
Can Beirut Be Paris Again? « Back to Story

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I love you Beirut.
Visited Lebanon last year. Traveled most of the country with my 20 year old daughter including Beirut. Unbelievable, Majestic Country yet only 2/3 the size of Connecticut. My daughter and I were astounded by the warmth we received from Christian's, Moslems, Police, and Military. As American travelers we didn't know religion unless someone was wearing a hijab or we saw a Cross. The truth is this: When you stand next to a 6,000 year old Phoenician sarcophagus from the dawn of civilization while looking out toward the beauty that is the Western Mediterranean just outside Byblos, the town the Bible was named after, you realize how inconsequential our 80 years on this earth are and how trivial, banal, and even profane are the comments we all make as evidenced by some here. This land, these people, whomever the Lebanese are, a mix of Phoenician, Arab, European, Hebrew, Persian, French, Greek and Armenian. . .will be there in one form or another enjoying this little patch of paradise. . .Forever, or until God decides HE is done. . .not us and sorry to tell you, most likely not in our insignificant 80 years. Humanities hell on earth may become tomorrows peaceful paradise, and today's paradise may become tomorrow's human hell. . .right where you live. . .For the moment, I congratulate Mr. Totten as this article's narrative is a microcosm of what I saw in the rest of the country and far more objective than what you would find at the Council On Foreign Relations Website from the Left, or on Fox News on the Right. . .Long Live the Lebanese People!!!
what ever happened to Journalists reporting the facts. This is the most Pro-Western, Anti-Syrian article ive ever read.
First of all Muslims are human and Islam is one of the worlds most tolerant religions. The Middle East, Africa and Asia only become unstable when the west get involved. Look at the EVIDENCE! I mean ISIS was created inside an American prison! Afghanistan only became unstable when Russia and America decided to bring their war there. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban were only able to infiltrate Iraq when America opened the gates for them. Who trained them? That's right, America did. Muslims brought modern thinking, medicine,food, palm trees, sciences, hospitals, art,revival of Roman and Greek knowledge and architecture to the Western world via Spain, which was a Muslim country and the most powerful country in Europe until the pope invaded and slaughtered, executed, raped and exiled all NON-CATHOLICS.Muslims invited all people of all nations and religions to live with them during the "Golden Age" even Catholics. They even protected protestant/Orthodox Christians from the Pope.
Brilliant and well thought out!...thank you. Just one thing, though : albeit a year later, I certainly wouldn't say that the churches are emptier than the bars! The destruction of beautiful buildings continues unabated and Syria now walks the streets. But it's still a fun place to live.
First, "a jumble of clashing interest groups and resentful sects pitted against one another, all seeking foreign backers who might tip the balance in their favor."

Next, “Syria and Iraq have so far only been governed by ruthless centralized iron,” Khoury points out. “It’s otherwise hard to make sense of these places.”

Take a stroll back into Genesis, precisely, "16:11. And again: Behold, said he, thou art with child, and thou shalt bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name Ismael, because the Lord hath heard thy affliction.

16:12. He shall be a wild man: his hand will be against all men, and all men’s hands against him: and he shall pitch his tents over against all his brethren."

Yeah, so why does it take iron to hold all the natural chaos together? Because, BY THEIR NATURE, they are wild men, thrown out of the family of Abraham as was due Agar because of the jealousy of Sara casting her out. Psychological disaster befell the mind of her son Ismael as being unworthy of an authentic covenant, and spread throughout the Muslim nations, outside of the nation of Israel. So it shall ever be, culimanting in a soon to come Armageddon. The navies and armies are already gathering. Film at 11.
Zeina Junblat Hissen August 18, 2013 at 6:32 PM
I only disagree with one observation: “Beirut was called the Paris of the Middle East. With its French Mandate architecture, its world-class cuisine, its fashionable and liberated women…” Lebanon was indeed called the Switzerland of the Middle East.
Lebanon as far as I am concerned was never the Paris or the Switzerland of the Middle East , the majority of its women were certainly no “liberals”, they were rather subdued. The reality is that before the civil war, It was only a fraction of Lebanon which had a developed infrastructure, looked luxurious or fashionable. It only took a ½ hour drive away from the capital to realize there was a very different Lebanon out there, with villages without electricity, schools or hospitals.

Michael’s Totten ‘ article is extremely well written and interesting. He makes very valid observations and points. Let’s hope that progress will start with the Lebanese starting to pay at parking meters, driving within their respective lanes and stopping at red lights. As long as there is this attitude of “maskharah” and disregard towards any form of civic institution and discipline, the Lebanese are bound to follow the road that leads to nowhere. Just my two cents......
As for as my Lebanese friends, my comments may alienate them. Keep in mind, I am not forgetting that Lebanon possesses many beautiful and unique characteristics which I miss dearly. Part of me will always yearn to be there.
Can Beirut be Paris again? It is obvious that Paris has a much better chance of becoming Beirut. France has over five million crazy muslims and they breed six times faster than humans. Go figure.

Bottom line ... who cares?
Paris is more likely to become Beirut.
Not a chance. Lebanon is becoming as Islamist state.
The entire region is under the ruinous control of a death cult that only understands violence and absolute control.

This was true 30 years ago (I know - I was there) and it remains true today. There is no evidence this will ever change. Death, violence and blood lust are ingrained in their religion and their culture.
It could and that would be wonderful. First though, somebody's going to have to kill all the Hezbollah membership, but if you're patient, maybe the Jews will do it for you.
Michael, you are forgetting that Lebanon is now totally owned by Islam. There will be no revival and to extend that hope is folly. Islam has no ooncept of building and managing a city/state with funds that they have invested and used for that purpose. All of the beautiful cities in the middle east have been built with oil gifted to Islam by western technology. Once this is gone, so goes the beautiful cities.
Given that civil war and religious violence rage in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Tunisia, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mali, Sudan, & Mauritania... and simmer menacingly in Turkey, Iran and Israel/Palestina/Gaza... I would place all kinds of bets on Beirut becoming "Paris"... yup.
"...True, Syria didn’t start the Lebanese war, which was sparked in Beirut by clashes between Palestinian and Christian militias..."
Yes but the Syrian regime had a great role in arming the Palestinians , it threatened the Lebanese Government into accepting accords with the Palestinian militias that eroded the Lebanese sovereignty and it inflamed the sectarian strife by the massacres committed by its agents in Lebanon.
Syria had a big hand in the Lebanese wars and its started planning for it long before its actual conflagration in 1975.
An older and much smarter man than I am told me many, many years ago that Beirut was once the most beautiful city in the world. This is a most interesting and informative article.
Exactly what a biased American would say. Plus it seems that u perceive cultyre as french, kind of tight for a journalist
I genuinely hope and pray that your optimism is justified, Michael.
Beirut can always become Paris - both cities have large muslim populations, are under threat from muslim terrorists and the Christians of both Paris and Beirut are helpless victims of pro-muslim political correctness.
padraeg - "My sense is that Assad's days are numbered, it is indeed time for him to go! It is indeed too late for Nato-esque invasion, but Assad will hang from a French chandelier!"

What are you, stuck in August 2011? YAWN! It isn't happening.


Nevertheless, informative article with the 'necessary' omissions.
When will Israelis be allowed and welcomed?
A very optimistic article. I would expect that if Assad is removed in Syria, the victorious Sunni will turn their attentions to Lebanon and take care of the Western 'problem' there.
Gee, no mention of the American blunders in 1983 that produced Iranian-led consolidation of Hezbollah and subsequent destruction of a pro-Western government. Ronald Reagan and his advisors acted by their own ideologies, ignoring on-the-ground facts with grave consequences.

When the American embassy up on rue de la Paris was blown apart killing 63 in April, 1983, the situation reflected Arab fragmentation. A mixed government struggled to hold sway against armed irregulars. But there was no Hezbollah.

Then Reagan sent in troops and ordered them to set up permanent occupation from quarters at the Beirut airport. Eisenhower had responded to a crisis in the 1950s, but he had the good sense to get out three months later, after breaking lawlessness with a period of martial law. Reagan's decision to stay on the ground was a first principles blunder.

Then Reagan decided to use warships to fire naval artillery at mortar batteries in the hills up-country from Beirut. Swatting flies with hammers. These barrages killed hundreds of Arab civilians.

What Reagan accomplished was to unify the Arabs. Then, come October 23rd, a group of Persians came in and got revenge for these killings. They used a PETN-and-liquid-butane truck bomb to level the Marine barracks, then hit the French and an Israeli target down in Tyre. All in all the four bombings killed 398.

Iranians saw these attacks as extensions of the Iraq-Iran War. Reagan backed Saddam, which made American interests targets generally.

The naval bombardments continued after U.S. ground forces retreated offshore. Photos appeared showing the New Jersey pounding villages. Of course the villages were not shown. Not after the slaughters, not in Western media.

It took Reagan to give Iran influence with Lebanese Arabs. And that's what you have 30 years later as Hezbollah has consolidated political power by minimizing Sunni/Shia differences. Annual ceremonies still honor the Lebanese dead from those American adventures.

Jerusalem has 1099 and that Crusader massacre. Beirut has Reagan's naval guns.
It will never be Paris like until you eradicate the Islamic influence. Islam is a cult of death.
I wonder why we don't read much about what Israel did to Beirut? It is always good to see how history gets rewritten?
Paris is becoming Beirut, so the reverse might be possible, also.
I added Beirut to my wish list during that 1976 civil war, where so many Leb Christians attended my university in Paris. Maybe it will rise again, AND I think it is near the beaches... )))

My sense is that Assad's days are numbered, it is indeed time for him to go! It is indeed too late for Nato-esque invasion, but Assad will hang from a French chandelier!
I added Beirut to my wish list during that 1976 civil war, where so many Leb Christians attended my university in Paris. Maybe it will rise again, AND I think it is near the beaches... )))
the rest of the story August 11, 2013 at 8:23 PM
Daily Star and Now website are Future Party owned--a partisan minority and chauvinist/sectarian interest--and fully involved in "rebel" damage to Syria.
Very informative article. Thanks
Why is all this construction going on? Lebanon has no oil, does it ?
The catch is "in due time". Assad's regime is propped up (and to an ever larger extent, a puppet of) the unfortunate alliance of Putin's Russia and the (Guardians of the Revolution)'s Iran. With enough superpower muscle lurking in the background to deter anything along the lines of the military intervention that deposed Gaddafi, and with enough Hezbollah infantry muscle right there on the ground, Assad is unlikely to be deposed any time soon except by his sponsors/masters, and then only by someone cut from the same cloth.

While Syria remains in such a state, the kind of peace and assurance of peace, and the degree of freedom, that are necessary to a city's revival, are remote hopes.