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The War Nerd September 21, 2007
 
Lebanese Democracy: One Man, One Boom
By Gary Brecher Browse author Email
 
 
Lebanon is one of the bright spots for us war nerds, and just today as I’m writing this, the ol' Phoenicians gave us one of the funniest bombings since Reagan's F-111s sent a GBU straight at Khadafy's daughter's crib.

Once you know the name of the Lebanese politician who got flame-broiled a few days ago, you ought to be able to tell me who did it and why—if you've been keeping up with your homework.

Clue: his first name was Antoine—full name Antoine Ghanim.

Now: whodunnit?

Well, it wasn't the Puerto Ricans. C'mon, it's not that hard. If a Lebanese congress-critter is named Antoine, or some other Frenchy first name, he’s a Maronite Christian. If he's a Christian, he's probably (not always but probably) anti-Syrian. And if he's an anti-Syrian Lebanese congress-critter, he's probably shredded beef by now.

For the past few years anti-Syrian Lebanese have been having all sorts of nasty accidents, stepping into bullets like Pierre Gemayel (see? "Pierre"! The name tells you everything!) or having their motorcades turned into confetti by superbomb like Rafik Hariri, the billionaire who was dumb enough to decide the best way to spend his wealth was to get involved in Lebanese politics--and on the anti-Syrian side.

See, the Syrians are sly people. Like I've said before, their army isn't much—whenever the Israelis are feeling down they dream about having an excuse to fight the Syrians—but like a lot of cowards, the Syrians specialize in booby traps, backstabbings and proxy killings.

What I love is the way the Syrian PR service was online instantly condemning the "criminal act" of blowing up Antoine. It's almost like they had their official denial in hand before the bomb went off:
"President Assad is disgusted by this bombing which occurred—what's that, Raheem?—oh, sorry, my aide has just informed me that this regrettable bombing will not happen for another half-hour, so have some tea, my journalist friends, have some of our delicious Syrian coffee and come back after lunch, when I will have something to deny for you!"


The Syrians can count, and they believe in democracy—in a way. See, ol' Antoine, before he went to Lebanese-Christian heaven (which would be a place where South and West Beirut are always falling into the sea and the Beka'a Valley has a major earthquake every ten minutes), he was an important vote for the anti-Syrian front that's hanging on to power in Lebanon. It's like the graveyard scenes in old Western cartoons: you hear a shot and the sign on the graveyard goes "ding!" and changes from "Gower Gulch, pop. 276" to "...pop. 275."

Now that Antoine's gone, the anti-Syrians have only a two-vote majority. And you have to wonder how long those other two votes are going to last. Antoine was running scared himself; he'd stuffed his license plate in his trunk to fool his killers, whoever they were—coulda been anybody, Lacey Peterson's husband or my own ex-congress-critter Gary Condit (well, I was almost in his district). I'm not saying the Syrians did it! I don't want to have to run a mirror under the Subaru every day before leaving the duplex—but it sure does look that way.

I've talked about Lebanon before, but just to go over the basics, it used to be part of "Greater Syria" and the Syrians, all Syrians from Ba'athist to monarchist, are still pissed off at the French for detaching it from Mother Syria and making it a western "Protectorate."

Trust the French to grab the beachfront. And remember, nothing pisses a country off more than somebody fencing off all the waterfront property. Take Bolivia: they lost their coastline to Chile in a pretty interesting little war I'll have to write about one of these days. The Chilean navy coughed up a true hero, Capitan Arturo Prat. An Englishman in his genes, which is probably why he took the ironclad Huascar with his wooden ship Esmerelda in one of the finest naval duels since John Paul Jones took the Serapis.

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Gary Brecher
Browse author
Email Gary at war_nerd@exile.ru, but, more importantly, buy his book.
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