Lebanon: War and Politics in a Fragmented Society

Lebanon: War and Politics in a Fragmented Society

Lebanon: War and Politics in a Fragmented Society

Lebanon: War and Politics in a Fragmented Society

Synopsis

This book provides a comprehensive history and political analysis of Lebanon from ancient times to the present day. Professor Winslow concentrates on the civil and sectarian strife that have characterized the country's past and contemporary history.

Excerpt

In this monograph, I have tried to provide both a history and a political analysis of civil/sectarian strife, past and present, in Lebanon. After brief reviews of ancient times and the medieval period that led to the establishment of the Shihābi Imarah of Mount Lebanon (1697-1841), the book examines the civil war periods of the middle nineteenth century, giving particular focus to the Druze-Maronite war of 1860. These are treated comparatively with other Lebanese conflicts: those occurring in the First and Second World Wars, in 1958, in 1975-6, and during the long period of civil strife and foreign invasion from 1978 to 1990. the fifteen years of civil/sectarian war from 1975 to 1990 resulted in either death or injury to a million Lebanese and Palestinians; much of the country's infrastructure was destroyed; and its great entrepôt city, Beirut, was reduced to ordinary status. It was a tragedy that played itself out, for the most part, beyond the world's headlines, a long saga of massacres and bombings which seemed to have no purpose or end. the end did come in 1990, when the Syrian Army ousted General Aoun from B'abdā Palace and installed occupation forces in the country. Though engaged in political reform and reconstruction, the Lebanese have yet to regain their independence.

My study of Lebanon begins with the proposition that the politics of those who live in the Levant is a function of their geostrategic situation, both past and present. Batted back and forth by greater power on the outside, Levantines are “conflict prone” in the sense that they find it especially difficult to organize and maintain major systems on their own and are continually the victims of outsiders who do. An additional theme developed in the book examines the politics of the Lebanese in terms of the “inside-outside game.” Because people in the strategic Middle East, including Lebanon, are continually used by outsiders for external purposes, they have learned to use outsiders for internal purposes. Both victims and perpetrators, the Lebanese take net losses from the interplay that occurs in this process.

In the final chapter, the book offers ideas on how the “inside-outside” game might be institutionalized so that the Lebanese, along with others in

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