Lebanon in Crisis: Participants and Issues

Lebanon in Crisis: Participants and Issues

Lebanon in Crisis: Participants and Issues

Lebanon in Crisis: Participants and Issues

Excerpt

The Lebanese war was first and last a tragedy for the people of Lebanon, who died and were maimed by the tens of thousands before the guns could be stilled. This terrible human loss rails in the mind and will not be quieted. Why did the explosion occur when it did? How and why did those directly involved in the war become involved? What was the fighting about? Why did it take three deathly years to stop the killing and wounding of soldier and civilian, militant and innocent? What causes the fighting to start again and again? Why is it still continuing? Our first concern in this book was to find answers to these questions.

Although finding answers requires an understanding of Lebanese society and politics, it also requires much more, for the answers lie as much in Damascus and Cairo and Jerusalem -- in the rivalries and ambitions of the major Arab governments and Israel -- as they reside in Palestinian camps or the Muslim and Christian sectors of Beirut -- in the arcane and vicious recesses of religious, communal, and ideological politics in Lebanon. And what part of the answer may be found in the policies of Washington and Moscow? What part of the blame for the tragedy is theirs? What of the United Nations and the Arab League? Could not these august bodies have acted to stop the fighting?

If these questions are at the heart of this book, other concerns added interest and urgency to our endeavor. We hope this book will serve as a guide for those who wish to understand the Lebanese conflict -- expert and general reader alike -- and for those, as well, who would work to bring peace to that tormented land and its wounded, sorrowing people. Of vital importance to Lebanon, that very specific peace and understanding also have a general significance. From the beginning, the tragic war in Lebanon has also been part of a larger Arab-Israeli conflict. Lebanon today is the most explosive arena in which that larger struggle is conducted. A spark in Lebanon -- an ill-timed political step, an ill-considered raid or reprisal -- could ignite a much larger war between Syria and Israel, with the risk of superpower confrontation and worldwide economic . . .

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