July 31, 2005

Some three hundred years after Alexandros III Philippou Makedonon conquered much of the then-known world (having overturned the various political balances which had been achieved by the various smaller powers and a few not so small powers which had learned to respect them) and then abandoned it by dying, the Roman Republic (having slowly seeped into his place, at first quietly and then with more active military assistance) took on its first emperor. The western version of the civilised world discovered a new domineering world order, a Pax Romana eroding, superceding and eventually obliviating the earlier network of alliances: and when Rome collapsed, what had been left intact enough to support the superstructure?

Some one hundred years after Napoleon Bonaparte had been forced to retreat from Russia and his empire (having overturned the delicate political balance of power and balancing warfare of the new nation-states agreed to in Westphalia) and then abandoned it by having been exiled and poisoned, the drive to colonisation shifted subtly to the drive to economic empire through rapidly growing industrialisation: and the western version of the civilised world discovered a new domineering, capitalistic world order. Capitalism in itself creates infinite frontiers and needs no foundations, even as debt creates new monies and is thus infinitely sustainable: it, itself, is its own justification. Any suggestion to the contrary is heresy (punishable by mobbing and by static, unyielding resistance of the existing structure), and possible collapse barely yet even the whisper of a rumour even among those who claim to oppose it.

Human-built societal structures, like nature, abhor a vacuum.

Last February, the western newspapers quickly and eagerly identified a Cedar Revolution -- overriding the more popular local term "Independence Intifada" -- seeking to expel Syrian influence from Lebanon. (Skip for now that even though it appears on the flag and has some associations with the "Beirut Spring", the cedar is much more strongly associated with the "Phalange" and the "Guardians of the Cedars", two non-unifying Maronite Christian right-wing parties: and thus also carries a fairly strong symbolic linkage with the post-Israeli invasion pre-Syrian occupation civil war.) To western eyes eagerly seeking another pro-democratic Orange Revolution, another Rose Revolution: what could be simpler than to find one?

It just so happens that the nation-state of Lebanon occupies far too crucial a global location to be allowed to be fully independent ever again. The current structure that passes for a government is not strong; and I very much doubt it will be allowed to become strong.

Who gains, by a Syrian departure from Lebanon? Who fills this vacuum?

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