Straddling the boundaries of politics and history, this discerning book allows the reader to dig through the rubble of Lebanon’s wars and learn exactly what has befallen it. With its remarkable open society, its plural political system, its well-educated and sophisticated peoples, and its tolerant confessional outlook, Lebanon is only now recovering the independence it once had, albeit in the face of Syria. In view of recent Lebanese history, can an open and democratic state be recaptured by a people entangled in a largely authoritarian Arab state system?
Farid el Khazen’s arresting book shows how Lebanon was led toward its fate by its neighbors, yet ultimately undid itself. The Palestine Liberation Organization’s presence was of central importance to the breakdown of the state, while the porousness of the democratic system could not contain the problems and violence. The breakdown was less a civil war in the conventional sense than a series of little wars with outside interference.