Sunday, September 21, 2014

You can get there from here, but you may not want to

Thomas Friedman in the New York Times --

It’s no accident that the two democratizing Middle East entities doing best today are Tunisia and Kurdistan. Neither has fully mastered pluralism yet, but they’ve mastered its necessary precursor for self-governance, which was the principle used in 1989 to settle the Lebanese civil war: “No victor, no vanquished” among the major players. Everyone’s interests have to be balanced. Iraq is now struggling to get there; Syria is not even close ... In Syria and Iraq today, you have neither citizens nor states, but rather clans, sects and tribes, which now need to reorganize themselves into voluntary states, as opposed to those imposed by colonial powers, so they can be real citizens.

Is Lebanon the benchmark, or isn't it? In his first segment, how the civil war ended, it is a benchmark. In the second segment, he says Iraq and Syria's problem is that it is organized by clan, sect, and tribe, and not state.

But organization by clan, sect, and tribe is a very accurate description of Lebanon today, 25 years after its civil war formally ended.