Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The opportunities presented by the failed state

Ah those helpful young men of Hezbollah! See this.

For those of you without access to the NY Times, here's the gist of the article:

Hezbollah’s reputation as an efficient grass-roots social service network — as opposed to the Lebanese government, regarded by many here as sleek men in suits doing well — was in evidence everywhere. Young men with walkie-talkies and clipboards were in the battered Shiite neighborhoods on the southern edge of Bint Jbail, taking notes on the extent of the damage.

“Hezbollah’s strength,” said Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a professor at the Lebanese American University here, who has written extensively about the organization, in large part derives from “the gross vacuum left by the state.”

So Hezbollah starts the war, puts civilians in jeopardy, and then gets credit for cleaning up the mess. Sweet.

The most important part of the article is the quote by Saad-Ghorayeb: "the gross vacuum left by the state." After decades of civil war and outside influence, Lebanon is now teetering on the brink of being a failed state. In fact, it may be a failed state already. And in a failed state, evil rushes in where angels fear to tread, and evil does it in the guise of good.

I'm reminded of how the Taliban got started in the yawning vacuum left by the withdrawal of the Soviets after their lengthy and destructive war there. The Taliban seemed like helpful young men at first, too, trying to create order out of chaos.

This, however, from the blog Lebanese Political Journal (via Pajamas Media), sounds a faint--very faint--note of hope.

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