The Lebanese civil war was actually a multifaceted Civil War in Lebanon. It lasted for a period of 15 years from 1975 to 1990 and causing roughly 120,000 fatalities. Recently roughly 76,000 people remain being displaced in Lebanon. This civil war was complex, multisided battle that has implications still shaping the politics of Lebanon. The Lebanon government had been dominated by the Maronite Christians because the state was essentially created like a safe haven for these Christians by French colonial powers. But the country was occupied by many Pan- Arabist and left wing groups and an enormous Muslim population groups that opposed pro-western government. The formation of Israel state and displacement of hundred thousands of Palestinian refugees to the Lebanon in fact changed demographic balance in the favor of Muslim population. Cold war had powerful disintegrative effect on the Lebanon.
This was linked to polarization, which preceded 1958 political crisis, because the Maronites had side with west while Pan-Arab groups and Left Wing had sided with the Soviet aligned Arab countries. The main causes of this war were Syrian government forcing itself into Lebanon. However, the Lebanese did not agree this. There was also a war between Muslims and Christians. The cause of this Civil War was neither exclusively external nor exclusively internal, nor was its settlement. It however came to an end at a given historic juncture when the movement toward the internal reconciliation coincided with the favorable international and regional developments.
The causes of Lebanese Civil war cannot be merely related to the inter- sectarian dynamics. The regional elements played an important role in the ignition of this civil war. This subjected Lebanese system to the pressures, which it could not handle. Arab-Israel conflict and presence of Palestinian resistance movement contributed to fuelling this war. Nonetheless, considering these factors, the Lebanese system was actually unable to deal with the regional tensions as a result of the internal secretarian problems it actually had. Politically, this system historically was biased towards the Christian communities. This system provided these Christian communities with disproportionate share of political power.
In his book, “From Beirut to Jerusalem,” Friedman elaborates the daily life in Lebanon in the course of civil war in a unique way, which helps the readers make sense of this bizarre existence. Friedman’s vignettes neatly capture contradictions of a reality where due to the fighting going on in specific places and at specific times, the passers-by on a particular street witness raging gun battle while the shoppers actually browse around corner. Friedman in half of this book naturally devotes a considerable attention to conflict between Palestinians and Israelites. One of his strong points as a unique writer is essentially his ability to deliver complex problems pungently and simply. Therefore, using his unique writing skills, Friedman elaborates both the impacts and the potential lessons of this civil war.
According to Friedman, the effects of this war actually began with an economy, which went down hence it was no longer effective. More importantly, this war resulted to huge damages in all Lebanon cities. In addition, Lebanese Civil War caused a huge loss of people. Friedman in this extraordinary piece of work explains that in late 1960s and particularly after 1967 war, the regional and international changes started to affect Lebanon. Internally, the so-political polarization among the Lebanese people increased. Furthermore, there was a rising migration of rural population to the Beirut where they moved into the poverty belts around city, suffering from the increasing inflation and eventually the cost of living. Therefore, this book elaborates to us that the political tensions resulted to workers’ strikes, rural uprisings, and emergence of militant student protest movements.
In the Beirut section, this author tackles PLO, specifically Arafat, nature of Middle-East governments, and Beirut psychology in general. He has the ability to elaborate things in a specific way that makes the western audience to comprehend the effects and lessons that resulted from this civil war. Albeit written published in 1989, the key points about the effects and lessons from this war that Friedman explains still hold true in these days. This war ha various impacts. First of all after reading the book we realize that Arafat was actually hopelessly locked between the unhelpful Arab governments and base of support with goals that were unrealistic as a result of this Civil war. We further note that it was particularly the west Bank Intifada, which represented a natural and realistic Palestinian resistance. The war also resulted to PLO failure to make settlement when they in fact possessed a good chance. Thus, Friedman explains that the war resulted to their leadership being hopelessly disorganized.
In addition, Friedman when talking about tribalism and the self preservation explains that they guide decision making by the Middle East governments. These are impacts of the Lebanese Civil War. He elaborates that their history is the one where most powerful man must essentially be ready to ruthlessly defend his property, territory, and honor and now they are ready to do a similar thing. Friedman through his unique writing style associates this given way of self preservation to rationale behind the brutal suppression of the dissidents in rulers’ country like Hama massacre. Therefore, Friedman in this case talks about tribal as a form of political structure which has various challenges for the forms of government in the world today.
Friedman, Thomas L. From Beirut to Jerusalem: Updated with a New Chapter. New York: Anchor Books, Doubleday, 2000.
Faris, Hani. Beyond the Lebanese Civil War: Historical Issues and the Challenge of Reconstruction. Washington, D.C.: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University, 2000.
Picard, Elizabeth. Lebanon, a Shattered Country: Myths and Realities of the Wars in Lebanon. New York, N.Y.: Holmes & Meier, 2002.
Hiro, Dilip. Lebanon: Fire and Embers: a History of the Lebanese Civil War. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2004.