Perspective: A Lesson In Political Violence From Lebanon

I haven't been writing much on international news lately, but the latest reports from Lebanon have a certain resonance, given all that we've heard this week about vitriol and political violence in America. It seems that Hezbollah has pulled out of the coalition government there because - get this - the other coalition members were unwilling to go along with a whitewash that would absolve the Hezz for their role in the carbombing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri:

Lebanon's government collapsed Wednesday after Hezbollah and its allies resigned from the Cabinet in a dispute with Western-backed factions over upcoming indictments in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

A U.N.-backed tribunal investigating the truck bombing that killed Hariri and 22 others is widely expected to name members of the Shiite militant group, which many fear could re-ignite sectarian violence that has erupted repeatedly in the tiny nation.

Hezbollah's walkout ushers in the country's worst political crisis since 2008 in one of the most volatile corners of the Middle East.

Hezbollah has its own private army, funded by fundamentalist forces outside the country, and which is much larger and better equipped than the "real" Lebanese army. It maintains a permanent state of war with Israel, the country immediately to the south, lobbing missiles in the hopes of provoking a response. It has murdered Israelis, Americans, and its fellow Lebanese by the hundreds. If any American leftists want to see an example of political violence, go to southern Lebanon for a dose of the real thing. Drop me a line if you make it out alive. (And spare me the line about how groups like Hezbollah are "like" America's fundamentalist Christians. The Hezz combine murder with "good works" in the classic manner of the Black Panthers and other left-wing heroes).

The westernized elements of Lebanese society try against all odds to maintain a semblance of a sophisticated, bourgeois lifestyle. Even now, they have set up a "care taker" government while Hezbollah schemes to place one of its allies in the prime minister's office. Want to make sure everything is legal and constitutional, right? Yeah, like that matters to the Hezz. If they can't take over Lebanon through parliamentary politics, they'll do it through war. That's what political violence looks like.

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