Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Lebanese Federative Republic

I'm always fascinated at the sight of Lebanese (and experts on Lebanon) tripping over each other to denounce "partition" whenever it is suggested as a solution to Lebanon's ills.

Take for instance this irrational rebuff by the otherwise infinitely sapient and reflective blogger over at Beirut Spring. Mustapha spurns "partition" without really explaining his reasons. Like most Lebanese I know, his knee-jerk premise is that "you can't partition Lebanon", end of story.

What is it that makes Lebanon so special that it can't be partitioned? What now, is Lebanon all of a sudden the Holy Koran? Whole, complete, immutable, eternal? Why can’t Lebanon be partitioned? And why is partition viewed as an abomination by most Lebanese and interpreters of Lebanon?

Even the Catholic Church has come to accept divorce (sure, it’s called it “marriage annulment”, but in the end the difference is in semantics, and an “annulment” is "divorce"--and let's call it by its name, "partition"--in other words, and by other means.)

When gangrene is at the brink of consuming an otherwise salubrious body, amputation becomes the only solution.

Regional autonomy (or "Cantonization" as the Swiss call it), with all that it entails in terms of minority cultural and linguistic rights, is the only system that has maintained national sanity (and civil peace) in places like Switzerland, Canada, Luxembourg, and the Czechoslovak Federative Republic among other places. In the case of a deeply divided society such as Switzerland's, regional autonomy has been the best safeguard of "civil peace" and "national unity" for the past 700 years.

I fail to see how Switzerland can be a composite republic, but not Lebanon.


  1. Well, I did respond that I support a confederation, but I don't support partition in the Sudanese sense, which in my mind is the closer match to the word "partition".