Michael Totten

The Stakes for Nasrallah...and Lebanon

Lebanese-American Michael Young in Beirut’s Daily Star:

[H]ow long can Nasrallah last? Much has been made of the secretary general’s celebrated steadfastness and the fact that he has before him only two choices – victory or defeat. If that’s his narrow reading, then he is heading toward heartbreak, because sooner or later the weight of the Lebanese sectarian system is likely to impose defeat on him if he refuses to make necessary concessions. The reason is simple: No Lebanese leader – not Amin Gemayel in 1982, Michel Aoun in 1989, or Emile Lahoud in 2004 – can indefinitely bend the country to the breaking point, or push it toward communal destabilization, without the old sectarian ways kicking in to impose a correction. And in the absence of concessions by maximalist leaders, the system has usually collapsed into war.

Michael is one of the sharpest thinkers in Lebanon. (And he was kind enough to publish an article I wrote some time ago.) Read the whole thing.