Walid Joumblatt is Cool, NOT!
This post is as much about Walid Joumblatt, as it is about the Lebanese intellectuals and journalists that make it easier for Joumblatt to say irresponsible things, at great cost to Lebanon (and the Druze community). This time its Michel Hajji-Georgiou from L'Orient-LeJour.
Joumblatt has a long history of incoherence and of saying "white" in the morning and "black" in the afternoon. In the last year or so, he flipped from wanting Americans dead in Iraq, to realizing that he US presence in Iraq had some liberating effect on the Lebanese scene. He went from telling us that Lebanon had to fight to the end for the Palestinian cause, to telling the Palestinians they could forget about Liberating Jerusalem from Lebanon, back to being worried about the Arab identity of Lebanon. He was also willing to have relations, POST Hariri murder, with ANY Syrian regime in order to preserve Lebanon's Arab identity (whatever the hell that means).
The most recent outrage, Joumblatt had nothing better to do than to pay tribute to Ghazi Kanaan, the recently "suicided" Syrian Interior Minister. Kanaan, if nothing else, was the main architect of Syria's security apparatus in Lebanon for over 20 years. Kanaan was also responsible for debauching the Lebanese security institutions. In short, Kanaan was responsible for the very apparatus that killed Hariri, and repressed the Lebanese for years, and instituted widespread high-level corruption. These were the very things that Walid Joumblatt said were unacceptable and why Syria had to leave Lebanon.
So now Joumblatt wants to pay tribute to Kanaan, and say that the poor man was "betrayed" by his successor Rustom Ghazaleh. Reading between the lines of his tribute (PDF French, shorter English version here), one could easily conclude that had Kanaan stayed at the helm running Lebanon, and had Lahoud not been extended, Walid Joumblatt would still be very happy with Syria's occupation.
The problem for the Lebanese is this: unfortunately Joumblatt is not some rock singer or some Hollywood actor, who can shoot his mouth about politics, and it won’t matter much. Unfortunately Joumblatt is a major player, and one who can and has on many occasions inflicted tremendous harm on the body politic and on the nation. Joumblatt is a divider because that is the position that he thinks fits him best. Divide the country, and with very little weight (his small community), if you stand in the middle of the seesaw, you can shift the balance by merely shifting your small weight.
People's attitude in Lebanon tends to be "hey it's Joumblatt being Joumblatt", wink wink, "isn't he cool or cute?"... No he is not. He is toying with lives and the future of Lebanon. And journalists at least should call him to task. They cannot stop him, but they can make it more difficult to indulge in this destructive behavior
Romanticization of Walid
In L'Orient-LeJour of October 14, (PDF French), Michel Hajji-Georgiou (barely) criticizes Joumblatt and then goes on to using cute expressions to describe him: "enfant terrible", "eternel rebel", "at his best in the midst of battle [my translation]". Georgiou concludes: "Joumblatt's dilemma is poignant because it reflects the terrible battle taking place inside him" [My translation]. Now we have to feel sorry for Joumblatt? What battle is Georgiou talking about? Joumblatt hasn't yet figured out what is good for Lebanon?
I am sick and tired of people letting Joumblatt off the hook under inane pretexts: "oh he is a man of contradictions (like his father). Ain't it cool and interesting he is a feudal lord, yet he is also a socialist? He wears jeans to important meetings. He's like Fonzi of "Happy Days"; he speaks his mind, wears a leather jacket, and rides a motorcycle, wow man!" It's not always cool to live out contradictions, and to act like a twenty-year old.
This silliness has got to stop. This stuff may be acceptable from a publicity seeking movie star, not for a man who has affected and still affects the political future of the country. Someone (other than Aoun) has to attack Joumblatt politically. Furthermore intellectuals and the despicable Lebanese press ought to start asking him (and others) the hard questions.