When Warlords Become Presidential Candidates

Warlord Collage

Reading and watching Geagea give press statements on his candidacy, I remember the space of terror he used to occupy for myself and my friends in Tariq al-Jadidah. I remember watching mortars explode from a window with a view of the northern coast with my grade school classmates during the Aoun-Geagea war. I remember a year spent in a mountainous Beirut suburb, away from school and from an apartment untenably close to “the Green Line.” Today, I try to imagine what a Palestinian in Lebanon thinks when she sees Geagea on TV confidently lay out why he should be president. Does her heartbreak as one by one, journalists fail to ask Geagea about his involvement in war time massacres? Has her heart been broken too many times in Lebanon, and does she simply change the channel? No one asks Geagea, or his rival Gemeyyel, about their wartime alliances with Israel, or their complicity in the siege of West Beirut, or their wars with rival Maronite leaders that left thousands dead and maimed.

I remember listening to the news with my family on the way to school the day that Gemeyyel left Beirut for Paris—It was a happy day. Years earlier, my five-year-old self had found an unexploded ordinance on our balcony in Tariq al-Jadidah. Amin Gemeyyel was President and he had ordered the army to shell the area. Many refused the order and deserted. I like to think that the unexploded ordinance on our balcony was the result of a soldier consciously removing explosive materials from mortal shells, knowing that his act would save the lives of residents. In reality, however, we have no idea why that shell did not explode. We were just lucky.

We were lucky again when the Lebanese army shelled our neighborhood during Aoun’s “War of Liberation” against the Syrian army, a war which apparently required the Lebanese army to shell heavily congested civilian areas in West Beirut. One particularly terrifying night, as my family was clustered in our foyer where we had been sleeping for days, my mother spread her arms across a wall and kissed it. This is the first memory I have of my parents as ordinary people; fragile, afraid, vulnerable. I have never been as profoundly shaken in my life as I was in that moment, watching my mother hug a concrete wall during a night of heavy shelling.

(Link)

Brainwashing

Goebbels would have been proud. If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself. 

The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over. The war is over.

It is ok for the warlords who slaughtered your families, burned your houses, raped your women, enslaved your sons and brothers to fight their wars, and collaborated with the neighbors in the east or/and south to rule you. It is ok for the warlords who slaughtered your families, burned your houses, raped your women, enslaved your sons and brothers to fight their wars, and collaborated with the neighbors in the east or/and south to rule you. It is ok for the warlords who slaughtered your families, burned your houses, raped your women, enslaved your sons and brothers to fight their wars, and collaborated with the neighbors in the east or/and south to rule you. It is ok for the warlords who slaughtered your families, burned your houses, raped your women, enslaved your sons and brothers to fight their wars, and collaborated with the neighbors in the east or/and south to rule you. It is ok for the warlords who slaughtered your families, burned your houses, raped your women, enslaved your sons and brothers to fight their wars, and collaborated with the neighbors in the east or/and south to rule you. It is ok for the warlords who slaughtered your families, burned your houses, raped your women, enslaved your sons and brothers to fight their wars, and collaborated with the neighbors in the east or/and south to rule you. It is ok for the warlords who slaughtered your families, burned your houses, raped your women, enslaved your sons and brothers to fight their wars, and collaborated with the neighbors in the east or/and south to rule you. It is ok for the warlords who slaughtered your families, burned your houses, raped your women, enslaved your sons and brothers to fight their wars, and collaborated with the neighbors in the east or/and south to rule you.

Now repeat, we are a democracy.

Carefully watch as Lebanon’s parliament speaker, a former warlord, calls for presidential elections where three of the four main candidates – also former warlords – are competing with the fourth candidate, who happens to be the grandson of the president that led Lebanon into civil war in 1975. While the parliamentary ‘swing votes’ depend on the opinion of yet another warlord, the next Lebanese president will be the most illegitimate one since 1943: In 2020, he would have been elected by the parliament of 2009 – a parliament that ironically extended its term for failing to vote a law. As the civil war rages in Syria, the presidential elections happen at a time when in the executive power rules no one other than the son of the prime minister whose last irresponsible years in power saw the beginning of what would later become a civil war.

This is Lebanon’s biggest irony. Not the power vacuum, not the civil war, not even this play they call the presidential elections. I tried to find a detail concerning the presidential elections that doesn’t involve civil-war related issues. En vain. The candidates are of the civil war era, their programs are of the civil war era, the parties are of the civil war era, the lawmakers are of the civil war era, the absence of parliamentary elections is of the civil war era, and even our former overlord to the East is in a civil war.

What scares me most isn’t a warlord ruling from Baabda. What scares me is the idea that a young sous-lieutenant would one day manipulate the army as he wishes so that he can become president. What scares me is the idea that a failed president and warlord can become president again. What scares me is the idea that someone can become president for the simple fact that his grandfather was once one. What scares me is the idea that a Medical student who dropped out of medical school in order to commit war massacres might one day become president.

So while you’re happily watching the presidential elections on TV, my dear reader, think of the following: When the war comes – God forbid - do you want a president whose election inspires the medical student to carry his rifle and slaughter you, or save your children in the hospitals?

This isn’t about what these men want. It’s about what their election represents.

When war comes, the Lebanese will cry for peace. But always remember: They were the ones who worshiped the gods of war in times of peace.

30 days till the 25th of May.

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39 comments

    1. لك الحق أن تعطي رايك بما يجري ولكن أنصحك أن تفتح عينيك الأثنتين حتى ترى كامل الصورة وكنت أتمنى أن أقرأ رأيك في ما يخص الرئاسات الأخرى وأمراء الحرب الباقون

      1. It is truly the utmost hypocrisy of the Lebanese that the debate has sparked again when Samir Geagea decided to run for presidency although the warlords “Berri, Junblat, Nasrallah” have been in power ruling that forsaken piece of land called Lebanon for the past 14 years post-war and Aoun for the past 9 years. at least the man presented a democratic and politically modern play that the Lebanese have never seen and did not even relate to.

  1. Since human is human in all time and whatever the conditions are … I just want to ask something , why you didn’t mention the massacres done by some PALESTINIANS troops in Lebanon ??
    Why you didn’t talk about the massacres done by the SYRIANS in LEBANON during and after their occupation ?? Why you are not surprised about the CANDIDATURE of BASHAR ASAD to the presidency on that level ??
    As Palestinians , why you didn’t mention and you were not surprised when the JORDANIANS kings were leading … You remember the ” BLACK SEPTEMBER ” what they did against PALESTINIANS ??
    You talked about the alliance between the Christians Parties and ISRAEL !!! I just want to ask you something here … WHO served ISRAEL more , the PALESTINIANS who left their country whatever the reasons were , and went searching for an other country in LEBANON , or the LEBANESE RESISTANCE who fought the idea of ALTERNATIVE COUNTRY !! That’s true that we bought weapons from ISRAEL , but for what ?? First to Defend ourselves from the troops who decided to occupy Lebanon , and then to offend ISRAEL dream itself ( localizing all the PALESTINIANS in LEBANON ).
    It is your right to not support someone or to hate him , but let’s be objective.

    1. the war is over Dibos. I guess the blogger ranted enough about that. You have to get over it, and spurn affiliation to any party who had a hand in it (INCLUDING the political figure you’re defending). Syrian, Jordanians, Palestinians and Israel are past, and they have nothing to do with us electing a president. Don’t go off topic just to defend a warlord for what he has done.
      On another note..
      I respect affiliation to any party in the Lebanese political spectrum.
      But, there are 2 kinds of people I do not, and will never respect just because they belong to the least constructive social form of existence.
      Religious extremists and Sectarian sheep.
      The sole concept of considering political or religious affiliation to be a valid justification to insult the ones who disagree with you or be happy for their fall or suffering is below human.
      They are the people pulling our society back at each step.

      1. I couldn’t agree with you more. All political decisions in Lebanon are taking place along sectarian lines, creating even a wider gap among citizens. It is funny how people use Syria or Jordan or Israel or Palestine to explain atrocities that happened in Lebanon. Two wrongs don’t make it right. And although I don’t remember anything from the Lebanese war, lucky enough my parents made huge efforts for that, I will never understand how anyone can support people like Geagea or Gemmayel or Aoun or Berri, etc… There is NO excuse for what they have done. The war is over, and they are past. I personally would never want any of them to be in a decision making position. Don’t you long for young, educated, open-minded, non sectarian people to rule your country? With real economic and social plans that can improve the situation? You may call it wishful thinking, but such people exist. However, their fathers and grandfathers were never warlords or heads of parties… And as long as many Lebanese follow like sheep, without questioning (check animal farm by George Orwell, great book), they stand little chance to be in parliament or in presidency.

    2. “I just want to ask something , why you didn’t mention the massacres done by some PALESTINIANS troops in Lebanon ??
      Why you didn’t talk about the massacres done by the SYRIANS in LEBANON during and after their occupation ??”
      Dibos, i recommend you to read the story again: scroll up and start with the title, first. The answer is quite simple indeed: because it’s about warlord candidates for president in Lebanon. Are they any Palestinian or Syrian warlords running for presidency in Lebanon?

    3. I don’t think she over looked this info on purpose , i think she didn’t think it matters or may have done a silly mistake .
      in any case I agree with you .
      And I don’t think that what the Palestinians or any other nationality have a right or a say in who our president is

    4. Objective ? you imbecile of a pseudo intellectual. He didn’t talk about them because they are not running for presidency. If every one was negligent, it doesn’t make your negligence any lighter. He is addressing a topic, the presidency that is. And you counter with a complete different one ? wow.

      1. Brad. Why don’t you pick yourself up and go hug a tree.it will suit your persona more; you bloody moron.

        Listen to yourself.say no more for fuck sake.

    5. the comments on this article makes me loose hope . i wonder how young Lebanese still want to defend their leaders not matter what mistakes they made!

      the guy is talking about how easy it’s for war lords to run for presidency in this country
      whether it was geagea , aoun, gemayel or any of these war lords that fought each other back in the time and ruined a country (regardless of who you think was right or who was wrong ).

      i was 8 years old when war ended now i’m 32 and i still see the same exact guys who where bombing each other in the 90′s.. do you find this logical?

      we don’t care why they acted like that back in the time, even if god himself told them to do so

      it’s very simple! any leader who took part in the war should not be ruling the country whether as depute, minister or as a president

      and lets put their history aside, these guys are old and outdated
      i mean seriously any young educated Lebanese beats these men by far, in education, culture ,vision and wisdom!

      anyway i really hope that one day the Lebanese people will have the power to choose their president instead of letting a bunch of old deputes (who already hate each others) decide for us!

      1. You are so right Karla. All people who had a hand in the Lebanese war should be hanged not elected to any position, least of all the president. You said a mouthful. Thank you

      2. that is because you just said young lebanese people they are just young they have never experienced what their parents went through in the lebanese civil war its simple

  2. What about the others warlordes who pushed president gemayel and doctor geagea to take these procedures why not talk about them too or about the massacres that were done against the Christians u wanna be a journalist dont be bias

    1. Just for the record mark.. this is one of the few bloggers I admire for their objectivity. Not only did he include all the warlords currently leading our country, but he also took the pain to add a pinch of sarcasm on the prowess of each and every one.
      Read more, have an open mind and don’t defend murderers (you’re not the only one who does).

  3. I too, a young Lebanese Christian lady have bad war memories. Some of these warlords, were fighting for their country, try to remember that, dear “Palestinian” lady..

  4. telling a guy to be objective when he criticized people from across the spectrum? I don’t understand you people. He is saying these are war criminals. Not because they fought in wars but because they committed crimes in wars. Sure Palestinians did commit crimes too. Neither theirs nor the others were justified. But also we aren’t electing Palestinian war criminals to Lebanese political positions are we? All you are doing is defending war crimes.

  5. okay , who cares about the Palestinian ? i’m from tariq jdedeh , we lived through the shellings and the bombings and all that boohoo..
    your major problem my fellow lebanese , is you keep trying to convince your self that the war is over .
    in 1991 the Arabs managed to enslave us , empower the terrorists ( Palestinians – salafisist ..etc…) allowed syrai to rule us and allowed the “resistance” to get monopoly over the resistance .
    this by no means was peace , that was just a calmer war, a slow cooked one .
    and althou i agree with you , they are all warlords and gea gea is a dick , he atleast served his sentence , which i have to say no other warlord did :D
    ofcourse they wont ask him about the civil war , are you mad!
    asking him about the civil war will only shame all the rest , he has his excuses
    and so did they.
    each killer had a reason to kill , only complete psychopaths kill for no reason.
    and as much as I WOULD LOVE to call them all psychopaths! i can’t … since they aren’t …
    your problem isn’t with who the president is going to be , nor what it represents .
    when you consider a poor palestinian lady’s opinion to be of any importance over who is elected president then you are worse then the rest that support such warlords.
    if i want a president , ofcourse i would chose one that isn’t in the current pot .
    i would love to see a true lebanese president that takes the helm of the country . a president that the world is afraid of , isreal hates, palestine hates , syria hates, america , saudi and the rest all hate him! I want a president that only the lebanese can love , a president that will not be afirad to say:
    F you arab , F you isreal , F you world , we are lebanese and we are here to make EVERY ONES LIVE A LIVING HELL!!!!!
    and F you poor lady F your tearS!!! SEE IF I CARE!

  6. Defending their by killing elderly, woman, and children in Sabra n Chatila massacres hand by hand withe enemy of not only lebanon but any arab country unless u have another opinion on this too wow what a way to defend our country couldn’t get any better….and by the way I am a Lebanese guy. Wake up morons we need new faces clean ones none of these killers deserves a seat in the municipality even.

  7. Lovely! Spot on and a nice read. The only thing I wish for Lebanon is that it’s new generation are nothing like its old, with respect to those that had good intentions but were powerless. The only solution for Lebanon is that it should become a secular state then would it be able to function properly.

  8. OMG i cannot believe i’m typing the following, HOWEVER, this article is beyond biased. You don’t know how much I despise the main person that article is trashing, yet another HOWEVER, the writer should start with the crap of their own region before trashing everyone else. YES, even if it was a demon, the writer should destroy or at least attack its own region’s demons before someone else’s. it is called a civil war for a reason; everyone was implicated, so his or her “tarik jdidé” was more than implicated and their leaders then, and now, are that person’s ally.
    “telkhis el mawdou3, eza el ketib baddo ykeb 7jar, akallahou yghayyer bayto la2anno melyen 2zez”

    1. I feel sad for you cause nobody from “tarik jdide” is running for president.

      and… I just realized, your comment is an epic fail Mr (or Ms) realist. you’re confusing the writer of the article with the Palestinian girl’s article quoted at the beginning.

      keep it up moulahazat. you rock
      love, a Pragmatic

      1. * and she’s not even palestinian, she wrote in one sentence about them. Ma 2rito ghayra bel kel hal article…

  9. Well written,
    Unfortunately these warlords didn’t reach where they are without followers, nor did the Parliamentarians reached there without flocks electing them.
    It’s the same University graduates, the same so called educated Lebanese, who, themselves suffered the horrors of war, who elected these same representatives and following them like sheep.
    It’s time our youth and our population as a whole wake up and make a drastic change from having the same families from all various sides, religions and parties, ruling our beloved country. They are all guilty with Blood on their hands… We keep Praying and dreaming of a better future so that, one day, we will be able to take back our children to our beloved Lebanon…

  10. “When war comes, the Lebanese will cry for peace. But always remember: They were the ones who worshiped the gods of war in times of peace.”
    Simply brilliant. Great article.

  11. What the hell we care about a palestino when talking about Lebanese Presidency???
    Palestinos were the ones who started this war,so please it’s better for you to shut your mouth and stop lying about el Hakim, Arafat wasn’t a criminal and a terrorist? didn’t he became president of Palestinians for years? About Goebbels the repeated lie will be ”Geagea killed Frangieh and Chamoun family”

  12. this is how tings happens in countries all over the world

    “…South Korea’s prime minister announced his resignation Sunday morning, taking responsibility for the slow initial reaction to a ferry’s sinking that has left nearly 200 dead and scores more still missing..”
    http://edition.cnn.com/2014/04/27/world/asia/south-korea-ship-sinking/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

    meanwhile in Lebanon, some war lords who destroyed the country 20 years ago and killed thousands of people , wants to be president and what’s worst is that some idiots commented on this post by trying to defend some leaders

    no war lord should be ruling this country whatever his political program is and i don’t care if turned into a Saint.. no man with blood on his hands should ever be in the government

    these guys should be in prison! they are lucky that they live in corrupted country…

  13. 1- “Goebbels would have been proud. If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself.”

    - that’s not goebbel’s, that’ s edward bernays (1897-1995) concept. He s an adept of the psychology of the depth…

    2- “are competing with the fourth candidate, who happens to be the grandson of the president that led Lebanon into civil war in 1975.”

    -It’s true to think that mr frangieh is not maybe the best candidate, but to handicap him with that excuse is wrong…he cannot be accountable for his gdfather decisions. Like if your gdfather was a thief, authorities cannot take you to prison… That s a fake trial…
    You can find other things to critisize his application…and there are!

    Except those 2 points, im down with u!

  14. you are right on things , wrong on a lot of other things. no one ever doubted the massacres committed by these warlords along with so many other super-mega warlords u did not mention who are way more involved in the bloodshed. the point being is that these leaders, from both sides, come from our society, from our schools and our mindless prayer houses.This is the best we can do buddy! we are a nation of mindless sectarian followers who keep pointing fingers at the ‘warlords’ and knowing very little how criminals we are ourselves. i think you would have collaborated even with the devils ,not only those to the south, if the odds necessitated you to do so. so instead of writing another article reminding people what these past warlords did, learn more what the present warlords are up to.. and we deserve the worst. we have enough religious people to keep this conflict on for longer than we live.

    1. Guys, let’s not worry about presidential elections or the presidential candidates. it’s not really our decision, or the candidate’s decision for that matter, unfortunately. Let’s worry about how we can make it in the future our decision or maybe our kids’ decision. let’s not blame each others, because we are all guilty.
      Let’s worry about the trash mountain we’ve created all along the coast, let’s worry about our sewer system and how our shit is being dumped in the sea and how it’s killing all marine life, (FYI we eat the rest of it at our favorite sea food restaurant knowing that same fish already ate our shit), let’s worry about the mountains and the trees and the water or whats’ left of it. I think we can make a change there first. let’s be good citizens first and obey the law, and If our politicians or warlords or thieves or whatever u wanna call them, see that we care about our country, then I believe they will be threatened by that and maybe start acting in the best interest of Lebanon and Lebanese (since again unfortunately, they are not going anywhere and we can’t get rid of them). Those warlords feed on our inability to live and accept each others as Lebanese citizens, not as Christian or Muslim or Durzi or whatever…
      I hope i’m making sense

      1. If you can just listen to yourselves and how U’re arguing and fighting over a small article !! and You really want the World to Believe in Lebanon !! and you really think that Lebanon will eventually, one day, turn to be a democratic peaceful country… Dears it starts with us and not with our president …

  15. “The only men to get power should be men who do not love it” – Plato,The Republic. I think that none of our dear candidates meets Plato’s basic requirement. Herein lies the source of all our political problems.Not before long would our country have True leaders whose riches consist not of gold but of the true happiness of a good and rational life.

  16. I love it! Very thought-provoking and well-written :)

    I have an article on my page about patriotism; I’ve written it myself :) Check it out if you’re interested :3

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