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Must read: Lebanon’s present…and future

May 7, 2009

David Samuels penned a beautifully written article on Lebanon, the decline of the US in the region, and Iran’s power in the Middle East.

You can get a pretty accurate sense of how Lebanon works by sitting in a restaurant in the Albergo Hotel, a decidedly luxurious place where I had lunch with a former intelligence professional and watched a dozen Lebanese cabinet ministers savor excellent Italian dishes. The tailored suits, the loosened ties, the broad hands, the arrangement of tall flowers in the center of the room–the scene had the sunlit inner presence, the radiant sensual completeness, of the world of physical objects as painted by Bonnard or Vuillard. Watching the ministers as they conducted their business, it was easy to see how the philosophical embrace of the physical world makes good sense here.

imagesNasrallah and his patrons in Iran guarantee the stability of the country while, day to day, mouthing all kinds of insane stuff designed to paralyze the faculty of reason. Someday soon, the key will turn in the lock, the door will open, and they will blow Lebanon to smithereens. Meanwhile, there are precious moments of physical existence to be savored, such as a diamond necklace for one’s wife, a pair of earrings for one’s mistress, a sizeable deposit in a numbered bank account, and shrimp fettucini at the Albergo.

There are so many wonderful turns of phrase (“Someday soon, the key will turn in the lock, the door will open, and they will blow Lebanon to smithereens,”) so many small vignettes (“shrimp fettucini at the Albergo”) that makes this worth reading.

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