THE BLOG

Cohen's Hallucinations in The New York Times

There is nothing worse than a shallow columnist pontificating about what should and should not happen in a country he discovered only last week. Roger Cohen, of The New York Times, reported from Beirut to correct what he believes to be America's illusions: The Lebanese need no justice; they better remain under the current status quo, stable and prosperous.

To support his argument, Cohen interviewed -- out of all people -- a Lebanese politician whose mental stability is doubted by his own supporters: Walid Jumblatt the flip-flopper.
Five years ago, a majority of the Lebanese said enough is enough to thirty years of Syrian occupation of their country, and to the unchecked power of the Hezbollah militia.
For standing up for their rights, the Lebanese were slaughtered.

In February, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated. In June, journalist Samir Kassir was killed. A few weeks later, the murderers got politician Goerge Hawi, and in December, they killed publisher Gebran Tueni.

Targeted killings continued against lawmakers, ministers and security officers opposed to Syrian influence and Hezbollah's thuggish behavior.

Jumblatt, described as "flip and shrewd" in Cohen's article, stood in one funeral after another, and delivered the most inspiring speeches.

"We're not alone in the world today," Jumblatt told hundreds of thousands rallying for justice. The Lebanese simply hope that justice would stem the cycle of blood revenge and move Lebanon from being a country of ravaging tribes to one where equal citizens live under the rule of law.

Jumblatt promised that the world would come to the rescue of the Lebanese, their sovereignty, their freedom, their independence and most important of all, their justice.

And the poor Lebanese, many of them believed Jumblatt and followed in his footsteps. They lived up to the challenge. Columnists wrote defiantly in newspapers against the Syrian autocrat and the hate mongers of Hezbollah. Politicians stood their grounds in support of an elected government. Security officials stayed the course in pursuing the investigation to unveil murderers. For doing so, all of these Lebanese were killed.

But whenever Jumblattm the pro-independence leadership, and the world, asked the Lebanese for more sacrifice, the Lebanese simply never stopped giving and sacrificing.

More than five years after Hariri and others were killed, a coward Jumblatt dropped his role as the instigator and caved.

In addition to Jumblatt, who led the Lebanese to hell and came back alone, all that Lebanon and the Lebanese needed was a journalist like Cohen with his superficial knowledge of Lebanon and the Middle East.

Cohen wrote: "Lebanese stability is precious and tenuous: It trumps justice delayed, flawed and foreign." Says who?

What are Cohen's stakes in Lebanon's justice, or stability? How many fellow journalists or friends has Cohen lost between 2005 and 2010? If Lebanon goes to civil war, or a tribunal brings murderers to justice, how would Cohen's life be affected either way?

As far as Roger Cohen is concerned, he printed an article in which he sounded, well, different. Smarter different? Not really.

Had Cohen talked to, say, Samir Kassir's widow, Giselle, who every morning passes by the spot-now-turned-shrine, in front of their house where Kassir was parked and bombed, Cohen would have probably heard words different from those of Jumblatt, the sleazy politician.

Perhaps, being the realist that he wants to be, Cohen is saying that the Lebanese should take all factors into consideration. Hezbollah, legally armed or not, is strong and cannot be disarmed. Therefore, justice should be scrapped in Lebanon.

In other words, Cohen was arguing for the rule of force. In Lebanon, might is right, and whoever read Cohen's article, should go buy arms and fend for themselves in a country where the law of the jungle prevails.

Too bad the chances for printing a rebuttal to Cohen's article in The New York Times are close to nil, and thank goodness for The Huffington Post for giving a Lebanese like me the chance to respond.

To Roger Cohen, people read, and they respond. This is one response from one angry Lebanese who has invested a lot in justice as the basis of a new and better Lebanon. No matter the price, the era of impunity in Lebanon should come to an end, whether Cohen and Jumblatt like it or not.