Bashir_Lebanon and the European States

Lebanon and the European States

Relations between Lebanon and the European States deteriorated because the latter also tried to solve the Middle-East problem at the expense of Lebanon. In addition to this factor, many European countries had adopted the obsequious policy of fawning on the Arab States in order to secure their oil supplies. This was done, of course, at the expense of the Christians, of their security, their very existence. Bashir referred to both these factors in one of his speeches :

"Europe and many other States are not able to digest the Christian presence in this corner of the world, because it is a stumbling-block to most of their ambitions in this area... The Americans and the West have not yet assimilated the fact that we, the Christians of the Orient, represent their last line of defense against a return to the dark ages, against terror and blind fundamentalism, against those who seek to annihilate all the values of civilization and of their culture... Today, they want to 'sell us down the river' for a barrel of oil!"...

These two factors led Bashir to condemn the West in these words : "The West, today, is showing signs of decadence in its policies, in its morals, in its economy."

 In his tirade, Bashir did not omit France, and he frankly blamed it for the servile attitude of its former Foreign Minister, Louis de Guiringaud. "Periodically, we were fighting in self-defense here while De Guiringaud and Mondale were criticizing us for standing firm and calling us all sorts of names, alleging that we were a band of outlaws who deserved to be punished..." Yet, in spite of all this, Bashir reaffirmed Lebanon's affiliation to the Western democracies : "We are a part of the Free World", he said, and he declared that he was attached to the maintenance of good relations between Lebanon and France, because these were based on a sentimental background of intimate friendship and common interests between the two peoples, going far back in history.

For centuries past, these relations have been characterized by harmony and sincerity, and Lebanon has always shared France's moral principles of "Fraternity-Liberty-Equality". Another European State that drew Bashir's attention was West-Germany ; he considered that this country was likely to consolidate Lebanon's independence and participate in its development, while supporting its territorial integrity and national sovereignty.

Furthermore, he discovered, in the policies of the German Christian-Democrats, several analogies with his own personal views on liberty, justice, dignity humanity, democracy, plurality and social security.

In the context of Lebanon's relations with the Soviet Union, Bashir outlined the positive possibilities that could exist in the nature of these relations. He emphasized the ideological aspects in the links that could be established between the two States, and the ideological difference existing between Lebanon and the Soviet Union, specifying however, that this should not prevent Russia from playing a positive role in solving the Lebanese crisis, especially as the Soviets seem to be intent on having role in Lebanon. And they can certainly play this role, together with the Americans, bearing in mind however that Lebanon is nobody's picnic-ground, nor is it an administrative department of either of the superpowers, whether Soviet or American...

And despite the fact that an eventual Sovieto-American role in solving the Lebanese crisis was of major importance with regard to the Middle-East, Bashir was not so inclined to leave the matter to these two powers alone, or to any other power by itself : he entertained hopes for an international solution to the Lebanese question. In line with this outlook, he invited all parties and States having direct or indirect link with events in Lebanon - and first and foremost among these, Syria, the Arab States, the USA, the Soviet Union, the other great powers, and the United Nations, to guarantee Lebanon's political existence.

When Sheikh Bashir Gemayel, the lawyer, left his barrister's office in Hamra street in April 1975, he had a feeling that he was to become the staunch pillar of a nation confronted with all sorts of challenges from without, and intolerable excesses committed by foreigners within its borders. But what Bashir was unaware of at the time, was that Fate had chosen him to become, one day, the leader of the Lebanese people in their long march throuthout the most critical crisis of their history.

In fact, the lengthy war, on that tiny battleground assumed divers forms, and the burden fell on him, at every stage, to think, to take decisions, and to act on them. For he was the popular leader in whom all hopes had been placed, and dreams had been built on his own ambitions. But he was careful to ensure that every step taken should be effective and produce the desired result. It was therefore necessary for him to be thoroughly acquainted with all the constituent elements of Lebanon, whether social, economic political, or cultural ; he would have to study their nature, and analyze their content. Then, he would strive to correct their course, to amend their deficiencies, and eliminate their imperfections.... and these reforms would be applied as a cure for Lebanon's numerous ills. Bashir's task was by no means an easy one, particularly when one considers the confused and involved nature of the relations between the various Lebanese individuals and communities ever since the proclamation of the National Charter in 1943 (just after Independence). In fact, it was this same muddled confusion that ignited the first sparks of war, and threatened to obliterate the country's entity. What Bashir had to tackle, in short, was a complex political, social and geographical jigsaw puzzle, under which a lighted fuse was burning... It was first of all necessary to identify the multifarious elements, to diagnose their ailments, to reject the rotten parts, and to strengthen the sound ones, developing them into useful and productive components of a diseased whole. Bashir further considered it necessary to propose a restructuration of the relations between the disparate elements of Lebanese society, based on the factorial appurtenance of its constituents. Briefly, a redistribution of the political cards, and a remodeling of the demographic blend that would endure the test of time and at worst, be crisis-proof.

These new relations between the individuals and the collectivities forming the Lebanese nation should, in Bashir's view, be clear in their characteristic traits, well-defined in their aims, unified in their affiliation, and capable of ensuring the success of the Lebanese wager and its perennity.

In addition to the numerous answers furnished by the Resistance on various matters of the hour, Bashir was also called upon to provide answers to the most sensitive and delicate questions which troubled the minds of most people. A good many Lebanese were outspoken, and aired their anxiety openly : Was there really one single Lebanese society?

What is the Christian Lebanese community? What is the Muslim Lebanese community?

How should these two behave with each other? What is the role of the State and the individual in this context?

In the following lines, we shall strive to discover the elements that Bashir considered appropriate for Lebanese society, basing our study on his own statements and the positions he adopted since the outbreak of the war in 1975, and right until the summer of 1982, when hope was kindled a new in the hearts of the Lebanese people. A review of these attitudes provides us with a clear picture of this leader, whose task was not only to defend Lebanon's dignity and honor, but went much farther, to the reconstruction of a new nation, a stronger nation with a greater capacity to resist perils and difficulties.

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