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This was not to be forgotten in Damascus. The creation of the new Arab state system had hardly been completed by the late 1920s and early 1930s when political inertia and vested interests began to give it a reality. As men of political ambition began to compete for power and position in the different countries, and as each of these countries came to have its own ruling establishment and administrative bureaucracy, the lines of demarcation between them, hardly any of which was a natural or historical frontier, began to harden.

Yet another initial advantage of the country was its geographic location, which could make of it the ideal gateway from the West to the Arab world. In addition to all this, there was the experienced mercantile initiative and exceptional adaptability of the people, and the cultural tolerance which they generally exhibited, most notably in the coastal cities, and most of all in cosmopolitan Beirut. All that Lebanon needed to be a success was political accord and an even social development among the different communities which had come to form its population and in the different regions it had come to comprise.

But it was certainly no accident that the original proponents of Lebanism in the country were almost exclusively Christians, and for the most part Maronites, while the most unbending proponents of Arabism, as a community, were the Muslims. Clearly, in both cases, what was actually said by way of argument on the surface covered something else underneath: the source of the problems. What was this underlying element in each case, which made the declared positions of the two sides so irreconcilable as to keep the question of Lebanon, interminably, an outstanding one?

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Air War - Desert Storm

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