Quote of the Day
You can learn all about the human condition from covering the crime beat in a big city - you don't need to go to Beirut for that - but a foreign correspondent begins to understand poverty from a different perspective.
P. J. O'Rourke
Lebanon was at one time known as a nation that rose above sectarian hatred; Beirut was known as the Paris of the Middle East. All of that was blown apart by senseless religious wars, financed and exploited in part by those who sought power and wealth. If women had been in charge, would they have been more sensible? It's a theory.
Outside events can change a presidential campaign, a president, and the history of the nation: the Iranian hostage crisis, the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, the downing of the helicopter in Mogadishu, Somalia, the suicide attack on the USS Cole, and, of course, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
No matter where I go - London, Beirut, Jerusalem, Washington, Beijing, or Bangalore - I'm always looking to rediscover that land of ten thousand lakes where politics actually worked to make people's lives better, not pull them apart.
People have the problem of denial. This is one of the things I learned in Lebanon. Everybody who left Beirut when the war started, including my parents, said, 'Oh, its temporary.' It lasted 17 years! People tend to underestimate the gravity of these situations. That's how they work.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
When I look back on my childhood, I think of that short time in Beirut. I know that seeing the city collapse around me forced me to grasp something many people miss: the fragility of peace.
My memories of Kabul are vastly different than the way it is when I go there now. My memories are of the final years before everything changed. When I grew up in Kabul, it couldn't be mistaken for Beirut or Tehran, as it was still in a country that's essentially religious and conservative, but it was suprisingly progressive and liberal.
Hair is also a problem. I remember once, when I was reporting from Beirut at the height of the civil war, someone wrote in to the BBC complaining about my appearance.
I was actually lost in Beirut on the way home.
Our fumbling government's response since Beirut - during both Republican and Democratic administrations - has been to cut and run, or to flat ignore this growing threat, apparently hoping it would go away.
Beirut turned into a war zone in a matter of hours. We were stuck at home, the roads were blocked.
To the stern student of affairs, Beirut is a phenomenon, beguiling perhaps, but quite, quite impossible.
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