The Lebanese army is about the only institution still working in this country
By Robert Fisk
"......Well, I don't really want an armoured door on my home. But have things deteriorated this far in Beirut? I pondered what to say to Mustafa. Truly, I could not repeat the latest mantra of the late Tony Blair - south of the Lebanese border and talking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - that he had "a sense of possibilities".
All of us in Lebanon have a "sense of possibilities" right now - and they are all bad. The Lebanese army - still fighting its way into the Palestinian Nahr el-Bared refugee camp in the north of the country more than a month after the minister of defence announced total victory over the army's "Fatah al-Islam" opponents - is about the only institution still working in this country. Yesterday morning's Beirut newspapers carried front-page pictures of Lebanese soldiers aboard an armoured personnel carrier, all making "victory" signs to photographers.
But victory over whom? Day after day, we've been watching the US air force C-130s arriving at Beirut's Rafiq Hariri International Airport .....with their cargoes of weapons for the Lebanese army. Would that they had arrived a year ago, many Lebanese say, when Israel was destroying much of Lebanon. But of course, a year ago, the American air force C-130s were arriving in Israel with weapons to be used against Lebanon, including cluster munitions which have contaminated 36.6 million square metres of Lebanon.
The United Nations (my favourite donkey, which always clip-clops into the killing fields when the United States get stuck) reports that 23 Lebanese civilians have been killed by these wretched weapons since last year's war, and 203 wounded. In a truly pitiful remark, the UN Secretary-General stated last month: "I regret to have to report that, despite a number of attempts by UN senior officials to obtain information regarding the firing data of cluster munitions utilised (sic) during last summer's conflict, Israel has yet to provide this critical data." To which my reaction is: why not ask Washington for the information? Surely a UN official could take the Amtrak out of New York and pick up the figures from the Pentagon?.....
And the UN has discovered much, much more. But the news is all bad. Across the Middle East, it is all bad. From the Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan to the hell-disaster in Iraq, from the mini-civil war in the Pakistani north-west frontier to the chaos of Gaza and the occupied West Bank. This is not a time for a "sense of possibilities". My landlord is right. Weld the iron door to the entrance of our homes."