Coexistence in Wartime Lebanon: Decline of a State and Rise of a Nation by Theodor Hanf
This book combines a vast encyclopedic history of the war in Lebanon with a penetrating sociological analysis. Tracing the war to its origins, the author shows that it has been primarily a surrogate war over Palestine which escalated into a conflict between the diverse Lebanese communities, each afraid of being the player left standing in a macabre game of musical chairs. Hanf's central theme is the problem of conflict and conflict regulation between these groups. How were conflicts regulated peacefully before the war? How did the country come to be the battlefield of both a surrogate war and a civil war? How do the Lebanese view what has happened in their country? What are their aspirations and how do they conceive a realistic settlement? Is there any prospect of re-establishing coexistence between different elements of Lebanese society? The author sets out to answer these and other important questions using a wide range of literature as well as his own extensive research in the country. He writes optimistically, suggesting that although fear can breed a vicious circle of hatred and violence, it can also produce reason and compromise.