Christian Decline and Models of Lebanon
Policy Paper No. 83, 1999
The struggle of the Lebanese Christians, especially the Maronites among them, is a long historical
drama of struggle against the forces of Islam and Arabism. After the outbreak of the war in Lebanon in
1975, the embattled Christians suffered a loss of power and numbers that culminated in Syrian invasion
and occupation of much of the country. The fate of Lebanon and the Christians of the Middle East has
been in a precarious and deteriorating condition ever since.
This policy paper examines the character of Lebanon according to four political
models. One is the dhimmi paradigm whereby the subjugated Christians, no less in this
era of powerful Islamic resurgence, face Muslim rule and the veritable Islamization of Lebanon which
once served as a native homeland of Oriental Christianity. A second model, yet related to the first,
posits Syrian occupation as the fundamental framework of Lebanese life leading to the Syrianization
of the country's security, political, economic, and educational domains. A third model for Lebanon
considers the Israeli connection which evolved into an intimate national relationship and a tight military
bond, however lapsing to some degree since the 1980s. And lastly, we examine the feasibility of a
Christian-led Lebanese national struggle against Syrian hegemonic rule, that would mount a military
and political resistance movement from within Lebanon and from abroad. The base of active operations
would be southern Lebanon with the Southern Lebanese Army serving as the spearhead of an offensive
strategy against Islamic and Syrian forces.
Two conditions in particular can make a Free Lebanon a true political possibility.
One is the instability which may strike at a post-Assad regime in Damascus, and the second, a renewed
Israeli commitment to support a Lebanese Christian national struggle. A viable and successful southern
Lebanese resistance can also provide the foundation for Israel's military withdrawal as a prudent policy
Ultimately, only the free Lebanese can liberate themselves and no outside
power can, or should, do the job for them.
For the complete
text of this article, click