July 31, 2006

Why an actual peace treaty is essential in Lebanon

War is inevitably a terrible thing. This truth is repeatedly forgotten or disregarded, not least in the Middle East, most recently by Hizbollah and Israel alike, and perhaps by other parties influencing the Lebanese conflict as well.

But I am writing today, not about hatred and folly in general, but about a narrower point – namely, the need for an actual peace treaty in Lebanon, after decades of a formal state of war. Such a treaty is, in my judgment, essential for Lebanon’s economic future. And so it is essential for Israel’s security too, and by extension for the security of many other countries as well. For if Lebanon does not thrive — if the people of Lebanon lose hope — Lebanon will remain what it has been for three decades, an unstable and uncontrollable enemy of the Israeli state.

Lebanon is, in essence, a Third-World country – but one with access to a First-World talent pool, both in its diaspora and in its own educated and entrepreneurial resident citizenry. Yes, I’m aware that the ones I’ve met are probably the very best, the very brighest, and the most drivenly energetic. Even so, I have high confidence that there’s a large group behind them who can also, without apology, compete and win at the forefront of the world’s growth industries. Lebanon’s economic future depends almost entirely on whether that talent pool can be used to grow a modern, information-heavy, export-oriented economic sector. But that growth is impossible as long as non-Lebanese – and for that matter Lebanese themselves – rightly fear that the bombs and bullets will fly again. It’s a matter of investment prudence. Nobody is going to depend on a Lebanese partner for anything important, when the country itself can be torn to shreds again at a moment’s notice. There are too many other, safer places to turn.

I ran a panel at the recent TechLeb conference. On that panel, we extrapolated from the successful experiences of countries such as Ireland, India, and the United States itself, trying to figure out how best Lebanon could grow a technology industry, with all the benefits tech-led economic development brings. And there were lots of good, specific suggestions. But those details aren’t important now. What is essential — more than anything — is that there be a reliable peace. Nothing else matters – not pride, not vengeance, not even justice. Just a secure peace, internally and externally alike.

If such a peace comes, the world will step up to help Lebanon, for a variety of obvious reasons. There will be hope – justified hope. And if they can maintain their hope, and if outsiders maintain that hope too, then the Lebanese people, of multiple religions and ancestries, will build a vibrant, even booming country. But if peace once again does not come – if there is merely another tense ceasefire and temporary accommodation — then a generation or two will rightly despair, outside Lebanon for sure and probably inside the country as well. And if that happens, it will be decades before Lebanon has another chance to be a healthy member of the community of nations.


Comments are closed.

Feed including blog about enterprise technology strategy and public policy Subscribe to the Monash Research feed via RSS or email:


Search our blogs and white papers

Monash Research blogs

User consulting

Building a short list? Refining your strategic plan? We can help.

Vendor advisory

We tell vendors what's happening -- and, more important, what they should do about it.

Monash Research highlights

Learn about white papers, webcasts, and blog highlights, by RSS or email.