Twenty Years Ago: My husband begins calling relatives in his hometown, Beirut. They, unlike us, have televisions and have seen the second plane smashing into the tower. “God help us if this is from the Middle East!” my husband says softly. Soon more shock waves of this merciless quake arrive: The Pentagon has also been hit. Four passenger jets on transcontinental flights are reported hijacked. Three are accounted for, all their passengers and crews dead. How many more planes have embarked on murderous suicide missions? And for whom?
Twenty years hence, will we be watching the current rising global superpower – China – becoming mired in Afghanistan, repeating a pattern that saw Alexander the Great, the British Empire, the Soviet Union, and now the United States and NATO stumble and fall in that mountainous country? The Taliban are sure to have strong opinions about their neighbor China’s treatment of its Muslim Uighur minority. Déjà vu all over again would be tragic, but not surprising.
A headline in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz on the first anniversary of the blast declared bluntly that “Lebanon was beyond saving.” No: Lebanon and the Lebanese can and must be saved. It is the political class that must be removed from power and set adrift in the toxic sea of sin and sorrow they have created. An international investigation is crucial if Lebanon is ever to recover from this heinous crime.
Pegasus is not simply a phone hacking technology; it is a weapon, one that elicits fear and threatens the lives and livelihoods of anyone whose mobile devices have been infected with it. According to NSO, its Pegasus spyware is named after the mythical winged horse, but NSO calls it a “Trojan horse,” and brags that it can fly anywhere and access anyone’s private information.
Whether Iran attains enhanced nuclear capability or not, the Islamic Republic already has a prominent and growing role in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon. And it is in Lebanon that a variety of troubling regional fault lines now intersect just as the fractured Lebanese political system is on the brink of total collapse.
The attrition of the United States’ global hegemony is well underway, and with numerous and serious challenges at home—not least of which is a deeply divided populace roiling with White supremacist ideologies and domestic terrorists in the midst of a brutal pandemic—Biden cannot afford to take his eye off the domestic policy front, even as he and his administration struggle to cobble together a coherent foreign policy agenda.