Lebanon came under attack from many subversive ideologies in the 1970s: Arabism, Baathism, Palestinianism, and Islamism. They threatened the country's unique nature and even its political existence. The Lebanese Forces (LF) arose in response, serving as a Christian resistance movement.
Moumneh's lengthy, historical narrative—rigorously factual and objective—chronicles their story. The author, born in Lebanon and now a Canadian policy analyst, interviewed pivotal Lebanese players in the drama and referenced Lebanese and international documents.The outbreak of warfare in 1975 by armed Palestinian organizations challenged and subverted the Lebanese state. Syria's military foray in 1976 then morphed into a full-scale foreign occupation and police state, soon joined by Iran's Hezbollah proxy.
Facing the liquidation of Lebanon's identity and survival, the Lebanese Forces evolved from "a coordinated body of militias to a surrogate government from 1976 to 1990, to a political organization from 1991 to 1993, and finally a banned political movement from 1994 up till 2005."
Despite calls on Syria to cease meddling and for Hezbollah to disarm, U.N. resolutions, the Taif accord, U.S. and French policies, Arab League demands, anti-Syrian protests, and Maronite patriarchate statements had little effect. Moumneh also shows the barren efforts of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, set up to convict the assassins of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, threatened and scorned by Assad and Hezbollah.
Samir Geagea, the book's central figure, seized command of the LF in the 1980s. Like others, he could not reverse Lebanon's collapse and surrender. Prime Minister Michel Aoun's "war of liberation" in 1990 against Syrian forces offered some hope when it mobilized widespread popular enthusiasm, only to culminate in Damascus smashing Lebanon's army and the Christian community. In 2005, great expectations resurfaced with the one-million-plus street rally in Beirut that launched the Cedars Revolution, but its impact fizzled out and disappeared.
To his credit, the author does not obscure the errors of the Christian resistance: The LF and army failed to merge; the Kataeb political party proved intolerant of rivals; and the idea of Lebanese federalism never became credible. Yet Moumneh still hopes that the day will come when Lebanon will be a modern, secular, and democratic country. His book offers a source for reflection on that hope.