Criticism and Defeat: An Introduction to George Hawi

A secondary objective of Israel’s invasion of Lebanon was to strike at the forces of the Arab left, which since 1967 had made Beirut their intellectual and, in many cases, operational center. Israel did not fully achieve this objective, just as it failed in several other of its war aims. Nonetheless, the invasion marks an end to a certain period in the historical development of the Arab left, and particularly the Lebanese left.

With this in mind, many cadres and supporters of the left organizations have demanded that they conduct at this juncture a critical analysis of their activity since 1967. That year had marked an earlier point at which the magnitude of political and military defeat prompted much self-examination on the part of left thinkers and activists. One of the most notable of these efforts was that of Sadiq Jalal al-‘Azm, whose 1968 book, Self-Criticism After the Defeat, sharply criticized what he regarded as the empty sloganeering of Nasserism and the Baath. [1] These were primarily responsible, in his view, for deluding the Arab masses into thinking that their societies were capable of confronting Israel militarily. Al-‘Azm dealt the literary and theoretical coup de grace to “petty bourgeois radical Arab nationalism,” just as the 1967 war represented its military demise. He followed this a year later with the publication of his Critique of Religious Thought, an even more devastating attack on Muslim and Christian religious obscurantism which, he argued, removed any responsibility for the defeat from the Arab people and especially their political leaders. [2] Such thinking, he maintained, blocked the development of scientific and rational thought which are prerequisites for the social transformation and liberation of Arab society.

The 1967 defeat was an important factor in the Palestine Liberation Organization’s rise to prominence, not only as an expression of Palestinian national aspirations but as an influential factor in regional politics. The post-1967 Arab left, including elements within the PLO, endorsed the more radical implications of al-‘Azm’s arguments, at least nominally. At a wider level, though, many Arab intelligentsia and political leaders took al-‘Azm’s critique to mean that the essential task facing the Arab people was to build strong, modern states. They supported the replacement of radical nationalist regimes with more conservative, openly pro-capitalist ones, which promoted their own state-building objectives above all else. The new Arab left which emerged after 1967, of which the PLO and the coalition known as the Lebanese National Movement (LNM) were the most important expressions, sought to present a revolutionary alternative both to the defeated regimes and their successors.

Palestinian Evaluations

Several self-critical analyses of the 1982 defeat have appeared from both Palestinian and Lebanese quarters, but none so far have dared to offer as comprehensive and incisive a self-criticism as al-‘Azm’s earlier efforts. The component organizations of the PLO at first claimed that, despite the obvious military defeat, the PLO emerged from the war politically stronger than ever before. The Palestinian national question, they asserted, had never before commanded so much attention from world public opinion. Some organizations and individuals emphasized that the ability of the PLO/LNM Joint Forces to hold the Israeli army outside Beirut represented a military triumph. The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which many hoped would take the lead in offering critical evaluations of the PLO’s past practices, adopted these positions in their first post-invasion political reports. [3] Yasser Arafat also embraced these views in his memoir of the war. [4]

These assertions, while they pay tribute to the heroism of the fighters against overwhelming odds, have avoided the difficult political questions. They served to deflect attention away from a searching examination of the political and military practice of the PLO and the LNM, especially in south Lebanon and west Beirut, which they effectively controlled for several years before the invasion. The extent of the military defeat, particularly the collapse of any resistance in the Shouf and in Shi‘i areas, is the result of political, not technical, weaknesses.

The resolutions of the sixteenth session of the Palestine National Council (PNC) in Algiers in February 1983 broke no new ground. Understandably, they expressed the need for unity and political coherence in the face of strong pressures from the US, Israel, and various Arab states. Nevertheless, some criticisms of the PLO’s past practices did emerge in Algiers. Salah Salah of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine spoke sharply of the PLO’s failure to treat the Lebanese and Palestinian masses in a manner which would assure their continued support for these movements. [5] Salah’s attack was quite strong, but it lacked specificity. It did not clearly identify what practices he considered unacceptable, who was responsible for them, and what should be done to eliminate them. This inevitably weakened the thrust of his criticism.

The consensus politics of the PNC, as it turned out, did not prevent a rebellion within Fatah’s ranks later in the spring. The rebels attacked Arafat and the PLO leadership for corruption and military incompetence, charges which found considerable support among Palestinian cadre. The close alignment which quickly developed between the rebel movement and Syria and its adherence to a simplistic and naive political line of “armed struggle,” dissipated most of its popular strength and isolated it from any mass Palestinian base. The rebellion, for these reasons, has not precipitated any serious, sustained critique of political practice and strategy at the Palestinian level. [6]

Lebanese Critiques

Among the Marxist elements of the LNM there was less reluctance to assess the events of the summer of 1982 as a defeat of tremendous proportions, and to draw conclusions from this assessment. Muhsin Ibrahim, the Secretary General of the Organization of Communist Action (OCA), was one of the first to call for a critical review of the LNM’s practice over the previous decade. [7] In his account, Ibrahim generally upholds the political line and practical activity of the LNM, but he offers three criticisms of the LNM’s practice. First, although the LNM was fully committed to secularism in principle, Ibrahim admits that there were occasional “sectarian excesses” in practice — a reference to the fact that anti-Phalange Christians were occasionally attacked by members of the LNM. Ibrahim softens this by asserting that these “excesses” were far fewer than those committed by the Phalange and the Lebanese Front, which were sectarian formations in principle.

Second, Ibrahim argues that the LNM might have done more to assert its independence from the Arab states that intervened in the 1975-1976 civil war — meaning, but not naming, Syria. He affirms that the LNM, and especially the OCA, opposed this intervention. He argues, though, that the degree of political independence which the LNM might have had was limited by the prevailing regional balance of forces. Ibrahim correctly points out that those who criticize the LNM today — the Phalange in particular — for falling hostage to various Arab states and their interests, do so in order to obscure their own alliance with Israel.

Finally, Ibrahim admits that there were shortcomings in the LNM’s dealings with the Lebanese population under its control after the de facto partition of Lebanon in 1976. This was, he believes, due to the multi-class character of the LNM and the persistence of traditional political attitudes among some of its constituent elements.

The OCA has been a close ally of the Communist Party of Lebanon (CPL) within the LNM, and shares many positions in common with it. The leadership of the CPL has been somewhat more openly self-critical of LNM practice. In November 1982, the CPL’s theoretical quarterly, al-Tariq, interviewed the party secretary-general George Hawi. In this lengthy interview, which is excerpted below, Hawi emphasizes that he is expressing only his personal views and not the official positions of the party, but he states his intent to initiate a comprehensive political debate among all progressive Lebanese and Arab political forces on the causes of the defeat and the course of future political action. Al-Tariq, moreover, has opened its pages to non-party writers to encourage them to participate in this debate. Such a degree of openness is unusual in a traditional pro-Soviet communist party, and is a hopeful sign.

Among the non-party writers who availed themselves of this forum was the literary and cultural critic, Elias Khouri, whose contribution, “Questions of Culture and Questions of Occupation,” appeared in the spring 1983 issue. Khouri is sharply critical of the whole cultural atmosphere of post-1967 Beirut. The military regimes which were established in the Arab countries after the 1967 defeat “extended into the mosaic of social groups that make up Lebanese society.” Intellectuals fled to Beirut and there busied themselves with translation and research activities in institutes funded by the Arab regimes. Intellectual life became isolated from its roots in society, and intellectuals became “technicians of culture.” Khouri offers a grim assessment of the political events of the period 1978-1982:

The Lebanese civil war, followed by Lebanon’s subjection to Israeli occupation, revealed the extent of the failure of the nationalist movement — a failure which led it to negate its own theses. It also revealed the great void created by the destruction of all social conventions. The region now finds itself threatened with absolute disintegration. Sectarian practices during the war have left their mark on all sectors of society.

Khouri calls on progressive intellectuals to abandon the narrow confines which have circumscribed their activity since 1967. “Posing questions for which we have no absolute answers is prompted by the necessity of confronting and trying to understand the new situation.” In the realm of culture the most important questions, according to Khouri, are: 1) Why couldn’t the democratic opposition forces establish an independent mode of cultural expression? 2) Why was the flowering of Lebanese liberalism a transparent cover for a raging civil war? 3) Why was Arab culture an appendage to and dependent upon political regimes and therefore incapable of being an expression of objective reality? While acknowledging that the central task of progressive forces in Lebanon is resistance to Israeli occupation by all means at their disposal, Khouri warns against “resorting to facile and ready-made answers” to the questions he poses — “to call for a culture of resistance, a culture of mobilization, and to ignore, postpone and stifle these questions.”

In his words, “The reality of the occupation requires that all taboos fall. Democratic practices have long been sacrificed in the name of the ‘sacred cause.’ Where did that lead us?… All the trappings and illusions of official culture and ideology — legitimizing the primacy of a strong state — must fall. Only democracy can create the context for self-criticism of present errors and permit the formation and crystallization of popular resistance.”

The following excerpts from George Hawi’s interview in al-Tariq should be placed in the context of the political and intellectual currents discussed above. The selections here emphasize those passages with the greatest self-critical content, and which indicate the possibility of openness to new directions in political thinking. [8] This selectivity may give a somewhat exaggerated picture of the extent to which Hawi and the CPL are prepared to reconsider previous political assumptions. Overall, Hawi’s comments share a problem with virtually all of the critical writings on the war which have appeared so far. Most importantly, they are not sufficiently specific. At the time of this interview, Israel occupied nearly a third of Lebanon’s territory, the massacres of Sabra and Shatila were less than three months past, and thousands of political activists were (and still are) interned by the Israelis, the Lebanese Army and the Phalangist militias. None of these conditions should be taken as reason not to pursue critical analysis further. They do, however, impose limitations on the manner in which it can begin. George Hawi, like Muhsin Ibrahim, has stressed that his contribution represents no final word, but merely a first call for wide-ranging critiques of the war and its consequences.

Joel Beinin


[1] Sadiq Jalal al-‘Azm, al-Naqd al-dhati ba‘da al-hazima (Beirut, 1968). Fuad Ajami, in The Arab Predicament (New York, 1981), provides a survey of the literature of this genre.
[2] Sadiq Jalal al-‘Azm, Naqd al-fikr al-dini (Beirut, 1969).
[3] See, for example, The Political Report of the Expanded Central Committee Session of the DFLP (December 1982) and the Political Statement of the Fourth Session of the PFLP Central Committee (January 1983).
[4] This memoir originally appeared in the Kuwaiti al-Anba’. I have relied on the version reprinted in the pro-Phalange Lebanese-American journal Lebanon News, March 30-April 6, 1983.
[5] Al-Hadaf, March 14, 1983.
[6] For an excellent analysis of the issues in the rebellion see Eric Rouleau, “La mutinere contre M. Yasser Arafat,” Le Monde Diplomatique, August 1983; and “The Future of the PLO,” Foreign Affairs (Fall 1983).
[7] He expressed his views on the matter in a series of interviews published in the weekly Bayrut al-Masa’ between November 13 and December 25, 1982. These were subsequently reprinted in a book entitled al-Harb wa tajribat al-haraka al-wataniyya al-Lubnaniyya [The War and the Experience of the Lebanese National Movement] (Beirut, 1983).
[8] This translation is from the French edition of Hawi’s remarks as published by the French Communist Party. Whereas the original Arabic text followed a question-and-answer format, the French edition grouped and condensed somewhat Hawi’s remarks under topical headings. The headings presented here are those numbered 4, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 19,20 and 21, respectively. Unless indicated by an elipse, the text of each particular heading is presented in full.

Some of Our Allies Lacked Clear-Sightedness

Many did not foresee the possibility of an Israeli drive going beyond the south all the way to Mount Lebanon and then Beirut itself. The forces in the Mountain seemed to be completely surprised, for there was no combat there at all! The [Progressive] Socialist Party, with its strong roots in Mount Lebanon, bears a responsibility for this which can’t be ignored. Certain people, lacking foresight, underestimated the coordination between Israel and the Lebanese fascist forces, a coordination which proved to be very extensive and close.

Naturally, the Socialist Party is not alone responsible for the total lack of military confrontation in the Mountain. We must not forget how demobilized people in the region were after the first few days of fighting, as the Syrians fled from the battlefield and the Israelis made lightning advances. Furthermore, agents of the Lebanese fascist forces and the Israeli secret services had made a big effort to undermine the resistance. From the very start of the invasion, highly organized and deeply rooted forces emerged in Mount Lebanon calling for surrender — much to the surprise of the Socialist Party.

These errors of foresight were not limited to Mount Lebanon. Allies in Beirut, such as the Murabitun, had ruled out any possibility of renewed hostilities in Lebanon since 1976. These forces adopted a “theatrical” style in their organization and action, both political and even military. Arms served more for show than for serious use in future combat; this was especially true in Beirut itself.

Palestinian Miscalculations

We think the Palestinian leadership miscalculated. The way the Palestinians fought shows it. How otherwise can we explain how the PLO leadership allowed itself to be closed into a city like Beirut after only ten days of battle? If the PLO had foreseen the extent of the fighting, it would certainly have acted differently. Combat would have been tougher and would have lasted a longer time in the south, at Sidon and at Tyre, and even in the Mountain and along the Damascus highway, and everything would have been done to insure an avenue of retreat. The PLO must have been counting on the possibility that the Arabs and the rest of the world would stop the Israeli invasion at the outset. They apparently didn’t imagine an indefinitely long battle in which the Palestinian and progressive Lebanese forces would be left alone without any effective Arab or international support.

Syrian Errors

Syrian policy vacillated and obviously was lacking in clarity of vision. At the start of its offensive, Israel purposefully announced that its forces did not want to engage in hostilities with Syrian forces stationed in Lebanon. As the Israeli troops advanced, however, they took the Syrian positions, one after another, from the south right up to the Damascus highway.

The Syrians took the Israeli message at face value. They decided not to confront the Israeli forces for fear that the war would spread. As the Israeli forces advanced, the Syrian forces withdrew northward, though not without suffering heavy losses in men and equipment. (These Syrian losses would certainly not have been greater if the Syrian soldiers had engaged in battle with the enemy!) Syria must have thought, from the earliest hours of the invasion, that an Israeli occupation of south Lebanon was not its direct concern. However, even if the invasion had been limited, Syrian interests were involved, no matter how you look at it. Not least affected were the Syrian presence in Lebanon and Syria’s balance of its forces with Israel.

The Heavy Responsibility of Arab Reaction

At the level of the Arab world, believe me, there was not the slightest illusion or miscalculation. On the contrary, Arab reaction had full knowledge of the invasion plans, was in agreement that the invasion take place, and even encouraged it. One could even say that there was indirect Arab financing of the invasion via the United States….

Israel is thus not simply a club in the hands of the United States but also a protector of the class interests of Arab reaction. This reaction sees Israel as an effective and cheap means to crush revolts, liberation movements and revolutionary political forces. Arab governments as a whole are heavily responsible for what happened. Arab states were either direct associates at the side of the United States and Israel in the offensive, or they were complicit in the offensive, or they were impotent.

Lebanon Shouldn’t Have Had to Suffer So Much

The main error which was committed in Lebanon in the period preceding the Israeli invasion was not taking into consideration the impact of the Camp David accords on the balance of forces in the region…. After the Camp David Accords, could Lebanon still afford to have the Syrian army on its soil? Could Lebanon still afford such an extended presence of the Palestinian army, an army which was nearly everywhere in the country, and loaded with arms, but unable to organize their use or even to defend them? We shared these concerns with the most serious and clear-thinking members of the Palestinian leadership. Above all we shared them with Yasser Arafat, who was himself a victim of inter-Palestinian and inter-Arab competition. This competition drove the Palestinian resistance to foolishly amass an enormous quantity of arms, the sole purpose of which was to strengthen this or that tendency in the internal Palestinian conflict or Palestinian relations with this or that Arab state.

The Fatal Errors of the Palestinian Resistance

This useless overarming was combined with another equally alarming practice: acts of extortion committed by individuals and even whole organizations of the Palestinian resistance. Although we Communists were the strongest in our criticism of these acts of extortion to the PLO leadership, we think that we should have made more criticism of this practice in public, so as to create a more effective pressure for stopping it. For this practice, more than anything else, weakened support and sympathy for the Palestinian resistance among the Lebanese people.

I also want to mention here a problem of the joint strategy of the Palestinian resistance, the National Movement and Syria in Lebanon between 1977 and the Israeli invasion. This serious error was a manifold opposition to the reinforcement of a central Lebanese government authority, lt is true that the absence of such an authority provided a useful protection to the Palestinian resistance during the two years of the civil war, in 1975 and 1976. But after the signature of the Camp David Accords and in the absence of an alternative strategy, it became necessary to return real power to the Lebanese government. The absence of such power exposed the Palestinian resistance to all the external dangers which came to the fore in the period since the Israeli-Egyptian accord.

Unfortunately, the Palestinian resistance ignored this danger and even went so far as to set up a type of mini-state on Lebanese soil, lt bypassed the legal authorities and assumed effective power in many regions of Lebanon, imposing itself on Lebanese citizens and even on the Lebanese National Movement. We never understood this need of the Palestinian resistance to operate outside of (and at the expense of) Lebanese social reality, Lebanese governmental authority and Lebanese progressive forces. We have asked ourselves: how serious were the “lessons” supposedly drawn by the resistance from the events in Jordan in 1970 and particularly from the experiences with the Jordanian national movement?

The Internal Conflict Should Have Been Kept a Strictly Lebanese Affair

In recent years, we have always emphasized the need to keep the internal conflict strictly Lebanese. Otherwise, the conflict appears to be between a Phalangist Party carrying the banner of independence and national liberation on the one hand and forces which, though Lebanese, are something of an Arab diaspora in Lebanon, on the other.

We have always emphasized the delicacy of Lebanese-Arab relations in Lebanese internal politics. We have criticized certain Lebanese Muslim circles [those of former prime ministers Sa‘ib Salam and Rashid Karami], which have always depended on Arab countries to support them in the internal Lebanese balance of forces. We have also criticized the unfortunate tendency of certain Arab countries to impose themselves as mediators between Lebanese communities. Thirdly, we have criticized the tendency of the Lebanese isolationist forces [a left term for the Phalangists] to negotiate the condition of the Muslim community with Arab countries! All these unfortunate tendencies have a common result, which is harmful to real Lebanese patriots — those who defend the idea of Lebanon as part of the Arab world. The reason for this anomaly, this paradox, is to be found in the class basis of those in power in the Arab countries, as well as that of the isolationist and Muslim political forces in Lebanon.

We will not remain silent about this, even if it does not please our Palestinian and Syrian allies. We continue to believe that we should strengthen the development of Lebanese patriotism in our own ranks. If we did, it would undercut the only argument the fascist forces can use to cover up their real policy of national treason and appeal to foreign forces.

Political Limitations within the Lebanese National Movement

All of the above does not eliminate the need for our own self-criticism — that is, self-criticism at the level of the Lebanese National Movement. I should say right off, however, that this criticism of the Lebanese National Movement is also a criticism of our own policy, since we Communists have played a leading role in the Movement, particularly in defining its political line throughout the last seven years.

In 1976 we abandoned our Reform Program. [9] We did so under pressure, when the unfavorable balance of forces after the first two years of civil war forced us to make a tactical retreat. But this had disastrous repercussions on the internal Lebanese conflict. It allowed the demands of the Muslim communities — legitimate demands for equality — to appear as the sole positions of the anti-fascist camp. Our camp thus lost its secular and democratic nature. Muslim demands for equality should have been subsumed within the vast democratic and secular program of the National Movement, a program whose secular reforms would eliminate all religious oppression. Instead, the National Movement seemed to be dominated by the Muslim movement, as if it were just part of one of the two camps in the “traditional” Lebanese conflict….

Another tactical error was not always giving priority to working toward national reconciliation. We have always been aware that real national reconciliation is impossible as long as one of the sides in the conflict is closely allied with Israel, and as long as the central government is subordinated to American policy. But a basis for such reconciliation work nonetheless lies in our ties to the masses and to all honest people in our country. The majority of Lebanese expected the National Movement to resume its work towards a democratic solution to the Lebanese conflict. In the meantime, though, and in the absence of such work on our part, many people rejoined the Muslim current or even the isolationist current under military pressure in the Phalangist-controlled areas.

There were numerous obstacles to a policy of reconciliation by our Arab allies, some of whom openly sought to prevent an internal solution to the Lebanese conflict. Furthermore, these same allies were opposed to any work of the National Movement which sought to resolve the problems of the population in the crisis. In fact, there was opposition to any effort to restore the internal Lebanese character of the conflict and to reach an internal solution to it.

Autonomy of the National Movement and Efforts to Dominate It

These errors created a gulf between the leadership of the National Movement and some of the Lebanese masses. The origin of these errors and this gulf is in the opposition of our allies to a truly autonomous movement, independent in its decisions, its positions and its work. This takes us back to the Palestinian tendency to impose itself as a party in the internal Lebanese conflict and to establish relations in the conflict outside of those of its ally, the Lebanese National Movement. [10] This also takes us back to the Syrian logic in the conflict. Syria always tried to hold its own card in the conflict, and it even considered Lebanon as a card it could hold to further its interests regionally. These tendencies of our allies were not in their own interests nor in our own interest either. We didn’t defend our own independence of decision and action vigorously enough.

“Self-Destruction” of the Patriotic Camp

We should emphasize that within the Lebanese National Movement the Communists were the fiercest defenders of the movement’s autonomy. This resulted in a great deal of tension with certain wings of the Palestinian resistance [mainly Fatah]. Worst of all, there was a series of bloody clashes with the Shi‘i movement — a grinding civil war which did a lot to weaken the patriotic camp just before the Israeli invasion. The self-destruction in our camp had other origins as well. There was the murderous conflict between Syria and the PLO, often with Lebanese caught up on the two sides. There were the Lebanese reverberations of all the conflicts in the Arab world. But above all there were the continuous Palestinian acts of extortion against the interests of the population (and the lack of firmness on our part in opposing them).

Extortion by Certain Elements of the Lebanese National Movement

In all honesty, the Palestinian resistance and the Syrian secret service were not alone in carrying out this type of extortion. Certain elements of the Lebanese National Movement, usually those linked to a particular Arab regime or to a particular Palestinian organization, were implicated as well. They are partially responsible for the climate of internal tension and smoldering warfare within the patriotic camp since the start of the Lebanese civil war in 1975, and particularly in the period just before the Israeli invasion.

We should admit that our party did not struggle enough against the acts of extortion of its own Lebanese allies, even though we challenge anyone, enemies or allies alike, to come up with even the slightest extortion committed by Communists during this period.

Our own integrity does not excuse us, however, from having sat at the same table with organizations that carried out theft and that forced people to pay ransoms, dealing a serious blow to the image of the National Movement. Organizations responsible for these activities were not simply the tiny groups created by the Syrian secret service and the Palestinian resistance. Unfortunately, key organizations of the National Movement were steeped in this behavior. At the time, we made our criticisms in private meetings with them. Now we think we should have gone further, by publicly denouncing these actions which were extremely prejudicial to the National Movement and to our own party. We could also talk about the confessionally based practice of these same organizations of the Lebanese National Movement, practices which even cost the life of many Christian Communist militants!

Hesitations in Providing for the Daily Needs of the Population

In the regions not controlled by the fascist forces, relations between the leadership of the National Movement and the local population suffered many ups and downs. The Lebanese National Movement was always aware of the need to provide for the daily needs of the people in these regions, where extreme anarchy prevailed. Unfortunately, the wish to do something was never translated into practice.

First of all, elements of the Nationalist Movement such as the Socialist Party and its leader Walid Jumblatt had illusions about the central government under President Sarkis. For a long time, Walid Jumblatt thought that the central government would be able to bring about reconciliation among Lebanese and reestablish its independent power at the expense of the fascists. From this point of view, if the National Movement organized the daily needs of the population in the patriotic areas of the country, it might be a step towards partition, blocking the efforts of the central government to bring about unification! These illusions made us lose precious time. When the National Movement as a whole realized the close relations between the central government and the fascist forces, it was perhaps already too late to launch an effective effort to provide for peoples’ daily needs in the patriotic zones.

These regions fell prey to innumerable small groups created by the Syrian secret service, the Palestinian resistance and certain traditional Muslim forces. Such militias divided up the neighborhoods of cities, eliminating any possibility for unity, whether in providing for peoples’ daily needs or in providing security. This parceling out of power and this anarchy were carried so far that any serious effort at reorganization would have required major surgery. We should add that the Lebanese National Movement maintained for a long time a passive attitude towards what was happening in the regions that it should have controlled. Thus, it constantly criticized the lack of central government power and administration, the excesses of Syrian policy, and so forth, without itself taking any independent initiative to provide for the daily needs and security of the population.

The Lebanese National Movement thus found itself in a difficult situation: The population considered it to be the authority that should govern and reorganize life in the areas, but it actually was unable to do this and lacked all power amid the swarm of private militias?

Translated by Jim Paul


[9] The Preliminary Program of the Progressive and National Lebanese Parties was announced at a Beirut press conference on August 18, 1975. Its major propositions included: abolition of political confessionalism; a new electoral law of proportional representation; increasing the power of the parliament vis-a-vis that of the president; reform of the civil service; reorganization of the army along non-confessional lines; guarantees of democratic rights; and popular election of a constituent assembly “to carry on a broad national dialogue on the proposed reforms [and to] enact the necessary constitutional and administrative laws.” A roughly translated English text is in “Lebanese War,” a collection of essays and documents published in the late 1970s by Third World Magazine.
[10] Hawi is referring here to the PLO’s direct contacts with the Phalangists, as well as with Arab governments such as Syria and Libya. Some record of these contacts for the 1975-1978 period can be found in Walid Khalidi, Conflict and Violence in Lebanon (Cambridge, MA, 1978).

How to cite this article:

"George Hawi, Problems of Strategy, Errors of Opposition," Middle East Report 118 (October 1983).

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