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A Vietnamese Lesson For Lebanon

A Vietnamese Lesson For Lebanon

Nida Al-Watan, Lebanon, June 3

Lebanon needs a Vietnamese lesson. A lesson illustrated in a story told by Bilahari Kausikan, who was formerly the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Singapore. The Singaporean diplomat asked his Vietnamese counterpart: “What does the imminent change of leaders in Hanoi mean for his country’s relations with China?” The Vietnamese diplomat said: “Every Vietnamese leader should embrace China, and every Vietnamese leader should confront China boldly in defense of his country’s rights. And if he does not do both, he does not deserve to be a leader.” And China was, along with the Soviet Union, one of the most supportive countries for Vietnam in the wars of liberation from the French army and then from the American army. Lebanon must learn this important lesson from the Vietnamese politician. In Lebanon, leaders typically fall in one of two camps: either they blindly support everything and anything about Iran, America, France, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt and any other country involved in Lebanese politics, or they are completely against them. On one hand, we have people who support foreign intervention so much that they forget about the interests of their own country. On the other hand, we have those who are so militant and suspicious of foreign intervention that they are willing to see our country continue to suffer from repeated crises. Rarely do we see leaders doing both: finding a healthy and nuanced middle ground. The Vietnamese approach was successful in three regards. First, Vietnam resisted the foreign occupation imposed upon it and ensured that political decisions were made on the basis of its own national interests, not the interests of other nations. Second, Vietnam accurately understood the balance of power and resisted the temptation to side with actors whose power was on the decline. Third, Vietnam managed to liberate itself from foreign occupation through a steadfast campaign, without allowing its military to take over civil and political life. Nothing suggests that we have learned this lesson. We act as if we know everything, giving advice to everyone around the world. The Islamic resistance led by Hizbullah has transformed into a full-fledged army that is involved in the war in Syria and plays roles in several countries. As for the construction and development of our country, we have done everything possible to eliminate prosperity and economic advancement, and have moved Lebanon from dreams of paradise to nightmares of hell. – Rafik Khoury (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)


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