Now to the task of rebuilding Lebanon

PUT aside politics, diplomacy and assigning blame for inflaming this war for a minute. When the planes are back in the hangars and the guns have fallen silent, there will be one incontrovertible truth: Lebanon will be in ruins.

By Baher Nabulsi

Published: Tue 29 Aug 2006, 8:40 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 1:26 PM

The Lebanese people will count the cost, and it will be huge, just as their enemies promised it would be. But will Lebanon pay the price obediently? And more importantly, will Lebanon have to do it alone?

The whole world agrees that the painful hits on Lebanon, whether pre-planned or a reaction to the capture of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah, was far from proportional. But the same world proved utterly unable to stand up to the United States as the world’s power broker "felt the pain" of Lebanon but did absolutely nothing to stop the bombing, killing and destruction in Lebanon.

As a result, the international community should be made to foot the bill for this appalling show. Those who profess to support Lebanon should pay up happily, those who oppose it should accept the payment as a penalty fine for adopting such a stance in the present circumstances and those who merely stood silent should pay to assuage their guilt at watching tons of bombs fall on women and children.

Is there any Arab country - or, more to the point, OPEC nation —that does not want to rebuild Lebanon? Has Iran not said that it is prepared to do any thing for Lebanon and the Lebanese? Even Venezuela, among others, has taken the same stand? These are the declared positions, but how do we convert them into concrete action?

These countries produce in total about 30 million barrels of oil every day. An increase of just one dollar for each barrel over the market price for a fund to rebuild Lebanon would generate $10 billion in a year or less, money that could be spent not just on infrastructure, but also to compensate people who lost their houses, families that lost their breadwinners and factories that were demolished.

Economists say that petrol is not an effective weapon any more, for many reasons, both convincing and otherwise. But this would not be a withholding or blockade of supplies. Petrol will still be available at the pumps, but with our "Lebanon dollar" levied on top. He who wants to buy should pay and he who does not want to buy can try to find other, non-OPEC sources. And good luck to both of them.

But what would happen if this were implemented? Would the United States go crazy and attack every OPEC nation in order not pay this one-dollar for a year? How much will that cost politically, militarily and economically? They will not and most importantly they cannot act that way. They have not been able to stabilise Iraq after three years of occupation and with more than 100,000 soldiers equipped with the latest technology. Maybe the contrary will happen: this administration may like the plan because it will increase revenues of the giant oil companies that put them into their positions of power.

Will the United States raise the price of its supplies for compensation? Well, the world can live without US supplies. Can the US live without OPEC oil? Will the demand of petrol decrease? No, because the present production is hardly enough. But even if it decreases, let the surplus stay in our hands. It will not spoil, and will not lose its value.

Will the demand of our petrol be reduced and purchase orders go to other countries? Should that happen, it will increase petrol price by far more than the one ‘Lebanon dollar’. Is it possible that the Iranians would reject such a plan? How could they, if they declare that they are prepared to go to any length to help Lebanon? The same goes for Venezuela and the other states.

Will this plan annoy the American consumer? He should understand that this dollar is to balance the effect of arms supplied to Israel by his country at his own cost, not only now but for the past 50 years

Will the European Union be affected? They should be made to pay for their inability to stick to their much-trumpeted civilised values and not backing calls for the ceasefire in time.

Should not the European citizen know that Blair’s blind obedience to Bush is not affecting United Kingdom only but the whole EU, to the limit of not being able to freely make a decision? If this is a crazy suggestion, I would like to call on wiser people to come up with better options.

Baher Nabulsi is the editor of Arabic magazine Saneouhadath published from Dubai Media City

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