A team of doctors at the American University of Beirut Medical Center has successfully completed Lebanon’s first artificial heart transplant (not to be confused with regular transplants or the installation of ventricular assist devices). Admirably, the team saved the life of a 37-year-old man, who can now return to his family, friends, and the banana republic that is Lebanon.
Forgive the Lebanese if they wonder whether any procedure can jumpstart efforts to form a government. Nearly ten weeks after peaceful and free elections, a caretaker cabinet – endowed, constitutionally speaking, with minimal authority – continues to govern.
The patient lies motionless on the table, and the doctors are arguing amongst themselves.
With summer winding down, tourists packing their bags, and the end of Ramadan approaching, it remains to be seen whether rival factions can break this ‘Gordian Knot’ before the United Nations General Assembly in September.
Lebanon, of course, lacks a coherent foreign policy, which will doubtlessly embarrass the republic at the international table. Poised to join the Security Council as a rotating member for the 2010-2011 term, the Republic of Lebanon has no government to underpin the state.
In turn, it is the state – and those seeking to build its institutions – that will become a complete mockery if Lebanon’s U.N. representatives cannot at least pretend to make decisions on behalf of their country and the rest of the divided Arab region.
Alas, Lebanon is the country of total political paralysis, six-month-long presidential vacuums, abandoned legislatures, caretaker governments, and factional feuding. It’s enough to make anyone’s heart stop.