Forty years of history and the issues appear to be remarkably the same: national identity, the confessional system, electoral reform, the viability of the state, economic reconstruction and ideological realignment. What is Lebanon? Does it exist? Can it survive? The questions are not new. More than four decades ago, British and US officials were pondering the very same questions.
World War II was over. Lebanon celebrated its formal independence on December 22, 1943, but it was not until 1946 that the French were persuaded to abandon their occupation of the country. In the interim, French pressure to hold on to its privileged status led to conflict not only with Lebanese nationalists but with British forces.