It’s that time of year again, and after hours of handshaking as part of Independence Day celebrations…


The leadership (President Aoun, Speaker Berri, Prime Minister Hariri and former Prime Minister Salam) took a break…. Of course Berri always has the jokes:


They came up with a strategy to rest their hands on their chests and just nod at visitors:


No tolerance, so some had to be rebuffed:


But overzealous guests simply could not control themselves:


Then things really fell apart when an unidentified oil shaykh showed up and the hands hurriedly came back out:


The girl scouts too:


All this was preceded by a big military parade, which involved weeks of preparation, street closures and canvasing every light post in the country with Lebanese flags.

But what is the point of all this spending and congratulating when 73 years after this banana republic was formed, successive governments (largely composed of millionaires) have failed to provide the most basic of citizen rights and public services? These include a lack of water, electricity, garbage collection and public safety as lawless highways kill hundreds per year, untreated sewage fills the rivers and the sea and toxic garbage burning and private generator exhausts choke the sky with airborne carcinogens.

It’s true Lebanon has been through a lot, probably more than most countries, but wouldn’t it be great if one year the leadership scaled back the pomp and circumstance and actually spent Independence Day working on sustainability and actual independence instead of just pretending it exists?

Because the only true winner today seemed to be the local Mercedes-Benz dealer. There were literally hundreds of them rolling up to Baabda Palace every few seconds to drop off the elite guests, as is the case every year. Who pays for all these cars anyways? That would be a good story to investigate… among others.


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