In this photo above, we can see a police officer using cell as anyone of us would do. But then a car parks illegally right in front of him, blocking access to the busy street.

Soon the traffic begins to slow, but the officer (top left) continues to fiddle with his phone, machine in his lap. 

As I walk away, a traffic jam ensues, stretching all the way around the block. Moments before this shot, an ambulance races by with sirens blazing only get to get stuck in the midst of it.

The officer could have easily gotten up and stopped the man who parked in the middle of the street right in front of him. But this was not his job.

Like scores of Lebanese security officers that roam the city, his job was not the policing of traffic, but the policing of “security.” In this case, the officer was deployed on the far perimeter of a politician’s home.

His only job description was probably to guard– or at least provide the perception of guarding– that home. In fact, Lebanon’s biggest politicians have pillaged the internal security forces of dozens of officers to serve as personal security for each of their many homes. I’m sure this was heartening to the person in the ambulance or waiting for one.

A passerby watching the officer laughed cynically, shaking his head and saying something to the effect of “this country is so backwards.”

“But we vote for them,” I countered.

“Bravo,” he said, clapping his hands together and smiling as if a weight had been lifted off his chest. “It’s the people’s fault.”

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