How Photomontage Ended the Lebanese Civil War

Salti-web1-LARGERasha Salti at The Brooklyn Rail:

Officially, the Lebanese Civil War ended when the Taif Agreement was ratified (November 1989), the Lebanese parliament voted to adopt an Amnesty Law (March 1991), and militias were dissolved (May 1991). The Amnesty Law pardoned all political crimes committed prior to its enactment. I, for myself, cannot recall a specific moment or event when the war ended. The transition from the state of war to a state of non-war is blurred in my memory. It was gradual, and even though the country felt relatively safer, tension pervaded the atmosphere and the looming threat of the conflict reigniting remained. The actors of the Civil War—those still alive, as well as the ghosts—transformed from warlords to political leaders, populating the legislative and executive bodies of governance. It was as if we were all handed a new, additional script, and we, mutatis mutandis, all slipped into new roles. The militias became political parties with an overt agenda to strictly serve their sectarian constituencies, even as the militants upheld the claim that they were constitutive protagonists of a republic. And we, perpetrators and victims, everyday folks, claimed to be citizens of this republic. The longest serial ever performed: for the past twenty-five years, we have been voting for these very same leaders to govern our destinies—to ensure our safety, well-being, and prosperity. It has not been smooth sailing; the “old script” surges every once in a while, in relative degrees of intensity. It was and remains necessary to believe that the war is over, and that we all wanted it to end. In the span of twenty-five years, the theatricality deployed to that end has been superlative and tireless, with public showcases of redemption, songs, music videos, and speeches to cheer our resolve to end the war.

more here.