Lebanon's political oligarchy engages in kleptocracy with a rampant intensity unlike almost anywhere in the region, seemingly unrestrained by any sense of public compassion or institutional necessity. There is an apparatus of corruption that has, for decades, hollowed the entire country from the inside out in an endless cycle of dysfunction and theft.
Now, that bottomless dispassion has culminated in much of its capital being reduced to something akin to a post-apocalyptic cityscape
. The blast radius stretched far beyond the limits of the city, leaving virtually nothing within it untouched
As the dust settles and the magnitude of the disaster and human tragedy
becomes apparent, many are left with big questions. Why was 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate
-- a potentially explosive chemical compound -- stored in the port
without safety measures for six years? Who knew about it? And who turned a blind eye to how vulnerable it left millions of people?
The catastrophe, though, is just the latest, most flagrant declaration of a paradigm of dysfunction: as government after government has failed to do its most fundamental job -- and look after its people.
Basic -- and I mean basic -- services are amiss or not reliable.
The electricity cuts off throughout the day. The rich have generators that kick in to ensure a non-stop supply, but the poor -- the majority of the country -- suffer along without it for as much as 20 hours a day.
And the situation has been worsening in recent months as a crippling and unprecedented economic crisis
in the country has impoverished even more of the population. Almost one third of the country doesn't have a job. The country's currency has evaporated
at a velocity almost unseen in modern economics -- the Lebanese pound has lost roughly 80% of its value in less than a year.