Paris: The Beirut of Europe?

Michael J. Totten quips, “They say Beirut is the Paris of the Middle East. Does that mean Paris is the Beirut of Europe? Or is that an insult to Beirut?”

More seriously, he observes,

The Lebanese people threw off the yoke of Syrian occupation, oppression, and de facto annexation while committing no violence. The Western model of civil disobedience and protest worked beautifully and, more important, it worked rapidly.

The disgruntled of Paris, on the other hand, are inviting a brutal crackdown from a state infinitely less oppressive that the Syrian Baath regime. While some parts of the Middle East import liberal “Western†political ideas into their culture, some parts of Europe import pathologies from the illiberal places in the Middle East and North Africa. Ah, the ironies of globalization.


It̢۪s slightly bizarre to watch Europe explode from the tranquility of Beirut. But I̢۪m getting used to it.

More than slightly bizarre, I’d say. My bet is that Western Europe will continue to be, generally, a safer place than the Arab Middle East. But, as democratic norms spread in that region while Europe struggles with the downsides of social democracy, that won’t necessarily be the case down the road.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DL says:

    I remember Beirut as a young sailor in the early 1950s. It was quite a nice place. Movies in English, American Universities, girls water skiing around our aircraft carrier. A good liberty port.People seemed quite friendly.

    I suppose someone could say much the same about Paris too.

  2. Louay says:

    You can also say Paris is the “Los Angeles of Europe” or have you forgotten about the 1992 riots. You can also say “Paris is the Mississippi of Europe” or have you forgotten about the riots of 1962. So before comparing to Beirut, please kindly remember that the war in Lebanon is in the past, just like segregation is in the past for America, and let’s hope that racism will be in the past for all Americans soon as well.