Spoils of Truce

Spoils of Truce: Corruption and State-Building in Postwar Lebanon

Reinoud Leenders
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    Spoils of Truce
    Book Description:

    In Spoils of Truce, Reinoud Leenders documents the extensive corruption that accompanied the reconstruction of Lebanon after the end of a decade and a half of civil war. With the signing of the Ta'if peace accord in 1989, the rebuilding of the country's shattered physical infrastructure and the establishment of a functioning state apparatus became critical demands. Despite the urgent needs of its citizens, however, graft was rampant. Leenders describes the extent and nature of this corruption in key sectors of the Lebanese economy and government, including transportation, health care, energy, natural resources, construction, and social assistance programs.

    Exploring in detail how corruption implicated senior policymakers and high-ranking public servants, Leenders offers a clear-eyed perspective on state institutions in the developing world. He also addresses the overriding role of the Syrian leadership's interests in Lebanon and in particular its manipulation of the country's internal differences. His qualitative and disaggregated approach to dissecting the politics of creating and reshaping state institutions complements the more typical quantitative methods used in the study of corruption. More broadly, Spoils of Truce will be uncomfortable reading for those who insist that power-sharing strategies in conflict management and resolution provide some sort of panacea for divided societies hoping to recover from armed conflict.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6587-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Chapter 1 Corruption: A Window into the State of Postwar Lebanon
    (pp. 1-17)

    For many years Lebanon featured as a textbook case of civil war and sectarian conflict. It is less likely, however, that the country will be a model for postwar recovery. Some would argue that given the magnitude of destruction from which Lebanon awoke in the early 1990s, any step toward normalization and recovery should be regarded as a major accomplishment. The “events” (al-hawadith), as the cycles of killing and atrocities in Lebanon between 1975 and 1990 are often euphemistically referred to, left this small country with approximately 150,000 people killed, tens of thousands of others displaced, most state institutions paralyzed...

  6. Chapter 2 Assessing Corruption
    (pp. 18-71)

    Although numerous surveys and polls suggest that in broad terms Lebanon sustains high levels of corruption, my task here is to document and appraise individual allegations of high political corruption in their institutional contexts. By moving away from the bird-eye’s view of generalization, I seek a qualitative and disaggregated assessment of corruption, exploring a host of individual allegations and incidences of political corruption. These involve institutions that were found to be particularly prone to the use of public office for private benefit. This qualitative exploration digs up pertinent data in order to disentangle and assess the validity of specific allegations....

  7. Chapter 3 Public Institutions and Bureaucratic Organization
    (pp. 72-121)

    Our investigation now turns to the qualities of institutions. In this chapter I scrutinize institutions that were especially prone to political corruption. The main question is how the administrative structures of these institutions compare to the essential features of bureaucratic organization explained in chapter 1. I believe that high levels of corruption occurred in institutions with administrative structures at odds with these characteristics. In order to highlight how various problems in institution building resulted in very similar outcomes, I distinguish three broad types of institutions: first, institutions established before 1975 that disintegrated during the war and after 1990 were subjected...

  8. Chapter 4 The Political Settlement of the Second Republic
    (pp. 122-163)

    During the 1990s and until 2005, the Ta’if Accord and concomitant amendments of the constitution were to become a focal point around which Lebanon’s sharply divided political elites would build strategies to preserve their own interests and outmaneuver their rivals. The politics of institution building rarely produce striking revelations. Yet the deals struck in Ta’if undoubtedly were a constitutive moment, informing the everyday conflicts, seemingly trivial incidents, and routine decision making in Lebanon’s Second Republic. In this chapter I prepare the ground for the argument that the politics of formation can explain the general failure to build sound bureaucratic institutions...

  9. Chapter 5 The Politics of State-Building and Corruption
    (pp. 164-222)

    At the end of sixteen years of protracted warfare, successive Lebanese governments insisted that the country needed a massive reconstruction program. The private sector was to play a leading role in this effort. Yet it was equally acknowledged that high levels of efficiency, transparency, and accountability were required of public institutions in order to build a revitalized and thriving economy based on private enterprise. Cabinets duly paid tribute to building sound public institutions and implementing far-reaching administrative reforms. Very little was actually achieved in this respect. Why did Lebanon’s political elites fail to produce sound and effective institutions that could...

  10. Chapter 6 Corruption and the Primacy of Politics
    (pp. 223-241)

    This book has vindicated the widely held view that corruption permeated Lebanon’s state institutions throughout the post-Ta’if period. My aim−to understand why corruption levels were so profound—was rooted in the belief that causal explanations make sense only if we analyze incidences of corruption in their immediate institutional and political contexts. Much of this book has been devoted to the stories of particular institutions as I have assessed their susceptibility to corruption, looked into their bureaucratic organization, and analyzed the underlying politics of their evolution. Having followed this journey through the politics of Lebanon’s corruption-prone state institutions, I can now...

  11. Epilogue
    (pp. 242-250)

    In 2011 popular uprisings swept through the Arab world. Two authoritarian and kleptocratic regimes—those of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia—collapsed. Mu’amar al-Qadhafi died while putting up a last fight against rebel forces in Sirte, while Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen continued to haggle about the terms of his exit from power. In Syria, Bashar al-Assad’s regime was using brutal force to repress mass demonstrations and, increasingly, to quell armed resistance that was spreading across the country. To judge from the banners carried by angry protesters, a wide range of grievances was...

  12. References
    (pp. 251-266)
  13. Index
    (pp. 267-276)