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Hitchens: My Beating in Lebanon

In a riveting piece in Vanity Fair, Christopher Hitchens recalls the three different Lebanons he experienced during a recent trip: the buoyant modern Valentine's Day rally commemorating the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri; the brutal beating and attempted kidnapping Hitchens experienced in broad daylight after attempting to deface a poster of a swastika promoting a Syrian political group; and Hezbollah's commemoration of the loss of its martyrs, that hints that Lebanon may have violence in its future. On the one hand, the Lebanese live in a vibrant secular society; on the other hand, the country remains the prime ground for a proxy war between the militant Hezbollah and the west. As Hitchens put it, "The whole place has an ominously pre-war feeling to it, as if the dress rehearsals are almost over."