Following are excerpts from an interview with Samir Geagea, leader of the Lebanese Forces, which aired on Dream 2 TV on October 28, 2008:
Samir Geagea: If having a real Lebanese state is considered an American enterprise – where's the problem? It is important not to make assumptions about other people's intentions, and level simplistic accusations...
Interviewer: But you yourselves are making such assumptions, when you accuse your rivals of collaboration with Iran or Syria.
Samir Geagea: I never do that. I am not accusing them of collaborating with Iran. I am accusing them of something much worse.
The members of Hizbullah do not perceive Lebanon as their nation. The way they perceive it, the nation has a clear caliph – Ayatollah Khamenei. That is the nation. I'm not talking about trivial things – collaborating and whatnot. By no means do I want to harm Hizbullah. They are honorable fighters with a cause, but unfortunately, their cause has nothing to do with our view of Lebanon. That is the bone of contention.
Many investigations have been held in Lebanon, the West, and Israel into the Sabra and Shatila massacre, and all the people who were involved, one way or another, are mentioned there, yet in none of these investigations did my name appear. I had nothing to do with it. I was not there, I did not participate in it, and I did not even know that there would be a "Sabra and Shatila massacre." I heard about it on the radio and in the media, just like everybody else.
At that time, as everybody knows, there were, unfortunately, ties between the Lebanese Forces and Israel. This is a well-known historical fact. It's no secret.
In the late 18th century and the early 19th century, during the Napoleonic campaigns... I'm going all the way back to that period, because it is imperative to shed proper light on this, so it won't just be a matter of leveling accusations. If you want to level accusations – fine, but at least give the victim a chance to defend himself. During the Napoleonic campaigns against Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria, the first to collaborate with Napoleon... This was a Christian force attacking the Ottoman sultanate. Back then the Ottoman sultan was called the Muslim caliph... Who was quick to collaborate with Napoleon? The dignitaries and people of Jebel 'Amal, the forefathers of the Hizbullah of today. We know how adamant they are about their perspective of things, how independent they are, and how they confront any conqueror, but nevertheless, the forefathers of the Hizbullah of today were the first to collaborate with Napoleon. Why did they collaborate with Napoleon against the caliph and his Ottoman sultanate? Because they were under very great pressure, and they wanted to alleviate the pressure any way they could.
If you go back a little further in time – during the Islamic conquest, Syria was entirely Christian. The vast majority of these Christians turned their back on the Christian Byzantine Empire, and collaborated with the Islamic conquest. Why? Because the Byzantine Empire was oppressing them in all respects.
Interviewer: Do you have any justification for collaborating with Israel?
Samir Geagea: It's not just a justification. I would like to...
Interviewer: There is absolutely no good reason to collaborate with Israel.
Samir Geagea: Let me explain this. During Black September, in 1971, in Jordan, when the Palestinians were under pressure, many of them fled to the West Bank, which was then under complete Israeli control. In 1975, a large group in the Lebanese people was facing imminent danger. You can't take a group of human beings facing such imminent danger, and tell them to collaborate with one party, but not with another.
Interviewer: But I can tell them that dying with dignity is better than living as Israeli collaborators.
Samir Geagea: Sir, I hope that you never find yourself in such a situation, but if you do, you will understand what I am talking about. When someone's village, his family, and his mother, his father, his sisters, and his brothers all face danger, he starts looking for something to hang on to, just like a drowning man who will clutch at anything – whether a piece of wood, an iron rod, even a blazing ball of fire – in order to emerge in one piece. I didn't hold a political position back then, and so I don't need to defend myself, but for the sake of the truth...
Interviewer: Your picture with Sharon indicates that you played a major role in what happened, and that you had close ties with Sharon.
Samir Geagea: I played a role, but not a major one.
Interviewer: You say now that this was a mistake?
Samir Geagea: Yes.
Interviewer: The strategic-military cooperation with Israel, which was to the extent that your people were training in Israel...
Samir Geagea: Yes, this was a mistake, but the even greater mistake was to push the Christians in Lebanon into a corner, so that they had no choice.
I respect everything Hizbullah had done, from the beginning until now. But in my opinion, if Hizbullah continues as it is today – contrary to what many people believe, and contrary to what Hizbullah's leader say, Lebanon will face tremendous dangers. If I say this, does this make me...
Interviewer: What tremendous dangers?
Samir Geagea: If Hizbullah continues as it is today, this will attract many negative elements to Lebanon - like it or not. You might say that we should fight these negative elements. We cannot. Lebanon cannot confront all these negative forces.
Interviewer: Who do you mean by that?
Samir Geagea: First of all, Israel, and secondly, all those who have common interests with Israel, and who support it.
I don't want to disarm Hizbullah. What I want is to take these weapons and give them to the Lebanese army. We cannot...
Interviewer: Dr. Geagea, that's disarmament.
Samir Geagea: You can call it "disarmament" if you like, but I call it the transferring of the strategic decision-making from where it is now to its natural place – the constitutional institutions of Lebanon.