Lebanon: Tiger at the Helm

In Beirut, police stand blithely by while taxis careen up one-way streets the wrong way, honking every time they pass a sign reading "Klaxon Interdit." Smuggling of everything from hashish to hand grenades proceeds under the benign eye of the customs inspector, and buying a judge's opinion is sometimes as easy as buying a crate of Lebanese apples. When mild, soft-spoken Charles Helou, 52, was elected President of Lebanon by its Parliament in 1964, everyone expected him merely to preside over this happy chaos, because, as one Beirut parliamentarian puts it, "Corruption is the Lebanese way of life, and it...

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