The Grisly Logic of Violence

One minute, the white Mercedes-Benz sat parked in the working-class neighborhood of Ain Rummaneh in Christian East Beirut. The next, 330 lbs. of explosives hidden inside the vehicle went off in a mighty roar, totally demolishing the car and setting seven nearby apartment buildings ablaze. Thirty-two died and 140 were injured in the blast.

Little more than a day later, on a busy street in the Barbir area of Muslim- dominated West Beirut, a gray Volkswagen containing 165 lbs. of explosives blew up in another deafening blast. The force devastated a shopping center of 20 boutiques, set fire to dozens of...

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