The February 23rd edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme included – apropos of nothing – a report from Beirut by world affairs editor John Simpson.
Co-presenter Nick Robinson introduced that space filler (from 16:18 here) thus: [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]
Robinson: “A civil war in the Middle East that risks destabilising the entire region. For years it was Lebanon and not Syria that merited that description. Today’s Lebanon – fragile but stable – is a very different country to that which our world affairs editor John Simpson reported on in the 1980s and 90s. He’s been back, more than 30 years after reporting on its conflict.”
The first part of the item is taken up by Simpson’s old war stories. After listeners discover that he is actually in Beirut on a family holiday, Simpson moves on to describing a “shopping area” and “a pleasant little café” before closing:
Simpson: “All these years later Lebanon still seems immensely fragile. Syria and its civil war is less than 50 miles away and Syria itself, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iran are all inclined to interfere here and act like bullies. But the one thing everyone tells you is that the Lebanese themselves have learned their lesson. 15 years of ferocious civil war have left a terrible scar. Better to get on with your fellow citizens of whatever religion and make money than fall out with them and risk a fresh round of destructive horror.”
Remarkably the BBC world affairs editor’s holiday snapshots from “peaceful” Lebanon include no mention whatsoever of the heavily armed, foreign funded and directed, sectarian, theocratic terrorist group that dominates the country while threatening the neighbouring one described by Simpson as being “inclined to interfere…and act like bullies”.