Protest in Martyrs Square, Beirut (2019) (Image: PA/Abd Rabbo Ammar/ABACA)

In the 2017 Lebanese short film The Last Days of Man Tomorrow, French president Charles De Gaulle comes to Lebanon with a gift to the people of an automaton named "Manivelle". This nouvel homme -- "new man" -- is at first a celebrity but falls into ruin and eventually is largely forgotten -- an obscure remnant of what was.

The new man that was Lebanon in the 1950s through to the 1970s is now a broken state, mired by sectarian politics and deeply rooted graft.

The explosion that ripped through Beirut on August 4, leaving over 200 dead and thousands more injured, was a purely preventable catastrophe and an indictment of Lebanon's ruling elite. The government had the chance for proper due diligence back in 2014, when the store of ammonium nitrate at the centre of the explosion was docked at the port of Lebanon.