Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What Sa'ad Hariri Owes Lebanon.

It is not uncommon for an elector to go into the voting booth with a hand over his/her nose. Unfortunately many of the Lebanese citizens find themselves in this exact predicament regarding the current standoff in the cabinet formation. It is so abundantly clear that the whole political edifice is constructed on the weakest possible foundations that cracks can be seen every way one looks. The fear of an imminent collapse is not overly exaggerated. Yet since the possibility of demolition and proper reconstruction is as likely as snow falling in the equator or having Hezbollah disarmed then one has to swallow ones pride, accept the stench emanating from the decrepit political practices and lend support to whoever is deemed to be less odious.
Until Lebanon can find that elusive but courageous politician who can make a serious call for a national convention (see the previous post) that will be tasked with nothing short than creating the first Arab democracy in history then we have no choice but to swallow our pride and practice the ever nefarious real politique.
Under such circumstances one party, March 14, stands heads and shoulders over its competition whose only guiding principle seems to have been “Tails we win, heads you loose”. The main backbone of the opposition is Hezbollah who do not even profess allegiance to the Lebanese state, and their Amal allies led by Nabih Beri, the Speaker of the Parliament who showed his love to democracy and rule of the law by shutting down the Parliament for over a year. And then there is the squeaky wheel , General Aoun, a megalomaniac who speaks from both sides of his mouth, principles be damned.
Saad Hariri is no angel either. He has been thrust into a role brought about by his fathers assassination; he is inexperienced, does not have a vision, does not have the ability to inspire and energize and politically immature. He exudes naiveté. Possibly his strongest ally is the articulate but totally unprincipled Walid Jumblatt. With such friends who needs any enemies. As for his junior partners of Kataeb and the Lebanese Forces, being principled does not help when one is a supremacist.
Nonetheless a cabinet needs to be formed and Mr. Hariri has been named the designate premier for a second try. Mr. Hariri has to demonstrate to the state that the constitution is to be respected and the game is to be played by the set of rules agreed upon. He has no choice, if he takes his political responsibilities seriously, but to neglect all advice from foreign powers whether from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria or France and the US. He is to form a cabinet for Lebanon, a cabinet that will act on behalf of all the Lebanese and one that has a strong belief in the constitution and the supremacy of the Lebanese national interests. As such MR. Hariri should not invite the opposition to join his cabinet since their book of plays has nothing besides calls of obfuscation, erection of barriers and destructive intimidating conditions that threaten uncivil disorder if their demands are not met. They have found the magic formula in ruling without winning. If March 14 is to insist on including the opposition in the cabinet by meeting their demands then Mr. Hariri would be setting a dangerous precedent. Such measures form a slippery slope that will keep gnawing at the core of the Lebanese democratic principles. Furthermore the idea of giving the President one sixth of the cabinet seats is as unconstitutional as the election of the current president.
Short of a velvety revolution through holding a national constitutional government Mr. Hariri must have the backbone to stand for what is right. He has no choice but to form a government whose members share his political, economic, social and environmental vision for the country whether they are technocrats, members of parliament or a combination of both. The Prime Minister is the chief executive officer of the land and he is expected to act as one. If he cannot perform the job then he should not accept the nomination.

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