Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Cedar Revolution

Mainly for my personal record and as a directive for anyone else who may be interested, I'm taking note of what seems to be a formative moment in Lebanon. The two words political and progress often seem to be in conflict and the state of affairs in Lebanon illustrates the point. The post ends with a great line by Thomas Friedman: In a Democracy, every day feels like a mess, but after a year, you’ll feel that a lot of progress has been made.

That line strikes a chord with me because just in the last couple of days I have decided that one of the things I will do when my blog accumulates a year's archive is to look back at posts a year old and reflect on what has happened in the intervening time. I can relate to that "every day feels like a mess" observation. But happily, I can sometimes see progress. It's like watching the growth of a tree. There is something poetic about that image and the idea of a Cedar Revolution.

Publius Pundit is the place to go to sort out the mess in Lebanon. Once again, I thank Pejman for the link.

Now that Syria has pulled out, the precedent for a unified anti-Syria opposition has been removed as each party forms alliances and election lists with formerly hostile rivals. All of this is occurring within the framework of the controversial 2000 election law which, due to political squabbling, was not changed in time for this electoral season.

In two sentences the state of Lebanese politics is summed up. This paragraph summarizes the overall picture.

Michel Aoun’s return from exile in France and subsequent failure to conjure and alliance with Saad Hariri and Walid Jumblatt sparked the first real split in the opposition’s ideological direction. He is staunchly anti-Syria, however, has been relatively asinine by taking credit for Syria’s withdrawal because of his support for UNRES 1559. With regards to this, the devil is in the details. Resolution 1559 calls for the disarming of Hizb’allah, the international solution, but Jumblatt and Hariri’s parties support an “internal resolution” and insist that Syria’s pullout was based on the Taif Accord. Insofar, this is true, and it has been the foundation for the alliance between Hariri and Jumblatt with Hizb’allah and Amal. This strange alliance, as well as Hariri and Jumblatt’s willingness to participate under the old election law, are the other reasons for the split.

Thanks to the complete indifference of Americans to these details that paragraph may as well have been written in another language. It is filled with names and references that even the most experienced reporters never use.

I'm interested because it represents the details of a constructive non-violent resolution to internal conflicts that have in the past given Lebanon deep scars from civil war and sectarian violence. The reference to an armed Hizb'allah is important. If any exercise in representative government is to succeed, armed factions serve only to corrupt the process. It is hard to know how unarmed forces successfully pursuade armed opponents to lay down their arms, but when it happens the result is what we call peace. Anything else is simply another form of domination.

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