Thursday, July 27, 2006

As the Cedars Bleed

Another of the great misconceptions promulgated by Leftist demagogues is the idea that the election results empowering Hamas in Gaza are somehow a failure of large-D Democracy rather than a perversion of it. Close on the heels of this canard is the justified fear for the survival of Democracy in Lebanon. Underlying the leftist narrative is a sentimental misunderstanding of Democratic principles. Most of the liberals I have conversations with have a very primitive conception of Democracy; it most closely resembles Athenian Democracy (only without all the slaves and exclusion of women, etc.).

The political dynamic established in Lebanon by that ol' UN Resolution 1559 recognized the nature of the soil in which it was sown; namely, a geographical zone dominated by sectarian and racial armed gangs. All gangs were directed to disarm in order to head off an extra-constitutional armed takeover. And all militias and parties generally complied with this except for Hezbollah.

It was with great alarm that pro-Israeli folks contemplated the recent air campaign and invasion of south Lebanon: here was an infant democracy snuffed in the cradle, and there was the IDF, generating enmity among Lebanese Sunni, Shia, Maronites, Druze, Greek Orthodox, etc. Michael Totten (you should read all his stuff) seems to suggest most Lebanese know who the Real Problem is, and it ain't the guys with the funny blue star on the white flag. The implication is that Leb might slide back into civil war.

I guess that depends on 1.) the degree of residual war fatigue in the Lebanese polity, and 2.) whether enough institutional memory will persist after this brief experience with "Confessional Democracy" to lead parties back to the table. The composition of the Lebanese Parliament after the elections of 2005 shows that Shia do not monolithically support Hezbollah; its support is greatest in the current theater of IDF ground operations. Of 25 Lebanese Shia MP's, 9 are Hezbollah. There is nothing to suggest Syria is the only entity capable of filling the power vacuum Olmert is attempting to create.

UPDATE: It is now about one month after I posted this, and Amir Taheri seems to confirm many of my hunches!

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