There’s an interesting debate about Hizbullah’s weapons going on in the comment section of the last post so I thought I’d alert those of you who don’t spend much time in the trenches. The debate kicked off when I asked the following question:
“Let’s say March 14 wins the election. Personally, I feel that this is a less than likely possibility, but let’s say it happens. M14 wins, and it wins on the following basis:
- An electoral law that the opposition proposed in Doha and that no can accuse of marginalizing this or that community;
- No Quadripartite Alliance like in 2005;
- No vague national dialogue agreements;
- A March 14 campaign that is absolutely clear about how it feels regarding Hizbullah’s weapons;
Under these conditions, if more Lebanese vote for March 14 than vote for March 8, would you say that the resulting government would be justified in pressuring Hizbullah to disarm? If not, why not?”
There have been several interesting responses thus far. MM replies with a resounding “YES”. Mo answers in the affirmative, provided that M14 wins at least 65% of the popular vote. Joe M takes a more circumspect position, arguing that there are many factors to consider such as “the ability of the country to defend itself without Hizbullah’s weapons, and whether the weapons instigate Israel to attack Lebanon, and whether the people believe in Hizbullah’s goals to liberate Palestine.” RedLeb says that while M14’s fears are legitimate because of the size of their public support, the state “would have to provide credible alternatives to the resistance as it disarms it. It cannot simply declare the arms illegal and throw everyone in jail. There is no mandate large enough to legitimise an unfair process.”
J of Chalcedon and Majid correctly identify the underlying issues. It makes little sense to speak of popular will as long as it is reflected through the cracked prism of Lebanon’s political system. So I’d like to follow J’s suggestion for a debate along these lines. Here’s how he lays it out:
Let’s do a vox pop, QN willing. Whoever wants to submits 100 words on what the outcome of the vote means for the big questions: what does electoral will mean for consociaotional govt, and what to do with Hizbollah’s weapons in light of the first? But no more than 100 words. Make your case tight; no citations. QN, if he’s willing, can pick from the results, summarize and opine.
This is a debate that needs to happen on a national level. It should happen because — for the first time in decades — it can. It is easy to be cynical about all the posters you see on the highway with slogans like “The Second Independence”, “The Third Republic”, and “Kulluna li-ayy Watan?” but in an odd way, they gesture toward an important reality that we have already become jaded about: The Lebanese are finally in a position to confront certain existential issues about self-governance. We should start doing so.