Admit it, you were slightly nervous about today’s elections in Lebanon. I certainly was. The election pitted the Western-backed government versus the Iranian-backed Hezbollah for control of a governmental majority. If Hezbollah had won, it would essentially control Lebanon. After statements from President Obama that the U.S. would have to re-evaluate its relationship with Hezbollah if it won, I was biting my nails* until the results came in.
The Jerusalem Post reported:
Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation, a leading private Christian TV station, projected the pro-Western coalition to win 67 seats in the next parliament, with 52 for Hizbullah and its allies, two for independents and seven undecided.
“I present this victory to Lebanon,” Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said on television after stations projected his pro-Western coalition was winning. “It is an exceptional day for democracy in Lebanon.”
It is immensely troubling that Hezbollah has any say in the government to begin with. And thus we come to a problem of democracy. A standard line in political science is that democracies never go to war with each other. In the Middle East, however, we have seen a new type of democracy emerge. We all know that the candidates aren’t always the best choice and sometimes we have to choose between who we feel is the lesser of the two ills, but in the Middle East, we have different types of candidates. The line between terrorist organization and political party no longer exists. It is perfectly normal for a political party to have its own militia that operates outside of government influence. We see the same thing in the Palestinian territories with Hamas and Fatah. Yes, Fatah. Despite all of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ hyperbole about “One authority, one gun,” his Fatah party still maintains its militia, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which has carried out numerous attacks on Israeli civilians through the years.
Iran is another perfect example of a democracy gone awry. Sure, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a thorn in the side of Israel, America, and much of the world for that matter, but he still has very little power. The true power in Iran lies not with the president but with the supreme leader, who is not democratically elected.
I am not, for the record, advocating against democracy. It is a very good system. Through the past several years, however, we have seen the dangers of having democracy thrust on a society. Like any accomplishment, creating a democratic government should be a natural progression because the people demand it. Only when the people speak out in force, can democracy bring peace to a society.
When one of the two major parties running in an election is running its own militia, that is not a true democracy.
*This is a more family friendly euphemism for what I was originally going to write. Use your imagination.