Five political behaviors threaten civil peace in Lebanon today.
1. Denunciation of the Lebanese Pact and the Baabda Declaration: those who condemn the “national commitments” (al-ta’ahudât al-wataniyya), quoting Edmond Rabbath in his introduction to the National Agreement of Taef, threaten civil peace.
2. Those who impede the workings of the State: the whole concept of impediment does not exist in the legal systems around the world, either in the past or in the present. The main aim and purpose of the law is to regulate the relationship between citizens on the one hand, and between citizens and the State on the other, and to enable institutions to function. Those who disseminate and adopt a strategy of sabotage within the Parliament, in the government formation and action, in the institutions in general, as well as in their working continuity, threaten civil peace. Impediment, or rather sabotage, leads to an institutional vacuum, taking Lebanon towards the unknown and bringing back the Lebanese to over-saturated and never-ending discussions of the past, threaten the civil peace.
3. Non- citizens but clients: any subordinated Lebanese, dependent on a politician, with no discernment in his political commitment, threatens civil peace, for being easily mobilized for hidden and often imported agendas.
4. Those who sit on the fence waiting for private advantage: those who pride themselves on being equidistant in relation to all parties. Instead of defending clear fundamental principles that could be raised by this group or another, are programmed to taking position. The equidistant waits for changes in the balance of power in order to side with the best party according to his private interest.
5. Every idle and irresponsible MP: Every MP who does not fulfill his responsibilities in legislating, particularly concerning an immediate approval of a new electoral law and blames external political powers for his irresponsibility, threatens civil peace.
Thus, political formations within the legislative and executive authorities are responsible for promoting and achieving understanding in public life, especially when it concerns conventional electoral legislation in light of a diversified and cumulated Lebanese experience. They shall not lay the responsibility on the street and outside institutional processes.
What to do? Six prospects for action
To prevent Lebanon from the “Wars for Others” (Title of Ghassan Tueni Book, it is not the “wars of others”) and from imported dissensions and repercussions of regional mutations, after having experienced the costs of conflicts and imprudence of interfering in others’ conflicts, the Lebanese must adopt six prospects for action.
1. Institutions first: institutions’ regularity and continuity in compliance with the constitutional norms and standards are the only guarantors of civil peace. The Lebanese are in need of a national reawakening.
The Constitution does not allow for a state of vacuum. Any vacuum is by nature provoked.
“There is no State in Lebanon”, an expression said and repeated by a large part of the population; including deputies, general managers, and civil servants, who receive wages that come from public funds provided by this same State. This attitude borders on pathology.
2. Reawakening economical, trade-union, and professional forces: Parties, at the best of times, are organizations of power. Their unconstrained power and dominance culminate in partitocracy for lack of counterbalance formed by economical, trade-union and professional forces.
3. The silent clergy facing Pharisaism : When democracy is threatened or not consolidated, religious bodies have a central role to play in order to uphold the human values of freedom, justice, and peace. This role has already been experienced in some countries, such as Latin America, Poland, and elsewhere.
4. Provide truthful information: journalists and reporters too attached to politicians who must not be their only source of information. This trend is nothing but an obvious lack of professionalism; it reveals the end of politics in managing the Nation. It also exposes their connivance in propagating bickering instead of dealing with society’s problems.
5. The ABC of fundamental concepts: Minds are manipulated when fundamental concepts are polluted. What do the terms State, Sovereignty, constitution, army, party… mean?
6. Education and women: Fathers and sons who suffer the war try to avoid repeating their experience. If the collective memory is not purified, history may repeat itself through grand-children avenging their ancestors.
Women are the first victims of war. Being much more committed to family socialization, closer to the population’s vital and daily interests, their role prevails in protecting civil peace, especially in today’s Lebanon, where the Lebanese live in a state of alienation in relation to their daily interests.
The Civil Peace and Memory Observatory reports and the yearly conference documents of the last three years held in cooperation with Ramzi Youssef Assaf Foundation will be released in January 2014 by the Lebanese Foundation for Permanent Civil Peace.