The Lebanese Ministerial Statement must stop reinventing the wheel.

by Ghassan Karamministerial policy statement committee

Many things in life are taken for granted and need not be expressly mentioned and redefined at every turn. Freedom, liberty, self determination and by extension the right to be free i.e. to resist occupation, injustice, exploitation and dictatorship are among these concepts. These ideas are intrinsic, natural and inalienable. They cannot be taken away.

Unfortunately there is a propensity in Lebanese politics to assume that whenever two parties have a different way of interpreting an idea then the solution is to be “creative” by coming up with a statement that expresses allegiance and support to both interpretations that are exact opposites. This is what I shall call the tendency to seek a solution through a superficial application of the formula of “No winners, No losers” ( La Ghaleb wa La Maghloub).   But it should be obvious that such a formulation is pure sophistry. It alleges that both parties are right and that no compromise is necessary despite the fact that each idea is the negation of its counterpart.

A popular and basic idea in economics is attributed to an Italian by the name of Pareto. Pareto Optimality is roughly defined as that allocation when the only way to give Pete is to take away from Paul. If it so happens that the welfare of Ali may be improved without impinging on that of Mustafa then we should definitely do so but once we are at the stage where improving the welfare of one implies taking away from the other then we run into the problem of winners and losers. In that case an action is justified once the gains of one side more than compensate for the loses of the other. But, and that is important, the solution is not predicated on a pretense that there are no winners and no losers. Very often in life any move beyond the naive Pareto Optimality involves winners and losers.

The right to resist is an idea that has strong support all across the globe and across all institutions of world governance. Whether it is the idea of democracy, freedom of the individual, de-colonization, Universal Declaration of Human Rights or International Law ;just to name a few major international venues; these seminal ideas favour the right to resist. But then one might ask who is this right given to?  Well, that is an easy question since government in a democracy derives its power to rule from the consent of people who have elected it to rule on their behalf. There ought to be no subsidiarity between the state and its citizens as both are but one. The state derives its power and legitimacy from the people who agree to let it rule on their behalf. That is especially true when it comes to the monopoly of violence and the right to make war and peace. Unless such prerogatives are monopolized by the state then chaos would be the outcome and vigilantism would become dominant. That kind of a society would be an invitation to an n arrangement where no uniform laws are applied to the populace. It would be nothing but an arrangement based on exceptionalism and favouritism derived from the ability of each group to deny the power of the state and replace that by its own illegal militias. That comes very close to a Hobbesian rule of the jungle.

So what can we infer from the above?  A cabinet is not chosen every once in a while to redefine the essential rights and principles on which the state is built. The rights of citizens, international obligations and the right to declare war and peace are already spelled out defined and adopted. It would be counterproductive to attempt to revisit and redefine such principles as if each group is entitled to its own laws and interpretations. In that case there would be no rationale for a government. The power of the state cannot be qualified in such a way as to incorporate challenges to its power. Resistance belongs to the state that is an expression of the people. If and when the state is no longer deemed to be a representative of the wishes of its constituents then the citizens would vote it out of office .The right to resist belongs to all, it is universal and cannot be appropriated by any group at the expense of others. There is no exclusivity in resistance and thus the matter ought to be assumed to be true at all times. There is no benefit from treating this seminal right as an exclusionary one and above all there is nothing to be gained by pretending that a problem does not exist since the patient has been given a palliative. Honesty and courage demand that we stop playing superficial games that do not treat the root ailment. We have the obligation to note that a position and its negation cannot coexist within the same healthy body. We either have a state or we do not.

  • Hannibal

    “La Ghaleb wa La Maghloub” means let’s postpone our infighting to another sunny day 😉
    I’d rather see the ministerial statement address the daily problems of the citizens like the lack of infrastructure, electricity, and jobs creation…

    • ghassan Karam

      Amen to that, Hannibal.

  • ghassan Karam

    I was so pleased to read the detailed and lengthy interview done with the former Speaker Mr. Hassan Al Husseini, arguably one of the few Lebanese political figures respected for his integrity and depth of knowledge. He had this to say about “resistance” which is very much in line with what the above article and the preceding one stress. Thank you Mr. Speaker for your eloquence and rational thinking:
    لماذا الجدل حول المقاومة؟ وثيقة الوفاق تنص على تحرير الارض والتشبث
    باتفاقية الهدنة وتطبيق القرار 425 والقرارات اللاحقة 508 و509 واستخدام
    جميع الوسائل المتاحة لتحرير الارض، الآن يصورون المقاومة كأنها تصدر
    بمرسوم، المقاومة هي مقاومة الناس وحق مطلق وفي وثيقة الوفاق الوطني حق لكل
    لبناني ان يقاوم، الآن يقولون ان المقاومة تخص الشيعة لا بل ليس الشيعة
    انما حزب الله وليس فقط حزب الله انما جزءا من الحزب (الجناح العسكري) ما
    هذا الكلام؟ المقاومة هي حق

    • 5thDrawer

      Maybe he reads you, Ghassan. 😉

      • ghassan Karam

        5thDrawer,
        One can argue that there isn’t such a thing that is totally objective since we cannot help be influenced by the baggage that we carry. But I do believe that those of us who try can always arrive at a pretty objective opinion. In this case I am convinced that what I have said about the concept of Resistance is factual and does not serve one party against the other. The idea is neither radical nor revolutionary, it is nothing but the simple application of logic. “resistance” is an idea and ideas belong to all. They are not private property and those accepted seminal concepts need not be defined over and over and over again. If this is clear to you, me and Mr. Husseini then why isn’t it clear to others? 🙂
        (to be fair many reades have expressed support for the idea that “resistance” is not a monopoly..)

        • MekensehParty

          Law as a science is objective and men of Law are objective people. Sometime I wonder how lawyers defend rapers or murderers, the answer is they are objective people and look at the case based on objective laws. When I look at the supreme court I see men and women who think objectively regardless of their baggage. They actually make it a point to distance themselves from their personal tendencies and their vote is almost (unless coincidental) never along party lines. What Mr. Husseini said above is objective and what you wrote about the Resistance in your previous article is also very objective. I was disappointed that you changed your mind later but the article was simply perfectly objective.

          • ghassan Karam

            MeknesehParty,
            Thanks for the input. But I did not think that I changed my mind. I thought that I was elaborating it even more. But as is often the case, it is not the intention that counts but the way a message is understood. I am very surprised that I came across as if I have changed my mind since that is not the case.

          • MekensehParty

            I’m happy to read this. Firmness in positions is what Lebanon needs and courageous voices like yours.
            Thanks for keeping us captivated.

          • libnan1

            I know you like “Firmness in position”, I got your firmness right here.

          • 5thDrawer

            Dork.

          • Hannibal

            lol

          • barabie

            How gay

    • barabie

      Translation plz

  • Prophettttt

    Mr.Karam, This reminds me of when Bill Clinton said : “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’
    is.” Or when He said:”It depends on how you define alone…”
    Did it take that long to figure out that a nation needs to defend itself by all means possible, including the right to its citizens to defend their land? Did they really need to include that in a policy statement? What difference would such a statement make any way?
    When the resistance started, it didn’t start because there was a “government statement” that legitimized it. As a matter of fact there was no government at that time; the entire state was divided into many different factions, some of who were fighting on the side of the enemy.
    The silliest part of this statement is that it authorized citizens to resist but forbid them from being called resistance.It gave them the right to defend their nation, but forbid them from being called defenders or patriots. How genius is that.
    As I said at this forum few days ago; ”Few months wasted to prove that Lebanese can always play on words and twist words in order to prove nothing’.
    The question of monopoly, which you keep bringing up, does not even apply here, Mr. Karam. Those who started the resistance (btw it was not HA), didn’t seek an authorization from a state that was
    debating whether the enemy was in fact an enemy or a friend. If Lebanese had to wait for a consensus on the resistance, our cities and villages would have had Hebrew names by now.
    My point is that in an ideal state, the question of monopoly would a valid one,, the question of the consensus would apply, and the question of the state’s right would apply. This is not the case, and we all know it, therefore none of those really has a place at the table

    • ghassan Karam

      Prophetttt,
      Often lengthy discussions become circular and I am afraid that this is becoming so.But I will be very brief : This is NOT a whatr is is moment since the meaning ,intent

      and recognition of the concept of resistance has never been in question. No country has ever said that Lebanon does not have the right to resist. What has taken place in Lebanon is that a military wing of a legitimate political organization does not want to submit to the rule of law and so it has found a “rationalization” to the effect that if the state is to become supreme then that is tantamount to taking away the right to resist. You will have to excuse me for rejecting such logic totally and absolutely. Yes, in this regard what is being done is pure sophistry to legitimize the illegitimate by jumping on the band wagon of resistance through monopolizing the right inspite of the state. Maybe we should desolve the state and give the country to vegilantes and military groups.

      • Prophettttt

        Briefly too Ghassan, We are where we are because of the dissolution of the state.It’s time to realize that and admit it.Lebanese need to stop running in a circle looking for a corner. All we do is split hairs and try to redefine the defined.

        • 5thDrawer

          Well, getting into ‘brief comments’ …. I begin to believe women-friends in Tripoli are experiencing a similar result NOW of the total incompetence, of which this bit from a BBC article highlights the lack of real ‘care’ by ALL Protagonists in these ‘conflicts’, in a state where no real government exists to be respected.

          “A single mother and her daughter are among thousands of Iraqis who fled to Damascus in the years before the Syrian civil war. They applied for asylum in the US, where they have family – but when the US closed its embassy they became stuck, like many others, in a city descending into chaos.
          The constant fear and uncertainty is punctuated by the sound of explosions. “We’re so tired of this,” she says.
          Sabria’s worst fear is that the next time she and her daughter leave their one-bedroom apartment, they won’t return.
          “There can be an explosion anywhere,” she says. “It can be the street I’m walking on.”
          She now feels that by leaving Baghdad they jumped from the frying pan into the fire.”

        • MekensehParty

          In general: Of course a state is going to dissolve when a group of mercenaries occupies a large part of the country and refuses to let the state in. That’s why people have been talking about a state within a state since the year 2000. If you are so adamant in preserving the state disband your mercenaries, let the state rule and do reforms from within.
          In specifics: Of course a state is going to dissolve when a terrorist group pretending to defend the country blows an ex-PM and a pure statesman who placed the country on the map again and rebuilt its institutions.
          Indeed lets stop running in circles and recognize WHO led to the dissolution of the state!

      • 5thDrawer

        Often thought it was closer to the ‘Somalia Model’.

  • Geo

    Please respect the community. Comments that contain personal attacks or inappropriate language will be removed????

    YALIBNAN, not enforcing your own policy has gone on too long, are you one impotent organization, drunk at the wheel? how do you explain reading all this filth and verbal assault among members and DO NOTHING? IT IS YOUR POLICY ABOVE!! IS IT NOT???? or could it be that you sell your soul and the integrity of your reputation in exchange for any quality traffic to cash in on advertisers? yes Yalibnan shame on you!!! SHAME ON YOU YALIBNAN!!

    • Hannibal

      Am I missing something my bird loving friend? I went through the posts and saw nothing.
      Did someone like change their posts after the fact? Who is this coward?

      • 5thDrawer

        sigh … perception, perception … 🙁

        • Farq2

          And that’s all it took to cause a chain reaction.

          • 5thDrawer

            As Geo notes, not the first time we’ve had a long pile of ‘lines’ to get through to find the occasional ‘good thought’. 😉

      • Geo

        Hi Hannibal, the article Hezbollah celebrates fall of Yabrud 367 comments if you care to go through the mess all the way to the end. Yalibnan can tolerate what ever it wants as long as it abandons or revises its published policy.

  • Leborigine

    I don’t think many people get your point Ghassan, especially your last paragraph.

    Firstly we need to define the word resistance. Resistance is defined as follows; opposition to, hostility to, aversion to, refusal to accept, unwillingness to accept, disinclination to accept, reluctance to accept etc.

    Lebanon as a nation, cannot have a true single body resistance. Our so called leaders and the people have different views politically, geographically and ethnically.
    Some Lebanese consider israel as an enemy and some consider syria as an enemy. Israel has never been officially considered an enemy of Lebanon by a fully independent Lebanese government. The government that voted israel as an enemy of the state was a syrian puppet government, only recognised by their counterparts in syria.
    I cannot ever accept HA legitimacy as a resistance. When our resistance becomes non sectarian and resists ALL aggressors, then we might have a fully functioning resistance that is true to its definition!

    • Hannibal

      Some Lebanese consider israel as an enemy and some consider syria as an enemy…

      Leb,
      I consider Israel and Syria enemies… Heck I consider ALL politicians enemies 😉

      • 5thDrawer

        Hannibal … It’s something like a small shop of a couple of woodworkers that ‘grows’ the business … eventually several are working … but decide all the workers now need one of them to handle accounting and planning, so they ‘elect’ one who seems eager to diversify and be called a ‘manager’ … and then it turns out the jerk was only wanting cleaner hands, more money, begins to think he’s better than the rest because he got an office, and eventually the worst-case, if they argue he fires them. 😉
        Government is simply the expanded ‘model business’. :-)))))

      • Leborigine

        I also consider both as enemies as they both have aggressed against my people and country. Unfortunately some do not see it that way and that’s what angers me.People are worried what israel will do to Lebanon when syria has done the ‘sab3a wa dimmitta’. People are worried about having cities and villages with hebrew names when half of dahiye and west Beirut streets, bridges and tunnels are named after syrian leaders already! But that’s ok, Autostrad or tooneel hafiz el assad in the heart of Beirut when that criminal burned half of Lebanon should be acceptable or else I will be a Zionist!!

    • ghassan Karam

      Leborgine,
      There is nothing to prevent different people from having different ideas. Actually that is very healthy. But there is a purpose and a meaning for the state. It has to act on behalf of the people and it would apply the law equally to all groups. No one, at least in principle, is above the law. If that is not the case then there is no need for the state. The state makes us more free bu infringing on some of our rights to act as individuals. That is what is meant by civilization. A very good way to express this is to borrow the very popular expression from G. Hardin the author of The Tragedy of the Commons who expressed it as such: “Mutual coercion mutually agreed upon”.

  • libnan1

    Check out this picture how the M8 guys all smiles with their heads up and M14 dudes are subdued with their heads down. Either you lead, follow or get out the way …..