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By Ghassan Karam

A major academic work about International Systems defines sovereign state to be:” any nation or people, whatever may be the form of its internal constitution, which governs itself independently of foreign powers”; and furthermore, The New Oxford American Dictionary defines sovereign as an “adjective (of a state that is) fully independent in determining its own affairs”.

Lebanon in its current form does not even come close to meeting the basic qualifications of independence and sovereignty. Whenever there is a seminal question that needs to be dealt with it appears that the solution of choice is to abdicate our responsibility and to ask our neighbours to decide for us.

Whether it is the issue of Palestinian arms, the problem of how to deal with a state within a state, the question of cabinet formation, the terms for ending a civil war or even the potential ramifications of an international indictment by a judicial tribunal set up by the United Nations on our behest, the Lebanese have shown their preference for always dealing with the superficial by never having the courage to address the root cause of what ails them. The tendency to live in denial and to ask outsiders to decide on our behalf is best described as a reflection of immaturity, incompetence and inadequacy.

How can we be up to the task when most of the politicians do not believe in the Lebanese project? They do after all; spend most of their time competing for grace of regional dictators and monarchs when they should be looking after the welfare of their citizens and the affairs of the state.  Lebanon is threatened, again, with political instability and a total ineffectual cabinet but yet the PM, Sa’ad Hariri, has spent more than 50% of his time in office travelling on either peripheral missions, such as a visit to the Sultan of Oman, or a personal visit to Saudi Arabia or France every other week, a s if the current political standoff is not dire enough for him. I do not doubt the sincerity of the PM but what counts are actions much more than words. I see no difference between his busy personal travel schedule and Marie Antoinette’s “Let them eat cake”. His behavior is at best insensitive and comes across as a non chalant attitude. If he is not willing to immerse himself in governing then he would do us all a favour by resigning.

The criticism of Mr. Hariri is not to be taken as an endorsement of the opposition. Far from it, Hezbollah does not bother to hide the sources of its funding, illegal arms and spiritual and worldly devotion to Qom and its concept of Wilayat Al Faqih.  The head of the FPM, on the other hand, has proven himself to be a megalomaniac who will side with whoever gives his only goal, of becoming a president hope.  The FPM, as Wiki leaks has demonstrated, have been very handsomely rewarded financial for their positions; $50 million from Qatar for OTV. As for many of the other s such as Beri, Frangieh and Jumblatt they will do anything to win the favour of Damascus, Lebanese affairs be damned. Then there are the second and third tier parties and leaders such as Mr. Gemayel and Mr. Geagea who carry so much baggage that it will be difficult to give them the time of the day.

Then there is the President, Michael Suleiman. He wants to be taken seriously but forgets that he has made a deal with the devil to be elected. How can he possibly defend a constitution that he shredded when he accepted to run for an office that the constitution prohibits him, explicitly from seeking? There isn’t a shred of difference between him and Assad of Syria, Mubarak of Egypt, Bin Ali of Tunisia or Sale of Yemen not to mention the absolute monarchs of Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Bahrain or the inherited leaderships of Kuwait, the UAE and Jordan.

The only logic that can justify the creation of a state is to empower its population to elect representatives that will act on their behalf and in such a way as to promote their welfare. When the politicians fail in exercising their duties, as they have amply demonstrated in the Lebanese case, then the good citizens have the obligation to retire every one of those that have failed them. If we choose not to exercise our natural right, to rule ourselves and to have representatives up to the task then we have no one to blame except ourselves. It is ironic that many of the Lebanese are constantly complaining about the total and utter failure of the political class, as they should, and their tendency not to act to right the ship of state.h

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