Celebrating failure

The Lebanese Cabinet. (The Daily Star)

A few days ago Lebanon’s prime minister declared that despite all the criticism it has faced and the failures over which it has presided, this government would continue the work it has been producing over the past year.

Lebanese citizens would be forgiven for asking themselves what exactly the government has produced, aside from hardships on every level.

If production is going to continue as it has so far, the Lebanese might be in for disaster.

For a taste of what might be to come, they need look no further than the roadblocks that have been one of the defining features of this summer so far. On any given day it can be almost guaranteed that the country will be disrupted by disgruntled citizens blocking a main road, either for political, religious or sectarian reasons, or to protest against a lack of resources.

These protesters have developed a level of audacity to the stage where they will in advance inform the public that they are set to stage such a protest. The act has developed to the level of a national sport.

The copious statements from various officials who say that blocking roads is against the law and will not be tolerated fall on deaf ears.

It must be asked how this government can expect citizens to have confidence in any promises it makes when this kind of behavior is able to become commonplace.

This situation has been able to develop because the blocking of roads has achieved its aim, by pressuring the government into changing legislation, in stopping a threatened action or inaction, even in influencing what occurs at the judicial level.

Anybody with a grievance simply goes to the streets and lights a few tires. The Lebanese have found the government listens to this kind of appeal and in many cases acts accordingly.

The government boasts of strong leadership, while delivering a paper tiger.

Every politician that feels in need of action gives this government 24 or 48 hours of warning. Instead of the Cabinet trying to save its integrity and assert its authority by solving the problems that have created this situation, it goes into endless deliberations to try and forge a coverup for promises it cannot follow through on.

The more tactics that violate the law and disrupt the country are used to achieve political ends, the more the authority of the government is chipped into, until eventually they will find they have little left.

When that day comes, they will have nobody to blame but themselves, but it is doubtful that they will see the warning signs before it is too late.

The government talks of a year of production and achievements. As far as the Lebanese can see, the government has produced nothing to celebrate. Instead they see a reason to send the government and all of its members to celebrate their failures elsewhere.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 10, 2012, on page 7.




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