The wrangling over forming a new Cabinet in Lebanon has been going on for months and although it has reached a fever pitch in recent days, the entire process has become bogged down in brinksmanship.
While politics is the art of making deals, there are times when higher national interests must override the petty turf wars and produce pacts that allow a country to stay afloat, especially in turbulent waters.
The Christian political community is undergoing such a moment of challenge. Michel Aoun, leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, has been adamant about retaining the Energy Ministry as it represents a “guarantee” for Christians. Meanwhile, the larger issue of “sound Christian representation” is another loud demand, put forward by Bkirki and various figures, a signal that Aoun’s level of satisfaction with the next Cabinet lineup is the most important item to be considered.
This issue has emerged with other communities in the past, but the problem today is that little consideration is given to the fact that Lebanon’s president is a Maronite, and therefore the country’s most powerful Christian politician. To argue that just one individual, residing outside Baabda Palace, is the ultimate judge of the health of Lebanon’s Christians is ludicrous. The Energy Ministry might represent a “guarantee” of longevity and a source of self-confidence, but only for a given political faction, and for only a million Lebanese.
If it hasn’t become obvious yet, there are critically important times in national politics when leaders must abandon petty issues and start thinking about their legacies, and how they behaved when the country’s future was at stake.