Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Oh boy, another red line!

Ever since dialogue died in Lebanon the latest fashion of politicians has become to draw red lines which cannot be crossed. Hezbollah drew a red line regarding Nahr al Bared, only to be outdone by Samir Geagea who drew two red lines. It’s almost like an auction: “Going once…do I hear three lines?…going twice…”

Remember the last red line that was drawn by Hezbollah’s leader sayyed Nasrallah? He told the government not to enter the Palestinian camp of Nahr al Bared. Interesting enough, the army under leadership of Syrian-appointed general Michel Suleiman, did not listen to Nasrallah. So much for his chances of becoming the next president, but at least Suleiman stood up for his country and tried to save it from terrorist attacks by Muslim fundamentalists.

The conclusion should reasonably be that red lines don’t really work too well. Sure, they result in a nice sound byte of a leader who comes across as strong, but if no one listens then what’s the point? Given this rather humiliating experience of Nasrallah, one would expect that other politicians would think twice before using the same concept of red lines.

Well…yeah…right…assuming brains in political circles is already quite a feat in well developed countries, let alone in Lebanon. I once read that the only thing that distinguishes humans from animals is not our intelligence, but our stupidity. That theory seems to hold up nicely in this country.

So yesterday we had Samir Geagea, the leader of the once banned Lebanese Forces, who declared not one, but two red lines. The first red line is that the government should not take over presidential powers in case the elections for the next president are cancelled.

The second red line is that the next president should be a strong person and not as weak as the presidents during the last 15 years, a reference to the presidencies of Emile Lahoud and Elias Hrawi, the latter started his job in 1989. None of the Christian leaders attended Hrawi’s funeral on July 7, 2006; no wonder Geagea doesn’t think highly of him.

Given Geagea’s second red line, you would think he’d come up with a strong presidential candidate. Unfortunately, he is exquisitely vague about it, saying that he could name a candidate maybe tomorrow or maybe 5 minutes before the deadline expires. Where did we hear this kind of statements before? Right, kindergarten!