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    Statehood: All or Nothing

    Within the context of defending Hezbollah’s weapons, some journalists and politicians incessantly invoke a pretext first brandished by the party’s secretary general himself when he talked, among others, about a just and capable state, which leads one to the following conclusion: We can either build such a state, or embrace a state in which weapons remain in the hands of Hezbollah, in other words, no state at all.

    This theory is faulty on several points, even as it is clearly and successfully used by Hezbollah to serve a certain strategy.

    By calling for a perfect state starting with transparency, prosperity and an army responsible for liberating the land as a precondition for surrendering its weapons, it is as if Hezbollah is saying: “There is no point of having a school unless there is a great university,” or “There is no need for building a simple bedroom before completing the entire house.” This contradicts all logic. We must start with something, some piece of a state eventually in order to reach an entire state or whatever parts of it can be achieved. This starts, first and foremost, with the monopoly over the use of force. Indeed, if the problem of security and ability to enforce the law equally is not resolved, it would be impossible to witness in the society in question the emergence of any economic cycle, stable educational system or any of the other conditions necessary to form a “perfect” state. Security has a more positive influence on the economy, education, health and other aforementioned social services than these elements together have on security.

    In other words, if the state monopolizes the use of force, this does not entail the removal of all other obstacles on the road to statehood. We may find ourselves, on the one hand, face to face with a corrupt or tyrannical country, but addressing the question of violence opens the door to political struggles against corruption and tyranny, which take cover behind the cloak of the law. On the other hand, developing, or even preserving, a stable economy and culture becomes next to impossible in light of the spread of arms and violence, and the ensuing mutual fear among various communities.

    This disparity in the scale of priorities is not only linked to setting a timetable, but also extends to the level of concepts: politics, by definition, exists so that we may avoid and shun violence (rather than for the improvement of economy, education, etc.) But the system based on politics, i.e. on nonviolence, is entrusted with the economy, education, the fight against corruption and other positive duties.

    And on a different but no less important subject: Tackling the subject of arms enables defining the boundaries of the national experience in a given state (in this case Lebanon). If this is not done and “surprise” conflicts are not averted, there can be no plans to build a state and society, nor can anyone think about improving their conditions and performances. This holds true for other aspects and functions of the state: We can actually create a successful and prosperous educational or economic environment, but an armed party will always “surprise us” with a war that turns everything we have build into rubble.

    It stands to reason that no one harbors any illusions as to the fact that the discussion with the armed parties is theoretical. This discussion, however, remains useful for establishing that those behind “maximalist” demands do not want even a “minimalist” state.

    Hazem SAGHIYEH
    NOW Lebanon

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