Friday, July 21, 2006

What Legitimizes Democracy?

Arnaud de Borchgravee, Editor-at-Large for the Washington Times and for UPI, recently wrote an op-ed piece in which he refered to Hezbollah as a legitimate political party in Lebanon. He does have a point, as there are two cabinet ministers in the Lebanese government and 23 seats in the Parliament representing Hezbollah.

My question is, should a political party be armed? Can an armed organization be legitimized as a political party in a democracy? Sin Fenn, the political arm of the Irish Revolutionary Army in Northern Ireland, could not be recognized in the British Parliament, even though it had elected representatives in that body, until the IRA was disarmed. Imagine what it would be like if the two factions of the Demopublican party, in the United States, each had their own militias. Cspan might be more interesting as Senators and Congresspersons engaged in firefights, and attrition would result in a constant introduction of new faces in the legislative branch, but that is not democracy. An armed political wing has the potential to enforce its doctrine at gunpoint.

A graphic example of armed political parties can be seen in the Palestinian government. Hamas and Fatah both have their own militias. When Hamas won the elections and gained the majority of seats in the governing body, there were immediately firefights between the two parties, each trying to force its own doctrine upon the other at gunpoint. In this case, democratic elections did not result in a democracy.

It is not Lebanon, nor is it the Lebanese government which imported tens of thousands of rockets and missiles into the southern part of the country, it was Hezbollah. When Hezbollah began firing rockets across the Israeli border it was not at the will of the government of Lebanon. When Hezbollah militia crossed the Lebanese-Israeli border to kidnap soldiers, that was not in the name of the Lebonese government. If Hezbollah were a legitimate party, they would be acting in the interest of Lebanon, not in the interest of Iran or Syria. If it were a legitimate political party in a democracy, it would not have the arms or the impetus to initiate hostilities with a neighboring country.

The true government of Lebanon was elected by the people of Lebanon, not emplaced by Syria of Hezbollah. If that government is to be considered legitimate, while being inclusive of the Hezbollah Party, Hezbollah must become a true political party, and must disarm and cease hostility toward Isreal.

3 comments:

Leon said...

well its true...but a democracy is for the ppl n of the ppl so i guess the ppl of lebanon shud decide what they want

RevJim said...

And I repeat, an armed militia cannot be part of a democracy, because decisions in a democracy can not be made at gunpoint. Hezblollah was mandated to disarm before it became part of the government. Free elections alone do not create a democracy.

prying1 said...

Here! Here! Rev. Jim - Well said!

What the heck. Here is an Amen! too.