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“Ballots Over Bullets”?


According to Beirut’s Al-Manar Television channel, a study of the June 7 parliamentary election in Lebanon by the Beirut Center for Research and Information is reporting that "The percentage of voters who cast their ballots in favour of the opposition lists in all the constituencies in Lebanon [had] reached 54.7 per cent, while the percentage of voters who cast their ballots in favour of the pro-government forces reached 45.3 per cent."  The Al-Manar report adds that "839,371 people voted for the opposition lists, while 693,931 people voted for the pro-government lists."  (See "Lebanese politicians allege poll irregularities, discuss results — Hezbollah TV," BBC Monitoring Middle East, June 10.)

Of course, these results as tabulated by the Beirut Center probably are due for some minor revisions going forward.

But this numerical majority vote for the opposition does give the lie to all of the rhetoric in the States and elsewhere about the "green shoots" of democracy alleged to be spreading across the region, because another "pro-Western" coalition supported by Washington has fared well.

Witness, for example, the New York Times‘s Thomas Friedman ("Ballots Over Bullets," June 10).   

Professing to be a " sucker for free and fair elections,… especially in a region where that so rarely happens,… not like the pretend election you are about to see in Iran [on June 12]," Friedman still manages to write about make-believe "solid majorities" who "wanted to preserve Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence from any regional power" — and who proved this, in Friedman’s mind, by in fact producing an actual minority vote on behalf of the parties that were backed by Washington and a last-minute flood of foreign money! 

"The Lebanese mainstream," Friedman avers, "armed only with ballots, not bullets, won."

I’ll bet.

"While the Lebanese deserve 95 percent of the credit for this election, 5 percent goes to two U.S. presidents. As more than one Lebanese whispered to me: Without George Bush standing up to the Syrians in 2005 — and forcing them to get out of Lebanon after the Hariri killing — this free election would not have happened. Mr. Bush helped create the space. Power matters. Mr. Obama helped stir the hope. Words also matter."

Boy.  This guy does worship American Power.

I wonder how many times over the years Friedman has written exactly the same commentary (mutatis mutandis for places and names) following an election in which the recipients of the minority vote at the ballot box wound-up trumping the majority anyway — if, and only if, this particular outcome coincided with the will of Washington?

Clearly, Lebanon aside, in a world where extremists tend to go all the way and moderates tend to just go away, seeing yet another minority stand Washington’s ground and win — with ballots and with years of threats and Israeli invasions and embargoes and last-minute foreign $$$$$ — now, that truly is something worth Thomas Friedman’s applause.

"Lebanese politicians allege poll irregularities, discuss results — Hezbollah TV," BBC Monitoring Middle East, June 10 (translated from Arabic over Al-Manar Television, Beirut, June 9, 1230 GMT)

"Ballots Over Bullets," Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, June 10, 2009
 

 

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