When a politician communicates a message to his electorates or to his opponents, regardless of whether the information is true or false (read: a lie), the listener would interpret it and classify it depending on where the listener politically stands vis-à-vis the politician. The listener would call the message “information” if he is in favor of this politician’s views, or “news” with all kind of possible annotations if not.
For a politician, what matters is not the integrity of the message but what he thinks the listener wants to hear or has to hear. Whether the politician knows it up front, or had to research it, or was tipped by his advisors, it really boils down to making a hit that is as accurate as possible. In most cases the politician could safely assume that at least his electorate won’t question him and that he is taking a fair bet of what the listener knows already and what he could possibly remember from that same politician’s past statements and speeches. Of course, his political opponents will make sure that no misinformation goes unpunished; a corrective statement(s) will follow and we fall back to the previous paragraph.
Is the spirit of the Ta’ef Agreement favoring political sectarianism or not? The 8th of March coalition says no and the 14th of March coalition says no also. Both parties seem to be in agreement when it comes to the wording of their messages but not in agreement when we compare their actions and stands. Therefore, at least one of the two parties, if not both, is communicating “news” and the other one, or none, is communicating “information”.
Let us investigate the Ta’ef Accord and take note of the arguments that have been picked up by both parties:
The first one is Article I adopted by the 8th of March and taken from “The General Principles”:
“I. No authority violating the common co-existence charter shall be legitimate.”
The one adopted by the 14th of March refers to the “Cabinet Resignation, Considering Cabinet Retired, and Dismissal of Ministers” that says that the cabinet shall be considered retired in the following cases:
“a. If its chairman resigns;
b. If it looses more than 1/3 of its members as determined by the decree forming it;
c. If its chairman dies;
d. At the beginning of a president’s term;
e. At the beginning of the Chamber of Deputies’ term;
f. When the Chamber of Deputies withdraws its confidence from it on an initiative by the chamber itself and on the basis of a vote of confidence.”
What I would like to refer to is the section that follows on the abolition of political sectarianism:
G. Abolition of Political Sectarianism:
“Abolishing political sectarianism is a fundamental national objective. To achieve it, it is required that efforts be made in accordance with a phased plan. The Chamber of Deputies elections is the basis of equal sharing by Christians and Muslims shall adopt the proper measures to achieve this objective and to form a national council which is headed by the president of the republic and which includes, in addition to the prime minister and the Chamber of Deputies speaker, political, intellectual, and social notables. The council’s task will be to examine and propose the means capable of abolishing sectarianism, to present them to the Chamber of Deputies and the cabinet, and to observe implementation of the phased plan. The following shall be done in the interim period.”
If I try to analyze the “information” and make an effort to position the three sections in respect to each other, I can make at least three statements:
1) The existing government did not violate the common co-existence charter. Six ministers chose to resign and their resignation is yet to be accepted by the President and by the Prime Minister.
2) The cabinet cannot be qualified as resigned on the basis of any of the items listed from clauses a to f.
3) The abolition of political sectarianism is a specific objective and a corner stone for a modern Lebanon and therefore the spirit of Ta’ef cannot possibly give room for any specific confession to tumble the government any time it wishes to do so.
And now to those who are still not convinced of my argument and who would claim that my statement falls into my top first paragraph, I would say: “The General Principles” are meant to be general and Article I is here to protect a confessional or political minority (in today’s case, the Shi’a) from a biased majority (in today’s case, March 14) that would create an authority (i.e. a government) whose purpose would be to discriminate against this minority (the Shi’a) and then go on and defend this wrongdoing on the basis of the Ta’ef Agreement… that is if Article I did not exist.
Isn’t this what Syria did since 1990?