Until recently, I never asked myself whether Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) could be turned into a political party that could survive him. This thought, however, came to my mind after seeing Aoun everywhere; leading every appearance, on every TV debate, at every reunion, and in every newspaper. Basically, everywhere and barely any trace of Camille Khoury, the real candidate against Amin Gemayel. The real point of concern is whether any member of the FPM can see the difference between starting a political movement that requires a LEADER, and the making of a political party that requires a MANAGER.
Let us go back in time, when Aoun created his movement: One member from his closest ones started drawing an organization chart while all others were attempting to contribute enthusiastically, thinking that they were making history that night. Their contribution to the creation of the FPM movement became louder and louder until Aoun, who was listening to his most trusted colleagues with exasperation, nervously realized how far behind they were from his great ideas and vision. Being the Leader, he briskly claimed ownership of that crucial moment, confident that his preconceived ideas would do the job just fine. Aoun redrew the organization chart on a brand new piece of paper, exactly like he would have done it in the army. Aoun looked around, screened the faces in the room, steered in the air trying to visualize few others from older days, and started filling names in the empty boxes. He had just created a political movement and he proudly spilled it out to his team with excitement and a large smile on his face. Of course, everybody agreed with him that this is the best that can be made. It was a long night that stretched to the early hours and what Aoun did not know, was that few from the team returned home with a tail in between their legs. Every day since, unwillingly, Aoun made somebody go back home with a tail in between his legs. After a while, they all got used to it, and so did he, on the justification that it is the privilege of a LEADER.
If a movement requires a structure and a team, then a party needs a responsible team of people that are empowered. To expand from the few to the masses, time is of the essence, and therefore empowerment is key for success. That is exactly what Aoun missed and still is missing: the manager’s skills. He micromanages his whole team and every situation that arises. He basically does not trust their capabilities being not powerful enough and enough hate to reach to the masses.
Aoun presents himself as the champion of democracy, names family members in key FPM positions and then blames the others for being feudal and anti-democratic. Aoun’s supporters look exactly in the direction he wants them to look and see exclusively the problem among the March 14 political leaders. For Aoun, closing the parliament is a rightful democratic act when the majority doesn’t do what the minority wants it to do. Closing the roads and burning tires is against the law but not really when it is in the name of citizen’s freedom of speech and movement. Occupying Downtown can’t be his fault if Seniora refused to resign. Aoun’s democracy is of his own vision and creation, stretching it at every situation to meet his needs. Meanwhile his naïve supporters are just amazed and proud to have him as a chief and a champion of democracy.
Aoun simply acts and behalves like the chief of a tribe who is always right and never wrong while his fans and supporters are stupidly steering towards him with gaping mouths. For him, DEMOCRACY is simply in his path bothering him in whatever he wants to do. Aoun finds it always in the middle just in front of him, and at every occasion he never miss and tumbles on it. Aoun has the stereotype profile of a dictator and if it wasn’t because of DEMOCRACY, he would have terminated every politician, fired every responsible, criticized every head of state, and many more things.
No, Aoun is not a manager and his FPM movement will not survive him, unless new blood from within dares come forward.