As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, June 08, 2009

Arab Summer?

Media types looking for connectivity will try to draw a line between Barack Obama's Cairo speech and the victory of pro-Western parties over Hezbollah in Lebanese elections. That would just be untrue. But we can be cheered that Lebanon held peaceful elections and arrived at their own conclusions - Hezbollah groups allege that the US threatened to pull aid for the country if they took Parliament, but there's not a lot of evidence supporting that.

Tim Fernholz is right to not read too much into the results:

In Lebanon, however, little will change due to this election -- the current government remains in power, admittedly with more legitimacy, and Hezbollah will continue to keep about the same number of seats in parliament, its arms and its own agenda. Some speculate that Hezbollah might be pleased with this turnout, since the burdens of running a government would be onerous to a party of resistance. But the result does indicate the difficulty of being both a Shi'ite and nationalist resistance movement in an ethnically variegated country, and may raise further questions from the rest of Lebanon's population about Hezbollah's role in defining their country abroad.

Andrew Exum has more at his new digs. I think post-Bush we understand that democracy means more than elections, so hopefully we don't turn away from Lebanon at this point and work to strengthen their civic institutions. Otherwise any bold prediction that the country "turned away from extremism" will not have follow-through.

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