Who stands to gain from federalism?

If you think about it federalism is obviously not a good option in Iraq for the US because Iran would definitely get the upper hand. However, in the Lebanese case, it is the only option if the US hopes to keep some king of political leverage (especially when possibly working out the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict). The US would prefer either a federal Lebanon or one where Hizbullah is neutralized. This is why the 14th of March is definitely the best thing the US can have. Two of its leaders won’t mind having the country broken up. Actually federalism for Samir Geagea and Walid Jumblatt is one of the best way to have more political leverage. Even Mustaqbal leader Saad Hariri wouldn’t mind and will accept US demands to naturalize the Palestinians. Decentralization (even compartmentalization) works best for feudal and other elites and oligarchs who don’t have the popularity that elites have on a national scale. Geagea and Jumblatt also come from a deep seated culture that political cantons is the most efficient system (in which they enjoyed much more privileges (recall the civil war) economically and politiclaly then in a coalition).

Now although Hizbullah comes from the working of one canton, it does not have the federalist culture. This is important to understand. Hizbullah started working from a micro-setting and moved slowly to nation-wide goals (it still has to prove itself on so many issues of course). All the institutions Hizbullah has created (hospitals schools, construction, social assistance etc.) do not work with a civil-war-militia-mindset (these institutions are available to anyone). Also Hizbullah has come into existence because of an occupation problem that the State of Lebanon was too weak to address (and also because the regional situation did not let the State address the issue independently). So Hizbullah fought for a national cause. For Hizbullah, federalism is obviously not a first option.

But but but.. I would not be surprised to see Hizbullah say: “well if this is what you want, we’ll manage”. What I mean is, Hizbullah won’t be with federalism because it really doesn’t need this option to keep the course, but at the same time, it will be ready to work with it, if federalism is just inevitable. Hizbullah stands to gain in every way from a coalition government, but will probably not lose that much if it falls back on the non-state institutions it has in place (although it will be much more isolated, and sandwiched between Israel and a pro-US puppet government, so it will still loose more). The only party that will be the biggest loser in a federal structure the Aounist (Tayyar). Tayyar’s constituency spreads on different parts of Lebanon. And this is why Tayyar’s alliance with Hizbullah is the most important political phenomenon since Fouad Chehab’s mandate. And it works in the interest of Hizbullah whose only way to go from a non-state to a full national party is through such types of coalitions.

17 Replies to “Who stands to gain from federalism?”

  1. 1) G stands for gov’ment. In that, yes, I could accept that certain parties attempting to influence US policy in Lebanon support federalism, but they do not carry sufficient weight.

    2) If I sound like as USG spokesperson, shouldn’t you be taking orders from me … Heel, slave, thine emperor is nigh!

  2. To elaborate and remove any conspiratorial assumptions, I offer mssr. walid phares. In his heart of hearts, he may want federalism, but his political role in the US administration has more to do with his unique willingness to make the round peg of US administration policy fit into the square hole of Lebanese realities.

  3. Your argument is not convincing. You still did not show how the US wouldn’t benefit from a federal Lebanon.

    The more I think about it, the more I am convinced by my argument.

    Bear in mind that I did not say that the US is supporting federalism. I am saying that it could be an option. It is a proposed plan that is.

  4. Well, it depends on what exactly we mean by federalism and the details, but opposition to the idea was real and palpable and joined such ranks as the US, Syria and Israel in past times.

    Just as they did not want a Fatahland, they do not a Hizbullistan in the South. Indeed, even the idiot in-chief says he cool with Hizbullah as long as they are not armed.

  5. Of course these were the “pax syriana” times. But with the Iraqi invasion and neocons new ideas about how to deal with the ME, federalism resurfaced as a useful alternative.

    And of course we need to define what we mean by federalism. But For the americans the administrative side of it is not really important. What’s important is: Keep Hizbullah weak make sure the Palestinians won’t come back and strengthen the political elements that could be friendly to Israeli.

    This can only be done through a federalist structure, or through the monopolization of the State by one party.

  6. Slave,

    How dare you challenge the king’s writ … 😉

    They want the monopolization, not the federation … Just watch Iraq … See who the US supports down the road … and I guarantee you the gangs of Kurdistan will not be pleased …

  7. Very good point actually. But still unintendedly they could make federalism inevitable, and because there is always a back up plan like “what if federalism becomes a reality what she do?” kind of plan, they already weighted the costs and benefits of such a plan.

    But true first they try to get the whole territory under one agent. Maliki in Iraq is the perfect example. The US in Iraq will always look for the good Boy Shi’a, and in Lebanon, he will look for the good Sunni boy (with the help of Saudi Arabia) and with a bit of luck the good Christian. By the way I don’t think the US would want an extremist Christian such as Samir Geagea.

    Also, it is possible that US policy is not very sound, and that its official don’t really know what they’re doing all the time. Bear that in mind you imperialist Yankee!

  8. For a look at the future of a Hizb controlled Lebanon look at the Hamas controlled Palestinians.

    All war all the time.

    May your new masters make you happier than your old ones. May your chains set lightly upon you.

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