How a Ruler Cannot Rule?
How a Ruler Cannot Rule?
Many differences distinguish fairy tales from legends, and the most important of them might be the following: legends tell tales of supernatural heroes who deliver what humans cannot, be it something positive or negative. We don’t believe what is attributed to the protagonists, but they amaze us, and they could compel glorification or spark our imagination. To writers and artists, they might represent archetypes of human behavior. And who knows, legends may speak to the inflated ambitions of some among us, leaving them enticed to replicate what they had heard. fairy tales, on the other hand, tell stories of protagonists that people do not believe because the protagonists’ very existence defies reason and does nothing else. Sometimes they bore them. Sometimes they entertain them or make them laugh; regardless, though, those who hear them listen and then go about their day.
Telling someone that he is a fairy tale is an insult that calls his existence into question, while telling him he is a legend is praise that conveys how significant you see his existence to be.
Napoleon’s reign was legendry. Michelle Aoun’s reign is a fairy tale, not in the sense that it did not happen but that it did. How could it happen? How could the fairy tale become a reality weighing down on our chests?
A question the Lebanese often ask themselves expresses this situation: “could it be?” Could it be that everything collapses and the President of the Republic does not resign? Could it be that his insistence on the “blocking third” has caused all of this disruption to the government formation process?
How can we understand Michel Aoun? How can we explain him? How can we manage him?
Students of political science begin their studies by reading the Italian Niccolo Machiavelli and the Frenchman Jean Bodin: the first for his theory on the separation between the morality of politics and morals in the general sense of the word, and the second because of his theory on sovereignty.
A different introduction to political studies could be proposed, one in which practical application trumps the study of theory, with theoretical conclusions derived from that application later on. For Lebanese students, for example, a manual explaining how governance can sometimes not be governance, how rulers can sometimes not be rulers, could be taught before they deduce how governance becomes governance or politics become politics. The hero of this manual, without a single competitor, would be the current president. With him and his presidency, we start with the fairy tale; with what cannot be- and should not be-, as an entry point for understanding its realistic opposite, which is what can and should be.
It is true that Aoun is not the only one responsible for the Lebanese’ current suffering or even the party primarily responsible. Still, because he continues to be president, he repents it, and he is the symbol that gives it legitimate cover. Officially, he holds the highest office and is the person primarily responsible for resolving the countries problem. In this sense, what is strange is that criticisms of him, if not lampoons of him, are far less than such a tragedy calls for.
In all likelihood, this relative shrinkage of written criticism stems from the fairy tales that blend the circumstances linked to Aoun. That task is taken upon by the spoken word, by words brimming with insults that reverberate in homes and streets. Written texts, on the other hand, because their eloquence, lack the phrases to describe him. The idea of harmony that writing a text brings out makes it unsuitable for dealing with fairy tales and their looseness.
Today, Michel Aoun is a president antithetical to the concept, rather to the presidential characteristics and achievements that he himself wanted to present as coherent and sublime. If someone were to speak of him according to the characteristics it is claimed he possesses, being a “strong president,” “the guarantor of the rights and interests of Christians,” or “Lebanese sovereignty and independence” or his claims of restoring the state’s prestige,” it would be farcical. Their words would be met with the reception that a farce receives, either chuckles or vulgar insults. The same is true for when he is spoken of, as his partisans speak of him as a president fighting corruption and familial nepotism, or a “father to all” who is keen on the welfare of all his children without exception and is deeply sensitive to their suffering.
While it is understandable that military coups are far-fetched in a country like Lebanon and that Hezbollah’s weapons render civil and popular political change more far-fetched, it is nonetheless astonishing that Aoun has been to maintain his position, amid the current state of affairs and the gravity of the suffering, despite not being aided by even minimal charisma. He is neither Nasser nor Peron, he is not even Hafez al-Assad. This man, despite his extremely modest capacities, can do what he is doing.
This Lebanese president personifies several pitfalls and shortcomings, which are accompanied by a highly volatile political record, and this has become broadly recognized. It is true that he is not the entire problem, nor is he the root of the problem, but his resignation might have been a gateway to addressing it, or even patchily. With him, patchy solutions, even that, seem impossible.
That is indeed a glaring lesson in how politics cannot be politics and governance cannot be governance, and how, under such circumstances, a fairy tale can sit in the presidential palace.