When so many of the headlines nowadays are of the security situation in Lebanon falling apart—organized kidnappings by a clan, two neighborhoods shelling each other, Syrian forces freely shelling the border —it's hard not to balk at the Lebanese Army going after the country's civilian leadership over comments an MP made, calling the army commander "unsuccessful" and an opportunist with presidential aspirations.
Is it really wrong for an elected official to be critical of the nation's military?
But then, is it really fair for an MP to point his civilian guns at an institution expected to play two roles outside its mission: police and local referee?
The answer to the above questions depends on where you stand in the political spectrum at this moment in time. But some facts cannot be ignored. The army, not immune to the political and sectarian divisions plaguing the country, was thrust into playing a police role. A dysfunctional political system meant that army commanders are seen as presidential candidates, which automatically places their decision-making in a political context. More worryingly, the Lebanese army has always determined its external enemies through a local political prism, which meant that its involvement in local events is bound by domestic policies, some of which are subject to foreign agendas.
To quote one fictitious military commander: "There's a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people. "