Catering to Carter

Granted I’m a little late, but I’ve finally gotten around to writing about something that was in the news last week and which I thought was important and interesting. Jimmy Carter, whose Carter Center enjoys considerable respect for its professionalism in election monitoring, visited Lebanon for four days last week. His main purpose was to meet with various party representatives as groundwork for election monitors to be sent in spring 2009 to observe the parliamentary elections.

Carter’s offer to send monitors was made of his own volition. This has incited some criticism in the blogging world about Carter’s offer being unsolicited, and of Carter himself being a useless and powerless actor in the Middle East drama. I don’t really agree with this. Elections in Lebanon, and in most if not all countries in the world, regularly suffer from sporadic irregularities to outright fraud (and I’m not just talking about places like Zimbabwe…hanging chads anyone?). Why should third parties observing elections be bad? If they’re not there, irregularities might take place. If they are there, their mere presence might dissuade some of these practices from taking place. How can it hurt the Lebanese state from coming out of the elections with a “clean” report card from the Carter Center? It could be a useful tool to encourage anything from more aid to foreign investment.

Carter went around meeting a lot of people. In fact, he had stated that he wanted to meet as many as possible. Michel Aoun, the main Christian politician from the opposition March 8 camp, accepted the invite. His ally Hezbollah however, refused. The reason for this was weak, to put it mildly. Hezbollah has a policy of not meeting with present or past US presidents, or to be more accurately “anyone from a US administration which supports Zionist terrorism”. What’s funny about this, of course, is that Carter published a book in which he labels the Israeli policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories as being equivalent to apartheid, and has met with the top Hamas official Khaled Meshaal in Damascus a while ago. If Hamas is meeting with Carter, then surely Hezbollah could have shown more flexibility. Regardless, the party still came out saying that they do not oppose election monitors, so long as the monitoring is approved by the Cabinet.

3 Responses

  1. Lebanese dont give shit about who Jimmy Carter thinks about our elections? Who does this man thinks that he is? This is man who was President of America since 40 years ago. And if I may, during his rule, his country did not see the numerous Israeli assasinations of Lebanon.

    Also because of Camp David, the door was opened for Israel to shit on my country like a madman in 1982. They come in and shoot and kill anyone who doesnt like their policy. Why does this have a relationship to Mr Jimmy Carter? Because once Egypt was not in the wars the Arabs no longer have a protector, so Israeli can makes wars against a weak Lebanese nieghbor. Mr Carter tricked the Egyptians to leave the wars and left the Arabs alone.

    This is why I say go home Mr Carter. We dont want you in Lebanon.

  2. Antoine,

    When Carter was president, he had to take the US’s interests into account. Now as a private citizen, he is free to do whatever he thinks is right. He has championed the cause of the Palestinians, and any Arab would be hard pressed to argue that the Middle East needs less foreign champions, instead of more.
    What I’m saying is that it can’t hurt Lebanon to have Carter’s people monitor the elections, and then give an A+ for how the elections were conducted. On the contrary, it might reduce irregularities and it could boost Lebanon’s credentials on the world stage as a democracy.

  3. Blackstar, I agree with you. I dont know how much it will help, but I cant see any hurt from Jimmy Carter trying to watch the elections. Its a low risk, low reward type thing.

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