To start this, I feel it is important to say that I respect the Lebanese army because many will feel, upon reading this, that I’m degrading our armed forces, which is not my intention.
The purpose of this post is to ask a few questions – the answers to those questions are not set in stone. They go back to your perspective. Some might feel the answer the questions posed are yes. Others will feel the answer is a no. Either way, it’s always healthy to have a debate.
When it comes to the Lebanese army, many put it on a pedestal. Whatever the army does, you can’t criticize it, you can’t comment on its work, you can’t talk about anything it does in a negative light. The argument? The army is already doing more than what’s required of it and you have no right to criticize.
But is the argument that the army is doing more than it should enough to explain any possible shortcomings?
For instance, when it comes to neutrality, the Lebanese army is praised for keeping a distance from everyone, as it should. For instance, when Kataeb students were getting beaten up in Downtown Beirut, the army stood by and watched. I think it should have interfered because these are the people it should be protecting. Many felt that remaining neutral is better.
However, soon after that downtown incident, students were protesting at a Lebanese university as a reply to a protest that went on a week earlier. The army was neutral for the first protest – it beat up the students during the second one. Now, should we remain silent about this or do we have the right to ask: what happened?
When it comes to the checkpoints, such as the Madfoun checkpoint, is it fair to say that we are civilians who don’t understand the importance of such checkpoints? Is it fair that we don’t get to criticize why some regions have such checkpoints and not others? Or should we just “suck it up” and not get a say at all?
Should we, as civilians, not be allowed to address some military men who abuse their power, if they exist, and who might be protected by the halo we throw around them?
Should the army’s triumphs protect it from any possible inquiry people might have about its other activities?
In any other country in the world, while the military is respected, people get the chance to constructively criticize. I say, who not in Lebanon too?