Their crimes must not be forgiven again. For 11 years, Lebanese politicians spent some $130 billion without an audit. To pass the 2017 budget, our lawmakers defied the constitution by promising the audit will come next year instead of now. I’m not holding my breath.
Let’s not lie to ourselves: Audits can be manipulated. We had a regular budgetary process throughout most of the 1990s, but everyone in this country still believes there was waste and theft during that period. That said, at least there were tangible results from the spending: a new airport, improved roads, telecom networks, etc. Since 2005, however, what has really changed? New traffic lights and parking meters? Where are our reliable supplies of electricity and water?
An annual audit is like our state’s conscience reminding itself of the sins of the past year. By silencing our conscience, we’ve slid deeper into immorality. The likelihood that spending from the last 11 years will be audited is next to zero, as all indications suggest that the theft of public money has only increased during that time—with devastating effect.
Our economy is in tatters. People are struggling to survive, and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. Our warlords and militiamen pardoned themselves for taking the lives of around 150,000 and the livelihood of a whole nation during their civil war. While recent economic crimes are by no means equal, the level of devastation is undeniable. We must not allow them to do it again.
Our politicians must be held accountable, and we must find a way to break this cycle of crime and pardon. They’re so far removed from their real purpose—to serve the nation—that they justify their every wrongdoing by convincing themselves that their personal gain somehow benefits their tribe. In reality, they’re creating dependencies that a functioning state would render obsolete, believing the lies they tell themselves about their roles as protectors.
We don’t need them, we don’t want them, and yet, praying that they will just disappear is a fool’s dream. Our political class has ruined this country, corrupting the entire system to its core as they cling to undeserved power.
We can no longer turn a blind eye, no longer accept the corruption at the heart of our country. Our politicians must be held to account.