It’s hard to appreciate just how important this story will be. In a world where politics is polarized not around abortion and gay marriage but rather around secular/western versus religious/insular politics, it’s heartening to see democracy working and the Party of God getting set back. It’s not a victory for President Obama, it’s a victory for the world as a whole, and the causes of peace and tolerance in particular. (Obama does not get a monopoly on those agenda items.)
On the other hand, Lebanon is vastly weaker in terms of military force than either Israel or Syria. In particular, Syria has been known to send in tanks when it doesn’t like how Lebanon behaves. Whether the new regime in Syria follows this historical example remains to be seen. And the power of Hezbollah in the southern provinces of Lebanon will not be dislodged by the results of a single election.
Nevertheless, congratulations to the Lebanese and here’s hoping for a peaceful, economically prosperous, and ultimately beneficial series of policy steps to re-integrate what could be one of the richest, most prosperous, and most democratic Arab nations.