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FORMER British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once said, “Democracy is a bad system, but all other systems are worse than it.” By that statement, he was expressing the summary of his experience of ruling during the most difficult stages of Britain’s modern history, but he made this system the best among the bad ones.
In confirmation of this, philosophers and experts discussed the many defects of democracy, but they unanimously agreed that there is a safety valve, and it is the ruler – either a president, a king, a prime minister or an emperor. It is he who bears the responsibility of the lower authorities, even if the system of government is similar to the constitutional monarchy in force in Britain, Norway, the Netherlands, and other European monarchies.
From this point of view, measuring the extent of the institutions’ success or failure is through their commitment to the Constitution, the law, and the ruler’s directives. Despite the fact that the governance is a mixture of personal moods, they sometimes, due to misunderstanding, work towards adapting the laws for the benefit of the powerful, while the weak are oppressed.
For this reason, the constitutions gave the ruler a set of weapons to prevent the abuse of any authority. He alone can order the dissolution of the parliament when the representatives turn it into a place to achieve their personal interests, or make it a breeding ground for corruption.
Also, he can dismiss the government and appoint a prime minister and a Cabinet if they fail to perform their duties. In many cases, it is just an executive error that gets everyone fired.
Based on this fact, all the world’s democracies worked according to certain reservations, and set red lines for themselves that could not be crossed. However, some of them, due to misunderstanding of the meaning of democracy, turned the parliament into a dominant power over governments and the rest of the authorities.
This is just like what has been seen in Kuwait in recent years when the role of the executive authority declined due to its weakness before the National Assembly and the power exercised by the representatives over it.
For this reason, His Highness the Amir’s description in his last speech, which was delivered by His Highness the Crown Prince, was clear in terms of placing the responsibilities on the two authorities sufficiently to clarify and distinguish the issues, and to know the extent of neglect, inaction, and corruption of each.
There is no doubt that such a situation is never healthy, as it further weakens the state – any state no matter how powerful it is – or the officials’ conviction of the correctness of their positions, because their intransigence makes them not see the truth.
In this regard, there are many examples in history that can be benefited from, such as the rise and fall of the Umayyad Dynasty, when Muawiyah bin Abi Sufyan established a large empire, but it fell in the hands of Marwan bin Muhammad, which paved the way for the Abbasid Dynasty. This dynasty was also plagued by distraction and distance from the affairs of government as, after its second founder Abu Jaafar Al-Mansour made it a great empire that dominated vast areas of the Old World, the Caliph Abdullah Al-Mustasim Billah came to destroy everything that was built by the caliphs who preceded him.
So it was said in the past that the state is built by one individual, and destroyed by another. If Queen Elizabeth I had dedicated herself to her country and was able to rid her of the problems that threatened her in the 16th century, this would not have been possible for her if she did not seek the assistance of a group of loyal advisors, followed up all affairs of the state, and met the demands of its people.
An example from the Gulf region is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, whose founder the late King Abdulaziz bin Saud realized from the beginning that the real state is one that is based on justice and the distribution of powers according to the ability of people to perform tasks.
In this manner, King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman worked on elevating the status of this great country, which today has become the centerpiece of the international movement economically and politically.
Another among the leaders who built a state enjoying great immunity is the late Sheikh Mubarak Al-Sabah. Despite all the difficulties, the sensitive geographical location, and the great powers that were seeking to dominate the region, he managed to make Kuwait a capable state and an island of security and safety in a stormy sea with his wisdom.
We also have an example for the United Arab Emirates. The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan, with the help of his mentor Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed, was able to unite this great country, and strived with the rulers of the Emirates to make it a huge economic power.
There are many lessons to learn in the rise and progress of countries. A country cannot die if there is a force capable of treating its diseases caused by some strife or problems that arise with time. That is why it was said that, every hundred years, nations find a leader who rejuvenates the entire nation.
The last Amiri speech was the prescription of remedy that everyone should follow to renew Kuwait. However, the lesson remains in the implementation that will be entrusted to the concerned authorities. Will it rise to the occasion or do we have to opt for the final remedy, which is cauterization?
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times