Editor-In-Chief: Charbel Baini

Compromise Spirit/ Mahmood Shebat

Political observers can easily see the similarity between the events taking place at present in Lebanon, and the serious challenges experienced by the 13 United States during the "Critical Period” span between 1781 up to 1789.
As per the U.S. History of Paul M. Roberts, the life of the new nation was aptly called critical, many people feared the United States would collapse; Congress was beset with financial problems, and was unable to maintain law and order, or to exercise any real authority. The government lost the respect of foreign nations; the states quarreled among themselves and nearly came to blows over boundary disputes.
The “Americans” managed to sort out the pending matters by calling for Constitutional Convention which was held in 1787. Present at the Convention were many of the ablest leaders, the following were important problems and their solutions: -
1- The large states favored the Virginia Plan. This called for representation in Congress to be based on population. The small states, feared of being outvoted in Congress because of their limited population, supported the New Jersey Plan. This proposed that each state have equal representation.
Solution: The Great Compromise (Connecticut Compromise). The problem was solved by creating Congress consisting of two houses. In the upper house, the Senate, each state was to be represented equally by two senators. In the lower house, the House of Representatives, each state was to be represented on basis of population.
2- To obtain maximum representation but minimum taxation, the Southern states proposed that (a) slaves be counted as part of the population in determining representation in the House of Representatives, and (b) slaves not to be counted for the purpose of direct taxation by the federal government. The Northern states vehemently opposed this plan.
Solution: The Three-Fifths Compromise. The problem was solved by providing that five slaves be counted as three persons for both representation and taxation.
3- The manufacturing and shipping interests of the North wanted Congress to have the power to regulate interstate and foreign commerce. The farming interests of the South feared that Congress might use this power to tax agricultural exports. The South also feared that Congress might prohibit the importation of slaves.
Solution: The Commerce Compromise. The problem was solved by granting Congress the power to regulate interstate and foreign commerce and to levy tariffs on imports. But Congress could not tax exports, nor could Congress restrict the importation of slaves for a period of 20 years.
With good will and with spirit of compromise such problems were solved nearly two centuries ago. Do our Lebanese politicians have such brains, and wills to overcome our chronic tragedy?
Khobar, K.S.A.