Hezbollah, Lebanon

An Interview with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon

Last week, I interviewed Dr. Fatima el Issawi, spokesperson of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The full interview is available at Foreign Policy’s Mideast Channel, but I’ve pasted the first exchange below.

Much of the responses are of a general “statements of principles” nature, but I think that there are some things to be gleaned between the lines.


Muhanna: When indictments are eventually issued, whose responsibility is it to ensure that indicted individuals appear before the court? Is the Lebanese government compelled to carry out an arrest warrant on behalf of the court?

El Issawi: According to the founding documents of the STL, Lebanon is required to cooperate with the Tribunal at all stages of the proceedings. This means that the Lebanese government has a duty to respond to any request from STL for information, cooperation or deferral. Such requests would include but are certainly not limited to requests for detention or execution of arrest warrants.

(Keep reading)

In the same issue, see also Steven Heydemann’s very astute reading of what seems to be taking place behind the scenes.  Also, Randa Slim cites my last piece for Foreign Policy by way of suggesting that Hizbullah has no real evidence that Israel killed Hariri, while As-Safir quotes the same piece, in support of Mr. Nasrallah’s case against Israel. Go figure.

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87 thoughts on “An Interview with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon

  1. I am one among many that do not have any trust in the STL
    STL’s answers (or non answers) along with its conduct since its inception clearly disqualifies it as an impartial trust worthy body.
    I feel that the STL was conceived prior to the assassination of Hariri. It is part of a master plot to serve Israel.

    Posted by i.e. Lubanan | August 13, 2010, 2:54 pm
  2. I feel that the STL was conceived prior to the assassination of Hariri. It is part of a master plot to serve Israel.


    Can you show us why you feel this way?

    As far as my information goes:

    The court was established by an Agreement between the United Nations and the Lebanese Republic pursuant to Security Council resolution 1664 (2006) of 29 March 2006. The United Nations Security Council, acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations endorsed the agreement on 30 May 2007 (Security Council Resolution 1757 (2007))


    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 13, 2010, 3:37 pm
  3. i.e. Lubnan,
    When I read your post, I had to pinch myself to make sure that I was not dreaming.
    There is no doubt that you are entitled to believe whatever you want but please don’t jump off a cliff. I assure you that you cannot defy the laws of gravity.
    What a creative mind you have. I imagine that is one way to deal with developments that you do not agree with. Explain things in terms of a conspiracy although such a conspiracy rests on defying all rational thinking.
    Why are all of these people in the employ of Israel?

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 13, 2010, 3:53 pm
  4. “israel”

    Posted by dontgetit | August 13, 2010, 3:59 pm
  5. I urge you all to read and reread the past 11 reports of the commission. There is not a single reference to ever entertaining the faintest possibility of Israel’s involvement.
    To the contrary, the process was made to make sure to sway all eyes away from Israel.
    Hariri’s entourage was one of the most protected by any means. Only few could have penetrated his security. On the issue of intention to assassinate Hariri, the consequences of the assassination also points the figures to Israel since it was the main beneficiary from the deed.
    With commission not seriously consider Israel in its investigative scenarios makes the credibility of the STL in question.

    The STL’s announcement that it is the SOLE body that has the right to investigate the assignation and NOT permitting the Lebanese authorities to question the false witnesses!!!

    Posted by i.e. Lubanan | August 13, 2010, 4:20 pm
  6. QN,

    It doesn’t seem likely to me that HA will accept the deal Heydemann describes. Admitting to rouge agents is going to be the same as an admission of guilt especially if high level people are indicted. Not to mention that admitting to rogue elements will put into even bigger question the legitimacy of their arms.

    I am not saying there can’t be a deal (even though I think it is highly unlikely without some period of governmental crisis), but it isn’t the one he describes.

    Posted by AIG | August 13, 2010, 4:21 pm
  7. Ok SMART GUYS… Give me your thoughts here.
    Is it possible that Suspects not be detained by the court or by the Lebanese authorities, but indicted and eventually tried in absentee, and defended by a counsel without waiving their right be present at the court?
    If Yes, that opens up the doors for so many scenarios and possibilities that might keep Lebanon busy for years to come. Any answers?

    Posted by Prophet | August 13, 2010, 5:28 pm
  8. without waiving their rights to be present/ SIMPLY IGNORING THE COURT…

    Posted by Prophet | August 13, 2010, 5:30 pm
  9. “ISRAEL”!!!!!!



    (I am not sure which is more correct)

    Posted by dontgetit | August 13, 2010, 5:36 pm
  10. you da prophet so why dont you prophesy, especially emphasizing in details the effect of “without waiving their rights to be present”
    Take inspiration from this:

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 13, 2010, 5:40 pm
  11. Posted by Honest Patriot | August 13, 2010, 5:41 pm
  12. dontgetit, you really dontgetit

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 13, 2010, 5:41 pm
  13. QN – sorry, please delete the second repeat youtube video posting (and this request)

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 13, 2010, 5:43 pm
  14. What Mr. Heydemann is describing is the only credible way to deal with this issue. No country that maintains any belief whatsoever in the rule of law would ever entertain making a deal on the findings of a judicial ruling. What he is describing as a deal is a no deal deal. It is only a face saving device for Hezbollah, if the indictments turn out to be as trumpeted, to preserve its power.
    The STL is the only entity that is authorized to deal with this issue and deal with it they will. Neither the Saudi King nor anyone should be allowed to pretend that they can influence such proceedings.
    A country that bans a singer who alludes to the Armenian genocide, prevents TV and internet from showing tape of a meeting between Qatar and Israel, arrests those that dare critique the president. gives the Army the right to arrest people and journalists whenevr it wants, forces TV stations not to air a peogram because the church does not agree with it, is to implement a highly restrictive internet law… is now to make a deal over a judicial matter. Is there anything sacred for this state?
    If a deal is struck, any deal, that reflects on the integrity of a judicial system that we set up then this government and this state would have lost any reason for respect and even for existence. They might as well close shop , become a Syrian province , a Saudi protectorate, a Tehran on the Med or maybe a combination of the three. But obviously let us stop the pretense that we are sovereign, independent and democratic.Gibran said it best:
    “Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox, whose philosopher is a juggler, and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking.
    Pity the nation whose sages are dumb with years and whose strong men are yet in the cradle. “

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 13, 2010, 5:47 pm
  15. HP, FUNNY

    Posted by Prophet | August 13, 2010, 5:48 pm
  16. HP,
    That is hilarious. It reminds me of some lectures when I am stretching to by time and the students are writing and nodding their approval LOL.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 13, 2010, 5:55 pm
  17. AIG

    I think it all depends on who is indicted. If the guys on the charge sheet are sufficiently low enough on the totem pole and/or have a tenuous connection to the party (and can thus be excommunicated, as it were, by everyone) then the deal will work. Hizbullah dodges a bullet but is still tarnished to some degree; Hariri gets to declare that he has found the truth, even if it didn’t move mountains and topple governments; and the Syrians and Saudis return to being in charge of Lebanon while the Iranians look on and sulk.

    But again, it all depends on the indictments. If the people charged are un-excommunicable, then I think all bets are off.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | August 13, 2010, 8:06 pm
  18. QN,

    Do you think HA would comply with the request of the STL to submit their evidence?

    Posted by Badr | August 14, 2010, 1:14 am
  19. QN,
    There is very little chance that the tribunal will indict people with “blood on their hands.” What we are likely to see is either 1) several people who the tribunal thinks can be indirectly tied to the murder based on their view of strong circumstantial evidence, or 2) the tribunal will present a “grand plan” theory and indict people they think are directly tied to the organization of the murder.

    The second method will be hard because they are going to have to defend their ideological position more. The first is more likely because they probably have several layers of overlapping circumstantial that might lead to, say, the supplier of the phone cards or something…

    That said, I was unsurprisingly unimpressed with Dr. Fatima el Issawi’s answers to your questions. Im sure he has his mandate to protect, but he still has the ability to be less defensive than he was.

    As for Mr. Heydemann’s analysis, I was wholly unimpressed by his american-centric view. It takes a remarkably colonial mind to review a potentially dangerous lebanese situation by saying “This is not only a settlement the U.S. can live with but one it should support, even if tacitly. It advances broader U.S. objectives in Lebanon….” and the to proceed to talk about this situation in terms of the international strategic dynamic of the Iranian/American(and by implication, zionist – since the zionist narrative presents Iran as pure evil…) power struggle. What empty-headed bullshit. it’s sad.

    That said, it’s an open question as to how much conflict will be created by the tribunal’s indictments. He may be right that they are little cause for alarm. But that seems possible to me only if there’s a strategic realignment of forces in Lebanon. From the Hizbullay perspective, the way the tribunal can be shown to be of limited danger is if they can secure the support of little Hariri in guaranteeing that the resistance is safe. Without the cooperation of little Hariri, it is hard for me to believe that Hizbullah will see the work of the tribunal as anything other than a direct attack on the resistance.

    You don’t know what you are talking about when you say “No country that maintains any belief whatsoever in the rule of law would ever entertain making a deal on the findings of a judicial ruling.” This is what governments do all the time. they plea bargain, they change laws, they decide not to prosecute, they charge suspects with every possible charge (even unmerited ones) in an effort to get anything to “stick”.

    I don’t want to argue the same old argument, but you are talking about a fantasy, not the law.

    Also, just for the sake of accuracy, since you like to quote the tribunal’s founding documents, they state that “provisions of the Lebanese Criminal Code”…”shall be applicable to the prosecution and punishment of the crimes referred to in article 1.”

    This means that it is entirely possible for the lebanese government to decide not to prosecute the murder if it changes it criminal code. This seems quite likely to me, if the there is an increasingly high risk of conflict as a result of the tribunal’s work.

    Posted by Joe M. | August 14, 2010, 1:24 am
  20. http://www.salem-news.com/articles/october202009/game_warfare_jg.php

    “Israeli strategists rely on game theory models to ensure the intended response to staged provocations and manipulated crises. With the use of game theory algorithms, those responses become predictable, even foreseeable-within an acceptable range of probabilities. The waging of war “by way of deception” is now a mathematical discipline.

    Such “probabilistic” war planning enables Tel Aviv to deploy serial provocations and well-timed crises as a force multiplier to project Israeli influence worldwide. For a skilled agent provocateur, the target can be a person, a company, an economy, a legislature, a nation or an entire culture-such as Islam. With a well-modeled provocation, the anticipated reaction can even become a powerful weapon in the Israeli arsenal.”

    Posted by r | August 14, 2010, 1:36 am
  21. Hitsreal versus Iran:

    A. Hitsrael wanted Saddam out because he lobbed a few dozen scuds at histrael. Very dumb move. Iran 1- Histrael 0

    B. Hitsrael listened to Bush and held elections in Palestinian territories. Hamas won. Iran 2 – Histrael 0.

    C. Hitsrael has been losing and getting out maneuvered by HA for past 15 years. Iran 3 – Histrael 0

    D. Israel could not give Syria back Golan heights, Syria stays in Iran’s circle. Iran 4- Hitsrael 0

    E. Who gets blamed for Hariri murder: Hitsrael or HA: Stay tuned for next score update.

    Posted by r | August 14, 2010, 1:53 am
  22. QN,

    Never mind my question. It appears that HA would submit the evidence to the Lebanese investigator, but not to the STL.

    Posted by Badr | August 14, 2010, 1:57 am
  23. Universal justice might be calling Hitsrael. Your 60 years of oppressing the weak, poor and defensless might finally be coming to an end.

    I would rather have not seen Iran and HA control so much of ME; But just to spite you I hope Iran gets 20 of the big ones. And maybe slips HA only 3 of them 🙂

    oh and Netan guy might become your Dr Kevorkian if he attacks Iran. You are between a rock and a hard place now bozos. So much for your 60+ years of oppression jerks. And all I can say is you sure deserved it.

    Posted by r | August 14, 2010, 1:59 am
  24. oh and 1 more thingy Hitsrael; You better plan on going it alone this time. I doubt the poor Americans who you have been lying to for years want to send any more of their kids to die in ME. They are trying to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan and would rather not get stuck in Syria, Lebanon, and Iran (assuming they could in first place). So think hard bozos before you attack Iran. Another thing you should not assume is that Iran does not have a few of the big ones. If not not their own build yet, they might have a few from the ones that went missing from USSR after their breakup, or maybe from N Korea. So going nuclear against them gives them the green light to use theirs too. Hey, maybe then everyone in ME can live in peace without you 2 🙂

    Posted by r | August 14, 2010, 2:19 am
  25. Joe M. in your Post 19 your refer to Dr. Fatima el Issawi as a he. Unless you are Armenian, you should only refer to Dr. FATIMA as a she. Although, at times, I would share your sentiments.
    If your reference is out of not knowing that FATIMA is a girl’s name in Arabic, I will leave at this stage for now.

    Posted by i.e. Lubanan | August 14, 2010, 2:45 am
  26. QN,

    i am surprised you didnt ask her of the STL’s opinion on the ‘evidence’ SHN presented and whether it might effect their investigation.

    Posted by Innocent Criminal | August 14, 2010, 4:00 am
  27. Joe m,
    I knew that you were going to speak about plea bargaining 🙂 but you also know that not everything is opened to plea bargains. Even then the state plea bargains in order to strengthen its case by getting more solid information but it does not plea bargain to sweep the dirt under the rug.
    And Joe, I have no problems in not indicting anyone if there is no case to do so. I have no dog in this race except that of the integrity of the judicial system, the corner stone of a civilized society.
    The Lebanese government is supposed to cooperate with the rulings of the STL. If the Lebanese government fails to deliver the accused to stand trial then a trial in absentia is held. and I imagine that the Lebanese government could then decide not to enforce the final judgment by turning a blind eye to the whereabouts of the guilty. But that is a different issue isn’t it?

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 14, 2010, 7:48 am
  28. r, your use of “Hitsrael” is counterproductive and simply wrong. What do you think you are achieving with it? Blowing steam? Provoking controversy? Rallying the otherwise already irrationally inflamed masses?
    The arguments with Israel, relating to the rationale used in its founding, zionism, treatment of Palestinians, etc., cannot be won nor can a civilized and reasonable accommodation based on facts-on-the-ground be achieved by such attitudes. Such attitudes in fact play in the hands of extremists on the Israeli side.
    Tit-for-tat insults and bloodshed lead nowhere.
    The most regrettable part is that it is the minorities in both camps who do this and end up causing havoc for everyone.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 14, 2010, 8:46 am
  29. Joe m,
    I am sure that you know the definition of Plea Bargain and that it does not apply to the case at hand but for the sake of the rest of us I looked up the definition in Blacks Law Dictionary:

    “”[t]he process whereby the ACCUSED and the PROSECUTOR in a criminal case work out a mutually satisfactory DISPOSITION of the case subject to court approval. It usually involves the defendant’s pleading guilty to a lesser offense or to only one or some of the counts of a multi-count INDICTMENT in return for a lighter sentence than that possible for the graver charge.”

    As for the other issues that you mention such as not indicting then that is perfectly acceptable and changing the law before the case goes to trial is equally acceptable. None of these impinges on the integrity of the judicial system. The courts have to operate within the confines of the law so if the law is changed then there is no case to be adjudicated.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 14, 2010, 9:18 am
  30. r
    you ARE an idiot.
    How would you like it if Israelis refere to Arabs as “Dirty Arabs” for example or “r the Arab Jarab” ?

    grow up !!

    Posted by V | August 14, 2010, 12:00 pm
  31. hahaha, of couse i know fatima is a female name. actually, i didn’t even read the name, i just cut and pasted it without thinking. sorry for the gender bias.

    Posted by Joe M. | August 14, 2010, 12:03 pm
  32. Ghassan,
    My fear is not that no one is charged because there is not enough evidence, but that there is not enough evidence but someone is charged anyway… because, so much money, political effort, time and egos were spent on the investigation. Too much gets invested to simply throw up their hands and say they have no conclusions.

    And as I have said before, I am particularly skeptical of the Lebanese members of the tribunal. Given that the nature of the commission/tribunal means that they are all likely to be sympathetic to M14. While the international members are also likely to be anti-hizbullah/syria/iran just by the nature of the international (american manufactured) reputation of those parties.

    Also, if i read the statute correctly, the tribunal is applying lebanese law, not some funky “international law”. for example, indictments will not be for something like “genocide” or “crimes against humanity” but for a domestic infraction, like “murder” (in fact, it is my guess we will see an even lesser charge, like “conspiracy”, without charging anyone for the crime of murder). if that is so, it is entirely possible for the lebanese government to reclassify the requirements for these crimes as requiring a higher burden of proof, or needing more evidence than a typical indictment, or something like that… they would probably have to do it just before indictments come out.. but that would be perfectly legal (as i understand it).

    Posted by Joe M. | August 14, 2010, 12:29 pm
  33. Joe M.

    Harirr’s death was political murder, the entire theater is political, and all the players, local, regional and international are parties with greatly vested political agendas. But some want us to believe that this STL can actually operate independently of all these perched powers and issue a verdict that is politics-free.

    Seriously, other than HA, who else was the STL, with all the (Western) money, ego, and effort poured into it, as you properly indicated, going to finger? Who else is there that is politically convenient and even necessary? Al-Qaida? Had they decided to do it, they are arrogant and bloody enough to have claimed it.

    Here’s one question: had these powers “gleaned” that the STL may be looking at Israel as a suspect, would the latter be allowed to continue its work? The game of politics takes breaks, but does not end until we have winners and losers. HA will not be allowed to further solidify its position in Lebanon and the region (Israel is not ready for another uncertain war, never mind their bellicose tone of late).

    This whole STL business is just another bump on this road. You can discuss all the finer legalistic ways of how this thing will come down, but let’s not forget that this is the real and larger context of this bloody game.

    Posted by ali | August 14, 2010, 9:30 pm
  34. Ali,
    I’m generally in agreement with you. Where we might differ is that I don’t think there was any specific plan (I’m not even sure you think there was a plan) for all this. But more that many parties have mutual interests and all work independently to achieve their goals.

    As for who killed Hariri himself, I have no idea really. But the outcome of the murder was predictable. Whoever killed Hariri set into motion a chain reaction of dominoes, similar to how Bin Laden predicted that the USA would go wild and bankrupt itself after the 9/11 attacks. Whoever killed Hariri played the system very well.

    I have long been an admirer of Hizbullah. I don’t think they are perfect and I have a different ideology than they do, but i recognize that they represent a voice for the voiceless, and that their resistance is on the side of justice. Particularly given the morass of lebanese politics, they are about as clean as it gets, in my opinion.

    Posted by Joe M. | August 14, 2010, 11:25 pm
  35. The way it seems is that they could not destroy Hezbollah with war (( 2006)),

    They could not weaken it by denying any political position , (( They are in the Lebanese government ))

    so now they are using the legal system and are trying that venue ,

    They will probably fail here too ,

    Posted by Norman | August 15, 2010, 3:05 pm
  36. This is very important news that is being ignored as far as I can tell in the Lebanese press:

    The relevant part to Lebanon:
    “It puts at risk something very important for every financial institution, namely their access to the US, for engaging in transactions with these identified parties,” said Mr Levey, who is currently on a trip to the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Bahrain to hammer his message home to banks and government officials.

    All three countries host subsidiaries of Iranian banks designated by the US. Other Treasury officials have taken or are taking the message to countries such as Japan, Brazil and Turkey.

    This can turn out to be as big a hot potato as the tribunal because Lebanon will suffer badly if its banks get cut from the US but on the other hand stopping business relations with Iran would be unacceptable politically.

    Posted by AIG | August 15, 2010, 5:34 pm
  37. AIG, is there anything that seems to interest you other than things that put down Lebanon or put it at risk or threaten it? Maybe you should quit your obsession with Lebanon and just focus on your technology pursuits. For guidance, look to the youtube video I posted above.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 15, 2010, 7:27 pm
  38. HP,

    What exactly is your problem? I am starting to come to the conclusion that under your democratic veneer is a little tyrant that wants to control the news.

    The news about Lebanon is what it is. Neither you or I have control of that. Ignoring news that is relevant to the discussion about stability in the region is a head in the sand strategy.

    If you think the information I posted is irrelevant or not important, than please, argue that. Why are you instead trying to shut me up?

    Posted by AIG | August 15, 2010, 7:40 pm
  39. No problem, AIG. Your last post lacks details and explanation. The link requires a subscription to FT. Your excerpt is lacking in context. What you wrote seems simply to be conjecture based on hypotheticals.
    Hence, not really of value unless there’s more it.
    Sorry, no tyrants here. Just perceptive comments that occasionally seem to get under you skin, which is not really the intention. Rather, the intention (and one day maybe you’ll do your homework and read ALL my posts) is to provide the normal feedback I develop to occasional postings so things stay away from extremism and absurdity on both sides. Mind you, not the occasional positive feedback I do provide. You’re right about one thing in your post: neither of us have control about the news in general, and Lebanon in particular.
    So… cool the irrational gut reaction and heed the subtle hint of being clearer and more relevant in providing context.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 15, 2010, 7:58 pm
  40. … yeah, and there are typos above…
    “not” should be “note”
    “more it” should be “more to it”
    Most readers, especially, AIG, are smart enough to fill these gaps.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 15, 2010, 8:00 pm
  41. Here is the full article.
    Hint: If you search news.google.com with a sentence from the article you will find it and be able to access it without subscription.

    Banks put on notice over Iran business
    By Daniel Dombey in Washington
    Published: August 15 2010 21:00 | Last updated: August 15 2010 21:00
    Washington has put international banks on notice that they may be cut off from the US financial system for doing business with Iran, as the Obama administration steps up its sanctions drive.

    Tough new congressional legislation on banks that do business with blacklisted Iranian institutions took effect on Friday with the publication of US Treasury regulations that spell out the risk of sanctions.

    Stuart Levey, the Treasury under-secretary who spearheaded the sanctions push under both presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, said the rules gave “fair notice” to banks of the risks they ran.

    Mr Levey also writes in the Financial Times that the US is redoubling its efforts against Iran’s shipping sector, which he describes as “a critical lifeline for Iran’s proliferation and evasion”.

    He adds that Washington has designated three Malta-based shipping companies for sanctions, which the US claims are linked to Iran’s national maritime carrier.

    Although Washington has already blacklisted 16 Iranian banks and many Revolutionary Guard units, until now the main impact of those designations has been to ban other financial institutions from accessing the US market on their behalf.

    Now the US will take action against banks involved in “significant” transactions anywhere in the world with the designated groups.

    “It puts at risk something very important for every financial institution, namely their access to the US, for engaging in transactions with these identified parties,” said Mr Levey, who is currently on a trip to the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Bahrain to hammer his message home to banks and government officials.

    All three countries host subsidiaries of Iranian banks designated by the US. Other Treasury officials have taken or are taking the message to countries such as Japan, Brazil and Turkey.

    While in the past the ex-territorial nature of the new US sanctions could have led to tensions with the European Union, the bloc has just imposed sweeping sanctions of its own on Iran because of the dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme.

    Mr Levey said he had already been contacted by financial institutions that were altering their behaviour as a result of the new rules.

    “We’re more interested in changing behaviour than, quote, getting somebody,” he added, while noting that Congress expected the administration to impose the rules robustly.

    Mr Levey argued that the US still had time to make its sanctions strategy work, and that the effort was gaining speed.

    Mr Obama recently made a similar case, but conceded Tehran could be so “ideologically” committed to its nuclear programme that sanctions would make no difference.

    While maintaining that the unexpectedly tough US and EU sanctions had caused “rumblings” in Tehran, Mr Obama also hinted at future engagement with Iran.

    “It’s very important to put before the Iranians a clear set of steps that we would consider sufficient to show that they are not pursuing nuclear weapons,” he said.

    Posted by AIG | August 15, 2010, 8:23 pm
  42. Thank you, AIG.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 15, 2010, 8:25 pm
  43. Hmm, OK. Good article. I’m not sure there is anything in it, explicit or implicit, or in any way inferrable, that would jeopardize the banking industry in Lebanon. Maybe certain specific banks involved in HA transactions (but I’m not really knowledgeable about those). The banking industry in Lebanon is extremely strong and has weathered remarkably the overall financial downturn with almost no negative impact whatsoever, thanks in part to the long term experience of bankers in Lebanon and the leadership of the governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon (Riad Salameh) who has received numerous international awards for his performance in recent years.

    Any action taken against banks in Lebanon or elsewhere that facilitate illicit money transfers and/or finance terrorist activities by anyone is — believe me — welcome by a majority of Lebanese as it would be welcome by a majority of sensible people in any country.

    If/when peace prevails in the Middle East, the Lebanon banking system is likely to become the banking center again. The Lebanese diaspora (note, AIG, that it is 15 million worldwide — please compare to the Jewish population worldwide) will love the competition with Israel on that front. We may not be as organized or vocal, but we’re there. When peace breaks, it will be a different and welcome battlefield!

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 15, 2010, 8:35 pm
  44. HP,

    What conjecture or hypothetical can there be about the fact that the US asking Lebanon to 1) close down subsidiaries of Iranian banks and 2) stop business with Iranian banks is going to be problematic? Obviously this is going to be a hot potato politically in Lebanon.

    And since when is quoting the Financial Times extreme or absurd?

    Furthermore, your inability to access the full version of the article is your specific problem. Most people know how to circumnavigate this issue. I find it distracting to post full articles when links will do.

    Therefore I have to conclude that your criticism is neither perceptive nor fair. You have again jumped to conclusions without considering all the facts.

    By the way, I congratulate you on your new post of giving “normal feedback I develop to occasional postings so things stay away from extremism and absurdity on both sides”.

    Posted by AIG | August 15, 2010, 8:37 pm
  45. AIG,
    Sanctions are bound to pinch but historically they have an ineffective record. There are a large number of studies both by the US , WTO, World Bank and others that question the economic value of sanctions. On a strictl personal note, i think that sanctions in effect hurt the country that is imposing them just as much as the target in some cases. But the rationale for sanctions is rarely economic, it is more often than not political.

    I do hope that the economic sanctions in this case will drive Iran to reconsider its position regarding nuclear enrichment but count me as an agnostic on this issue.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 15, 2010, 8:38 pm
  46. HP,

    I never said that the Lebanese banking industry was in any danger. I said that implementing the US requests is going to be politically problematic.

    Israel is not the banking center of the middle east, never was and never will be. In fact, we have no aspiration to become one because it is not realistic. We have no competitive advantage in that. It is the UAE you will have to compete with not Israel.

    Posted by AIG | August 15, 2010, 8:44 pm
  47. GK,

    I totally agree with you.

    Posted by AIG | August 15, 2010, 8:45 pm
  48. AIG, let’s not play games with the sequence of postings. My first comments were on your initial limited posting without sufficient information. After you posted the full article I provided my views and comments. No need for sarcasm and hidden irony in fake praise. Readers can form their own opinions by reading the posts in the sequence they were posted. The fact is your original post was weak and incomplete. I pointed it out and you corrected it. Don’t be so childish in wanting to be the last one to pretend to score a point.

    You may be right about the aspiration of Israeli bankers but I don’t believe this is your field of expertise. Seems to me that anytime there’s something to be gained financially, competition is going to be there from anyone who can participate in it.

    After all, hey, you probably would have denied a few years ago that Israelis would want to claim a stake for Hummus and we’ve all seen that war escalate. I wouldn’t put it past some of your fellow countrymen to eventually launch tabbouleh wars and falafel wars.

    Lighten up. Life is too short. I’m the last one you want to pick a fight with. Not because I’ll fight you back but because you’ll be distracted from fighting your real nemeses and enemies.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 15, 2010, 9:07 pm
  49. AIG,

    Here is your conjecture from your post:

    “This can turn out to be as big a hot potato as the tribunal because Lebanon will suffer badly if its banks get cut from the US but on the other hand stopping business relations with Iran would be unacceptable politically.”

    Totally irrelevant. Depsite perhaps wishful thinking on your part, Lebanon banks will never be cut from the US. Sorry chap.
    Nowhere is there any suggestions that all business relations with Iran would be required to be stopped.

    ~ Yawn ~ this is getting tedious. Go back to developing the Turbo Encabulator, and/or go back to making some of the interesting comments and analyses that I have praised you for in the past.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 15, 2010, 9:14 pm
  50. Interstingly, I also agree fully with GK. Hmm, by transitive inference this means that AIG and HP agree? Hmm… curiouser and curiouser.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 15, 2010, 9:16 pm
  51. That’s only true, however, if the AIG-GK “agreeing” is reflexive…
    Never mind. We know that the HP-GK “agreeing” is relfexive, so the transitive inference above holds regardless of the reflexivity of the AIG-GK “agreeing.”

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 15, 2010, 9:19 pm
  52. HP,
    I have finally gathered enough courage to ask your opinion on two issues that are not even tangentially related to politics:
    (1) I keep reading about how is it that the ITER is on track and that it will be operational in less than ten years. Is that possible?

    (2) Europe has had induction stovetops for decades but they are a rarity in this country. Is there a good explanation for this?

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 15, 2010, 10:08 pm
  53. AIG, too many misconceptions to clear up here. I may not get to all of them. I do want to point out that I never said your quoting the FT was extreme or absurd. Links which immediately open to the intended articles are good and do not require the whole article cut-and-paste. Links that require extra overhead to finally reach the intended article (as was the case in your post) are better off copied. Common sense, chap.
    Then, you’ve mixed saying at times that “[…]as big a hot potato as the tribunal because Lebanon will suffer badly if its banks get cut from the US”
    ~ note you said “its banks” which implies all its banks and not the teenie weenie fraction that may be made of Iranian bank subsidiaries
    and at other times, wanted to recolor what you said by saying “stop business with Iranian banks is going to be problematic”
    ~ this is a very different statement from what you said in the first post
    Screaming at me that I’m “trying to shut [you] up” or that I’m “jumping to conclusions without considering all the facts” doesn’t help you make whatever valid points you might have been trying to make.
    I’ve taken a red pen and corrected your approach and pointed to generalizations you’re making (like saying “the banks” which imply all Lebanon banks when you later indicated that you meant to say “the Lebanese branches of Iranian banks” a completely different scale).
    Instead of succumbing to your instinct of always countering any argument one makes in correcting you (without ever acknowledging your mistakes) you’d do better to learn and correct your approach – if indeed you want to be constructive and contribute valid points.

    On the other hand, if simple confusion and subterfuge is what you’re seeking (which I don’t believe, I really think there’s a bit of juvenile eagerness combined with thin skin and a certain level of superficiality, mixed with a genuine interest in the topics, a good analytical mind, and probably great potential for good partnership with equally good minds on the other side), anyway, if subterfuge it is — which is what the SyriaComment moderators must have concluded (perhaps incorrectly), then every now and then, when I’m online, have time and inclination, I’ll correct your postings.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 15, 2010, 10:16 pm
  54. Aha! good questions GK.

    First, apologies to the others for being so off-topic but this is a wonderful forum to use! == Same7na ya QN ==

    On ITER, well, 10 years is completely unrealistic and everyone involved in this knows it. 20 years, maybe. On the other hand, the official predictions have always to be optimistic for otherwise funding will be cut off. Plasma confinement and magnet mechanical stability are still the big issues. Distractions are introduced by wanting to experiment with the higher temperature superconductor options but — just like with the accelerator magnets — my guess is that nothing will replace niobium-titanium, but that’s just a guess.

    I’ve always found it fascinating to compare other historical big projects and how long they took. Even though it’s a stretch, for its time, it was really a huge undertaking: the building of the Statue of Liberty. It is really instructive to read how that project was conceived and how long it took to execute compared to the original plans. Of course the statue of liberty was not intended to produce useful stuff like producing energy, but still, its symbolic inspirational impact is indeed large. Google searches, I’m sure, will point to the story, one that one can learn from as a history lesson.

    On your second question I must admit that I’m not as well informed. I do know that in our apartment in Memphis we do have an induction stove top as perhaps half of the 500 houses in our development in Charlotte. Couldn’t tell you, based on established facts, why in general induction stove tops don’t seem to be popular. Anecdotally I do know that friends who are cooks (or who like to cook) consider gas stove tops to be the golden standard.

    Hey, AIG, maybe this could be part of your expertise (?). Chime in if you know.


    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 15, 2010, 10:26 pm
  55. Ghassan,

    We had a (joky) scaling law when I was in graduate school about the actual duration of a scientific project (from conception to realization) compared to the initial projected duration.

    It was: multiply by 2 and change the scale.

    projected: 3days; actual: 6 weeks
    5 weeks –> 10 months
    9 months –> 18 years
    and so on (with the “scale” consisting of days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries)

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 15, 2010, 10:29 pm
  56. Maybe this also applies to the projected duration of attaining peace in the middle east ?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 15, 2010, 10:30 pm
  57. HP,

    If Lebanese banks do not stop doing business with sanctioned Iranian banks they will suffer. If you deny this you do not understand what Levey is saying. Let me put this very clearly and concisely for you: If any Lebanese bank keeps doing business with sanctioned Iranian banks they will be cut from doing business in the US. All your bravado will not change that.

    What is getting tedious is your presumptuous posturing. A few days ago, you already told me goodbye. Why do you then keep addressing my posts in any fashion? Also, your tendency to interpret what others say without using common sense is just a sign a bad intentions.

    As for “lightening up”, why don’t you follow your own advice? In my opinion you are a bully trying to masquerade as Mother Theresa and I don’t “lighten up” when dealing with such behavior.

    Posted by AIG | August 15, 2010, 10:33 pm
  58. AIG, do you even have any freakin idea how many Lebanese banks do business with Iranian banks?
    On the one hand, you deny any Israeli interest in becoming a banking center, on the other you presume to know things about banking in Lebanon you know nothing about.
    I will let your qualifying me as “a bully trying to masquerade as Mother Theresa” speak for itself for your truly laughable perspicaciousness.
    No one said that Levey’s statement is incorrect or invalid. The fact is that banking in Lebanon has a whole different scale and interest and this Iranian-bank-related-business is so insignificant that no one pays any attention to it in the context of the overall scale of banking in Lebanon. That’s why the Lebanese press was not interested in this FT article or the cited statements. In many ways there’s nothing new here!

    “presumptuous posturing”? hmm, ok. I’m trying to improve my poture, indeed. Doctors said it helps maintain improved verticality upon aging.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 15, 2010, 10:45 pm
  59. By the way, AIG, can you point us to open blogs about Israel that we can participate in the way you participate in this open blog about Lebanon? I’m sure there are a lot of participants who would like to play the AIG equivalent on those blogs.

    I think that, without being conscious of it, what is irritating you is that you’re getting challenged in a way that uses logic and persuasion which really points to the weaknesses in your reasoning, unmasks comments including generalizations that carry implicit condescendence towards Lebanon, and prevents you from broadcasting incessant negativity towards Lebanon. Again, take note of the fact that you’re wasting your energy arguing with your potential partners when you should join forces with me and others to fight against extremism on both sides.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 15, 2010, 10:52 pm
  60. HP #56,
    Depending on how you count but the Palestinian problem/question/conflict has already surpassed the 100 years war.
    My question about ITER is driven by its implications to the world in general and the Middle East in particular. If the Peak Oil crunch is to become severe in the coming decade then initially the conventional oil esporters could conceivably be swimming in cash but would the world allow that or would wars errupt as a result. As you well know many futurists are predicting collapse on a very large scale. But if ITER is to become operational then it could ameliorate the expected energy disequilibrium.
    The tokamak, to an amateur appears to be an ingebeous solution to the problem of the very high temperatures required for a thermonuclear fusion but yet Sakharov was not offered a Nobel fot it. I find that difficult to believe, unless the idea was known prior to Sakharov.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 15, 2010, 10:56 pm
  61. HP,

    I know what it means “to do business with”. It includes for example accepting checks drawn on the bank.

    Take the Saderat Iran bank which has branches in Beirut, Baalbek and Sidon and is on the sanctions list. It is quite obvious that today most if not all other Lebanese banks accept checks from this bank as well as wire transfers and such. Thus almost ALL if not ALL Lebanese banks will have to stop doing business with this bank or face being cut-off from the US.

    Now, how many people in Lebanon would bank with Saderat Iran if its checks were not accepted by the other banks? Not many I believe. In fact, by stopping their dealing with Saderat Iran, the other banks are almost rendering it dead. From a practical point of view, this would be like evicting the Iranian bank from Lebanon. How could this not have political implications if the Lebanese banks comply with the US request?

    Posted by AIG | August 15, 2010, 11:01 pm
  62. Here is the scale of economics that really matters!
    “China passes Japan as second-largest economy
    Experts say milestone underscores the country’s growing clout” From the NYTimes on MSNBC:

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 15, 2010, 11:02 pm
  63. AIG,

    “How could this not have political implications if the Lebanese banks comply with the US request?”

    Good question. Answer is simple: because of anything and everything in Lebanon, independent and stable and solid banking is the most sacred and important possession that virtually more than 99.99% of Lebanese agree on. The Lebanese banks will comply and, regrettably, back and black channels will replace the open-market dealings that used to include Iranian banks. You see, folks in Lebanon understand that. Again, this is why you don’t see this news make it as important in Lebanon. I’m not saying I agree with the workaround. I’m telling you this is the fact. Ask other Lebanese. Ask any Lebanese. Ask anyone of Lebanese origin.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 15, 2010, 11:06 pm
  64. HP,

    Here is your comment that started our exchange. There is not one bit of “logic and persuasion” in it, it is all irrelevant personal attacks and innuendo:
    “AIG, is there anything that seems to interest you other than things that put down Lebanon or put it at risk or threaten it? Maybe you should quit your obsession with Lebanon and just focus on your technology pursuits. For guidance, look to the youtube video I posted above.”

    How presumptuous can you be? Why don’t you practice what you preach?

    Posted by AIG | August 15, 2010, 11:08 pm
  65. Lebanon went through a catastrophic devaluation of its currency early in the years of the civil war. From about 3 LL (Lebanese pounds)to the dollar in 1980 to 1,500 LL to the dollar since about 1990. A 500x devaluation.
    The pain was deep mostly on the middle class and the poor, to the point that effectively the middle class has been almost eliminated.
    Lessons were learned and I expect that an implicit consensus exists among all in Lebanon to protect the banking system as a priority ahead of any other, political, social, or otherwise.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 15, 2010, 11:12 pm
  66. HP,

    Will a Saderat Iran check be able to clear in Lebanon if the Lebanese banks comply with the US ruling? No. How does the fact that there will be back door channels to Iran help the branches in Lebanon? It doesn’t. It looks like they will be out of business either because they cannot interact with other Lebanese banks or even because the Lebanese government has to take away the bank’s license in Lebanon. You think this will not have political implications? Let’s wait and see.

    Posted by AIG | August 15, 2010, 11:15 pm
  67. AIG,

    Again, lighten up. The first question I posed (in your quote in post #64) is a fair one. I’m curious about your interests and about whether you might sometime “celebrate what’s right”
    [I put the that in quote because it refers to a wonderful video: http://celebratetraining.com/%5D.
    My second statement you quote is an admonition not a presumption. A respectful one, mind you, recognizing and implicitly praising (even with the humor I used) your technological and scientific pursuits. Really.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 15, 2010, 11:22 pm
  68. AIG,

    We can all agree on “let’s wait and see.”

    I think we’ve finally achieved karma. We agree.

    (at least on this topic; our hummus war goes on)

    Remarkably, for those who have HBO, the hummus war is now used in the programs there! Sheesh!
    If you tune in now, you’ll see it!

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 15, 2010, 11:24 pm
  69. HP,

    Don’t piss on my head and tell me its raining. Do you seriously want me to believe that your question:
    “AIG, is there anything that seems to interest you other than things that put down Lebanon or put it at risk or threaten it?”
    is nothing but a personal attack? Anyone with common sense can understand that this is a personal attack in the form of a rhetorical question. If you were really interested if I ever posted something positive about Lebanon you would not have phrased the question to imply that my aim in life is to demean Lebanon.
    As for your “admonition” it sure did not look respectful to me. It sounded like you wanted to control what I write.

    Do you still insist you were using “logic and persuasion”?

    Posted by AIG | August 15, 2010, 11:33 pm
  70. Way to skirt the question, AIG. By the way I’m not the only one who observed the trend in your posts. Abraham Rotsapsky pointed it out as well in https://qifanabki.com/2010/08/08/hariri-hizbullah-israel/#comment-12007
    My question is not a personal attack. A personal attack is if I tell you that you are ugly.
    If you have a rebuttal to my question you should simply point to evidence of your interests besides what I mention. Elementary, Mr. Watson.
    My admonition is not one that was based on using logic or persuasion. It was a different form that I occasionally apply: admonition. It was not meant as an insult but indeed meant to allude to what is likely an area of competence and strength for you (I’m assuming here, but I think it’s a good guess): technology, engineering, and maybe science.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 15, 2010, 11:45 pm
  71. I think AIG and HP have exchanged enough arguments in this post that readers can just judge for themselves. Any further exchanges are approaching diminishing returns, i.e. asymptotically converging towards the clear definition of the 2 positions and attitudes. Actually, maybe the A in AIG stands for Asymptotic. It’s close to midnite. Hoping for a new post from QN soon. But in any case my contribution on this particular thread is finished. Goodnite.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 15, 2010, 11:55 pm
  72. HP,

    You are back to your presumptuous posturing.
    You presume people are stupid and cannot see a personal attack when they encounter it. All your rationalizations and backtracking won’t help.

    Then you presume you know my areas of expertise or even worse, the areas which YOU think I am allowed to comment on. Your arrogance is just breath taking. What are you areas of competence so we can make sure you comment only on those topics?

    Since you view admonishing someone as fine, let me then admonish you for being a bully and a self ascribed police force.

    Posted by AIG | August 16, 2010, 12:10 am
  73. AIG,
    This (above) discussion between you and HP is a perfect example of why you’re senseless on politics.

    The chances that the USA will apply punitive sanctions against institutions in Lebanon (or any other Arab country) for doing business with Iran are almost ZERO. They may be able to threaten countries like Canada or the Netherlands (countries limited exposure to Iran in the first place, and already hostile governments) with with such tactics, but they are not stupid enough to try to force a country like Lebanon (or, say, Iraq…) to choose between the USA and Iran. For example, how many punitive sanctions did the USA apply to Latin American countries for violating the sanctions against Cuba? I could explain to you 1000 economic and political reasons why this is not going to be enforced, but it’s not worth the effort because it’s simply too obvious on its face.

    But it shows that you live in a dream world, and are just dying for any news that might harm the resistance to zionism. You simply have to face the fact that your cancer, shit state is doomed, and no one is able to protect it. Because, IT IS NOT IRAN, OR HIZBULLAH, OR HAMAS OR BIN LADEN OR MUSLIMS, OR PALESTINIANS, OR ARABS… that are a threat to zionism, BUT THAT ZIONISM IS AN UNSUSTAINABLE IDEOLOGY THAT IS DESTINED TO FAIL. IT IS RACIST, ETHNOCENTRIC AND THEOCRATIC, AND IT SIMPLY CAN’T SURVIVE IN THE LONG-RUN.

    and the sad part is that you have deluded yourself to such a degree that you actually think the world revolves around zionism to such a degree that you can’t clearly see reality. you try with all your might to fit the world to your ideology, but it simply doesn’t work. I admit that the arabs are weak and pathetic, corrupt and divided… but the pathetic part is that israel is hardly better. only, zionists like you believe yourselves different. You believe that your oppression has justice, when it’s the same garbage your complain about in syria or iran. You need to get real. and realize that your opinion is basically garbage. I cant even remember the last time something you said made sense. it’s sad, but you are personally a reflection of Israel. living in a dream world. get real.

    Posted by Joe M. | August 16, 2010, 1:18 am
  74. Is any one in a position to judge the impartiality, persuasivness or accuracy of the STL without its indictments actually being issued and the evidence exposed to proper review.

    It seems that as is always the case when it comes to Middle East politics people are content to repeat their entrenched points of view before looking at the facts. I know it is difficult to reserve judgement, but let’s try for once. Who’s to know perhaps the STL is not planning to indict HA members at all?

    In recent months the only questionable action of the STL seems to have been informing Hariri of its intentions to indict – which had the obvious impact of politicizing the process. But let’s judge the STL on these actions, rather than speculations.

    Posted by The Medlar | August 16, 2010, 5:38 am
  75. Joe M.,

    Unlike you, I call them like I see them. Levey would not have personally undertaken a trip to Lebanon if the US does not mean business. Maybe the US administration is bluffing but if you think the US Congress is bluffing on this issue, you are in for a rude awakening.

    As for your rant against Zionism, please get some new material. We have been hearing the same thing for 60+ years and in the meantime Israel has only grown stronger relative to the Arabs.

    Posted by AIG | August 16, 2010, 9:20 am
  76. AIG,

    The administration is not bluffing. Once again, the Arabs are looking for the “right” US administration (Zzzz). To their surprise (again), the new, far left US administration will not force Israel to make peace with an enemy who isn’t interested in peace.

    Further, the administration isn’t afraid to call ’em the way they see ’em. The PA and the impotent Lebanese government will get no reward for doing nothing. Ma pitom!?

    As much as I dislike the Obama administration, I can’t give them failing grades on the Arab-Israeli issue. A C+ at this point.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 16, 2010, 9:54 am
  77. I am a little puzzled regarding Joe M. referring to the Zionist entity as israel without the proper quotation marks. In one place, he even uses a capital “I” and writes “Israel” (but without the “”, so it appears as Isr**l).

    Posted by dontgetit | August 16, 2010, 10:07 am
  78. Here is some good news from Lebanon:

    Jumblatt is calling for a draft. If that were ever to happen, it would be excellent for stability in the region. If many Lebanese had children in the army, they would view armed conflict and its consequences differently. Having skin in the game usually changes ones way of thinking.

    Posted by AIG | August 16, 2010, 11:34 am
  79. I have to come out of my promised retreat from this thread to congratulate AIG and acknowledging his reporting what is, in fact, and I agree, good news. (and I’m NOT being sarcastic).

    Posted by Honest Patriot | August 16, 2010, 11:39 am
  80. hahahahahahhahahahahahahahaha. claiming that congress has power over foreign policy is like saying that dubai is an existential threat to the jewish people (or some other bullshit. it’s the last refuge of the hopeless). congress might pass laws, but they don’t administer them. unadministered laws are, well, the same as the laws not existing. at best, the administration will put window dressing on a law like this, in an effort to prevent the zionist cancer from attacking iran. The usa cant afford to pressure lebanon (in a serious way) any more than lebanon (or iraq…) can cut ties with iran. get a grip on yourself. And look up how many times american diplomats went to mexico to seek “clarification” over mexican/cuban relations….

    but see what happens if israel tries to attack iran. which is what this is really about. just watch. Iran’s no superpower, but you can’t just bomb them to the ground like the prisoners of gaza…

    oh, and AIG, Are you going to join avraham burg’s new political party? just wondering.

    Posted by Joe M. | August 16, 2010, 12:24 pm
  81. Joe M.,

    Of course the US Congress has power over foreign policy. Try fighting a war or giving aid to a foreign army or country without money. Let’s see if Obama wants to fight Congress over this issue. We will know soon enough.

    As for Iran, what will it do when Israel attacks it? Very little. You know why? Because if they attack Israeli civilians, we will attack their oil industry. You know, the industry that keeps the regime alive, the one without which Iran will go bankrupt? The fastest way for the Iranian regime to lose power is to provoke Israel to take out the Iranian oil production ability.

    And if the Iranians attack the US, they are really crazy. I wonder who you will be rooting for if that happens. Will you justify the Iranians killing Americans instead of Israelis?

    Posted by AIG | August 16, 2010, 12:38 pm
  82. I am not sure that Lebanon needs to reinstate the draft anytime soon. I do realize that there are valid arguments on both sides of the issue and my intention is not to start one but just to counter the position that having skin in the game is good.

    The bigger issue however is the financing of an army. On this I am in general agreement with the gist of what Mr. Jumblatt is saying. Once we determine that an army is essential and that it needs certain type of weaponry as aa essential element for the state to exist then it would be sheer folly to turn around and suggest financing through donations. That is particularly so when the annual debt serive is over $4,000 million and the Presidency of the Council of Ministers has an annual budget of close to $1,200 million. All the above is in a country whose GDP next year is expected to be over $40,000 million.

    If there is a serious interest in financing the army then the last thing that is needed is to raise such funds through a garden party type of activity. Can we ever get real, is there ever a politician with competence in this sorry excuse for a government? I wonder.

    I had written about this 2 days ago on rationalrepublic.blogspot.com in case anyone is interested.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | August 16, 2010, 12:38 pm
  83. in an effort to prevent the zionist cancer from attacking iran

    Joe M.,

    Considering the UN sanctions on Iran and the Sunni Arab ability to look the other way when/if Israel attacks Iran, there may be more people who consider Iran to be the cancer and Israel to be the cure.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 16, 2010, 1:21 pm
  84. To whoever thinks that a draft would force people to have “skin in the game”. I offer the following:

    1) Considering the nature of Lebanese corruption. You can bet that the sons of “people of influence” would find themselves somehow exempted from said draft, causing only the lower classes to have “skin in the game”. This brings me to:

    2) I would postulate that having “skin in the game” does not appear to have deterred a large segment of the inhabitants of the South to support Hizballah. I don’t know if there is any merit to that logic at all.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 16, 2010, 2:37 pm
  85. BV,

    It is human nature that parents with kids in the army would be more vigilant in demanding that a government go to war only if it really must. Of course, if the parents cannot influence the government in any way, then having skin in the game does not help. I was assuming that Lebanese governments are influenced by public opinion and that elections do matter to a certain extent.

    Posted by AIG | August 16, 2010, 3:04 pm
  86. You assumed wrong.
    Have you not been paying attention?

    In Lebanon, the so-called “government” (or the political class) is not answerable to any constituents. They do as they please, and get re-elected or re-appointed anyway. There is no accountability whatsoever.

    Some of us have been railing about that fact as being the core fundemental problem with Lebanon (yes, even more important than Hizballah, Israel, or any of the usual hot button topics du jour).

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 16, 2010, 4:05 pm
  87. When dealing with the Arab world, US Presidents Republicans or Democrats should come out to the Rose Garden wearing a Fedora and Shooting a rifle a la Saddam Hussein.

    Death to Iran, Death to Syria, Wiam Wahab…

    Posted by V | August 17, 2010, 12:07 am

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