Lebanon, Reform

Lebanon in 2020

One of the themes that came up repeatedly during Interior Minister Ziad Baroud’s panel discussion in Washington last month was the need for better strategic planning to address the myriad political, economic, social, environmental, and security-related challenges facing the country. I found myself wondering, as I left his talk, where Lebanon would be in, say, ten years.

Ten years seems like not very much time, until one looks back a decade and considers just how far the country has come. Ten years ago today, Rafiq al-Hariri was appointed prime minister of Lebanon for the fourth time. His bloc had recently swept the parliamentary elections, and he used the result to catapult himself back to the premiership, despite his problematic relationship with Emile Lahoud. Michel Aoun (speaking from his Parisian exile) denounced the newly formed government as a Syrian tool. Earlier that year, the Syrians and Israelis met for direct peace talks in Shepherdstown, WV.

It was a different world.

Since 2000, Lebanon has witnessed several monumental developments: a war with Israel; two elections; a string of political assassinations; a high-profile international murder investigation; the destruction of the Nahr al-Barid refugee camp; a presidential power vacuum; a series of mass public protests with hundreds of thousands of participants; and, most importantly, several Guinness World Records for the largest servings of hummus, tabbouleh, fattoush, etc.

Compared to most Arab countries, change in Lebanon seem to take place at warp speed.  However, while plenty has changed over the past ten years, most of the things that its citizens care about remain the same or have gotten worse. Unemployment is high, wages are low, traffic is awful, the electricity situation is deplorable, water resources are dwindling while seasonal rains cause massive flooding, air quality gets worse each summer, political stability is nonexistent… I could go on, but that’s what the Daily Star’s editorials are for.

By this point, ten years from now, there will have been two more parliamentary elections and two new presidents. The country’s population will be approaching five million people. Where do you think Lebanon will be, politically, economically, socially, etc.? What will be the state of the public debt? The energy sector? Privatization of industries? The status of refugees? The security situation in the South? Tourism? Infrastructure?

Vote above, and discuss below.

PS: Apologies to those of you who developed carpel tunnel syndrome scrolling to the bottom of a 528-comment discussion last week. We aim to please, not to injure.
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Discussion

160 thoughts on “Lebanon in 2020

  1. The first comment in each blog should not count towards the posting statistics.

    Posted by AIG | October 23, 2010, 5:08 pm
  2. As many of you might expect I voted for none of the above. My reasoning is simple: Lebanese politics is still stuck in the 19th century, sovereignty is elusive and the national debt will overwhelm the nation. Lebanon is already overpopulated and ecologically degraded.
    Unless Lebanon is to undergo a major and radical transformation in all fields then its future looks very dim.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | October 23, 2010, 5:54 pm
  3. I would argue that until there is a secular government, none of those transformations will realize.

    Posted by Nasser V | October 23, 2010, 6:05 pm
  4. I agree. Daily Star editorials are a disgrace.

    Posted by omnipax | October 23, 2010, 6:06 pm
  5. Is the highest rated poll option [I’m trying to avoid spoiler to voters), the highest one because it is the more likely -ie actively worked on? Or the one receiving most media attention? Or the one we perceive as less problematic? Or more important?
    I don’t know what results of the poll really mean, because it’s such an open question. Are you asking us what we want the gov. to work on? What we expect the gov. to work on?

    Posted by Joujolie | October 23, 2010, 6:07 pm
  6. Sadly, I’m inclined to agree with Ghassan. Too many issues and it’s just easier to do nothing/blame the other side(s). What I’d LIKE to see is a drastically reduced debt and a move from confessionalism (presuming that would automatically lead to more responsible governance). But then, I’d also like to see Mars firsthand which is just as unlikely.

    Posted by Ali Baba Ghanouj | October 23, 2010, 6:10 pm
  7. Wow QN!! Way too many difficult questions to predict given the surroundings. One thing stands out the last ten years is the resilient nature of the lebanese people. The population in general have grown to be able to adjust rather quickly to adversity and at a fast pace. I guess experience counts in that department, lol.

    How else can one explain a GDP growth rate of between 8% & 9% the last couple of years, given what happened in 06. In addition to lightning speed growth in banks’ deposits up to around $103 billion or three times the size of GDP & the real estate boom. This is a stellar performance in light of the global western based recession.

    All is not well of course in the security, social, national debt, and enviormental arenas. But one has to be realistic, given the multitude restraints and obstacles.

    All in all, I think there is a base to work with to improve things. Barring a major calamity, like a war with Israel or an internal one, I think Lebanon is well positioned to do well. So, I’m a bit optimistic, and hope it’s well placed.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | October 23, 2010, 6:21 pm
  8. Joujolie

    I’m asking what you think is likely. You can vote for as many options as you think will actually exist in 2020.

    In terms of what you would LIKE them to work on, we already had a poll on that subject last year.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | October 23, 2010, 6:21 pm
  9. Ghassan,

    Just curious: how do we measure over-population?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | October 23, 2010, 6:25 pm
  10. QN,

    The same way you measure what is a “viable state”. The units are called UNSCRs (metric system). If you are more at home with imperial units:
    4.653 UNSCRs = 1 Royal Decree

    Posted by AIG | October 23, 2010, 7:08 pm
  11. Who set up the statistical formulas and calculations? I don’t think they make sense since a voter can cast votes for multiple items and the “total votes” count only the favorable votes for each category and add them up.
    One actuary to the rescue please (and it isn’t me).

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 23, 2010, 7:47 pm
  12. HP,

    Are you trying to pad the vote?
    I agree with GK. Actually I think Lebanon will not exist as is in ten years. The Status quo is almost unattainable with so many geopolitical shifts that are anticipated.
    Lebanon would be either:
    a. Absorbed into Syria as a province whereas its cesspool of illegal activities; all vices accepted
    b. Become the biggest parking lot on earth and entered the Guinness book of records…
    c. Joined the Klingons and the Federation in its struggle to get rid of the Romulus.

    Posted by danny | October 23, 2010, 8:01 pm
  13. Speaking of population growth (or decline) here’s the Daily Star today:

    Fertility rate now ‘under replacement level,’ report says
    By Simona Sikimic
    Daily Star staff
    Saturday, October 23, 2010

    BEIRUT: Lebanon’s fertility rate has almost halved in the last 30 years, a new United Nations report has shown.

    From 3.9 births per woman in the period from 1980-1985, it has decreased to 1.9 birth during the last five years and is now considered to be “under replacement level” according to The World’s Women 2010 report, released this week.

    This puts Lebanon in the same category as many developing countries, as well as Iran and the UAE, but places it far below most of its regional neighbors, which have rates upward of 3 percent.

    Although falling fertility rates are traditionally linked to growing female empowerment, this development has not been met with change in other fields.

    Women continue to constitute less than a quarter of the labor force, fairing slightly above Syria, but well below Qatar and the UAE, which have made giant strides in increasing female employment. In both cases the percentage of women in full time work has increased by more than 10 percent and now rests above 40 percent, the UN report found.

    Lebanese women who do work are also very unlikely to reach managerial posts in the private and public sector, where they constitute a negligible fraction.

    Factors such as short maternity leave – which at seven weeks is less than half the world average – remain big barriers to women reaching the higher echelons of the employment ladder.

    Improvements, however, have been made, especially in the field of education.

    Literacy among Lebanese girls is now 99 percent, and has increased by more than 15 percent over the last 30 years.

    Girls constitute the majority of students in secondary and tertiary education, where they uncharacteristically dominate science subjects, traditionally thought to be a male controlled field and crucially one that largely translates into well paying jobs after graduation.

    But certain gaps in the provision of female education do remain, and primary school repetition rates are among the highest in the region. Some 12 percent of boys and 10 percent of girls are thought to repeat a year of primary school, which is more than 2 percent higher than Syria and even conflict-ridden Iraq.

    Globally, women also continue to suffer disproportionally from violence, abuse, poverty and environmental degradation, the report said.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | October 23, 2010, 8:08 pm
  14. QN,
    Environmentalism and especially population is my favourite soap box. I will not bore you with many details but simply say that overpopulation means that there are more demands on the physical resources than they can handle. Lebanon is one of the most densly populated countries in the world. Lebanon cannot provide its population either with the food , the energy , healthcare, education jobs … and yet its population is still growing. Yes we have found a temporary solution for our population problem, send them overseas. That is the mosr irresponsible solution of them all.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | October 23, 2010, 8:30 pm
  15. QN #13
    I have not seen that UN report yet. If it is true then it is a positive development but a fertility rate at replacement or just below replacement does NOT imply a stable population. The actual rate of growth in the population is determened also, besides fertility rate, by the population structure. Lebanon has a very young population structure and my guess is that a fertility rate of 1.9 if it is true and if it can be maintained will imply a growing population for over 50 years and possibly 70 years.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | October 23, 2010, 8:36 pm
  16. Some figures about population density:
    Lebanon is the 25 th most densly populated country in the world if you rank Macauo, Monaco, Singare, Hiong Kons, Gibraltor etc.. as countries. If , on the other hand, one removes these special cases from the ranking then Lebanon, Bahrain and the PA become three of the tor six most populated countries in the world.
    Currently Lebanon has 404 people per square Km. This compares to:
    India 362
    Japan 337
    Phillipines 307
    UK 255
    Germany 229
    Pakistan 212
    Italy 200
    China 139.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | October 23, 2010, 8:48 pm
  17. If the world is to be as densly populated as Lebanon then the world population would have to be over 62 billion compared to the current 7 billion. Population is the single biggest challenge to civilization. Climate change, pollution, water scarcity, and poverty cannot be solved with a growing population whose demands on our resources exceed the availability of these resources by a multiple.

    If the world is to provide the Western life style to all its inhabitants then we need the resources of six planets.

    I think that I have said enough on this topic 🙂 Sorry about that.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | October 23, 2010, 8:58 pm
  18. Maybe in 2020, women’s rights will make it into consideration.

    Posted by 3aynak Bint 3aynak | October 24, 2010, 12:32 am
  19. Other: more traffic, more power cuts and less water.

    Posted by sean | October 24, 2010, 2:24 am
  20. Shai,

    I have a black and white of something labeled the Lebanese Consulate (white stucco, like something out of Miami Beach). I cannot remember the specs, whether in Jerusalem (guessing Tel Aviv or Haifa) or not or even from which time period (if I can find it, I will post it). It definitely looked post-48. Lebanon did have an “embassy” in Jerusalem prior to 1948, I believe, no?

    Posted by david | October 24, 2010, 2:32 am
  21. Good Morning
    In the vote list better water and electricity supplies are among the most hoped for changes. The following will assure both. Even export of both to Syria can be planned.
    I am sure that in 2020 there will be on the coast, preferably on an artificial island, a very large combined system supplying desalinated water, electricity and sea oriented recreation and ship handling facilities. Energy will be by natural gas, either Lebanese, from deep water, Egyptian or from Turkey or even liquified gas from the golf. By making the investment international, the building well marked and separated and the major buildings armoured concrete the security of the investment will be assured and thus the insurance rate will be low. It will be a money making enterprize, much money. It will bring back many expats. If Hariry the father was still with us such complex would have been half finished by now. I am sure some clever investors are already talking about it or are even farther. It is a natural investment for gas suppliers from the golf.

    Posted by Rani | October 24, 2010, 3:03 am
  22. Other: Richer politicians and poorer citizens…

    Posted by Johnny | October 24, 2010, 3:03 am
  23. HP @11,

    I agree. It makes more sense to calculate the percentage for each category by dividing the total votes for that category by the total number of voters, not by the total votes.

    Posted by Badr | October 24, 2010, 4:17 am
  24. To AIG,
    On Sabra Shatila and Alain Menargues…deal with the FACTS and do not throw around stereotypical bullshit about Antisemitism to avoid dealing with FACTS and about Operations “Spark” and “Iron Brain” of IDF….

    Posted by Jim | October 24, 2010, 5:40 am
  25. Assumptions are:
    1- No major war
    2- No “National Unity Government”

    Expectations (by order of confidence):
    1- Less corruption: Lebanon is the top rated Arab country in the freedom of speech/press. That together with political rivalry will make it difficult to act overtly (sure there will be the “legal” acts but definitely corruption will be less)
    2- Better waste management: It’s really not that difficult to overcome; and if point “1” above is valid (as I think is) then better waste management is a no brainer and will help politicians gain popularity.
    3- Civil marriage code: I think Lebanese are ready for it. Many are doing it abroad and it’s no more a taboo; you can see it all over the media. It could happen sooner than ten years with people like Broud around.
    4- 24/7 electricity: Needs few billions and Lebanese are well known for their spending capabilities.

    Posted by IHTDA | October 24, 2010, 6:04 am
  26. If assumptions 1 and/or 2 prove to be wrong, then “None of the Above”.

    Posted by IHTDA | October 24, 2010, 6:06 am
  27. Well Rani, you said:
    “I am sure that in 2020 there will be on the coast, preferably on an artificial island, a very large combined system supplying desalinated water, electricity and sea oriented recreation and ship handling facilities.”

    I hope NOT! For the sake of the few fish that are still there and for any of the few Lebanese that do not suffer from Asthma or cancer.

    Posted by IHTDA | October 24, 2010, 6:31 am
  28. (1) 2011-2012: As a result of STL indictments and the IDF’s brutal Operation Shoah from December 2011 to February 2012, the power of Hizbullah will be broken. As will pretty much everything else in Lebanon.

    (2) Mid 2012: Prime Minister Lieberman will announce the permanent occupation of a security zone in Southern Lebanon up to and including the Litani.

    (3) Early 2013: After unearthing a small hut said to be the home of Goliath, Israeli archeologists will confirm that the area was the personal fief of Goliath and so an integral part of the Kingdom of Judah (by conquest). Subsequent revision of a three word phrase in the Book of Kings will prove conclusively that the area is part of the original property title given to Moses and thus an inalienable part of Israel. Formal annexation will quickly follow.

    (4) 2014: Lebanon and Jordan will be forced to accept massive waves of Palestinian refugees following PM Lieberman’s expulsion of the entire Arab population of Israel and the West Bank. Saad Haddad and the Tzvá Dróm Levanón will provide logistical support to implement PM Lieberman’s similar cleansing of Arabs from the new Litani Mahoz.

    (5) 2015: After a period of disorder, the March 14 coalition will assume sole control of the government with Saad Harriri as PM and Robert “Moshe” Jumayyel as President. Under their leadership Lebanon will sign a peace treaty with Israel and recognize the new borders. However, Lebanese will be allowed to picnic at Shaaba Farms on the third Tuesday each November and March.

    (6) 2016: Walid Jumblatt will rejoin the 14 March Movement. Following the collapse of his guerilla movement at Bayt Meri and a daring escape through Tarabulus (which many likened to the Long March), Michel Aoun will be back in Paris.

    (7) 2017: President Sarah Palin will make the first ever state visit by a sitting US President of the Republic of Lebanon to honor the USA’s staunch allies in the country. And to inform that as per her reading of the Old Testament, it seems that Beirut and the Mountain belong to Israel. After meetings with Vice President Michelle Bachman, Saad Harriri will announce his conversion to evangelical Christianity, speaking in a fusha version of tongues – which many will not be able to distinguish from his previous speech.

    (8) Lebanon’s golden age will have begun three years before QN’s deadline…

    Posted by Timothy | October 24, 2010, 8:11 am
  29. One should ask this question to Israel first and then to all the Arab world, Turkey and Iran how benefit from the stupidity of the politicians that are racing for the riches… nothing would much change in the next 10 years except the style of close and cars and all the nonsense that attracts the general publics opinion. No mater how much the Lebanese love their country and in how many different ways, unless they give their country more than they love it the change will never happen. Please do not forget Israel’s intention too… it is very important. So unless there is peace in the reagent do not count on much change in Lebanon. I wish I could be more optimistic, but corruption and greed runs in the veins of powerful men any where and every where.

    Posted by kt | October 24, 2010, 8:41 am
  30. David,

    I don’t know about pre-1948, if Lebanon had an embassy in Jerusalem under British controlled Palestine. But as I mentioned in the previous thread, Lebanon did have an embassy in Jerusalem, for a bit less than a year, during Gemayel’s reign.

    QN,

    Great depiction of the Daily Express. But one question – why does it say “Soon making stops in Damascus, Amman, and Istanbul!”, and not also “Haifa, Jerusalem, and Eilat!”? 🙂

    I have a jpg-image of a daily train schedule, with all its stops, between Haifa and Damascus. It wasn’t that long ago. It can be again, not that long from now!

    The Hejaz Railway can easily be connected to Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, and Turkey.

    Posted by Shai | October 24, 2010, 9:37 am
  31. Shai

    There’s a difference between optimism and delusion. 😉

    Maybe in our grandchildren’s lifetime…

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | October 24, 2010, 10:26 am
  32. Timothy… I’m speechless. 🙂

    Where have you been all my life?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | October 24, 2010, 10:31 am
  33. HP #11
    I agree with your dissatisfaction with the “meaningless” percentage given each category if the intent is to show the support by the public for each of the listed items.
    QN has probably outsourced this survey but if it can be done then I would suggest that the following be considered: The calculations for each category should be done on the bases of the number of individuals who have voted instead of the number of boxes that have been checked.
    Ex. 10 people vote and each of them checks each box (with the exception of the last) then each category should get 100% approval of the voters and not 9.1%.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | October 24, 2010, 11:23 am
  34. QN,

    Being an Optimist rarely influences, by itself, the course of events. Being Delusional… now that’s a whole other ballgame. 🙂

    There’s something irrational, about the fact that so many of us are barely two hours drive away, and yet cannot meet. Something don’t make sense with that… does it?

    We must let go of the old guard, the ones that spoke only through the sword, and adopt the new guard, the ones that go blogging instead!

    Posted by Shai | October 24, 2010, 1:57 pm
  35. Timothy,

    The only problem I see with your analysis is that Goliath was a Palestinian (actually a Philistine but let’s put these subtleties aside).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philistines

    Posted by AIG | October 24, 2010, 5:51 pm
  36. AIG

    Subtleties were never my specialty.

    I forgot to mention in my account above that in 2016 Walid Bey also will get his hair cut (for this century). A defining moment if there could be one in Lebanese civilization.

    My crystal ball is cloudy but I think I see a buzz cut.

    As to Sarah Palin, her position on Beirut and Mount Lebanon came from some apparent confusion regarding the Sermon on the Mount. When she was invited by PM Harriri to lunch on “Mount” Lebanon, she is reported to have asked where Jesus gave his famous sermon even though that was the Socialist Jesus who gave it. Since we all know that wherever Jesus walked was the Holy Land, the Israeli claim was born.

    Posted by Timothy | October 24, 2010, 6:53 pm
  37. Timothy, brilliant stuff. I see you as a perpendicular complement to QN, together forming what we call in mathematics or physics a “complete basis.” In that spirit I suggest the following handle: Haloommaa NaDhaq
    ( هلما نضحك )

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 24, 2010, 7:28 pm
  38. Timothy,
    I have to let you know that I enjoyed your post tremendously. Well done.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | October 24, 2010, 7:39 pm
  39. Sady – not much will change in the next 10 20 or probably even 50 years.
    Middle easterners will never vote for a candidate who will probably make their lot better – but vote in the person with the right last name.
    Seriously – I’ve only been following politics in Lebanon for about 10 years, and nothing seems to change.
    What I’d like to see more than anything is a law that prohibits any group in Lebanon from accepting foreign funding – be it from Saudi, Iran, US or France or any other place.
    What I think the main problem in Lebanon is that you have these foreign countries with their foreign agendas paying off one group against another – which only causes division within the country.
    I’m all for foreign aid to the central government – but having groups like Hizbollah – getting money and arms from Iran – well obviously they dont have a lebanese agenda – and everyone knows this. whats the solution to this – I have no Idea – it’s just my rant – but that is the only thing is can suggest!

    Posted by LebExile | October 24, 2010, 8:35 pm
  40. by the way – I love the picture above!!! dream come true if it ever happens

    Posted by LebExile | October 24, 2010, 8:37 pm
  41. I’m sorry to have to say, but that is a pretty useless post considering Lebanese can’t see their future past the next ten weeks.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | October 24, 2010, 8:55 pm
  42. If you can dream it, you can realize it!
    All proven self-improvement (for individuals OR nations) methods begin with a vision.
    Despite the seeming stagnation of the system, change has happened and will continue to happen, even if slowly. I remember the mentality that prevailed during the year of the civil war (1975-1990) with its horrifying implications. Many of these destructive notions have now evolved. Even though there is still a problem of a state-within-the-state, at least the members of that group are Lebanese.
    Other changes can also be distilled.
    Who will make the change happen? Time will tell but betting against Lebanon is a deplorable action which could of course turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. The opposite is of course true as well. I vote for the latter.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 24, 2010, 9:09 pm
  43. HP,
    I admire your optimism and enthusiasm but wishful thinking is just that , lipstick on a pig.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | October 24, 2010, 9:13 pm
  44. Posted by Honest Patriot | October 24, 2010, 10:00 pm
  45. Actually, Kermit the frog is secretly very much in love with Miss Piggy. Me Kermit. Piggy Lebanon. 😉

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 24, 2010, 10:04 pm
  46. Posted by Honest Patriot | October 24, 2010, 10:13 pm
  47. HP,

    How can I put this gently?

    When Herzl famously said:
    If you will it, it is no dream; and if you do not will it, a dream it is and a dream it will stay

    one of my grandfathers understood this as a call to leave Europe and go to Israel.

    Yet, you profess your love for Lebanon like Yehuda Ha’Levi to Zion in his famous poem
    “My heart is in the East”. I think this famous poem describes your position:

    My heart is in the East, and I am at the ends of the West;
    How can I taste what I eat and how could it be pleasing to me?
    How shall I render my vows and my bonds, while yet
    Zion lies beneath the fetter of Edom, and I am in the chains of Arabia?
    It would be easy for me to leave all the bounty of Spain —
    As it is precious for me to behold the dust of the desolate sanctuary.

    When HaLevi wrote the poem circa 1100 he didn’t know there was farther West than Spain. But you are truly at the ends of the West. By the way, HaLevi finally followed his heart and left Spain to go to Jerusalem, what about you?

    Posted by AIG | October 24, 2010, 11:14 pm
  48. Here’s a nice picture.

    Posted by Nasser V | October 24, 2010, 11:26 pm
  49. QN & Shai,

    Your point on optimism are actually the most interesting thing you could take from such a post. I agree with QN that a Beirut-Haifa railroad train is unlikely in 2010, but it’s not as unlikely as that. If it does materialize in a Grandchildren’s world (say 2050) it may look just as unlikely in 2040.

    We tend to be always pessimistic about some things, often despite the facts. It’s ridiculous.

    Take the economy for example. If you ask random people anywhere about the economy, job prospects or quality of life, they are ridiculously pessimistic. Even if you ask about the past.

    How often does Lebanon’s economy go backwards? Lebanon’s a bad case compare to most countries but still most years have been growth years. The Lebanese economy is better than last year, 5, 10 or 15 years ago. Why shouldn’t it be better in 10 more?

    It’s not just the economy, it applies to most things. It’s a cliche: 40 years age prices were reasonable, food was better, children behaved, politicians were honest… We treat pessimists like prophets. We shouldn’t.

    Posted by Netsp | October 25, 2010, 12:11 am
  50. I gotta say Timothy’s post made my day. And then some. That deserves to be framed in gold and put on the front page of the Qnion. 🙂

    As to answer the poll: Given that Lebanon, at heart, hasn’t changed since 1860. I’m gonna say “Nothing will be any different in 2020.”

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 25, 2010, 12:42 am
  51. I know this was last week’s topic, but apparently comments are closed there, to preserve the internet from imploding.

    So here goes.

    What kind of silly debate is that about the legitimacy of Bashir?

    I have no sympathy for the man, but he was elected by constitutional means.
    If “at the point of a gun” disqualifies him from being a legitimate president-elect (he never got sworn in), then Hrawi was not legitimate (Syrian guns), Lahoud was not legimitate (Syrian threats).

    You can’t have it both ways. Either you take “threats” into account, then none of post 1976 Lebanese presidents were legitimate. Or you look strictly at the constitution (in which case Bashir was just as legit as Hrawi or Lahoud).

    Ironically, the one president who’s NOT constitutionally legitimate is probably the current one.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 25, 2010, 12:50 am
  52. netsp,
    By what measures is Lebanon better than what it was in the late 60’s early 70’s. Is it the greater poverty or is it the rationed electricity? Is it the lack of respect for law and order or is it the increasingly inequitable distribution of income? Maybe it is the mountains of garbage in the seaor the scared mountains used as quarries? Is it the quality of airor the traffic congestion? I never look to the old days as being anything to emulate but yet they are much better off than practically anything we have to offer.Don’t mix up the passage of time with progress.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | October 25, 2010, 1:11 am
  53. In re: past/present, old photos.

    Check this link for some old photos (some private collection, some from web):
    http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=408084

    Beware visiting, however, as you will not get your three hours back. Ever.

    Posted by david | October 25, 2010, 1:58 am
  54. PS: As you get further into the pages, you will find a guy posting pics who has just sick knowledge of the LB, all the way down to when they installed which lamp-posts.

    Enjoy.

    Posted by david | October 25, 2010, 2:02 am
  55. Ghassan Karam,

    My point is that there is a strong and irrational human bias towards pessimism, not that the world is always perfect.*

    Are you sure the economy is worse than 1970? Compare to 1980, average wealth (GDP/PPP per capita) is 2.5 times higher, for example.

    If you look at the trends for the past 10 years, they are almost all positive wealth and its benefits (eg life expectancy) decline. I couldn’t find any poverty stats but its symptoms (infant mortality, illiteracy) are declining.

    Some things seem disingenuous to add, but aren’t. How many people have internet/telephone access compare to x years ago. It sounds disingenuous because it’s equally true about Zimbabwe, but the fact that mobile phones getting cheap is not the result of Lebanese public policy doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

    * I also note that Lebanese are especially human.

    Posted by Netsp | October 25, 2010, 2:46 am
  56. Having been in San Francisco for a week now … I have to give Lebanese credit.

    There are no homeless Lebanese living on the streets in Beirut.

    I can’t get over the staggering amount of people literally living on the pavements of San Francisco. A city with half the population of Beirut and one that prides itself as being environmentally and socially at the forefront in the world.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | October 25, 2010, 4:14 am
  57. I’m truly disappointed that “Everything would be worse than it is now” isn’t an option.

    Netsp: You ask about 1970 and mention a statistic from 1980? You’ve got your decades mixed up there, but yes I think we can all admit the economy has slightly improved compared to the middle of the civil war. That doesn’t make it any good.

    I’d also disagree with your “mobile phones getting cheap” conclusion. If you compare where Lebanon stands now and where it was in the 90’s wrt mobile phones/internet, things have gotten much worse. Yes, it had yet to permeate through the whole society, but relative to the technology rollout on a global scale, and definitely relative to the region, Lebanon wasn’t doing badly at all.

    I remember an IT magazine from the late 90s that had Lebanon only second to Egypt in the Arab world for internet uptake/availability/speed.
    Last statistic I saw [a few months ago] had us ranked 167th out of 170 countries studied. Thats just pathetic.

    Posted by xqwzts | October 25, 2010, 4:25 am
  58. netsp,
    I do not think that there is a global bias towards pessimism. Actually it is just the opposite. Your views are an excellent example of that. Modernity gave right to the view that as time advances progress follows.
    That has been true in many regions and for long periods of time but it does not have to be true in all regions all the time. Lebanon is a good example : The per capita GDP in real terms has not improved compared to 40 years ago.Please do not look at the nominal figures when you are making comparisons across time. It sure did compared to 25 years ago. What really matters is not the fact that there are cell phones but who has them, who can afford to use them how long must one work to buy one …Ultimately it is the quality of life that counts. If the quality of life is so good then why are so many of the young Lebanese voting with their feet by leaving the country?
    Take care.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | October 25, 2010, 7:01 am
  59. AIG @47, the number of total Jews in the world and the number of total Lebanese in the world are about the same, between 13 and 16 million. Are you suggesting that Israel-supporting Jews are not entitled to their feelings until they do Aliya?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 25, 2010, 8:46 am
  60. HP,

    No, I am suggesting that the feelings do not help much until you do something concrete.

    Posted by AIG | October 25, 2010, 10:04 am
  61. HP
    I suspect that what is meant by this 16 million figure of Lebanese around the world is people of a Lebanese descent. When do we stop counting after one generation, two generations or never. By that logic we are all out of Africa and to be more contemporary then there are probably 100’s of millions of British people in the world.
    I doubt that the official records can demonstrate that the Lebanese expats are over a million or two.

    Posted by ghassan karam | October 25, 2010, 10:15 am
  62. AIG, ok, I agree with your statement in #60.

    GK, of course you have a point here but the argument I was trying to make is in the direction of applying the same criteria of defining diaspora for Lebanese as is done for Jews, and just for the exchange with AIG. There are many articles and statistics about the Lebanese diaspora and estimates range from 5 to 15 million. Of those, folks who actually officially hold the citizenship are likely between 1 and 2 million, with the majority of those being Christian. This is why, I think, there is a movement to get those folks with proof of citizenship the right to absentee-voting, which of course would have a major influence on the outcome of elections.

    While I have no official studies or statistics, my suspicion is that intrinsically Lebanese expatriates tend to want to meld with whichever society they are in and assimilate in a transparent manner. Sure, we keep our feelings to the native country and our children express longing to know more about it, but many of us have suffered while in the native country and so are inclined to maintain remote and distant support. Maybe that’s cowardly but in many of our cases, the opposite would have meant putting our lives in danger. It’s not cowardly to take action to preserve one’s life or diminish the probability of being hurt.

    Sure the affinity and hope for a better future may be just that, ineffective feelings, but I don’t think there is a law against having feelings! And besides, it is true that hope and positive thinking have a way to eventually cause material changes.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 25, 2010, 10:31 am
  63. HP,

    “it is true that hope and positive thinking have a way to eventually cause material changes”

    Exactly, that is why Hezbollah is the most successful party in Lebanon. 🙂

    Posted by AIG | October 25, 2010, 11:41 am
  64. AIG, it’s not that simple for HA. Factors include the military occupation by Israel which overstayed its welcome by the Shia in 1982, the massive financial and military supplies from Iran, and the crushing of any attempt at reversing HA’s plans and trends, witness all the assassinations and, more recently, the “events” of May where HA imposed its will by force. What do you advocate, that we go commit suicide attacks against HA? Sorry, this is not in the Christian ethos.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 25, 2010, 12:00 pm
  65. AIG, just out of curiosity, do you understand General Aoun’s positions? He showed some level of courage early on in resisting the Syrian control but then of course opted for personal protection in accepting the French offer for exile. Then, upon return, took what are difficult-to-understand positions. So, here is someone who came back to Lebanon. What say you?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 25, 2010, 12:16 pm
  66. AIG #63,
    Hezbollah has succeeded because the Lebanese have proven to be rationally irrational.
    http://rationalrepublic.blogspot.com/2010/10/is-war-only-choice.html

    Posted by ghassan karam | October 25, 2010, 12:59 pm
  67. HP,

    There is a delightful passage in Cambanis’ book “A privilege to die” where he reports on an interview of Jumblatt where he asks him why he went after the HA telecommunications network in May 2008:
    His wife turned to him (AIG: to Jumblatt) and repeated my question: “Yes, Walid, I am curious too. What were you thinking?” He mugged a bit, gave a goofy smile and still did not answer.

    After being pushed a little more by Cambanis Jumblatt says: “I don’t remember what I was thinking”.

    It is all on page 250 of this highly recommended book. I hope you read it and understand better what you are really up against.

    The moral of this story is that probably Aoun does not remember by now what he was thinking and anyway, because of actual events his strategy has changed numerous times.

    Posted by AIG | October 25, 2010, 1:02 pm
  68. GK,

    I hate to insert “rationality” into discussions because the meaning of this term is so vague that it is useless.

    Hezbollah are successful because of their specific organizational capabilities and the very specific environment they are in. For example, if you would transfer Hezbollah’s exact structure to Dearborn, they would not flourish. The main reason Hezbollah flourishes in my opinion is because there are no better alternatives in Lebanon for most of its followers. They are successfully filling a vacuum. Of course, they are very competent at what they do, but it is clear from “A Privilege to Die” that Hezbollah is a messianic organization not unlike early Christianity that took on the Roman Empire and had its own martyrs. Hezbollah is filling a void in many Lebanese just like early Christianity did. It is up to you guys to figure out if this void can be filled in other ways.

    Posted by AIG | October 25, 2010, 1:19 pm
  69. Yes, Jumblatt remembers very well what his CIA handlers told him to do on that day…don’t you worry, and he ain’t going to tell his wife either. Enough CRAP AIG.

    Posted by Jim | October 25, 2010, 1:24 pm
  70. “I don’t remember what i was thinking”???

    Bullshit.
    I’m fairly sure they all remember.

    But what’s he supposed to say? Stuff that’s not fit for public opinion? “I was encouraged to take on HA by the Americans”? (That would go well with the public).
    Or “I did the right thing!” (Begs the follow up question of “why’d you change your mind then?”)

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 25, 2010, 1:35 pm
  71. AIG says,
    “I hate to insert “rationality” into discussions because the meaning of this term is so vague that it is useless.”

    I am surprised by the above. I hope that you do not mean that everything goes only because you think that “rational” is vague. It is the farthest thing from being vague. It is optimization and even cost benefit analysis if you will. A rational individual is the one to maximize utility given some constraints. Normally but not always, given a set of constraints there is a unique optimal solution.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | October 25, 2010, 1:59 pm
  72. Rationality is not at all vague or useless. At least not in the rest of the world.

    Now I will concede that when it comes to the alternate reality that is ME politics, be it Israelis or Lebanese, rationality goes out the window. So AIG may have a point there.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 25, 2010, 2:00 pm
  73. GK,

    You have just used more vague concepts to try and define rationality. Maximize utility? For people in Hezbollah maximizing utility means dying as a martyr. So if they maximize their utility are they “rational” as you grasp the meaning of the word?

    I’ve been through this process before and in the end you will see that the meaning of “x is rational” is that x makes decisions in a similar way to me. So saying someone is not rational is just another way of saying they are different while trying to be smug.

    Posted by AIG | October 25, 2010, 3:23 pm
  74. AIG.
    This is not the forum for this discussion but let me respond to one [point. Rationality does not mean uniformity. It never did. Actually no two individuals will allocate their scarce resources in order to buy the same basket of goods since each has a different set of indifference curves…..

    Anyway my initial mention of rationally irrational was a tongue in cheek reference to the work of Dan Ariely’s work, who I imagine you are familiar with.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | October 25, 2010, 4:36 pm
  75. This has something to do with Lebanon but I am not sure what: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L83n4zhg8Jw&feature=player_embedded#!

    Please watch it and tell me what it is about. I think it is a combo of fun music video and happy kids playing football, but i am not really sure. It seems coded for Lebanese comprehension.

    Posted by dontgetit | October 25, 2010, 6:18 pm
  76. dontgetit

    Thanks for the video. Hilarious and awesome.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | October 25, 2010, 7:39 pm
  77. Context:

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | October 25, 2010, 7:51 pm
  78. That was pure gold! 🙂

    Thanks for linking to that, dontgetit!

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 25, 2010, 10:30 pm
  79. More context:
    http://liveachrafieh.com/en/article/general-suleiman-music-video-generation

    and an unofficial transcription of the lyrics from this site bit.ly/c8JFQj (scroll down, it’s in the comments):

    General Suleiman

    Gene Gene General
    General Suleiman
    Gene Gene General
    General Suleiman
    Salam Salam Salam Aleik
    General Suleiman
    U re a Miracle Man
    For peace in our nation
    General Suleiman
    U re a miracle man
    General Suleiman
    U re a miracle man
    Put your weapons down
    Put your weapons down
    Now it s time
    To leave your warlords behind
    Everything is fine , and they ll be no more crime
    Let the country shine with general Suleiman
    General Suleiman
    U re a miracle man
    General Suleiman
    U re a miracle man
    Gene Gene General
    General Suleiman
    Gene Gene General
    General Suleiman
    Salam Salam Salam Aleik
    General Suleiman
    U re a Miracle Man
    For peace in our nation
    All the milicia man GO HOME
    Corrupted politician GO HOME
    To Weapon dealer say GO HOME
    To trouble maker say GO HOME
    Foreign intelligence GO HOME
    Neighbourgh influence GO HOME
    All the milicia man GO HOME
    Corrupted politician GO HOME
    To Weapon dealer say GO HOME
    To trouble maker say GO HOME
    Foreign intelligence GO HOME
    Neighbourgh influence GO HOME
    Gene Gene General
    General Suleiman
    Gene Gene General
    General Suleiman
    Salam Salam Salam Aleik
    General Suleiman
    U re a Miracle Man
    For peace in our nation
    General Suleiman
    U re a miracle man
    General Suleiman
    U re a miracle man
    Gene gene general , GO HOME !

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 26, 2010, 2:56 am
  80. cut-and-paste from the site cited; spelling is [sic]; I know we all have typos (I even caught a rare one in one of QN’s comments! — wow, he is not infallible! ;-)) but these are not HP typos 🙂

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 26, 2010, 2:59 am
  81. I was encouraged to take on HA by the Americans

    Were the Americans so ignorant, they thought M14 alone could succeed in closing down Hizbullah’s telecommunication network, or rather M14 foolishly believed, the Americans would come to the rescue?

    Posted by Badr | October 26, 2010, 3:19 am
  82. The very structure of the political system in Lebanon is one of the greatest challenges for Lebanon to advance. It promotes clan like ties and interactions which forces the different “political” factions to seek help from the exterior rather than sitting with their Lebanese brother/sister to find a solution to the issue at hand.

    Other countries seem to befriend the Lebanese people, but don’t be mistaken that when push comes to shove, they will side with what is beneficial to them and their country first. People in charge of the country seem to either not understand this or choose to ignore it for what ever reason, or worst yet, don’t care as long as they end on the “winning” side.

    Power is the biggest corruption catalyst, independent of the initial intentions of the person in power. The Lebanese people should seek legislation to force our beloved leaders (and their sons for Lebanon is a republic and not a monarchy) out of power after a certain number of terms (2 at the most).

    Last but not least, our leaders are just human. They seek what is beneficial to them and in most cases, independent of the consequences to the people they are supposed to be servants to. As long as the Lebanese people follow their leaders blindly and without holding them accountable, there will never be progress in any field.

    For the reasons above mentioned above and many others, It is my belief that Lebanon will not see any kind of meaningful progress. At least not in my life time (I hope to live at least 10 more years).

    Posted by Juan Del Pueblo | October 26, 2010, 10:42 am
  83. I think what Jumblatt believed is that the Lebanese diaspora would become incensed and it would mobilize. Unfortunately, not one person showed up.

    HP, where are the speeches about “the man in the ring”?

    Posted by AIG | October 26, 2010, 10:52 am
  84. AIG, I’m speechless 😉

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 26, 2010, 12:01 pm
  85. It’s a little bit hard to rally around Walid Bey, isn’t it? The biggest rally ever in Lebanon was the March 14, 2005 one (not to be confused with what is now called the March-14 movement). At that rally, I know first hand friends and family who never before had had anything to do with politics, and who felt driven beyond the limit to go and protest. No one can argue with the fact that this is what drove Syria to – at long last – withdraw its forces.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 26, 2010, 12:09 pm
  86. HP,

    In other words, if Jumblatt does not get himself murdered, he can forget about support.

    And what drove Syria out was the fact that Bashar was afraid of Bush changing the regime in Syria like he did in Iraq. If the Americans were not in Iraq, Bashar would not have wavered.

    Posted by AIG | October 26, 2010, 12:34 pm
  87. AIG,

    Agreed. Although one has to add the M14 protests as part of the equation.
    But yes. The atmosphere, at the time, was that of regime change in the ME per the Bush doctrine.
    Arab regimes, specially Syria, were afraid that they were next after Saddam.
    In that context, the pressure of demonstrations and world public opinion caused Bashar to withdraw.
    Had the atmosphere not been as it was, the Syrians would have had no problem quashing the M14 demonstrations and staying in Lebanon.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 26, 2010, 12:40 pm
  88. Anyone are to explain Aoun? For some reason everyone treats him with kid gloves. How can his strategy be explained?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 26, 2010, 1:24 pm
  89. Cause he’s a kid.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 26, 2010, 1:38 pm
  90. HP,

    Read this, you might find some satisfying explanation regarding Aoun.

    Posted by Badr | October 26, 2010, 2:16 pm
  91. Thanks, Badr, some good rational analysis in there. It’s bewildering to me that “Aoun and his supporters exchange the potentially self-destructive support they offer to Hezbollah for a chance to undermine the status quo.”

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 26, 2010, 3:17 pm
  92. Hmm, interesting article I came across as I was following the links in the article that Badr referred me to:

    Israeli academics back Arab peace plan
    Hugh Naylor

    Last Updated: Oct 27, 2010

    JERUSALEM // The eight-year-old Arab Peace Initiative has received a boost of support from an unlikely quarter: a top Israeli think tank…

    http://www.thenational.ae/news/worldwide/middle-east/israeli-academics-back-arab-peace-plan

    Finally some really smart people giving some really smart advice!

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 26, 2010, 3:50 pm
  93. HP,

    How do you know that the people who recommend this are really smart? Have you met them? Or perhaps it is based on past recommendations of theirs that proved true? Would you mind giving us an example?

    Posted by AIG | October 26, 2010, 4:12 pm
  94. AIG, I don’t know. I’m inferring from the article. You know more. Educate us.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 26, 2010, 4:50 pm
  95. HP,

    Just joking with you. It is a pet peeve of mine. I like teasing people who selectively quote Israeli sources they know nothing about in order to support their point of view. But in your case, I am sure that if you would have found a link to an Israeli think tank that recommended NOT supporting the Arab peace plan, you would have brought that also to our attention, right? 🙂

    Posted by AIG | October 26, 2010, 5:03 pm
  96. Ya AIG, you’re playing with my mind. Now I have to think. Hmm. Ok, so if I do a “thought experiment” (Gedanken) where in following the Badr link I find another link which has an interesting headline opposite to this one, say “Israeli Think Tank Advises Against the Arab Peace Plan,” and then goes into an analysis of the actual simulations and scientific studies and inferences that establish why that is the case, well, hmm, I probably WOULD have linked it here, if for nothing else than to get the others’ (including yours) views on the merits of that analysis, etc. So, I guess I would, probably. But hey, you never know. Those Lebanese romantic expats who lecture about the “man in the ring” and yet don’t take the personal risks needed to be one, well, they’re just annoying, aren’t they? On the other hand, they trigger a fixation to want to persuade them with something for which they will be completely immaterial. And I wonder why Aoun is so confusing?

    Is Schrodinger’s cat dead or alive?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 26, 2010, 5:18 pm
  97. AIG, “you would have brought that also to our attention, right?”
    בוודאי
    طبعا
    Bien sûr

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 26, 2010, 5:26 pm
  98. And I’m sure AIG and co. are not guilty of selectively quoting Lebanese or Arab proposals and speeches. Right?

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 26, 2010, 5:57 pm
  99. BV,

    AIG and co.? Who are the “company”? Well, if you catch me in the act, point it out. I don’t recall every quoting a Lebanese think tank that I know nothing about and saying:
    “Finally some really smart people giving some really smart advice!”

    Posted by AIG | October 26, 2010, 6:43 pm
  100. AIG. My comment was tongue in cheek.

    I think “& co.” was meant to say “you Israelis”.

    Meaning, we all sometimes pick and choose what we want to quote from the other side…
    I mean, it’s quite common for me to read Israelis quoting pro-Hizbullah type stuff and then saying “See? Those Lebanese really hate us and want to Israel to be exterminated off the face of the planet.” or such hyperbole.

    In any case, it was a joke.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 26, 2010, 8:09 pm
  101. AIG, I know some of the exchanges were in good humor, but seriously, regarding the Arab peace initiative, if one assumes that the right-of-return is intended to have a combination of some symbolic numbers going back and then monetary compensation for all others, and if behind that peace is every member of the Arab League in official and definitive declarations of peace (and not just the absence of war), why isn’t this a good route to finally settling this issue?

    I know that one line of thought is that Israel is doing fine and will continue to do fine with the status quo. On the other hand, others argue that preserving the Jewish character will imply more and more discriminatory practices which, in the long run, will be self-destructive. I haven’t researched what that “Think Tank” wrote but I assume it is something along those lines.

    So the question to you is to educate us about where’s the weakness in that group and what arguments/positions they have advocated in the past which have been proven wrong.

    Finally, I will give you a personal opinion, and that is that if the folks in that Think Tank are like our friend Shai then to me they are not only smart but highly intelligent, well grounded, realistic, and true thought leaders whose call should be heeded. I’m willing to be persuaded otherwise if indeed persuasive arguments are presented.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 26, 2010, 9:35 pm
  102. Off topic, Off topic, Off topic….

    To whom it may concern….

    Hezbollah members are subjects of indictment report by STL Regional officers are mentioned in the indictment as having foreknowledge of the crime.

    مصادر دبلوماسية فرنسية
    كشفت مصادر دبلوماسية في العاصمة الفرنسية ان الادارة الفرنسية اطلعت على القرار الاتهامي الذي انجزه المدعي العام دانيال بلمار، وان القرار الاتهامي تضمن اتهامات لعناصر من حزب الله باغتيال الحريري وبمعرفة ضباط اقليميين.

    http://www.aldiyaronline.com/articleDetails.php?menu=article&artId=34882

    Posted by anonymous | October 26, 2010, 9:38 pm
  103. HP,

    Israel is being pushed to Armageddon by the likes of AIG and AP , the shais of Israel are less than 10% and not able to set Israel on the right track to save the Jewish people ,

    I hope that I am wrong ,

    Posted by Norman | October 26, 2010, 10:52 pm
  104. HP,

    So let’s summarize where we are.
    You assume without research that the think tank based their conclusions on on what you think. You assume they are like Shai. But then you assert that the burden of proof is on me to convince you otherwise.
    Was it me or was it you that wrote:
    “Finally some really smart people giving some really smart advice!”

    You are making assertions based on zero facts but think it is my job to disprove them or otherwise you get to keep your assumptions that are based on no facts whatsoever.

    It is you who made an assertion. It is you who has made assumptions. It is not my job to disprove them. It is your job to prove them, or just admit that it is basically wishful thinking.

    Posted by AIG | October 26, 2010, 11:59 pm
  105. Pic of the xxxxxxxxxxxxx day

    [Schoolmarm’s note: please keep the pottymouthery to a minimum, if you please.]

    Posted by bored and disgusted | October 27, 2010, 12:03 am
  106. HP,

    As for the Arab “plan”, it is clear Lebanon will never allow it to be implemented, yet you maintain it is a way forward.

    But the main reason it is a crappy plan is because standing behind the plan are 22 states, many of which are failed ones, all of which are dictatorships or monarchies and the major ones all treat their citizens like shit. Most of these states have a bleak future and any peace agreement with them is not worth the paper it is written on.

    For 60 years that Arabs have been flailing and wailing how Israel is nearing Armageddon. The rhetoric has not changed over 60 years. Yallah, let’s hear something new.

    Posted by AIG | October 27, 2010, 12:18 am
  107. “Lebanon will never allow it to be implemented”???

    Now who’s smoking crack? Oops. I mean, now who’s making assumptions without basis in fact?

    AIG,

    Since when does Lebanon allow or disallow anything from happening?
    You could’ve said “Iran” or “Syria” or even “Hizbullah” and I might have nodded in agreement.
    But come on! Speak of hyperbole here.
    Would you care to elaborate on why Lebanon alone will not allow some Arab peace to be implemented?

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 27, 2010, 2:22 am
  108. AIG, you said “You assume without research that the think tank based their conclusions on on what you think.” Not really, I’m giving you an impression I got and not an assumption and then asking for you help to educate us. Maybe you don’t know much about that Think Tank that was quoted or maybe you do and don’t want to share with us? I didn’t say you have the “burden of proof” on anything. This is not what this conversation is about. I asked for help in learning (education) about the various point of views and what their rationale is.

    As far as ““Finally some really smart people giving some really smart advice!”” here again, it is an opinion, not necessarily a fact, nor an assertion. By the way, I think this line of thinking – that time is not on Israel’s side if it wants to preserve its Jewish character – is shared by many who truly have the best intentions for Israel. As loathe as many are to former President Carter, I would remind those who might forget, once again, that he is the one who made the peace with Egypt happen (with participation/initiative from Egypt and good leadership from Begin of course).

    I do happen – as an opinion and a feeling – to very much like Shai’s approach and analysis and I also think that he is indeed in search of and wanting to preserve an Israel with Jewish identify.

    So, if you don’t want to educate us, not necessarily with detailed dissertations but with some opinions and analyses related to that Think Tank that was quoted in the media, fine, but there’s no need to misrepresent opinions and leanings written here as advocacy and/or unsubstantiated facts. They are what they are. I think (modulo typos) the writing is pretty clear.

    Finally, on the issue of Palestinians being settled in Lebanon, I don’t see why a solution that involves some relocation to other Arab countries or to the new Palestine as well as some remaining and being naturalized in Lebanon is inconsistent with the Arab Peace Plan. If you’re referring to the declarations by Lebanese politicians that the Palestinians will never be naturalized in Lebanon, (1) I refer you to BV’s post above, and (2) declarations like this don’t really mean much if/when overwhelming global events and significant material support manifest themselves [one can similarly quote declarations by some Israeli politicians about Jerusalem being the unified and eternal capital of Israel – is that realistic? maybe, but that would require, based on simple demographics, either deportation of the Arabs of East Jerusalem or an apartheid system).

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 27, 2010, 3:45 am
  109. B&D @ 105. Message understood. Fine. But do you realize that the use of obscene language accomplishes only 2 things: (1) it diminishes the value and the validity of the argument you are trying to make and (2) it is a reflection on your own ethics, morals, and manners. It does NOTHING to make the point you’re trying to make. Shame!

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 27, 2010, 3:49 am
  110. AIG @ 106 “The rhetoric has not changed over 60 years.”
    I don’t think so. The 2002 Arab peace plan was a far cry from “throwing Israel into the sea” that used to be the mantra. Even the excuse that “right of return” is the sticking point isn’t quite legitimate because there is an understanding there of how this is to be interpreted in a way that accedes to Israel’s concerns about its Jewish identity. Could it be that the intransigence is from the Israeli side and involves a desire by some in Israel to maintain all the illegal settlements and even expand them?
    The fact is that the evolution has now led to the accepted principle of an independent, sovereign, safe, Israel, with fully normalized relations with all its Arab neighbors. That was not the case 60 years ago.
    And these, AIG, are indeed facts and not opinions!

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 27, 2010, 4:35 am
  111. AIG @106: you expressed concern that some of the states behind the Arab peace plan are what you call “failed” ones. Now, would you say the same of Egypt? of Jordan? It’s been now over 30 years of peace with Egypt. Was that bad for Israel?

    I think I understand the concern, maybe the fear, that, given the moral issues involved with how the state of Israel was created, some redress might be sought for ever by some. But we don’t live in a vacuum. Witness the military intervention of the U.S. in Iraq (starting with Desert Storm) and Afghanistan. The deterrent military might of Israel, backed by the U.S., and, if indeed a comprehensive peace treaty is signed, backed by all the European Union and its own military power, by Russia, etc., wouldn’t all this be trusted to ensure protection in case some wingnut somewhere decides to revive what by then would have become an archaic grievance?

    The danger is to push the current intransigence to a limit beyond which a breaking point occurs, not as a war, but as a demographic gradual but definitive transition that slowly, but surely, homogenizes Israel and its surroundings. I think this is what many are advocating for, and the question is whether they are right or whether the proponents of an effective separation by Israel and tight control of rights and citizenship, etc., are right, and if they are, for how long?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 27, 2010, 4:46 am
  112. By complete coincidence, I happened to have breakfast yesterday morning with an Israeli academic of the “old school”. One of the old Israeli Islamicists who is is very well placed in academia as well in foreign policy circles (If AIG is in any of those worlds he would know the name and to whom I am referring.)
    We didn’t talk much about Lebanon, but he was unequivocal in saying that the peace with Egypt, for all its flaws, was a very good thing. He also spoke highly of Abbas and Fayyed as intelligent people with generally good intentions but noted that both were weak (and that Fayyed’s greatest asset was his ability to manipulate people).
    He was very optimistic that a peace with the West Bank was within reach and that, in the end, whatever Abbas agrees to will eventually stick with the rest of the Arab world, even if the hardliners call him a traitor. Part of that is because Abbas doesn’t really go very far without consulting with the Arab league.
    There was a lot I would have liked to discuss with him, but hadn’t the time nor was it the setting.

    One more thing – he said the back channels between Hamas and Hezbollah are wide open. The Mossad, with whom he consults regularly on this, have many avenues of communication to those groups. That is not to say they co-operate – they are enemies and act like enemies, but they are still able to communicate if necessary.

    Posted by dontgetit | October 27, 2010, 8:52 am
  113. dontgetit,

    What is it that you don’t get? 🙂

    Posted by Badr | October 27, 2010, 9:13 am
  114. I think dontgetit doesn’t get that AIG doesn’t gete it. I get it and evidently Badr gets it. So let’s all get it. Got it?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 27, 2010, 9:25 am
  115. BV,

    It is clear that since Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government and has veto power over critical decisions that LEBANON as a state cannot approve a peace treaty. It may be because of Hezbollah, but the Lebanese state will reject the peace agreement. And that is why what I wrote is accurate.

    Posted by AIG | October 27, 2010, 9:48 am
  116. Dontgetit,

    It is not news that Israel has back channel negotiations with Hamas and Hezbollah via the German secret services. This is how the prisoner exchange deals are negotiated.

    Perhaps the current Arab states will accept what the PA agrees to. However, it will change very little since most Palestinians will not accept what the PA agrees to. So any agreement will not be the end of the conflict by any means. Not that I am against signing an agreement with them. But I don’t believe that it will change the situation much. The diaspora Palestinians will just be radicalized more and more easily manipulated by the “resistance” front.

    Posted by AIG | October 27, 2010, 9:58 am
  117. HP,

    The great “power” of the Arabs, US, Europe the UN etc. etc. could not prevent Hezbollah from taking over the Lebanese state. The Arab states could not even get Syria out of Lebanon.

    You and QN yourself said it will take generations for the Lebanese to accept peace with Israel. All of a sudden you are singing a different tune.

    I have no worries or concerns about issues relating to how Israel was formed. I have concerns signing agreements that depend on the goodwill of weak and unpopular parties to be successful. How has that worked for you in Lebanon? It is just amazing to me that you recommend for Israel to repeat the mistakes that have made Lebanon a failed state.

    Posted by AIG | October 27, 2010, 10:16 am
  118. AIG, on the contrary, I am suggesting that by proceeding with peace now, Israel will ensure NOT making the “mistakes of Lebanon.”

    Those Lebanese who loathe Israel for the destruction and deaths it has dealt to Lebanon don’t have to like peace with Israel. They just have to accept it. Besides, if the Palestinians accept it — and this is the key — then it’s not up to the Lebanese to decide otherwise. The insignificant territorial details of the Shebaa farms and similar issues are just excuses that will readily be dealt with and go away, if the Big issue of the Palestinians is solved.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 27, 2010, 10:32 am
  119. HP,

    If Israel signs the agreements that you want it to sign it will be repeating the mistakes of Lebanon. Can you explain how your kind of agreements will stop a Hezbollah from forming in the West Bank?

    “The insignificant territorial details of the Shebaa farms and similar issues are just excuses that will readily be dealt with and go away, if the Big issue of the Palestinians is solved.”
    How can you say that with a straight face given the dismal track record with Hezbollah so far? How will they be dealt with? Why should I trust you that this is true? You seem to think that Hamas will accept an agreement the PA signs. The rejection by Hamas of such an agreement will by itself give the “resistance” and excuse to keep doing what they are doing.

    Posted by AIG | October 27, 2010, 10:44 am
  120. I think most of the approaches to the peace “process” are wrongheaded and will make a lasting peace very hard to achieve. If I were king of the world, I would ignore Netanyahu and Abbas for the time being and focus on the real obstacle, which is the UNRWA and the refugees. The groundwork needs to be laid for the people in those camps to come to terms with the fact that they are not returning to pre-1967 Israel. Treating them like normal refugees and helping to settle them elsewhere is the best chance of making a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians based on the West Bank. This isn’t rocket science. The UNRWA camps and the Palestinian refugee camps (and the refusal of the Arab world to integrate Palestinians or treat them like other arabs) were CREATED FOR THE PURPOSE OF PREVENTING PEACE. It was done so by the arab world with the complicity of the West. And they are effective. If those parties have changed their mind and want peace, then they will have to remove the principal obstacle to peace.
    What we have instead is the worst of all worlds, where the best people can hope for is a negotiated deal that will be hated by a huge mass of people, caged among their “brethren” who will one day wake up to be told that they were sold out by “those other Palestinians” and everything they were told about returning victorious to Jaffa and Haifa was a lie.

    Posted by dontgetit | October 27, 2010, 10:50 am
  121. dontgetit,

    I totally agree. What you say is sad but true.

    Posted by AIG | October 27, 2010, 10:59 am
  122. dontgetit, “The groundwork needs to be laid for the people in those camps to come to terms with the fact that they are not returning to pre-1967 Israel.” Isn’t something like that implicit in the 2002 Arab peace plan proposal?
    The question is whether all this can be handled simultaneously.

    AIG, HA was formed as a result of the extended occupation of South Lebanon by Israel, and then Iran found an opening and fueled it. I think it is the continued occupation that is the likely creator of a HA in the West Bank. There already is one in Gaza. I agree with one key point — which maybe you have made. The determining criterion will be whether the Palestinian people accept the peace plan. If they do, Hamas has already declared that they will agree (even if reluctantly) to anything that the Palestinian people (I assume in a referendum) agree to. I don’t know how to predict what the outcome of such a referendum would be but first there has to be a plan defined, which is what I think is being negotiated right now.

    As you know, I’ve been “outta there” for quite some time now and so my hope and shy optimism is really for the people remaining in that area, both in the Arab countries and in Israel. I don’t presume to know more than the limited amount I do but I sure hope for the best and, at the same time, don’t see hopeful signs if peace attempt after peace attempt keep failing. I’ll hold hope for the one going on now until it either succeeds or fails. We’ll see.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 27, 2010, 11:19 am
  123. HP: I just looked them up.
    This is what the 2002 Plan says: “Attain a just solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees to be agreed upon in accordance with the UN General Assembly Resolution No 194. ”
    Article 11 of 194 says (1948)”. . . that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.”

    That seems to say that the refugees can return if they want. Certainly, the 2002 Arab plan seems designed to keep the dream alive but maybe I don’t understand “Arab” clearly.
    Tell me . . . what do they think in the camps? If people there understand that the right of return to pre-1967 Israel is gone, then you are correct.

    Posted by dontgetit | October 27, 2010, 11:27 am
  124. HP,

    HA was formed before Israel ever occupied Lebanon. If you read “A Privilege to Die” you will learn that having heard that the Shia in the south welcomed Israel, HA quickly organized to counteract this. HA was formed as an extension of the Islamic Revolution in Iran and not as a reaction to actual Israeli actions. The main reason HA caught on so strongly is because of the shitty way the other Lebanese treated the Shia over the decades.

    Very strange how you buy the Hamas propaganda. Do you have any doubt what the results of the referendum will be in Hamas controlled areas?

    Posted by AIG | October 27, 2010, 11:36 am
  125. AIG, no, I don’t know what the referendum results would be, but I would hope it is a referendum for all Palestinians and, if they chose to refuse peace then all bets are off for them to get any kind of sympathy or support.

    dontgetit, it is hard to know what the ordinary people think in the refugee camps. They are overtaken by a brainwashing narrative that keeps barking the eventual triumph over Israel. This does not mean that the majority wouldn’t be happy with some accommodation that gives them a better life without the “return” to pre-1967 Israel. I personally think it’s lunacy — if Israel agrees to terms along the Clinton plan and along what Ehud Barak says are the known elements of the solution — for the Palestinians and/or any of the Arab countries to still insist on “throwing Israel to the sea,” either by war or by regular demographic pressure. Maybe I’m wrong but that’s how I see things for now. On the other hand, if it is Israel which refuses the accommodation along the above outlines/plans, then I do see a likelihood of a forced choice between allowing the demographic pressure to reduce the “Jewishness” of Israel or the inevitability to institute discriminatory practices that, in time, will generate unanimous outcry from the international community just like happened in South Africa. I know there is a percentage of Israelis and worldwide Jews who agree with this assessment but I don’t know how large that percentage is.

    Sometimes, I agree, one should let the extremists and big believers in their principles to duke it out and get out of the way. I see this as happening as long as there is no real progress on peace. Where it leads in the end is anyone’s guess but I don’t like its chances.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 27, 2010, 11:45 am
  126. HP:
    My point was that the brainwashing narrative (and the very existence of the camps and their nature) was specifically intended to be an obstacle to peace. And it is a very effective obstacle to peace. The camps and the right of return are designed to make sure that the Arab defeat in 1948 would never be accepted as permanent and, though I don’t see anyone saying it, that is exactly what the current peace proposals, including your interpretation of the 2002 plan or the “everyone knows what the final deal will look like” deal is. It is, more or less, a “do over” on 1967 and an acceptance of 1948. Right now, the SINGLE GREATEST OBSTACLE to reaching peace is the inability to deal with the right of return. that, in turn, is a consequence of the existence of the camps and the “brainwashing narrative that keeps barking the eventual triumph over Israel.” Israel will jump at the “everyone knows” deal in a second – the other hard part, Jerusalem, is hard but still only a matter of details. But until the refugee issue is resolved, there is no real deal in sight, and the UNRWA and the camps, more than anything else, prevent Abbas from making a deal that he probably wants to make and that Israel would accept.
    That is why I say that if I were King, I would drop the Israel/PA discussions and get to work busting up the camps.
    Just knowing the solution/deal isn’t always the hard part of a negotiation/mediation. Sometimes, getting to there is much harder. That seems to be the case here.

    Posted by dontgetit | October 27, 2010, 11:57 am
  127. dontgetit, this makes sense. The challenge is how to “get to work busting up the camps.” I don’t see it happening as a serial process but rather as a simultaneous process where all these difficult issues are dealt with at the same time. Not that I’m opposed to a serial process. I just don’t see it happen with the current governments and structures, etc.

    A question is what will happen if all peace talks fail. There are two narratives there, as far as the impact on Israel. One says, nothing, status quo continues, Israel gets stronger, etc. The other says it’s a dangerous slide into risky situations that put the nature of Israel in question after two generations.
    Then there is the unthinkable narrative of another destructive and large scale war that I pray doesn’t see the light of day.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 27, 2010, 12:08 pm
  128. HP,

    Why are you worried about the impact on Israel?
    What would be the impact on the Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese etc if peace talks fail?

    Posted by AIG | October 27, 2010, 12:15 pm
  129. So now, we have women attacking STL investigators at the gynecologist’s office.
    How surreal does THAT sound!!!

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 27, 2010, 12:35 pm
  130. BV,

    If the Palestinian issue were solved, they would not have attacked. 🙂

    Posted by AIG | October 27, 2010, 12:38 pm
  131. the surreal part is that they were looking into records at an OBGYN clinic.

    Posted by tamer k | October 27, 2010, 12:53 pm
  132. HP:
    I don’t see a serial process happening either, given the current state of the players, which is why you should make me King. I will fix it.

    Seriously, the only avenue is the US and UN and UNRWA. The Arab governments are too weak to lead and, from what I have been reading since I got interested in this subject, they don’t seem to honor their budget commitments to the UNRWA anyway. But I would use the golden rule – he who has the gold makes the rules. I would change the UNRWA budget immediately – every camp host country (excluding west bank and gaza) that offers full citizenship to a refugee camp resident would get a one time allocation of $X equal to 75% of the UNRWA present valued five year per-capita budget. The allocation would go 20% to the country and 80% to the refugee but he has to walk out the door and the gates lock behind him. Maybe make the refugee portion payable over 3 years. Since the refugees will now have a dowery AND $ to spend locally they will be attractive residents with capital to pay their own way and contribute to their local economies. I will also say the camps will be kept open for those remaining for only three years (with the budgets reduced by the amounts above)after which the UNRWA will be disbanded and the US will make no further contributions (good luck keeping that promise).
    The host countries can keep the camps for housing and infrastructure or demolish them as they see fit.

    Anyhow, that is my first draft for year one of my rule.

    Posted by dontgetit | October 27, 2010, 12:54 pm
  133. AIG @129 I’m not “worried” (never used that word). I’m just objectively commenting on how things appear to me.
    To your question “What would be the impact on the Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese etc if peace talks fail?” I think/guess:
    – Syria: nothing much
    – Lebanon: perpetuation of the arms of HA = not good
    – Palestinians: more suffering and misery

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 27, 2010, 12:54 pm
  134. The whole damn thing is surreal..I mean, read the title…”UN investigators attacked by women at OBGYN clinic”….Really…WTH!

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 27, 2010, 1:01 pm
  135. HP,

    I disagree with your view. Syria for example needs tens of billions of dollars of investment to achieve real GDP growth. Without peace they are not going to get it. Lebanon needs to recycle billions of dollars of debt. The lack of peace will only make that very difficult to do.

    Posted by AIG | October 27, 2010, 1:35 pm
  136. AIG, Okay, noted. I still hope for peace instead of lack thereof and whichever bad consequences follow to anybody.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 27, 2010, 1:45 pm
  137. HP,

    Instead of hoping for peace, why don’t you start working for peace in Lebanon? I am sure there are FPM supporters in your church or in your social circle. Why don’t you organize a dialog with them? Then maybe you can tell us about the insights you have gained.

    Posted by AIG | October 27, 2010, 1:54 pm
  138. It is reported that the STL investigators wanted to review phone files related to their probe, at the gynecology clinic located in a Beirut suburb that is a Hizbullah stronghold. I wonder whether this substantiates the claim that the breakthrough in the investigation came, when one of the main suspects committed the unbelievable indiscretion of calling his girlfriend from one of the “hot” phones.

    Posted by Badr | October 27, 2010, 2:48 pm
  139. It does seem like an odd turn…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 27, 2010, 3:31 pm
  140. Ok guys, this one time I will explain to you what happened. 🙂

    The STL realized that when it brings circumstantial evidence based on call logs of Lebanese cellular companies, HA will say that the evidence was doctored by Israel. That is why they went to the clinic to get additional evidence based on call logs of the clinic. Naturally, there is no chance that they will get it unless they want to handle stampedes of HA women.

    Posted by AIG | October 27, 2010, 3:50 pm
  141. That actually sounds fairly plausible, as bizarre as it may be.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 27, 2010, 4:33 pm
  142. Habibi AIG, maybe you haven’t read the narrative of my life spread at various comments on QN and on SyriaComment. I only talk politics here, in this. The consequences of the politics and the situation in Lebanon were too painful for me to want anything to do with on a personal basis. Sorry if you consider this negative in some ways that can be expressed by epithets that you can perhaps skip, since I pretty much know what some of these might be. I appreciate your call to action and maybe some day I’ll engage with folks that I trust, but engaging with chaos is a risky business that I’ve developed a phobia for. Still I hope you won’t object to my having thoughts and opinions and expressing them here. Whereas maybe some readers are bored by what I say, I have had a fair amount of positive and encouraging comments indicating that some have a nice appreciations of the words that my nimble fingers manage to generate.

    Shalom

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 27, 2010, 5:29 pm
  143. … and how does AIG know this if the STL hadn’t been infiltrated and wasn’t being guided by the fully politicized process of the shamble that they call investigation. We now have proof, in this blog, of the Israeli hand and full culpability in (a) being behind all these assassinations (b) engineering the STL (c) controlling the STL (d) guiding every minuscule step of the STL. Those Israelis! they really are the Chosen People. But wait, HA are the party of God Himself. Curious how the Lord acts in such mysterious ways, pitting His Chosen People against His own Party.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 27, 2010, 5:34 pm
  144. and if anyone took me seriously in 144, I’d like to have a word with them “outside.”

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 27, 2010, 5:35 pm
  145. HP,

    Why don’t you try posting the FPM forum then?
    I enjoy posting there but they ban me after a few days claiming I am a Lebanese posing as an Israeli. This has happened 2 times already. Go figure.

    Posted by AIG | October 27, 2010, 6:36 pm
  146. AIG, I really admire your stamina. Give me the link to the FPM forum and I’ll take a look.
    Hey, maybe one day we’ll do some advanced technology project together (but bewarned it has to be very very nerdy stuff – that’s what I do).

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 27, 2010, 6:44 pm
  147. HAHAHA! A Lebanese posing as an Israeli!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAH!

    Sorry man! I need to sit down for a second…

    This is the funniest thing I have read all week!! You just made my day, man!

    Those guys are great, huh? Gotta love it. As if it’s not bad enough with their conspiracy theories when they see Israeli hands in everything, now, we’re going one step further, it’s Lebanese POSING as Israelis…

    In fact, I wonder if the STL isn’t on to something after all…So really, the Israeli agents who supposedly assassinated Hariri are really Lebanese posing as Israelis, posing as HA agents….it all makes sense!

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 27, 2010, 7:16 pm
  148. Ya BV, your laughter is contagious!

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 27, 2010, 8:12 pm
  149. It just goes to show you that the General is communicating his weirdness by osmosis to his followers. If I get that link and I venture there, I hope they don’t read this particular comment first!
    Hey, maybe I WILL pose as AIG, huh?
    But then, they won’t figure it out because it looks like they deal with opposites.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 27, 2010, 8:14 pm
  150. Um….don’t kid yourselves.

    Some Lebanese do *sound* like Israelis so the accusation that a poster who is familiar enough about Lebanon to pass isn’t one bit farfetched. AIG’s “Americanese” is another factor that would make him suspect.

    Posted by lally | October 27, 2010, 8:15 pm
  151. Ghassan, if you’re following, take a look at this:
    http://tinyurl.com/lebanonphotos
    Isn’t it beautiful? Why is everyone wasting their time laying waste to that wonderful land?
    Isn’t it possible to dream of a peaceful and prosperous Lebanon?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 27, 2010, 8:21 pm
  152. AIG, what’s the secret to navigating the FPM forum? It looks pretty confusing and convoluted to me. Some people are just unable to comprehend and adopt the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stu___)
    Then again, where’s the fun in a forum that has no AIGs?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 27, 2010, 8:38 pm
  153. HP,

    Go to the FPM forum, and anytime they discuss the latest Aoun’s speech, just post “Rabbak Ya Generale”, you’ll be an instant hero. Bashing Doktor Geagea the criminal will get you many extra points as well as stating that FPM’s popularity in the christian street is larger than that of the LF.

    So Rabbak Ya Generale & down with the criminal doktor is your ticket to a successful posting adventure at the orange room.

    Don’t ask me why I’ve been laughing the whole time while I’m posting this.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | October 27, 2010, 10:39 pm
  154. Wow,

    I am so happy that this has taken a lighter spin…

    RS,

    I am so tempted to do that… 😀

    Posted by danny | October 28, 2010, 7:37 am
  155. Sorry meant Ras Beirut. Too early and no Starbucks yet.
    AIG, so that’s your mask has been torn off! Aha, you are a Lebanese after all!!

    Posted by danny | October 28, 2010, 7:39 am
  156. Ya Ras-Beirut, I want to make sure I do this right. So, “Generale” with an “e” and doktor with a “k” or were these just typos?

    AIG, danny, don’t you dare copy this. These will be my lines and mine only

    AIG, what you may use is an explanation that your handle is acronym for Adoring (our)Incorruptible General. You will then confess that you are Lebanese, and say you were on a mission from the Man Himself, ask forgiveness, and contribute! Of course you’ll need to be very subtle in your postings, diplomatic, genteel. none of that tell-it-as-it-is belligerence we know you for.
    Welcome brudda.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 28, 2010, 9:38 am
  157. HP,

    Well, ridiculing them here is not the same as engaging them on their forum. You want to understand Aoun better. What better place to start? Let us know when you start and what your username there is.

    Posted by AIG | October 28, 2010, 9:59 am
  158. “what’s the secret to navigating the FPM forum? It looks pretty confusing and convoluted to me. Some people are just unable to comprehend and adopt the KISS principle”

    This is true for more than just their forum design.
    Just saying…A good reflection on that movement in general…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 28, 2010, 12:35 pm

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