Arab Politics, Lebanon

Révolution à la Libanaise

A friend of mine, J of Chalcedon, left a great comment a couple days ago in the midst of a discussion about Lebanese electoral politics. I reproduce it below:

“Greetings and salutations. I don’t comment here much anymore, largely because work and the general regional upheaval occupy my attention. I do check out the conversation from time to time, and am struck by the following: why isn’t a forum devoted to Lebanese politics talking about whether a mind-bending general moment affects the beloved kingdom?

“Big chunks of the U.S.-brokered regional security apparatus are collapsing like papier-mache castles; people long dismissed as irrelevant to the fates of their respective polities are forcing the question of their existence; and the idea of an Arab Middle East suddenly matters in a way it hasn’t for decades. And the local conversation basically amounts to who will be the second deputy dogcatcher in the Upper Metn. I get that all politics is local, but Jesus, who cares?

“If people think that Lebanon is so singular that none of what is happening elsewhere matters, then I’d love to have that view explained. And if the general view is that dominant politics can’t be pierced by grand tumult in the neighborhood, then great; let’s hear that explained too. But I look at what conversation takes place here and wonder whether there’s a news blackout that strikes this forum in particular. If nothing else, don’t you want ask why Lebanon can’t/won’t/mustn’t be a candidate for volcanic political change?

“Pardon for the interruption. I too care about the all-important appointment of the next Lebanese minister in charge of administrative reform. Some s*** matters, after all.”

To reiterate, here’s your question for today’s discussion:  “Why can’t/won’t/mustn’t Lebanon be a candidate for volcanic political change?”

Here’s a very quick stab, from my perspective. At the end of the day, Lebanon is relatively inoculated from everything going on in the region precisely because of the lack of any credible center to rebel against. Who could possibly be the target of a nationwide revolt? Every political leader with enough clout to matter has his base, and the last time Lebanon successfully “revolted,” it was only because there was a (foreign) regime to revolt against.

This is not to say that the country will not be affected by the general upheaval. Obviously, in the long run, the new security architecture will have an impact. But trying to predict what that might be is pointless, given that no one even knows who is going to take the place of Mubarak, Ben Ali, and their comrades.

For more on Lebanon’s resistance to revolution, have a look at a couple of good recent pieces in the press: Maya Mikdashi at Jadaliyya, and Fida’ `Itani at al-Akhbar. See also Ghassan Karam at his blog Rational Republic.

And finally, a note to newspaper and magazine editors everywhere: it seems likely  that you’ll be running stories on Arab protest movements for at least the next several weeks, if not longer. Would it be too much to ask to dust off the old thesaurus and start coming up with a few different metaphors for what’s going on? You know what I’m talking about: …And now to Lebanon, where the winds of change sweeping the region have failed to rustle any leaves in the land of the cedars, while the bedrock of Lebanese sectarianism remains firm even as the sands of Arab authoritarianism shift beneath the feet of their subjects…

Winds of change? Shifting sands? Please. You’re in the word business; why not try to use some new ones? If you’d like, I could help.

The floor is open.
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Discussion

279 thoughts on “Révolution à la Libanaise

  1. I’d go for something that borders to what you’re saying. Lebanon is so entrenched into two camps that any revolt would need to transcend the M14/M8 division. Anything else would be perceived as a political stance against the other camp.

    Also, although not perfect, Lebanese can enjoy a society that allows them to express their sentiments rather freely.

    Thirdly, I agree somewhat with Michael Young when he wrote that column on Lebanon being a country where people have taken to the streets. It has been ongoing for several years, but of course complicated by the fact that the fate of Lebanon is not entirely in the hands of Lebanese. Too many chefs in the soup that is Lebanon.

    Posted by Pas Cool | February 22, 2011, 6:15 pm
  2. Elias, seif al-islam gadhafi was right … Libya (and Lebanon and Syria) are not Egypt and Tunisia.

    But I agree with you. Most likely Lebanon (and Syria) are not. We’ll see.

    In Syria you could see demonstrations against the central authority, but would be demonstrators know that they will be outnumbered by much larger counter demonstrations by “regime supporters” who in fact will be made of

    1) Bashar supporters (he IS popular)
    2) Minorities. 30% of the Syrian people and almost unified, just like Lebanon’s Shia community is unified behind HA
    3) Baathists … 10% of the Syrian people (overlap with “minorities”)
    4) Those who do not want Syria to become Iraq.

    So, if demonstrations took place in Syria, we might end up in a situation not very different from Lebanon in 2005 where one M14 demonstration was followed by a M8 one

    The army will not shoot. But they will try to make life difficult for demonstrators if they try to make it a daily habit.

    Revolutions are not for Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, or Saudi Arabia … too much variance between the different segments of each population.

    Even though I sound like seif al-islam gadhafi who tried to make the same point I’m making, I’ll still stick to my opinion.

    What I like though, is the final awakening of “the Arab street” … people making it clear they can not be taken for granted.

    Posted by Alex | February 22, 2011, 6:16 pm
  3. QN,
    I do not personally agree with the premise of this post and obviously the observation of J of C.
    It seems to me that many on this blog have always approached the question of the sustainabiity of the Lebanese political structure and the implications of the current policies. In a sense the question of the durability , the need for change and along what lines have always been paramount in the minds of many a commentator on this forum. The issue of whether Lebanon is a failed state, whether it can survive and whether it is only a strange conglomeration of incongrous parts has often been discussed and disected at length.There is nothing wrong in addressing the issue again since it is a seminal one but let it not be said that this issue was neglected. It was not. For many , this has always been the most paramount of issues precisely because it is an existential one. The recent events in MENA are obviously of great interest but I would also suggest that many and probably most of the readers and occasional commentators on this blog have been calling for such a radical change all throughout the ME. The fact that it is in the news does not significantly change the dynamics that have been pointing for years and decades in this direction.

    Posted by ghassan Karam | February 22, 2011, 6:21 pm
  4. You’re a bit late asking this one, QN. Some of us already addressed it last week. 🙂

    I’ll reiterate what I said before. Lebanon will be the last, or one of the last Arab countries to undergo a radical change (if at all), for the very reason you mentioned (too many leaders, too fragmented, too sectarian, etc).
    we need to have a sense of unity and patriotism before we can come close to uniting against a regime or state of affairs like they did in Egypt, Tunisia and now Libya.
    We’re nowhere near as “mature” as those populations, which ironically, we have always considered ourselves superior to.
    No. The Lebanese will continue living with their heads in the proverbial sands, bagging on Egyptians and Sri Lankans and everyone else, while continuing to go nowhere fast.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | February 22, 2011, 6:23 pm
  5. Ghassan,

    You are absolutely right. I think J of C was just feeling a little bit ornery that day. 🙂

    Plus, I would argue the following: the fact that people can get their knickers in a twist over the question of who will become second deputy dog catcher in the Upper Metn is not a symptom of Lebanese myopia vis-a-vis the regional tumult, nor is it a token of our base sectarianism. It simply means that such an issue has real political stakes attached to it. Yes the Lebanese system is deeply problematic and needs serious overhaul. But it is not a dictatorship that has an open-and-shut case against it in the court of public opinion.

    PS: I linked to the relevant piece on your blog which I hadn’t seen until today.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 22, 2011, 6:33 pm
  6. BV said:

    “We’re nowhere near as “mature” as those populations, which ironically, we have always considered ourselves superior to.”

    I think this is the wrong way to look at it. It’s not a question of the maturity of certain populations versus others. And here I’ll quote from something I said on someone’s Facebook wall…

    “I think that those who are critical of Lebanese divisiveness have a point: obviously, our political culture has been crippled by our anemic institutions and our cults of personality. Still, it is not quite accurate, in …my view, to suggest that this is the result of Lebanese materialism or feudalism, etc. Yes, Tunisia and Egypt are going through something wonderful to behold at the moment. But, believe it or not, this is the easy part, as so many Lebanese discovered shortly after March 14. It’s one thing to carry a flag, march into a square, and demand change. It’s something else to come together to build something new, something better and sustainable. That is what Egypt faces, inshallah. And I don’t think that the Egyptians will have an easier time with it than the Lebanese, although I hope they do. Yes, we have sectarianism to overcome, but this just happens to be our particular, primary flavor of social divisiveness. Other societies are going to have other forces, legacies, and challenges to contend with… “

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 22, 2011, 6:37 pm
  7. QN,

    I both agree and disagree.
    I have stated before that all revolutions are messy, after the initial “honeymoon” phase and that we still don’t know what Egypt or Tunisia will look like in a year or two or 5.
    It’s still far too early to tell. In a sense toppling the old regime is the easy part.
    Building state institutions and developing a fair and open society is a much bigger task that will face its growing pains before Egypt or Tunisia come anywhere close to what we consider “democratic standards”.

    However, having said that, one has to admit, based on the evidence on the ground, that at least, in Egypt and Tunisia, there was a certain feeling of unity among the populace. It was the populace vs. the regime (here I agree with Ghassan, and your above statement).
    In Lebanon, we do not have that nationalistic and patriotic sense of unity.
    As a people, we are still children, bent on petty squabbles of no real significance in the grander scheme of things.
    The multitude of sects, zaims, and their followers is not to be seen as a phenomenon that comes out of mid air. I have always believed that a society and its structures are a reflection of the people’s mentality as a whole. We have zaims and sectarianism, not because these concepts came from above, but because that is who we are, at heart. No zaim would survive if the majority of Lebanese felt the way Egyptians, Libyans or Tunisians felt.
    The ugly truth, which we often choose to deny, is that we simply LIKE our system. Lebanese, in large numbers, are hypocrites. I’ve said this before. We claim to want to get rid of all these corrupt leaders, we claim to want a modern secular state, etc. But deep inside, we like it just how it is. When push comes to shove, we side with our sect or tribe, or whathaveyou, because we like the “privileges” we get from our zaims.
    The difference between Egypt or Libya and Lebanon is that in those 2 countries, anyone who was not part of the ruling clique was completely disenfranchised. They had nothing to lose.
    In Lebanon, EVERYONE is “enfranchised”. Everyone has some kind of connection, some kind of protection, some kind of benefit from their zaim. In a sense, in those other countries, the vast majority was not “corrupt”. Only the ruling clique was. In Lebanon, everyone is corrupt and benefits from things being how they are.
    That is what I mean by “political maturity” and lack of “patriotism”.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | February 22, 2011, 6:56 pm
  8. mustn’t: a vacuum will ensue leaving two polarized camps battling it out.(stalemate)De Ja Vu…or worse still a bloody civil war beginning on socio-political issues spiraling out into destructive sectarian violence. De ja Vu. (Lebanese are still haunted by their past)

    Can’t: people huddle around their leader who in turn protects them, represents them,feeds them… no one has the confidence and trust to relenquish their support for the local ruler and throw themselves at the mercy of the Govt.So you will never have a united conglomerate of groups ala Egypt 2011 to storm the …wherever…the power is held on the day.

    Won’t: Lets not forget, that Lebanon is not a dictatorship, has a somewhat quasi democracy, people can express themselves more freely than other MENA states. Even if change is demanded, it hasnt reached the level of desperation that has been on view recently in Egypt et al.

    So for any volcanic political change to come from Lebanon, you need the spark and the drive.The spark being the enormous social/economic/political pressures to reach unbearable proportions…and the drive being the unity of the Lebanese, no matter how many groupings are listed, in demanding a single platform vehicle to bring about change….I can see the spark happening in the near future, but the drive im not too sure of.

    Posted by Maverick | February 22, 2011, 7:12 pm
  9. QN,

    What you wrote on the facebook wall is right.
    I am getting a little more pessimistic about Egypt. The Qaradawi speech and the fact that Wael Ghonim was shut up is not good news.
    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2011/02/egypts-future-ctd.html

    If Qaradawi and his ilk will be able to freely operate from Egypt and have political clout there, this will be destabilizing for everybody. It will also be destabilizing for Syria. And that is how change will come to Lebanon, by change taking place in Syria. Betting on stability anywhere in the Arab world is going against the odds, and Lebanon is not the exception. One possible scenario could be a Sunni regime forcing Hezbollah to consolidate its rule in Lebanon preemptively. Of course, many other scenarios are also likely.

    Posted by AIG | February 22, 2011, 8:10 pm
  10. AIG,

    Too soon to tell. I wouldn’t really take much stock in things like Qardawi, or anyone else who might come and go in the coming weeks or months.
    Egypt is in transition. These things take time, and these times are usually “troubled” before things settle down. There will be radicals of all sorts vocalizing and babbling on for the simple reason that troubled times tend to bring forth the demagogues and populists.
    But people like that do not solve problems or build institutions. It is the latter that matters in the end. And the people who end up doing the actual building are usually not the vocal “faces”. In the end, it is the people you never hear about or know about that end up mattering most.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | February 22, 2011, 8:23 pm
  11. For the record, AIG, you say “If the likes of Qardawi can freely operate in Egypt…”

    Well, if you want a democracy in Egypt, the likes of Qardawi should indeed be allowed to operate there freely (within the law). That’s not to say they would have a large following…
    Unless you would prefer a return of some form of dictatorship, in the name of stifling any freedom of speech (because said speech may be anti-Israeli)?

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | February 22, 2011, 8:25 pm
  12. BV,

    “In the end, it is the people you never hear about or know about that end up mattering most.”

    Based on what do you say that? Institutions take years to build and leaders do not emerge out of nowhere. They need a track record. Qaradawi is a leader and his supporters are well organized.

    As for free speech used to bash Israel or Jews, that is the least of my worries. It is quite clear to me that the barely suppressed antisemitism and overt anti-Israelism in Egypt will be clearly articulated during the campaigning for the elections. It will be fun to watch.

    Posted by AIG | February 22, 2011, 9:02 pm
  13. Well, on a slightly different note, I think regional events are bad for Lebanese narcissism but good for Lebanon. As someone with an unnatural, and unhealthy obsession with Lebanese politics, events in the region, especially Egypt, have a strangely calming air: “ah, something that might actually be important.”

    *Don’t get me wrong: the narcissism thing is a co-dependency of somewhat equal international and local parts.

    I know it really hurt M. Young’s feelings that naysayers called his intifada a “gucci revolution” (he always, though, fails to mention that this expression was coined by the gucci-wearers themselves in a moment of typical naval-gazing), but anyone not struck by just the images is not paying attention. To alter a phrase, perhaps we can say the “revolution will not be advertised”? This is not to suggest that the anti-Syrian moment was not “authentic,” but the Lebanese drama queens were definitely out in force, and remain so.

    As to your other point, yes in the case of Lebanon, the center cannot hold, and relatedly neither does the periphery. Too many falconers, I suppose, but aren’t those falcons pretty?

    Posted by david | February 22, 2011, 9:06 pm
  14. My sense is the Arab revolution has nothing to do with Israel and the people understand this.

    The walls of distrust were with the Arab despots, and so the Israeli bogeyman has suddenly disappeared.

    A few leaders like Nejad will try to recreate the issue, but the Arab people aren’t buying it. The Arab people know what they need, and it isn’t another war with the Zionist Entity.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | February 22, 2011, 10:25 pm
  15. The Arab league has often failed to stand up to dictators and t take any meaningful unified action that favours the regular citizen. Without the need to revisit the Gulf war . it is obvious that the Arab league failed even to issue a condemnation of the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait and thus had to welcome a US led initiative to liberate Kuwait. Some might even argue that had the Arab League taken any strong action against the Saddam Hussain regime then an American invasion might have not materialized.
    Some will always argue that neither the Arab League nor the UN has the right to interfer with the internal affairs of a country as long as such policies and actions do not violate the UDHR. That might be true but when a state orders its jets and gunships to attack unarmed civilian demonstrators then that becomes a different matter. This is calculated murder in an effort to maintain personal power. It is a violation of all principles of international law and justice. Wouldn’t such a circumstance be sufficient grounds for the Arab League to wake up from its stupor and take strong action to stop these massacres by enforcing a no fly zone along the Libyan coast and all other major cities of the interior. I am no military expert but I imagine that a combination of Egyptian, Saudi, Tunisian military planes flying from Egypt should be able to play the role of enforcer around the clock. They could even ask the French, Soviets and US Naval forces to help them enforce such a no fly zone. (Israel need not apply for this exercise)

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | February 22, 2011, 11:24 pm
  16. Egypt today officially informed the Libyan government it would intervene militarily to protect its million plus workers some of whom were killed in the events. Egypt considered Qaddafi’s son statement about Egyptian expatriates helping the revolution as an incitement against Egyptians. Any other action by Egypt or other countries would be like a blood line extended freely to Qaddafi to extend his rule and procrastinate.

    It would be interesting to look at the tribal map and the allegiances of the various tribes,

    http://www.psp.org.lb/Default.aspx?tabid=107&articleType=ArticleView&articleId=55135

    Any external intervention has to be decisive in the sense of tipping the balance of power in favor of the revolutionaries. Otherwise, it will be counterproductive. Closing the airspace will only strengthen Qaddafi by giving him a free rallying cry to use with the tribes that are still supporting him.

    Defections from the army and the government are still ongoing. It is best to leave him fall by attrition than giving him a new blood line. Better still if someone kills him. But we are told he is under the constant watch of four virgin ‘angels’ from ‘heaven’ that have never been touched neither by ‘jinn’ nor by ‘human’.

    Posted by anonymous | February 23, 2011, 12:13 am
  17. ……..” And now to Lebanon, where the winds of change sweeping the region have failed to rustle any leaves in the land of the cedars, while the bedrock of Lebanese sectarianism remains firm even as the sands of Arab authoritarianism shift beneath the feet of their subjects…”

    May I?

    ……And now to Lebanon where the swirling siroccos barely stir the revolutionary needle in the land of the Cedars. The stable bedrock of Lebanese sectarianism remains even as the tectonic plates of Arab authoritarianism shift and grind beneath the feet of it’s subjects and satraps.

    Posted by lally | February 23, 2011, 1:43 am
  18. QN-IMVHO, meaningful changes to the political infrastructure in Lebanon are tied to a resolution of the Palestinian issue. Getting rid of that elephant in the room will shrink Lebanon to its real political size, and will mean less interference from outsiders who have only helped to stoke the fires of mistrust between the various sects. We will still have a lot to do on our own and we will have a real nation to build, but the issue of our lifetime that has been the impetus and excuse for most of our wars will have been laid to rest. Short of that, we will still be bickering for a while.

    Posted by Saint | February 23, 2011, 3:47 am
  19. There’s also an article in today’s L’Orient-Le Jour that discusses this very subject:

    Ces jeunes qui veulent « faire tomber le régime confessionnel »…

    Dans le sillage du vent de révolte qui souffle sur le monde arabe, des milliers de jeunes Libanais appellent sur Facebook à « faire tomber le régime confessionnel ». Un combat au pire improbable, au mieux de longue haleine, estiment des experts, interrogés par l’AFP.
    Reprenant à leur compte les slogans scandés en Tunisie et en Égypte, plusieurs pages intitulées « Le peuple libanais veut faire tomber le système confessionnel », ou encore « Journée de la colère contre le confessionnalisme, la corruption et la pauvreté » ont récemment fait leur apparition sur le site.

    « Jeunes du Liban, soulevons-nous contre l’oppression de ce régime », écrit Mahmoud al-Khatib sur la page http ://www.facebook.com/#!/lebrevolution, qui compte jusqu’à présent plus 10 000 « amis ». Mais ces mêmes jeunes, et des observateurs, sont convaincus que la particularité du système libanais rend plus difficile une réplique pure et simple des révoltes arabes.

    « Les Libanais se vantent tout le temps de leur liberté et de leur démocratie face aux pays arabes », affirme à l’AFP Hassan Chouman, informaticien de 24 ans, un sympathisant de ces pages. « Mais chez eux, il y a un seul dictateur, ici, nous en avons au moins sept ou huit », ironise-t-il, en référence aux leaders politiques représentant chacune des 18 communautés du pays. « Au Liban, la compétence ne compte pas. Chaque leader d’une communauté nomme à des postes sa “clique”, ce qui pourrit notre administration publique », affirme pour sa part Ghassan Azzi, professeur de sciences politiques à l’Université libanaise.
    Abolir ce système où tout le monde veut sa part du gâteau « est beaucoup plus difficile que de faire tomber un dictateur », dit-il. « Ici, si vous manifestez dans la rue, vous dirigez ça contre qui ? Quelle institution ? Quel groupe ? Il n’y a rien de palpable. » Selon lui, même des dirigeants soi-disant laïcs sont obligés d’intégrer le système pour « survivre politiquement ».
    Sur Facebook, certains écrivent même que « ce mouvement est voué à l’échec, à moins que chaque confession ne fasse tomber son propre leader ».

    Mais pour d’autres, les soulèvements arabes sont venus éveiller un ancien rêve, malgré les profondes divisions entre coalition pro-occidentale et bloc mené par le Hezbollah et alors que toute revendication sociale est immédiatement politisée.
    « La leçon à tirer des révolutions d’Égypte et de Tunisie, c’est qu’il faut mettre de côté les différends en vue d’un même objectif, soutient Abou Reem, 39 ans, administrateur de la page. Le peuple libanais veut faire tomber le système confessionnel. »
    Une réunion se tiendra en mars lorsque le nombre dépassera le cap des 10 000 sympathisants.

    Pour Antoine Messarra, membre du Conseil constitutionnel, « il faut commencer par respecter les règles de droit en promouvant les compétences, une éducation et une culture non confessionnelle et une meilleure relation État-citoyens ».
    Jusqu’à présent, les initiatives luttant contre le confessionnalisme, comme l’élection d’une partie des députés sur base non religieuse ou l’instauration du mariage civil (reconnu mais qui ne peut être célébré au Liban), sont restées lettre morte.

    Mais « rien n’est impossible, même si la route est longue », juge Abou Reem.

    Posted by mas | February 23, 2011, 7:11 am
  20. mas, I can stand 100% behind this movement to abolish confessionalism in Lebanon in one fell swoop. Nothing wrong with the shock treatment. “Just do it.”
    A commission can be formed to propose a new system and a migration plan, get the system and plan voted on by the people directly and then implement. It would have to be overseen by the Lebanese Army. No more Shi3a and Sunni and Orthodox and Armenian-Catholics, etc. but just citizens of Lebanon. Along with that must come one and only one Army, perhaps with a 5-year transition plan to fuse HA military into the Army, etc., proportional representation, rule of the majority and protection of the minority. It’s not like it will be the first country to do this. There are many successful systems that can be drawn upon (uh, copied, which the Lebanese are very good at doing. Theres’ no shame in copying something successful and adapting it to one’s circumstances. This is not academia and we’re not talking plagiarism either.)

    Yalla, QN, lead the way.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | February 23, 2011, 8:51 am
  21. Oh, uh, and here’s the tricky part: secular government and complete separation of church/mosque/temple and state. Tax-exempt status maybe but no political power or interference WHATSOEVR. (Which of course also means institution of civil marriage and other social elements to be implemented).

    Posted by Honest Patriot | February 23, 2011, 8:53 am
  22. Here’s a good write up on Naharnet:
    http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/NewsDesk.nsf/getstory?openform&0D2A22D743D6AC79C2257840003B2D7B

    Lebanon is unable to have any changes because of:

    A. The illegal arms in the hands of HA and other militias
    B. The illegal arms in the hands of Palestinians
    C. Most Lebanese are on the payroll of Iran/Syria/Qatar/KSA…among others. The rest are abusive rich warlords…

    …..

    Posted by danny | February 23, 2011, 8:54 am
  23. …To add: I do not see the sectarianism as an issue if the guns were removed from the equation. It is the fear of the “other” that has been used effectively to divide the nation. Without the coercive the gun; I believe Lebanese will shed their sectarian self and agree on a secular system.

    Posted by danny | February 23, 2011, 8:57 am
  24. The problem of Lebanon is 75% Syrian 20% Iranian and 5% internal.

    Syria urgently needs a comrade in misery. Just read comment #2 and laugh.

    Iran is exporting what it believes is a revolution and along with it sectarianism.

    The Lebanese have a tendency to listen to outsiders.

    Posted by anonymous | February 23, 2011, 9:50 am
  25. “At the end of the day, Lebanon is relatively inoculated from everything going on in the region precisely because of the lack of any credible center to rebel against. Who could possibly be the target of a nationwide revolt? Every political leader with enough clout to matter has his base, and the last time Lebanon successfully ‘revolted,’ it was only because there was a (foreign) regime to revolt against.”

    One could very easily say the same thing about Iraq, yet there have been widespread protests about corruption and lack of government services in the wake of Egypt there. And the country also has no shortage of Iranian, Syrian or Saudi meddling. So what differentiates Lebanon and Iraq?

    Posted by Will | February 23, 2011, 9:58 am
  26. Lally, very nice! 🙂

    Tectonic plates, another chestnut…

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 23, 2011, 10:55 am
  27. A couple links for your enjoyment:

    Here’s a list of supposedly untranslatable words in various languages, but I have a feeling that we’ve got one in Arabic for #9.

    And here’s the latest spoof to come out of the Qnion lab.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 23, 2011, 10:58 am
  28. GK,

    You’re just steamed that I likened the Kennedys to fief holders. 🙂

    But yes, the question’s come up many times of course. Well said at your site, including reference to little pyramids. You must have something to contribute to the metaphor fund!

    Ship of state, anyone?

    Posted by J of Chalcedon | February 23, 2011, 11:09 am
  29. Saint, you are 100% on target. Find a solution to the Palestinian issue and also the weapons issue. Only then can Lebanon start to free itself of sectarianism. These two issues are above all others for moving forward.

    Posted by imi | February 23, 2011, 12:26 pm
  30. J of C,
    If you are a resident of Bean Town maybe you can explain to me how a Kennedy fiefdom loses the election to unknown Brown 🙂

    Posted by ghassan karam | February 23, 2011, 12:45 pm
  31. Ghassan, David, and J of C:

    Curious what you guys make of this piece by Walter Armbrust at Jadaliyya…

    http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/717/the-revolution-against-neoliberalism

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 23, 2011, 12:46 pm
  32. It is well known that sectarianism, especially with the current political division, could me the main obstacle for any revolt by the Lebanese youths, But what is not understood, at least by me, is what would it take for Lebanese youths(especially followers of M8 and M14) to realize that they ultimately have the same aspiration and dreams of getting a better education, and promising jobs.
    Whether one supports M8 or M14, He/she has no running water, no electricity, and no basic services. Corruption does not discriminate against a young Lebanese who supports either camp. Pots holes in the roads of highways, inadequate sewer systems, and most, bribery at most government institutions do not discriminate either.
    During the first few days of the Egyptian revolution, I Wondered and asked ;How could an Egyptian security officer ,who gets paid less than $150/month by the Mubark regime, be convinced to go out there and shoot at his fellow citizen ? What are the incentives for such a low paid officer to kill for such regime? It seems that the answer is corruption, which compensate for the low salary. Basically the regime had, intentionally forced its citizens, and employees into corruption.
    Could it be that the leaderships is corrupting the society so that they maintain control of their supporters?
    I would imagine that people could have their political ,and sectarian differences, yet they should be able to find common issues , which both camp supporters care about.
    It’s beyond me why young educated Lebanese would chant and promise to scarify their lives for Berri, Geagea, Nassralla, Hariri,Jumbalt, Gemayle, …and so on ,when non of those leaders are willing to scarify anything ,at least, to provide basic services such as electricity, running water, safe roads, and so on.
    I think I asked more questions than answered any. lol

    Ghassan 15,
    The Arab league is a league of dictators to begin with. So you can’t accept a league of dictators to turn against dictatorships
    Just like we can imagine sectarian leaders of Lebanon to turn against sectarianism.

    Posted by The Prophet | February 23, 2011, 1:15 pm
  33. Ghassan 15,
    The Arab league is a league of dictators to begin with. So you can’t expect(instead of accept) a league of dictators to turn against dictatorships
    Just like we can imagine sectarian leaders of Lebanon to turn against sectarianism.

    Posted by The Prophet | February 23, 2011, 1:22 pm
  34. Akbar Palace says My sense is the Arab revolution has nothing to do with Israel and the people understand this.

    The walls of distrust were with the Arab despots, and so the Israeli bogeyman has suddenly disappeared.

    A few leaders like Nejad will try to recreate the issue, but the Arab people aren’t buying it. The Arab people know what they need, and it isn’t another war with the Zionist Entity.

    While I still think it is too early to tell, I agree with this completely. Unlike AIG’s previous comment (which seems somewhat opposed to your view here).

    I think revolutions of this sort have a way of doing away with charades and false bogeymen (speaking generally here).
    It has been pretty clear to me so far, that all 3 or 4 revolts we’ve seen have had NOTHING to do with anti-Americanism, arab-nationalism, Israel or Islamism.

    That is VERY encouraging.

    And yet another reason why I maintained in my statement above that these nations seem a lot more “mature” than Lebanon (where we DO seem to still be completely hoodwinked by false bogeymen such as “The shia are buying all our land” and “Israel is plotting to kill us all” and other fun conspiracies).

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | February 23, 2011, 1:53 pm
  35. Re: Lebanon.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.
    If sectarianism were abolished tomorrow, across the board, 95% of our problems would go away.

    I completely reject this notion that the Palestinian issue is our biggest problem.

    Without sectarianism, the Palestinian-Israeli issue simply becomes a national one, and one of refugees in a foreign country. An issue, mind you, but not a major one.

    The only reason the Palestinian issue is as big as it is: sectarianism (Tawteen).

    I’ll repeat. Abolish sectarianism tomorrow. With the stroke of a pen. And 99% of our problems go away.

    (Mind you, this does not address the HA weapons issue, but that one is less systemic, whereas sectarianism is an overarching systemic issue).

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | February 23, 2011, 2:01 pm
  36. The Palestinian refugee issue is one of the multiple symptoms of our sectarian illness. If we weren’t so sectarian we would have nationalized the Palestinians who almost 90 percent of them are born in Lebanon.

    Posted by V | February 23, 2011, 2:23 pm
  37. 8:00pm Al-Manar: Imam Moussa Sadr’s family has information confirming that he is still alive.

    What a breath of fresh air!

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | February 23, 2011, 2:39 pm
  38. I’d love to find out what really did happen to Imam Sadr. I’ve always been fascinated by that story.

    V, 36

    I agree. The Palestinian issue is merely an extension of the sectarian problem.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | February 23, 2011, 2:44 pm
  39. RTOTD, Indeed, A breath of fresh air.

    If this turns out to be true, Berri is having a heart attack now.

    Posted by The Prophet | February 23, 2011, 2:51 pm
  40. I call for granting all the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon the Lebanese citizenship immediately.

    The Syrians and the mullahs will then have less footprint in Lebanon.

    I also call for creating an army division made up of the newly naturalized Lebanese with the mission to patrol the Syrian borders and hunt for arms smugglers

    Posted by anonymous | February 23, 2011, 3:25 pm
  41. QN,
    The article by Walter Armbrust is detailed, well written and deserves a detailed answer which I cannot give at the moment. However let me take a few minutes to make a few observations:

    Overall, I am in agreement with practically everything said by Mr. Armburst. I think what worries me the most, and I have spoken about this earlier is the fact that the Army will NOT live up to expectations. I have no doubt that the new regime will be different and better than the one that it replaces but I am not certain that Egypt will be a democracy or that the changes will be deep. Cosmetic changes might contribute to a stronger and more comfortable feeling among the general population but that would be a far cry from unleaching the potential of a truly diverse society that protects human rights and accepts dissent. I just do not think that those who have been a part of the system are going to create a radically different structure. Why should they? The Egyptian uprising should have gone all the way out to demand a complete overhall of the whole structure.

    As to the potential size of the Mubarak estate I find myself also in agreement with the article by Walter Armbrust. Any wealth that exceeds a few million is bound to be illicit.I have always been a fan of the Lebanese principle that has never been put into exictense: Min Ayn Laka Hatha? ( How did you get what you have?)
    This principle would probably demonstrate that they are all thieves. This is where I have my major disagreement with Mr. Armbrust. I have often been very critical of Neoliberalism and I still am but to suggest that Neoliberalism is what led to the personal enrichment of Egyptian politicians is not fair. The corruption in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria etc.. is endemic. It is deep rooted and will not go away by changing a face here and a face there. The whole set up is corrupt and what is needed is the establishment of strong measures that will make it impossible for the public officials to benefit from the laws that they promolgate. It is true that some US politicians find a way to benefit from their political standing but in most cases when they are found out they are brought to court to account for their action . Even when they are not caught I do not know of any US public service billionaires.
    To say that the Egyptian system is Neoliberal is to say that the Soviet system was Marxist. Both are aberrations. This is not to defend neoliberalism but only to stress that it appears that the Egyptian politiians took advantage of privatizatuion to bilk the Egyptian people and to accumulate personal wealth. They have become Egypts version of Russia’s oligarchs. Hayek did not want to unleach government bureaucrats but individual “animal” spirits.

    Posted by ghassan karam | February 23, 2011, 3:32 pm
  42. I have just googled it. Imam Mousa Al Sadr would be only 85 years old. I was under the impression that he would be much older.

    Posted by ghassan karam | February 23, 2011, 3:36 pm
  43. Thanks Ghassan.

    The characterization of Egypt as a classic neoliberal state also struck me as a bit of an over-generalization. Also, while it may be appealing to compare Rumsfeld and Cheney’s public-private “partnerships” with the Mubaraks and Makhloufs of the world, isn’t there a line to be drawn between neoliberalism and oligarchy?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 23, 2011, 3:45 pm
  44. Re: neoliberalism

    It seems that both QN and GK need to do some serious reading about neoliberalism. The word indicates the contemporary state of capitalism as a dominant system in the United States, and increasingly so in various parts of the world. Academically, it is not just David Harvey that uses this designation, but various Foucauldian analyses (in political philosophy and in social sciences) and (post-)marxist analyses (cultural studies and social sicneces)–for example, Lazzarato and Stiegler, and Sloterdijk and Baumann, respectively.

    As a start, I am including a French description–followed by a rough English translation. Sorry about the space used, but I cannot link to the text since it is not published online.

    1- Le néolibéralisme privilégie les intérêts particuliers ainsi que les besoins et désirs individuels et non pas les buts à long terme des visions sociales de l’intérêt général (quelquefois associées à l’égalité, l’autonomie, ou le « progrès »). Les sujets consommateurs cherchent la satisfaction instantanée de leurs désirs et trouvent la liberté dans les « choix » qui leur sont immédiatement offerts. Même la responsabilité sociale est remplacée par la responsabilité individuelle. Ce qui est censé relever de l’intérêt général ne reflète que l’intérêt de l’individu consommateur.

    2- Ce qui passe pour une obligation sociale se rapporte aux individus et pas aux groupes ou aux communautés. En réalité, les institutions sociales sont obligées de rendre compte uniquement des biens et des services délivrés aux individus (contribuables et consommateurs) ; on ne s’intéresse plus à leurs contributions générales, au bien public ou à des processus de socialisation ou d’acculturation.

    3- L’approche économique centrale propre au néolibéralisme, qui cherche à satisfaire une clientèle particulière, n’a pas seulement changé les valeurs sociales mais aussi la politique. Les politiciens (qu’ils s’agissent des représentants élus ou des fonctionnaires) ne travaillent plus pour servir le peuple et pour organiser les communautés, en œuvrant pour le bien-être et l’équité (version libérale de l’état-providence), mais essaient de satisfaire leur « clientèle » en offrant de pourvoir aux besoins individuels immédiats des électeurs. La politique néolibérale n’a plus rien à voir avec des « citoyens » qui forment et transforment leur « communauté » ; il s’agit maintenant de consommateurs qui usent leur pouvoir (ou « liberté ») de choisir en exprimant leur satisfaction ou leur insatisfaction en votant – ou en s’abstenant de voter.

    4- La culture traditionnelle ou étatique est modifiée par les valeurs néolibérales qui sont pour la plupart économiques et qui abordent les « intérêts » comme étant liés à la satisfaction de besoins économiques (la capacité d’acquérir par le biais d’achat, afin de satisfaire le besoin primordial de consommer et où ce besoin est inévitablement intégré dans la production de subjectivités). L’identité culturelle devient, petit à petit, une identité de consommateur, où le consommateur est défini par les modes de vies et par les marques ou produits/services que l’individu vit/achète/consomme.

    5- Ainsi, dans la culture néolibérale, il ne s’agit plus d’individus mais plutôt d’un « marché » de biens et de services qui non seulement définit toute valeur mais est, en soi, la seule valeur universelle. Le sens et la valeur de la vie sont intimement liés avec le marché et ce que le marché offre – des gadgets aux produits ou services qui rendent la vie « agréable » et digne d’être vécue. Sans le marché, la vie n’aurait pas de sens.

    6- La spéculation financière centrale au néolibéralisme et les diverses pratiques sociales qui se rapportent à prendre des « risques » inéluctables reflètent les changements culturels, sociaux, politiques et économiques du capitalisme du « libre marché ». Les processus de vie et de l’expérience reproduisent les processus du « marché »: le marché fonctionne de façon mystérieuse, en produisant des moyens de satisfaire tout besoin et tout désir et ceci se fait de façon contingente, fondé sur un principe chaotique. L’absence de nécessité produit l’illusion d’une certaine forme de « liberté » où la transcendance est projetée sur l’immanence du marché et ses mystères.

    7- Les systèmes de savoir commencent à refléter les méthodes d’analyse du « marché » et des nouvelles « sciences économiques » qui interprètent contingence comme probabilité nécessaire et s’appliquent à étudier les entreprises et les relations corporatistes et de gestion, comme un microcosme de la vie dans l’ère du néolibéralisme. Les sciences sociales et les méthodes statistiques ainsi que des outils d’analyse comme les sondages et les questionnaires reproduisent la manière axiomatique et tautologique de « penser » le marché. La culture néolibérale ne s’intéresse plus à la recherche de la vérité mais plutôt à la construction de la vérité à partir des « données » qui peuvent mesurer la « performance » – selon Stiegler, « la performance en tant que quantification des qualités conçues comme avantages concurrentiels ». La recherche historique et généalogique n’est plus autant valorisée que la simple analyse pratique et concrète des « sciences » sociales utilisant des méthodes quantitatives ou expérimentales – où l’on peut prouver une hypothèse tautologiquement et où l’on se base sur des ensembles de données manipulables et offrant beaucoup plus de choix! Le rêve politique néolibéral est de transformer la société en entreprise et d’implanter les valeurs de ce microcosme d’efficacité dans toutes les institutions sociales. Cette efficacité est mystérieuse, bien sûr, comme celle du marché, mais elle pourrait être reproduite grâce aux méthodes de gestion « scientifiques » – qui utilisent « l’urgence » pour gérer (ou contrôler) effectivement. Réduire le coût de la main d’œuvre, par exemple, s’appliquerait partout où l’on désire maximiser le profit; réduire les coûts de n’importe quelle opération est considéré logique et rationnel.

    8- Mêmes les institutions pédagogiques doivent suivre ce modèle néolibéral de gestion, et doivent prouver leur efficacité en termes mesurables et même calculables. Les « réformes » des systèmes éducatifs visent donc à « un rendement maximal » où l’on peut quantifier une variété de performances – tout ce qui n’est pas calculable devient caduc ou bien est mesuré par une formule axiomatique et tautologique. Les méthodes déterminantes et réductives des sciences sociales deviennent le passe-partout des savoirs. Les institutions d’enseignement sont transformées pour contribuer à ce que Stiegler appelle « la prolétarisation du consommateur » – « le consommateur perd son savoir-vivre en tant que façon singulière d’être au monde, c’est-à-dire d’exister ».

    9- Les discours et les pratiques dominants qui valorisent le déterminé et le gérable (mesurer, calculer, évaluer, rationaliser, réorganiser, augmenter la productivité et l’efficacité, etc.) représentent une tendance néolibérale à s’opposer et à éliminer toute résistance à l’objectif (délusoire ou pas) du capitalisme contemporain : le contrôle du temps, du travail, tout comme de la vie et la domination des formes de production de subjectivités – de façon à circonscrire toutes formes d’auto-subjectivation et/ou tous les moyens (contre-discours, contre-pratiques, etc.) de transformation sociaux, politiques, ou économiques. Des ensembles de forces, de stratégies et de tactiques qui contribuent à la consolidation du système-monde capitaliste contemporain sont effectivement en train de réassembler nos mondes et nos façons de vivre, ainsi que nos ontologies et nos épistémologies.

    ====
    ENGLISH (ROUGH) VERSION

    1- Neoliberalism favors special interests and the individual needs and desires and not the long-term goals of social visions or of the general interest (sometimes associated with equality, autonomy, or “progress”). Neoliberal subjects are constructed not as free thinkers and active participants in their social and political affairs, but as consumers seeking instant gratification of their desires and finding freedom in the “choice” offered to them immediately. Social responsibility is replaced by individual responsibility and both are now geared exclusively towards economic interests—instead of any number of social “goods”.

    2 – What passes for social obligation relates to individuals and not to groups or communities. In fact, social institutions are evaluated based only on goods and services delivered to individuals (taxpayers and consumers) instead of being evaluated for their general contributions to the public good or to socialization or acculturation processes.

    3 – The central economic approach proper to neoliberalism has not only changed social values but also politics. Politicians (be they elected officials or civil servants) are no longer working to serve the people and for organizing communities, working for the welfare and equity (liberal version of the welfare state) but trying to satisfy their “customers” by offering to provide for the immediate needs of individual voters. Neoliberal policy has nothing to do with “citizens” that shape and transform their “community”…

    4 – Traditional culture is affected by neoliberal values that are primarily economic and only address “interests” as related to the satisfaction of economic needs (the ability to acquire through purchase, to meet the overwhelming need to consume and where the need is inevitably embedded in the production of subjectivities). Cultural identity becomes gradually identity of the consumer, the consumer is defined by lifestyle and by the brands or products / services that the individual lives / buy / consume—thus, in the neo-liberal culture, only a “market” for goods and services defines value and is, in itself, the only universal value. The meaning and value of life are intimately linked with the market and what the market offers – gadgets, products, or services that make life “comfortable” and worth living—while ensuring that these products and services cost as little as possible (no matter the damage/non-economic “cost” to society, to communities, to individuals, or to the environment).

    5 – Knowledge systems are beginning to reflect the methods of analysis of the “market” and new “economics” as a contingency that interpret and apply probability necessary to study businesses and corporatist relations and management, as a microcosm of life in the era of neoliberalism. Social science and statistical methods and analysis tools such as surveys and questionnaires reproduce as axiomatic and tautological to “think” the market. Neoliberal culture no longer interested in seeking the truth but rather to the construction of truth from the “data” that can measure the “performance” – according to Stiegler, “performance as a quantification of qualities designed as competitive advantages. ” The historical and genealogical research is not valued as much as the simple practical analysis and practical “science” social use of quantitative methods and experimental – which can prove a hypothesis tautologically and where it is based on sets of manipulated data and providing many more choices! The neoliberal political dream is to transform the company into business and implement the values of this microcosm of efficiency in all social institutions. This efficiency is mysterious, of course, like the market, but it could be replicated using the methods of management “science” – using “emergency” to manage (or control) actually. Reduce the cost of labor, for example, would apply wherever you wish to maximize profit, reduce the cost of any operation is considered logical and rational.

    8 – Even the educational institutions must follow the neoliberal model of management, and must prove their effectiveness in measurable terms and even computable. The “reforms” of education systems are thus designed to “maximum performance” where one can quantify a variety of performances – everything that is not calculable lapses or is measured by a formula axiomatic and tautological. Methods Identifying and Reducing the social sciences become boilerplate knowledge. Educational institutions are transformed to contribute to what Stiegler calls “the proletarianization of the consumer” – “the consumer loses his decency as a singular way of being in the world, that is to say there .

    9 – The dominant discourses and practices that enhance the determined and manageable (measure, calculate, evaluate, streamline, reorganize, increase productivity and efficiency, etc..) Represent a neoliberal tendency to oppose and eliminate all resistance target (délusoire or not) of contemporary capitalism: the control of time, labor, as life forms and the dominance of production of subjectivity – in order to identify all forms of self-subjectification and / or all means (cons-speech-cons practices, etc..) transform social, political, or economic. Sets of forces, strategies and tactics that contribute to the consolidation of the contemporary capitalist world-system are actually trying to reassemble our worlds and our lifestyles and our ontology and our epistemologies.

    Posted by parrhesia | February 23, 2011, 5:37 pm
  45. The revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt went smoothly because those countries have homogenous undivided population (majority are Sunnis).
    In countries like Lebanon where there’s a vertical divide, it’s very hard for a revolution to succeed. We had our revolution when we pushed Syria out in 2005, but M14 failed because there was a major part of the population against this revolution (mainly Shiites). We may argue that M14 made errors, but I believe no matter how brilliant they would have been, they will still have failed.
    Unless we find ‘one idea’ that can unite all of us, there is no way to build a country, and we certainly can’t do this through a revolution.

    Posted by Wael | February 23, 2011, 5:41 pm
  46. There is Hope….

    The Arab revolt has spread to Arabia [we’re dropping the descriptor “Saudi” since that will, in the near future, no longer be the name of the country currently known as “Saudi Arabia.”] 22 Feb 2011 — Some 100 youth took to the streets of Hafar Al Batin, calling for the end of the Saudi regime. Hafar Al Batin is a city in northeast Arabia. The Crypto-Zionist Saudi regime, through media propaganda, has devoted attention to the return of King Abdullah II after his recent surgery in Morocco. Arabians are infuriated about the lack of government response to the floods in Jeddah and the fact that Abdullah did not do anything about the damage caused by the floods. On the eve of Abdullah’s return, Arabians took to the streets calling on Abdullah not to return, chanting “we don’t need you.” No news agency has covered the Arabian protests, except Islah TV, which has confirmed the news. People in Arabia now say “Enough is Enough.” We are told there will be a big uprising in the coming days in Arabia. Islamic Ummah Party calls for reforms. Opposition says Sauds are not the only ones who have right to rule the country….

    Abdullah welcomed to Riyadh by Bahrain King Hamad….LOL

    Posted by HK | February 23, 2011, 5:45 pm
  47. HK

    Did you get the email I sent you to the address you provided in your comment? If that is not a real email address, please send me a workable one via the contact form on the “About” page.

    Thanks

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 23, 2011, 5:47 pm
  48. The ones that are to blame for Lebanon’s sectarianism are the clergy heads that have been plaguing Lebanese society since I was born.

    The fact that they collectively have not been able to come up with a sustainable “humanitarian” agenda to abolish sectarianism in Lebanon is disgusting.

    They have failed their country, their religion and humanity.

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | February 23, 2011, 6:57 pm
  49. The ones that are to blame for Lebanon’s sectarianism are the clergy heads that have been plaguing Lebanese society since I was born.

    The fact that they collectively have not been able to come up with a sustainable “humanitarian” agenda to abolish sectarianism in Lebanon is disgusting.

    They have failed their country, their religion and humanity.

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | February 23, 2011, 6:57 pm
  50. RTOTD
    Oh how I disagree with this assessment. The clergy are acting like any rational human being who would take advantage of an opportunity to maximize personal welfare. The power of the clergy is given to them by their flock. If anyone is to blame for the power being in the wrong hands then let us be honest and blame those that are in a position to take the power that they have previously dispensed to clergy, feudal lords, zoamah…

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | February 23, 2011, 7:05 pm
  51. GK,

    Apart from GMA putting a gun to the Patriarch’s head, back in the good old days, when has the clergy had to negotiate under the barrel of a gun?

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | February 23, 2011, 7:11 pm
  52. parrehsia #44,
    Thank you for taking the time to translate that lengthy post about neoliberalism. May I ask what is it that you object to in my use of the term?
    I have presented over 4 papers in various academic conferences about neoliberalism and it does form a major portion of a course that I have teach about Globalization.
    Neo liberalism essentially is market fundamentalism full stop, point a la linge 🙂 The best expression of its ideas are to be found in Hayek and Friedman.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | February 23, 2011, 7:18 pm
  53. What kept them from refraining that Maronites can “love” and marry Sunnis or Shi’ites or Druze or whatnot?

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | February 23, 2011, 7:18 pm
  54. Who put up and still puts up these barriers in our country?

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | February 23, 2011, 7:23 pm
  55. RTOTD
    Why should the clergy have the power to negotiate anything besides the price of saving souls 🙂
    Wouldn’t it be a shock to them if they make political statements and no one listens to them. They feel that they can negotiate on behalf of a group of people only because that group allows them to negotiate on their behalf. What we need to do is develop the maturity to realize that men of the cloth have nothing valuable to say about politics and so we should neither seek their advice nor listen to them when they offer it . Only then would they retreat to their lifes chosen vocation: promoting myths about God and creation.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | February 23, 2011, 7:25 pm
  56. from my understanding is Neoliberalism just a sugar coated political label that really means corruption without limits in a dog eat dog world?

    Posted by Maverick | February 23, 2011, 7:29 pm
  57. GK,
    true, but reality is they have the invisible power of persuading their flock into life choices from the macro to the micro.
    Most of the sermons are political,and even dictating social norms to the masses.Not forgetting the institualization of the individual from birth to the schooling years.
    Coupled with the fear of the “other”, sects or confessions provide that secure blanket of identity and a sense of belonging. In a way, the men of cloth and the Zuama are very much the same.
    Secularization is a huge undertaking in Lebanon. Only something very creative will start breaking the chains.

    Posted by Maverick | February 23, 2011, 7:42 pm
  58. Execuse My ignorance about this topic,but
    Last time I read the term ,Neoliberalism is when someone was describing Gamal Mubatak .
    Maybe some one can explain this for me.lol

    Posted by The Prophet | February 23, 2011, 7:46 pm
  59. Maverick #56,
    I feel as if we have opened a can of worms by using this term. Neo Liberals are exactly what the term says. They are people who value personal liberty above anything else in economic matters. That is why they push for privatization and transparency. They do not believe that there is a positive role for the state to play. The stae is inefficient by design because it does not react to market signals as quickly as a private enterprise.
    The most important political figures who pushed the idea of neoliberalism are two: The iron lady; Margaret Thatcher and her US counterpart Ronald Reagan. Thatcher was one of the best disciples of Hayek.
    All what you need to know to understand Hayek is the title of his major work: Road to Serfdom. ( He argued that socialism is a road to serfdom. The real theoretical work was done by his mentor Von Mises).

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | February 23, 2011, 7:49 pm
  60. prophet #58,
    It really is not as confusing as it sounds. Think of it this way, a neoliberal is a person who believes in market fetichism. The market is king i.e. neoliberals are conservatives 🙂
    Of course the Mubaraks would claim to be neoliberals but a fundamental principle of neoliberalism is transparency. It would not allow a government official to profit from the laws that they are enacting. It does not condone allowing the Mubaraks to make billions.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | February 23, 2011, 7:58 pm
  61. Thanks Ghassan,

    So The Mubaraks and the rest of Arab dictators put a fine twist on the term Neo liberal; They would not allow a government to make profit, yet they allows themselves to make profit using the government wealth and tools..lol

    Posted by The Prophet | February 23, 2011, 8:09 pm
  62. Lebanon has already had a major/volcanic change in the confines of its system. Its obvious Lebanon is at the mercy of a Saudi led pro western bloc vs the Iranian/Syrian bloc. The turmoil in the middle east is only strengthening the “anti western” pro syrian/iranian axis. The geopolitical ramifications will have reverberating and lasting effects on Lebanon for years to come.

    Look back to 2003, the fall of the sunni Saddam regime replaced with a shia led government (sympathetic to Tehran) in Iraq that still makes Saudi/Jordanian govts and other pro western countries nervous till this day, score M8 +1

    The Egyptian government was a card carrying M14 supporter, its government has collapsed, score M8 +2.

    Tunisia’s western allied president was forced out of office and is teetering to life in Saudi Arabia, score M8 +3.

    Bahrain’s unrest – does not bode well for Saudi which wants to keep its own shia citizens of the eastern province (true heirs of the oil fortune of arabia a story for another day) under control. Democratic movements in Bahrain weakens everyone from Saudi to America, score M8, +4

    Libya, while no true friend of the M14, he is clearly despised by M8 forces. He has clearly been cradled by western governments in the past few years, but because Qaddafi is a looney toon it has been easy for his new baby sitters to distance themselves from him. His impending collapse makes the pro western pro M14 leaders from Saudi to Jordan nervous (any collapsing government makes them nervous), and that means score M8 +5.

    Iranian nuclear issue, STL, 1559, diplomatic shuttles from europe, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, to Lebanon etc etc are not on my news feed recently. My point is no one cares to visit the M14 camp, they thrived on attention from the western allies when not much else was going on in the autocratic middle east. score M8 +6.

    How can we forget the “democratic” overthrow of the pro western/Saudi Hariri led M14 camp not too long ago. A lousy and uninspiring protest movement for the only representative of the sunni community failed to draw a few people to their daily protests, and we won’t get into the day of rage. Double the points for M8 score +8.

    never in recent memory has Saudi Arabia/America been so weak in the region, saudi is stretched from yemen to libya. M14 thrives on attention from their allies, and its clear their attention is elsewhere. The status quo favored the west and pro western governments, with the middle east burning, Syria and Iran’s hands are strengthened.

    Posted by tamer k. | February 23, 2011, 9:40 pm
  63. QN,

    Weak sauce; could not even get through the whole thing. Not to step on GK’s esteemable toes, but better to think of neoliberalism as a discusive practice, because its application, even when administered by its theoretical high priests, is always so uneven, within and across economic sectors.

    Also cannot really talk about neoliberalism, or the Infitah, without also talking about ISI, ie locating it within the history of Egypt’s economic development over the 80+ years.

    Not to say it cannot be an effective way to promote or criticize individual economic policies/decisions, but macro-theory is for the birds … the angry ones … Ad hocism is more accurate: slings, arrows, and other outrageous fortunes …

    Posted by david | February 23, 2011, 11:11 pm
  64. Tamerk,

    I would hardly list Tunisia and Egypt victories for the anti-american, pro-Iranian side. Not by a long shot.
    None of these revolutions had anything to do with aligning against the US or with Iran.
    Neither did they have anything to do with Islamism.
    People demanding freedom does not make it a victory for M8.
    If anything, I say the mullahs in Iran are more worried now about their own populace.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | February 23, 2011, 11:34 pm
  65. Tamer k,

    So how would your counter go when Iran and Syria are toppled?

    I agree with BV, this has nothing to do with external relations and politics. Everybody is waiting to see who will take over.

    Posted by LebanesePatriot | February 23, 2011, 11:40 pm
  66. Check this out:

    It made my day 🙂

    Posted by LebanesePatriot | February 23, 2011, 11:42 pm
  67. tamer K,

    If it were a game show,perhaps the scores would be accurate. Too bad reality doesnt come with the background music. The paradigm shift everyone is talking about is beyond the silly confines of local Lebanese politics.it is quite narrow minded thinking to view the change in recent times from a bi focal perspective. M8/M14, West axis/ Iran-Syria etc….if this were a game, the losers would be authoritarian rule,totalitarian rulers,and dictators,to name a few, and the last I checked Iran/Syria fit snuggly into those categories.
    Unless they embark on a reform phase,they too might just meet the same fate so dont get too excited. 🙂

    Posted by Maverick | February 24, 2011, 1:33 am
  68. I am not arguing that these regimes were toppled because of their pro american stances, yes it is simply a revolution by the people for rights, and a brighter economic/social future. My statement is a stretch, but my point was to point out that the countries on fire by their people today are not the despotic regimes in Syria and Iran. They are mostly pro american despotic regimes that are facing the most pressure and by that standard alone Syria/Iran are “winning.”

    Posted by tamer k. | February 24, 2011, 2:33 am
  69. Allow me to respond to the previous Post by QN Re. HP@51….and a few others on the July 2006 advanced planning, etc…..

    I will borrow a line from GK…: The line from Luke:

    “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You pure hypocrites…., and I will add obvious Sectarian Bigots par excellence despite the “lovely” Prose…., Anon, Danny and All the others… I fully agree with Saint .” No one is a robot, except Anon, Danny and a few others, and everyone appreciates QN and would like it to live for ever and ever, it’s absolutely delightful to read the “fringes”….more than 2/3 majority of Lebanese support the Valiant Resistance of our National Heroes, Hezbollah…, and if Switzerland, Denmark or Norway would like to help them instead of Iran…we are all for it….Even God’s help is forthcoming with the ouster of Mubatrak…, and the Kaddafi clan of killers in Libya…, whereby we will soon find out eventually the real fate of Imam Moussa Al-Sadr and his companion at long last….

    Go, Resistance GO, we stand with you united for ever.

    Whenever I see a post from Anonymous, Danny, V, BV, and a few others here…., I see a black SS&Israeli caps on their heads with a silver skull and crossbones, over a map of Lebanon! But Hey, they are free to babble…, they will always be the losers and the Resistance will always get the Honors now and in History. That is a familiar theory of “group thinking” whereby every one thinks the same way and any evidence to the contrary is automatically dismissed because it doesn’t fit in with that thinking….often sectarian and bigoted in nature towards the valiant Resistance.

    Today, the world witnesses a new sense of Arab unity and identity especially among the educated youth with their social media and generally modernist self-identity. For older generations, memories of Nasser and pan-Arabism return.

    This new sense of Arab identity drives the re-awakening of a culture of resistance which, for now, is a resistance to local tyrants. It is inevitable as the democratization process continues, in whatever form, that a renewed culture of resistance to Israel will develop given decades of aggressive Israeli behavior.

    Egypt’s special relationship with Israel was organized under pressure from Washington during the Sadat years with the 1979 peace treaty is the pivot. The treaty neutralized Egypt and removed Israeli concerns about a southern front. Israel thus gained a “free hand” for regional aggression. Wars against Lebanon and increased repression of the Palestinians followed….

    HP@51 and others…., attempted a revision of what happened on the eve of the 2006 war, but failed/omitted or forgot to mention what we now know for sure, given the various disclosures after the 2006 war on Lebanon, that the US/Israeli military planners had put in place a formidable attack which was going to be launched against Lebanon in the fall of 2006, precisely on the Jerusalem day parade of Hezbollah…, whereby thousands would have been killed in a day….Thanks heavens that this atrocious plan was never given a chance….

    Instead, we should teach Lebanese the actual history – in particular, how ‘international guarantees’ turned to ashes (e.g. no response to Israelis violating repeatedly the 1949 Armistice lines since 1949…., the massacres in Houla come to mind… etc,…), and how the decision to avoid acting because of an imagined fear of the ‘International community’ since 1949, nearly led to disaster in 82, 93, 96, 2006 and counting….

    Israelis are never going to love the Lebanese but if Lebanon’s Resistance defeats them, they will fear and respect the Lebanese…. And fear is a stronger motivator of human behavior than love…. Lebanon was not doing the Israelis any favor with the phony havlagah/self defense/neutrality doctrines…. that’s been around since the 1940s…. Allowing your own people/Lebanese to be murdered repeatedly to placate the Israelis and the so-called international community…. is immoral as well showing them you have no self-respect…. The Israelis have a certain way of dealing with others and Lebanon must always deal with them on those terms…. Period

    Patriotism in the most elementary sense of the term (the word derives from the Latin patria or “fatherland”), suggests the loyalty that all citizens owe to their country and nation… Therefore, I am a Lebanese Patriot, and I fully support Hezbollah and the Valiant Lebanese Resistance to Hubris aggressions since 1948….

    Only then will there be peace in the Middle East…., Just may be !!!

    But, there is hope in what V said about the ultimate ROBOT, Anonymous….

    http://echkelon.blogspot.com/2011/02/beware-governments-avatars-especially.html

    “One wonders if there is hope for Lebanon…

    With sick, racist, bigoted, and blatantly Sectarian Lebanese like anonymous who can barely hide his or her venomous feelings toward the Shia’a stopping short of calling them all “Koffar” a la Abu Mos3ab al Zarqawi, who thinks “article j of the preamble to the Lebanese constitution is Lebanon’s best hope” but doesn’t tell us how he plans to coexist with the “Shia’a nightmare”. who still bases arguments on statements such as “the Sunnis who are perhaps the largest component of the population” who is immoral and shameless enough to claim there is no corruption in Bahrain and justifies the massacres there by alluding that the demonstrators are Shia thus they are instigated by Iran and serve the Iranians.
    And this sicko lives in Canada or the USA where he should have learned what democracy is all about.

    And this is only a tiny example.. sure there is hope”….in the Valiant Resistance for Ever to defend Lebanon against the war criminals next door.

    Posted by HK | February 24, 2011, 9:25 am
  70. GK, QN, David,

    Re Armbrust: I buy it, with reservations about the reliance on Klein’s idea of “shock.” Leave Cheney and Rumsfeld out of it, take southern cone examples instead, and I think it stops looking like a choice between neoliberalism and oligarchy. You can have both! Enjoy!

    Posted by J of Chalcedon | February 24, 2011, 9:51 am
  71. HK says “And fear is a stronger motivator of human behavior than love….”

    OBVIOUSLY HK you have never heard the Beatles song:
    “All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
    All you need is love (all together now)
    All you need is love (everybody)
    All you need is love, love, love is all you need.”

    By the way just a little clarification here and speaking for myself only.
    I personally have no issue or problem with the Resistance, I value what anyone has sacrificed to liberate the land from any occupation not just Israeli. But now the land is free and it is time to build our country Lebanon, I think we all have sacrificed more than enough; i am not willing to sacrifice my South my Khiam again for the sake of liberating Jerusalem or Iran’s or anyone’s sake. I want a true democracy i want justice and equality in Lebanon for all and mostly i want PEACE with everyone starting with our Jewish brothers our neighbors to the South the Israelis. You and others may think I am weak or I am a dreamer “but I am not the only one” in the end peace and nothing else makes sense in this life.

    Welcome back to QN 🙂

    Posted by V | February 24, 2011, 10:07 am
  72. Thanks V,

    We are on the same wavelength in general….But Peace with Strength…and a comprehensive Peace.

    Posted by HK | February 24, 2011, 10:21 am
  73. HK, it has been hard, at least for me, to figure out what you really stand for and support and what you condemn. Part of the reason is perhaps the length of your posts and, in the early ones, a plethora of links and copied material.
    I remember in one of the early posts that I asked you to list for-or-against on a list of personalities and you declined thinking it was a cute joke. It wasn’t. Perhaps you can state in a few bullets what/whom you support and what/whom you don’t.

    For example, I can see that you are strongly in favor of HA and the Resistance and I take this to mean that you are also in support of them keeping their weapons as they have them now. Correct?
    I can see that you accuse Israel of wanting bad things for Lebanon. Correct?
    Could you please take the time to – as succinctly as you can – list those bullets for those of us who are not so brilliant as to decipher the signal from the noise in your generously rich prose? Was shookran jazeelan.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | February 24, 2011, 10:53 am
  74. HK, you may be on the same wavelength as V but you sure are at a different frequency. This is because you two operate in different propagation media and your speed of propagation is very different. You go an order of magnitude faster. To recap:
    Speed of propagation = frequency x wavelength
    Wavelength = Speed/frequency
    Speed(HK)= 10 x Speed(V)
    Frequency(HK) = 10 x Frequency (V)
    Wavelength (HK) = Wavelength(V)
    q.e.d.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | February 24, 2011, 10:57 am
  75. …and who said the school was out? 😀

    Posted by danny | February 24, 2011, 11:07 am
  76. HP, You got it exactly right no need to explain anything more…

    I will repeat:

    I fully support the Resistance of Hezbollah and I have absolutely no fear of any hidden designs of Hizbullah now or in the future…
    I don’t think, in fact I do know that SHN had nothing to do with assassinations in Lebanon….despite STL shenanigans, who are trying to have Hizbullah hold the bag for others… i.e. Syria and specifically Asef Shawkat working within confines of the Infamous White House Murder INC,…

    I absolutely want Hizbullah to retain and improve their capabilities, because the Lebanese state will be incapable of defending Baabda anytime soon…., let alone the South or the Bekaa for that matter…, and I do not see the state of Lebanon being able to effectively defend the Southern Lebanese from Israeli aggressions….., even a hundred years from now…and even if our Republic is reformed or deconfessionalized….:) it will be unable to defend anyone or anything against external threats….

    Last but not least, I seek Justice for the assassination of Mr. Elie Hobeika…, who was murdered by Asef Shawkat and the Infamous White House Murder INC,… and I have expanded on that earlier…, and I will not pester you with this again. Whoever is interested in my infos. can go back to my earlier posts on the subject of assassinations and STL. etc.

    Posted by HK | February 24, 2011, 11:12 am
  77. Alice Cooper???

    Posted by marillionlb | February 24, 2011, 11:47 am
  78. Qaddafi forces slay injured protestors in hospitals

    Posted by PeterinDubai | February 24, 2011, 12:45 pm
  79. Well, i usually rail at Aoun for his hypocrisy. BUT THIS HERE TAKES THE CAKE!

    “It is said that the president has some demands that are hindering cabinet formation. I think that the subject of the presidency is perhaps entirely up for discussion today,” Arab Tawhid Party leader Wiam Wahhab said on Thursday.

    According to the National News Agency, Wahhab said that President Michel Sleiman’s election required an amendment to the constitution that never took place.

    “There is talk of challenging this, since [the election] was not conducted in a constitutional way, but rather in a politically condescending way with interference from abroad.”

    Mind you. I recall myself and Ghassan here both repeating ad nauseam that Suleiman’s election was indeed unconstitutional.
    But NO ONE at the time seemed to care.
    I still find it ridiculously hypocritical that this clown is bringing this up now.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | February 24, 2011, 3:10 pm
  80. Israelis are claiming Qaddafi as one of their own.

    OK take him.

    Posted by anonymous | February 24, 2011, 3:13 pm
  81. BV,
    If My memory does not fail me, only two PM said that a constitutional amendment was required before Suleiman can be legally elected. Hussein Husseini,and Boutross Harb.
    Husseini resigned immediately.
    I can’t imagine a government being formed any time soon.
    Just refreshing your memory of the comment I made after Hariri government was brought down,where I predicted that Lebanese won’t have a government for a long time.
    Taeif agreement has failed, and Daouha collapsed. The president was a product of Douha agreement ,so don’t be surprised If He gets pushed out or around.
    Unless there is an other agreement brokered at some city( not an Arabic one though),Lebanon is moving toward the unknown.Such an agreement would serve as a pain killer to a migraine headache.
    The sad part is that Lebanese seem to believe that they are insulated from the turbulence taking place in the Arab world.And that Arab regimes are busy trying to save themselves,and have no time for Lebanese politics.

    Posted by The Prophet | February 24, 2011, 4:03 pm
  82. GK, #52

    Neoliberalism is not an economic system; it is geocultural system that produces subjectivities, taking away any “freedom” or desire for “participatory democracy.” My criticism is that you only approached neoliberalism as an economic system; it is NOT–as approached by non-economic scholarship.

    The main argument about Egypt, what is not as explicitly stated in Armbrust, is that since Egypt is an example of a neoliberal state (not just controlled by an oligarchy, but where the population is pacified and controlled through the normalization of economic realities) it is interesting that suhc an uprising as a “communal” rebellion could happen. In the United States, the foremost example of neoliberalism, no such commuinal uprising is imaginable–only disgruntled consumers (of goods, services and/or ideologies) are produced in neoliberalism: no one thinks about the future, or about social interets!

    Anyway, I will not repeat what is clearly outlined above; I was recommending some reading outside of economics –neoliberalism is under study by various fields. The main point is that it is no longer an economic system which preserves “rational choice” (your favorite) but a cultural system that transforms politics and societies by stripping individuals of any real freedom and repalcing informed choices by consumer selections…

    Posted by parrhesia | February 24, 2011, 4:15 pm
  83. Prophet,

    Agreed. I made the same prediction that there wouldn’t be a government, and that we’d find ourselves in something very similar to the vacuum of 2006-2008.

    As for the Lebanese having their heads up their proverbial asses. Well, let’s just say no surprise there, par for the course.
    And yeah, I keep hearing how Lebanon is somehow immune to all this mischief. Hah!

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | February 24, 2011, 4:58 pm
  84. And on that topic. And since I’ve made the statement that I deem the Lebanese less “mature” than other Arab countries.

    I’ll provide exhibit A to back up my claims 🙂

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110224/ap_on_re_af/af_libya_the_east

    “Just days after the last government forces fled, the city appears orderly, with cars stopping at traffic lights, stores open and a new local government emerging where once all forms of social organizing were ruthlessly suppressed.” (Benghazi).

    Following the example of their Egyptian neighbors, the Libyans quickly formed popular committees to guarantee basic security and began to talk to local academics, lawyers and experts to figure out how to run the city they had inherited.

    The result, announced Thursday, was a 15-person city council of prominent figures (sic)..

    Now I ask you this: Can you picture this happening in Lebanon? People still stopping for traffic lights? Oh wait, they don’t even do that now…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | February 24, 2011, 6:27 pm
  85. While I still think it is too early to tell, I agree with this completely.

    BV,

    Per our earlier posts on this thread, although we both are fairly certain what is going on in the ME is internal, I’m not getting a “warm fuzzy” it is going to continue as such.

    Perhaps I was naive, but Hamas and their idealogues in Iran are trying to the usual: bring the Israelis into the picture. I suppose they feel this is the bast way to delect attention away from their own failings.

    Saddam did the same thing with the Scuds.

    This is THE modus operandi of the typical ME despot.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | February 24, 2011, 6:30 pm
  86. QN – What would it cost to provide a spell check feature?

    Mon dieu!

    Posted by Akbar Palace | February 24, 2011, 6:31 pm
  87. AK, If YOU use chrome instead of INTERNET EXPLORER, you will get automatic spell check when typing on QN.
    Much faster than IE.

    Posted by The Prophet | February 24, 2011, 6:47 pm
  88. AP: QN – What would it cost to provide a spell check feature?
    When you have to ask you(he) can’t afford it!

    psell chicking ist two espensiv

    Posted by Honest Patriot | February 24, 2011, 6:48 pm
  89. Chrome Shrome, I’ve seen so many spelling errors from your Holiness, Master Prophet! What gives?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | February 24, 2011, 6:49 pm
  90. 87 was meant for AP.

    Posted by The Prophet | February 24, 2011, 6:49 pm
  91. HP,My holly spell check must be defected.lol
    I usually comment while at work, so please pardon my editing(hardly done).lol

    Posted by The Prophet | February 24, 2011, 6:57 pm
  92. #84,

    OMG!!! are the Libyans actually practicing Political Anarchy?

    Or is political Anarchy a natural process in absence of Govt.

    heres sumthn a lil heart warming for all the pessimists, haters, and those who think these revolutions are Anti-American.

    Posted by Maverick | February 24, 2011, 7:02 pm
  93. That video just made me teary eyed…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | February 24, 2011, 7:11 pm
  94. Again, I can’t see the Lebanese demonstrating that kind of maturity as I’m seeing in Libya now.
    And this, from a people who spent the past 40 years in a virtual prison of sorts.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | February 24, 2011, 7:13 pm
  95. uh, “maturity” ??
    Remember March 14? This in particular:

    Posted by Honest Patriot | February 24, 2011, 7:24 pm
  96. I’ve been thinking; Lebanese can learn so much from Egyptians and Libyans.Many of us Lebanese have had an arrogant attitude regarding other Arabs,where we thought we are more civil and more modern.
    Comparing How Lebanese demonstrate in the streets of Beirut or Tripoli to the Libyans and Egyptians carry themselves, makes you wonder how Lebanese got that attitude.
    Watching the Egyptians clean up liberation square,and the Libyans clean up the streets of Beghazi(in the absence of authority),and comparing that to the way Lebanese burn cars, destroy public and private properties during demonstrations.
    Not to mention, our slogans insults,and threats toward each other.
    I hope we can learn few things.

    Posted by The Prophet | February 24, 2011, 7:29 pm
  97. Prophet, again, go back to March 14, 2005. These were not ants or bees. These were our Lebanese compatriots. They included folks who had never before in their life demonstrated. It was inspiring, righteous, civilized, determined, and effective.
    What happened next is a travesty: hijacking by fiat and force, a series of additional intimidating assassinations, the reversal of a traitor megalomaniac, all culminating in a vicious military take-over on May 7 of 2008.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | February 24, 2011, 7:33 pm
  98. HP
    Maybe I was to harsh on my fellow Lebanese.
    But Both M8 and M14 protests had their bad moments.

    Posted by The Prophet | February 24, 2011, 7:44 pm
  99. HP,

    That was ONE moment of SPEECHES.
    You cannot compare M14, 2005 to what the Libyans and Egyptians have done.
    Not even close.
    The day we not only throw out all these clowns that claim to lead us AND keep ourselves united and organized in a way to self-govern (even if temporarily) and as Prophet mentioned, clean up our streets ourselves, etc…
    THEN we can talk.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | February 24, 2011, 7:50 pm
  100. Prophet says it well in #96.
    Lebanese like to act superior and mock Egyptians and other Arabs.
    But really, the Lebanese have done very little to show any kind of maturity to me. That M14 2005 stuff doesn’t show me enough.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | February 24, 2011, 7:53 pm
  101. Thanks BV, You did well too.

    I have to share this with QN readers;
    Best slogan used By Supporters of Gaddafi:الشعب يريد علاج الرئيس.
    I could not resist.lol

    Posted by The Prophet | February 24, 2011, 8:17 pm
  102. prophet #96 thanks. what do you think is the source of those kinds of attitudes, like feeling above other arabs? where do they come from?

    Posted by j | February 24, 2011, 8:46 pm
  103. What are you guys choked up about?

    M14 reached their target in kicking out the Syrian army, checkpoints,intelligence,Aanjar etc

    Is Syrian influence still plaguing Lebanon, perhaps,but thats another story, important thing is March 14 2005 was a major turning point in Lebanese history.

    1 million man plus,from all walks of life, in the city centre, all chanting to one tune kinda brushed off alot of post war isolationism and fear….perhaps even setting the scene, or inspiring other pro-democratic demonstrations.

    So give it due credit, what more could you want in one movement? I dont believe it fell short.It just did what it had to do and then got assassinated like all true revolutionary legends. 🙂

    Posted by Maverick | February 24, 2011, 9:03 pm
  104. Unbelievable video…

    Anyway, I if Muammar survives his ouster, I think he should get a job at Sunglass Hut. 42 years was just one too many…

    Posted by Akbar Palace | February 24, 2011, 9:18 pm
  105. I disagree with most comments. The problem with Lebanon is March 8 and not March 14.

    I also do not think the leaders must go. Only those ‘leaders’ in March 8 who are obviously foreign agents need to go.

    But I would admit that the 21st century is the Arab century.

    Posted by anonymous | February 24, 2011, 10:50 pm
  106. Today W.J. spilled the beans. He admitted his relation with SA have been severed because of his defection from Saad Hariri.

    That should answer your speculations about MP Tohme, Ghassan… and also about the true position of SA government viz a viz Miqati.

    Posted by anonymous | February 24, 2011, 11:12 pm
  107. anonymous, “But I would admit that the 21st century is the Arab century.”
    I agree with much of what you write but take exception to this. And noting that others blame the Lebanese for feeling superior/better than the Arabs, I now have to wonder what, other than oil, are the Arabs now credited with in the 20th century? and what, may I ask, is expected to be this achievement that will give the Arab epithet to the current one?
    At best the 21st century might be used to get the Arab world’s house in order. Maybe the 22nd century could be what is hoped for.
    It is obvious the subscribers to that opinion have never been to China in the last decade nor are up on world affairs in their polychromatic totality.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | February 25, 2011, 1:11 am
  108. You may be surprised HP that I have been to China sevral times and for business. I know what is going on in that part of the world.

    I meant the 21st century would be in contrast to the 20th century in which the Arabs were mostly acted upon and were reactive and not active in the making of their destiny.

    As for possible achievements you would be surprised what may happen if a large portion of Arab expatriates suddenly decides to move back if conditions change favorably allowing them making real contributions.

    Posted by anonymous | February 25, 2011, 4:13 am
  109. Hmm. OK. Maybe. But we have to wait and see what these revolutions morph into first and whether they lead to a new governance and culture that promote the kind of transformation you (and I) hope for. I still think this might take the better part of this century. The BRIC countries are not standing still in the meantime; neither is the U.S. , despite its current fiscal woes. I think the prediction of “the Arab century” is premature at best, likely an improper use of the phrase, and most probably wrong. A different phrase might apply. QN and some commentators here (including you) might be inspired and nail a good one.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | February 25, 2011, 6:15 am
  110. If 89 saw the crumbling of extreme left dictatorships then 2011 just might be the beginning of the end of extreme right dictatorships.we are ushering in the moderate centrist era.

    Posted by maverick | February 25, 2011, 7:13 am
  111. While countries all over the world are struggling to find a way to import and use less petrol for fiscal as well as environmental reasons the dearth of statesmen in Lebanon has resulted in just the opposite. One group wants to encourage the consumption of the 100% imported commodity by lowering its price while the other does not openly oppose the move but claims that the procedure used to lower the price is not legal. Isn’t there one politician or Lebanese who has the foresight , concern and courage to call it as it is. A terribly misguided policy on all levels? It is unfortunate when no one dares say that the emperor has no clothes.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | February 25, 2011, 9:21 am
  112. Ghassan,

    Let’s be serious. The corner convenience store has better accounting and planning than the Lebanese government. It is expecting too much from an entity that has no fiscal or monetary policy to speak of except for begging for money from the rest of the world!

    Posted by danny | February 25, 2011, 11:57 am
  113. By the way it looks like Iraq is the next candidate after Libya,

    http://www.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/7F275534-BBDB-4DE0-932E-748A763B76B9.htm?GoogleStatID=9

    That proves the fallacy put forward by the proponents of the Assad regime in which they contend that countries made up of diverse ethnic groups are immune to these revolts. I also question the premise that Syria is actually diverse. But it is ruled by a minority by sheer force.

    It looks like it is mostly related to corruption and despotism in which case Syria and mullah Iran become very good candidates.

    Posted by anonymous | February 25, 2011, 12:27 pm
  114. I still don’t understand why some of you are claiming that March 14, 2005 was a moment of unity for Lebanon, etc.
    While it was definitely one of the finer moments our country’s had to offer in the past 100 years or so, let’s not forget that

    1) The country was still divided at that time, and that the million man turn up was countered with a million man turn up for a counter demo soon after.

    2) The Syrian withdrawal was NOT a result of a million people turning up on Martyrs square. As much as you wanna delude yourself to claim that. The Syrians withdrew because of their fear of the Bush administration going after regime change in Syria at the time. It’s not like the people on Martyr square actually DID anything like what happened in Egypt or Libya. Nobody physically battled the Syrians, or anyone else for that matter. There’s a big difference there.

    3) Even if one is to pat oneself on the back for M14, 2005. Look at the Lebanese today. United? Lebanon has NEVER been as sectarian as it is now. It’s far worse these days than it was in 1975. Being “united” for a day in 2005 is not enough. Woopdeedoo.

    I’ll repeat, Lebanon has not displayed anything similar to what’s happened in Tunisia, Egypt or Libya. M14, 2005 was nothing in comparison.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | February 25, 2011, 1:41 pm
  115. J@102
    I wish I can figure why Lebanese have these attitudes. But I can think of few possible reasons, and I know I’ll get many stones throwing at me for uttering them.
    Lebanese people have enjoyed a level of freedom and openness; most Arabs have not had the chance to enjoy. They enjoyed opportunities that many Arabs didn’t. At one points most Lebanese thought, falsely, that they were the most educated of all Arabs, and that lead to a thinking among most Lebanese that they were better, and more modern.
    Our understanding of the term civility is limited to looks, materialistic things.
    What ever respect Lebanese had for Arab, it was mostly for oil money from the gulf states being spent on summer and pleasure vacations in Beirut. We took their money, and called them names, we called Syrian names because of the Syrian dominance in Lebanon, and the lack of ability to confront that dominance, so it was easy to make fun of Houmssies, and so on.. It is an easy way make Lebanese feel better about their inabilities. We neglected to see the reality that Syrians are suppressed, and lack freedom and opportunities like the ones we had. We thought of Egyptians are being funny, and good singers or dancers….and so on. So I would say it’s stupid racism.
    Lebanese have misused the freedom, and the opportunities they have had.
    Racism is worse when same people, with same history, religion, race, skin color are treating each other with racist attitudes.
    You find Lebanese being racist against each other when they are in disagreement, So No surprise to find them being racist against other Arabs.
    Meeting Syrians and other Arab nationals overseas, makes it clear that they are as successful and more educated than Lebanese. We may be more clever(Shatarra) ,but not necessarily smarter or better.
    I’ll put my helmet on my head now. .lol

    Posted by The Prophet | February 25, 2011, 2:10 pm
  116. M8 was instigated by agents of foreign powers. Most of the participants were bused from Syria on purpose. I was in Beirut at the time and saw it with my own eyes.

    The real expression of Lebanese solidarity happened on Feb 14, specifically during the funeral. It alerted the criminal (HA) to the gravity of the situation.

    So M8 show came in as an ugly, insensitive and uncivilized event as a reaction when all norms of behaviour would call on the ‘criminal’ to maintain a low key. The blood has not yet dried.

    That is why M8 leaders must go. We are dealing with a class of people that are far below the corrupt Arab despots that are being deposed. And worse, they have the audacity to talk about politicized ‘justice’. This is called in Arabic sheer عُهْر.

    Posted by anonymous | February 25, 2011, 2:40 pm
  117. معمر القذافي في خطاب جديد: الشعب الذي لا يحبني لا يستحق الحياة

    No comment.

    Posted by anonymous | February 25, 2011, 2:50 pm
  118. The ones to blame for sectarianism in Lebanon are the ones that haven’t “allowed” Lebanese from marrying into each other since inception of the Lebanese state.

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | February 25, 2011, 3:02 pm
  119. You got your last comment false RTOD.

    Posted by anonymous | February 25, 2011, 3:05 pm
  120. Whatcha talkin about RTOTD?

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | February 25, 2011, 3:14 pm
  121. anaon@116

    The sheer…عُهْر. comes only from you and your ilk, utterly bigoted and sectarian ignorant liars, as if you were the only one there and with the last word on M8 and everything else. You sound exactly like the fallen “Doctrinaire” of the Future movement, Mohamed Salam…

    Posted by HK | February 25, 2011, 3:33 pm
  122. BV,

    I’m talking about our marriage laws, habibi.

    Who has the last say on these matters in our country?

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | February 25, 2011, 3:34 pm
  123. God’s armies?

    Gaddafi thinks he’s a God. He has a green book to prove it … as he pointed out to Libyans on what happens to those that do not abide by what “the almighty” wrote in it.

    How long are clerics in Lebanon going to carry the banner that it is “sinful” to marry a fellow Lebanese of undignified origin?

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | February 25, 2011, 3:44 pm
  124. RTOTD,

    Your previous statement made no sense though until I re-read it 3 times. Probably the way it was phrased.
    And no, the ones to blame are the people who should have demanded a civil law and separation of church and state a long time ago.
    The moment that happens, the hold the religious leaders have on our affairs vanishes and there’s not a thing they can do about it.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | February 25, 2011, 3:48 pm
  125. I’m starting to suspect that RTOTD is in love with someone who is of a different faith or sect,and having problem marrying her.lol

    Posted by The Prophet | February 25, 2011, 4:02 pm
  126. I’ve known from your first post that you are a complete idiot. lol

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | February 25, 2011, 4:07 pm
  127. Thanks,

    Posted by The Prophet | February 25, 2011, 4:19 pm
  128. Your confused state of mind is very obvious,lol

    Posted by The Prophet | February 25, 2011, 4:20 pm
  129. BV,
    If we look back in retrospect, its so easy to dismiss M14 as a failure, or as you put it incomparable to the latest revolutions.
    But at the time, it was a big deal.Lets put politics aside for a minute.
    M14 was not just a cluster of political parties.They were actually Lebanese of all walks of life, a united movement triggered by a grassroot revolt.On that day,sects,religions,political parties took a back seat to a patriotic fervor.It wasnt about politics anymore, it was more social in nature.Peoples confidence were high,hope was brought back. Then the Pols hijacked it and the rest is history.
    There might not have been any violence or clashes but the message was clear and it was the first time in this part of the world that the population actually amassed to protest the status quo.
    I believe the media frenzy that fed on that day showed the world a different picture.The people of the M.E want OUT! they want to live with dignity with basic rights.A few years later, the Green revolution,and then 2011.
    It mightve had its shortcomings but it made people in that region think, that hey,it just might be possible.

    Posted by Maverick | February 25, 2011, 4:21 pm
  130. Live, listen and learn Prophet.

    I suspect you are probably a bit younger than I am.

    Nobody my age would post a photo of an “old” guru on any site.

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | February 25, 2011, 4:26 pm
  131. Fine, I won’t use your old age against you then.lol
    Have some sense of humor , will you.lol

    Posted by The Prophet | February 25, 2011, 4:36 pm
  132. I have a fine one, Prophet.

    One that I hope you will one day live and appreciate and be able to live up to … “God willing”

    Inshallah! .

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | February 25, 2011, 4:41 pm
  133. I’m always thankful of my elders’s good wishes, and promise to try to live up to your high standard of good humor. I’m assuming that calling me an idiot is an age thing, so I’ll respect my elder, and won’t respond in kind.

    Posted by The Prophet | February 25, 2011, 5:05 pm
  134. Getting a bit testy in here…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | February 25, 2011, 5:24 pm
  135. You’re the Prophet.

    Who can respond to that?

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | February 25, 2011, 5:27 pm
  136. Hey you insignificant HK@ 121, Keep your mouth shut and get lost.

    Posted by anonymous | February 25, 2011, 5:30 pm
  137. hey Anon@136

    You are a despicable sectarian bigot, and if anyone needs to keep his dirty mouth shut, it’s you and Mohamed Salam. You must be his cousin or his son for sure, hence your sectarian bigotry shines through and through in every post and at every turn of your ugly mouth, and you’ll die of bigotry and hatred. No medication will ever cure your metastazing illness.

    Posted by HK | February 25, 2011, 5:39 pm
  138. HK; anon,
    Could you please rise above the petty ad hominem attacks. An attack on a persons character never scores any points for the validity of the argument that one is proposing but instead it muddies the waters for everyone else.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | February 25, 2011, 7:19 pm
  139. Ghassan,

    I have a similar dislike to personal attacks. And thus I never use them, if you noticed, except as a pay back.

    Actually, I still owe the guy one. But, I will heed your advice for now.

    Posted by anonymous | February 25, 2011, 7:54 pm
  140. Both anon and HK, please just knock it off.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 25, 2011, 7:55 pm
  141. What on earth happened kids? Personal attacks won’t get you anywhere!
    Now chill with a cold Beera and enjoy the WE

    Posted by danny | February 25, 2011, 8:35 pm
  142. Prophet @ 115

    Thanks for being willing to respond to my question and for your ideas. Your explanations are interesting. Things that you mention, like Lebanon’s openness, freedoms, opportunities, seem like understandable sources of pride. As you point out, the problem is when strengths become excuses for limiting or destructive perceptions of others, or even of oneself. Even though it seems human to try to cheer oneself up from hardships, loss, or inabilities by feeling superior to others, would you say that in this case these attitudes have had the effect of cutting Lebanon off in different ways, from itself or from its natural allies in the Arab world? Or not? To what extent do you think these attitudes are a legacy of external, colonising pressures on Lebanon to dis-identify with itself and with its own extended family, for the benefit of others?

    Posted by j | February 25, 2011, 10:18 pm
  143. You can follow Hugo Javez, the good buddy of Bashar and Nejjad, on Twitter cheering up their common buddy,

    وقال تشافيز عبر حسابه على موقع تويتر: “تعيش ليبيا واستقلالها. القذافي يواجه حرباً أهلية”.

    But Javez stopped short of calling the Libyans ‘rats’, ‘mice’, ‘cats’, ‘drug addicts’, ‘traitors funded by imperialists’, ‘agents of al-Qaida’, etc…

    I don’t know if that has anything to do with Twitter character limitation on a message.

    Posted by anonymous | February 25, 2011, 11:58 pm
  144. I apologize profusely about the foul language, which is not my style in general.
    However, everyone on this platform says daily that they are against sectarianism, about wanting to abolish completely the sectarian system in Lebanon and elsewhere, etc. Yet you all tolerate without a whisper anon’s daily diatribes….within which there is constant sectarian bigotry through and through and at every turn and in every single post… I find that blatant, deliberate and nagging sectarian language to be despicable, intolerable and utterly retarded, even if it is “wrapped in fine prose….”, and I will always say so.

    Posted by HK | February 26, 2011, 4:14 am
  145. We are on the verge of change so sweeping, it will essentially result in a very different looking world… Americans and their Western counterparts are awakening somewhat, but half are still clinging to the comfortable bubbles they have built for themselves… They cling to their stuff so desperately, that they have to believe the leadership will deliver them from “evil…” Fasten your seat-belts , we are headed for sever turbulence….!

    Posted by HK | February 26, 2011, 5:43 am
  146. For those to young to remember …

    President Hrawi determined to bring civil marriage
    Lebanon, Politics, 1/19/1998

    Knowing that it will not be easy and that it could take years before his proposal is approved, President Elias Hrawi is nevertheless determined to introduce civil marriage to Lebanese society.

    According to Hrawi, a Maronite Christian, introducing civil marriage would be a “first step on the way of eliminating sectarianism in Lebanon.”

    A draft law to institute voluntary civil marriage will be submitted to Lebanon’s council of ministers for debate and a vote, he has said without specifying a time frame.

    Inter-religious marriage cannot be performed in Lebanon. People of different faiths who wish to marry without one of them having to convert have to travel to places abroad, such as neighboring Cyprus, in order to do so.

    But in a country with 18 officially-recognized sects and a deep-rooted sectarian system, such a proposal is almost certain to cause an uproar and anger many.

    While Hrawi’s proposal is supported by the younger generation in Lebanon, Muslim and Christian clergymen have repeatedly registered their displeasure, claiming civil marriages would serve to disintegrate traditional close family ties and threaten the foundations of matrimony.

    Others have argued that there is no such thing as “voluntary” civil marriage. “It’s like giving children the choice to go outside and play during study hours at school,” said one Muslim Sheikh. “They would all end up in the playground.”

    The Shiite Muslim Hizbullah guerrilla group has also joined in the discussion. A party official, Sheikh Naim Kassem, said Hizbullah was against civil marriage, adding that it would “lead to further decay of moral ethics among Lebanon’s youth.”

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | February 26, 2011, 6:11 am
  147. For those too young to remember …

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | February 26, 2011, 6:23 am
  148. Is it any surprise that “Muslim and Christian clergymen have repeatedly registered their displeasure, claiming civil marriages would serve to disintegrate traditional close family ties and threaten the foundations of matrimony.”
    Clergymen’s influence and control would diminish in that case, or so they perceive. The reality is that religion becomes stronger and moves towards a base of true believer when people have a choice. Clergymen would rather have atheists be forced into a religious marriage ceremony, hypocritically, and then live a life in fiat of the church/mosque than limit their flock to the true believers and “compete” to inspire non-believers to believe and join. By the way, Israel has the same problem.
    These practices and other similar ones basing politics and social order on religion are, in my opinion, at the root of many a country’s problem, particularly in the Middle East. The French revolution overthrew, along with the king, the church influence and, to this day, we see an aversion towards the church because of its historical alliance with the rule of the king. Compare this to the United States where freedom of religion coupled with separation of church and state formed pillars of the foundation of the state. Church/mosque/temple goers in the U.S. are true believers and religion thrives without interfering with politics. Maybe the revolution in Lebanon should be against such religious edicts. Perhaps the campaign by the youth to end confessionalism is a start.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | February 26, 2011, 7:57 am
  149. Now that Imam Moussa Al Sadr is back in the news an old question that has never been answered is being has resurfaced.
    It is a fact that the Imam was in Libya when he disappeared.Whether he was killed or is still being held in a prison is not clear but most observers agree that the Libyan authorities were involved in this operation. But the question that needs to be answered is why did Libya do this? No one has been able to even hint at a potential gain for Libya from this operation. If the above is true then logic leads to only one conclusion: Libya executed this operation for the benefit of a third party.
    Why was the Imam abducted/killed and who gave the order?

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | February 26, 2011, 9:23 am
  150. GK#149

    That could be the case. But one needs not forget that Gaddafi is a crazy man and a sicko. So it could be anything that triggered him to do it. Look at how he’s killing his own people in cold blood.

    Hopefully, he will pay for his crimes, including the one against Imam Moussa El Sadr if it is revealed that he had anything to do with it. But it is hard to believe that he wasn’t involved or didn’t know about it.

    The guy is a lunatic.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | February 26, 2011, 10:12 am
  151. Mouammar Kaddafi is Jewish with old ties to Israeli Intel. That explains Imam Moussa Sadr’s forced disappearance in 1978….

    ” You can do a lot…. You can support justice for all by speaking out loudly to your family, friends, community, politicians and religious leaders. You can support foundations that do good work. You can volunteer for humanitarian organizations. You can vote regressive politicians out of office. You can do many things to move the world toward greater harmony…”

    http://geoplotical.blogspot.com/2011/02/white-house-murder-inc.html

    Posted by HK | February 26, 2011, 10:18 am
  152. During a discussion on Israel Radio they just dropped this little tidbit. There is a Jewish family left in Libya. His name is Muammar Kaddafi, his mother is Jewish and his second wife comes from the Farkash family….. At first, I found it hard to believe, but when I Googled “Kaddafi’s mother was Jewish” (without the quotes), the first three results all confirmed it. Kaddafi’s mother was a Jewish woman who converted to Islam at the age of 9 or the daughter of a Jewish woman who left her husband for an Arab Sheikh. Those two narratives are not mutually exclusive. I kid you not…Muammar Kaddafi’s mother was Jewish and his second wife is from the “Farkash” family…..

    A year and a half ago, two Israeli women who claimed to be relatives of Kaddafi’s were interviewed on Israel’s Channel 2 television.
    The older of the two interviewees, Guita Brown, claimed that she is Kaddafi’s second cousin: her grandmother was the sister of Gaddafi’s grandmother. The younger of the two women, Rachel Saada, Brown’s granddaughter , explained in more detail: “The story goes that Kaddafi’s grandmother, a Jewess, was married to a Jewish man at first. But he treated her badly, so she ran away and married a Muslim sheikh. Their child was the mother of Kaddafi.” While Kaddafi’s grandmother converted to Islam when she married the sheikh, according to Jewish religious law (and common sense), she was ethnically still Jewish. And that makes Kaddafi’s mother a Jewess. And if Kaddafi’s mother is a Jewess, what does that make Kaddafi? A Jew….
    Let’s go to the videotape (sorry – the interview is only in Hebrew).

    That means Kaddafi is Jewish – he can even be counted in a minyan (quorum of Jews for prayer).

    More to the point, Kaddafi is entitled to ‘return’ to Israel under the Law of Return. Given that he may soon be looking for political asylum and the usual candidates (the Saudis and the Europeans) are unlikely to take him, could he be looking to come to Israel?

    Posted by HK | February 26, 2011, 10:26 am
  153. HK,
    Are you insinuating that the reason Kaddafi is the way he is and doing what he is doing because he is Jewish?
    you were complaining about Anonymous being a sectarian bigot, how different are you when you post a ridiculous story like this and what are your hidden motives?
    That is pathetic indeed.

    Posted by V | February 26, 2011, 11:28 am
  154. I never insinuated anything, I just gave you the facts. Period.

    Muammar Kaddafi is Jewish.

    What it amounts to is that Rachel’s aunt, a Jewess married a Jew, had a son Moamar with the Jew, she skipped town on her Jewish husband and married a Muslim Sheikh, who brought little Moamar Kaddafi up….

    That is the gist of the story! Moamar’s father and mother were both Jewish!

    Israeli actress Orly Weinerman is the lover/wife…? of Saif Al-Islam Kaddafi who meet regularly in Italy and other places….

    http://www.tgcom.mediaset.it/gossip/articoli/articolo291739.shtml

    Posted by HK | February 26, 2011, 11:40 am
  155. And how does that make any difference? Who cares about his religion except you obviously and those bigots like you who instigate hate against the Jews.

    Posted by V | February 26, 2011, 11:44 am
  156. V, your extrapolations are wild conjectures.
    In response to a question about the disappearance of Imam Moussa Al-Sadr, I gave the facts as we know them, as reported by an Israeli source. Go back to the original post.
    The story about his son Saif is all over the news too…

    Posted by HK | February 26, 2011, 11:48 am
  157. HK,

    With all due respect. I doubt religion has to do with Gaddafi’s behavior, regardless of what religion he practices. The man is a plain “Moujrim”. He will kill anybody just to stay in power. His own people are saying enough already.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | February 26, 2011, 12:05 pm
  158. Ras Beirut@157

    Absolutely, and I hope that they will get rid of him and his family soonest….without further bloodshed.

    Posted by HK | February 26, 2011, 12:15 pm
  159. J@142
    I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer all of those questions, since they are part of the Lebanese debate and crisis. However, I’d attempt to give you my take on some, and invite other commentators to give their inputs.
    No doubt that openness, freedoms, and good opportunities are a good source of pride as well as good motivating force for any society, and have proved to be productive as well. Yet examining this productivity, it seems to be a bit superficial, and materialistic. We failed to build a civil society, or a modern state, or true democracy, or even a national identity.
    We pride ourselves of downtown Beirut, and all the hot nightclubs and restaurants, yet the majority of the country has no electricity, or good running water system.
    We pride ourselves with our ‘democracy’, freedom, and open minds, yet we can’t get rid of sectarianism. Still, many of us think we are better than the rest of the Arabs.
    We pride ourselves of all the famous and rich people from Lebanese decent, yet we fail to ask the fundamental question of why a Lebanese can live in a multicultural society in Latin America or somewhere else, and be successful; yet when He/ she is back in Lebanon, they ,most of the time, fall back into the comfort cushion of our tribes, and sects.
    The superior and racist attitudes I talked about in my previous post had, and still do, destructive effects on Lebanon; destructive in the sense of losing our path, and destroying ourselves while trying to answer the identity question.
    So to answer your question; Yes these attitudes have had the effect of cutting Lebanon off, from itself and from reality. The feeling of immunity of the turbulence going on the Arab world is a good example. Leaders in Lebanon feel that sectarianism will save them and their system from the season of revolutions.
    Lebanese people can’t seem to understand or learn from the youths of Arab countries much. Young people of Lebanon wait for a leader to tell them to hit the streets in support of that leaders political /sectarian interests, yet don’t find it necessary to hit the street on their own for social justice or basic services, in fear of blaming, indirectly, their leader or sect for that failure.
    I think I raised more questions than answered. lol

    Posted by The Prophet | February 26, 2011, 2:14 pm
  160. Ghassan,149

    Two possible parties; Yasser Arafat, or some other PLO faction.
    I always suspected that Gaddafi did it for Arafat.
    Syria cold have done it on its own,I think.
    Berri is the only one who can answer that question,since He was the most to gain.lol

    Posted by The Prophet | February 26, 2011, 2:22 pm
  161. I am sure everyone here is quite outspoken, articulate and of the least need for encouragement from an operative of an organization known for its sectarian behaviour and programs in Lebanon and throughout the region to make an opininion about who is or is not sectarian.

    But let me make it clear and straight to the point. I am anti HA and also anti mullah Iran [period). And of that I will make no apologies whatsoever. This position of mine will never be hidden from any post I may present regardless of who may object or agree.

    My allegiance to Lebanon obliges me to make my stand clear.

    HA is the only obstacle in Lebanon serving foreign powers and standing in the face of Lebanon’s liberty, sovereignty and possible change to a real governable Lebanon satisfying the aspirations of its contituent population.

    Posted by anonymous | February 26, 2011, 3:28 pm
  162. QN, I just noticed: you need an “accent aigu” on the “e” in “Révolution à la Libanaise” for consistency.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | February 26, 2011, 4:33 pm
  163. Here’s a few words of wisdom for those tempted to engage in personal negative-epithet-throwing:
    Recognize that when you say (write) something, it’s actually coming out of your mouth. So, if you call someone shxt, then I’m afraid I have to tell you that the stuff is coming out of your mouth. This is a picturesque way to understand that the accusation you throw and the style you use only serve to provide a description of who YOU are and not the person you are accusing.
    Peace and Humility.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | February 26, 2011, 4:36 pm
  164. RTOTD, do you think this will pick up steam?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | February 26, 2011, 4:37 pm
  165. Don’t know. But I’ll be there 🙂

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | February 26, 2011, 4:42 pm
  166. #UniteLB

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | February 26, 2011, 4:56 pm
  167. Sagat the sectarian system, call by a group of Lebanese youths on the “facebook” announcing that the move is against the warlords and communities, against social exploitation – economic, unemployment, immigration, poverty and marginalization, and against the Development is balanced and deprivation zones, and against racism and discrimination.
    The event will begin at noon in front of the church of Saint Michael in Shiyah which was considered a point contact in the Lebanese war, leading to the Palace of Justice.
    The claimant is invited to move to a secular, democratic civil state, a state of social justice and equality, as well as the right to a decent life for all citizens through:
    • Raising the minimum wage
    • reducing the prices of basic materials
    • Reduction in fuel prices
    • Promote formal education
    • equal access to public and private employment
    • abolition of patronage, brokerage, and bribes
    • The right to adequate housing
    • Strengthening social security and ensure the adoption of aging.

    Posted by The Prophet | February 26, 2011, 5:27 pm
  168. RTODT
    I was disappointed when Laique ( Al ilmaniah) spent a year in preparation but yet was not able to attract more than 200-3000 demonstrators. I hope that this will be more successful and what is more important I hope that all these groups can unitein order to press their point.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | February 26, 2011, 5:56 pm
  169. Fantastic debate on BBC World News with Tim Sebastian in Tunis.

    This man is worth his weight in gold!

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | February 26, 2011, 6:29 pm
  170. Steve Plaut has is right again. This time he comments on Libya and the Israelis who fell in love with the terrorist who once led that country:

    http://www.stevenplaut.blogspot.com/

    Posted by Akbar Palace | February 26, 2011, 6:56 pm
  171. My hat off to Tunisians.

    I yet have to listen to Lebanese capable of such an intellectual debate.

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | February 26, 2011, 6:56 pm
  172. @QN

    A word by the sponsor of this blog … ?!

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | February 26, 2011, 7:23 pm
  173. GK,

    I guess the clergy that have supported the likes of Samir Geagea, SHN, Nabih Berri, Sheikh Rafiq, Walid, Sleiman Jr. are “innocent” bystanders peddling what?

    Envelopes of money for weddings and by far larger ones for divorces?

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | February 26, 2011, 7:53 pm
  174. Random Thought,

    A word about what? 🙂

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 26, 2011, 8:25 pm
  175. It is perhaps advisable for all ‘Lebanese Revolutionary wannabees’ to sit back and watch and even stop cheering. It looks like conspiracy theories are now coming out in fresh and full force. According to this well written Addiyar ‘gem’ all what you see happening is nothing but a full-blown ‘imperialist’ master plan unfolding through the electronic media (fully under imperialist control)

    http://www.aldiyaronline.com/articleTopicInfo.php?rightArticleId=4694&topicId=45

    In the above story, there is reference to a report about NATO planes downing Libyan planes over Libya. That report was confirmed by more than one source already. The whole objective of the ‘evil’ master plan is to bring the Arab world under direct control through so-called democratic governments in order to fight effectively both al-Qaida and mullah Iran.

    I am personally confounded particularly when I hear Medvedev expressing displeasure and disapproval at the popular upheavals taking place south of the northern bear. As if that is not enough, Russia’s state media came out with a ‘gem’ of its own ‘insinuating’ a full-fledged ‘imperailist’ involvement in Libya’s uprising,

    http://english.pravda.ru/opinion/columnists/24-02-2011/117000-libya_surface-0/

    Other developments took place simultaneously in Egypt and Tunisia yesterday. Both militaries confronted demonstrated and forced their dispersion from their favorite gathering spots for the first time since the revolutions presumably achieved their ‘goals’ of deposing the regimes.

    Posted by anonymous | February 26, 2011, 8:33 pm
  176. Please read “Both militaries confronted demonstrators” instead of “Both militaries confronted demonstrated”
    in the above last paragraph.

    Posted by anonymous | February 26, 2011, 8:36 pm
  177. Does anyone know where i can find the FULL text of the egyptian constitutional amendment that were published today? ive only found stories about them, or summaries of them. but im looking for the whole thing. in either english or arabic would be great.

    thanks,

    Posted by Joe M. | February 26, 2011, 9:48 pm
  178. According to:
    http://www.mail-archive.com/conlawprof@lists.ucla.edu/msg21186.html
    the full text has not been made available yet (@ 2011/Feb/26)

    Posted by Honest Patriot | February 26, 2011, 10:12 pm
  179. RTOTD # 174,
    I must cobnfess that I have no idea why the remark is addressed to me. What am I missing? 🙂
    BTW, I do agree that the Doha Debates is a great program. Unfortunately I do not watch it regularly enough but Sebastian is excellent.

    anon,
    I have not ben surprised by the Egyptian military behaviour. I have expressed my skepticism more than two weeks ago. This is not to suggest that Egypt and the whole region has not changed but the euphoria of the 10-12 of February was bound to disappoint. The army were dragged into this and they took sides with the wining party but the army is NOT a major force for change. Usually it never is. The generals control a large chunk of the Egyptian economy, they have lots of privileges and they would more than likely try to maintain their hold on power.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | February 26, 2011, 10:25 pm
  180. GK, I think all this revolution stuff started in the inspiration created by the video you posted:

    It was an eerie premonition, no?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | February 26, 2011, 10:30 pm
  181. Prophet @ 159

    Again, thanks for your lengthy, thoughtful reply. Very helpful. It’s such a complex vise grip. But it’s also clear that a lot of the obstacles holding things back are inner ones. What actually prompted my question was the mixed or muted reactions to the current uprisings I noticed among Lebanese, or people in the diaspora. Of course, the loss of life is maddening. At the same time it seems that through these revolts, young people especially have smuggled across the generations and out into daylight again the desire for Arab dignity, for anyone to see. It’s an amazing moment. Many people who don’t even care much about the region have been touched and inspired by what’s happened. So I’ve found the conflicted responses of some Lebanese, even within my own family (although am in the states), I’ve found these responses very telling. Your comment seems like a fair minded picture of some of the binds we find ourselves trapped in. If these revolts go further along popular, genuinely self-determined lines, I wonder how that might put pressure on these attitudes. Maybe it will create some space and breathing room for Lebanon to reorient, both within, and in relation to these movements in other Arab countries.

    Posted by j | February 26, 2011, 10:38 pm
  182. HP,
    For the past 4-5 months I have hardly let an opportunity pass by without making a statement about the need for a revolution in the Arab world but to be honest, the level of analysis was pretty superficial. Remember that even a stopped watch tells the correct time twice a day 🙂
    BTW, I am glad for the Tunisians, Egyptians and potentially the Libyans, Yemenis and maybe even the Bahrainis but the Arab world needs to have a major change in Saudi Arabia and Syria. If the Saudi Monarchy and the Assads have any sense of obligation and responsibility they could avoid a blood bath that would be worst than Libya by introducing major reforms. Why not a constitutional Monarchy and a democratic Syria. (Unfortunately this is very highly unlikely to occur, Bashar in an interview with Danish TV argued that no one needs democracy as an end and that it is only a tool, a means to an end. The man just does not get it.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | February 26, 2011, 10:44 pm
  183. lally,
    I have no idea why I had assumed that you were not an Arabic speaker. Thank you for the link to the proposed changes to the Egyptian constitution. Do you have any idea why they felt that there was a need to impose the new personal restrictions about the nationality of the spouse and that of the parents of the candidate for presidency. Are these trivial minor issues looked upon as being reform?

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | February 26, 2011, 10:54 pm
  184. GK.

    Your assumption was correct.

    In general, I need a translator to translate google translations of Arabic (and Hebrew too, for that matter) I found that link by flitting around twitter and found it on this guy’s feed:

    http://twitter.com/beleidy

    There’s some twitter-style conversation about the issues you cite that may or may not lead to more substantive discussions. The role of the judiciary in elections also appears to be of some concern.

    Posted by lally | February 26, 2011, 11:22 pm
  185. HP@182,

    Thanks for reposting GK’s video.

    I am now more ‘certain’ that this whole Qifa Nabki and GK and the rest of the chorus is nothing but part of this whole master ‘conspiracy’ going on with the help of the ‘imperialist’ controlled electronic media. I am not sure that if I may be getting sucked into it unconsciously.

    Just bear with me for minute and I will elaborate and prove it to your ‘satisfaction’. Here we have an electronic ‘Qifa Nabki’ sort of modern Souk ‘Ukaz media. Now this is the essential tool of the ‘imperialists’ pounding into the heart of Arab consciousness, or in other words we found the tool of the crime or our first piece of evidence. Otherwise why would somebody use Qifa Nabki as a blog title? Heck, I have been thinking about it all the time and couldn’t find a satisfactory answer until now. We also have an economic expert who contends that the Arab population is ‘allegedly’ suffering economically, and heralding an impending downfall of regimes right and left, but in fact he comes in with a video that harkens back to the era of the famous ‘Ukaz ‘market’. What do you think would really move an Arab? His stomach or a thundering poem? What else do you need as a proof?

    Now I understand why Medvedev was upset.

    Ghassan are you also an expert in poems marketing (or in Arabic parlance Souk ‘Ukaz)?

    HP, if you’re interested in such poems, you may want to Google another famous poet by the name of Muzzafar al-Nawwab. Or may be you should use the Arabic spelling مظفر النواب
    Look for a tape under the title of
    وتريات ليلية
    There is a little bit of foul language that you may find objectionable but as we say it is allowed for a poet what is not allowed for others. Also the guy’s life story provides him with ample excuse for his outrage.

    Posted by anonymous | February 26, 2011, 11:27 pm
  186. J,183.
    The ingredients of these revolutions exist in Lebanon as much as they exist in Egypt or Tunisia, or any other country. The difference is that the Lebanese are entrapped in their own differences, fears of each other, and their “superior” attitudes.
    I have a feeling and hope that sooner or later, young Lebanese people will learn from, and catch up to the other Arab countries. Egyptians, Libyans, and the others have conquered their fear of the police states and did something about it, and the frustrated younger generation of Lebanese people, hopefully and eventually will go out and conquer their fear of each other, and look for what binds them, and do something about it. When and if that happens, their attitudes and behavior will change. I’m betting that Lebanese people will feel the same challenge, which was thrown by the Tunisians and felt by the Egyptians, Libyans and Yemenis. The fact that we, Lebanese people are asking these questions about the attitudes we discussed earlier; it is an admission that they exist, which is a good start.
    Although I sounded more pessimistic in my previous comments, This is the first time in my life, that I see hope for Arab societies, including the ever late, Lebanese. Doing away with sectarianism can only be done through an awakening by a new generation of Lebanese who can force the sectarian leaderships to let go.
    There is no doubt that the civility of the Egyptian revolution has impressed and inspired many people around the world. Also, it put fear in the hearts and minds of many regimes around the world. There is something about the young generation that seems more true, and more optimistic. It shows in the spontaneous way they erupted. They know what they want, and they refused to be defeated by the police states, of which their parents have submitted to.
    Although, no one can predict the final outcome of any of these revolutions, there is no way it can be worse than the totalitarian regimes which they overthrew. It can only be better at worst case scenario. I hope my newly born optimism will be validated.

    Posted by The Prophet | February 27, 2011, 2:24 am
  187. Ghassan Karam @ 184,

    Could you please provide a website link to what you mentioned:
    Bashar in an interview with Danish TV argued that no one needs democracy as an end and that it is only a tool, a means to an end.”
    Now, isn’t it true that democracy is a necessary tool in trying to achieve the desired end?

    Posted by Badr | February 27, 2011, 4:31 am
  188. anonymous, inspired on Saturday night?
    “uqaz” please, not “ukaz,” or even more politically accurate “3uqaz.” Ditto “q” in “souq” 😉
    Thanks for the links.
    Laka’sh’shookroo wass’salaam
    You Sherlock Holmes you.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | February 27, 2011, 4:37 am
  189. Prophet,
    “there is no way it can be worse than the totalitarian regimes which they overthrew.”
    Iran anyone?
    Emphasis on “can be;” unlikely but possible.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | February 27, 2011, 4:43 am
  190. phonetically, not politically. Not-so-smart phone.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | February 27, 2011, 4:48 am
  191. Badr, careful about the slippery slope. If democracy is a tool to an end vs. a foundational principle anchored in human rights, then an alternate form of government purporting to achieve the same end can be justified – read autocracy, theocracy, communism, presidency-for-life, etc.
    Wanna live in such places? You’ll be welcome with open arms. If you live in and enjoy a democracy, consistency and gratitude, rather than sophistry are expected. Else, leave. If not, rationalization is a normal survival instinct.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | February 27, 2011, 5:01 am
  192. Long live the Valiant, Nationalist, and Heroic Lebanese Resistance of Hezbollah, Kudos to their sacrifices and we mourn the loss of the legendary fighters fallen in battles with the Zionist aggressors over decades, in their heroic defense of Lebanon.

    The State of Israel as it exists does NOT ‘deserve’ security, what it does ‘deserve’ is for it to be dismantled to its slab and left to the Divine Hand to create. Time to cast the Zionist State of Israel where it rightfully belongs, dismantled. As long as the Zionist State of Israel is allowed to continue to exist, it poses a grave threat to the whole of mankind as it is presumptuous before Heaven….

    http://geoplotical.blogspot.com/2011/02/white-house-murder-inc.html

    Posted by HK | February 27, 2011, 7:26 am
  193. Badr #189, HP #192,
    The answer to the question by Badr was provided by HP. HP, the interview in question is even worse than the case that you posit. In it Bashar Assad stresses twice that “Democracy is the means to prosperity” and is not an end in itself. Isn’t this logic saying that if I can take away all your personal freedoms and right but provide you with food and shelter then you should be grateful? But then he goes on to say that in Syria ” we are working towards democracy” but that we are at the very early stages of it and the road will be lengthy. Sorry Badr that I do not save any links but I am sure that an interested party can google it . The interview in question has another gem/surprise, the young journalist asks outright: ” Are you a dictator” and Mr. Assad sort of avoids the question but never denies it.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | February 27, 2011, 7:48 am
  194. Thanks HP for the corrections. I am still a novice in translitaring words from Arabic to Latin script. But I promise to work on it and learn all the intricacies. It is becoming very valuable.

    Posted by anonymous | February 27, 2011, 12:46 pm
  195. If there is any country in the region which is ripe for democratic transformation and right now it is Syria. Bashar is a liar, an ‘idiot’ and will suffer a far more dramatic downfall than all the despots that fell already.

    On another note, if you’re really interested in comical speeches you should listen to what MP Hajj Hassan had to say in Sohmor recently. He assured everybody that the Arab revolutions were a direct result of his ‘valiant’ and ‘heroic’ resistant. He also contended that opponents of ‘resistance’ (or technically speaking perhaps he meant those of low ohmic value) always make mistakes and the first mistake they make is choosing America over ‘resistance’. While he was speaking both Sen. McCain and Liberman were strolling in Tahrir Square shaking hands with people and offering warm wishes.

    The guy must be of giga-ohmic value to the ‘resistance’ gang.

    Posted by anonymous | February 27, 2011, 1:03 pm
  196. HP@ 191
    I was referring to the revolutions taking place in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and the rest of Arab countries.
    I’ll reiterate what I said that no one can be sure how things will turn out on the long run, and that no matter what happens in Egypt or Tunisia, Things can only be better than the rule of the Mubarak and Bin Ali regimes. Whether a full democracy will be established or not, that remains to be seen, but gone are the days when Egyptians and Tunisians have to live with fear of their regimes, and gone are the days where people will allow the police to oppress them. The chances of a Muslim style government in Egypt are close to Zero, so I’m not worried much about that. I feel that an open and free democratic system will reduce Islamic fanatics, and soften their voices.
    The resignation of Tunisia’s prime minster this morning, regardless of the reasons, is a healthy sign that leaders and officials are learning that meaning of stepping aside, and letting someone else take over.
    Watching Egyptians demonstrate in the most civil manor ever seen; it was clear that nationalism , patriotism, demands of freedom and democracy ,and end of corruption were the most driving forces behind the millions who went out in the streets. People were saying that they were Egyptians before they were Muslims or Coptic. No doubt that the bin Laden’s will have some supporters, but they will fade away with time.
    Islamic parties can exist and operate in democratic and free societies. Turkey is a good example.
    Keep in mind that in countries like Egypt, there was no political outlet for people except the mosques, and the traditional and mostly corrupt Egyptian opposition parties .As Edward Said once said ;Hopeless, poor and disadvantaged people end up in mosques where they can pray for hope.
    As for Iran, We’d have to wait and see if there will be similar revolution first. If you are referring to the Khomeini revolution, I’m not sure anyone had an illusion that the Khomeini revolution had a full scale democracy in mind. They just wanted to get rid of the likes of Mubarak; the shah, who was nothing but a dictator. I think the most pressing issue for Iranian is the question of a supreme leader, and the legitimacy and the authority of that position. Yes freedom and democracy are also important to them, but most opposition groups and leaders, do want a democratic Islamic state without the position of supreme leader.

    Posted by The Prophet | February 27, 2011, 1:12 pm
  197. Today Aisha Kaddafi, tomorrow lady Assad and her gang….

    The Syrian regime has pilfered its people of Billions of $$$ for 40yrs, rivaling the Mubarak and kaddafi’s of the world. Their atrocities are only rivaled by Saddam in the region.

    Glorify these fools for now, the people of Syria and its Diaspora expelled are waiting for the baton to be passed. To believe the yes men of this regime and the rosy picture they have painted is but a sham. The people are tip toeing the line, waiting to achieve critical mass to erupt… Don’t take my word, read the numerous dissidents now speaking openly against the regime…the fear will be broken.

    Posted by HK | February 27, 2011, 1:20 pm
  198. HP & GK,

    All I’m saying is that isn’t the expression “people apply a democratic system to achieve human rights, prosperity, etc.,” the same syntactically as stating one uses a tool to achieve an end!
    Of course I believe it is the best tool to get the job done. 🙂

    Posted by Badr | February 27, 2011, 1:20 pm

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