Monday, August 20, 2012

Lebanon and the NAM Summit 

Iran plans to host a summit meeting for the so-called Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) later this month. President Michel Suleiman is on the list of invitees. Talk of the town is that he will attend. But should he?

For one thing, the idea of being non-aligned with  either the Soviet-led East or the U.S.-led West is a cold war  idea whose time has come and gone. It has little relevance to today’s world. But that’s not a strong reason why President Suleiman should not go. In fact, presidents do make many foreign visits and attend many events which are of little added value. As long as no harm is done one normally lets such things pass without making a fuss about them.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

On the Brink Again

It was Bismarck who once quipped that a fool learns from his own mistakes but a wise man learns from the mistakes of others. But what would you call those who learn from neither? Well, I am afraid the way things seem to be heading here, you might as well call them Lebanese.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Maybe Time for Some Lebanese Defections 

It’s a big story. It’s a big story when a prominent Lebanese politician is apprehended by Lebanese police; a big story when that politician is one of the closest advisors to the president ( the president of Syria, that is), and the security agency doing the apprehending is the ISF - no love lost with the Syrian regime; it’s a big story when the alleged crime apparently involves a plan to detonate deadly explosives (and in turn detonate deadly sectarian clashes) mostly in the sensitive border region of Akkar; and it’s a big story if a smoking gun confirms what many people have been warning against - the possibility that the Syrian regime in Damascus may, in its moment of desperation, try to dig deeper into its Lebanese bag of tricks and do something bad. Really bad.

The potential ramifications of this story are enormous.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

False (and Sometimes Dangerous) Ideas

A little less than two thousand years ago Claudio Ptolemy, a Roman citizen of Egypt, had a brilliant but false idea. Most people did not realize it until fifteen centuries later. His model of the universe had a stationary earth at its center with everything else rotating around it. Though false, the model worked perfectly, or so it seemed. It was so good that for centuries astronomers used it to track and predict with a good degree of accuracy the movements of heavenly bodies across the skies. It really did not matter that Ptolemy’s theory was false. It served its purpose well, then. And being false presented no danger.

Friday, August 3, 2012



Why we should care about Ellen M. Coin

Very soon Ms. Ellen Coin, a New York State Supreme Court Justice, will make a ruling regarding the disclosure of bank documents associated with a fugitive defendant, to a plaintiff who had won a three billion dollar lawsuit in a Montgomery County, Maryland, Circuit Court last February. The plaintiff’s lawyers had asked that eight international banks (with operations in the US) be forced to dig into their world-wide archives and provide all the banking transaction documents relevant for the case and for the enforcement of the judgment.

Why is this important?