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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

On this day (July 16) in Lebanon: 1948

July 16, 1945,the New York Times reports that

An agreement on the construction and operation of two oil refineries near tripoli has been reached...
The agreement was negotiated by F.C. Le Rocker, of New York, Socony manager in the Levant, and O.A. Seager of Standard Oil in discussions with Premier Abdul Hamed Karamy and Foreign Minister Henri Pharon.

On this day (July 15): in 1958 and 1949

On July 15, 1958 The Washington Post and Times Herald reported

American Troops will be landed in strife-torn Lebanon within the next 24 hours, President Eisenhower made it clear to Congressional leaders...

The decision came after a formal request from Preseident Chamoun... immediately following news of the surprise Nasser coup d'etat in Iraq, long considered the strongest Arab ally of the West.

I found this one from the July 15, 1949 edition of the New York Times particualry interesting.
Ghassan Tueni, editor of the Beirut newspaper An Nahar, was sentenced today to three months' imprisonment for an article that had insulted the military tribunal that sentenced the rebel chieftain Anton Saadeh, to death... Mr. Tueni's trial took place before the same military tribunal that had sentenced Saadeh.

New Feature on This Blog

Well today I want to give a new feature a shot. Every now and then I will post, old news snippets from western newspapers about Lebanon. Mostly they will be along the lines of: "On this day in 1958, the Boontown Tribunal reported ..." Hope you like em.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Great Strides.... Backwards!

I came across the recent (2008) Foreign Policy "Failed States Index" where I was proud to find out that Lebanon is steadily and surely making its way to the top of the list.

We are now number 18 on the list and by overtaking such worthy opponents as Ethiopia, North Korea, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Sudan, we can claim the coveted poll position. We should be careful though, we don't want to slip to position 19 since Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Yemen are tight on our heels. In fact we can take pride in being much more a failed state than either Rwanda and Angola, countries with life expectancies of 47 and 37 respectively.

Even more worrying than our current position on the list, is our trend in the last few years. Taking a look at the table below ( lifted from the Fund for Peace which co-authored the index), we can see all the red arrows indicating that the trends are heading for even more failure of the state.

Demographic pressures are increasing, as is the number of refugees and displaced people. Group grievances are on the rise. Human flight, uneven development, are increasing and the legitimacy of the state is getting worse... You name it and its getting worse.

Also worth mentioning is that there is at least one component that is clearly correlated to the failure of states, as is apparent from this next table.

Our parliament having been decommissioned for so long now has contributed its share of damage.

Of course, every single one of these indicators can be explained and none of this is remotely surprising; however, the fact that a catastrophe is predictable or explainable does not make it any less alarming. We need a paradigm shift in the way politics are conducted in Lebanon. Unfortunately, any shift that is restricted to the upper echelons of the elite - as unlikely as that is looking - is also purely temporary. The only paradigm shift that will really be of use, is one that the citizens will have to make. For example... by actually becoming citizens.

Now if only pigs could fly.