Wednesday, October 24, 2018

As Lebanon winds its way towards the formation of a government, there are many questions concerning the expected contentious discussions around the ministerial statement that sets out the priorities of the new government. There have already been reports coming out of the prime minister’s office delineating the more obvious issues: adopting reforms called for in the international donors conference, ensuring that the national budget is adhered to and public funds are used effectively, the policy of dissociation is restated and emphasized as the way forward for Lebanon’s regional foreign policy, the status of the Syrian refugees and repatriation are urgently addressed, opposing efforts to make Lebanon responsible for generations of Palestinian refugees, affirming the strength and independence...

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Summer is over; the UN has completed its 73rd annual opening session with the charges, countercharges, and conspiracies that we have come to expect in the speeches of various world leaders and regional luminaries. The US was one of the main accusers to take center stage along with China, North Korea, Iran, and Russia, each trading dark analyses of others’ intentions, motives, and end-games. Lebanon’s friends should be concerned that it was singled out far too often either directly or indirectly as the locus of much of what is wrong in the Middle East, due chiefly to the influence of Saudi Arabia and the US, or conversely, the machinations of Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah. Lebanon is on unsure ground for sure.

President Michel Aoun alluded to the many contradictions in the in the global system ...

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

When I think about Lebanon today, I always end up remembering my father. He was born on 10/10/1910 and died 104 years later. As many of his generation, he attended primary school in the north of Lebanon, worked with his family in their fields, went to Brazil to work with his father and brother selling household goods from a dugout canoe on the Amazon, lost it all in the Depression, returned to Lebanon via a stay in France, and then rebuilt his family farm so that they could have a continuing source of food. For cash he made charcoal to sell in the surrounding villages and then went to work in a bicycle shop in Beirut. Not very glamorous to be sure…but along the way he learned Arabic, French, Spanish, and Portuguese, at least enough to survive and succeed.

Then along came my mother Elizabeth...

Friday, October 5, 2018

It’s very tempting to post a blog that avoids the principal questions facing Lebanon since there doesn’t seem to be any political will to find even an interim solution to the gridlock over the composition of the government. The economy continues to deteriorate according to outside sources such as the World Bank and IMF, despite claims to the contrary from President Aoun and Riad Salame, governor of the central bank. The numbers are stark, and the falling levels of remittances from Lebanese abroad and the decline in Foreign Direct Investment are just two indicators of the necessity of implementing widespread financial and fiscal reforms. The World Bank has already shelved $1.5 billion worth of projects for Lebanon, and the international donors at the Paris Conference, in collaboration with...

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