Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘adonis49

Do you TED Talk in sleep? Cartoons

Hilarious! check these out…some of them are spot on!

Do You TED Talk in Your Sleep?
Laughs Worth Spreading a collection of cartoons compiled from the Internet by Dave NB: all found via Google Image Search July 2017.

In search of the minimum viable audience

Of course everyone wants to reach the maximum audience.

To be seen by millions, to maximize return on investment, to have a huge impact.

And so we fall all over ourselves to dumb it down, average it out, pleasing everyone and anyone.

You can see the problem.

When you seek to engage with everyone, you rarely delight anyone.

And if you’re not the irreplaceable, essential, one-of-a-kind changemaker, you never get a chance to engage with the market.

The solution is simple but counterintuitive: Stake out the smallest market you can imagine.

The smallest market that can sustain you, the smallest market you can adequately serve.

This goes against everything you learned in capitalism school, but in fact, it’s the simplest way to matter.

When you have your eyes firmly focused on the minimum viable audience, you will double down on all the changes you seek to make. Your quality, your story and your impact will all get better.

And then, ironically enough, the word will spread.

Focusing on the MVA is a key part of what we teach in The Marketing Seminar.  (Look for the purple circle).

It’s easy to talk about in the abstract, but difficult to put into practice.

Just about every brand you care about, just about every organization that matters to you–this is how they got there. By focusing on just a few and ignoring the non-believers, the uninvolved and the average.

Notes and snippets on Tweeter and FB (part 51)

How do you evaluate the experience of this cinema Star? Why do you have to attach Star to actresses? So she won’t antagonize me. What? nowadays, the behinds of non-famous are Stars. (Late Youssef Shaheen)

If you have talent in attracting positive opinions and large audience, a few truthful positions may compensate for the dozens of lies you disseminate: No attraction of the public, no roots for any valuable position.

Faire la solde des lingeries Fines? Have you heart of lingerie epaisse, non-sexy, non-chic, couleur suspecte …?

Et cet homme, accompagné par sa maitresse, tous les yeux des femmes le fusillant hainesement, marchant sur ses pieds, une bête traquee…

Et si il n’y avait pas de preuve de mort? Ca viendra tout de meme, la mort. Meme si la Court International de Justice (pour Rafic Hariri) durerait un siècle?

Titus a quitte Berenice, reine de Palestine, un siècle après JC. Titus a cesse d’aimer Berenice. Titus est mort, finalement. La question demeure: Pouquoi Titus a cesse d’aimer Berenice? Plus grave encore: Est-ce vrai que Berenice aimait toujours Titus, avant ou après la grande affaire?

Today, my eyes got wet: I read beautiful passages. I don’t recall ever crying: lack of imagination or feelings? Better late than never: I think that I’m recapturing some of my lost capacity for imagination and feelings.

The children of Palestine and those living in shantytowns of refugee camps, are systematically denied the basic rights of happiness, and of enjoying periods of laziness and boredom. The occupiers made sure to rob these kids of the basic feelings and their innate innocence. They are more mature than other children, and yet, more receptive to all kinds of feelings and emotions.

Que fait l’Art pour nous? Il met en forme et rend visibles a nos senses nos emotions et appose ce cachet d’ éternite qui incarne l’universalite des affects humaines. L’Art immortel genere l’emotion sans le desir ou la convoitise.

Qu’est ce que cette histoire de centaines de noeuds que forment la psychologie des hommes? Vous croyez que les psychanalystes savent quelque chose a la topologie?

Les grands (princes and presidents…), que les moins grands dedaignent, sont poutant heureux s’ils deviennent leurs gendres.

Qu’il y a peu d’humains et que le monde est desert? Mais pouquoi les gens sont mechants? Ou pretend l’etre pour qu’on leur fiche la paix?

Vous avez une petites vessie qui t’envoie sans delai au petit coin après une tasse de thé? Votre autonomie est reduite quand vous etes en voyage et que l’illusion d’avoire une petite vessie vous tracasse? Peut-etre qu’il y a des vessies plus reduites que d’autre, mais pas a compares avec celles des chameaux. C’est pas la vessie: chercher d’autre causes plus raisonable qui excitent la vessie

Quoi? Toute invasion au nom d’ un Dieu prend une dimension inhumaine et sauvage? Et les invasions aux noms de la finance et l’ economie pour recuperer des dettes souvereignes, sont- ells classes comme humaine et rationelles?

Les hommes de la Renaissance Europeenne? Mais durant l’ empire “Arabe”, la plupart des intellectuels etaient des hommes et des femmes  de Renaissance dans la diversite de leur connaissance multiple et leur talents artistiques.

Je ne peut me resoudre a negliger les appels (les noms des eleves), surtout le matin. Le son que fait votre nom a des vibrations de diapason.

Better, welcome your students as they enter the classroom (as in Protestant churches?) and imitate their responses, particularly the variations on “Present”.  Other teachers demand that the students wait in ordered line and in silence before the teacher opens the door of the classroom: Acquerir un peu de politesse  n’a jamais fait mal a personne.

In the afternoon, let the exhausted students listen for a couple of minutes to the noise outside and compare it to the noise inside the classroom, and proceed to speak at a lower volume.

Existe-il la possibilite de devenir ce qu’on n’est pas encore? Saurai-je saisir cette possibilite et faire de ma vie un autre jardin que celui de mes peres?

On s’epuise vite des monos: On veut de la diversite d’adoration. Ils sont des menteurs endurcis et chevrones, ceux qui prechent le monotheism ou la loyaute sexuelle des couples.

Avec l’age, ce qui est adequat dans la societe s’oublie: on devient trop ferme et inebranlable dans nos idee-fixes.


The two fears of voluntary education

Voluntary education is different from compulsory, the kind we grew up with.

When you’re the victim/beneficiary of compulsory education, it happens to you. You have little choice.

Perhaps you choose to open your mind and do the work, but either way, here it is.

Now that we’re adults, though, we have choice. Endless choice. (Too big a claim)

Most people choose to learn as little as possible, while a few dive in and find more insight, wisdom and opportunity than they could ever expect.

Why do so many people hold back?

  1. “This might not work”The truth is that you don’t need a license, experience or skill to run a course online. You can post videos, write blog posts and generally just show up and announce you’re teaching something.As a result, there’s a lot of reason for the buyer to beware. The student who spends time and money on a course that doesn’t work feels stupid, even stupider than they did before they began. Hopes aren’t realized and the disappointment in being ripped off is real.

    The second reason is a bit more surprising…

  2. “This might work”This is real, it’s disappointing, and it’s also the biggest reason people hesitate. We hesitate precisely because the course might deliver what it promises. Because a new experience, a workshop, an event might show you something you can’t unsee. It might lead to forward motion, to new opportunities and to change.But change brings risk and risk brings fear. Those new horizons, those new opportunities, those new skills–they might not be as comfortable as what you’ve got going on right now.

And so the challenge. We choose not to learn because it’s either going to fail (embarrassing and expensive) or it’s going to work (frightening). We get ourselves stuck between a rock and a hard place of inaction.

The door is open to be heroic.

To go on the journey from a place of fear. Not to wait for the fear to go away before you begin, but instead to begin precisely because there is fear.

Those that have successfully come before us have figured out how to make this leap.

To feel (and embrace) these fears, not to deny them, and to dig in because and despite.

The biggest hesitation is the fear of an open door.

The biggest challenge is the question we ask ourselves: Then what will I do?

That’s why we’re so eager to tweak the little things. Because the little things give us a little more of the same thing that we’re already used to.

Setting the Agenda: Sectarianism and Consociational Democracy

June 12, 2017. Lebanese Center for Ploicy Studies (LCPS)

An Interview with Dr. Bassel Salloukh 

As part of our series on sectarianism in Lebanon, LCPS sat down with Dr. Bassel Salloukh, associate professor of political science at the Lebanese American University, to discuss the historical roots of sectarianism, modern manifestations of sectarianism, and the nature of governance under a consociational system in Lebanon.

Below is a transcript of our conversation with Dr. Salloukh, which has been edited for length and clarity.

What is your understanding of sectarianism in Lebanon today?
The way literature on ethnic conflict on Lebanon deals with sectarianism is too narrow. The debate is usually framed between primordialists, instrumentalists, and constructivists.

I have always positioned myself against the primordial approach because it does not explain the timing of sectarian conflict. Instrumentalists emphasize strategies deployed by ethnic and sectarian entrepreneurs, but do not tell us why people follow them.

The constructivist approach unpacks the historical and material origins of these identities, but does very little to explain why they persist and harden over time. (Why explain if the facts and details are extended?)

I argue that the best way to understand the durability and hardening of sectarian identities in postwar Lebanon is to unpack the ensemble of institutional, clientelistic, and discursive practices that structure sectarian incentives.

A big part of this ensemble has to do with institutions, whether they are state institutions, family law, electoral institutions, or clientelistic institutions, but is not limited only to institutions.

So, instead of looking at sectarianism as an aberration, you study how this ensemble—these “practices of governance” to borrow from Michel Foucault, at different levels, from the individual to the geopolitical—creates a veritable political economy that undergirds the ideological hegemony of sectarianism.

It is this dynamic ensemble that best explains why sectarianism persists and why it is so difficult to undo. (Where is the explanation?)

How has the sectarian power-sharing system evolved in Lebanon since the prewar period?
I think there have been a number of structural transformations.

The first has to do with the architecture of the postwar power-sharing arrangement itself, the Taif Accord, and how it redistributed the sectarian balance of power and the sectarian quota. But there is another transformation that is no less important.

In the pre-war period, the sectarian elite was not the economic elite of the country. There were interrelations particularly at the Maronite level, such as with Beshara al-Khoury or Michel Chiha. But Saeb Salaam, Kamel Asaad, and Sabri Hamadeh were not economic elites. Their power was based on traditional clientelist networks, access to state resources, and the provision of services.

If you read memoirs of people from the pre-war era, you notice that they were not talking about sectarianism. The main dividing line was confessional. I

n the pre-war period, those who happened to be making certain political demands to change the system came from disadvantaged socio-economic classes and they happened to be Muslim. Those who were defending the status quo came from privileged economic backgrounds and they happened to be Christian.

Today, the sectarian and political elite is itself the economic elite in the county. (The anomy system where all permanent politicans managed to own all businesses and infrastructure) 

What is interesting in the post-war period is the emergence of an overlapping sectarian political and economic elite. And it is not in this overlapping elite’s interest to have a civil war because it would jeopardize their political economic interests.

But it is the emergence of this postwar overlapping sectarian and economic elite that makes political reforms all the more difficult.

Why has sectarian identity trumped socioeconomic identity in the postwar period?
Sectarian identity obviates socio-economic identity in postwar Lebanon because of what I have called a sectarian political economy and its concomitant ideological hegemony that incentivizes people to embrace and favor their sectarian identity over other identities that are available.

I always ask my students why poor Shia, poor Sunnis, poor Maronites, poor Greek Orthodox, poor Catholics, poor Druze, poor Armenians, etc., have not formed their own party.

Why don’t they think in class terms?

How come the Lebanese Communist Party in the last parliamentary elections received 8,000 votes in a country that is devastated economically?

The primordialists have an easy answer: Lebanese are sectarian because they are born sectarian and possess a sectarian political culture, which is nonsense really.

Instrumentalists explain this in terms of elite instrumentalization of sectarian identity.

These are not good enough explanations.

Once you have a whole political economy with its consequent ideological hegemony, a holistic ensemble operating at different levels, to reproduce sectarian identities, then we should not be surprised that people behave as nothing but docile sectarian subjects.

But if the incentive structure were changed, people may then stop adopting sectarianism as their primary mode of identification and mobilization.

Do you see examples of institutions and civil society groups prioritizing sectarian identity and perpetuating sectarianism?
Lebanese are immersed in an infrastructure of sectarianism from the cradle to the grave.

The whole institutional and ideational makeup of their everyday practices are demarcated by sectarian limits. Just look at the battle for civil marriage, and the resistance it has elicited from almost all confessional and sectarian officials, and you get a sense of the sectarian system’s subtle but real disciplinary violence. Of course, there are other examples.

Take elections as a case in point.

Is it surprising that most people vote along sectarian lines? (If the election laws pressure the citizens to vote in a biased fashion?) We must begin from the assumption that we should expect people to vote along sectarian lines when they are incentivized to think that it is the clientelist political economy of sectarianism that best serves their interests.

Look also at the practices of everyday life.

How come people are allowed to park their cars on sidewalks and engage in all kinds of illicit acts? Part of this has to do with the weak Lebanese state and the dislocations that come with stark income disparities in developing countries.

But I think there is also something intentional operating here. There is a will to defeat any effort that leads to transparency and accountability because if you have the latter people start asking the big questions. The logic of sectarianism is the rejection of anything called accountability and transparency.

Of course, all this does not mean that there are no “practices of freedom”, to borrow from Foucault again, where people resist the political economy and ideological hegemony of sectarianism. Whether it is women fighting against domestic violence or for more inclusive citizenship laws, teachers struggling for fairer wages, or Beirut Madinati and its different permutations in the recent municipal elections, these are all different forms of resistance against the political economy and ideological hegemony of the sectarian system.

But the problem is that genuine anti-sectarian and cross-sectarian civil society organizations are either ignored or fought by the sectarian elite. Those who want to resist are either coopted, fought, come to play a small role, or ultimately exit. It’s not as if there is no resistance, but the sectarian political economic elite is always ahead of them. The result is the perpetuation of the ideological hegemony of sectarianism, and mobilization continues in the name of the sect.

Could one make the argument that sectarianism is preventing Lebanon from descending into a serious conflict?
Not so much sectarianism but the postwar corporate power-sharing arrangement, and the overlap between the sectarian and economic elite, does go a long way in explaining why post-Syria Lebanon has not descended into all-out civil war despite the spike in sectarian agitation and violence since 2005 and the spillover effects of the war in Syria.

Let me unpack why this is so. Consociationalists have always been very cognizant of the fact that consociational democracy is a special kind of democracy. It’s not your regular liberal democracy, it’s not your majoritarian democracy, and they accept that it hardens ethnic, tribal, and sectarian identity over time. Basically, it’s a trade-off between civil war and political instability. Lebanon is a perfect example.

Many ask the question: “Do we want civil war or are we happy with the instability we have now?” Consociationalists, to their credit, are realists, and are conscious of the fact that consociational power-sharing agreements might become immobilized and lead to protracted political crisis, but their argument is that this is always far better than civil war. I am afraid that the kind of corporate power-sharing arrangement we have in the form of the Taif Accord, and the postwar political economic structures it has given rise to, does indeed protect against a slide to civil war, but makes the quest for political economic reforms all the more difficult.

Are there ways to move away from a conscociational democracy?
The main debate in the literature on how postwar, deeply divided societies can rebuild themselves is no longer about consociational democracy per se. It is rather within consociationalism, namely, between corporate consociationalism and liberal consociationalism. This is the debate that [Brendan] O’Leary and [John] McGarry address in their work on Iraq, which stems from a critique on how consociational democracy actually contributes to the hardening of sectarian or ethnic identities.

The argument is that instead of building a corporate consociational power-sharing arrangement, postwar states would be better served by a liberal consociation power-sharing arrangement, one that does not predetermine the identities peoples would choose to mobilize around.

If you look at the Taif Accord, it contains the kind of short-term consociational modalities that were needed to end the war; middle-term cenentripitalist institutions, such as the stipulations about the need for a new electoral law, decentralization, and a unified history textbook; and in the long-run, Taif does speak about integrationist deconfessionalism. But this is just on paper. Due to the long pax Syriana and the interests of the sectarian elite, in practice what we ended up with in Lebanon is an extremely tight and immutable corporate consociational power-sharing arrangement.

The question now becomes the following: If the postwar power-sharing arrangement is in crisis, then what should be done? Given Lebanon’s confessional demographics and given the sensitivity of the issue, nobody is going to open up the Pandora’s Box of renegotiating sectarian quotas. By contrast, implementing the changes Taif hints at what could help the country move from corporate consociation to what I call hybrid consociation; not corporate but also not liberal because the latter entails the abandonment of the postwar confessional and sectarian quotas, a nonstarter under present domestic and regional conditions.

Instead, some variation on PR voting, combined with a measure of real decentralization, could unleash hitherto repressed counterfactual anti-sectarian, trans-sectarian, and inter-sectarian identities. This may also begin to change the incentive structures under which people operate.

To be sure, the sectarian political elite will only implement PR in the context of a mixed electoral law, one that predetermines the results of the elections in their favor. My argument is that some variation of PR is needed to open up the political system to new voices and new forces.  Similarly, some kind of decentralization would go a long way toward containing sectarian demonizing by creating new forms of intra-sectarian competition.

However, because of the history of the civil war, people in Lebanon think decentralization is tantamount to taqsim [division of regional governance by sect]. LCPS has done a lot of work on this theme and has shown that if you actually take substantial powers from the central administration, decentralization increases accountability at the local level and helps unleash new socioeconomic or regional alliances and identities beyond sectarianism.

At the end of the day, there is a nineteenth sect of polyglot inter-sectarian and trans-sectarian citizens in this country battling to make their voices heard. If moving beyond consociational democracy is a recipe for disaster at the present time, why not engage in some institutional creativity and allow these citizens to express their own “vision of Lebanon”, to borrow from Albert Hourani, but from within state institutions? This stabilizes the political system and makes it a bit more inclusive.

Are you organizing for growth?

by Seth Godin

Maybe it’s (finally) working. Maybe demand is up, opportunities keep presenting themselves and people want to work with you.

So why are you so stressed out?

It might be because different organizational choices lead to different paths for growth.

Consider a house painter. His business has always been okay, but thanks to his skill and a local building boom, jobs keep showing up.

The traditional method: He lays out the money for paint, he does the work, he sends a bill, and soon, he gets paid.

The good news is that as a freelancer, he’s super flexible and can withstand tough times.

But in this environment, all sorts of trouble hits.

First, there’s a cash flow issue. New jobs mean more need for paint and materials, but he has to lay out his own cash to pay for it. Second, new jobs mean more work, but he’s the best (and the cheapest) employee, so he ends up working way more hours. No cash, no time, no joy.

An alternative is for the painter to create a scalable system.

He could require a down payment on every job, an amount calculated to cover all of his cash costs.

Second, he could spend the time to build a pool of journeyman painters, a Rolodex of talent ready when he needs it. In this scenario, the painter becomes a foreman, not a painter any longer.

Or, consider one step beyond that, in which the painter hires several foremen, each responsible for his own Rolodex.

Now, the painter is a CEO, a salesperson, the architect of a brand, an organization and its growth. But that still involves a lot of risk as he scales.

The last structure I’ll point out is the idea that the painter could refine his system and instead of dealing with homeowners, he could find partners, and license them the system.

The system might include his brand name, his sales approach, a computerized, data-driven direct marketing program and most of all, a rule book that lets people who don’t have his initiative enter this business.

By charging every partner who joins an upfront fee (this is how franchises work) as well as a share of their income, he can grow from state to state, building a nationwide painting behemoth.

There’s no right answer.

Not everyone should run a national painting franchise business. The key insight is to feel the pain that an organizational choice leads to and fix that instead of merely chasing demand and embracing each opportunity (no matter how juicy) as it comes along.

The key things to focus on, I think, are:

Cash flow

Demand enhancement

Increasing the ability to keep your promises by investing in a pipeline of talent

And most of all, reminding yourself why you’re doing this in the first place.

Lebanon’s dumping of toxic garbage into the Mediterranean stinks of EU corruption

June 17, 2017

The EU’s farcical ‘foreign policy’ in the Middle East is failing in Lebanon, where dumping toxic garbage into the Mediterranean Sea is creating a massive threat to the entire planet. But what’s the link with Syria’s refugees?

Recently, a government minister here admitted that Lebanon’s policy towards its garbage crisis was to simply dump 2 million tons of toxic garbage into the Mediterranean Sea.

My own investigation revealed, however, a side to this shocking story which few editors of giant media titles around the world could believe. Until now.

The Costa Brava ‘landfill site right next to Beirut airport holds a filthy secret that a large number of environmentalists, leading academics and corruption experts all know and have revealed to me in a series of recorded interviews.

Not only did the EU know about the massive sea-dumping operation, which was built at the end of the summer of last year, but the EU’s own ‘embassy’ here in Beirut deliberately kept quiet about it. Why?

Because it did not want to annoy the Lebanese government, which is hosting almost 2 million Syrian refugees.

Let that sink in for a moment.

The European Commission is keeping tight-lipped about what might be the largest environmental calamity in the Eastern Mediterranean – which not only threatens marine life, but also the health of Europeans holidaying in Greece – because it is too afraid of the political fall-out in Europe [Read: Germany] if Syrian refugees start to leave Lebanon and head for Europe.

Of course, no one is suggesting that the glamorous French EU delegation here in Beirut kept quiet and played dumb, because they have their careers to consider too.

But Christina Lassen, head of the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon, has some explaining to do.

Hundreds of millions of euros are spent each year on policing EU member states and their environmental misdemeanors; hundreds more on jobs for eurocrats in EU institutions; and hundreds more on EU-sponsored films, brochures and paid TV spots.

And then there’s the EU External Action Service which has had its own number of scandals as it soaks up a cool 700 million euros a year, much of which goes to support lavish embassies around the world and ‘diplomats’ who appear to live the high life.

But what is really the job of this super diplomacy outfit?

In Lebanon, it was clearly to keep this tiny country’s government happy at any cost – even the health of Europeans who cough up a 150bn euros a year to keep the EU project running – as corruption comes in many forms.

Lebanon is ranked by Transparency International as one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

And yet it receives well over 200 million euros a year in cash from Brussels just to contain at least 1.8 million Syrian refugees. (More than 50% of Lebanon total population)

It’s actually not even a lot of money. For this pathetic amount, Europe has to console itself that it won’t have a refugee problem from Lebanon in exchange for possibly some of its 400 million citizens getting cancer from swimming in contaminated waters or eating contaminated fish.

Add to that the gradual extinction of indigenous turtles who lay their eggs on Lebanese beaches, and the stink just fills your lungs.

Fishy business snares EU holiday makers

Think this is far fetched? Not according to one of Lebanon’s leading expert academics at the American university who confirms the pollution is heading towards Europe.

“The pollution never stops at one point,” Professor Najat A. Saliba of the AUB tells me. “The ocean is a living beast and currents are always in motion. Trash and leachates will move mainly from the south to the north as this is the prevalent wind in Lebanon.”

Her further explanation sounds almost apocalyptic as the entire region could be affected by dire health implications.

The environmental impact on the water, animal life, ocean biodiversity and the whole marine ecosystem is horrific… Leachate full of toxins will be seeping through the piles to contaminate the marine life. In addition to the toxins, organic matters will use up the oxygen in the sea and as such deprive the marine life from its oxygen,” she warns.

“Health damages also come from eating fish, increase in bacteria in the air, and infiltration of sea water into the coastal wells,” Professor Saliba concludes.

This point has been seized upon by one British MEP, who slammed it as an “hypocritical and a shameful indictment on the incompetence of the EU.”

“What is going on here is an environmental disaster with this toxic waste spreading to other countries from the sea’s currents and polluting anything it gets in the way of,” says UKIP’s MEP Mike Hookem, its party’s Fisheries spokesman.

“Not only will sea life be at risk but people could be too, through contaminated food and through polluted water particularly as it spreads up through Mediterranean countries where people go on holiday,” he warns.

One explanation why the Lebanese government has allowed the EU projects to fall apart is that its leaders in Beirut have a vested interest in other, bigger garbage contracts, if the Costa Brava plan is finally scrapped.

Lebanon also has a legacy of its corrupt leaders taking areas of the coast, filling it with garbage (and ultimately concrete) and them making hundreds of millions of dollars in developing the plots as luxury apartments.

Presumably, the EU’s highly informed diplomats know about that as well though.

Garbage and destroyed hill in Kalimantan, Indonesia © Andre Vltchek 

‘Pay off for Syrian crisis’

Laury Haytayan is an anti-corruption campaigner in Lebanon who believes that the “EU surely knows about the sea dumping of the garbage” but argues that “the garbage crisis is keeping politicians in power as it brings in money” even including contracts around the sea dump so “it’s hardly surprising that the EU projects don’t work.”

What she is referring to is 13 EU-funded sorting and composting centres which are a shambles and, in reality, have only served as cash cows for corrupt politicians, which a number of experts also blame as contributing to the government’s “sea dump.”

But no one is holding their breath for the top brass in Brussels to even acknowledge what is going on with their own diplomats.

Mike Hookem scolds the EU for the massive error but takes it further. “To make matters worse the EU diplomatic corps has one of their erzatz ’embassies’ in Lebanon so Brussels can’t claim to know what’s going on – although incompetence has admittedly never been a firing offence in the EU”, adds the UKIP MEP.

“This is all just a pay off for the Syrian refugee crisis which the EU can’t get a handle on because it is more obsessed with attacking Russia and Assad than it is dealing with ISIS,” claims Hookem.

In reality, the EU is probably not guilty of incompetence.

In my view, the role of its diplomatic service is to engage with corrupt, backward countries – often with appalling human rights records – to ensure that they comply with a contingent requirement of Brussels: to assist the EU in its PR campaign to make it look much more relevant and important than what it really is.

Give our EU chief the over-the-top VIP treatment when she visits, get your journalists to write up our press releases verbatim and do the ‘grip-n-grin’ photos. And never criticize our policies. That’s the deal.

The Lebanon story is about refugees.

The millions of refugees poised on the EU’s perimeter – in Lebanon or in Turkey – are there because of failed states which are supported by the EU through slush funds, or payouts to corrupt governments – dressed up as state-building tools – but in reality are simply bribes, pay offs.

No one is kidding themselves that the Barcelona Process is really anything other than a broken URL link on the European Commission’s own website (which it really is).

In Lebanon, the EU keeps quiet not only about the garbage scandal but much more besides.

Many Syrian refugees have resorted to either slavery (often child) or prostitution for young girls. This tiny country is also falling into a chasm of authoritarian rule which is usually associated with African states. (An anomy State where the politicians own all the businesses)

Just recently a video went viral of peaceful protesters being brutally beaten, while new measures are being adopted all the time here to crackdown on anyone who criticizes the state (similar to Gulf Arab countries). I can’t be the only one who notices the tight-lipped EU diplomats who assist in this process by tacit approval.

Remarkably, the EU’s own diplomatic service doesn’t even generate good PR though for Brussels, such is its colossal failure as a fake news conduit. But the stench of graft which reminds me of 1999 has returned to my nostrils in Beirut.

The EU today has no whistleblowers or investigative journalists holding it to account, due to its own crackdown so that a 1999 scandal would never repeat itself. It is a power-crazed unhinged beast which seeks survival at any cost, even of its own people.

The EU’s relationship with Lebanon, like scores of other poor countries it uses as a means to promote itself, just stinks.

In 1999, in Brussels, I witnessed and reported on the collapse of the European Commission whose executive resigned en masse under a cloud of shocking corruption allegations involving EU commissioners themselves manipulating the system by employing friends who, in turn, scooped million dollar contracts.

The scandal not only threw a spotlight on the guilty, but also on the system itself which spectacularly failed to root out corruption and embezzlement from within the EU institutions.

The Barcelona Process, a bold and ambitious plan for the EU to harness Mediterranean countries closer to the Brussels sphere kicked off four years earlier. It also aimed to guide these countries on Europe’s periphery to modernize and improve their human rights aligning themselves with the moral tutelage which European Commission Presidents used to dish out in those days, while at the same time destroying at least four whistle blowers (in 2002) and arresting and charging journalists on trumped up charges.

The case of Hans-Martin Tillack in 2004 is well documented and will be remembered for the police banging on his door at 5am in the morning and taking him and his computers away, with a Belgian cop telling him ‘it’s not as bad as Burmah, eh?’

So, fast forward to The Lisbon Treaty in 2010 which gave the EU its own foreign policy along with up to 1 billion euro a year budget to create its own ‘External Action Service’. But since the EEAS started, its own venal working methods just seem to exacerbate how corrupt Brussels is and will probably always be.

It’s not just that the Barcelona Process was such an outstanding failure – Libya, Syria, Lebanon (2006) – and not to mention the Arab Spring. Today, the EU’s farcical foreign policy is actually doing more harm than good as it’s not even serving its own corrupt masters in Brussels.

More recently you might be astounded to see how far and how desperate the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini is prepared to go, just to give her own department credibility and serve the EU machine with PR capital. From offering jihadists in Syria hundreds of millions of dollars in cash to stop fighting, right through to planning to secure a UN mandate so EU battleships could bomb refugee boats coming from Libya, there’s plenty to read for a good laugh.

But the darker side to the EU’s diplomatic service is no joke.

Indeed, there could never have been a more febrile example of how corrupt, ill-conceived and hypocritical the EU’s foreign policy is, than in Lebanon today.

Martin Jay is based in Beirut and can be followed on @MartinRJay. 

Martin Jay is an award winning British journalist now based in Beirut who works on a freelance basis for a number of respected British newspapers as well as previously Al Jazeera and Deutsche Welle TV. Before Lebanon, he has worked in Africa and Europe for CNN, Euronews, CNBC, BBC, Sunday Times and Reuters. Follow him on Twitter @MartinRJay




July 2017
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