Sunday, August 05, 2007

Risk & Rewards (2/2)

As the elections proceed along, many have risk much, to be rewarded… Very little. Once again, Lebanese politicians are demonstrating they have more shrewdness than intelligence; more street-smarts than smarts…

As they clobber one another in Metn and Beirut, they lose sight of how lousy their politics’ risk/reward ratio really is. Indeed, each is investing more in this figth than he is really gaining. I’ll focus on the Main “contenders”;

Amine Gemayel

Amine Gemayel’s foray in Parliamentarian politics is fraught with dangers; to an ex-president, the price of defeat may be too high, unless he’s going after bigger game. And may well be; Sheikh Amine is now one of the top contenders to the Presidency.

Lebanese memory being what it is, people have forgotten the last time he in office, and how unpopular he had become. On the plus side, Sheikh Amine has always been among the shrewdest politicos around, and he may have learned from his past mistakes.

Only two things stand in his way... rather, two Michel’s.

Michel El-“Bteghrinator” Murr

Michel El-Murr, is one of those Michel’s… As a Christian Orthodox, he is no direct competitor to Sheikh Amine. But the Metn may prove to be too small for two dynasties, and the Murr’s and the Gemayel’s may have to settle issues, some related to family issues, some related to the local pecking order.

Incidentally, the Armenians also have a place to claim in that pecking order, and a few scores to settle with the side that usurped their MP seats.

But the fact remains that, whatever the outcome of this battle, the Bteghrinator cannot afford to play. Aoun maybe his ally today, but two salient facts remain:

1- He will have to contend with the Gemayel’s when the dust settles. And win or lose, Sheikh Amine will prove to be a tricky neighbour. On the long run, the Armenians can leverage their “division”, but the Bteghrinator will have a harder time managing both sides. Unless he manages to sell the claim that “they” have twisted his arm in supporting Aoun.

2- Being an Orthodox Christian, Murr is not eligible to be king, and can only hope to be king-maker, or king-breaker. He may well break the kingdom of Amine in Metn, but Aoun is one king he cannot afford to make…

Michel “Berezina” Aoun

That is because an electoral victory in Metn will not make the kingdom of Aoun anywhere nearer… This is because Aoun has already lost the Metn elections, regardless of the result. Even before the dust settles, two things have emerged;

1- With his claim of representing the majority of Christians, and therefore Maronites, Aoun can ill afford anything less than a majority of the Maronite votes in Metn. This is something he is unlikely to get. He is already be perceived as winning a Maronite seat with the help of Orthodox Christians and Armenians.

2- Aoun could do without the "support" of Hezb (who calls it a “referendum”), the Baath, the PSNS, and a motley crew of bused-in “nationalized” Syrians. But things being as they are, he needs all the support he can get to win the seat.

A seat he could not afford to win…

... Even the bravest pick their battles.


ghassan karam said...

Without the assumption of rational behaviour and rational markets there would be no mainstream economics or modern theories of finance. But how often do we act rationally especially if we seek rewards that are greater than the mean? Risk aversion leads to mediocre returns :-)

Sheikh Amin might be able to win the jackpot by winning this battle but for the life of me I do not understand the total irrational illogical thinking of Mr. Aoun. He will win nothing even by winning the seat in the Metn. I still feel that the Generals' implosion has enterd the phase of no return.

Anonymous said...

Hazbani asked and begged.
Some of you people know so much, seriously. Can some one please explain to me, bred and born in the ME, this Armenian thing in Lebanons last by-election. I know that generally people are supposed to show their wisdom but, well, I am an exeption, could some body please try and tell me some thing about this Armenian case, please.

Pazuzu said...

still waiting for your analysis now that the election are over

Amos said...


I don't really know anything, so I'll defer to the other people here for a real explanation. But it looks to me like the Armenians had some very particular grievances related to typically complicated Lebanese "representativity" power-sharing agreements. The Dashnak were flexing their muscles - maybe a little too much. Who will benefit from all this? Neither the Armenians nor Gemayel.

Jeha et al. please correct my mistakes.

Anonymous said...

Hazbani said
This is personal.
Dear J.
You have changed the form of submitted comments and you are asking for a friend address. Being an Israeli I am sure that some where some place there is a law against me E mailing to Lebanon. Least some body take this against Israel, Leb. has similar laws. Not that any body realy care and I and hundreds others have E mailed to Arab countries, but one never knows and I have seen people get into troubles for lesser stupidities. I do not care about my self, what will they do to a old demented idiot like me? put me in Jail? fine me? but I hate to give a friend address, even if he OK it, and several did but I would not do it. Can you do some thing about it?

Anonymous said...


I am not sure what you are referring to; I have not done anything other than enable comment moderation.

As an example, I have posted this anonymously, to see how it goes. There is no way Google has placed additional restrictions without informing me.

In any case, comment moderation will be off next week, inchallah.

Jeha said...


There. The Anonymous comment above went unopposed. I am concerned about this additional step that appeared. In any case, I think we can proceed by elimination as to its source;

1- I did not have trouble from Lebanon,

2- Others have not reported this trouble from any other countries,

3- I would look closer to home for the "additional" step that appeared. Maybe someone from your locale is monitoring those? Could be a company firewall, or something more elaborate.


Done. I hope you'll like the next post.


The comment is intriguing. Our Lebanese background should have immunized us to any thoughts that rationality plays a central role in our lives. We are often irrational beings, struggling to leverage stone age, hunter-gatherer minds in our sedentary, electronic age.