Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Year's Priorities

Ignore the news and enjoy the New Year's parties as much as you can, there'll be time enough for 2008 to suck. Nothing really changed from the end of 2006. Worse; the light at the end of the tunnel appears to be a train coming our way.

... And why shouldn't it?

As in Jan. 2007, each player continues to play "for keeps", and there is no likely "package deal" that will satisfy their hunger. As they continue on their collision course, the different players are mixing up alll the priorities, sacrificing"strategic" issues like sovereignty and the rule of law and precedent to secure "tactical" gains such as ministerial appointments and MP seats.

This is actually a common Arab mistake, and one that keeps recurring. In Lebanon, the 1990's were but a series of miscalculations, and of leveraging short term targets against long term needs, and it all led to the ballooning debt and to his assassination.

It is worth noting that, for all his faults, Saad appears to be a fast learner, but others are unlearning; the logic that led the Hariri camp to the '05 miscalculation and the Ashrafieh debacle is now followed by Aoun and Syria today.

Cases in point (Two of them)

1- Fellow blogger Mustapha points to a good article from an otherwise smart Aoun supporter; while there is a lot to say against the current majority's style, there is far more to say against the substance of the opposition's methods.

2- Michael Young shows convincingly how the Assad's rush to escape the tribunal is causing Syria to dig itself deeper in the mess.

The Long Term

The long term is not so rosy for those guys; aside from its Keynesian implication (H/T, G.K.), the long term has another impact on them. In their rush to secure short term gains, they are sacrificing the long the long term survival of their nations, groups, or clans. Yes, part of this is systemic, but part of it is

It does not take a genius to realize that the Aoun's actions will all backfire badly. And the Syrians will not change track any time soon; while they are losing many friends and much credibility, they still won't feel the isolation.

Even if the Hariri tribunal comes on time, Brammertz discretion reassures them. Yes, shorty may talk the talk now, but he too easily backs down. And there will always be an occasional idiot willing to visit (again) and validate the regime. Finally, with Damascus as the Arab cultural capital for 2008, Bashar will be too busy inaugurating those Chrysanthemums to worry much about his isolation till late 2008...

And by Early 2009...

By then, 2009 would have come along, with a new US President, and a solidly established tribunal. Yes, there may still be some (slim) chance for a deal with the Americans, even if the French are still grouchy, but that is unlikely unless someone is counting on huge oil finds.

By then, it will be too late;

when farmers eat their wheat fallow,

they only ensure their long term demise.

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