Author Archives: Michael Young

Tea Party topography

Tea Party topography

This month’s mid-term elections in the United States will show us the direction the country will head in the coming two years and indicate the future shape of American foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East. One factor determining electoral outcomes will be the fate of the disparate Tea Party movement, which has disturbed the

Summer of the stifling state

The possibility that several Gulf states, as well as India, might suspend BlackBerry services unless certain security conditions are implemented is the latest sign of the tension between modern technology and the impositions of the state. In July, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia sought to come to an agreement with BlackBerry’s Canadian manufacturer,

A perversion of principles

Recently, The Economist took an interest in Arab autocracy, titling a leader on the subject “Thank You and Goodbye.” The premise for this statement was that the leaders of Egypt and Saudi Arabia were getting old, therefore change is coming to both countries “for good or ill.” Change is indeed coming, but the rule in

Europe’s anomaly

Lately, Arabs appear to have rediscovered Turkey, which they had previously tended to depict as something gruesome in its Ottoman personification. This shallow rediscovery — shallow for being pegged to Arab fears, mainly of Iran and Israel — comes amid more interesting dynamics related to Europe and the reversal of European integration. In 2005, the

Freedom in flames

Recently, I happened to be involved in a public debate about the possibility of Lebanon soon introducing a smoking ban, along the lines of similar interdictions in Syria and Turkey. What most irritated anti-smoking activists was my proposal to allow for choice in certain types of facilities, with the market determining behavior. The outrage said

Imagery intifada

  This March 14 will be the fifth anniversary of the massive gathering that took place one month after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. And while the politics of the event continue to divide the Lebanese, there is a less-publicized aspect of the popular demonstrations of 2005 that merits retrospective consideration:

Lebanon – A state of patronage

In the first weeks of trying to form a government, the prime minister-designate, Saad Hariri, reportedly held meetings to see how he and his ministers might affect economic reform. It was a brave step, one that was much-needed. However, the complexity of Lebanese patronage networks makes serious reform efforts almost impossible to implement. When Rafiq

Politics – Obama in Cairo

Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo last month provoked mixed reviews. Some said the US president spent too much time apologizing for American behavior in the Middle East; others said his words were just that, words, needing implementation. The only consensus reached was that Obama had been eloquent, but that somehow reminded us of the old

Ethics – The need for greed

Ever since the financial crisis hit last October, rarely a day goes by without another article being published suggesting how we must all develop a greater social conscience when it comes to economic affairs. That word “conscience” is an interesting one, both for its quasi-religious overtones and for the fact that use of the word

Syria – France’s other cheek

In July, Syrian President Bashar Assad was received with high honors in Paris, shortly after Syrian political prisoners rioted at the Saydnaya prison near of Damascus, reportedly after their mistreatment by guards. The guards were said to have shot prisoners in reaction, before being overwhelmed, though the exact number of deaths was not clear. Some

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