Author Archives: Michael Young

Political uncertainly, economic suicide

Political uncertainly, economic suicide

As Lebanon ended the year 2006 in a spell of indecision and instability, alarmingly little attention was given to what arguably may be, short of war, the most debilitating result of the country’s political deadlock: economic collapse. The giant bubble of confidence that has, miraculously, kept Lebanon afloat financially in the last decade will not

No Room for Openness

If 2003 was a year when, realistically or not, there was hope for liberalism in the Middle East, this past year was most certainly one in which that hope collapsed. Initial optimism that a capitalist culture of free markets and free minds might emerge from the fall of the despotic regime of Saddam Hussein has

Vote to blow bush off course? US’s Iraq plan sinking

Around the time this article will appear, the United States will be preparing for a congressional election that may have a decisive impact on capitalist culture in the Middle East—in other words, on the stated aim of the Bush administration to advance liberal democracy in Arab countries, so exchanges of ideas and money are free,

A tale of three cities

The recent Lebanon war could be interpreted at many levels, but perhaps its most significant impact was how it came to damage Lebanon’s capitalist culture—a culture of openness, relatively unhindered exchanges, and faith in the regenerative qualities of the market. A decade ago, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt neatly encapsulated the dilemma of postwar Lebanon, caught

Unlucky Luciano

With a major Italian football scandal ushering in the World Cup in Germany, which begins in just over a week’s time, it is often difficult to remember there is more to the sport than money; there is also that old and somewhat ruffled phantom, the beauty of the game. Aficionados have long been uncomfortable with

Policy crossroads

American intellectuals and foreign policy wonks have been engaged in a spirited exchange of late, not for the first time prompted by one of their own: the intellectual and former foreign policy wonk Francis Fukuyama. In the dying days of the Cold War, Fukuyama wrote an illustrious essay in the neoconservative journal The National Interest,

Black gold black ops

Why is it that in Hollywood movies, the Middle East is always best understood by characters that are jaded? Watching George Clooney in Stephen Gaghan’s film Syriana, that obligation is again respected. Clooney, who portrays a CIA agent and won an Oscar for his role, shuffles through the scenes comatose with cynicism, burdened by his

Democracy Dilemma

As the United States has turned spreading Middle Eastern democracy into a top foreign policy priority, it has also seen the broad boulevard of simple ideas on the matter turn into a warren of blind alleys. While the complexity of the problem must not mean discontinuing efforts to push the region’s states and societies toward

Close to the edge?

It’s already evident, barring a miracle, that there will be no “Beirut I”, let alone a “Paris-II”, conference this February to help Lebanon face its increasingly ominous economic tribulations. In fact, amid the political schisms of the past six weeks, so little attention has been paid to the country’s financial situation, that Finance Minister Jihad

Free at last?

2005 was a paradoxical year for free minds in the broader Middle East. By the year’s end, Iraq will have held three elections in less than 12 months. Lebanon, after almost three decades of a Syrian military presence transformed into absolute hegemony after 1990, saw the Syrians forced out and held its first relatively free

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