Author Archives: Peter Speetjens

Lebanon‘s political hypochondria

One good thing about living in Lebanon is that it is hardly ever boring. Even if the country is not plagued by war, internal strife or election fever, the Lebanese have no difficulty in finding an issue to disagree about and, thanks to a natural-born love for high drama, happily blow it out of proportion.

Hezbollah killed JFK

Most people will be familiar with Joseph Goebbels’ famous line: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” Yet what they may not know is how the late Nazi Minister of Propaganda advised to deliver the message: “Think of the press as a great keyboard

Madoff’s unanswered billions

On March 12, former Wall Street icon Bernard Madoff pled guilty to all criminal charges brought against him, including fraud, theft, money laundering and perjury. Most people will be more than happy that the 70-year-old confessed and that he will get no less than 150 years behind bars. The latter is of course a symbolic

The law unto themselves

"All animals are equal, yet some animals are more equal than others,” George Orwell famously wrote in his political satire Animal Farm, in which pigs rule over all other animals, using dogs as their foot soldiers. The novel has not lost an inch of its value in today’s “new world order.” On July 14, the

Nahr el-Bared: One Year On

Better late, than never. That could have been the motto for the June 23 donor conference in Vienna, in which a string of western nations pledged to pay $122 million for the reconstruction of the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr el- Bared. A similar conference will be held in Riyadh next month, where Lebanon’s Arab

The Tunisian Change

On November 7, 2007, it was precisely 20 years ago that “the change” took place. Today, one month later, the streets of Tunis are still colored red with tens of thousands of the nation’s flags and images of President Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali, while you cannot open a magazine without reading about the incredible progress

ADL‘s chutzpah on genocide

How world politics can have an impact on a local level was nicely demonstrated on October 17 in Boston, where the Somerville Human Rights Committee held a special meeting regarding the Statement on the Armenian Genocide by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The ADL, a Jewish advocacy group against anti-Semitism and all forms of hate speech,

The business of doing arms

Most media reported it rather matter-of-factly. Washington over the next decade will supply its regional allies Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and several other Gulf States with $63 billion worth of advanced weaponry in addition to what these countries normally spend on military equipment. According to Condoleezza Rice, this extra weaponry is needed to counter the

Race for the Arctic

The times they are changing, and they are changing fast. At the turn of the 20th century Frederick Cook and Robert Peary had to spend weeks on end in sledges and lost many a toe to frostbite in their race to become the first to reach the North Pole. It now seems likely that by