February 27, 2014

Dear Vladimir Putin,

Greetings and Good Day,

“You cannot just make several holes in the ground and live off that, says Surkov, who believes that kind of mindset is the main problem of Russia’s top businessmen. For too long the country has depended on oil, gas, and other natural resources in order to pull its weight on the global arena, and it’s time to change that”.

I take the liberty to write to you, although I imagine you are having full sessions of meetings absorbing your time in this challenging phase of events in Ukraine.
I write to you Vladimir, not as a president of a nation/state, a solid power that rivets an important role in world affairs since centuries, rather as an intelligent individual.
Since the revolution in Russia, the establishment was short of projecting social capability and citizenry, there were some issues to be defined in geopolitics, where grandeur was fatal, consumer spending didn’t exist and the state was very much in control.
Oppression emerged as a leitmotif of the regime, even if eventually, military parades were replaced by big malls after the end of the cold war.
If it is true that Russia has a near abroad concept and many interests linked to hydrocarbon export to Europe, it is also true that stability brought by you to the post Boris phase, didn’t translate into economic achievements, or development to the citizenry.
Your main achievement is up to date to stop the ”rocambolesque” descent of the USSR into something undefined, but this again didn’t contribute to define what is Russia today.

Stability is negative when it nurtures or doesn’t eliminate oppression; it ends up with a popular movement of defiance, of refusal and of denial. Stability is positive when it succeeds to build on a sane opposition, a concept of peaceful rotation in the management of state affairs.
My intent is not to develop a vision for governance, as I believe you have much logic, but rather it is to give you an independent view into your exceptional challenges, and encourage you to emphasize a rational approach.

Vladimir, your task is to transform the impasse into an opportunity.
As we both know the “EuroMaidan” is a popular uprising that is trying to manage the post YANUKOVICH phase and documented deaths. It can well commit several errors in this emotional intersection, hence your contribution can be to widen the schism with Russia or close the gap.
There is nothing bad in announcing a surprise military drill to protect your immediate interests in Crimea and Sevastopol, but something will be totally wrong if you don’t understand the dynamics of change.
I recommend you announce a financial grant lifeline up to 3 billion USD to any new Ukrainian cabinet that will be approved by the parliament today or tomorrow, and that you coordinate a Russian role into safeguarding with other European and US powers the integrity and national wealth of UKRAINE.
Apology for old mistakes can be also an act of posture and excellent positioning.
Vladimir, this is no Prague or Kabul or Ossetia/Georgia, this is about the Russian true role in the future, so far you lost ten years, hunting, fishing, feeding tigers, celebrating Olympics and sticking to an obsolete Westphalia pact that honors killers such as Assad.
You didn’t advance your economy, and UKRAINE caught you by surprise when you were in SOCHI.
After the financial grant, you can do your best to facilitate the free election of a new president and of a new parliament and the final objective will be to transform UKRAINE, into a FEDERAL state, united but having a twin nature and spirit.
Details will be agreed in a negotiated process.
Vladimir I need you to realize that not only Ukraine requires a fresh look, but also Syria in view of the policy options the US is trying to develop.
My understanding is that in Syria the balance between warring factions can protract indefinitely, and time is on the side of the US as it is closer to energy independence, hence what is required is your courageous will to get into a transitional government as agreed in GENEVA 1.

I am sure that the next peace Nobel will be yours only if you act wisely and move in, rather than ceding the media to Medvedev.
Put your face Vladimir in the good solution, this is my advice.
Do not, I repeat, do not under any circumstance use any force, be resourceful and transform the Russian role in world affairs into a graceful and leading role.

Setting a military station in the northern pole is fine as far as you have a vision of citizenry to which you will extend the energy line.

“Glory of Russia Cape (Russian: Слава России, Slava Rossii) is the northernmost point of St. Matthew Island in the Bering Sea in the US state of Alaska.The cape is hilly, with the peak 1.3 miles (2.1 km) south of the cape being 1,475 feet (450 m) high, while at its coastline the cape is 5 m above mean sea level.” WIKIPEDIA

Wish you fond regards and sincere wishes,

Thank You

128 plus 48

February 24, 2014

Dear Reader,

Greetings and Good Day,

“In politics, representation describes how some individuals stand in for others or a group of others, for a certain time period. Representation usually refers to representative democracies, where elected officials nominally speak for their constituents in the legislature. Generally, only citizens are granted representation in the government in the form of voting rights; however, some democracies have extended this right further”. WIKIPEDIA

In view of the upcoming gathering for “the friends of Lebanon” in March, and whenever we wish to support the cedar nation with deeds, somehow we need to consider some Lebanese facts and numbers.
Lebanon has one president, 24 ministers, 128 members of parliament, 2 main levels of administrative divisions, the Muhafazat counting 6 plus 2 (BAALBECK/HERMEL and AKKAR) and 27 CAZAS (QADA’A) plus Beirut the capital.
Lebanon has approximately 3.350.000 registered voters, 1.500.000 million refugees, and it has one Lebanese who emigrated in each four families. The highest birth rate is in the north and the highest death rate in the BEKAA, it is thought that illiterate residents ( less than 7 years of school) still account for 400.000.

Lebanon has 1108 municipalities and approximately 1500 villages; it has thousands of public officials and employees, ranging from politicians, to armed forces (Army, FSI, GS, Intelligence, Customs, etc.) firemen, central bank, ministries including diplomats and social security, semi governmental institutions such as OGERO& MEA& Green Project, airports, ports, and public schools accounting for more than 220,000 people which on an average of 1 to 4, they interrelate to approximately 900.000 Lebanese citizens in excess.

Lebanon has thousands of private industries and independent firms, a significant number of lawyers, doctors, engineers, beauty salons, small bakeries, Security agencies, landlords cultivating their lands, a flourishing banking sector employing more or less 80.000, a construction and real estate dimension, and a dynamic jewelry sector employing thousands of citizens.
The trade sector, Private Hospitals, and the tourism sector (including hotels, restaurants, beaches and travel companies ) most likely account for much of the consumer spending and the national GNP with thousands of employees also; although unfortunately these are in midst of a major crisis. Hence the private sector also more or less has to do with approximately 900.000 Lebanese citizens in excess.
The state here is totally absent if not for tax collection.

Lebanon has also immersed traffics based on smuggling drugs, arms, cars, luxurious items, black markets, money laundering; and these generate illegal income for an unknown number of citizens. And yet the majority of the Lebanese are living under very tough social conditions and simultaneously the country is politically witnessing a vertical division.

In truth the nation is delineated following two divergent notions; in turnout: above and fewer than 50 % in 2009 elections, in SUNNI/SHIITE registered voters: almost equivalent in number and in dis-accord in purpose, in political affiliation versus the Syrian crisis, etc. Considering that the number of parliamentary seats and the number of seats for each confessional group that is allocated to each QADA’A has remained unchanged since 1992; even if there have been four different variations in the electoral redistricting since then; sense making oblige us to realize that any new electoral law will not modify the fragile Lebanese equilibrium per Se’, unless it will be coupled to a change in minds, where good governance will mean above all accountability and respond to a functioning representation.

Obviously Lebanon cannot move forward forever with unity cabinets or technocrat cabinets or other denominations, avoiding any kind of effective delivery of services and upgrade of the state structures and/or infrastructures and reforms. An absent Lebanon ruled by profiteers and corrupted elite.

In my opinion the practical solution resides in permitting to a political group A to govern as per a declared program and then an opposing group B will exert its balancing power by replacing A in the next mandate. A simple formula even if applying it is extremely difficult, in a nation where there are two citizenry for example in the hereditary law.

But we have to try.

Whenever we compare the number of registered voters in 2009 and 2013 CAZA per CAZA we will realize that major changes didn’t occur, even if BATROUN, Koura, BCHARRE’ lost some voters , KESROUAN , METN , BAABDA gained others and etc, without significantly altering the existing status-quo.

What we need is not only to perfect the representation, but to couple it to good and workable governance.

From all the above and considering that the Orthodox proposal and the 11 districts both were vetoed , I think it is consequential not to change vastly the number of electoral districts from the ones we have, but rather to add more members of parliament to be elected in a separate list on a one Lebanon concept. This will ameliorate representation and governance alike.

Therefore we will have each voter filling two lists, one for the normal electoral district (where 26 existing districts can be fine or only if necessary very slightly revised), and another based on a national list that will elect 48 new parliament members divided half/half as per Lebanese coexistence formula. It is like having a senate of the republic inside the parliament. Very candid.

The limits will be on the age, where the normal districts can authorize candidates up to 65 years, while the national list can allow candidates up to 75.

The national list will be on a one Lebanon concept even if it will represent 3 geographic areas. The first will include Akkar, Minieh Dinnieh, Tripoli, Zgharta, Koura, Batroun, Bcharre’, Baalbeck Hermel . The second will include Jbeil, Kesrouan, Metn, baabda, Aley , Chouf, Beirut 1,2,3. The third will include Zahle’, West bekaa Rashaya, Jezzine, Saida, Bint Jbeil, Zaharani, Nabatye, Tyre, Hasbaya Marjayoun.
Each area will contribute with 16 new MP’s on the national ticket (one million voters each aprox) that will be allocated as per some demographic metrics and compromises to generate representation based on the idea of governance for accountability. Most importantly the political group that wins on a national level can win a maximum of 10 seats per Geographic area totaling 30, while the loser groups if more than one and exceeding 7 % of total turn out each , will divide or take all 6 per area totaling up to 18.

This is the easiest way to find a Lebanese amalgam, where the voter can change names in the normal district lists, but will vote one national list with 48 names numbered from 1 to 48 where he/she the voter, can delete and not change up to 6 names on the national list as per own discretion.

All involved will have benefits, political groups will exert and share governance matching accountability, the opposition will prepare the terrain for a future victory, the citizen will have an excellent say, and the state will have a majority/ normal district coupled to national/semi proportional system that will be an excellent tool for a consequential democracy.

Experts will easily find out where and according to which confession to add seats for the parliament and this new formula will give effervescence to the national tissue and more dynamics to politics.

The constitution will still need small amendments, where the president will have the right to call for general elections in case of national crisis and the speaker will have a limit of maximum one term, as much as other minor adjustments.

The Lebanese mafia and the corrupt elite will have to lobby more and with fatigue; to gain consensus and all this will bring benefits to Lebanon, assuming it will protect its borders and work hard for its economic growth, reforms and establish a national sovereign fund for its hydrocarbon richness.

This will take us to the next phase and it will be the choice of the new Lebanese president of the Republic that I will debate extensively in the coming posting.

“In the community of nations, governance is considered “good” and “democratic” to the degree in which a country’s institutions and processes are transparent. Its institutions refer to such bodies as parliament and its various ministries. Its processes include such key activities as elections and legal procedures, which must be seen to be free of corruption and accountable to the people. A country’s success in achieving this standard has become a key measure of its credibility and respect in the world.
Good governance promotes equity, participation, pluralism, transparency, accountability and the rule of law, in a manner that is effective, efficient and enduring. In translating these principles into practice, we see the holding of free, fair and frequent elections, representative legislatures that make laws and provide oversight, and an independent judiciary to interpret those laws. The greatest threats to good governance come from corruption, violence and poverty, all of which undermine transparency, security, participation and fundamental freedoms.”

Thank you,

The Powers SWING

February 18, 2014

Dear Reader,
Greetings and Good Day,

“Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and caldron bubble” – Macbeth, Act IV, Scene 1 –

Following the formation of the Lebanese cabinet, and the approaching elections in Iraq and Turkey, observers are much interested to monitor events in the Middle East.
This top geopolitical area is having full powers swing, in view of the Chinese asymmetric and difficult to predict growth, and reforms process.
The powers swing will be back on the world stage today in the renewed talks between Iran and the P5 plus 1.
We know that Iran has conducted so far sufficient R&D in the nuclear field and that advancement towards positive results will require most likely, much more creative efforts, from both sides.
The steps achieved so far are too meager and much modest to determine any direction of the upcoming; hence an inner decision is fundamental to stir the swing in a full embrace.
In my view from Beirut, I consider that there is a need for France in a coordinated strategy with the US, to take the lead in this phase and generate a balancing mechanism that will bring benefits for all, in Europe, in the Middle East and in the Asian Pivot.
France has historic responsibilities versus Israel and the Levant, it has a military presence in the Gulf, and it needs to acquire diplomatic/economic initiative to spur energy in the Franco/German alliance for the recovery of the EU.
What is at stake is the energy vision of Iran and its development, so far it has been a major waste, as they couldn’t develop oil fields, gas exports, shale oil technology and failed to generate profit from the nuclear research.
Therefore what Iran needs is to export gas to Europe without threatening Russian interests, it needs to develop oil production in a joint effort with the Saudis to stabilize the price for the decades to come, to enable China to grow at ease. Finally Iran needs to acquire with French assistance the capability to master the technology of nuclear plants to produce energy, so they can export it. There are still many countries in need to develop their energy sectors such as Indonesia, Egypt, Philippines, Venezuela, Nigeria, Kenya, Bangladesh, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Lebanon , Morocco and Cuba; and here a capable Iran with French/Western support can play a positive role on the world arena.
Reaching out to Tehran and guiding its path will reveal to be manna for Israel and for the peaceful efforts to declare the state of Palestine.
The near future carries a lot of uncertainties, even if academic efforts are focusing to monitor the negotiations and to pave the way for an agreement in a tangible outcome, is only a mirror of the international interest in the negotiations.
We know that the FED is proceeding in the Dao of tapering, and that the White House signed the debt extension, hence the US recovery will use 2014 to solidify its route and will need to develop an absolute creative “out of the box” diplomacy, where Mr. Kerry revealed to be an ace of hearts in the battle of results.
So assuming that this French role in cooperation with the US will start shortly, we can easily understand that some hidden or evident resistance will come up, be it from Israel, Russia, Saudi Arabia or other players. These nations will need to be reassured that this swing strategy will only bring benefits to all players.
Needless to mention that the easiest way to place an immense pressure on the butcher of Damascus is to have excellent relations with Iran.
While the Syrian talks failed, I envisage a change in the Iranian supreme leader’s objectives vis a’ vis Syria, where his continuous interplay through balancing the IRGC and the Presidency of ROUHANI, will necessitate a rotation of the resources deployed for the Islamic nation security and perpetual cycle of the regime, towards a significant elevation of the Iranian per capita income.
In between the lines of the French initiative supported by the Foggy Bottom hierarchy, a new Lebanese president will be elected and he/she will carry a lot of genuine fundamentals to represent the line of Iranian energy vision, Saudi oil stability, Russian orientation to reforms, Chinese openness as per historic poetry, US projection in new industries resuscitating an endless dream.
Again from Beirut where today the government will meet to name a committee for the cabinet program, I advice my fellow Lebanese to write and talk as less as they can, as there are only two objectives required: to prepare the terrain both for the electoral law and also for the election of the Lebanese president.
It is pivotal at this stage that serious presidential candidates in Lebanon will prepare a PR campaign, and introduce a vision built up with a net of thinkers.
Institutes and academies will elaborate much about the evolution in world affairs, yet the human stimulus is very effective to swing harmony.

“True leadership is about empowering others to tune in, to be in harmony with the leader and the ideals being expressed and lived, to the extent that it is not even necessary to show another person exactly what to do or what to say, because that person is already so connected and “in tune” with the ideals and concepts involved, they are thinking and living these concepts and therefore the feelings and the ideals come “naturally” to them”.

Thank You,