Crisis in the group

Well that does it for me. Speak no more. I just had the confirmation for what I always thought: People at ICG (International Crisis Group) could well join the rank of the phony ‘experts’ that make a living out of writing journalistic reports about a political situation but while giving it more credibility by issuing the report with an institutional ‘think-tank’ stamp.

Check the latest report of ICG on Lebanon. That’s the title: The new Lebanese Equation: The Christian’s central role… Just read the “executive summary” to get to what corner of mental derangement the guy can take you. No need to read the rest of the text unless you are interested in curious cases of insane imagination.

Stamp it, fix it, make it an axiom: The only central role (if you want to think with such a stupid concept as ‘centrality of role’ in this case) that one can see not only in Lebanon but in the region at large is the one played by Hizbullah. They are the biggest winner, and on all fronts. Now of course, no single actor/group gained a role, the situation is just very different for everyone, and there is no group called ‘Christians’ in lebanon, there are Christians loosing and Christians winning if you want to call them like this. Likewise Hizbullah gained on levels and is constrained on others.

This ICG article triggers other open-ended questions that could be researched:

1- Journalists/producers of information, foreigners, coming to Lebanon end up
adopting the concepts used by Lebanese themselves to understand a situation (confessional concepts for example), ‘Christians’ is an entity that ‘play’ a ‘central’ role for example.

2- Think tanks and pundits adopt the Hollywood-based train of thinking that you need to find something ‘catchy’ to write an article on the ‘situation’ in a specific country. You can’t just say that the various protagonists ended up resolving Doha in such and such a way after fighting on several fronts peaking with the Beirut demonstration of force. No, you need to find something good. Something Brussels would like, in this case, “Christians” are strengthening because well it is original, it is about the Middle East and it is not about “Islamists”, plus in the backdrop of Christians ‘not-strengthening-at-all’ in Iraq or Syria or etc.

3- The explosive rate at which the general industry of producing information grows is highly alarming. More and more people are making their living out of basically producing crap. They create institutions, start ranking themselves in them, from one type of expertise to the other. Academia is basically the same thing but has much more history and has the sanctity of ‘educating’ giving ‘diplomas’, etc which basically means giving a social position/distinction. I’m sure one day, with the growing ‘democratization’ and ‘globalization’ encountered by the various human creatures of this planet there will be think-tanks, hey, even bloggers, giving diplomas and certificates!

8 Replies to “Crisis in the group”

  1. Hi Bechir! Nice critical post! But how to escape from the trap that concepts inevitably carry some kind of judgement? That it is pretty much impossible to accurately represent reality? Hm… and doing a PhD, do you see your future in academia?? 😉 I have been asking myself the same questions.
    On a different note: are you in Beirut next week? I will be in town for a week and it would be great to meet up re: what we discussed by e-mail. Cheers Eva

  2. Thanks Eva.
    you can’t escape basically!
    my future in academia will be full of propaganda!
    yes let me know when you are around.

  3. Hi Bachir,
    Quite intriguing issue u raised! I am actually writing a PhD on the topic u tackled 🙂
    I am also spending my time marveling at the ways that diverse groups of experts are devoted in informing, analyzing, categorizing, explaining, diversifying, labeling, homogenizing what one could see with bare eye. Still, this extraordinary “tribe” has many other interesting features worth of closer investigation. If u like, i would be happy to meet up and talk about it..
    I am in Lebanon right now, my mail address is given above.
    Best greetings

  4. Hi Bachir,

    This text belongs more into an email but I couldn’t find one on the blog. Blame my impatience in looking/googling.

    My friend Rami Zurayk pointed me to your blog, which I’ve been reading. From the comments above I gather that you are in Lebanon.

    If you have time I’d like to meet. Maybe you want to join me and a few friends (most foreign experts reproducing dosh attempting to get a PhD to put a seal on their expertdom…).

    Really, it would be nice, we’re not all horrible at least not all the time, one of us is even working on foreign experts. Academic navel-grazing goes full circle. Thankfully we have Nico who, as member of the 4th/5th/6th International (French have a thing for numbering things, even their Republics), makes sure we stick to the paty line.

    It would be nice to hear from you
    PS: If at all possible can you not publish this comment? It’s a bit irrelevant.

  5. Hehe, Bichboch
    tu connais l’IRIS à Paris? (
    Sorte de “think tank” qui… a son propre diplôme ! (que je suis en train de considérer btw :P)

    Ils rattachent souvent leur nom à celui du CNRS (séminaires en commun, etc.) et ça donne plus de crédibilité, je suppose.
    Perso, je pense qu’ils sont bons, ai déjà assisté à des trucs qu’ils ont présentés après la guerre de 2006.

  6. Ah tiens, et j’avais rencontré ce mec là:
    Barah Mikaïl
    Middle-East – American strategy in the Middle-East – Media in the Arab Area – Geopolitics of water

    C’est un juif français d’origine libano-syrienne et il est juste excellent (c’est lui avait parlé de la guerre de 2006 et ses implications sur la politique des US dans la région)
    Super sympa en plus 🙂

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