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    Bassil’s Plan is Only a Ploy

    We thank Energy and Water Minister Gebran Bassil for his plan to provide an uninterrupted flow of electricity to all of Lebanon by 2015.

    We thank the minister for preparing a fairly detailed and comprehensive plan. We fully anticipate an avalanche of interpretation to follow, with varying evaluations of his numbers and plans for implementation.

    We thank him for raising the level of discourse on this vital issue – it is indeed good and refreshing to have such a plan as the basis for debate.

    We must acknowledge that Bassil – sitting in the one of the trickier ministerial chairs – is clearly a man with a keen sense for what the public wants to hear, and also for the manner in which the public wants to hear it. He has given us the proper prose, the research background and the coefficients which the citizenry has long aspired to hear.

    We also do not believe a word of it. Oh yes, the Cabinet of Prime Minister Saad Hariri – who is a political foe of the minister – approved the proposal unanimously, but do not be misled by that oddity. Lebanese cabinets of all stripes have approved a petrified forest of plans ideal, grand, far-reaching, forward-looking, game-changing and revolutionary, all of them left to rot without the faintest sign of life or implementation.

    What Bassil has done is raise by several degrees the level of electioneering. Other than for political purposes, this plan is a chimera. Doing anything of this scale in Lebanon would require a political investment of mammoth proportions. To this point, we have not even heard that his parliamentary bloc will carry this plan into the future – or even beyond this term of office. We question whether his bloc will even acknowledge its parental relationship to this proposal, once this Cabinet and Parliament have become history.

    No, to make headway on this issue, Bassil would have to convince his father-in-law, Change and Reform Bloc head MP Michel Aoun, to embrace the plan and throw his full and constant support behind it. Was that Aoun asking Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus on Tuesday for assistance in realizing this effort?

    However, the real reason why this plan will not come to fruition is the system of the Lebanese state. The real flaws in infrastructure and design are in the system. The system lies. It does not have any institutions or practices to guarantee the implementation of the proposal. Our experience is that the system amounts to little more than a charade. Bassil’s plan, for all its beauty, does not fit the country for which it is intended. This is not a plan for a country that ranks 34th on the Foreign Policy index of failed states.

    The Daily Star
    23.06.2010

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