'Forget the Army' (he says in a 180 degrees reversal of his last essay: "With so much at stake, now is the time for Washington to use whatever leverage it might have to encourage the LAF to fulfill its national responsibility to protect Lebanese institutions"- May 9)..... and Schenker today, at WINEP, here
"....For Washington, these developments should prompt a reevaluation of how it supports the Lebanese government. Since 2005, the administration's strategy to strengthen Beirut has been primarily to support the LAF: from 2005 to 2008, .....more than $250 million in military assistance to the army..... However, during the crisis, the LAF did nothing to protect the government and national institutions because of the fear that intervention would cause the army to fragment along sectarian lines. Support for the LAF is a long-term project, but will do little in the short run to help U.S. allies in Beirut.
Given the stakes, it is imperative that Washington move beyond rhetoric and develop effective measures to support its pro-Western allies. Particularly important will be ways to enhance the electoral prospects of Siniora and his political allies in advance of the 2009 parliamentary vote. In the meantime, Washington should continue to work with the Lebanese government, avoiding contact with Hizballah ministers -- but working with lower level ministry officials -- as it did in 2005-2006..."