Friday, October 26, 2007

The U S and the Ongoing Lebanese Crisis

Excerpts from an essay presented by David Khairallah, given at the "Arab-US Policymakers Conference" in Washington, DC, October 25.
"... A third cause of instability is the absence of a national military power that can effectively maintain law and order inside the country and be a credible deterrence against foreign aggression. Such a military power would have prevented the outbreak of the civil war. It would have prevented the formation and operation of paramilitary organizations with transnational objectives and affiliations, such as the PLO and Fateh Al-Islam."
"...An effective national military power would also have been the primary vehicle for the defense of the country and its people. In the case of foreign occupation, any need for the formation of groups to carry out guerilla activities or asymmetrical warfare operations would have been met under its auspices and involved the participation of all social groups within the nation."
"If one thinks of US interests in economic, political or military terms, then Lebanon presents no significant strategic interest. At best Lebanon would serve as a listening post where ideas, aspirations and frustrations expressed by major groups in the Arab world are echoed. It is also the place where the reasons for anger, frustration and mistrust of the US policy in the Middle East are articulated.
"This does not explain, however, the high degree of interest US officials have expressed and actions they have taken as regards internal Lebanese political developments, especially by the current Bush administration.
"Many in Lebanon consider the US responsible for the Syrian military intervention in Lebanon that lasted fifteen years. Those who complained of to US officials of the prolonged Syrian hegemony still recall those officials’ response that "the Syrians are elements of stability in Lebanon".
"Last summer, during the Israeli war on Lebanon, the Lebanese, along with the rest of the world, watched the US, practically alone among all members of the UN Security Council, block a Council’s decision to promptly stop the death and destruction Lebanon endured over thirty-three days. .Such stands remain in the collective memory of people and cannot but deepen the sense of alienation between the US and Lebanon and also other parts of the Arab world.
The dominant belief in Lebanon is that motivation for the US involvement and the stand it has taken from respective parties and issues reflect more an Israeli interest than either an American or Lebanese interest."
"...Disarming Hizballah and putting an end to it as a resistance movement is beyond doubt the main objective of all US efforts in Lebanon..."
"...Many of them, however, realize that the exclusive right of the state to hold arms and resort to the use of force is based on the assumption that the state and those manning its institutions are willing and able to defend the country and its people. The main weakness of the present Lebanese government is that it is perceived as not meeting either condition."

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