Elliott Abrams of the Council on Foreign Relations, a veteran of the Bush administration, has been an indispensable guide to the unfolding chaos in Syria. His most recent post addresses how the U.S. should respond to the killing of Wissam Hassan, a senior Lebanese intelligence official known for his opposition to Hezbollah and the Assad regime. He does this by critiquing the official U.S. response, a brief statement from National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Vietor, e.g.:
The statement says “Lebanon’s security and stability are vital both for the Lebanese people and their neighbors.” Logically, this would suggest that they aren’t important to us: we aren’t Lebanese and we aren’t their neighbors. Yet the United States has long viewed Lebanon’s fate as an important one for us, not just for Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Turkey. So the message, like the messenger (the NSC spokesman) tends to undermine America’s past, present, and future role.
A minor point, perhaps, but one assumes that official U.S. statements are parsed carefully in the region, and our regional partners, including Turkey, are in need of reassurance.