The Corner

Lambs for Lions

Has the U.S. abandoned the democratic experiment in Lebanon? Lee Harris believes Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice certainly has.

Before you read the following excerpt (or better yet the entire piece which is here), I’m reminded of an old joke which I will take the liberty to update:

Condi Rice is showing a reporter around his private zoo. At one point, they stop in front of a cage containing a lamb and a lion, both peacefully napping. The reporter says: “Secretary Rice, that is amazing. How do you accomplish such marvels?” The Secretary winks and says: “Off the record? You just have to introduce a new lamb about once a week.”

Lee Harris writes:

From the Lebanese perspective, the last straw was inviting Syria to Annapolis, as they read this as a preface to an American deal with Damascus. Or, as [Druze leader Walid] Jumblatt said, “We have entered the U.S.-Syrian bargaining market.” Given the Lebanese experience in the ’90s, when the first Bush administration contracted Lebanese affairs out to Hafez al-Asad, their concern is entirely rational. …Secretary Rice says nice things about Lebanese democracy, but the fact is that nothing matters to her half as much as the peace process. This myopia is what led Rice to make room for Syria in her three-ring circus on the Chesapeake Bay. Since Israeli-Palestinian comity warrants all of the time and prestige of the Secretary of State, and since Damascus’s friends in Hamas can make things very tough for peace processing, they must be rewarded for their blackmail and invited to Annapolis. …Consciously or not, Rice signaled where America’s real priorities lie–not with protecting a fledgling democracy in Beirut from the terrorist state next door, but in trying to reward a society that breeds terrorism within its own state. …One source explains that the State Department is happy with developments in Lebanon; in Foggy Bottom it represents a “compromise.” In Beirut, though, it means a continuation of the Syrian-backed military and security apparatus that has killed Lebanese politicians, journalists, and civil society figures with impunity. It means, as well, a betrayal of the Lebanese men and women who peacefully resisted a terrorist regime and its local allies, who risked their lives over the last two plus years on behalf of a national dream of tolerance and co-existence. …It seems that in the end, Bashar al-Asad and his family will pay no price for their murderous campaign against a U.S. ally. That is to say, insofar as the White House’s post-9/11 freedom agenda was meant to counter violence and extremism, it is Osama bin Laden’s vision of the Middle East that has won the day in Lebanon–not freedom, sovereignty and independence, but terror and death.


Clifford D. May — Clifford D. May is an American journalist and editor. He is the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a conservative policy institute created shortly after the 9/11 attacks, ...

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