Posted by: sean | October 19, 2007

Every once in a blue moon

It’s not very often that I can say that I agree with American policy in Lebanon, but for the first time that I can remember, someone at the Pentagon seems to have gotten it somewhat right. Eric Edelman, undersecretary of defense for policy, had this to say in a recent interview broadcast on Lebanese television:

What we’ve been trying to do consistently is to create circumstances in which Lebanon can have a strong state, strong army, a democratic system with the military accountable to civilian control and to the government and to the people’s representatives in the parliament. … We believe it’s in our interest to have a strong democratic state in Lebanon … That’s what we’re working toward.

The problem, of course, is that the opposition doesn’t trust the US at all (some would say with good reason). So of course, there are plenty of rumors that the US is building military bases in Lebanon, etc. Ideally, the Lebanese state would be built up by a more neutral country, like Sweden, but I doubt that will be happening anytime soon.

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Responses

  1. Sweden? These Scandinavians have been known to be great at brokering agreements, but how on earth could they “build up” the Lebanese state?

    I followed you all the way up until here. It’s true that Lebanon will have a hard time becoming a truly unified democratic state due to 1.) Consociational parliamentary system, 2.) Supra-state organizations with military means (ie Hizbullah, Israel, and perhaps the US), and 3.) Lack of cooperation between different interest groups, most notably evidenced by the lack of differing votes across religious sectarian lines.

    In terms of outside influence, I favor diplomatic over military solutions. Yet, I still can’t fathom how could a country like Sweden could resolve these counter-state conditions.

    -KM

  2. Sweden is, perhaps ironically, a huge arms dealer, and as a neutral source of weaponry that neither the government nor the opposition would oppose, Stockholm is in a good spot to build up the Lebanese armed forces so that they could defend the country from Israeli incursions.

    A strong central state/army is exactly what would give armed actors less of an excuse to keep their weapons.


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