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.