IN OTHER WORDS
At the edge:
President Bush claims Lebanon’s 2005 “Cedar Revolution” - which ended 30 years of Syrian military occupation - as a triumph of his policy of democracy promotion. Given Lebanon’s history, that was always naïve. Lebanon is now in deep trouble, and Bush, who will be meeting Prime Minister Fouad Siniora in Egypt on Sunday, has no real plan to help overcome the crisis.
Some calm has returned to Beirut in recent days, but the country remains frighteningly close to another civil war. One hundred thousand Lebanese died in the last civil war. A settlement needs to address a host of divisive issues, including the stalemate over Lebanon’s vacant presidency. It must restore a measure of the government’s lost authority. To keep Hezbollah in line, the deal should be guaranteed by Iran and Syria. Bush’s idea for helping Lebanon is to give more aid to the Lebanese Army.
If Bush really wants to help Siniora he will need to talk with Hezbollah’s masters: about the risks they court by promoting instability in Lebanon and the rewards they might reap in return for a more constructive approach. Bush’s stubborn refusal to negotiate with either Syria or Iran has weakened the US influence in the region. Lebanon’s situation is dire. Bush will need to do a lot more if he wants to help salvage the Cedar Revolution. — The New York Times