Under the Title “Fool Me Twice: How the United States Lost Lebanon-Again”, the undersecretary of defense for policy S. Edelman and the Pentagon’s Levant director and the under secretary of defense for policy Mara Karlin revealed a time line showing how the US policy failed in Lebanon.
“For the second time in three decades, a substantial American investment of time, money, and effort to
strengthen the Lebanese government and support its fledgling democracy has come to very little,” the article said.
Claiming that Hizbullah, Tehran, and Damascus now dominate the country’s intractable domestic politics, Edelman and Karlin show the timeline for how the “US diplomacy is left powerless, wondering how to make the best of an increasingly untenable situation in the Levant.”
Describing that with the end of the Lebanese civil war, the Taiif agreement made the Lebanese state to stagnate under Syria’s heavy land, the US under secretaries viewed that their countries “involvement and interest in Lebanon was punctuated by rare outbreaks of concern about calming the Levant, including negotiating the 1996 “Israel”-Lebanon Ceasefire Agreement that established a multinational monitoring mechanism to minimize civilian deaths. The US granted some economic assistance and small amounts of military aid, but overall Lebanon was low on the list of Washington’s priorities.”
“Events in 2004 and early 2005 began to restore Lebanon-related issues to the forefront of American interests. With Hariri’s murder on February 14, 2005, Washington quickly recognized the significance of the so-called Cedar Revolution and was enthusiastic about supporting Lebanon as it wrestled with the aftermath of this event,” the writers added.
The article continues to say that ” while the Syrian and Iranian governments quickly provided Hizbullah with sophisticated weaponry, the US commitment to devote more than half a billion dollars to rapidly train and equip the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) languished in the ponderous machinery of statecraft. Despite the clear urgency in Lebanon, it took until the fall of 2006 for the first materiel to arrive in Beirut.”
“In May 2008, the failures of US policy in Lebanon were exposed by the crumbling of Lebanon’s March 14 coalition when the government ordered the cessation of Hizbullah’s parallel communications network.” The analysts said clarifying that “While the US was unwilling to intervene militarily in the Levant again-a decision that surprised no one in Washington, but shocked many in Beirut who had perhaps invested too much faith in Washington-it faced a critical decision about what it should do.”
In the same context, the American analysts said that “the Doha Agreement brokered by Qatar at the end of May 2008 represented another triumph for Syria and Hizbullah in less than a month” to come to a conclusion that today, with a new US ambassador in Damascus and political uncertainty in Lebanon,…the game has changed profoundly in Lebanon. Even without a military presence, Syria has managed to reassert its influence inside the country.”
“In 1983, Syrian Foreign Minister Abdel Halim Khaddam told senior US officials that the United States was “out of breath.” He proved to be right. Over the last decade, we have run out of breath again” summarizes emphasizing that “now, with the forces opposed to Syria and Hizbullah serving in opposition to the official Lebanese government, it may be worthwhile for the US government to bide its time and prepare for the next time it can make a commitment to Lebanese independence with the right mix of assistance and coercive diplomacy.”