Tom Fletcher

Tom Fletcher

British Ambassador to Lebanon

10th October 2012 Beirut, Lebanon

Five Questions

Eisenhower said that if you can’t fix a problem, you should make it bigger. Lebanon is trying to fix a big problem – preventing the violence from Syria tipping it into instability. So far, it is doing well, and as I’ve argued, should not be fatalist about external factors (mindsoupblog).

But for a country that has been a vector for regional instability in the past, part of the answer is also to look outwards.

From where I sit, to give Lebanon the best chance, international policy makers need to focus after the US elections on five key challenges:

  • how do we ensure that the Syrian state survives this Syrian regime?
  • how do we find a way to encourage better Saudi/Iranian understanding?
  • after a wasted decade, how can we establish the parameters of a durable deal between Israel and Palestine?
  • how do the West and political Islam engage with the right patience, principles and pragmatism?
  • how do we ensure that Mediterranean gas stops rather than starts the next conflict?

Deal with these issues, and with the right political will they are not all as difficult as we often make them seem, and we give Lebanon the opportunity of a generation: to chart its own independent, sovereign future. The prize – a diverse, resilient, talented, dynamic country of coexistence and traders, at the hinge between East and West – is worth it for all of us.

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About Tom Fletcher

Tom Fletcher was appointed Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Lebanese Republic in August 2011.

Tom was born in Kent, and studied at Harvey Grammar School (Folkestone) and Oxford University (Hertford College), graduating with a First class degree in Modern History. He has an MA in Modern History, and is a Senior Associate Member of St Anthony’s College for International Studies, Oxford.

He is married to Louise Fletcher and they have two sons, Charles (born 2006) and Theodor (born 2011). Tom enjoys political history, cricket (Strollers CC), and mountains, and is the co-founder of 2020 (a progressive think tank).

Tom was awarded the Companion of St Michael and St George (CMG) in the 2011 New Year’s Honours, for services to the Prime Minister.

Tom posts on Lebanon and the Middle East on this site. For posts on innovative statecraft, please visit Naked Diplomat-Foreign Policy without the Frills.

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