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.