A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

“But what does this mean for the Lebanese?”

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on September 10, 2008

As I have mentioned before, I read the Daily Star online now that we are back in the US. I do it while eating lunch – a brief break from the demands of the workday, and often a source of comic relief as well. (I used to read it in hard copy at the gym, which meant that at times I came dangerously close to falling off the treadmill while laughing at a particular article.)

Yesterday I noticed an intriguingly titled analysis piece: “Will US election herald change in Lebanon policy?“. The piece itself was alright but hardly earth shattering. Its analysis offered nothing new, particularly since the writer interviewed the same “experts” whose opinions fill every Daily Star analysis article: Paul Salem, Timur Goksel, and Osama Safa.The only usual suspect not interviewed was Elias Hanna – perhaps he is out on vacation.

What raised my eyebrows in disbelief was the lead:

US senators John Mc Cain and Barack Obama have chosen their running mates,held their conventions, and sparred over Iraq, Iran and a litany of domestic issues.But absent from either candidate’s rhetoric has been any mention of what a McCain or an Obama administration might mean for Lebanon.

Um, yes – shocking. Neither candidate for the position of President of the United States, most of whose citizens spend very little time thinking about Lebanon, has mentioned what his administration “might mean for Lebanon”.

In fact, neither candidate has mentioned what his administration might mean for a number of countries, like Belize, Yemen, Malaysia, Finland, Wales, and Botswana – not to mention countries like Japan, France, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates. When they have mentioned other countries – Russia, for example – they have mentioned them in terms of American needs.

In fact, the only country that both candidates have mentioned in terms of supporting its government, its society, and its political positions is … Israel.

I would be the first to agree that Lebanese and Israelis have much in common, including an over-developed sense of their own specialness. And I would also be the first to agree that both candidates’ kowtowing to Israel is a sad sign of how we have let the tail wag the dog when it comes to our “best ally” in the Middle East.

But rather than encouraging every small country to expect that US presidential candidates expand their platforms to include them, I would suggest injecting a sense of perspective into all national elections.

The Lebanese should not need to campaign based on what an electoral victory will mean for the United States – or Saudi Arabia, France, Syria, or Iran (or even Belize, Yemen, Malaysia, Finland, Wales and Botswana). And American candidates should not need to campaign based on what their victory would mean for Israel, Lebanon, or any other country. We will not rebuild our global reputation by building “entangling alliances” into our election campaigns.

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