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The Alleged Victory against the United States

Nida Al-Watan, Lebanon, November 9

Lebanese-American relations have known many ups and downs. However, it seems to me as if, recently, it has become trendy among people in Lebanon to deride America and speak about it with vitriol. Anti-Washington slogans have become commonplace in Lebanon, including the spread of baseless conspiracy theories about American policy in the region. The reality is, however, that wishing America away won’t achieve anything for Lebanon. Cursing America and spreading lies about its motives won’t change reality on the ground. According to American eyes, Lebanon is a failed state ravaged by corruption and chaos. What Washington cares about – and, ultimately, the reason for its intervention in Lebanon – is to ensure a baseline degree of stability in the country in order to protect America’s main ally in the region, Israel. The United States wants to create stability by improving Lebanon’s economic and social conditions, developing productive economic sectors, fostering investment opportunities and creating new employment opportunities. Ironically, this is exactly what the average Lebanese citizen prays for. The United States wants to see a strong and centralized army in Lebanon that demonstrates that the state is in charge of its own sovereignty and that it can stand up to the dangers of terrorism. Based on this dynamic, the United States can actually be an asset to Lebanon, as its interests often converge with those of the Lebanese public. The recent negotiation between Israel and Lebanon over the demarcation of the two countries’ maritime border is a recent example of how important the American role in the region can be. Antagonizing the United States and ruling out its role in the region is not only nonsensical, but also contradictory to Lebanon’s interests. We would be wise to think about our country’s relations with Washington more strategically and remember that in asymmetrical relations of this kind, it is always the superpower that has the final word. At the end of the day, the losses to Lebanon from a conflict with the US will far outweigh any of its potential benefits. – Bassam Abu Zaid (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)