A Failure Begging Reconsideration
By: General Michel Aoun

Everyone was waiting for the Clinton-Assad summit results, and the optimists went so far as to imagine that the negotiations were over before they even began and that Geneva was merely a scripted play.  However, and within hours, it became clear that the parties remained prisoners of their internal problems that prevented them from leaving the circle of war to the oasis of peace.  Indeed, they were more interested in catering to their public image than leading their constituencies towards a better future, with newer ideas, by transforming their material and intellectual power from a destructive force to a constructive one.

Everyone knows that the Israeli-Arab conflict, in both its détentes and its crises, is under the exclusive American sponsorship.  And contained within this sponsorship is another exclusivity in dealing with the problem, namely the "Kissinger" doctrine that was implemented first in the 1970s and which continues to this day.  In spite of several changes in administration and presidents at the White House, the managers of the Middle East files remain the same, persisting at butting their heads with the conflict from the same narrow angle and with the same unimaginative style.

The American administration appears a laggard in applying two of its fundamental principles to the Middle Eastern conflict.  First, it has abandoned the principle of critically re-evaluating its approach, leading it to maintain a rigid stance based on preconceived notions.  Second, it has abandoned the principle of changing the bureaucrats who are no longer capable
of regenerating and creating new ideas. Failure has been institutionalized all the way to the supreme chief. After placing the distressed Israeli-Syrian negotiations in intensive care, the US carries out a rescue operation that essentially kills the negotiations by leading them to an impasse.  That failure is the direct outcome of the 25-year old faulty American policy that consists in bribing each of the two parties with the rights of the other party, and whose main victim remains Lebanon, the downgraded and eliminated party from the negotiations table.

We have fought the elimination of Lebanon from the negotiations table with all our pride and dignity.  Lebanon's absence has weakened the negotiations by taking away its flexibility and balance.  Syria lost Lebanon's genuine solidarity that could come only from free will.  And the US lost a critical and weighting element in a peaceful resolution.  In spite of all of this, we firmly believe in a new approach to the peace process based on the proclamation of the fundamental rights of each negotiating party, which constitutes the foundation for a resolution rather than the reason for the conflict. We believe that a new language must be adopted that encourages an emotional and psychological state that is conducive to peace.

Unfortunately, what we have witnessed so far is more akin to commercial deals that erase wars from paper while keeping them in the hearts, and that build peace on paper that can be blown away by the first wind or consumed by the first fire.
The dollar can erase the traces of the problem, but will not buy peace.  True peace is between human beings, and will stand with them and by them.  Its central foundation is respect for the existence of others and a sense of security when looking to the future.  No one knows whether the US administration is willing to quickly reconsider its approach to the Israeli-Arab conflict, and if indeed it can actually do so given the upcoming elections.  As the US enters into this period of relative paralysis after its failure at arbitration, who will prevent the next disaster?