One source explains that the State Department is happy with developments in Lebanon; in Foggy Bottom it represents a "compromise." In Beirut, though, it means a continuation of the Syrian-backed military and security apparatus that has killed Lebanese politicians, journalists, and civil society figures with impunity. It means, as well, a betrayal of the Lebanese men and women who peacefully resisted a terrorist regime and its local allies, who risked their lives over the last two plus years on behalf of a national dream of tolerance and co-existence.
What will happen next in Lebanon? The Suleiman bargain will almost certainly snowball. As the next government is formed, the concern will be whether or not Hezbollah and other Syrian assets will be given a veto to derail the tribunal meant to hand down indictments in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri. U.N. Investigator Serge Brammertz has just released his tepid final report, naming no names. So far only a fraction of the money necessary to conduct the tribunal has been raised, a fund to which another lukewarm March 14 ally, Saudi Arabia, has contributed nothing.
It seems that in the end, Bashar al-Asad and his family will pay no price for their murderous campaign against a U.S. ally. That is to say, insofar as the White House's post-9/11 freedom agenda was meant to counter violence and extremism, it is Osama bin Laden's vision of the Middle East that has won the day in Lebanon--not freedom, sovereignty and independence, but terror and death.
Lee Smith is a visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute.