Deputy Assistant Secretary J. Scott Carpenter
Global South - Washington DC
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
I’m here not because I have been invested in Lebanon for very long, but because I know a fellow dreamer when I meet one. I know a person who has the ability to mould a vision and work toward its implication when I meet one. I know a person of charisma and talent when I meet one.
It just so happens that as a member of the State Department who works closely with Walid, I was advised early that I could not speak specifically to the book, and so I won’t, except to say that I love the title, “How Many Times… I Told You”.
As someone who has been privileged (I know we’re going through some very, very difficult times with Lebanon) to see Lebanon rid itself of Syrian occupation, to be able to be in the Administration at the time that was working toward this, and to have a person like Walid also in the Administration by my side to have his wisdom and experience and his vision to say look, it is not hopeless. Lebanon is not hopeless. It is full of possibility, full of opportunity, full of hope that one day Ben might spend some time living in Beirut in a different type of Lebanon to see the fulfillment of the vision that his father has so long worked toward.
It is, I think, in part because of the Lebanese American community that this administration has been able to push so hard and so far as it have. It’s no coincidence, I don’t believe in coincidences, that Walid was where he was when 1559 was being debated, that so many of you here contributed to that historic moment and continue to fight for the fruits of that moment. I want to tell you as someone who is working on the day-to-day policy at the State Department on these issues that the US is committed to the democratic government of Lebanon. We are not going to cut any deals with anybody over the heads of the Lebanese people. It is not going to happen.
We recognize the sacrifices that have been made by the people of Lebanon, we see today the difficulties that the Lebanese army is undertaking in the North, but we see the stictuitiveness that the Lebanese people have rooted in their ethos, in their genetic makeup, that they are stubborn people, they are warm people who are committed to an ideal that is known as Lebanon, as Walid, to me, is really the embodiment in many ways of this spirit, someone who has been able to articulate and live out this vision that he so vividly recounts in his reflections and writings.
We are at a real crossroads with the current situation in Lebanon, but (as they say) it’s always darkest before the dawn and I have to say it was pretty dark last summer. It was really, really dark. I thought it was over last summer. And then I thought it was over a couple months after the war, that the Seniora government wasn’t going to make it, that it wasn’t going to happen. I feel that things are beginning to turn, and I think it’s in part because we are clear in our own commitment to the vision, so that later, someone else twenty years from now, cannot say or ask the implicit question how many times I told you, because I think we are, as a government, committed to the sovereignty and integrity of Lebanon as a nation, and that we will do everything in our power to see that the Lebanese people continue to have the opportunity to defend the oldest democracy in the Arab world, and that it will become and remain a beacon for hope in other parts of the Arab world, and I know that that’s what I’ve been working toward and I know that that is the vision that Walid has always had.
I’m just privileged to be here to celebrate a life as much as a book, so thank you very much.