Syria's Little Buddies


Reason contributing editor Michael Young parses the reshuffling of Lebanon's cabinet last week, and comes up with few reasons to be hopeful:

Reform is the last thing on the Syrians' mind. The new government serves more vital functions for them. It suffocates the Lahoud-Hariri rivalry, but also creates a veneer of broad political representation. What Syria has produced is a double paradox: a government that seems all-encompassing, when in fact it is largely made up of Syrian apprentices; and a disjointed group of politicized middleweights mandated to enforce the status quo, when such Cabinets usually tend to bicker.

The government also provides the Syrians with several options. It has the ideological coloring necessary to allow them to stifle Hizbullah if that becomes imperative, but also to cover for a full or partial Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon if Damascus deems this necessary to protect its eastern flank.