Michael Totten and his boss Jim Hake, who heads the Spirit of America organization, are in Beirut to help pro-democracy activists, and have started a weblog (including video) to describe what they're doing. SoA sees its mission as extending "the goodwill of the American people to assist those advancing freedom, democracy and peace abroad. We provide support to those on the front lines: American military and civilian personnel and people who call to Americans for help in their struggle for freedom and democracy."
One can already hear the sneers of conspiracy theorists on the political left in the U.S. and Lebanon, who will see the effort as a CIA front. Totten insists, however, that it is an entirely private initiative and that there are many people on the left working with SoA. The group is onto something: The youths at Martyrs Square are the unknown force in Lebanon's future; they are politically inexperienced but are also those who have largely spearheaded the popular protest movement in the wake of Rafik Hariri's assassination, even though they have not been asked by anyone what their political preferences are for the future. That may come back to haunt the political class–both opposition members and what remains of the pro-Syrians.
Among the things SoA are doing is raising private money for the democracy groups, but are also teaching them how to do simple things such as set up weblogs. Where this will lead, I can't possibly imagine; but it is a pleasure to see that there are people who refuse to shoot down the endeavors of the Lebanese protestors because they cannot stomach the idea that if the protestors are successful, this might somehow benefit the Bush administration.