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Lebanon and the Middle East Issued by the Issam M. Fares Lecture Series
A book entitled “Lebanon and the Middle East” has been issued by the Issam M. Fares Lecture Series, organized by America’s Tufts University from 1994 to 2004. The book contains the positions of heads of state and leading politicians on the Lebanese situation and regional problems

H.E. former Deputy Prime Minister of Lebanon Mr. Issam Fares has lately launched a trilingual 150-page book of great importance covering the annual Fares Lecture Series he had established. Conceived in 1991, the Lecture Series is annually hosted by the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies at Tufts University.

The idea of establishing the Lecture Series aimed since the very beginning at deepening and promoting the understanding of Middle Eastern issues. It also set as a primary objective the creation of an academic environment for the promotion of better understanding of the rich heritage of the Eastern Mediterranean and the looming challenges the region is facing. Since their early conception, the Lecture Series hosted well-renown personalities, attracting a wide audience and drawing remarkable attention among the public and media.

This book sheds light on the role the Lecture Series plays in serving as a platform of major importance for the articulation and expression of a broad diversity of opinions and viewpoints, in the belief to serve also as an effective tool for the resolution of conflicts.

This book includes eight transcribed lectures and a short summary of the speech delivered by General Colin Powell who had then preferred to speak off-the-record as he was then being considered for the post of Secretary of State.

In the preamble, H.E. Mr. Fares wrote a four-page note introducing the special importance the book represents in a world where the ‘interaction between western and Middle Eastern civilizations is currently so heated’. The introduction shows that Fares perceived the Lecture Series as ‘a Lebanese contribution to the region and its relations with the western world’, in his great belief that ‘Lebanon is a microcosm of the Middle East’.

In the introduction also, Fares emphasized the fact that, in his addresses, he focused to a great extent on Lebanon as a country that conveys a democratic mission. He touched upon the close friendships he had forged with scores of great leaders from the United States, to Europe, and the Middle East. The United States being the sole superpower with great influence over the world, Mr. Fares mainly hosted American leaders to participate in the Lecture Series. For instance, Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton addressed American-Middle Eastern issues, former Secretary of State James Baker addressed at length American interests in the Gulf States, while General Colin Powell addressed the Middle East from another perspective, and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton added a new dimension to the treatment of the United States towards the Middle East by underscoring the role of women…

Following the introduction, the book published the introductory remarks made by three senior figures at Tufts University:

Mr. Lawrence S. Bacow, President of Tufts University, who considered that it is a tribute to the Fares Foundation and the Fares family that the University enjoys such remarkable confidence in approaching such complex issues. On behalf of the entire Tufts community, he expressed his deep appreciation for establishing the Fares Lecture Series.

Mr. John DiBiaggio, President Emeritus at Tufts University, who affirmed that the Fares Lecture Series has served to broaden the entire community’s understanding and appreciation for Middle Eastern affairs, saying Tufts University has benefited enormously from the generous support of the programs sponsored by the Fares family and will be forever in their debt for having done so.

Dr. Leila Fawaz, the Founding Director of the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies, who highlighted the importance of the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies to promote greater understanding of the Eastern Mediterranean mission, at a time when the study of the region has become more pressing

Following the introductory remarks, the book touched upon the annual Lecture Series in a chronological order, publishing a brief biography of each Speaker, as well as the transcripts of the speeches delivered by each orator and H.E. Mr. Issam Fares.

Former presidents and high-ranking officials who participated in the Lecture Series include former US President George H.W. Bush, who delivered addresses during two lectures: “A Retrospective on the Gulf War and its Impact” (1994) and “Perspectives on the Middle East” (2003); former French President Valerie Giscard d’Estaing: “The Contribution of the European Union to Peace and Development in the Middle East”; former US Secretary of State James Baker: “American Interest in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East”; former British Prime Minister Baroness Margaret Thatcher: “Europe and the Middle East: the Future of Democracy”; former Senator George Mitchell: “Principles for Peace in Ireland and the Middle East”; General Colin Powell: “A Permanent Peace in the Middle East”; former US President Bill Clinton: “Our Shared Future”; and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton: “Policy Challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean after the Presidential Election.”
The list of the host Speakers included:

‘A Retrospective on the Gulf War and Its Impact’
George H.W Bush, 41rst President of the United States of America October 25, 1994

‘The Contribution of the European Union in Peace and Development in the Middle East’
Valery Giscard D’Estaing, former President of France
February 8, 1996

‘American Interests in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East’
James A. Baker, former US Secretary of State
October 30, 1996

‘Europe and the Middle East: The Future of Democracy’
Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of Great Britain
September 24, 1997

‘Principles for Peace: Northern Ireland and the Middle East’
George Mitchell, Senate Majority Leaders
November 4, 1998

‘Management of Crisis and Change: The Middle East’
Colin Powell, former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
November 2, 2000

‘Our Common Future’
William J. Clinton, 42nd President of the United States
March 13, 2002

‘A New Vision of the Middle East’
George H.W. Bush, 41rst President of the United States
February 26, 2003

‘America’s Foreign Policy Challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean in the Weak of This Presidential Election’
Hillary Rodham Clinton, US Senator
November 10, 2004

In his conviction that Tufts Lecture Series act as a major focus for cross-regional and cross-cultural analysis and provided a forum for the articulation of a broad diversity of viewpoints regarding Lebanon and the Middle East, H.E. Mr. Fares vowed to continue to invite world leaders to broaden the discourse and broach many heated issues. ‘Only in a stable and peaceful Middle East can Lebanon be fully itself, and contribute to freedom and democracy in the region’, he wrote.

The book is considered one of the most important reference documents for examining the issues facing the Middle East, the important steps that have been taken, and the proposed solutions.

The book includes an introduction by former Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Issam Fares, who sponsored the Lecture Series at the Fares Center, which he established at Tufts University. Fares opened the Lecture Series with a speech in which he focused on the situation of Lebanon and the region and the impact of peace in both on international stability and security.

In his introduction, Fares stated the following: This is indeed a special book of special importance emanating from the “Issam M. Fares Lecture Series at Tufts University”. Rarely do so many Heads of State and prominent personalities address from one forum the basic issues that face the West in its strategic relations with the Middle East. The interaction between Western and Middle Eastern civilizations is currently so heated, so ideological, so permeated by myths and misunderstandings as to affect negatively, not only the two civilizations themselves, but also the course of world events. And yet, because the interaction is so intense, often bordering on the violent, it is necessary to examine it in the spirit of dialogue and mutual understanding.

Often, relations across nations are determined by challenge and response, by the role of mass movements, and even by the role of an individual. Often an individual is free enough to initiate, to organize, and to focus attention on national issues. Accordingly, I chose to establish at Tufts University a Lecture Series to address the fundamental issues in the Middle East.

Perhaps because I am Lebanese, and perhaps because Lebanon is a microcosm of the Middle East, I perceived of the Lecture Series as a Lebanese contribution to the region and its relations with the Western World.

In my various addresses in the course of the Lecture Series, I have focused largely on Lebanon as a country with a democratic mission. I have emphasized the uniqueness of Lebanon in the region, its democratic tradition, its educational and service institutions, and its Christian-Muslim character. I urged continuing and consistent interest on the part of the United States in resolving the Palestinian problem, a key issue in Middle Eastern politics, in light of United Nations Resolutions.

For almost a century Lebanon has been a consensual democracy with the oldest constitution in the region, ensuring all the basic freedoms of pluralistic democracies. And yet, because of its freedoms in a region of intense conflicts, and mostly non-democratic regimes, it often became a battleground for all those in the region who could neither speak freely nor organize in their own countries. It is therefore of great importance for Lebanon that its region enjoy stability, peace, a just economic order, and democratic governments. The fact that the Middle East is a strategic region because of its rich oil reserves, its central position between the West and the East, and its historical connections with Europe, acquires a priority in major world capitals.

Over the years I have made close friendships with leaders in the United States, Europe and the Middle East. I wanted as many of them as possible to participate in the Tufts Lecture Series which I launched in 1994. From the beginning, the Lecture Series attracted a wide audience and extensive media attention. I expected the speakers to delve deep into their experience in office, to offer new ideas and initiatives and to bring about better relations with Lebanon and its Middle Eastern region. As the United States is the sole superpower with great deal of influence over Israel and Arab leaders, I have called mainly on American leaders to participate in the Lecture Series. I called on former presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton to address American-Middle Eastern relations. President Bush spoke twice on diplomatic lessons drawn from his war in the liberation of Kuwait from Iraqi occupation. He emphasized the importance of process in diplomacy and the courage to explore opportunities when they avail themselves. He spoke at length on the process of decision-making in the White House during major international crises. President Bill Clinton exhibited a mastery over details in discussing the Arab-Israeli problem. As he spoke, he revealed the relevance of charisma to the presidency. He certainly resorted to charisma and to the grasp of detail in proposing a solution to the Middle East crisis. He regretted that this opportunity at the end of his presidency was not sufficient to clinch a deal. Indeed, the proposals he made in resolving the Arab-Israeli problem were viable and provided a credible basis for compromise.

Two Secretaries of State, one former, Mr. James Baker, and one future, Colin Powell, addressed the Middle East from different perspectives. Mr. Baker, the able lawyer, the indefatigable negotiator, addressed at length American interests in the Gulf States in terms of oil, shipments, rights and the prospects of stability. To him, stability acquires special importance to allow the flow of oil, the security of transportation routes, and the development of the region to allow for better relations with the industrial countries.

General Powell, then a campaigner for candidate George W. Bush, surveyed the World scene drawing on his extensive experience in the military, on his service in Europe and on his knowledge of the changing world scene after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He saw new opportunities for the region under the Presidency of George W. Bush's who, in his opinion, is committed to do what is right and just for the region. The question of war and peace was addressed by Former Senate Majority Leader, George Mitchell. Senator Mitchell is an international trouble–shooter par excellence. He negotiated a settlement of the intransigent Northern Ireland conflict, and he proposed rational steps as chairman of a fact–finding mission on the Palestinian–Israeli problem. The fact that Senator Mitchell is half Lebanese has given him certain empathy to Lebanon and to the Middle East, and has therefore contributed to a more balanced discourse on the region. He gave an account of what was later to be known as a "road map" to resolve the Palestinian problem.

The address of New York Senator, Hillary Clinton, a potential presidential candidate, attracted a large audience of students and non-students alike. She added a new dimension to her treatment of United States policy towards the Middle East by emphasizing the role of women which she considered to be a wasted resource in the region. She also emphasized the role of human rights in development and the need to pay special attention to the poor. Her address was in effect setting a democratic agenda as an alternative to the Bush agenda.

In addition to the American speakers in the period covered by this book, there were two European leaders, Former British Prime Minister, Lady Margaret Thatcher and Former French President, Mr. Valery Giscard D' Estaing. Lady Thatcher reviewed the Middle Eastern scene, focusing on Britain's role in promoting peace and development. President D'Estaing expressed the values of continental Europe as represented by France. He recalled the long experience Europe had in the Middle East and particularly in encouraging constitutional governments. To France, Lebanon was and remains a country of special importance, a country with a mission to promote democratic and Western values throughout the Middle East.

The value of this book lies in the importance of each speech. It is best read, each speech by itself, and to reflect on it as it represents the policy experience of a leader in office. The forum provided the opportunity to speak freely and even to indulge in self-critique. The fact that the Lecture Series hosted leaders after they had left office was intended, as only then they could think back and draw on their extensive knowledge and experience.

This book includes eight transcribed lectures and a short summary of the speech of General Colin Powell, who preferred to speak off-the -record as he was then being considered for the post of Secretary of State in the George W. Bush Administration.

The importance and contents of the lectures, which were delivered in English, encouraged us to translate them into Arabic and French. Accordingly, these manuscripts are published in three separate editions. The views expressed are those of the speakers themselves and they reflect a variety of positions. The resulting range of perspectives represented would give the reader a wide range of points of view that cover important American and European positions. In the age of globalization, it is important for all concerned to be exposed, and preferably to understand, the basic views and positions of American and major European decision makers. “The Issam M. Fares Lecture Series at Tufts University” will continue to invite world leaders to its forum and to broaden the discourse by inviting leaders from other regions. The subject of the Middle East, with its many complexities continues to be as urgent as ever, and will continue to deserve attention at the highest level. Only in a stable and peaceful Middle East can Lebanon be fully itself, and contribute to freedom and democracy in the region.