Focus on a democratic Lebanon

The opinion-page article ''Take the Chains Off Travel to Lebanon,'' July 14, suggests that the travel ban is hampering efforts by US companies to win business contracts in Lebanon.

The article overlooks the fact that under the present conditions of Syrian occupation, contracts that are being awarded must have the approval of Syria and its surrogates in Lebanon and they usually involve bribes and kickbacks, practices that US companies cannot do under American law.

Security cannot be measured by the estimated 45,000 United States citizens who traveled to Lebanon, for these people are Lebanese-Americans who have family connections there, know the territory, are not readily identifiable as Americans, and consequently are in far less danger than the non-Lebanese Americans. Europeans who travel to Lebanon are not targets of terrorism because the aim of the radical organizations is to hold American policy hostage and not that of Europe.

The American Embassy in Lebanon is better positioned than any of us here in the US to recommend policy options on whether to keep or lift the travel ban.

Those sincerely interested in Lebanon and its well-being should direct their efforts to more substantive issues than the lifting of the travel ban.

Let them work to make Lebanon a truly sovereign, democratic, secure, and free state that can act independently to attain peace and stability in the Middle East.

Daniel Nassif Washington

Washington Representative of the Council of Lebanese American Organizations

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