Sometimes I forget that I live by the sea. It's easy enough to do, what with Beirut traffic, honking horns and the city's urban brown and grey. Usually, I'm reminded by a glimpse of the Mediterranean from Ras Beirut, which sometimes prompts me to take a stroll on the corniche to smell the water.
Today, however, I was reminded by a taxi driver talking about the USS Cole, the US carrier that was attacked in Yemen and has now been deployed off the coast of Lebanon. No one I talked to today thought that the ship would actually do anything. Everyone seemed to agree that it was just a show of force by the US.
One Hezbollah partisan from Saida told me that if there were a war and the USS Cole was involved, it would be sunk. Then again, he also told me that he thought the Party of God would not only defeat Israel again this summer but also destroy the Jewish state. (I had to stop myself from laughing when he spoke of Hezbollah's 1 million troops, which would make up one in every four Lebanese citizens.)
In any case, no one seemed excited about the ship's presence in the area. A colleague of mine, an American-Lebanese Christian mother of four who supports March 14, also told me that she thought it was a bad idea.
At the end of the day, I think we've already got enough saber rattling here, and adding the noise of an additional and enormous American saber to the mix is probably the last thing we need here. Ironically, however, the US Navy's stated rationale for the deployment is stability.