Ambassador Dorothy Shea’s Remarks on the 246th Anniversary of U.S. Independence

Media Notice on July 2, 2022
Ambassador Dorothy Shea’s Remarks on the 246th Anniversary of U.S. Independence
Delivered on June 30, 2022

On the 246th Anniversary of U.S. Independence, Ambassador Dorothy Shea delivered the following remarks:

“Good evening, everyone. Masaa el Kheir. It is such a pleasure to welcome you.
Representing the President of the Lebanese Republic, His Excellency Elias Bou Saab.
Representing the President of the Chamber of Deputies, the Honorable Fady Alameh.
Representing the President of the Council of Ministers, His Excellency Abdallah Bou Habib.

Your Excellencies, Ambassadors, other distinguished guests, and friends.

Let me begin by saying it is just a great pleasure to welcome you all in person celebrating our nation’s independence, right here at the U.S. Embassy.

It has been two years since we have done this. This year, we chose the theme of liberty and justice for all. I cannot think of a more appropriate message given what is happening in the world right now. As we watch Russia’s horrendous acts of aggression in Ukraine, it reminds us of the importance of democracy and the rule of law, the need to respect sovereignty and the rules of the international order. There is no justification in the wanton destruction, loss of life and attacks on civilian neighborhoods and institutions that we have witnessed the Russian forces perpetrate in Ukraine these past few months.

The United States has consistently shown our support for the people of Ukraine, including through humanitarian and security assistance.

Here in Lebanon, we are seeing the impacts of Russia’s war and siege on Ukrainians’ ports, which has upended the global wheat market, among other things. This could not happen at a worse time for Lebanon. Lebanon’s people are facing a true humanitarian crisis, and food insecurity is now a very real concern.

This has prompted the United States to recommit itself to support the neediest people in this country. When I talk about U.S. support, it is not just words. We are on the ground, providing concrete assistance to the people of Lebanon, assistance they desperately need.

Whether that takes the form of additional food aid, beyond the 64 million that we have already provided this year, or the $3 billion in security assistance since 2007, including for the Lebanese armed forces, we stand by you. We are augmenting our educational exchange programs and support for teachers, universities, and students with $150 million in scholarships for deserving students.

And this is not all. We have provided $180 million to upgrade public water facilities, for example. We have helped over 170 communities across this country create jobs in those communities, helping those communities. We have invested $20 million in entrepreneurship and startup programs. And we are supporting people with disabilities and the LGBTQI+ community as they try to advance the rights for all people to participate in society.

Indeed, since 2006, the United States has provided more than $5 billion in foreign assistance to Lebanon, and we have been entrepreneurial in seeking additional assistance for this country. And believe me, we will continue to do so. So, when I say as I do, that we are in this together. I mean it. It is not just words. And we live that commitment every day.

On the governmental level, we and others in the international community were adamant about the need for free, fair and on time parliamentary elections. Similarly, we are clear about the importance of government formation and the presidential elections that will follow.

The country can no longer allow mismanagement, corruption and a lack of accountability to persist. Lebanon needs transparency. It needs reforms. All of these are steps to put this country back on track and regain the confidence of international investors and donors.

For the 4th of July last year, we had a very small group here of high school students, young Lebanese. They were participating in one of our many educational exchange programs. They had not been allowed to travel to the United States due to COVID. So, we really wanted to give them a special 4th of July. But I gave them a speech like I am giving one to you, and I challenged them to make their own commitments to Lebanon. I urged them to develop their leadership skills so that they can be forces for positive change in their communities. I advised them to take steps to advance what is right, rather than being distracted by slogans that draw away from progress and recovery. I told them that this is the spirit that we celebrate on our Independence Day. Where there is a will, there is a way.

Those of you gathered here today have been our partners, our implementers, our interlocutors. And as I said at the beginning, our friends. And I would respectfully pose to you the same challenge that I issued to those young friends last year.

Lebanon cannot afford political bickering, populist distractions or delays in implementing reforms. So, the question is, how can we take up the mantle of pursuing liberty and justice for all? Our theme for tonight, every day, in each of our actions and interactions. Let us resolve to help the people of Lebanon emerge from the compound crises the country is facing and reclaim its position as a beacon of entrepreneurship and prosperity, as well as democracy and freedom in the Middle East. Thank you all.