Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

U.S. Military Aid to Lebanon Suspended

The suspension of U.S. military aid to Lebanon after that country’s recent border skirmish with Israel could lead to increased Iranian influence in Beirut.

Several powerful members of Congress have worked to suspend U.S. military aid to Lebanon's military after a deadly skirmish on the Lebanese-Israeli border last week which left two Lebanese soldiers, a Lebanese journalist, and one Israeli officer dead.

Howard Berman, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, announced Monday that he had suspended U.S. military aid for Lebanon out of concern that weapons purchased with U.S. military aid might be used against Israel.

Berman put a hold on $100 million of appropriations designated for the Lebanese Army.

"Until we know more about this incident and the nature of Hizbullah influence on the (Lebanese military) – and can assure that the (Lebanese military) is a responsible actor – I cannot in good conscience allow the United States to continue sending weapons to Lebanon," Berman said in statement.

Concerns have often been expressed that U.S. military aid might be used to provide support to Hezbollah, a militant Shiite group which fought a war with Israel in 2006 and is reported to have accumulated a sizable missile arsenal – much of it alleged to have come from Iran and Syria.

Berman was joined by at least three other representatives – Nita M. Lowey, Howard P. McKeon, and Eric Cantor – in placing a hold on the military aid or calling for a review of the conditions under which military aid is provided to Lebanon.

While some members of Congress are taking issue with the Lebanese Army's attack on Israeli soldiers who were pruning a tree on the border, the White House and various experts Middle East experts have expressed concerns that cutting aid to the Lebanese Army will only serve to strengthen Hezbollah and weaken the Lebanese government's ability to control Hezbollah militants.

"[W]e continue to believe that supporting the Lebanese government and the Lebanese army or military is in our national interest to contribute to stability in the region," State Department spokesman PJ Crowley told reporters on Tuesday.

Crowley justified U.S. military aid to Lebanon as helping to limit Iranian influence in Lebanon and enforcing Lebanese government sovereignty.

"That's expressly why we think that the solution for Lebanon in terms of dealing with an armed element like Hezbollah is, in fact, to improve its own capabilities and professionalize its military so that it can extend its writ to areas that might not be fully under government control," said Crowley.

Lebanon responded on Wednesday by rejecting Berman's demand that conditions be put on military aid to restrict it from being used against Israel. "If someone would like to help the army without restrictions or conditions, he is welcome. But those who want to help the army on condition that it doesn't protect its territory, people and border from Israel, should keep their money – or give it to Israel instead," Lebanese Defence Minister Elias Murr told the Associated Press on Wednesday. Indeed Congressional pressure to cut military aid to Lebanon has given an opportunity to Iran, which has primarily sought influence in Lebanon by providing support for Hezbollah, to expand its relationship with the Lebanese government.

On Wednesday, Iran offered support to Lebanon's army and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to visit Beirut in September.

Juan Cole, a Middle East expert and University of Michigan professor, wrote on his blog that ending U.S. military aid to Lebanon will result in a weaker Lebanese army, a stronger Hezbollah, weaker government control over the Shiite dominated south, and an increased Lebanese government dependency on Tehran.

"In contrast, if the US helps quietly build up the Lebanese armed forces, at some point they will naturally overshadow Hizbullah. It is not desirable that the army be positioned as anti-Hizbullah nor that it take on the militia militarily. But in the medium term, a strong army would just be able better to assert its prerogatives. And it is better if that army is close to NATO powers, not to Iran," concluded Cole.

Lebanon has complained in the past that U.S. military aid has come too slowly, most recently after a three-month struggle to push Sunni militants out of a Palestinian refugee camp in 2007 severely tested the capabilities of the Lebanese army.

Since 2006, the U.S. has provided over 720 million dollars in military aid, including Humvees, light weapons, night vision goggles and training.

The State Department was eager to dispel concerns that U.S. military aid or training had any role in last week's deadly skirmish on the Israel-Lebanon border.

"We do understand the questions that the incident has raised about the nature of our assistance to Lebanon, and whether any of our assistance was in some way implicated in this incident," Crowley told reporters on Tuesday.

"As we have stressed, we have no indications that our training programs were in any way implicated in what happened, and we will continue to discuss our assistance, our programs, with Lebanon with congressional leaders."

Eli Clifton writes for the Inter Press Service and the IPS blog, Lobelog (http://www.lobelog.com/), and is a contributor to Right Web (http://www.rightweb.irc-online.org/).

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Update was slow, but still no lag in the editor window, and footnotes are intact.     This has been updated – Bernard Lewis, who passed away in May 2018, was a renowned British-American historian of Islam and the Middle East. A former British intelligence officer, Foreign Office staffer, and Princeton University professor, Lewis was…


Bernard Lewis was a renowned historian of Islam and the Middle East who stirred controversy with his often chauvinistic attitude towards the Muslim world and his associations with high-profile neoconservatives and foreign policy hawks.


John Bolton, the controversial former U.S. ambassador to the UN and dyed-in the-wool foreign policy hawk, is President Trump’s National Security Adviser McMaster, reflecting a sharp move to the hawkish extreme by the administration.


Michael Joyce, who passed away in 2006, was once described by neoconservative guru Irving Kristol as the “godfather of modern philanthropy.”


Mike Pompeo, the Trump administration’s second secretary of state, is a long time foreign policy hawk and has led the public charge for an aggressive policy toward Iran.


Max Boot, neoconservative military historian at the Council on Foreign Relations, on Trump and Russia: “At every turn Trump is undercutting the ‘get tough on Russia’ message because he just can’t help himself, he just loves Putin too much.”


Michael Flynn is a former Trump administration National Security Advisor who was forced to step down only weeks on the job because of his controversial contacts with Russian officials before Trump took office.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Trump is not the problem. Think of him instead as a summons to address the real problem, which in a nation ostensibly of, by, and for the people is the collective responsibility of the people themselves. For Americans to shirk that responsibility further will almost surely pave the way for more Trumps — or someone worse — to come.


The United Nations has once again turn into a battleground between the United States and Iran, which are experiencing one of the darkest moments in their bilateral relations.


In many ways, Donald Trump’s bellicosity, his militarism, his hectoring cant about American exceptionalism and national greatness, his bullying of allies—all of it makes him not an opponent of neoconservatism but its apotheosis. Trump is a logical culmination of the Bush era as consolidated by Obama.


For the past few decades the vast majority of private security companies like Blackwater and DynCorp operating internationally have come from a relatively small number of countries: the United States, Great Britain and other European countries, and Russia. But that seeming monopoly is opening up to new players, like DeWe Group, China Security and Protection Group, and Huaxin Zhongan Group. What they all have in common is that they are from China.


The Trump administration’s massive sales of tanks, helicopters, and fighter aircraft are indeed a grim wonder of the modern world and never receive the attention they truly deserve. However, a potentially deadlier aspect of the U.S. weapons trade receives even less attention than the sale of big-ticket items: the export of firearms, ammunition, and related equipment.


Soon after a Saudi-led coalition strike on a bus killed 40 children on August 9, a CENTCOM spokesperson stated to Vox, “We may never know if the munition [used] was one that the U.S. sold to them.”


The West has dominated the post-war narrative with its doctrine of liberal values, arguing that not only were they right in themselves but that economic success itself depended on their application. Two developments have challenged those claims. The first was the West’s own betrayal of its principles: on too many occasions the self interest of the powerful, and disdain for the victims of collateral damage, has showed through. The second dates from more recently: the growth of Chinese capitalism owes nothing to a democratic system of government, let alone liberal values.


RightWeb
share