Thank You Juan Cole

Thanks to Juan Cole for posting an excellent piece on U.S. Military aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces over at Informed Comment: Cutting off Aid to the Lebanese Army Hurts U.S. Interests. Money quotes:

For the US to cease supporting the strengthening of Lebanon’s armed forces will have the following effects:

1. In general, a weaker army means a relatively stronger Hizbullah paramilitary, and other non-state militias such as those in the Palestinian camps would also be relatively stronger

2. The army’s attempts to assert control in the Shiite south of Lebanon will be impeded, helping Hizbullah

3. If the US does not give military aid to the Lebanese armed forces, then other global and regional actors will, including Iran. Is that what the Israel Lobby in Congress wants, to push Lebanon into Tehran’s arms?

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.

I have consistently stood by the position that our interests are better served by fostering a defensive relationship with Lebanon rather than Israel, since arriving in Lebanon almost a year ago. Juan Cole is correct on all these points. But its not just about fostering a relationship solely based on military aid. On all fronts, U.S. interests would consistently be served better by forming close relationships with the political and economic aspects of the Lebanese state, in addition to its military. If the United States really wanted to catalyze a peace process in Lebanon, it should recognize the political arm of Hezbollah and its political integration within the Lebanese state, as other Western states have done such as Great Britain.

The silly allegation about Hizbullah and the LAF is a smear, and derives from Tel Aviv’s unease with not being able to have its way with Lebanon at will. In particular, Israeli hawks have long coveted the water resources of south Lebanon, and don’t want a strong Lebanese army and state that would put an end to that expansionist dream.

Yep. This is definitely right on target.

Sometimes what the Likud Party in Israel wants and what is good for United States interests just aren’t the same thing, and the US Congress will have to decide which it wants to represent.

We should thank all of those Congressmen and Senators in both our elected Houses, who sent that letter to President Obama imploring him to “fix” our relationship with Israel, for putting Israel’s interests first before our own.

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