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Commentary: Welcome action by Congress reexamining aid to Lebanese Armed Forces

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday,  in the wake of the killing of an IDF officer inside Israel by Lebanese Armed Forces personnel, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) announced that Congress would block the disbursement of $100 million in U.S. military aid to Lebanon.  Lowey chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee that authorizes such funds.  Similarly, House Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA) applied a hold with concerns about “reported Hezbollah influence on the Lebanese Armed Forces.”
 
According to The Jerusalem Post, “Berman entered his hold the day before the deadly incident, which he said only confirmed his reservations. His office also wants more information on Hezbollah’s role in the LAF, how diligently U.S. weapons are kept track of and how well the LAF cooperates with UNIFIL. ‘Until we know more about this incident and the nature of Hezbollah influence on the LAF – and can assure that the LAF is a responsible actor – I cannot in good conscience allow the United States to continue sending weapons to Lebanon,’ Berman said.”
 
The hold may, in the end, only be temporary. But credit where it is due.
 
For more than a year, JINSA has worried about the influence of Hezbollah on the Lebanese government, where it holds a “blocking third” in the Cabinet. While the U.S. government and UNIFIL have insisted that a bigger and more competent LAF would be expected to “secure the borders of Lebanon” and enforce UNSCR 1701 – which calls for all of the militias in the south to be disarmed – we have never believed that Lebanese soldiers could be induced to kill other Lebanese in the interest of keeping the Israeli residents of the North safe. 
 
It’s only too bad that 45-year old LTC (res.) Dov Harari of Netanya had to be killed before Congress stopped to consider the problem. Great follow-up for Congress would be to reconsider other American “train and equip” missions.  We wrote in May:  

“The current counterinsurgency model provides millions of dollars in American military aid to the PA, Lebanon and Yemen along with American trainers, and billions of dollars to Pakistan and Afghanistan with our troops on the ground or in the air. We are training locals to kill the people we want killed – Taliban, al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah. But each group we call terrorists may have a place in the framework of those countries and entities, in which case shooting them will just make them angry.”

We said, then, of Lebanon: Lebanon wants quiet at home and to remain part of the “rejection front” against Israel. Hezbollah in the government and in collusion with the Lebanese Armed Forces provides that.
 
It is unreasonable for the United States to assume that our enemies are someone else’s enemies and that they will dispose of them because we want them to – it is unreasonable for Israel to assume the same.  One of the deepest beliefs that JINSA has is that the United States and Israel are allies in fact if not by treaty because – whether in the Cold War or the war against terrorists and the states that harbor and support them –  the same ideologies, same trends, same enemies threaten us both at some level.
 
Neither country should assume others share our concerns.

*
Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.

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