Amid the debate over funding the government, it should not be too much to ask that we don’t fund Iranian proxies, especially not with weapons of war. Yet, in a complete contradiction of everything the president has said about Iran and the Middle East, the Pentagon announced the transfer of another $120 million in weapons to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). Which, in essence, is putting them straight into the hands of Hezbollah and Iran.
The government of Saudi Arabia recognizes Lebanon as a puppet of Hezbollah and a client state of Iran. Lebanon’s own prime minister, Saad Hariri, resigned because of the takeover and said as much until he was pressured to return to Lebanon a few weeks ago. But our own government refuses to recognize the truth.
Yesterday, the U.S. Embassy in Beirut announced that the Pentagon will give the LAF “6 new MD 530G light attack helicopters, 6 new Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicles, & leading edge communication and night vision devices” as part of a $120 million package “to conduct border security and counterterrorism operations.”
Isn’t it interesting that we are suddenly interested in border security when it comes to helping an Iranian-client defend against Sunni Islamists?
The package of helicopters and drones is on top of the deal announced earlier this year to give the LAF Bradley Fighting Vehicles, howitzers, and machine guns.
Aside from the fact that it is utterly insane to arm a military directed by Hezbollah, the entire premise of arming our enemies to fight ISIS makes no sense. Hezbollah and Iran were always greater strategic threats to us and our allies than ISIS, and now that the caliphate has been defeated, Hezbollah has been empowered. Thus, even if one could justify allying with Iran against ISIS, as Obama did, the balance of power has now tipped all the way in the other direction. It would be akin to arming Stalin in order to fight the Germans … in 1947.
Even scarier, our own government knows what it is doing but is purposely deceiving the public into thinking there is somehow an autonomous Lebanese military operating outside Hezbollah’s control, even though the country’s prime minister admitted in November that Hezbollah “has come to control the seams of the state and has the final and decisive say in the affairs of Lebanon and the Lebanese.” The de facto control of the LAF is so complete that in October, Israel’s defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, warned that in the next war with Hezbollah, Israel would target the LAF because it has become an integral part of Hezbollah’s campaign under its command. “[It] has become inextricably linked to Hezbollah.”
Now that we have bailed out Iran and its proxies from their problem with ISIS, they are speeding towards a war with Israel, and we are giving them weapons and vehicles of war.
Remember General James Jarrad’s dishonesty over how many troops we have in Syria and what they are doing there now that ISIS is essentially defeated? First, they said there were 4,000, then a Pentagon spokesperson interjected at the same press conference to say there were only 500 soldiers. Then we were told there are 2,000. Well, we’ve had special operations on the border of Lebanon fighting alongside Hezbollah in the same operations for quite some time. The military and civilian leadership, continuing the same policies of the Obama administration, are trying to keep the truth from the public. In August, Al-Monitor reported that “US Central Command called the Lebanese army chief and asked him to deny any cooperation [with Hezbollah], telling him that while they are aware of cooperation, it has to be denied publicly.”
These are the same CentCom commanders who continue to lie to us about what we are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan and the arming of Iranian-backed terror groups. It’s no surprise that General Joseph Votel said he was so proud of the aid package to Lebanon. “They are professional, proficient and focused on the Lebanese people, and I speak from the helm of US Central Command: We are extremely proud of their performance and very glad to be associated with them.”
This is the “other” Iran deal Obama forged that is, unfortunately, being continued under this administration by some of the same military and civilian players, such as McMaster, Mattis, Dunford, and Votel.
The devastating irony is that just today, USA Today reported that “sophisticated weapons the U.S. military secretly provided to Syrian rebels quickly fell into the hands of the Islamic State,” according to a new report. Thus, not only are we arming enemies of the United States, those weapons are ultimately falling into the hands of the other enemy that catalyzed our supposed effort to arm the original bad guys!
What is so frustrating is that Trump understands the broader problems with our failed foreign policy when the issue is simple, such as recognizing Jerusalem. During his momentous address announcing the change, he said, “We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past. All challenges demand new approaches.” The problem is that the details and nuances of his administration’s other alliances are lost on him and allow stark contradictions to his broad principles to remain unchallenged. The fact that he has people like Mattis and McMaster continuing Obama’s policies is rendering his good intuitions moot.
Then there is Congress. They are haggling over process and duration of a defense funding bill, but nobody wants to raise a peep about the policies of what we do with that funding? What are our strategic initiatives? Who are we arming? Who are our allies and our enemies? What sort of military engagements are we pursuing, at what cost and with what outcome?
This is not even ideological. Everyone from both parties should want answers to these questions. If we can’t stop funding for Iranian proxies in this budget bill, then we truly have a government shutdown — the ultimate failure of Congress to represent the American people and engage in the most basic oversight of a runaway bureaucracy.
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