It wasn’t a US Army sniper who killed IDF Lt.- Col. Dov Harari and seriously
wounded Capt. Ezra Lakia on Tuesday. But the Lebanese Armed Forces sniper
who shot them owes a great deal to the generous support the LAF has received
For the past five years, the LAF has been the second
largest recipient of US military assistance per capita after Israel. A State
Department press release from late 2008 noted that between 2006 and 2008, the
LAF received 10 million rounds of ammunition, Humvees, spare parts for attack
helicopters, vehicles for its Internal Security Forces “and the same frontline
weapons that US military troops are currently using, including assault rifles,
automatic grenade launchers, advanced sniper systems, anti-tank weapons and the
most modern urban warfare bunker weapons.”
Since 2006, the US has
provided Lebanon some $500 million in military assistance. And there is no end
in sight. After President Barack Obama’s meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister
Saad Hariri in June, the White House proclaimed Obama’s “determination to
continue US efforts to support and strengthen Lebanese institutions such as the
Lebanese Armed Forces and the Internal Security Forces.”
And indeed, in
late June, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates informed Congress that the Pentagon
intends to provide the LAF with 24 120mm mortars, 24 M2 .50 caliber machine
guns, 1 million rounds of ammunition, and 24 humvees and trailers. The latest
orders should be delivered by the end of 2011.
According to the Los
Angeles Times, the administration has already allocated $100m. in military
assistance to Lebanon for 2011.
According to Lebanon’s As-Safir
newspaper, in written testimony to Congress, last week Obama’s nominee to head
the US Central Command, Gen. James Matthis, claimed that relations between US
Central Command and the LAF focus on building the LAF’s capabilities “to
preserve internal stability and protect borders.”
And how is that border
protection going? Tuesday’s unprovoked LAF ambush of Lt.-Col.
battalion within Israeli territory showed that the LAF is fully prepared to go
to war against the US’s closest ally in the region, in order to deter IDF units
from crossing the border.
Indeed, they are willing to commit unprovoked
acts of illegal aggression to harm Israel.
As The Jerusalem Post reported
on Wednesday, there is no reason to be surprised by what happened.
2009, LAF men have frequently pointed their rifles at IDF soldiers operating
along the border. In recent months they have also cocked their rifles while
aiming them at IDF forces. It was just a matter of time before they started
The same aggressive border protection is completely absent,
however, along Lebanon’s border with Syria. Since 2006, the LAF has taken no
actions to seal off that border from weapons transfers to Hizbullah. It has
taken no steps to protect Lebanese sovereignty from the likes of Syria and Iran
that are arming Hizbullah’s army with tens of thousands of missiles.
THERE’S Centcom’s “internal stability.”
For the past four years, in open
breach of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which set the terms for the
cease-fire that ended the Second Lebanon War, the LAF has done nothing to block
Hizbullah from remilitarizing and reasserting control over southern
Moreover, the institution that the State Department views as the
anchor of a multiethnic, independent Lebanon did not lift a finger against
Hizbullah when Hizbullah staged a coup against the Saniora government in
In a sense, by effectively collaborating with Hizbullah, the LAF
did ensure “internal stability.”
But it is hard to see how such “internal
stability” advances US interests.
In stark contrast, as the Los Angeles
Times reported last week, the US-supported Lebanese Internal Security Forces
have used US signals equipment to help Hizbullah ferret out Israeli agents.
According to the Times, “A strengthening Lebanese government is helping
Hizbullah bust alleged spy cells, sometimes using tools and tradecraft acquired
from Western nations eager to build up Lebanon’s security forces as a
counterweight to the Shi’ite group.”
The US has refused to reckon with
the consequences of its actions. As the Times reported, last week Assistant
Secretary of Defense Alexander Vershbow visited Beirut and said that continued
US aid and training to the LAF would allow the Lebanese Army to “prevent
militias and other nongovernmental organizations” from undermining the
It bears recalling that Hizbullah has been a partner in the
Lebanese government since 2005. Since its successful coup in 2008, Hizbullah has
held a veto over all the decisions of the Lebanese government.
bears recalling that during the 2006 war, the LAF provided Hizbullah commanders
with targeting data for their missiles and rockets.
The LAF also
announced on its official Web site that it would award pensions to families of
Hizbullah fighters killed in the war.
Unfortunately, the LAF is not the
only military organization aligned with Israel’s enemies that the US is arming
and training. There is also the US-trained Palestinian army.
Radio’s Arab Affairs commentator Yoni Ben-Menachem reported last month, the IDF
is deeply concerned about the US-trained Palestinian force. Ben-Menachem
recalled that since 1996, Palestinians security forces have repeatedly taken
leading roles in organizing and carrying out terrorist attacks against
Hundreds of Israelis have been murdered and maimed in these
The Palestinian force being trained by the US Army represents a
disturbing, qualitative upgrade in Palestinian military capabilities.
Central Command Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrahi warned IDF ground forces about the new
USPalestinian threat in May.
As Mizrahi put it in a speech at Tze’elim
training base cited by Ben-Menachem, “This is a well trained force, better
equipped than its predecessors and trained by the US. The significance of this
is that at the start of a new battle [with the Palestinians] the price that we
will pay will be higher. A force like this one can shut down a built-up area
with four snipers. This is deadly. These aren’t the fighters we faced in Jenin
[in 2002]. This is an infantry force that will be fighting us and we need to
take this into account. They have offensive capabilities and we aren’t expecting
them to give up.”
The IDF assesses that the US-trained force will be
capable of overrunning small IDF outposts and isolated Israeli
To date, the US has spent $400m. on the Palestinian army.
The Obama administration has allocated an additional $100m. for the next
And the US is demanding that Israel support its efforts. In a
General Accounting Office report issued in May, Israel was excoriated for
hampering US efforts to build the Palestinian forces.
The GAO railed
against Israel’s refusal to permit the transfer of a thousand AK-47 assault
rifles to the Palestinian forces. It criticized Israel’s rejection of US plans
to train a Palestinian counterterror force. It complained that Israel does not
give freedom of movement to US military advisers to the Palestinian forces in
Judea and Samaria.
The US claims that what it is doing cultivates
stability. It argues that the Palestinian and Lebanese failure to prevent terror
armies from attacking Israel is due to their lack of institutional capacity to
rein in terrorism rather than the absence of institutional will to do so. The US
claims that pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into these Lebanese and
Palestinian armies will enable them to become stabilizing forces in the region
that will engender peace. What the administration ignores, however, is the fact
that the members and commanders of these UStrained forces share the terrorists’
dedication to Israel’s destruction.
TO ITS undying shame, Israel has
publicly supported, or, at best failed to oppose these American initiatives. By
doing so, Israel has provided political cover for these US initiatives that
endanger its security. Although it is crucial to call the US out for its
sponsorship of terroraligned armies, it is also important to understand Israel’s
role in these nefarious enterprises.
Israel has gone along with these US
programs for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it has been due to domestic
politics. Sometimes it owed to Israel’s desire to be a team player with the US
government. But generally the Israeli rationale for not loudly and vociferously
objecting to US assistance to enemy armies has been the same as Israel’s
rationale for embracing Yassir Arafat and the PLO in 1993 and for every other
Israeli act of appeasement toward its enemies and allies
Successive Israeli governments have claimed that by supporting
actions that strengthen Israel’s enemies, they gain leverage for Israel, or, at
a minimum, they mitigate the opprobrium directed against Israel when it takes
actions to defend itself. In Lebanon, for instance, Israel agreed to the US plan
to support the Hizbullahdominated Saniora government in the hopes that by
agreeing to give the Lebanese government immunity from IDF attack, the US would
support Israel’s moves to defeat Hizbullah.
But this did not happen.
Indeed, it could not happen. The pro-Western Lebanese government ministers are
beholden to Hizbullah.
Whether they wish to or not, former prime minister
Fuad Saniora and his successor Hariri both act as Hizbullah’s defenders to the
And once the US committed itself to the falsehood that the Sanioras
and Hariris of Lebanon are independent actors, it inevitably became Hizbullah’s
advocate against Israel as well. The logic of appeasement moves in one direction
only – toward one’s enemies.
The same holds for the Palestinians. Israel
believed that once it capitulated to international pressure to recognize the PLO
the US, the EU and the UN would hold the PLO to account if it turned out that
Arafat and his minions had not changed their ways. But when Arafat ordered his
lieutenants to wage a terror war against Israel rather than accept statehood,
the US, the EU and the UN did not rally to Israel’s side.
They had become
so invested in their delusion of Palestinian peacefulness that they refused to
abandon it. Instead, at most, they pinned the full blame on Arafat and demanded
that Israel support their efforts to “strengthen the moderates.”
in this demented logic, it made sense for the US to build a Palestinian army
after the Palestinians elected Hamas to lead them.
And so on and so
forth. In every single instance, Israel’s willingness to embrace lies about the
nature of its enemies has come back to haunt it. Never has Israel gained any
ground by turning a blind eye to the hostility of the likes of Salam Fayyad and
It is true; the US is abetting and aiding the war against
Israel by supporting the LAF and the Palestinian military. But it is also true
that the US will not stop until Israel demands that it stop. And Israel will not
demand that the US stop building armies for its enemies until Israel abandons
the notion that by accepting a lie told by a friend, it will gain that friend’s