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
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
And how is that border protection going?
Tuesday's unprovoked LAF ambush of Lt.-Col. Harari's
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.
Even worse, 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.
Since 2009, LAF soldiers 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 shooting.
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.
THEN 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 Lebanon.
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 a sense, by effectively collaborating with Hizbullah,
the LAF did ensure "internal stability."
But it is hard to see how such "internal
stability" -- based as it is on Hizbullah control over Lebanon -- advances
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 theTimes,
"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
The US has refused to reckon with the consequences of its
actions. As theTimes 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 government.
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.
It also bears recalling that during the 2006 war, the LAF
provided Hizbullah commanders with targeting data for their missiles and
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.
As Israel 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 Israel.
Hundreds of Israelis have been murdered and maimed in
The Palestinian force being trained by the US Army
represents a disturbing, qualitative upgrade in Palestinian military
capabilities. OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrahi warned IDF ground forces
about the new US-Palestinian 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
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 communities.
To date, the US has spent $400m. on the Palestinian army.
The Obama administration has allocated an additional $100m. for the next year.
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 US-trained 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 terror-aligned
armies, it is also important to understand Israel's role in these nefarious
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 alike.
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 Hizbullah-dominated 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 US.
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."
And so, 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 Saad Hariri.
It is true; the US is abetting and aiding the war against
Israel by sponsoring 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
*Originally published in The Jerusalem Post