Following Monday’s announcement that the US was halting all military aid to Lebanon to punish them for a border clash with Israel, suggestions have flown that the future resumption of such aid would come with the condition that the arms could never be used in a future war with Israel.
Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Murr mocked the suggestion, and said the government would reject any military aid that came with the condition that the military couldn’t use its weapons to defend against a future Israeli invasion. Murr suggested that the US “should keep their money – or give it to Israel instead.”
Indeed, while the US has made much of how their military aid to Lebanon has “improved its sovereignty over its territory,” the current and virtually only foreign policy issue Lebanon has is the constant threat of invasion from neighboring Israel.
Lebanon’s military came off as a laughingstock in the wake of the 2006 Israeli invasion, standing by as Israeli warplanes bombed the capital and Israeli tanks rolled into the south of the nation. For many, the war cemented Hezbollah’s status as Lebanon’s real defensive force.
Which was the real reason the US pumped money into Lebanon’s military (over Israeli objections), an effort to marginalize Hezbollah. Yet with Israeli officials openly talking about the next invasion of Lebanon as a question of when, not if, whatever gains the Lebanese military gained in status would be instantly lost if they have to promise America that they will wait out another invasion in their barracks.
It would also leave many Lebanese wondering why they bother to have a military at all. The only conceivable invasion force is Israel, and if that military isn’t to be a hedge against such an invasion the force, even heavily US-subsidized is a waste of money.
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