Be All That We Want You To Be

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Lebanon
has never had more than a fledgling army. That is because Lebanon
chose not to. In part this was because Lebanon wished to remain
a non-combatant even though surrounded by conflict. It was more
interested in devoting its resources toward commercial development.
In this sense it was not unlike Switzerland. There was also the
specter of an army which would be as divided by communal affiliation
as the nation itself.

The
United States has announced
plans to provide military training and equipment to Lebanon. The
U.S. says it will increase military assistance by ten times its
current level. Is this Washington’s plan or Lebanon’s? Of course,
there has been no confirmation of this plan by Lebanon.

One can hardly escape the irony that the announcement is being made
as America’s do-no-wrong ally is laying waste to Lebanon and its
population with weapons we have gifted to it. In order to avoid
a lag in the pace of destruction America has even placed laser-guided
bombs on "rush"
delivery to Israel.

Is
it recognition of the need to defend Lebanon against Israel which
has motivated this sudden determination to make the Lebanese u2018be
all that they can be?’ Will the U.S. provide Lebanon with an air
defense system capable of stopping Israel’s at-will violations of
Lebanese airspace and its aerial demolition of the infrastructure
into which Lebanon elected to invest its national treasure rather
than a standing army? Will the U.S. equip Lebanon to the point that
its army can repel another Israeli ground invasion? No.

Three
objectives accompany America’s military plan for Lebanon. First,
the U.S. seeks to control Lebanese military capability. If the Lebanese
should stray from official neocon policy they will suddenly find
themselves without spare parts and a called loan. Secondly, the
U.S. wants the Lebanese military to be strong enough to strangle
the formation of internal militias hostile to Israel. Thirdly, by
restricting its development to that of a national police force,
the U.S. will insure that the Lebanese armed forces will serve the
goal of defending Israel from within Lebanon while being unable
to hinder any Israeli military invasion into Lebanon.

The
ill-conceived plan obviously ignores the political mood and demographics
in Lebanon. When the devastation ends and the rebuilding begins,
the Lebanese political scene will not resemble the old, colonial,
Paris-of-the-Middle-East which Washington and Paris are so desperately
trying to resurrect. The "Cedar Revolution" conceived
of and promoted by Washington’s neocons withered almost before the
confetti hit the ground.
This is not the 1950′s. This is not your father’s Lebanon.

Even before Israel’s latest invasion, Hezbollah was supported by
roughly 50% of the Lebanese population, and was firmly established
in Lebanese social, religious and political life. While Israel destroys
every part of Lebanon with U.S. encouragement, even highway bridges
in the Christian north,
more Lebanese are rallying to Hezbollah’s side
than ever before.

Any
new Lebanese army will be comprised of the very people who are fighting
Israel and cursing the U.S. now. Its core will be the members of
Hezbollah and its supporters. Hezbollah is South Lebanon. That will
not change if and when they put on Lebanese army uniforms. Hezbollah
will either dominate the new Lebanese army or be the force which
prevents it from forming.

August
7, 2006

John
M. Peters [send him mail]
is a practicing attorney in Michigan.

John
M. Peters Archives

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