Say what you will about our foreign policy pseudo-sophisticates, but when they commit to counterproductive policies grounded in incoherent assumptions, they stay committed.
Whether they’re pushing public diplomacy apology tours to the Muslim world to “spread the truth about American values” or pimping concessions to Iran to split Khamenei from the hardliners, never are repeated failures allowed to get in the way of insisting that we need more of the same. Never is the possibility entertained that maybe Muslims are hostile because they understand American values all too well, or that maybe hardliners have Khamenei’s ear because he’s ideologically aligned with them. America’s ever-lower popularity in the Arab world and Khamenei’s ever-closer personal links to institutionalized extremism always seem to call for doubling down, never for reevaluation.
But our public diplomacy evangelists and Iranian engagement apostles are steely captains helming the ship of state – partaking equally of Horatio Nelson, Otto von Bismarck, and Sherlock Holmes – compared to our “let’s pour weapons into fragile Arab regimes” security assistance advocates. The idea here is that if we find a group of seething Arab nationalists slightly to the left of openly genocidal jihadists, we should arm and train them. They’ll turn their new American weapons and skills against the jihadists with whom they somewhat agree, the thinking goes, as opposed to the Israelis whom they pathologically hate.
Given how sound that logic seems, it’s almost shocking that there are credible suggestions circulating about how those Lebanese troops from yesterday – the ones who almost sparked a war by firing across the Israeli border and killing an IDF Lieutenant-Colonel – were trained and armed by the Pentagon.
It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that the Lebanese Armed Forces took American-supplied tanks and anti-aircraft weapons and drones, and then promptly began trying to kill Israeli soldiers. And no one even bothers talking about the 200 tons of US explosives that Hamas captured after they rolled the hopelessly outmatched US-trained Fatah forces in the Gaza Strip, explosives which were subsequently used against Israeli soldiers. General Keith Dayton, the man responsible for making sure Hamas was kept out of Gaza, was promptly transferred to the West Bank. There he immediately resumed providing weapons to the Palestinian Authority, because the problem had obviously been not enough security assistance.
It was in the immediate aftermath of the Gaza failure, by the by, when the Pentagon also began enthusiastically pouring weapons into Lebanon. That assistance was promptly turned against Israeli intelligence assets, more or less decimating Israel’s ability to know what’s going on in Lebanon.
So with the Israelis facing Iranian proxies to their north and south – to say nothing of Iranian nukes to their east – the US plan for bolstering regional stability was effectively “help Lebanon make Israel really, really uncertain and nervous.” When the IDF gets skittish about the Jewish State’s prospects for survival, after all – that always goes well.
And that was the best case scenario, where anti-Syrian and anti-Iran political forces are making good on their declarations that they want neither peace nor a settlement with Israel. It doesn’t take into account how the Lebanese political hierarchy and the LAF have now been penetrated by Hezbollah, something that was entirely predictable well over a year ago.
It was already crystal clear back – even to the UN – that Hezbollah was about to take control of “all the security and administrative apparatus of the state.” But we kept pouring security assistance into the country anyway, even though the moderates whom we were ostensibly bolstering had long ago forged electoral alliances with extremists of all stripes. When the election did happen, and when Hezbollah did acquire formal government imprimatur for their massively armed Shiite statelet, State hailed the entire fiasco as a “positive and necessary step.” Modestly, the Department stopped short of taking credit for said step, its positivity and necessity aside.
US security assistance to the perennially weak Palestinian Authority was captured by Hamas and used against Israel. US security assistance to the hopelessly besieged Lebanese government was turned against Israel without needing to be captured. And in response we’re gearing up to give even more security assistance to the Palestinian Authority and to the Lebanese government. Smart power!
For all the din that the Walt/Mearsheimer/Freeman crowd raise about US assistance to Israel, at least there we have the basis for a basic and coherent debate. Israel uses its military against the Iranian proxies trying to destroy it. You can argue about whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, and you can suggest that we have no stake in protecting a nation literally at the front line of the war between the West and political Islam,. But at least we know in which direction the Israelis are going to point their weapons.
With Arab security assistance, the State Department and Pentagon keep untenably insisting that it will be used one way, and then it predictably gets used in the exact opposite way. Policy debates happen in a fantasy world, where the LAF isn’t tangled up with Hezbollah and the PA is strong enough to take on Hamas. No wonder we’re precipitously losing ground in the Middle East, with the Iranians gobbling up one country after another into their orbit.
* Obama White House Going Back To Stone Age Public Diplomacy: “Spread The Truth About American Values” (Plus: Obama’s “Ominous Evasiveness” About Cast Lead) [Mere Rhetoric]
* Liberal Foreign Policy Experts: This Ahmadinejad Reelection Was Just So Unpredictable! [Mere Rhetoric]
* Poll: Arab world opinion of Obama dims [Rozen / Politico]
* Khamenei Seizes Control Of Iranian Republican Guard Militias, Installs Son As Head Thug [Mere Rhetoric]
* Israeli Officers Ambushed on Northern Border [Landes / PJM]
* Attack on Northern Israel [Muqata]
* Pentagon And Iran Competing To See Who Can Supply Hezbollah With More Tanks [Mere Rhetoric]
* Great News: US Providing Even More Weapons To Lebanese Military [Mere Rhetoric]
* U.S. to provide Lebanon with unmanned drones [Ha'aretz]
* Lebanon Celebrates Infusion Of US Security Assistance By Shooting At IAF Planes [Mere Rhetoric]
* Hamas Has 200 Tons Of Explosives That The US Gave To Fatah (Plus: Egypt Says It’s Israel’s Fault) [Mere Rhetoric]
* Hamas: Yup, We’re Still Using US-Supplied Weapons To Kill Israelis [Mere Rhetoric]
* State Dept Pushing Congress To Move Abject Failure Keith Dayton To West Bank [Mere Rhetoric]
* Pentagon Gets Brilliant Idea: Let’s Give Lebanon Cutting-Edge Military Tech, Training [Mere Rhetoric]
* US Security Assistance To Lebanon Already Being Turned Against Israel [Mere Rhetoric]
* Lebanon’s intelligence war with Israel [BBC]
* Lebanese Druze Leader Walid Jumblatt Defends Hizbullah’s Armament and States: We Want Neither Peace Nor a Settlement with Israel [MEMRI]
* UN chief raps ‘intimidation’ by Lebanon militias [AFP]
* Lebanon on Tenterhooks [City Journal]
* An unlikely political mix in Lebanon [LAT]
* Lebanon Endorses Hezbollah Weapons Stockpile Despite Hezbollah Promises For A Near-Term War On Israel [Mere Rhetoric]