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Principled standPublished: August 13, 2010
The Lebanese government is absolutely right to have turned down $100 million of US arms aid because of the malign conditions that were attached to it at the last moment by the House of Representatives in Washington.
In essence, the aid was to be offered on the condition that the arms it would have bought, from US suppliers naturally, could not be used against Israelis. The condition, moved by the chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, Howard Berman is as muddle-headed as it is unjust. It illustrates the blinkers that continue to be worn by senior US legislators.
The Lebanese armed forces are woefully underequipped and need the new weapons that the aid would have bought. Their record, however, is hardly one of aggression against Lebanon’s southern neighbor. Lebanese troops have never invaded and occupied a huge swathe of northern Israel. Lebanese warplanes have never sped into Israel and bombed in detail power stations, oil supply depots, bridges and roads. Lebanese artillery has never conducted long-range bombardments of Israeli towns and cities.
Yet the Berman amendment made the ludicrous stipulation that any arms for which the US paid could not be used against Israel. Thus we could have had the situation that when Israel chooses again to wreak devastation in Lebanon the Lebanese defense forces could not fire on the attackers with any of their new armaments. Berman would have effectively ensured that Israel would be free to behave as outrageously and illegally as it liked without the Lebanese defense forces being able to defend themselves.
Therefore the country’s Defense Minister Elias Murr was quite right to reject the proffered aid with the contempt the deal deserved. He said: “Those who want to help the army on the condition that it does not protect its territory, people and border... should keep their money”. Washington continues wedded to the insane policy of effectively feeding the viper in the Middle East, while denying any anti-venom to its neighbors and victims. This further demonstration of the power of the Zionist lobby in the US is deeply disheartening. That other US legislators should have let the amendment go through displays the ingrained inability in Washington to understand the despair that US partiality toward Israel causes among Arab countries.
With the US occupation of Iraq about to end, leaving the country teetering on the brink of a return to bloody chaos, and the US mission in Afghanistan clearly in trouble, Washington ought to be thinking of ways of building confidence in its regional policy. Its consistent failure to understand that its unquestioning support for Israel cannot but undermine trust among Arab states, including those generally well disposed to it, lies at the heart of the tragic confrontations in Gaza and the West Bank, in southern Lebanon, in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. US Middle East policy can no longer be written for it by the Israelis. Only fair and equal dealing can promote regional peace, undermine the men of violence and incidentally genuinely promote US interests in the region.
© 2010 Arab News