Hizballah, a threat to the USA

Hizballah fighters in West Beirut during May 2008 coup.

Hizballah fighters in West Beirut during May 2008 coup.

Hizballah, second only to al-Qaeda in the number of American citizens murdered, is the most powerful terrorist group in the world today. Hizballah  effectively controls Lebanon — thus finally putting an end to the idea of a state in which Muslims and Christians could share power — and will soon doubtless fight yet another war with Israel.

Hizballah has tentacles in numerous countries, and is especially powerful in Latin America. Originally financed from Iran, Hizballah now is also funded by drug operations in both hemispheres. It also receives contributions from Islamic charities around the world.

The degree of autonomy exercised by Hizballah is unclear, but its connection to Iran is close enough that it’s been called “the Foreign Legion of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.” It’s fair to say that one of the major factors that deters the US and Israel from military action against the Iranian nuclear program is the threat that Hizballah would both strike Israel with tens of thousands of rockets as well as unleash a wave of terror against American interests at home and abroad.

Hizballah is a tremendous threat to the US — probably more so than al-Qaeda — especially since it could easily infiltrate terrorists through our porous Mexican border.

So you would think that our foreign policy would be aimed at weakening it. You would think we would be doing our best to help keep weapons out of its hands.

You would think that if we knew that major parts of the Lebanese Armed Forces were controlled by Hizballah, we wouldn’t train them and give them advanced weapons.

You would think that we would help Israel, which directly confronts Hizballah. For example,  if Israel was spying on Hizballah (and giving information to the US), we wouldn’t beef up the Lebanese security services, which in effect work for Hizballah, so they can use our equipment to catch and kill the agents working for Israel.

You would think all of this, but you would be wrong, because you would not have reckoned with the sheer stupidity — or worse — of the US State Department.

WASHINGTON – The State Department is working to allay the concerns of members of Congress who have put a hold on funding to the Lebanese military, following last week’s deadly border incident with Israel, a spokesman said Tuesday.

“We understand that this incident has raised very legitimate questions on the Hill and we will continue to engage leaders on both sides of the aisle to help assuage concerns that exist,” said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.

However, he defended US military assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces [LAF] as something that’s “in our national interest and contributes to stability in the region.”  He added that the US has “no indications” that its training programs were in any way implicated in the incident.

Crowley also pointed to statements by Iran that it would fill whatever funding gap is left by the US with its own money as an example of the need for the US to keep up its contributions. “The statements by Iran are expressly the reason why we believe continued support to the Lebanese government and the Lebanese military is in our interest,” he said.

In addition to the recent border skirmish between Lebanon and Israel, House Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Howard Berman cited more general concerns of Hizbullah involvement with the Lebanese army in placing a hold on $100 million in funds slated for 2010.

Crowley responded to the concern by saying that, “Hizbullah is a fact within Lebanese society and much of our effort in supporting the Lebanese military is in fact the very professionalization that we think helps mitigate that risk.”

The suggestion that the Lebanese Army “contributes to stability” by confronting Hizballah is ludicrous. Here are some facts:

The argument that ‘if we don’t buy them weapons, Iran will’ is completely absurd. It would only be worth considering if Lebanon were ruled by pro-Western forces. But it isn’t. That battle is over. Perhaps we could have supported that side more effectively, but we didn’t, and now we can’t make up for it by arming our enemies. This is yet another case of the US trying to influence bad actors by bribing them in advance, the ‘all-carrot, no stick’ policy. The result is that they take our guns and think we’re stupid. They’re right.

Hizballah directly confronts Israel, but Israel is prepared for the inevitable war. That is more than can be said for the US, where the threat from Hizballah is being studiously ignored. My prediction is that if we don’t start taking it seriously, Hizballah will make al-Qaeda look like pikers.

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