Lebanon’s Double Game is Coming to an End

General Petraeus’s widely remarked-upon but little-read testimony before Congress made note of:

General Petraeus’s widely remarked-upon but little-read testimony before Congress made note of:

Ungoverned, poorly governed and alternatively governed spaces. Weak civil and security institutions and the inability of certain governments in the region to exert full control over their territories and conditions that insurgent groups can exploit to create physical safe havens in which they can plan, train for, and launch operations, or pursue narco-criminal activities. We have seen these groups develop, or attempt to develop, what might be termed sub-states.

He cited Lebanon.

For years, the Government of Lebanon has cried to the world that it is abused by Israel because it is too weak to control its territory (as if no fault accrues to that). And the world reliably denounces Israel’s efforts to protect its own population from the depredations, first of the PLO and then of Hezbollah, emanating from Lebanese territory. And even when it was understood that Israel had been provoked beyond reason (2006), the Government of Lebanon was treated as if it was twice a victim-first of Hezbollah and then of Israel.

That’s not quite the case. Lebanon, like the Palestinian Authority, is both terrorist and state sponsor of terrorists. There are those who consider Hezbollah to be the army of Lebanon, allowing Lebanon to be a confrontation state without taking the responsibility for being one. Lebanon claims victim status when it is convenient, but provides money, territory, and diplomatic and political support to terrorist groups the rest of the time. Hezbollah’s politicians are in the Lebanese parliament and hold a “blocking third” in the cabinet (enough to veto policies of the elected government). Hezbollah’s army operates with the express permission of the Lebanese government and a good case can be made-and Israelis have made it-that Hezbollah is actually the armed force of Lebanon.

Part of Lebanon is Hezbollah-land, with an army financed, armed and trained by Syria and Iran. Part is occupied by 450,000 Palestinian refugees in fenced camps that are separated from Lebanese society, governed by armed Palestinian militias that have made veritable “no-go zones” for the Lebanese government. Syrian troops bring reinforcements to both at will; no one controls the border. UNIFL troops wander around the south, while the Druze and Christian communities lay low.

The United States is financing, arming and training the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), spending more than $500 million since 2005 and providing aircraft, tanks, artillery, small boats, infantry weapons, ammunition, Humvees, cargo trucks and unmanned reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft. Our policy is that the Government of Lebanon needs to be “strengthened” in order to put a break on the activities of Hezbollah in the name of “peace” and its own security. (It is the same logic by which we finance, arm and train the Palestinian Authority army.) But why would the Lebanese government send its army to destroy Hezbollah, a member of the government itself and an integrated part of the Lebanese political system?

If indeed, as it has been reported, Syria transferred Scud missiles to Hezbollah-or plans to-either they did it without the knowledge of the Lebanese government, or they did it with Lebanese government complicity. If the former, the Obama Administration should seriously rethink its overtures to Damascus. If the latter, the United States should seriously rethink its relationship to Beirut.

Israel has already contemplated what another war with Hezbollah would mean, for Israel and for Lebanon. The United States should not be surprised if Lebanon gets called on the double game it has been playing for years.