Weapons For Hezbollah Means No Money For Lebanon

Seldom do I have a kind word for Democrats on matters of National Security (because seldom do they deserve it). Moreover, as a general rule, it is not in my opinion helpful for a single member of the House to take it upon himself to interfere with America’s foreign policy.

That being said, in my book, Tom Lantos deserves a round of applause:

“A key U.S. legislator said in Israel on Sunday he would block aid President George W. Bush promised Lebanon and free the funds only when Beirut agreed to the deployment of international troops on the border with Syria.

The international community must use all our available means to stiffen Lebanon’s spine and to convince the government of Lebanon to have the new UNIFIL troops on the Syrian border in adequate numbers,” said Tom Lantos, the ranking Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives’ International Relations Committee.

Lantos said he was putting a legislative hold on Bush’s proposal to provide $230 million in aid for Lebanon in the aftermath of the 34-day war between Israel and Lebanese Hizbollah guerrillas.

As the top Democrat on the International Relations Committee, Lantos has the power to hold up legislation.

“It is very much my hope that I will be able to lift the hold when the reasons will no longer be present,” he said at Israel’s Foreign Ministry, where he met Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni after talks with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

…Lantos, from California, said he would introduce bipartisan legislation to provide more aid to Israel, which already receives more than $2 billion annually in assistance from the United States.

“Lebanon will get help from both Europe, the Arab world and the United States. Unless the United States provides some aid to Israel, Israel receives no aid,” Lantos said.

He did not provide any estimate of how much money he would seek for Israel.”

Good for Lantos because he’s doing exactly what George Bush and the Israelis should be doing: insisting that the UN and Lebanon make a good faith effort to live up to the terms to the latest resolution.

It’s about time somebody did that, because the backpedalling has gotten so fast and furious at this point that this “ceasefire” is apparently going to consist of nothing more than 15,000 blue helmeted tourists going to Lebanon:

“The United Nations peacekeeping force to be deployed in Lebanon is facing further criticism after the admission that its forces will not even be allowed to intercept shipments of arms to Hezbollah from Syria.

Speaking in Brussels before heading to the region, Kofi Annan, pictured below, the UN Secretary-General, confirmed that the 15,000-strong force will not meet Israeli demands to police the routes used by the militia to smuggle missiles from Syria.

“Troops are not going in there to disarm – let’s be clear,” he said. Instead, the Unifil force will only carry out interception missions if asked by the Lebanese government – which has made no such request. Syria, meanwhile, accused by Israel of re-arming Hezbollah during the recent conflict, has said the deployment of any UN forces near its border would be considered a “hostile act”.
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Mr Annan’s disclosure of more limits on the UN force’s remit will act as a further blow to its credibility as a peacekeeping force. It is already devoid of any mandate to disarm Hezbollah of its existing weapons, and now appears powerless to stop the militia re-arming.”

So, these troops aren’t going to disarm Hezbollah or prevent Syria from shipping them weapons. That begs a very basic question: what the hell is the point of their going to Lebanon supposed to be, exactly?

All, that’s happening is that we’re going right back to the status quo, except the number of useless Unifil “peace keepers,” that don’t actually keep the peace, will be larger. This is nothing more than a face saving maneuver, similar to the one Bill Clinton did with North Korea. Israel shouldn’t put up with this and more importantly, George Bush shouldn’t put up with this. If it takes a Democrat like Tom Lantos putting a hold on funds for Lebanon to get that point across, then so be it.

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