Until a few days ago, there was room for debate over the extent to which the United States was to blame for the tragedy unfolding in Lebanon. Then came the administration's decision to expedite a shipment of laser-guided bombs to Israel, followed by Condoleezza Rice squelching calls from Europe and Arab nations for a ceasefire in Lebanon. Anyone who still doubts that the U.S. has blood on its hands is either delusional or, as Fouad Siniora said yesterday, none too concerned with Lebanese blood.
But American culpability for Israel's actions goes deeper than that. A report published yesterday by Foreign Policy in Focus entitled "Who's Arming Israel?" sheds light on one aspect of this support. "During the Bush administration, from 2001 to 2005, Israel received $10.5 billion in Foreign Military Financingthe Pentagon's biggest military aid programand $6.3 billion in U.S. arms deliveries." The jet fuel and bombs that have been offered in July are drops in the bucket by comparison.
The report's authors describe this military support for Israel in order to argue that the United States has a lot of leverage over its allyenough to stop its vicious campaign against Lebanon whenever it wants. But there is another point as well: by not only supporting but facilitating Israel's destruction of Lebanon, the United States is guaranteeing that the fires of anti-Americanism will keep burning for years to comeand not just in the Middle East. In what world body will the U.S. ever receive welcome reception of its aims and ideals after this shameful spectacle?
In an interview with Mother Jones last week, University of Chicago Professor John Mearsheimer placed this point in a broader context:
It's not just bin Ladenpeople in the Islamic world more generally are deeply hostile to the United States because we support Israel at the expense of the Palestinians. As a consequence, huge numbers of people in the Middle East tend to be more sympathetic to bin Laden than would otherwise be the case. As long as the United States continues to support Israeli policy vis-à-vis the Palestinians, it will be impossible to win hearts and minds in the Arab and Islamic world and solve the terrorism problem.